The Buy Pile: The Three Tenets of Thrustiness

Thu, February 16th, 2012 at 11:28am PST

Comic Books
Hannibal Tabu, Columnist

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 FEBRUARY 15, 2012

Fables #114
(Vertigo/DC Comics)
It's not all domestic bliss for Snow White, making a home as a magical octo-mom while one of her charges trains to be the new North Wind (getting a visit from her dad) and -- well, okay, the bit from the cover is just plain weird, an unusual surprise. A talking, magical toy boat takes Therese (one of Snow and Bigby's kids) on a zany adventure that's surely not gonna win Snow any parenting awards. This column has said for 113 issues that "Fables" is the best title on the stands, and this month will be no exception, despite this issue not being the strongest nor most compelling. It's still entertaining and far better in terms of craft, execution and entertainment than -- well, you'll see in a little while.

Amazing Spider-Man #679.1
(Marvel Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
First of all, this is the second issue of this series in a row that's made the jump, which means if the next one pulls it off, this becomes a "buy on sight" title. That's a clear indication of how much the crossover-free direction of this title has come -- Horizon Labs is a hot bed of entertaining story ideas, and there's a new name in Marvel's host of junior genii -- geniuses -- smart pre-adults. Uatu Jackson has a secret room, y'all, and it's one of the most entertaining developments in comics in years largely because it is so genre savvy and so filled with unbridled glee. Aside from that, Peter Parker's balance of Scooby Doo-styled whimsy, humorous quips, scientific knowledge and overall heroism strike all the right chords, too. "I am going to get so many patents out of this." "Man. I should have thought of some of this stuff." A fun, well-rounded comic book.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

In a word: "yay!"

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

Despite having some truly beautiful art set in China of the 31st century, "Legion of Super-Heroes" #6 had jumbled execution that hampered its effectiveness as a heretofore often unexplored Legionnaire. The sibling rivalry angle played out really quickly, but there were elements worth noticing.

"Super Dinosaur" #8 is a cute, enjoyable comic book. Pretty much every issue of this series has been that way -- largely harmless, all-ages styled comics that have smiling heroes taking on easily identifiable but completely toothless (not literally) adversaries who play like the Washington Generals. Fun for what it is, but a far cry from some of the industry's grander accomplishments.

"G.I. JOE Retaliation: Official Movie Prequel" #1 was a showcase for Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson drawn into the role of Roadblock, who serves as an emotional center for the disparate team. Cobra's auditioning ninjas and Storm Shadow has a set of guys interested in the job. The only problem is a whole lot of 5.56mm ammunition and the swinging sword of Snake-Eyes. As with most IDW books, Cobra has a distinct advantage over the good guys in almost every arena, and the Joes are forever playing "catch up." Not bad, but not great.

"Wonder Woman" #6 likewise had interesting ideas that aren't well-executed enough. Diana plays a dangerous game between god kings and queens, manipulating a lot of things while jumping and punching and running at the same time. The final act has some mild pacing problems that threw off the planned events here, but this was an ambitious attempt nonetheless.

If you like extreme monologuing, "Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes" #5 delivers some decent examples from the man who's apparently both Vandal Savage and Flint, but the last page reveals another character that fans will find pretty entertaining. As far as actual plot, this is pretty thin, but there's some stuff that wasn't bad.

"Infestation 2: Dungeons and Dragons" #1 spent most of the issue establishing a scoundrel-esque private investigator that fans of Simon Archard would find familiar, complete with an associate who finds the antics exasperating. This was cute, and the actual elder god incursion wasn't much of the plot, but it didn't have enough meat on its bones to be fulfilling.

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

"Planet of the Apes" #11, "Thunderbolts" #170, "Dungeons And Dragons The Legend Of Drizzt: Neverwinter Tales" #5, "Birds of Prey" #6, "Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters" #12, "Uncanny X-Men" #7, "Glory" #23, "Venom" #13.2, "Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye" #2, "Blue Beetle" #6, "X-Factor" #232, "Witchblade" #153, "Green Lantern Corps" #6, "The Activity" #3, "Invincible Iron Man" #513, "Nightwing" #6, "Stephen King And Joe Hill's Road Rage Throttle" #1, "Generation Hope" #17, "Ghostbusters" #6.

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

"Catwoman" #6 had a host of dumbness to cause its status. Dumb fighting -- the idea of Batman, even earlier in his career, having that kind of a problem with Selina Kyle seems to strain credulity. A dumb bit in a police station that -- even as corrupt as Gotham is -- seems to be a bit much. Dumb dialogue, dumb navel gazing from Selina -- there was a lot wrong here.

Speaking of stupid, the appearance of a steampunk Optimus Prime in "Infestation 2: Transformers" #2 was simply beyond belief (in a bad way) as Nikola Tesla stands in for Energon and things are left disturbingly sloppy given a lot of toys lying in bad places. The more you think about it, the less sense any of it makes.

"Red Hood and the Outlaws" #6 slapped an emo origin element on Jason Todd and seems to imply that Koriand'r has developed some kind of brain damage. Horny brain damage. While the idea of making Jason into a character had some appeal, every plot element around that spine of the story was simply awful.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Not bad.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

A jump and mostly good comics beat the few annoyances. Seems legit.

THE BUSINESS

This week on Komplicated, we sadly said goodbye to Whitney Houston, had expanded wrestling coverage in our new column The Thump, showed technology that translates thoughts into speech, looked at an arcade styled game based on the movie "The Last Starfighter," checked out a new tablet for kids, saw the vulnerabilities of Google Wallet, had our regular weekly MP3 downloads and of course the commentary track for these reviews. Updated at least three times a day, every day, Komplicated is doing it for the block and the blogosphere, capturing the Black geek aesthetic.

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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