The Buy Pile: Better Late Than Never, Better Sick Than Dead

Mon, March 5th, 2012 at 7:28am 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 29, 2012

NOTE: What the world wide hell? Why is this column so late? This is supposed to be in on Thursday? This isn't "All Star Batman and Robin" or something! Well, the long and the short of it is that after having a two year old cough in his face for an entire weekend, our columnist fell victim to some kind of viral infection that knocked him down harder than any hit from Troy Polamalu. How sick? "Don't go in to the day job" sick. Reviews had to take a hit. Sorry. Suck it up, player. Here we go.

Vescell #6
(Image Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
It's not easy to fit two separate stories into one regular sized comic book. Sure, in the Julius Schwartz era, people used to do it all the time and twice on Sundays, but this is 2012. So to see Enrique Carrion, the last Black man writing monthly comics in the mainstream, pull it off on the sixth comic book he's ever had? That's kind of impressive. Add to that part that the crystal clear artwork of John "Roc" Upchurch (on pencils, inks and colors, wow) conveys both the intimacy of these complex characters ("Shortwings" the homicidal, sexually deprived faerie, for example) and the intensity of the action scenes. There are a few talky, expository pages ("A question that sows the seeds of action ...") but there's still so much entertainment happening here that it's worth it, and this issue is a great jumping on point. Outstanding entertainment.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Affordable, and soldily entertaining. Good stuff!

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"Justice League" #6 feels a little bit anachronistic, like it fell out of an earlier era, with the jingoistic pugilism and impossible quest for justice against impossible odds. Had the story itself not counted on the shorthand of you just knowing (and therefore caring) about these characters, then this might have been better than just "all right." As it is, it's empty and familiar bravado based on iconography, not story, a reminder of how comics should be without actually doing the things that made it so.

"New Avengers" #22 followed a popular trend (perhaps established by IDW's new "G.I. Joe" series) with the heroes not being terribly good at what they do. There's also a bit of monologuing that would have made Cesar Romero and Burgess Meredith cringe and Norman Osborn plays a song from R. Kelly. This wasn't bad, but it wasn't exactly complete enough to be what you'd call an actual story.

"Scalped" #56 feels like it's an issue from a series ready to shut things down. Dash Bad Horse is in a whole new space, his antithesis is resigned to life behind bars and things on the horrible reservation where they all grew up start to look a little less bleak. Sounds like it should be a good thing, right? Well, holding your breath for a bright sunny happy ending seems particularly naive, but this was a good issue in a long string of good issues, but they're "TV Good," which ain't bad, but not quite what we're looking for.

The Rock is front and center in "G.I. Joe Retaliation: Official Movie Prequel" #2, busting loose from secret confinement with the Joe team and desperate to rescue his friend Mainframe. However, this means that Snake Eyes has to take the burly machine gunner into his confidence, and that process is a little bit predictable. Not bad, though, and a good tone set for the sequel.

When you have a Hulk, every problem looks like it should be smashed in "Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates" #7, as Ultimate Nick Fury has to resort to desperate measures to deal with the smartest super villain that Ultimate world would ever face. The conclusion had an air of amusement to it, but the road getting there was talky and largely superfluous.

If you like your spy action British and whimsical, "Steed and Mrs. Peel" #2 is there for you, with a quick plot and clear thermonuclear stakes. Things might be a little "bob's your uncle" to get all the way past "TV Good," but if this were on at 10PM and your remote settled on it, you wouldn't turn away.

"Magic: The Gathering" #2 took a mild dip in quality from last issue largely due to coloring. The hard to decipher artwork was awash in browns and blacks and moody purples, so much so that it made what was happening difficult to discern. The complex protagonist is on the run while rushing to avenge his murdered village. It'd be interesting to see a remastered version with the lights on.

"Star Trek" #6 also moves really fast as a scientific challenge got solved in what seemed like a really small period of time. Like, twentieth century small. Still, it was interesting to see the tiny variances between this Abrams-inspired crew in contrast to the "classic" Roddenberry gang many may be more familiar with, but not so much you should part with your hard earned "credits" unless you need to get every bit of "Star Trek" out there.

"Netherworld" #4 is a moody, sensuous thriller with supernatural overtones and taut storytelling, finding bad people in a bad place, revealing a secret about an innocent girl trapped in the middle of it all. If this were a sixty million dollar big budget picture in your local cineplex, with Ashley Judd and Christian Slater, you could envision yourself checking it out when it hits cable. Not bad, though.

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

"Avengers" #23, "Green Wake" #10, "Voltron" #3, "Amazing Spider-Man" #680, "Hack/Slash" #13, "Legion Secret Origin" #5, "Angel and Faith" #7, "The Twelve" #10, "Kirby Genesis: Dragonsbane" #2, "Invincible" #89, "Shade" #5, "Immortal Demon In The Blood" #3, "Astonishing X-Men" #47, "Batman Beyond Unlimited" #1, "Venom" #13.4, "Pigs" #6, "George R.R. Martin's A Game Of Thrones" #6, "Moon Knight" #10, "Spaceman" #4, "Six Guns" #5, "Green Hornet" #22, "Ultimate Comics X-Men" #8, "Lord of the Jungle" #2, "Transformers: Autocracy" #4, "FF" #15, "Joe Hill's The Cape" #4, "Clive Barker's Hellraiser" #11, "G.I. JOE A Real American Hero Annual" #1, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro-Series" #3, "Darkness" #100.

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

"Infestation 2 Team-Up" #1 was chock full of in jokes, a boring comic about being bored with comics, metatextual and insipid without even compelling artwork to make someone stand up and get involved. Tedious.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

One bad comic book wasn't enough to sandbag the week.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

One jump beats one bad comic no matter everything that fell in between.

THE BUSINESS

Dude, Komplicated is doing it big, whether you get direct links to it or not. How big? Big like checking out why old PSP games get the shaft on Vita, the launch roster for "Street Figher X Tekken," respecting Roy L. Clay, Senior, how body armor made from fish scales could save your life, new comics news from Enrique Carrion and former Playboy model Carla Harvey, free MP3 downloads (that's every Monday), an interview with Diahann Carroll, rational discussions on nuking satellites in space, of course the commentary track for these reviews and a lot more. 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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