WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?
Every week Hannibal Tabu (two-time Eisner-winning 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 AUGUST 3RD, 2011
Secret Six #36
Wow. If you've gotta go...
Bane, after an emotional coital experience, honed his idea on how to finally, finally take down the Bat. Unfortunately, nothing can possibly go right in Gotham City, and that leads to a conclusion very like most conclusions for this group of deranged friends and lovers. It's a beautiful, touching, Pyrrhic conclusion for this group of chracters, with pacing that catches the readers breath in their throat, courtesy of a spandex-tight script from Gail Simone ("Enough talk! I'm a shark, not a ... talking guy!") and another powerful art performance from J. Calafiore with John Kalisz. It's such a shame to see this title go.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Buying one book is rude, so it was also worth picking up another copy of "Transmetropolitan: Tales of Human Waste." Lovely!
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
The kids are completely not all right in "Avengers Academy" #17, as the strain of actual combat and its consequences sink in for them after standing up to Sin and her Nazi mecha attacking DC. The plot sets up a sense of change for the students, working on developing some of the characters, but the battle scenes were "meh" and the strong center wasn't really served by the opening and closing sections.
There are at least five great stories that could be told in "Elric: The Balance Lost" #2, but each one doesn't have even a spare inch to develop itself. Elric's barely a cameo appearance in his own issue. Each eternal champion faces interesting challenges, but the reader doesn't get enough time with supporting characters like the Prince Regent to understand why they'd be important. Chris Roberson's script feels like the kitchen sink might be all that's missing, which is a shame as well as being a surprise, given some of his other work.
"Daomu" #6 was likewise too ambitious, trying to be a story about crime, spies, archaeology, magic and ancient civilizations all at once. The crime part's dull, the espionage is all right, the archaeology and ancient civilizations section seemed like it could be something but again, no room to shine.
"50 Girls 50" #3 has good action movie chops, with a rescue mission for a planet full of dinosaur-men. Yeah, that's almost as cool as it seems, but the plot has some predictable elements that fail to satisfy and characterization is pretty one-note. Good looking comic book, but not quite there yet.
The third act of "Heroes for Hire" #10 had some clarity issues, and being mired in the hammer-tossing crossover didn't help, but it was clear to see Misty Knight's desire to get back into the game, and Paladin working with Gargoyle (where's that guy been?) was surprisingly entertaining as a team up. A mixed bag for a series that's normally a cut above the average.
Borrowing a page from the first "Authority" storyline, "Irredeemable" #28 brings The Plutonian back to earth, as powerful as ever and four times angrier. Survivor's new Paradigm team doesn't exactly work the way he planned, and things going to hell might be considered an improvement. More Plutonian and this could have been a contender, especially with his "warbound" team of bloodthirsty cosmic criminals. Not bad as it is.
"X-Factor" #223 was best at the end, with a page pulled from Peter David (and more recently Greg Pak) as a whole lotta Greek and Norse myth got tossed around involving Rahne's cosmic-flavored pregnancy. The Monet/Guido storyline got brushed past, which was a shame because every second she's on panel is comedy gold. The plot could be considered a touch convoluted, as a simple chase devolves into a kind of Bendis comedy, but it's solid if not required reading.
"Moriarity" #4 introduced an antagonist better off forgotten and an inconclusive ending that sapped the story of its flavor, which is such a shame because the titular professor is made so entertaining and crafty in the process.
"Dungeons and Dragons" #9 wasn't bad with more "oh god oh god we're all gonna die" style running around and fighting alongside a snarky elven high lord whose abrasive personality fit in well with the band of adventurers but left some of them underexposed in terms of character moments.
"Drums" #3 had intense drama and tension as zombies (yes, praise for zombies in the Buy Pile, write this date down) and magic tie together to produce some really good dramatic moments. However, driving around in the rain was interminable, to do and to read, and the pacing could have been laborious.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Wolverine" #13, "Roger Landridge's Snarked" #0, "Red Skull" #2, "Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint" #3, "Hulk" #38, "Broken Pieces" #0, "15-Love" #3, "Flashpoint" #4, "Iron Man 2.0" #7.1, "Caligula" #3, "Fear Itself: Fearsome Four" #2, "Flashpoint: Batman, Knight of Vengeance" #3, "Mystic" #1, "Star Wars Dark Times: Out Of The Wilderness" #1, "Fear Itself: Wolverine" #2, "Flashpoint: Secret Seven" #3, "Punisher" #1, "Adventure Comics" #529, "Herc" #6, "Thunderbolts" #161, "Savage Dragon" #172, "Ultimate Comics Fallout" #4 (including Miles Morales), "Severed" #1.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
"Superman" #714 used the "Smallville" freak of the week technique in bringing an antagonist from behind the curtain that was so limp that there's little chance you'll remember who it was six months from now (re"launch" notwithstanding). Hamfistedly jamming in the Last Son of Krypton's tagline and wholeheartedly swiping the franchising ideas of his pal Bruce Wayne. With a t-shirt and jeans looming, this was a waste of paper.
A bad review for a comic from Rob Liefeld? Shocking. "Infinite" #1 basically borrowed heavily from Nathan Summers, showcasing a stern-faced hero with impossibly huge and square shaped guns traveling from the future to stop some awful tyrant from ruling the world. No, it's not the 1990s all over again, it's just Rob Liefeld. Sad to see, honestly.
"S.H.I.E.L.D." #2 is kind of incomprehensible. Historical figures building cyborgs centuries before the present day, Tony Stark's dad looking around expectantly ... this book is maddening.
In "Zorro Rides Again" #1, even the action scenes are boring. This makes the senatorial procedures of "The Phantom Menace" look like the last reel of "T2." Way too many talking heads, discussing things that don't seem hard to settle. Bah.
There was some kind of weird monster at the start of "Green Wake" #5 that was just one reason this issue gets the "WTH?" Award, and its muddy, hard to discern plot wasn't helping at all.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Only four ultimately forgettable stinkers amidst all the "meh." Not bad.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Limited purchase with emotional response + not annoying reads = week that wins. Yay!
On Komplicated, the webcast is back with live mixing, tech news, a break down of this whole Miles Morales thing, plus fun fan madness and much more. That's 9PM PST at the Geekweek Network. All of this is alongside free MP3 downloads, a weekly listing of where to find Black people in media there's a lot of fun going on, so check it out.
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!