The Buy Pile: Two Scoundrels and an Heir

Thu, July 14th, 2011 at 11:28am PDT

Comic Books
Hannibal Tabu, Columnist

WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?

Every week Hannibal Tabu (journalist/blogger/novelist/poet/jackass on Twitter/head honcho of Komplicated.com) 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 JULY 13, 2011

Journey Into Mystery #625
(Marvel Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
Young Loki is entertaining. With a scoundrel-esque performance from Mephisto as well ("Ah Loki, you never fail to entertain. I do hope you stick around for a long, long while ..."), the juvenile god of mischief manipulates the mighty with humor and aplomb that's a joy to behold ("I'm extraordinarily evil and I want to destroy Asgard or something like that"). With sudden shows of blood, information revealed that many would prefer hidden and plot twists that grab you in places you might not wanna be grabbed, Kieron Gillen's script is a delight and the artwork of Doug Braithwaite and Ulises Arreola fit like a finely tailored suit. Great stuff here.

Starborn #8
(BOOM! Studios)
Jump from the Read Pile.
This is the issue where the heir to an empire finally stops with his Arthur Dent act and acts like he has a pair. Bringing both his ancestral weapon and his own sense of determination to bear, the fun really gets started when this issue crosses over with another Stan Lee/BOOM! collaboration, leading to some exciting action scenes

Deadpool #40
(Marvel Comics)

Admittedly, this issue has some similarities to previous Deadpool storylines. Committed to a mental institution? Sure. Locked up alongside super powered crazies? Very much like his Department H experiences. There's a psychologist who's determined to make her name by "fixing" the title character (she's supposed to be unattractive, but the art is indecisive on this matter) and a Marvel character revealed at the end, all, for some reason, happening in England and touching on some of Wade Wilson's mental issues while we're at it. Despite some rough patches, this is a pretty well put together issue that has some reliable laughs.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Pretty good so far ...

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"Charismagic" #2 would have been a better book if it focused on its Las Vegas stage magician, struggling with surprises as the entire city's population disappears and his cat starts talking to him. However, peeking in on the challenges those missing people faced while looking in on another plot area muddied the narrative in a way that was less than effective. Shame, because the core idea is kind of interesting.

When you wanna hand somebody a comic book to show them why we enjoy heroism, "Fear Itself: Spider-Man" #3 would be a good choice. Battling against impossible odds -- a Norse-possessed Ben Grimm wielding a magical hammer, battling desperately in close quarters to save a room full of wounded civilians -- Spider-Man leaves it all on the field, fighting and struggling to do what's right. Why didn't it make the jump? While inspirational, the story did go to the well of jingoistic cliche perhaps a bit too much, and in all honestly, there's no way Spider-Man should even be alive at the end of this. Not bad, though.

"Samurai's Blood" #2 is steeped in intimate storytelling and historical ambiance, looking at masterless samurai desperate for revenge against a brutal and corrupt warlord. The art's a little dry and the pacing could be snappier.

"Dollhouse: Epitaphs" #1 follows the future storyline from the TV series, looking at the former "villain" Alpha trying to fight against the machinations of the Rossum Corporation while trying to keep some actives alive, all wielding the personality of lab assistant Ivy. There's some fun comedy there and a decent action scene or two, and it wasn't bad, but the rough edges on the art and the blah coloring didn't help a script that hit its marks, but didn't nail them.

"Ultimate Comics Avengers vs. New Ultimates" #6 had some great elements, including a knock-down drag-out fight with hundreds of North Korean extrahumans, a Kansas City Shuffle and some very tense character moments. Unfortunately, the climactic combat scene was brushed past, overthrowing a government was done in one panel and everything needed more room to operate.

"Executive Assistant Orchid" #1 had a fantastic opening action scene and upheld the standard of excellent artwork you've come to expect from Aspen. However, by disobeying one of the cardinal rules of writing -- telling, not showing -- it sapped a lot of its own momentum, using fairly heavy handed narrative captions to do what wasn't done in the narrative. Likewise, by choosing to focus on more than one Assistant, the story lacked focus. Interesting elements, though, just not the right balance between them.

"X-Men: Schism" #1 had some of the best character moments between Cyclops and Wolverine in recent memory, a nice and nuanced discussion of how much these men have shared and what they mean to their community. The surprising antagonist was creepy but effective, and had the issue been juuuust a little less emotional and a little more plot oriented, it could have made it home.

Jonathan Hickman's back on the creator owned bandwagon with "Red Wing" #1, an intriguing story that feels like "Starship Troopers" melded with time travel. The characters were a little unidimensional -- both of the leads seemed interchangeable. Still, an interesting start that has room to develop past its fairly standard space opera elements.

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

"Mystery Men" #3, "Lady Mechanica" #2, "New Avengers" #14, "Star Wars Invasion: Revelations" #1, "New Mutants" #27, "Birds of Prey" #14, "Wolverine" #12 "Total Recall" #3, "Doctor Who: A Fairytale Life" #4, "Booster Gold" #46, "Guarding The Globe" #5, "Alpha Flight" #2, "Flashpoint: Citizen Cold" #2, "Amazing Spider-Man" #665 (J. Jonah Jameson was good though), "Repulse," "Flashpoint: Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager" #2, "Lil Depressed Boy" #5, "Captain America" #1, "Godzilla: Gangsters and Goliaths" #2, "Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman" #2, "Daken Dark Wolverine" #11, "Green Lantern Corps" #61, "Ghost Rider" #1, "Gladstone's School for World Conquerors" #3, "Red Robin" #25, "Incredible Hulks" #632, "Teen Titans" #97, "Iron Age" #2, "Clive Barker's Hellraiser" #3

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

"Green Lantern" #67 made zero sense. Even Hal Jordan at one point had to try to quell concerns -- from characters in the book and from the reader -- by saying, "Don't ask." There's so many "WTH?" moments in this issue, especially including the "resolution" to this challenge which made so little sense that it's awful. Just nothing about this issue worked, and it's frustrating to see all that go so wrong.

Speaking of, "FF" #6 didn't feature a single member of the Future Foundation, instead deciding to shoehorn retcon a very, very shabby plot element into "War of Kings," basically attempting to tie some earlier FF elements into this storyline. Unbalanced, extraneous, troubling.

"Superman" #713 spent its entire issue patting itself on the back, convincing the title character that middle class Americans believe in him and want him around regardless of the rampant property damage, the super villain vendettas and what have you. This read like a poor man's version of "Superman: Peace on Earth."

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

The stinkers were bad, but not so numerous. Mostly meh, which sways a little negative, but not strongly so.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Even with the inundation of mediocrity, two jumps don't lie and there were a number of honorable mentions that could have tried a little harder and made it work. That sounds like a good week after all.

THE BUSINESS

It was great to interview Universal Music artist Nailah Porter on the latest webcast where even "Better Off Ted" actor Malcolm Barrett swung by the chat room, discussing his new career as a rapper and his debut single, "Revenge of the Nerds." Lots of people were surprised by the "Sinestro Takes Over As Green Lantern of Sector 2814" story, but Komplicated had that story eight days before anybody else. Add to that Octavia Butler's lost novel posted online, Matt Wayne's denied SDCC tribute to Dwayne McDuffie and of course free MP3 downloads every Monday and you've got a lotta cool stuff happening.

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, you should use the contact form as the CBR email address hasn't been regularly checked since George W. Bush was in office. Sorry!

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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