The Buy Pile

Thu, June 16th, 2011 at 12:28pm 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 JUNE 15, 2011

Cinderella: Fables are Forever #5
(Vertigo/DC Comics)

The last page is a wicked, wicked twist as this story continues the title character's story, told in two eras, of struggling against Dorothy Gale and the shadow Fabletown located somewhere in the eastern hemisphere. Lots of action this time, a romantic interlude and more of the wonderful familiar elements this series is known for, twisted in manners you couldn't expect. Writer Chris Roberson seems to handle this balance with effortless ease, and the crisp lines of Shawn McManus with Lee Loughridge on colors ... well, it's very effective work.

The Invincible Iron Man #505
(Marvel Comics)

Paris will never be the same again, as an Asgardian hammer-empowered Grey Gargoyle has genocidally ripped through the City of Lights, leaving Tony Stark battered and befuddled at the sheer magnitude of the horror. Bethany Cabe wrangles with the staff of Stark Resilient, who are less than welcoming to her security-minded overtures. The main event is the Gargoyle fight, and he's not chatty at all as he takes on a surprise newcomer to the battle while Tony pulls out all the stops. A gripping story about struggle framed in the terms of the crossover, making the content as palatable as possible.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Nothing wrong so far.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"Ruse" #4 had a fairly rousing conclusion to its storyline, with a few good shocks and turns of plot as Simon Archard goes a long way to solve the case. Saying too much would spoil the elements of the story, but the execution was just TV good without ever rising to the level of being exemplary.

"Executive Assistant Iris Volume 2" #0 was perhaps the closest to making it home, a bit of an origin digging into the sources of these lethal administrators. In this issue, opening up with a ballsy female CEO dodging assassination attempts and corporate politics, there was almost enough plot to make this worth while, but not quite. Intriguing ideas, though.

"Avengers Academy" #15 wasn't bad, with the kids going in to war in ways that were intentionally reminiscent of sending Bucky in (as in "openly referred to") on the front lines of "Fear Itself," but the story didn't focus its lens on any one element long enough for it to be interesting.

There are a number of solid elements in "Godzilla: Gangsters and Goliaths" #1, as a gutsy Japanese police detective leads a team of murderous mobsters to an island full of gigantic monsters, where Godzilla himself holds court. The flashback scenes were solidly presented, there were the aforementioned cute elements (the smarm of the detective, some crafty traps he sets for the men chasing him), but the overall package doesn't exactly bowl you over.

"Kirby: Genesis" #1 had a lot of ideas. Big, crazy, galactic-sized ideas, presented through the lens of a mundane Earth being introduced to the sublime. Fantastic figures were left on the side of a space probe sent out into the universe, and wonder returned. Big and abstract, this issue could easily have taken fifteen more pages to expand on all the things presented here, but as it is left the reader wanting considerably more.

Many readers noted the problem with the cover of "Daken: Dark Wolverine" #10, which posited the idea that the the 8700 block of Sunset and the 6300 block of Hollywood Boulevard intersected (these streets run parallel most of their way, with the 4500 block of Hollywood intersecting with Sunset just east of Virgil considerably east of what most people call Hollywood proper), but that has little to do with Daken's murderous "Entourage" approach to the city, acting like Vinny's old friend Dom mixed with Peter Cook from the original "Bedazzled." Nothing wrong, but the story beats were kind of predictable.

"Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and The Furies" #1 told an interesting story of two kingdoms poised to unite then torn apart by deception and murder, leaving the whole world to suffer as a consequence. The characters of Arthur and Diana just barely got any time to get characterized as the intrigues of their royal courts took center stage, even past battling a baby kraken (or was it a hydra? Something monstrous and water based). Probably better told as prose interludes, but good for a reference point.

If you like either westerns or suspense, you'll enjoy "The Hellbound Train" #1, a period piece following a scoundrel haunted by the absence of his parents. The art's a little on the dull side and the story's pace surely couldn't be called "zippy," but this will probably work better as part of a trade, where its pacing won't be as much of an issue.

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

"Invincible" #80, "Batman" #711, "Alpha Flight" #1, "Witchblade" #145, "Flashpoint: Deadman and the Flying Graysons" #1, "Avengers" #14, "Flashpoint: Legion of Doom Starring Heatwave" #1, "Fear Itself: The Home Front" 33, "Green Lantern Movie Prequel: Abin Sur" #1, "Fear Itself: Youth In Revolt" #2, "Legion of Super-Heroes" #14, "Malignant Man" #3 "Power Girl" #25, "Doctor Who" #6, "Supergirl" #65, "Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon Adaptation" #2, "Superman/Batman" #85, "Gladstone's School for World Conquerors" #2, "Teen Titans" #96, "Graveyard of Empires" #1, "X-Factor" #221, "Stan Lee's Soldier Zero" #9.

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

No. Really. After the 2,700,291 power rings floating around, now there's "Captain America Corps" #1 as well? How about this for a core issue: if you have a cross-temporal problem relating to teleportation and cosmic powers, would you really assemble a team of melee combatants who don't have any scientific abilities or energy manipulation powers? Does that make any sense? No, no it does not.

"Flashpoint: Grodd of War" #1 was disturbingly one dimensional, in that it sought to cast Grodd as a dangerous creature and a monster of the highest order, but gives no ideas as to why. Millions of people put to the sword, his own troops treated as fodder, there's no characterization at the core of this atrocity, making it meaningless and dull. Aside from the annoyance of having Grodd murder people on one of the most beleaguered places in the world, then have them being ruled by something that isn't even human ... gah.

Speaking of meaningless and dull, "Hulk" #35 was an insipid diversion with an uninteresting impetus, ham fisted execution that even had characters in the book noting how all of this had happened before. Did it all have to happen again? No ... no it did not.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Crossover books trying hard, indies striving for greatness -- gotta call that good.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Two solid purchase and just three books to really be angry with amidst all of this? That's a week that wins handily.

THE BUSINESS

This week, the "It's Komplicated" webcast is on hiatus for Father's Day, but look for the return on Sunday June 26th at a new time, 9PM PST, with a big discussion from The Third Best Damn Panel in Pop Culture, talking about why "All For One Isn't Always One For All," and how hard it is for a property to satisfy all people across different types of media. Already confirmed are "Highwaymen" and former "Entertainment Weekly" writer Marc Bernardin, BadAzzMofo and "Darius Logan: Super Justice Force" writer David Walker and comics retailer/"Total Recall" writer Vince Moore. All that plus the website still has cool stories like this and this and this every single day of the week.

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.

See ya next week!

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