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 JUNE 13, 2012
The Amazing Spider-Man #687
Doctor Octopus' grand scheme for global domination comes to its pulse pounding conclusion here, with mind controlled Avengers on his side, plus the Rhino as backup. Spider-Man has just the Black Widow, Silver Sable and a less-than-enthusiastic Mysterio to count on and time running out. Dan Slott's very savvy script manages to squeeze in character moments for even players who get very marginal moments in the spotlight while keeping the plot moving like a finely tuned Italian sports car. The artwork from Stefano Caselli and Frank Martin Jr. handles the kinetic action and tension between characters deftly, providing a great experience all around. This series is running at full speed and providing one heck of a show.
All worries that this series was adrift are quashed here as Rex ("The Big One") has his secret origin fully revealed, the magic-influenced root of his golden gun and even how he keeps it stocked in ammunition, despite living in a pre-gunpowder society. This issue snakes around your expectations and knocks you flat on your backside with whimsy, clarity and excellence. Add in a new multi-personality narration that'd make Daniel Way proud and you have a great, great issue. Jim Zub's really a great talent, and the artwork from Edwin Huang and Misty Coats works wonders. Great, consistent entertainment.
Fantastic Four #607
Jump from the Read Pile.
To paraphrase the words of Meek Mill, "Wakanda back," and in just a couple of pages, Jonathan Hickman seeks to mitigate the nearly irreparable damage done to T'Challa as a failure to his people and the legacy of the fictional country at the hands of Jonathan Maberry... and does it in passing. The core of the story roots Wakandan religion in ancient Egyptain spirituality while bringing in Marvel's first family because T'Challa wanted to ask Reed a favor, saying "This is a journey of knowledge, Reed. I asked you here to act as my second because you're the only man I know that can keep up." Take that, Tony Stark and Hank Pym. Just barely hitting the point of "enough story," it perfectly covers the befuddled professor role of Reed while bringing back the seamless cool of Priest's depiction of T'challa. Sure, you can quibble about the Dora Milaje, who should only speak in Hausa and only to T'Challa, but it's a minor note given the crisp artwork of Giuseppe Camuncoli, Karl Kesel and Paul Mounts, bringing to life a script that's much more like Hickman's creator-owned, layered storytelling. Wonderful.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Great start for the week!
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"Valen the Outcast" #7 turned a corner here, and some fans will not go along with it. The ending here could be considered polarizing, but with some solid monologuing and tension getting ratcheted up exponentially. A bit slow in its pacing, and again a "love it or hate it" ending, but interesting enough.
"Dancer" #2 was again much like a CBS military procedural with a hint of Jason Bourne's urgency. Adding in some science fiction elements helped elevate this from mediocrity, given its de rigueur artwork, but not quite far enough.
Speaking of military procedurals, "Voltron: Year One" #3 injected a mystery into the assassinations and secret insertions in hostile territory. Sven is in charge but Keith is helping more than he should as the former shows signs of strain underneath incredible command pressures. The comic perhaps relies too heavily on previous knowledge of the characters without doing any real work on panel.
"Cobra" #14 needs more Cobra and less of Flint being such a stiff, as he's having a hard time settling into clandestine operations while bringing in a swordswoman from the cold. Playing assets against each other, chasing down impossible pieces of intel... not bad at all, but not great either.
"Mind The Gap" #2 was still close but still seemed too short for its own good, introducing some new ideas about the shadowy realm between life and death, but only managed to make its lead more of an actual character while all others remain -- no pun intended -- mere shadows in the periphery. This feels like it'd make a magnificent novel.
A talky recasting of the band as agents of universal order, "KISS" #1 is well drawn by the sure hand of Jamal Igle and Chris Ryall's script heroically strives to balance heaps of exposition and some fairly nondescript action scenes. Making it a period piece was a less-than-compelling choice, but if you're already a die-hard fan of the group, no amount of challenges will keep you from this.
Taking on the very familiar Greek pantheon as a subject matter (also done by "War Goddess"), "Grimm Fairy Tales Annual 2012" covered a plan by a divinity planning to rule humanity and soak up all that nice worship. Sure, that's cliche territory and the characterization here is paint by numbers, relying on stereotype rather than writing, but it's a great looking book, nonetheless.
The "Meh" Pile
Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Scarlet Spider" #6, "War Goddess" #8, "Spider-Man" #1, "Incorruptible" #30, "Uncanny X-Force" #26, "Superboy" #10, "Night of 1,000 Wolves" #2, "Avengers" #27, "Planetoid" #1, "Avengers Assemble" #4, "Legion Lost" #10, "Transformers: Robots in Disguise" #6, "Bad Medicine" #1, "Alpha Girl" #3, "AvX: VS" #3, "Star Wars Knight Errant: Escape" #1, "Saucer Country" #4, "Invincible" #92, "Fathom Volume 4" #6, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9" #10, "Batman and Robin" #10, "The Mighty Thor" #15
No, just... no...
These comics? Not so much...
Oy... "Batman" #10 falls into the same trap that DC did with Hush, positing a retcon into Bruce Wayne's past that dirties his family name and diminishes him. For the world's greatest detective to not have known one key piece of information, for the great humanitarians Thomas and Martha Wayne to have left this kind of possibility, for Alfred to never have said a thing... it's insulting. Sure, the New 52 has "altered" things, but for things to have gone this far... abominable.
Bruce Banner pulls strings off panel in "Incredible Hulk" #9, which spends most of the issue with the jade giant underwater after a surgery involving magic, struggling alongside fishmen. While the advancements for people of aquatic descent in getting more time in comics is admirable, it doesn't make it interesting. Bad stuff.
Vandal Savage, who has what's called slightly enhanced strength, has a punch that defies reason in "Demon Knights" #10. It's unfathomable what happened there, but it pushed the issue just below "meh" as the plot didn't try too hard to accomplish much.
"Green Lantern" #10 hinges on a lot of very convenient coincidences, and that makes for a story that feels slapdash. From the Indigo rings to Sinestro's fate, from a killer's regret to a crossover stupidly reborn, it doesn't feel like anything went right, and there was barely a flash of Green Lantern energy in the book. No.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
None too shabby.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Three solid purchases and more "okay" than "bad" makes things seem pretty good for the week as a whole.
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!