The Buy Pile: Scoundrels and Supermen Save The Day

Thu, August 2nd, 2012 at 11:15am PDT

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 AUGUST 1, 2012

Action Comics #12
(DC Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
If you were looking for an issue of the New 52's "Action Comics," you might be a little surprised as this ... this is more like "All-Star Superman." Remember before 1986's "Man of Steel" when Superman used to do all kinds of wholly ridiculous stuff that would either leave your jaw hanging open or force you to smile at its moxie? Grant Morrison does. He remembers and he got to a place where he could get an art team of Rags Morales, Cafu, Brad Walker, Rick Bryant, Bob McLeod, Andrew Hennessy, Brad Anderson and Gabe Eltreb (wow, that's a lotta folks) to help reintroduce Captain Comet (not the sad sack whining about Starfire from a few years ago) and cause a ridiculous amount of collateral damage to boot. A surprisingly engaging read that sneaks up on you when you last expect it, with an ending Richard Donner would love. Nicely done.

Thief of Thieves #7
(Image Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
There's a moment during the Pierce Brosnan remake of "The Thomas Crown Affair" when Rene Russo realizes what's happening, realizes that there's nothing anybody can do but enjoy the show, and she kind of smiles. The camera catches it, and what happens on screen is sheer magic. There's a moment in this issue of "Thief of Thieves" that's like that, on the very first page, when the police detective finds out exactly what really happened (as much as she can) and starts to break down. The explanation of what really happened when the heist went ... well, not exactly "wrong," just differently than almost everyone expected, leads to a moment that Walt White would appreciate after his early fifth season shenanigans on "Breaking Bad," and the symmetry of this was simply splendid. The entire series has been close to the mark, but to have this kind of culmination worked amazingly by itself and will surely make the collected edition a treasure. Wonderful, wonderful work.

Hawkeye #1
(Marvel Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
"This is what he does when he's not being an Avenger. That's all you need to know." It's enough as this craftily balanced, moody street level adventure of "the greatest sharpshooter known to man" (should be fun when Bullseye's back to debate that) getting involved in community affairs (living in Biggie Smalls' old neighborhood) and shaking off life threatening injuries in a ridiculously small amount of time. Apparently, he's sitting on a lot of cash, gets a dog and generally breaks stuff in Brooklyn. A surprisingly effective done in one story that introduces the life behind the life of the hotheaded adventurer.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Three jumps, every one demanding a ride home due to sheer quality? That's all good!

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

Did you ever see the movie "Real Genius" starring Val Kilmer? "Think Tank" #1 could easily be its sequel, as a slacker has been recruited by DARPA to make weapons, which is all well and good until he gets a conscience about the blood on his hands, Tony Stark style. Rival scientists want him gone, his military masters want results and he has to play a lot of agendas against each other. Not bad, but not, "Oh, this has to come home," good.

In a "what if" scenario, Wade Wilson falls under the psychiatric care of a villain who should have known better in "Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe" #1, which first takes on the Fantastic Four and another really big name in the start of a campaign of murder and mayhem. Which means slightly more jokes than when the Punisher did it and so on and what have you. Which, if you're in to it, is okay.

"Earth 2" #4 tried hard, introducing the struggle between Grundy and Alan Scott's Green Lantern (sort of), having Hawkgirl take the example of being bossy from that world's deceased Bat and introducing the Atom as an analogue of Ultimate Captain America and Giant-Man. Interesting pieces, but it didn't come together as an actually solid plot.

"Mind the Gap" #3 is -- again -- a gorgeously done book, and Jim McCann's mystery-laden plotting would work well in, say, an OGN or even a prose novel. Here? There's not enough meat on the bones of this story to make it work, despite how the morsels available might taste good. To say more about the details would spoil things, but there's some interesting elements here.

J'onn J'onnz decides to end his secret ops tenure in "Stormwatch" #12, and that means lots of characters getting the Zatanna-to-Doctor-Light treatment and again, a lot of ambitious elements (Shadow Lords, new surprises from the Eminence of Blades, an okay scene with Apollo and Midnighter, et cetera) can't get it together.

"Defenders" #9 got all Austin Powers as amazing artwork was thrown at a plot that was 2/3 fight scene and one part weird swinging sixties Nazi-baiting whimsy. The bit with the concordance engine's protector showed up a little late to make sense as the Thunderbolts may have passed their "modern day Sliders" shtick on to another team.

"Hypernaturals" #2 was good but far, far too slow in developing itself into something, making its threat so distant and its stakes so abstract that the character work it does get done happens at a languishing pace. The romantic tension between Clone 45 and Bewilder feels forced, the one-note characterization of the newbies needed work and all around this feels like it just needed more time in the oven before being served to the public.

The action scenes in "Epic Kill" #4 were really enjoyable, with the kind of high octane thrills of an installment of the "Bourne" films. However, the rote characterization and motivation, as well as the stiff performance from the lead character, it's good enough to watch on TV, but not enough for hard earned dollars.

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

"Invincible Iron Man" #522, "Batwing" #12, "Peter Parker Spider-Man" #156.1, "Garfield" #4, "Justice League International" #12, "Higher Earth" #3, "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" #13, "Before Watchmen: Nite Owl" #2, "Harvest" #1, "30 Days of Night" #9, "Detective Comics" #12, "Transformers: Regeneration One" #82, "Red Lanterns" #12, "Alpha Girl" #4,"Green Arrow" #12, "G0dland" #36, "X-Men" #33, "World's Finest" #4, "Soulfire Volume 4" #1, "G.I. Combat" #4, "X-Factor" #241, "Merciless: The Rise of Ming" #3, "Avengers Academy" #34, "The Cape: 1969" #2, "Love & Capes: What To Expect" #1.

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

One sentence sums up "Black Kiss 2" #1: "I've seen enough hentai to know where this is going ..."

Aside from the regular (and by now expected) urination on the legacy of Wakanda, "Avengers vs. X-Men" #9 also treats K'un-Lun like it has a revolving door (admittedly, Hydra contributed to that a few years back), somehow gives Spider-Man the resilience of a much, much more powerful extrahuman (like, maybe even a Hulk) even while he gets some good speeches. This is just plain not working.

Three letters sum up "Mondo" #3: "WTH?" Positing a giant squid attacking Venice Beach, somehow a curvy girl in short shorts takes down two professional soldiers and meets weird monks that look like Shmoo ... this is no good.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Ah, one can't be too mad at all of this, given three jumps already and some interesting if ambitious failures. Oh, there was no order for "CrossStar" #1.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Three jumps make the whole week win, so yay!

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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