The Buy Pile: Condolence Fives

Thu, May 10th, 2012 at 11:28am PDT

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 MAY 9, 2012

Journey Into Mystery #637
(Marvel Comics)
Before Thor was Thor ... there was Sigurd, and Sigurd ... well, he's kind of a jerk. Using old, old magic he pulls a whammy that means "reality's been punched in the face." This makes Thor a car mechanic, Hela a creepy recycling stepmom, Volstagg an ill-considered baker, Tyr a homeless war vet ... madness, right? The set up for the closing page makes the Kieron Gillen-introduced threat more dangerous than ever. Often this kind of "elseworlds" blah blah falls flat, but it goes just quickly enough that it works out. The sense of mystery and oddity fits perfectly with artwork from Carmine Di Giandomenico and Andy Troy, while Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning join Gillen for an enjoyable script.

Skullkickers #14
(Image Comics)
How exactly did a bald berserker in medieval times get a golden gun? That's explained -- sort of -- in a time tripping tale that's positively hirsute with helpful hints. Sure, it's a distinctive departure from the normal tone of the series, but not one without its share of entertainment. As well, there's a short but sweet backup that crosses over with the Eisner-nominated fantasy comic "Princeless." Spoilers aplenty, so suffice it to say that the start of answers is done with a complete narrative and lots of cohesive, enjoyable moments.

Fairest #3
(Vertigo/DC Comics)
The Snow Queen loves a good story, and Briar Rose's origin is a doozy. Covering a distinctively Bill Willingham-inflected look at the Sleeping Beauty myth, there's a plan underneath the plan, all depicted with alarming clarity and brilliance by Phil Jiminez, Andy Lanning (he stays busy!), Mark Farmer and Andy Dalhouse.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Solid start!

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"Demon Knights" #9 again had good character work and a slow, slow plot. Vandal Savage as a drunken berserker is a lot of fun, the stoic exiled Amazon is a nice counterbalance, as is the interplay between the likely insane Shining Knight and the manipulative Madame Xanadu. Like a fun bar you hang out with just to see the people, even if things don't seem to be happening.

"Memorial" #5 is hurt by the periodical format, as its lead character continues her quest for answers, with the reader following along to do the same. The time-lost elements add a steampunk element that's not unwelcome, but the plot's way too slow to work for the price.

"Incorruptible" #29 may have been a little fatalistic, but it had some good elements as long time football Alana showed off her newfound super powers and the entire town of Coalville panics under the threat of radioactive death looming over them. Good moments but the melee segments were less interesting.

Using the framing device of a police interrogation, "Punisher" #11 talked around the title character instead of dealing with him directly. The fact he happened to be shooting zombies is just ... well, weird, but his matter-of-fact method of dealing with every situation in his life the same way (bullets) made it mildly entertaining.

Damian Wayne is almost always worth watching, and "Batman and Robin" #9 was no exception as he alone battled the nondescript Court of Owls with precision and focus, using all of the training he had at his disposal to make one heck of a fight. If there was a single other character on panel with a fifth of his charisma or flavor, this issue might have been worth having.

"Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates" #10 blew up some really high profile real estate and was a fairly good disassembled-style story with the heroes on the ropes, even though it couldn't close the deal on its finale.

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

"Deadpool" #54, "Invincible" #91, "Batgirl" #9, "Dan the Unharmable" #1, "Scarlet Spider" #5, "Batman" #9, "Higher Earth" #1, "Uncanny X-Force" #25, "Legion Lost" #9, "Alabaster Wolves" #2, "Wolverine" #306, "Night of 1,000 Wolves" #1, "Night Force" #3, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9" #9, "G.I. Joe" #13, "Ultimate Comics X-Men" #11, "Suicide Squad" #9, "X-Men Legacy" #266, "Invincible" #91, "Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic: War" #5, "Superboy" #9, "Artifacts" #17, "Captain America and Hawkeye" #630, "Frankenstein Alive, Alive" #1, "Fatale" #5.

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

"Trio" #1 was, in a word, awful. Borrowing liberally from early "Fantastic Four" ideas, the heroic team of Rock, Paper and Scissors (not making that up) face the menace of a flying aquatic-themed imperious enemy. If you're going to steal from the classics, at least Alan Moore it up and take some new roads, bring some new insights into the ideas. Rule 63 applications barely cut it.

The She Hulk shows up in "Avenging Spider-Man" #7 which (for some reason) brought back Bastet (despite apparently dying in "Secret Invasion" -- hard to keep a god down, you know?) looking for a new champion ... while apparently being as dumb as a box of hammers. Some years ago, Superman teamed up with (then) Captain Marvel to talk down an angry Egyptian goddess, and it was handled with delicacy and deftness. Here? Spider-Man makes an ass of himself and somehow that's the solution. Tedious.

"Resurrection Man" #9 picked up where the "meh" "Suicide Squad" left off and made things worse, with Mitch Shelley using a weirdly intimate method to defuse Deadshot while Amanda Waller engaged in a repetitive and emo debate over whether or not he's a jackass. In the end, even with the boring shades of the new Body Doubles around, nothing actually happened of consequence in this issue.

The idea of the Phoenix Force getting retconned into K'un L'un was weird enough, but when "New Avengers" #26 brought some baggage from Jonathan Hickman's "SHIELD" series along, things went from ridiculous to sad. There's virtually no characterization here, no sign of the actual characters you expect in this series, essentially just putting forth the idea that gingers are superbly powerful.

With the coming of Rob Liefeld on "Deathstroke" #9, it should be no surprise to see many, many old "X-Force" elements pop up, including Omega Men that resembled old Marvel elements (names, visual design, et cetera), riffs on pop culture ("thermal detonator") all to bring on Lobo ... playing it straight, after being a punch line for years. Sad stuff, really.

With "Director Daisy Johnson" (really?) "Captain America" #11 trots out the idea of Diamondback, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (and partnered with veteran agent Dum Dum Dugan) without batting an eye. Oh, and there's a new Scourge, as if anybody needed that. Worse? The new catch phrase is "Time to face justice." The one good part, gone.

Well ... the Indigo Tribe gets explained in "Green Lantern" #9 ... and ... wow. Retcons aplenty and positing some strange ideas (a power source commensurate to that created by the Guardians without powers on their level), a cult based on Abin Sur and a "rehabilitation" program that has considerable problems. Pretty much no good ideas here.

Most surprising feature of the Jean Grey School revealed in "Wolverine and the X-Men" #10? "Professor Doop's Choir." However, when Scott (and some of his bruisers) come to "talk" for ... well, most of the issue, knowing that sides have been chosen (in comics that have already been published) it's kind of a waste of time. Even without that knowledge, this emo chatfest didn't have much to offer.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

That was a lotta bad comics. Kinda rough out there

Oh, and the entire order of "Hulk" #51 was shorted by Diamond. Monopolies, whadda ya gonna do?

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Gotta call it a wash as the large number of stinkers outweighed the solid contributors.

THE BUSINESS

Komplicated.com brought the noise on new jobs available from major magazines, the new "True Blood" trailer, music recommendations from Brutha Gimel, drive-by malware sites hitting Android devices, free MP3 downloads, a guide to where Black people can be found in pop culture and tons 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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