The Buy Pile: Up In The Club With Cap, Tony & Spidey

Thu, June 28th, 2012 at 10:58am 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 JUNE 27, 2012

Captain America & Iron Man #633
(Marvel Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
This started out as a "charity jump" -- time was running out for the shop to close and a book or three hadn't gotten handled yet. When it came home, this turned out to have all the charm of "Steve Rogers, Super Soldier" #1, positing a grey world of extrahuman activism involving people who may not be very nice, doing things you wouldn't want reported on the front page of the Daily Bugle. In Madripoor, Tony Stark decides to make a presentation at a conference for warmongerers, a gun show for weapons of mass destruction and a place that treats Tony Stark like a god for his many, many years of building better ways to make people die. Of course there's shenanigans involved and a beautiful woman in a slinky dress. Oh, and Batroc's on board, a little less bombastic than sometimes, but hitting all the right marks. Fun superhero stuff working behind the curtains of the doings of right and wrong with smooth artwork by the brilliant Barry Kitson and Javier Tartaglia with a razor-sharp script from Cullen Bunn.

The Amazing Spider-Man #688
(Marvel Comics)
Fresh off of a big loss, Spider-Man's hell-bent on making some things right, and that means an appointment with Doctor Kurt Connor in his scaliest persona (just in time for a big movie opening). Dan Slott's script bounces around a bit through the course of another long day that hits everything from the poshest night life with MJ, the desecration of a prepubescent corpse (for science, of course), a trip to the sewers and many, many other exciting New York locales. A great balance of plot, characterization and action. Great stuff.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Solidly entertaining and an affordable selection.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

Could you imagine Fortress Maximus at the center of a hostage confrontation? "Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye" #6 puts the big man behind a big gun and a big grudge to go along with it. This slick little character drama -- which could not happen anywhere outside of the ill-fated Robinson family-styled space voyage "Rodimus Prime" organized to search for Cybertron's lost glory -- almost made it work, but the key to the mystery wasn't made clear enough by the art (or maybe the coloring). The procedural elements were strong, and literally just one very minor pass on the visuals would have made this a champion.

The secrets of Arthur Curry start to come to light in "Aquaman" #10, as Black Manta starts enacting his plans which coincidentally have a lot of punching involved. The man in the black wetsuit manipulates and moves boldly, but the title character seemed like he was standing still, the supporting characters were mostly stiff and the scenes in question are less than compelling.

"Star Wars Blood Ties: Boba Fett Is Dead" #3 was great every second it worked with the title character. A subplot involving a clone-alike didn't work so much despite a really charming, well-prepared little girl and great amounts of gunfire and people dying and what not. As you yourself have no doubt said, numerous times in life, this would have benefitted from much more Fett (despite a lotta evidence that he's terrible at his job).

A great set up, "Idolized" #0 borrowed all the tactics that launched "Noble Causes," introducing a world of super powers and celebrity while giving one character a development arc to follow. However, for the price, it was a little skimpy.

"Voltron" #6 does some majorly different things with the Voltron mythos, even introducing a giant robot steeped in controversy and misunderstanding while dropping the biggest difference in core ideas for a property since Steve Rogers was outed as Weapon One. It was, however, very, very expository. Talk talk talk ... had this played out on an hour long drama, with dramatic music and some charismatic actors, it could have been gripping. On these pages, with this art, and this small an amount of actual Voltron, all of the sudden Arus and Planet Doom are like New Genesis and Apokolips, forever locked in a struggle and incorporating helpless dupes into their machinations. Surely reference material, but a little dry of a presentation.

"Batman Incorporated" #2 was mostly a history lesson on who Talia Al Ghul is and why she's a badass. The actual story here took place in the space of an hour or two, and without the flashbacks (which are fun, but tell you little more than your average wiki link might) would have played out really drily. Not bad, though.

If you already like the esoteric charms of Matt Smith's depiction or the cultured appeal of Picard's crew, "Star Trek The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation 2" #2 will have some moments you'll likely enjoy. However, aside from being cute, it didn't do much save remind you of its time period on the "Star Trek" timeline, after the Borg-fueled slaughter at Wolf 359.

"Soulfire: Hope" #1 was a smooth linear mix of science and magic with a tournament that Wonder Woman would have nodded approvingly at, a tense political situation and a goodly show of blood (no sign of the Hound or the Mountain, or even Brienne). Unfortunately, the characters are flat, the coloring is flat and the stakes are inconsequential because, well, there's not much reason to care about the characters. Easy enough to follow, though.

