The Buy Pile

Thu, April 21st, 2011 at 11:58am PDT

Comic Books
Hannibal Tabu, Columnist

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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 APRIL 20TH, 2011

Fables #104
(Vertigo/DC Comics)

The first few pages of this issue are a feint, but one that really gets the reader's attention. The rest of the issue is, as the pop song said, right before the bullet hits the bone as Fables enjoy meals and prepare themselves for a surely lethal confrontation with the dreaded Mister Dark, the boogeyman of every child's fear. Something ill-timed pops up at the end of the issue, but it's essentially a potboiler ratcheting up the tension for a conclusion down the line. Still pretty darned entertaining, though.

The Invincible Iron Man #503
(Marvel Comics)

Otto Octavius is jealous of Tony Stark. Okay. The way he manifests it, through thermonuclear extortion, may not be very mature but it does keep Tony busy while Pepper Potts does, honestly, all of the real heroing in this issue. Her bravery under fire alongside co-workers Cababa and Pimacher is much more compelling than Tony Stark trying to wheedle his way out from under Dr. Octopus' twitchiness. The issue as a whole is still kind of entertaining.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Didn't spend too much, still got pretty entertained -- that's not bad.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

Things come to a head with Parker Robbins in "Avengers" #12 as his grasp on some of the Infinity Gems gets resolved and Steve Rogers, well, let's just say that lots of his fans won't like this, but it more than fits in this post-modern era and is kind of a way to mature the character. So that was good, in a "Star Trek: Insurrection" kind of way.

"Legion of Super-Heroes" #12 was again plagued by a plot too scattered to work. The rage of Mekt Ranzz and the determination of the Legion had some ability to appeal, but the chase on Colu for information on Oa was really laborious for no consistent reason. Good looking but ultimately not handling business, which has been sadly indicative of the series for a while now.

"X-Factor" #218 had some of the same problems -- and some of the same successes -- as the "Legion" issue, with the assassins determined to end Mayor J. Jonah Jamison being a bit too vague for their own good (like the Legion of Super-Villains' martial artist) and how things happened with Guido didn't make a lot of sense. However, the emotional moment he finally shared was very, very effective and the action scenes were good, as was Rictor's snarkiness.

"Supergirl" #63 was almost smart, a decent-sized surprise as Kara actually kind of thinks about some things in revealing the threat that's been behind her app-based challenges of late. The last page reveal of the actual antagonist was less than gripping unless you're deeply enmeshed in DC apocrypha, but the power set they bring to bear was well depicted.

The characters were strong in "Avengers Academy" #12, but the plot was fairly weak as the team is artificially aged by the wife of the mad cosmic being Korvac to do battle with the old Avengers foe. The developments here didn't really do much. The moments between Hazmat and Mettle were great, seeing Finesse's confidence at gaining so many new skills had some shine to it, but Veil is just a limp fish, a character who's fate seem wildly unimportant. She's dragging the series down.

Fantomex and Dr. Nemesis were the only parts of "Wolverine" #8 that worked properly. Another mind control-related, "Logan's gonna kill everybody he loves" story simply didn't have much traction, and the whininess and emo inner brain drama of Wolverine just doesn't connect. After the Hand sent him at the helicarrier, this just pales by comparison.

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

"Batman" #709, "Uncanny X-Force" #8, "Green Hornet" #15, "Wolverine & Jubilee" #4, "Gotham City Sirens" #22, "Hulk" #32, "Green Lantern" #65, "Iron Man 2.0" #4, "Justice League of America" #56, "Last Phantom" #6, "Power Girl" #23, "Silver Surfer" #3, "Superman/Batman" #83, "Scarlet" #5, "Teen Titans" #94, "Skaar: King of the Savage Land" #2, "Zatanna" #12, "Spectacular Spider-Man" #1000

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

"The Crayola cavalry has arrived!" That sentence sums up part of why "Green Lantern Corps" #59 is so embarrassing. Then you get into costuming -- for reasons that don't really matter, Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner and John Stewart can't use their GL rings, so they choose rings from other corps in order to do battle against all their comrades. Hal dons a different colored costume, as does Guy, as does Kyle, each one super heroic. John, however, dons indigo-shaded combat fatigues consistent with a Vietnam era EOD tunnel rat. Why? No freakin' idea.

The "Under bolts." Wow. "Thunderbolts" #156 had some definite weaknesses, including trying to send Satana on a mission with the team (a really badly executed sequence of scenes), but the process of picking back ups from the prison populace, using reality show-styled interviews as a narrative methodology left a lot to be desired -- and it seems that Satana grabbed Moonstone's boob. You have to admire the ambition, though, so this is "just barely bad."

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Not bad.

Comics Ink made no order for the "Black Dynamite" GN nor "Boondock Saints: Mob War" #1, by the way. Nothing you can do about that.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

This week cruised along at an even keel, with not enough going wrong to call it a problem and not enough greatness to really cheer about. Still, one can't complain.

THE BUSINESS

Komplicated.com launches on May 1st ... probably that afternoon, after the first live broadcast on Geekweek.com. We've already booked one of the world's pre-eminent video gamers for an interview, we have Kevin Grevioux on board as an "elder," Vince Moore of Comics Waiting Room on staff and more announcements to come. Keep your eyes out, as there'll be more announcements in this space.

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, blogs: thanks to Suuru Designs you'll find blogs at the Soapbox. That's where you'll see 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!

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