The Buy Pile: Giant Robots, Vader's Revenge and Being Lost In Toyland

Thu, August 23rd, 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 AUGUST 22s, 2012

Fables #120
(Vertigo/DC Comics)
Things aren't going so well for Snow White & Bigby Wolf's kids lost in a land of broken toys. Therese has gone native in one of the most murderous ways possible while Dare's listening to voices in his head. The issue goes a little more slowly than it should, but it still has some good moments. "Fables" is a solid enough series that a slow moment can be seen as contemplative, not padding.

Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye #8
(IDW Publishing)
The Decepticon Justice Division is freaking crazy, and seven destitute Decepticons have to go to even more extreme ends to avoid getting disconnected by Megatron's internal affairs department. During this issue, you won't get as many quotables as the previous one (though there are still plenty, and some star turns and witty performances) but you learn how far the Decepticons were willing to go in continuing their campaign for galactic domination (and maybe a little about why they ultimately failed). Also, back with Hot Rod's crew of wackadoos, resident mad scientist Chromedome digs into Skids' lost memories and finds some things neither of them expected. By the end of this issue, little is left the way you might expect as James Roberts turns in another great script with solid art by Alex Milne and Josh Burcham.

Star Wars: Darth Vader & The Ghost Prison #4
(Dark Horse Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
Oh boy. The first few pages create what's called The Prism Riot, and it leads the one-armed Lieutenant Tohm to find Vader's methods ... a little extreme. The Empire -- still young and struggling with establishing order -- is in danger from rebel forces that have nothing to do with orange flight suits. Along the way, this bridges prequels and the classic trilogy with a cast of brutal murderers and renegade Force users cast aside during the Republic's struggle with Dooku's Confederacy. Add in more charismatic speechifying from Moff Trachta and great character work, then you'll have one very, very entertaining issue. This is what you want from the "rise of the Empire" period.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Good, solid start to the week.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"Batman Incorporated" #3 was solid but not great as the Bat brings back his Matches Malone persona, but can't stop himself from trying to save a damsel in distress, which works as well as your average noir scenario would, while Damian does those Damian things you've come to expect. Again, coming close to the mark but Leviathan's infiltration of Gotham, under the nose of both the Bat and the allegedly super hooked up Court of Owls ... kind of hard to buy.

If you like all-ages whimsy and kookiness, "Adventure Time" #7 is likely right up your alley, as the two leads discover a time travel mystery that leaves them feeling awesome but troubled by the turn of events. Cute, a sure bet for fans of the property, but maybe not for everybody.

Venom's in the deepest part of a super villain nation in "Secret Avengers" #30, and that ain't good as Taskmaster has the last component of Max Fury's superweapon. Taskmaster gets some great lines (including calling Valkyrie and Hawkeye "second rate Thor lady" and "Captain Lamepower") and Max gets an unpleasant surprise, but the pieces of this story didn't put things together well enough to make it home.

The deeper look at the relationship between Robot and Monster Girl was the best part of "Invincible" #94, where the title character's stuck on a couch, another largely anonymous invasion threatens the earth and there are stacks of heroes and bad guys lying all over the place. Much of it had been done before, but the idea of generational conflict and being a long way from home, that part almost did it.

Tomax Paoli is crafty in "Cobra" #16 which has a whole lot of action, a great part with Firefly and even a death worth noting, but Flint's team has a hard time bringing it to the table, despite the skills they have on hand. So very close with that ending, but the artwork doesn't quite carry the day.

"Supercrooks" #4 had a good plot but paint-by-numbers execution as art and coloring made the moments of tension simply news reporting. Writing far outshone the art, and to see this done better (admittedly without powers, which should have made the big reveal a wonderful visual), check out that last issue of "Thief of Thieves."

If you enjoy camp and cheesecake, "Danger Girl/G.I. Joe" #2 is here to satisfy you as Abbey Chase is clearly deep undercover (that leading question was super subtle), a last page reveal borrows its cues from Jonathan Pryce and Arnold Vosloo and the pace never slows down. Much more a creature of J. Scott Campbell's style than almost any incarnation of the antiterrorist squad, but cute for what it is.

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

"America's Got Powers" #3, "Amazing Spider-Man" #692, "Green Lantern: New Guardians" #12, "Mars Attacks" #3, "Astonishing X-Men" #53, "Super Dinosaur" #13, "Superman" #12, "Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom" #1, "Teen Titans" #12, "Youngblood" #73, "Venom" #23, "Star Trek" #12, "Punisher" #14, "Scalped" #60, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" #13, "Flash" #12, "Hero Worship" #2, "Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men" #12, "Invincible Iron Man" #523

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

"Dan the Unharmable" #4 threw away its approach of allowing its protagonist's charisma to carry the day, instead going with a convoluted plot brushing past weird sex, naked cult members and murder with several buckets full of exposition to wade around in. Messy.

Do you remember the first time you read "Watchmen," and that cool bit with Dr. Manhattan's narration and the watch? "Beyond Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan" #1 lets JMS do a staid karaoke version of Alan Moore's superhero masterpiece, sampling seconds of the source material like a deranged Puff Daddy while manically aping the stuff you're so familiar with. Like watching a grown up fight a child in slow motion -- tragic.

You know that cutesy meta thing some comics can do when they've almost written themselves into a corner? Yeah, "Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe" #4, we've seen it. In "Ex Machina," in "Fantastic Four," in lots of places. This was not good. It wasn't. Plus, that whole Taskmaster fight didn't make any sense. No.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Less stinky than okay.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Close enough. Call it a win.

THE BUSINESS

First, a guy got hit with a folding chair and it was captured on camera by Comics Ink client "Toolclops." Too many long stories to get into all of that, but it was awesome ...

Also, from Komplicated, you can make yourself a utility belt to make your life a little easier. 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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