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 OCTOBER 31, 2012
Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye #10
A group of mechanical beings sit around to tell a story, hoping to spur on the synapses of a damaged friend. If you think that leads somewhere boring, you couldn't be more wrong as this issue takes a look at the early days of the Decepticons -- much more sympathetic than one might expect -- while covering issues of identity, massive governmental corruption, police investigations in two eras, hilarious dialogue ("More of this please. More jumping off roofs. Rooves. Roofs. More jumping off things") while fleshing out more and more of the society and biology of these fascinating machines. Oh, and also shooting, lots and lots of shooting. This issue takes a wonderful twist in its final act, has a very surprisingly tender moment between friends and also has simply dazzling art from Alex Milne. There's no telling what James Roberts is doing to deliver scripts so delightful, but spirit only hopes that he keeps doing it.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
The biggest problem with "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Annual 2012" was that it cost nine dollars. With a wonderful sense of misdirection, it leads the four amphibian heroes into a situation involving five million dollars in diamonds and an assorted collection of criminals, kooks and everyday people. Surprising with its depth and wonderful structure, only its comically high price tag prohibited this from making it home.
What if the Joker went sane? "Bedlam" #1 posits such an idea with some fantastic monologuing and interesting plot touches. However, with a lag in the second third of the story and art that carried the weight of storytelling but didn't do much to impress, even the really interesting parts of this fell just shy of the mark.
Catwoman teams up in "Batgirl Annual" #1, which brings back the Court of Owls, trying desperately to make a real character of one of their zombie-like Talons. Gail Simone delivers on action sequences and she has a true deftness for scenes with Selina Kyle (who practically stole the show, Barbara was a yawn) but the final fight lacked credibility (it should have ended faster and very differently) and the whole thing kind of petered out. Great try though, and that Simone, she should really try to do more with villains, she seems to have a gift for them.
"Avenging Spider-Man Annual" #1 had some pretty interesting distinctions. First of all, it has the quote of the week ("The brother I know wouldn't make thousands of people suffer just to make money. It's not like you own the Knicks"), which was very, very funny (and could have been applied to the Clippers or the Raptors too, when you think about it). As well, it features a scene between Ben Grimm and Peter Parker that, honestly, will not be easy to forget. It was cute, but it didn't exactly light the world on fire.
In a far away land, a cruel girl grew into a brutal sorceress, and a motley crew of heroes is assembled to topple her corrupt regime. "Charismagic: The Death Princess" #1 hits many fairly solid fantasy story marks with the gorgeous, lush artwork and coloring we've come to expect from Aspen. However, the characters are introduced and handled in a cursory fashion and the villainess has no bombast nor distinction. Hard to get a grasp with that, but the ambiance may draw you in.
Supergirl analogue Suprema shows up in "Bloodstrike" #32 to try stop the team from bringing her former teammate back from the grave. There's solid artwork, bright and effective coloring and a couple of twists that raise an eyebrow, but while it was close to making the mark it wasn't quite enough to pull it off.
"Star Trek" #14 was very cute, examining the diminutive engineer brought along when Scotty joined the crew in the movie. His back story gets developed, showcasing the challenges of an outsider with a kind of speciesist humor that some would think is okay, but even for all its cute moments, it needed slightly zippier pacing and action to step into the arena.
"Happy!" #2 was -- still -- weird (which will elate fans of the debut issue). Imagine "Who Is Jake Ellis?" with a psychedelic infusion of whimsy. A little girl is in peril, lots of people get thrashed within an inch of their lives and this isn't bad at all, but unless you're dedicated to this story already, it might be a little off putting with its oblique intersections to the narrative's linearity.
If you like a solid giggle, "Mars Attacks The Holidays" will likely satisfy you. Fred Hembeck leads off a quartet of holiday related looks at bug-eyed invaders coming after the earth and somehow still managing not to plow through humanity like the species was standing still. Maybe not worth the price of admission, but not bad.
"Witchblade" #161 introduced some new, non-artifact related antagonists that appear through a fairly innocuous case for Sara's private detective firm. The issue felt like it ended too soon, even while introducing some fascinating concepts (a whole internet powered by magic) but it didn't close the deal. A worthy effort, though.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Aquaman" #13, "Fatale" #9, "Idolized" #3, "Batman Beyond Unlimited" #9, "Higher Earth" #6, "Dark Shadows" #9, "Lot 13" #1, "Green Hornet" #30, "Green Hornet Strikes" #10, "Red Sonja: Atlantis Rises" #3, "Doctor Who" #2, "Ghostbusters" #14, "Godzilla" #6, "Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom," "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" #15, "True Blood" #6, "Whispers" #4, "Ferals" #10, "Legend of Oz: The Wicked West" #1, "Star Wars Darth Maul: Death Sentence" #4, "Action Comics Annual" #1, "Haunt" #27, "Dan the Unharmable" #7, "Justice League Dark Annual" #1.
No, just... no... These comics? Not so much ...
In "Masters of the Universe: The Origin of Skeletor" #1, He-Man's dad has a complicated relationship with a half-blood bastard prince called Jon Sn... er, Keldor. Exactly that. Then there's shades of Tygra on the current "Thundercats" version -- an older, smarter, more capable royal personage denied the throne due to genetics and constantly frustrated by his fate, yet denied the affection of his father figure (Loki anyone?). In the end, Keldor borrows a page from a whiny farm boy from the middle of nowhere. There doesn't seem to be a single original idea in this issue, a pastiche of badly sampled notes from other "songs." Tedious and disappointing.
"A+X" #1 keeps up the "AvX" formula of two... well, calling them "stories" might be overly generous, but two parts in one book. First, Cable tracks a Trask through time travel and ends up teaming up with Captain America and Bucky in their WW2 primes taking on a forties-era Nazi Sentinel, programmed to hunt mutants with punch cards. Oy. Then Logan and a fairly intelligent Hulk argue with each other (in more ways than one), ultimately over cake. Seeming to follow DC's "fan fiction" dictate, and the results are awful.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Oh, and there was no order for "Scam" #2, whiles Comics Ink only ordered enough of "Critter" #5 for pre-orders.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Barely spent any money, enjoyed a good percentage of what happened, even when ambition outreached execution... yay!
Hey! Listen up! Reading this column! Go buy my novel! It's only five bucks, has 110,000 words and features a guy who gets super powers because a girl fell in love with him. Yeah, it's like that. Kindle, Nook, et cetera, et cetera.
Also, this columnist (alongside "Leverage" and "Ben 10" writer Geoffrey Thorne and more) will be joining creator Robert Roach for Black Inc! Year of Comics, an almost unheard of indie creator putting forth six fully packed issues in the space of 12 months, courtesy of the aforementioned Kickstarter. "Menthu: The Anger of Angels" hits in May 2013 (so we're told) with the help of people like you!
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!