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 NOVEMBER 7, 2012
Jump from the Read Pile.
Wade Wilson is back! With a script from Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan and simply delightful artwork from Tony Moore and Val Staples, the things Deadpool's best known for -- the healing factor, the horribly scarred skin, the murderous whimsy -- are all back, discarding the emo self-loathing and tortured dramas of recent months. However, the last page of the issue declares "IT'S NOT A REBOOT!" Lessee ... healing factor back ... decidedly not dead ... kinda feels like a reboot. But whatever. Ignore all that. Opening with the solemn question, "Who dares veto the eternal rest of Harry S. Truman?" this issue dives into an adventure made for Wade Wilson. "America's real heroes can't be seen fighting our dead presidents ... you're not the hero we want, you're the scumbag we need." There are hilarious (the Daily Bugle turns into the New York Post with a headline reading, "Cap Snaps In Scrap! Decaptain America Stars In Truman Show") as resurrected super powered presidents smashing their way through midtown Manhattan and Deadpool quipping his way through hilariously ("I'm honored that you trust me to serve America, the country that I do the most damage in" "... and when I'm done I get my money in a pillow case with a big dollar sign on it!") and even teaming up with Thor ("No blabbing, blogging, or tweeting about our marvelous team-up"). Fun stuff.
Rapunzel is deep, deep, deep in drama with the Fables of Japan, who have their own hidden Fabletown and a history with the long haired legend that spans nine centuries. Lauren Beukes' ambitious script dances with loves not considered acceptable in red states, presents drunken karaoke and shows some intense scenes. To say much more would be to reveal a lot of the issue's fun twists and turns, but please know the intense artwork from Inaki Miranda and Eva De La Cruz will enthrall and delight. A wonderful, wonderful piece of work.
Jump from the Read Pile.
This done-in-one issue stays focused on Pip the Troll, who impersonates Peter Dinklage, secretly uses his Space Gem-derived powers to perform all kinds of hilarious heroics and do detective work and generally be all brands of charming. There's a fantastic last page surprise and Peter David's script maintains the old noirish detective agency feeling from the Jamie Madrox period. Smartly written, deftly plotted, perfectly balanced and engagingly depicted by Paul Davidson and Rachelle Rosenberg. Fantastic work here.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Pow! Three for three, all star stuff.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
The silver age is back in "Action Comics" #14 as Superman can hear stuff happening on Mars from his Metropolis environs and conduct electricity with his body. This issue had all of the spirit of the good old days and none of the clarity, with action scenes that fell flat and antagonists that were almost cool but ended up kind of anonymous.
"Defenders" #12 really, really tried, stepping up but was more like waking up next to Harley Quinn. Sure, you probably had some amazing moments, but you spent a lot of the time either terrified or confused getting to them. Matt Fraction's script tried and explain just why Earth is so jam packed with spandex clad weirdos (maybe borrowing notes from Wildstorm's Century Babies), had Wong getting hit by the Hulk and surviving (what?) and a set of time travel shenanigans that were messy and incoherent but wildly ambitious. If you're gonna take the wrong step, do it big, and this issue did just that.
Snake Eyes is playing every side against the others in "G.I. Joe" #19, an issue that had great character moments but fairly simplistic plotting that made the events less relevant (including a Cobra bad guy who was a literal one trick pony). Not bad, but not great.
In "Creator Owned Heroes" #6, the Killswitch short is great. Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray are throwing down on their world of hired killers. The creepy western short was all right, but over all the writing here just needs to be snappier and more engaging. Is that vocabulary choices? Brevity? Editing? Hard to say. It's not here, though, and that means the cover price can't be justified for one great moment in greatness.
There's a good bit of humid charm in "The Ride: Southern Gothic" #2, several all-too short stories centering around muscle cars and handgun violence. Bloody stories that noir fans will love, but if you're looking for a significant chunk of culture, this issue still feels like it comes up short on enjoyment.
