The Buy Pile: Hammers, Shoes & Snow

Thu, July 21st, 2011 at 1:28pm PDT | Updated: July 21st, 2011 at 3:27pm

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 20, 2011

Invincible Iron Man #506
(Marvel Comics)

In another part of the big "Fear Itself" crossover, Tony Stark's sacrifice earned him the ear of divine power, and that means just enough juice to end up in the same place Mjolnir was forged ... and he's a former weapons maker ... well, you can see how one thing conceivably could lead to another. It's a cog in the crossover but gives Pepper a nice narrative element, trying to come to grips with the hellishness happening in Paris, while Detroit Steel units move in as well. The storytelling abilities of Matt Fraction still shine through strongly with both Stark's flirtation with self-destruction and Pepper Potts' nervousness in the face of danger, all while the threat in Paris remains. Solid work from a consistent creative team.

Cinderella: Fables Are Forever #6
(Vertigo/DC Comics)

Nothing's left but a conflict between two well-known fictional characters as Dorothy Gale and the titular lead, having a showdown after decades at each others throats. There's a fun tie in to another series under the same fictional continuity (to say much more would be a spoiler) and a goodly bit of monologuing explaining what happened to some other favorites from Oz and the action scenes deliver in a big way. Tied together with a really great narrative twist, Chris Roberson's script is such a delight. Great stuff.

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #168
(IDW Publishing)
Jump from the Read Pile.
Picking up the action with a trio of Joes captured by Cobra forces above the arctic circle, there's three fronts to this -- the Arctic, the main base for the Joes and in New York City at a satellite relay station. Larry Hama's script could have easily gone topsy turvy at any point, especially with some of the stranger elements here, but the script maintained the balance of the different elements, allowing multiple characters a perfect opportunity to shine (a silent moment between Dusty and Sneak Peek was particularly effective) and the tautness of what's happening is just wonderful. The artwork from S.L. Gallant, Gary Erskine and J. Brown may not have been as detailed and polished as it could be, but it's great at telling this story.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Very solid so far.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"Executive Assistant Lotus" #1 had a compelling preview filled with action and excitement -- which unfortunately slowed down dramatically as it explored guilt and shame that led one of the Executive Assistants to her term of service. An interesting character study that, unfortunately, wasn't paced snappily enough to make the jump, despite an opening scene that's blockbuster quality.

"Elephantmen" #33 was messy in a very "Nip/Tuck" kind of way, focusing on Mappo-centric plastic surgery, an issue length examination of gruesome artwork and voiceover commentary. The story was more told than shown, as what was shown seemed fit for one of those shows on Discovery Channel.

"Iron Man 2.0" #7 had some problems with math -- if it takes seven immortal weapons to close a gate and you've only got six, well -- and kind of meandered around, waiting for Jim Rhodes to start making with the "biff" and the "pow." Still, Rhodes' character work shines through even as Fat Cobra, Dog Brother #1 and the Prince of Orphans kind of Luke Walton'ed it up.

"Deadlands: Massacre at Red Wing" was a super-powered Western which had shades of Anakin Skywalker and "The Quick and the Dead." If you like that kind of genre entertainment, the twist here might be enough to get you on board. However, given that Boom! Studios' relentless "Pale Horse" is still fresh in memory, it can be done better.

Guido and Monet didn't get enough room to explore their circumstances in "X-Factor" #222, which had more to do with Rahne's supernatural pregnancy and the numerous high profile jobbers (one of whom took on the scions of two pantheons recently, terrifying them both) in a less interesting fashion. Nothing bad, per se, but nothing stunning either.

"Witch Doctor" #2 had some wickedly wrong humor as baby swapping led the way in this unorthodox medical procedural, which would likely go over strongly with fans of the TV show "House," but despite some wicked characterization, the plot wasn't taut enough to make everything else work.

"Snake Eyes" #3 had more solid arctic action as the IDW-specific incarnation of Cobra operated strongly on multiple fronts, slickly challenging even the virtually extrahuman Helix. Snake Eyes inspires loyalty in some of the world's most dangerous women, but Cobra's Raja Khallikhan tries to stand up as a serious antagonist and comes off without any whiff of detail.

"All Nighter" #2 took a turn for the supernatural at the end, and depicts its ennui-inspired young adult struggles with very savvy artwork. However, most of what happens to these characters is pretty dull. The twist ending is, however, enough to at least be worth a look.

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

"Thor: Heaven and Earth" #1, "Rage" #2, "Ultimate Comics Fallout" #2, "Avengelyne" #1, "Avengers" #15, "Hack/Slash" #6, "X-Men" #15, "Star Wars Jedi: The Dark Side" #3, "Daredevil" #1, "Star Wars, The Old Republic: The Lost Suns" #2, "Fear Itself: Deadpool" #2, "DMZ" #67, "Fear Itself: FF" #1, "Marksman" #1, "Flashpoint: Deadman and the Flying Graysons" #2, "Fear Itself: The Home Front" #4, "Power Girl" #26, "Generation Hope" #9 (though McKelvie's art remains amazing), "Reaper" #2, "War of the Green Lanterns: Aftermath" #1, "Herc" #5, "Zatanna" #15, "Marvel Universe vs. Wolverine" #2,

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

M.O.D.O.K. was needlessly talky in "Hulk" #37 in another "spectacle is not storytelling" example, punching at a hammer-powered Ben Grimm in more of the kind of indistinct melee combat that "Fear Itself" has laid down as its foundation. Almost disappointing before you remember that it deals with a character whose mustache disappears when he transforms into a giant version of the enemy he fought for years. Oy.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Only one stinker? That's like a vacation!

WINNERS AND LOSERS

One jump, only one really bad book, this is a good week. Oh, and SDCC is happening too. Yeah, that's pretty good.

THE BUSINESS

Oh, Komplicated.com, is there anything you don't do? Early cosplay shots from Nerd Spring Break, news about the pending robot apocalypse, news on where to find Black people on panels in San Diego, the regular free MP3 downloads and even live DJ mixing by the writer of this column on the weekly webcast. Wow. More of that with a big breakdown of the con's goings on coming this 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. 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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