"Batman The Dark Knight" #10 was kind of disturbing as a Gotham-based wackadoo abducts and mentally violates small children. The Bat and Jim Gordon, of course, don't like this one bit (really, why doesn't Batman just pay for cameras, like, every freaking where in Gotham? Isn't that what Bale and Freeman argued about in the movie?) and this was more a horror/suspense story than a crime tale, so for fans of the Bat who lean in a more Steve Niles direction, this might be perfect for you.

Erik Larsen checks in for "Supreme" #65 as "Mean Supreme" doesn't like a president with a foreign name or any of the shenanigans of the modern world, and the modern Supreme (and several other versions, including the ridiculous lion and mouse-headed versions) are depowered and confused about how to proceed. The plot maybe had the same issue, meandering a bit and leaving only the goofiest of antagonists to provide some struggle, aside from the everyday battle with bureaucracy.

"Scalped" #59 was clearly getting ready to shut down the store, leaving it all on the field in a bloody, messy, dimly colored showdown involving a desk full of money, a fire and a penultimate chapter that pulled no punches. If you're been along for the whole ride, this surely provides some catharsis as you brace yourself for the last pages.

The fun stuff with Reed invited to Wakanda to "keep up" takes a back seat as the kids go on an expedition in "FF" #19, riding jungle animals and end up struggling with teleporting versions of the Somali pirates, the Hyena Clan of Marvel's Africa. It took the scenic route to a fairly predictable ending, serving as a digression that was cute but not "must-read" urgency.

The enemy in "Justice League" #10 was boring and emo, starting off with Aquaman serving as the league's Rodney Dangerfield. Screw all that. The Shazam backup gives you three important words: "Black Adam's back," and despite looking much shinier, he looks fantastic. Cool, but not "spend the money" cool.

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

"Mighty Thor" #16, "Flash" #10, "Hypernaturals" #1, "Spider-Men" #2, "Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men" #10, "Magic The Gathering: The Spell Thief" #1, "Justice League Dark" #10, "Star Trek" #10, "Superman" #10, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtes" #11, "Teen Titans" #10, "Savage Dragon" #180, "X-Men" #31, "Voodoo" #10, "Witchblade" #157, "Lord of the Jungle" #5, "Hit-Girl" #1, "Angel and Faith" #11, "Prophet" #26.

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

"Before Watchmen: Nite Owl" #1 was boring, scattered between the panels of the original Moore and Gibbons' classic. Oh, and the younger Nite Owl came in like his name was Tim Drake, knowing all the answers. That's really all there is to say about it.

"Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates" #12 took the concept of "deus ex machina" to a new, weird extreme as Tony Stark is dropped in to Evil Ultimate Reed Richard's City. This ending was both ridiculous and unsatisfyingly anticlimactic in terms of how "big" they made this villain turn and what not, falling over like a lead balloon.

"Green Lantern: New Guardians" #10 posited a lot of ... unusual things. First, apparently, ring wielders only deal with crises having to do with rings. Spirit forbid a space ship loses power near a gravity well, gotta fight off somebody hating on this random color of lantern. The Reach -- really trying to be somebody, but not really getting it right -- wanna destroy the Blue Lanterns, who apparently get to act like any other Lantern when a Green Lantern wanders along. New, old ... nonsensical, and broken down like a FourSquare or XBox 360 accomplishment. Then, the Blue Lanterns are cribbing lots of ideas from the Universal Church of Truth ("... against all odds, we believe! With our dying breath, we believe!") and the book concludes with an interesting leap in logic that is just taken for granted. Baffling stuff.

"Incredible Hulk" #10 really wanted to try some new things, as centered by its most quotable moment -- "Tonight I will eat grilled American and make love to many bears." However, Ol' Jade Jaws practically sleepwalked through the events here (literally falling asleep at one point, doing the old "calm down and turn into a savage Banner" shtick from many years ago) and broken toys of forgotten legacies are -- again -- left loose in the universe, like a ship full of Cylons with paint across their chest, wandering freely in space. Simply bad.

"Savage Hawkman" #10 spends a good bit of time working with the Nth Metal Wolverclaws with a super dull antagonist that sounds like a bit from a Dennis Miller riff. Again empty stakes, again lacking impetus, again deathly dull.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Ah, it's aight.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

A jump, not spending a lot ... that's all good.

THE BUSINESS

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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