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 30, 2012
Transformers: Robots In Disguise #5
Jump from the Read Pile.
The planet Cybertron roils with political strife as unaligned mechanoids return from self-imposed exiles to find the surviving Decepticons under the thumb of the victorious Autobots, all struggling to form a pluralistic society ... of giant robots who turn into all brands of weapons of mass destruction. This issue is framed by a poet returning to the planet, one who looks familiar to fans of the 1980s movie, but bears little personality or thematic similarities. Sky-Byte isn't calling himself a "Sharkticon," but he transforms into a flying metal shark anyway. Despite some unresolved issues with the truly old and resurrected Ironhide, he falls into some challenging situations that are similar to the tension from the series "Alien Nation," with a wonderful mixture of action, tension and back room deal making. Imagine "The West Wing" with machines of murder, everything that New Caprica was supposed to be. Such a wonderful surprise from John Barber, Andrew Griffith, Casey Collier and Josh Perez.
New Mutants #43
Jump from the Read Pile.
If you're not on board for the Loki bandwagon by now, you may never get caught up, as no matter the incarnation, the Norse trickster is the one to watch. The Disir, dishonored proto-valkyrie from before the days Odin, are to be wed to the dreadlocked lothario Sigurd. Unfortunately (to bring in the characters who belong in this book) Dani Moonstar, who stands with one foot in the world of the Aesir and one in the world of mutantkind, just couldn't stand the overwhelming white patriarchy of the whole process (really, that's in the book, "I've had it with your chauvinistic swill!"), which tips over the apple cart and sends things in a direction that's very remarkable. As conclusions go, this is a big one and everything that should happen, whether you expect it or not, does. Bor stands perfectly as a fallen all-father, Sigurd plays his role perfectly (reminiscent of Prince Charming from "Fables" in a way), Hela is a wonderful pivot for the story ... there's so much great stuff happening here. When you've got three amazing voices like Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Kieron Gillen on the script, it makes sense, but the art from Carmine Di Giandomenico and Andy Troy shines just as brightly. Simply wonderful.
Star Wars Blood Ties: Boba Fett #2
(Dark Horse Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
The problems with the previous issue have been resolved as the titular character gets a great deal of spotlight. "But Boba Fett is dead," you might say, "the title says so." Sure he is. However, you don't get to be called the galaxy's greatest bounty hunter without having plans within plans, and that means the plot has to shove the first issue's protagonist around. That's a good thing, as he's a wet shirt that can't really keep up. The balance isn't quite right, but the good stuff here so powerfully outshines the missteps that it's worth your hard earned money. Great to see Dark Horse spicing up things with this storied franchise.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Three out of this world -- literally -- books to start things off. Yay!
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"Supercrooks" #3 was perhaps closest to making the jump without getting it right as both character and plot elements tied together, but things felt rushed as so much had to happen in such a short amount of time. Between exposition and misdirection, a lot of ground needed covering. Not bad, but not standing on its own.
"Batman Annual" #1 was extremely close to making it home with a drastically different take on Victor Fries. Like, drastically different. The Bat is almost a guest star as his son Damian and ward Nightwing face off against the cryogenic-themed crook. There are things you can't un-know once you read this, like an episode of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" where you find something unpleasant but well-written and depicted.
Rupert Giles had three sisters, and two of them pop up in "Angel and Faith" #10 with some outstanding quippery. "If you must feel guilty about something, there's always your hair," one said to Angel, later saying, "If I wanted to shag a corpse, I'd have gotten married." They're sparkplugs in a "Golden Girls-mixed-with-magic" kind of way and the means through which their plot winds is pretty well done, but outside of their machinations and mouthiness, the issue's just the same ol' same ol' that hasn't been so effective before.
Ol' Jade Jaws stars in his own version of "Memento" in "Incredible Hulk" #8, where Steve Dillon's distinctive artwork helps deliver a harmless and mean (in a fun way) story guest starring the Punisher. It's as easy to forget as it is to enjoy, so while it was a good story, it wasn't quite good enough to go for.
"Batman Beyond Unlimited" #4 had a collection of short stories set in the futuristic continuity. It has some cute moments -- Bruce Wayne still giving Clark Kent heck after all those years, the origin of Warhawk (child of animated John Stewart and Hawkgirl) and other brief vignettes. However, there was far from enough meat on any of these mini-stories to make them satisfy.
"Bionic Woman" #2 was wall-to-wall action that was almost enough to work on the stength of its very solid plotting. The unidimensional characters that populated this issue, though, were its Achilles' heel, taking the momentum of the plot and slowing it down.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Ultimate Comics The Ultimates" #11, "Lady Death" #14, "Amazing Spider-Man Annual" #39, "New Deadwardians" #3, "FF" #18, "Ravagers" #1, "Hulk Smash Avengers" #5, "Exile on the Planet of the Apes" #3, "X-Men" #29.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
Really, "Wolverine" #307? Again with the "mind control Logan so he becomes a weapon of evil" shtick? Oy.
"Animal Man Annual" #1 installed a history for "The Red" and "The Green" with a team-up around the turn of the 20th century, making "their" shared struggle against The Rot a generational issue with shades of Witchblade/Angelus/Darkness. Its antebellum heroics fell flat, though and the plot was a meandering mess.
"Wolverine and the X-Men" #11 steps before the meet-up on the moon to show more punching you won't remember and won't matter. Kid Gladiator tries to inject some esprit de corps but barely has room to accomplish anything. More crossover foolishness with tedious activity plodding onwards.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Not so bad.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Three jumps beats three stinkers, mild as they were, so we'll call it a winning week.
Komplicated.com looked at why "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" ran from the shadow of the Spider, posted photos of what could be the Iron Patriot, caught up on driverless cars, shared tons of free MP3s, looked at Andre 3000's problems getting his Jimi Hendrix biopic going and much 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!