The Buy Pile

Thu, March 31st, 2011 at 11:58am PDT

Comic Books
Hannibal Tabu, Columnist

WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?

Every week Hannibal Tabu (journalist/blogger/novelist/poet/jackass on Twitter) goes to a comic book store called Comics Ink in Culver City, CA (Overland and Braddock -- hey Steve, Jason, Vince and Quislet) and grabs a whole lotta comics. These periodicals are quickly sorted (how) into two piles -- the "buy" pile (a small pile most weeks, comprised of planned purchases) and the "read" pile (often huge, often including comics that are really crappy but have some value to stay abreast of). Thursday afternoons you'll be able to get his thoughts (and they're just the opinions of one guy, so calm down, and here's some common definitions used in the column) about all of that -- which goes something like this ...

THE BUY PILE FOR MARCH 30TH, 2011

Incognito: Bad Influences #5
(Marvel Comics)
This is the issue for monologuing and things going badly as lead character Zack Overkill has a sit down conversation with Simon Slaughter, who feels much like his name is Martin Blank. The narration may be a little heavy handed (especially for Zack, who simply could not care less) but the action stays solid and the twists to this plot could easily give you whiplash. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are like a seamless storytelling machine, dipped in noir and emerging razor sharp. This is enjoyable fiction about horrible, horrible people.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

One book? Thrifty and entertaining, that's great.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy

"Caligula" #1 was a surprise, filled with blood and vengeance and rape and horror -- and a plot twist that couldn't have been seen coming at all. The heights of excess found a home in this period of the Roman empire, and this comic showcases it in disturbing detail. If it was a little less talky, a little more snappy in its plotting, it could have found its way home. Worth watching, though.

You can sense the humor of Eric Powell in "Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters" #1, which uses a fun refrain to bracket the responses to the giant monster's Pacific rim rampage, but each scene plays like the one before it. While there are chuckles, they're not quite enough to make this a purchase.

"R.P.M." #4 was like the last reel of a pretty good action movie, one a slice above a movie on cable and about at the same level as, say, a Jason Statham movie. Clearly "TV good" (see definitions), but not much more than that.

If you liked the series, "Dollhouse: Epitaphs" is an interesting side note about some of the events after Rossum activated their master plan, but it doesn't share much with people who've never seen the show. The comic does share some of the humor and dramatic pacing from the cancelled TV series, but not quite enough of it to make the jump.

"Suicide Forest" #1 was creepy and interesting, telling a very concise tale with emotional resonance. If you're a fan of horror, this is likely a must-have. The main supporting character didn't really stand out, despite having a pivotal scene, but it was still a good piece of work.

The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title

"Deadpool Corps" #12, "Kick-Ass 2" #2, "Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Lost Command" #3, "Doctor Who" #3, "Spider-Man: You're Hired," "Detective Comics" #875, "Incredible Hulks" #625, "Butcher Baker" #1, "Secret Avengers" #11, "Gotham City Sirens" #21, "5 Ronin" #5, "Elephantmen: Man and Elephantmen," "Traveler" #5, "Green Arrow" #10, "Amazing Spider-Man" #657, "Justice Society of America" #49, "Avengers" #11, "Teen Titans" #93, "Black Panther: Man Without Fear" #516, "Zatanna" #11, "Thor" #621, "Star Wars: Legacy War" #4, "Scarlet" #5, "Incorruptible" #16, "Scalped" #47, "Ultimate Comics X" #4, "Jimmy Olsen" #1, "Captain America and the Secret Avengers" #1.

No, just -- no ... These comics? Not so much ...

When you have Doctor Psycho as your spirit guide and your little glowing friend, chances are things have gone really badly. "Wonder Woman" #609 shows a little of that, looking at every possible incarnation of the character from even before the pantsening. This issue wandered all over the place, despite some pretty good artwork.

"Age of X Universe" #1 induced sadness instead of hatred with this boring Elseworlds tale of Avengers on the hunt. It's like a hastily constructed sand castle near the water, and the tide's coming in. There may be elements you find interesting, but it'll be hard to hang on to any of them for any amount of time.

"Action Comics" #899 had some elements of quality in it, showing Lex Luthor practicing the art of Xanatos Speed Chess and Brainiac -- disappointingly -- being pretty stupid again. Lex also does some kind of vague things before the conclusion which don't seem to read as clearly as they should, so this was just a slice below "meh."

"Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors" #8 has a lengthy argument between Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner. Extraordinarily lengthy. Pages of it, then punching, then arguments that have been going on for years between these two. You could almost plop this issue into the publishing lineup ten years ago without anyone noticing.

Well, "Jack of Fables" #50 was one way to end a comic series and make sure all storylines are essentially tied up. However, it was a fight scene with little story to it (unlike the assault on the Golden Boughs Retirement Home, which had stages and all kinds of dramatic tension) and there's little left to the imagination in an ending so rushed that it makes "Revenge of the Sith" look like a Ken Burns project.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

There was no order for Big Dog's "Pinpoint" #1. Just saying ...

After all that, it was mostly meh.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

The week kind of washes itself out given that there was only one purchase.

THE BUSINESS

Got a comic you think should be reviewed in The Buy Pile? If we get a PDF of a fairly normal length comic (i.e. "less than 64 pages") by no later than 24 hours before the actual issue arrives in stores (and sorry, we can only review comics people can go to stores and buy), we guarantee the work will get reviewed, if remembered. Physical comics? Geddouttahere. Too much drama to store with diminishing resources. If you send it in more than two days before comics come out, the possibility of it being forgotten increases exponentially.

Oh, and there's blogging too: I'm back with a newly unified blogging platform thanks to (yes, I'm eating crow for even saying this) WordPress and the theme-adapting styles of Suuru Designs at the Soapbox. That's where you'll find Commentary Track blogs on these reviews, normally within a day or two of their publication. Also, Wednesdays have two sneak peeks at what's going to be in the column (one Wednesday afternoon, the second hopefully by midnight) from the Operative Network Mobile Edition. Enjoy, you bastards.

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