The Buy Pile

Thu, March 22nd, 2012 at 10:58am PDT | Updated: March 22nd, 2012 at 11:30am

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 MARCH 21, 2012

Wonder Woman #7
(DC Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
Wow. This issue takes a very, very different look at many elements of Greek myth when Wonder Woman, Hermes and Strife find common cause and a way in to visit Haephestus. Wonder Woman learns a number of things she would rather not have known, and this means fighting a giant lava alligator (crocodile?), tying up a god and showing everybody why her lasso is such a dangerous weapon. Lots of wonderful elements here that leave nothing to chance (especially pay attention to what the god with the guns says, nicely tying the issue together) in an issue that yanks the rug out from under what you believe about the Amazons in the best and meanest possible way.

Fables #115
(Vertigo/DC Comics)
The imagination of this multiple Eisner winning creative team is seemingly unending, as they take one of the children of Snow White and Bigby Wolf to yet another magical Fable land while another carefully laid plan begins to emerge. The best comic on the stands continues to deliver wonderful, well-crafted brilliance from Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha and Lee Loughridge, making Toyland a creepy, broken place, looking for a little girl to call queen, no matter how her family might worry. Great stuff.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Not too expensive, great, re-readable comics...that's a good start!

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

When you see a fat man parachute off of a New York skyscraper, you know there are at least a couple of laughs, and "Deadpool" #52 provides as he continues his quest to defeat his healing factor, the most relentless enemy of all. Daken, Wolverine, Kingpin, Tombstone...even Bob, Agent of Hydra, they all dance to Wade Wilson's demented tune, and while it has some great moments, it doesn't really hold together as a coherent whole.

Steve Trevor is the focal point of "Justice League" #7, where he stands between people capable of leveling a continent (despite being, essentially, an immature frat house full of misfits) and a world of publicity-driven, headline chasing politicians. His character arc is all right but gets bogged down in the ridiculous nature of the League themselves (why in the name of pie is the Watchtower such a clubhouse? Why is Diana so calm amidst such foolishness?) and the plot could use some pepping up, but it's not bad at all.

"Peanuts" #3 is a completely harmless dose of all ages fun that'd delight your average seven year old, using themes and ideas that are as universal today as they were when the ideas were originally crafted. If you love "Peanuts," this will be an instant pick up for you. If not, this might not be enough to entice you.

The character work in "Supercrooks" #1 is great, developing super powered criminals as people so realistic they could be standing next to you at the donut shop or sitting in the next car. The plot, however, is trite and predictable, and that kept it from working, but it had lots of potential.

"Smoke and Mirrors" #1 was very close to making the mark, positing a world where magic exists in such common use that it's like the way we view science. Personal electronics, trade unions, medical practice -- all powered by everyday people using magic. It was, in its presentation, fascinating. However, when the plot focused on a petulant teenager, it wobbled and showed signs of trouble. Interesting start...

"Invincible Iron Man" #514 isn't quite back to fighting form as Tony Stark talked a lot and tried to fit in corporate wrangling with his own intellectual process. The whip crack intensity of the Mandarin's campaign seemed like it lost a step, and that didn't help, but it was at the low end of being good, within visual range of greatness.

"The Strange Talent of Luther Strode" #6 had lots of fighting. A villain monologuing through it tried to convey some higher philosophical concepts in a mixture of a not so different speech and a "Just Between You And Me" monologue.

If the Marvel villain Arcade had dreams, it would look a lot like "Steed and Mrs. Peel" #3, a trip of psychopomp and espionage that dealt with secretive clubs and murderous games. Ambiance and vanity that's a meandering road, and if that's what you like, you'll surely be on board. Otherwise, this may be a little too insular to the British isles for some readers.

Peter Parker, not his costumed alter ego, started to notice the difference he can make in "Amazing Spider-Man" #682, but when Doctor Octopus starts coming up with his own "contribution" then...well, it's not so solid. The first half of the issue was far stronger than the end.

"Memorial" #4 will again delight fans of Vertigo with its stylized experience, a battle between now, what went before and what's yet to come. Interesting stuff here but moving far too slowly, even as it expands upon its core ideas.

The quietly evil space villain Unit from S.W.O.R.D.'s brig is on the loose in "Uncanny X-Men" #9, and he's following along the path of Lucifer, the sardonic Cylon liason from the original "Battlestar Galactica" series...but with a scalpel. He's great. The rest of the people in this issue? Eh, they could come or go. But watching an evil space robot mastermind with a plan, that's good stuff.

"Near Death" #6 was a neat done in one that had the newly reformed assassin protecting a politically ambitious former district attorney. Fans of the last "Human Target" series (the one that spawned the TV adaptation) should enjoy this as it has an edge of humor and a very speedy pace. It was definitely good enough to watch on TV, if not enough for every fan to spend money on.

"Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes" #6 had an ending so jam packed with saccharine that it could be banned by Jenny Craig, as an old Star Trek favorite provides the handy way out for all this madness, as Jim Kirk initiates some grade-A trash talk while Spock and Braniac 5 remember how to negotiate like V'ger was ready to kill everybody.

"Heart" #4 was realistic. It stomped on dreams, it took the lead character and shook on his foundations while following an inevitable path towards a resolution that seemed logical. Entertaining? Maybe not. But realistic? You betcha.

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

"Stan Lee's Mighty 7" #1, "Legion of Super-Heroes" #7, "Star Wars Dawn of the Jedi: Force Storm" #2, "Birds of Prey" #7, "Monocyte" #3, "Kick Ass 2" #7, "Blue Beetle" #7, "Stephen King and Joe Hill's Road Rage: Throttle" #2, "Captain Atom" #7, "Prophet" #23, "Marvel's The Avengers Prelude: Fury's Big Week" #2, "No Place Like Home" #2, "Catwoman" #7, "Rebel Blood" #1, "X-Factor" #233, "Robin and the Outlaws" #7, "Planet of the Apes" #12, "Snake Eyes" #11

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

"Avengers X-Sanction" #4 was abysmal. Seriously. The attempt at having a point followed through on a fan-predicted plot point envisioned and foreshadowed before Bishop chased Cable through time, and that means this entire storyline served no purpose. Argh.

"Batman" #7 was super-emo, adding an element to Nightwing that was simply not needed, leaving Bruce and Dick whining and hand wringing for no real reason. The Court of Owls should be adjourned.

"Thunderbolts" #171 pulled a bait and switch with a bikini-ed Songbird taking vacation time...that did not in any way go as she expected, and got so visually creepy that this comic should not be read while eating. Not cool.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Only three stinkers? That's cool.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

A jump, didn't spend much, didn't hate much...that's a winning recipe.

THE BUSINESS

What went on with Komplicated.com this week? LeVar Burton singing about the economy, Ron Simmons joining the WWE Hall of Fame, Spike Lee's birthday, a retrospective on PM Dawn, looking at whether or not Static will join Young Justice, pole dancing robots, "Community's" return to TV and lots 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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