Speaking of southern charm, "Shadowman" #1 takes place in New Orleans with a legacy of power handed down and hidden. The art is spectacular, but the characters are barely even introduced, much less developed, and the plot barely worked its way up to "meh." Plenty of room to grow, but not getting it done just yet.
"Love and Capes: What To Expect" #4 is like sitting down for a visit with familiar old friends, as the heroic analogues presented here are just as many of us have imagined the icons of our childhood would be -- a horn dog speedster, a warrior princess torn between two worlds, a virtually unstoppable cosmic class power trying to make a life with a mortal woman. It's great if you like vignettes, but doesn't really move along very effectively as a plot.
The first part of "Guarding The Globe" #3 was actually kind of innovative, showing a super hero changing the game in terms of really helping a community and finding a new way to change the super villain dynamic. The rest of the comic was kind of predictable. That Todd Nauck artwork is always wonderful.
Tony Stark's having a mid-life crisis in "Iron Man" #1 with decadent hedonism and being harangued by girl Friday and confidante Pepper Potts, but the romantic interest becomes a dropped plot thread and the lead just kind of wanders from one thing to another with the only actionable item coming up way into the last third of the comic.
If you love historical fiction and imperial Japan, "47 Ronin" #1 will be right up your alley with a presentation of political intrigues and protocol meeting up with the loyalty of trusted assistants. However, it was dry with characters that simply didn't pop off the page and events that ... well, the only drawn sword comes from a misunderstanding over an order being placed.
"Smallville Season 11" #7 would really benefit from less intimate artwork (lots of close ups) as its central chase scene (with a team up between Green Arrow, Batman and Superman) was its strongest element. The rest ... falling closer to "meh."
If you have kids around the age of seven or up, "Popeye" #7 is greatly entertaining with cartoon violence (okay, maybe ten) and some linguistic turns of phrase that coax a smile or two. It's not a work of high literature, but it's entertaining.
There was good art and solid action in "Shadow" #7, bit its thin characterization and straw man antagonist dragged it down a little.
The plot and characterization of "Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris" #18 was simply "meh." However, you will likely be able to notice that because of the boobs and pasties that are simply distracting. If one likes that sort of thing.
If you loved the cartoon you'll go gaga for "Danger Girl/G.I. Joe" #4, a very fast-paced thriller teaming up J. Scott Campbell's cheesecake adventurers with the motley antiterrorist team. If the words "MASS Device" mean anything to you, you'll grasp the plot and see the confectionary stakes at play. Which, if you would pay the price for that, is right up your alley.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Stormwatch" #14, "Avengers Academy" #39, "Nancy: Hell on Earth" #4, "World's Finest" #6, "Clive Barker's Hellraiser: The Road Below" #1, "Batwing" #14, "Avenging Spider-Man" #14, "Epic Kill" #6, "Freelancers" #1, ""Star Trek The Next Generation: Hive" #2, Before Watchmen: Moloch" #1, "Storm Dogs" #1, "Garfield" #7, "Daredevil: End of Days" #2, "Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm" #3, "Uncanny X-Force" #33, "Super Dinosaur" #15, "Pathfinder" #3, "Harvest" #4, "X-Men" #38, "Magic the Gathering: The Spell Thief" #4, "Mars Attacks" #5, "Detective Comics" #14, "Perhapsnauts: Danger Down Under" #1, "AvX: Consequences" #5, "Transformers Regeneration One" #85, "Manhattan Projects" #7, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow Wonderland" #1, "Earth 2" #6, "Hypernaturals" #5, "Avengers" #33, "Stumptown Volume 2" #3.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
"Black Kiss 2" #4 is -- in order -- porn, slurs against various populaces and murder sprinkled throughout a set of decades ... why, exactly?
Positing yet another fallen hero as a villain, "New Avengers" #32 leaves a trail of bodies (if they can stay dead) and inserts mistrust in the team. The villain insertion is really scraping the bottom of the barrel, the talking heads droned on and all around, yeah, maybe some new blood on these books would be a good idea.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Well ... everybody tried hard. That counts for something, right?
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Two jumps, mostly acceptable reads, let's say the week wins it.
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.
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!