The Buy Pile: Riding In An Atomic Cadillac

Thu, September 1st, 2011 at 10:28am PDT | Updated: September 1st, 2011 at 1:16pm

Comic Books
Hannibal Tabu, Columnist

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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 31, 2011

Skull Kickers #10
(Image Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
For some time now, this entertaining series has drifted closer and closer to being purchased. It was a slow week, so it seemed like there was no time like the present. However, the normal issues have a considerably greater amount of the two leads Rolf and Red (those're their names, by the way) in panel. They sleep through a good piece of the issue, and the fairy-powered antagonists simply don't carry the same amount of narrative weight. Still, there's enough adventure and amusement here to satisfy, with a cliffhanger ending that would have been hard to see coming. Jim Zub's brisk plotting still keeps things interesting and the tight imagery of Edwin Huang, Kevin Raganit and Misty Coats made for an intimate, nuanced presentation.

Secret Avengers #16
(Marvel Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
Warren Ellis and Jamie McKelvie are the creative team for this issue. If that sentence alone doesn't excite you, the simple wonder of what they've presented here should. This is on the second page: "Natasha, you've found yourself an atomic Cadillac." This is on page three: "Hapless test subjects report nightmares on a scale usually known only to those who recreationally smoke cleaning products." That was it. The issue made the jump from there and did not disappoint at any subsequent point. Ellis' Steve Rogers is a straight-laced tactical director. Moon Knight is the "Howlin' Mad" Murdock of the crew, down to piloting and resistance to pain (and leading o a simply delightful two page spread, which allows McKelvie to really show his stuff). Operatives of the Shadow Council are almost an afterthought, with a mix of great action scenes and Hank McCoy standing in as exposition machine and comic relief ("What gun? I can't fire a gun! I have paws!") in a simply wonderful balance of Marvel temporal physics and real world science. The Black Widow? An explosion of action and the driver of this merry band. A ridiculously entertaining done-in-one that keeps on giving with re-reads.

The Rinse #1
(BOOM! Studios)
Jump from the Read Pile.
First of all, this issue cost one buck. Can't beat that. Second of all, crime writer Gary Phillips knows how to craft realistic, believable characters in a modern criminal milieu. Third of all, this issue does a good job in setting up the "other side" of the heist, after the job's been pulled and people need to "rinse" the ill gotten goods through a fence. That's three solid reasons right there. Not as action packed as some comics (although there's some good scenes of evasion), but it makes up for it in nuance and depth.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Three jumps, easy on the wallet, that's a fantastic start for the week.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"Flashpoint" #5 had an ending that actually kind of worked, weighed down by a tacked-on climax that made little sense and felt more like trailer park storytelling. The ending was almost enough to recommend it, even though it had little to do with the larger issues engaged in the story itself.

"Executive Assistant Violet" #2 continued a disturbing trend in this series of a lot of exposition and less than convincing action sequences. The segment with one character's mother likewise seemed to not work as well as it needed to. Still, the core concept of lethal, flawless female operatives has (if you'll pardon the pun) legs, ambitious in its attempt if not every instance of its execution. There's a bigger plan afoot, and it's just taking some time to become revealed.

Loki's interested in stories in "Journey Into Mystery" #626.1, where he gets to hear about the inner thoughts of the Aesir around him, all afraid of his possibility and plotting for his possible downfall. The relationship between him and Thor remains the most compelling element, as most of the Asgardian gods are pretty dull.

"Stan Lee's The Traveler" #10 featured an almost-successful team up with Soldier Zero, who obliged with the prerequisite "pointless fight until we team up" shtick. When they sat down for a chat with a super villain, that was the most interesting part, but the action sequences sapped the plot of momentum.

"The Goon" #35 was weird, but in a kind of good way, as the title character goes seeking justice in the oddest of places, his reputation for extraordinary volumes of violence preceding him. If it was on cable, it'd be great, but to spend actual money on, it's not quite cute enough.

