The Buy Pile: The Battles of Fairy Tales and Giant Robots

Thu, April 18th, 2013 at 11:28am 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 APRIL 17, 2013

Fables #128
(Vertigo/DC Comics)
After many months abroad in other dimensions, the Big Bad Wolf has come home to rescue his wife from the misogynistic and magical clasp of the very well-prepared Prince Brandish. This leads to an intense battle that (in a way many of the other fight-centric comics this week couldn't) also revealed character and allowed subplots to play out with Rose Red and the magic users in the process. Another masterful exercise in craft and entertaining storytelling from the team of Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Andrew Pepoy and Lee Loughridge.

Transformers: Robots In Disguise #16
(IDW Publishing)
Shakespearean in its staging, grandiose in its scope and relentless in its pacing, this issue settles accounts for so many characters and so many plots that it's ridiculous. Bumblebee gets a new name, Metalhawk the unaligned pacifist proves a point, Megatron pulls out all the stops, Wheeljack left a surprise and Starscream, that magnificent bastard, may be the smartest one of all. This issue was busy, but in all the right ways, rushing towards a new vision for the planet Cybertron and its virtually immortal, relentlessly violent native species. Acree's a quote machine, Bumblebee would make a fitting King Lear and Ironhide provides the grit and temerity one needs in a traditional hero. John Barber is writing some of the best science fiction on the market today, and the art from Andrew Griffith, Brian Shearer, Rick Ketcham and Josh Perez portrays this smoky, ruthless tableau perfectly.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

A great start, especially counting the free digital comic acquired today (which will be discussed a little more in the "business" section below).

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"Star Wars Darth Vader And The Ninth Assassin" #1 is a conundrum. The scenes with Vader -- including a great action sequence in a conference room that showed the old cyborg still has it when it counts -- are great. There are, however, maybe two or three of them, framed by a lengthy hiring sequence. Again, a series seems unable to get to the characters we want, building up characters who are less compelling. The titular Ninth Assassin has great visual design and borrows Batman's shtick, but he's not really more than a pretty picture yet. We'll see how this plays out.

"Sword Of Sorcery" #7 would have been better as an initial issue, a big sweeping adventure involving the secret origin of Eclipso (well done in just a few panels), tons of murder and intensity with political intrigues that George R.R. Martin might appreciate. However, it was all too brief, giving room for a tedious Stalker backup, with the princess Amethyst as a supporting character in her own title in an issue that needed a little bit more focus.

"Chew" #33 was another issue with lead character Tony Chu acting as a relentless badass, bringing the pain as a secret weapon loaned out to naval intelligence. At home there are developments afoot with his partner and boss, but that's just side dressing, like the "shocking" antarctic ending. A new food-based power gets introduced and the hunt for the "vampire" continues, but this issue again falls just shy of the mark by essentially doing what we've seen before, especially with an undersold climactic action scene. Not bad, if that does it for you, though.

Sure, "Justice League" #19 was okay, but it was better when Mark Waid wrote it in "Tower of Babel." The "Shazam" back up was not smart at all, but it was likewise instantly forgettable.

Fantastic action scenes in "Daredevil" #25 set it apart as Matt Murdock was faced with an enemy who had all his powers and advantages. This made for a tense issue that left a lot of questions unanswered. Would have been good when flipping through channels.

Among the concepts you could use to describe "Danger Girl Trinity" #1, you could easily include "fast moving, action-packed, empty," and "cheesecake." There's not a stitch of characterization here as three scantily clad adventurers hit different spots of the globe to engage in violent activities while dressed like video vixens. If you like implausible objectification, this is likely right up your alley.

"Justice League Of America's Vibe" #3 was about the same as the last issue, which made it good but not good enough as its debut issue. The titular hero is still an unwitting dupe, Gypsy manages to do something other than mope in a cage but supporting elements continue to drag down the main plot. Not bad, but not ready.

Ideas beat execution in "Iron Man" #8 where a less-than-clear plot twist plays out in a less-than-effective manner. Tony's not anywhere near as smart as he should be, but his charm and Downey-ish-ness are fun enough to at least save it from being bad.

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

"Cyber Force" #4, "X-Men Legacy" #9, "Bionic Man Vs The Bionic Woman" #4, "Danger Club" #5, "Jirni" #1, "Five Ghosts The Haunting Of Fabian Gray" #2, "Dark Shadows Year One" #1, "Hoax Hunters" #9, "X-Factor" #254, "Adventure Time" #15, "It Girl And The Atomics" #9, "Dejah Thoris And The Green Men Of Mars" #3, "Legion Of Super-Heroes" #19, "Li'l Depressed Boy" #16, "Clive Barker's Hellraiser The Dark Watch" #3, "Mara" #4, "Evil Ernie" #5, "Dark Avengers" #189, "Nightwing" #19, "Revival" #9, "Venom" #34, "Red Hood And The Outlaws" #19, "Captain Marvel" #12, "Vitriol The Hunter" #3, "Supergirl" #19, "Thief Of Thieves" #13, "Fanboys Vs Zombies" #13, "Todd The Ugliest Kid On Earth" #4, "Magic The Gathering Path Of Vengeance" #4, "Bloodshot" #10, "Green Hornet" #35, "X-O Manowar" #12, "Cable And X-Force" #7, "Judge Dredd" #6, "Conan the Barbarian" #15, "Witchblade: Day Of The Outlaw" #1, "Godzilla" #11, "Pathfinder" #6, "Ghostbusters" #3, "Black Beetle No Way Out" #3, "Godzilla" #11, "Red Sonja" #74, "Ghostbusters" #3, "G.I. JOE A Real American Hero" #189, "Thunderbolts #8, "Wonder Woman" #19, "House Of Gold And Bones" #1, "He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe" #1, "Doctor Who Prisoners Of Time" #4, "Nova" #3, "Green Lantern New Guardians" #19, "Shadow Year One" #2, "Birds Of Prey" #19, "Doctor Who" #8, "Batman Beyond Unlimited" #15, "Age Of Ultron" #6, "Sixth Gun" #30, "Grimm Fairy Tales" #84.

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

In "Superior Spider-Man" #8, the Avengers take a full scan of the web spinner. However, nobody with an IQ over 110 was in the room, and one of the main people involved was an adult in the 1940s. Oy. That was a fault.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Just one stinker? That's a great sign.

Oh, there was no order for "Victorian Secret Agents Owls Of The Ironwork Isle" #1

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Two wonderful reads, only one actually dumb comic book ... even with a mountain of "meh," that's a week that wins.

THE BUSINESS

Today, "Dusu: Path of the Ancients" #1 from Stranger Comics was released for FREE on iTunes and Amazon Kindle, but reviewing it in this column would constitute a conflict of interest, as the writer has done marketing for Stranger Comics and will be writing the prose sequel as well. However, noted dark fantasy and "sword and soul" expert, author Balogun Ojetade was asked to review it, and you can check that out at Komplicated.

Also, as of right now, you can spend ten bucks and get about 175,000 of fiction from the writer of this column. The links that follow tell you where you can get "The Crown: Ascension" and "Faraway," five bucks a piece. Love these reviews? It'd be great if you picked up a copy. Hate these reviews? Find out what this guy thinks is so freakin' great. There's free sample chapters too, and all proceeds to towards the care and maintenance of his kids ... oh, and to buy comic books, of course. What are you waiting for? Go buy a freakin' book already!

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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