Once you get past the weirdness of a new glamour for Zeus, "Herc" #6.1 was also cute in establishing the title character as the "god of heroes," protecting the diverse people of Brooklyn from the likes of Mister Negative. Wow. A few months ago, he was taking on entities that made Odin flinch, now he's chasing after a deposed Martin Li in a panel van. Anyhoo, not bad but not something you can't live without.

"Justice League" #1 was described on CBR's Robot 6 as an episode of "The Brave and The Bold" with Green Lantern and a little piece of Superman, playing like the first fifteen minutes of a 30-minute episode. Everything didn't change, even though Hal Jordan is much more like Ryan Reynolds than ever before (his snarkiness may even remind some of Kyle Rayner) and this wholly innocuous, largely beautifully depicted take is far from groundbreaking, but certainly enjoyable enough.

"Invincible" #82 took a novel approach, including doing some smarter superheroing while, unfortunately, using a pace for storytelling that leaned towards the slothful. The weird lunch that Eve took had some charm, as did the fateful meeting with Cecil at the end, but it wasn't cohesive enough to make the jump.

Speaking of smart ideas, "Iron Man 2.0" #8 featured an innovative new way for a criminal to keep working towards their goals, buried in a lot of talking and hand wringing. The art was solid, but the coloring could be a little more vibrant.

"Captain Action King Size Special" #1 had a number of really attractive art pieces. As an anthology, it had a number of stories that each had a different -- and skillful -- art team. Which would be great if the copy and stories here were any less tepid. Pretty, pretty book, though.

Ratcheting up the tension, "Planet of the Apes" #5 places the human populace in the crosshairs as all the waiting finally is forced to do something. The exasperation and tension played here works, but the stakes don't seem to be worth much, as it doesn't seem like the humans have much chance for survival at all.

"Vescell" #1 was a very attractive comic book which, sadly, had bad copy ("your" where it should be "you're," "trappd" instead of "trapped") but had some very interesting ideas mixing science fiction and fantasy elements. However, the preponderance of good ideas gets jammed up. Spiritual possession, mind transfers, a troubled marriage and far more sex than you might expect. It's too many elements, with what felt like prurience for shock value. Had the level of professionalism been better in the whole presentation, such problems could have been minimized, but all together this felt like it just needed a little more polish (and likely an editor) to be ready for prime time.

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

"Amazing Spider-Man" #668, "Witchblade" #147, "Mindfield" #6, "Clive Baker's Hellraiser" #4, "Incredible Hulks" #635, "War Goddess" #1 (nice art, though), "Mighty Thor" #5, "Angel and Faith" #1, "Epoch" #1, "Spider-Island: Deadly Hands of Kung Fu" #1, "Sixth Gun" #14, "Butcher Baker The Righteous Maker" #6.

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

"Zorro Rides Again" #2 was drab, dry, dull and generally just not interesting. It's Zorro. He's boring. What the heck is that about?

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Two jumps leading some ambitious (and quick) comics? That's just fine and dandy.

Oh, by the way, there was no order for "Bodysnatchers" #3 or "Gore" #4, and Diamond was unable, due to damages or incompetence (they didn't say) "Ultimate Comics Hawkeye" #1.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Didn't have to spend a lot, and even in ambitious failures, some moments shined through. Let's say it's a win!

THE BUSINESS

You should go check out Komplicated.com right about now. "The New Black" should have been announced by now, and with it, there's gonna be a whole lot of new brilliant stories coming to you. Add to that an exciting #whodwin Wednesday session from Facebook where The Creeper beat Madcap and Moses Magnum went head to head with Black Manta, video covering the new "Mortal Kombat" video game, a celebration of Michael Jackson's birthday and of course free MP3 downloads and a weekly look at where to find Black people in popular media. Lots going on over there at Komplicated, so check it out (also on Twitter or Facebook.

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!

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