The Buy Pile: Everyday People and Detectives of Gotham

Thu, September 12th, 2013 at 11:20am PDT

Comic Books
Hannibal Tabu, Columnist

WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?

Every week Hannibal Tabu (two-time Eisner-winning journalist/winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt/blogger/novelist/poet/jackass on Twitter/head honcho of Komplicated) 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 SEPTEMBER 11, 2013

Astro City #4
(Vertigo/DC Comics)
Another classic from Busiek and Anderson as we take a look at Martha Sullivan, a woman with telekinesis who has no interest in wearing a costume or prowling dark rooftops. She works in entertainment, making special effects a little more cost effective, and while she struggles with a modern challenge to her quiet lifestyle, recounts how she came to live with powers in a world where they're not so uncommon without getting dragged into the endless struggle between justice and crime. Kurt Busiek's script is a perfect balance between action, exposition and plot development, while Brent Anderson's delightful artwork again makes every tiny detail of this world stand out and be counted. Simply wonderful.

Batman #23.2
(DC Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
In a wonderful departure from the tedious recountings of origins, Edward Nygma sets his mind on a goal and does so much to achieve it that it's a wonder to see. Using the sometimes hard-to-manage trope of the character's riddles, the guy in the green suit frames his game in a way that easily manipulates dozens of other people and spills blood on a rampage through Wayne Enterprises Tower, deftly delivered by Scott Snyder and Ray Fawkes, and the crisp artwork of Jeremy Haun and John Rausch makes the matter of factness of Nygma's erudite rampage pitch perfect. Effective comics storytelling.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Very, very good start.

Plus, "Watson And Holmes" #3 came out this week, introducing the Harlem version of Mycroft Holmes ("MIKE HOLMES!" . . . sorry, that joke wasn't for everybody) and it's fantastic, despite this columnist's inability to actually review it due to a conflict of interest, serving as a publicity flack for New Paradigm Studios and co-writing an issue alongside "2 Guns" creator Steven Grant.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"3 Guns" #2 has more fun moments of misdirection and betrayal as the two leads from the previous series try to do something impossible with everyone's life in the balance, all as a curvy figure in a bikini manipulates events unbeknownst to the rest. Another issue that'd look great on the big screen but lacks urgency as talking heads in sequential art, this is "TV good" but not enough to demand your dollars in this format.

On one hand, you could say that "Red Sonja" #3 had a gripping telling of the title character's origins in blood and fire, skillfully weaving a decent bit of exposition with an action packed narrative. On the other hand, you could remember that it was mostly a flashback, and that the origin tale could have used more room to allow the action shots to dazzle, or the modern tale could have used bigger panels to illustrate its "No Country For Old Men" styled desperation. Good, but still finding its balance.

"Resident Alien: Suicide Blonde" #1 was an interesting "hiding in plain site" detective story as a stranded and bored extraterrestrial gets dragged into a wholly unrelated murder mystery while being tracked by the federal government. Not a bad character study in the lines of a show like "Monk," but it was a little slow moving and will likely be much better suited, story wise, for the collected edition.

"Archer And Armstrong" #13 was pretty entertaining as issues of betrayal and friendship make great historical discoveries and an aerial combat sequence almost afterthoughts. Obadiah Archer learns many things he would rather not know as Armstrong's brother provides key secrets in the struggle against the mad General Redacted (that's his name, not censorship). Not bad, but the action sequences could have had more "oomph," giving more of a sense of urgency.

"Herobear And The Kid: Inheritance" #2 is an engrossing all-ages origin story as the titular furry superhero discovers the newest inheritor of his legacy and introduces a cast of characters that are simply adorable. Easily a favorite for the younger set with some charm that may appeal to older readers with a hint of youthful exuberance in their hearts.

It was hard to know what to think about "Transformers Monstrosity" #4, which should have had a lot to like. A battle against the city-sized Trypticon where the Autobots pull out all the stops, plus Megatron taking on Skorponok for leadership of the Decepticons. Unfortunately, with indistinct artwork and muddy coloring, it's not easy to make out what's happening and things that should be epic ended up muted. Good to see the mythos expanded, but it'd be better if you could, er, see it.

"Eternal Warrior" #1 had a fantastic cold open that developed character and plot, had interesting artwork and established supporting characters and motivations. Then it devolves into "A Letter From Snake Eyes Part 3" by Wordburglar, which plays much more somberly and with less vitality. Let's see which direction wins out next issue.

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

"Sons Of Anarchy" #1, "Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 9" #25, "Executive Assistant Iris Volume 3" #5, "Indestructible Hulk" #13, "Sidekick" #2, "Dejah Thoris And The Green Men Of Mars" #6, "Halo Initiation" #2, "Fearless Defenders" #9, "Flash" #23.2, "Walking Dead" #114, "Hit List" #1, "Aquaman" #23.1, "Locke And Key Alpha" #1, "Detective Comics" #23.2, "X-Men" #5, "Prophet" #39, "King's Watch" #1, "Manhattan Projects" #14, "Robocop: Last Stand" #2, "Liberator" #3, "Deadpool" #16, "Vampirella Southern Gothic" #2, "Wolverine" #9, "Kick-Ass 3" #3, "Mars Attacks Judge Dredd" #1, "Batman And Robin" #23.2, "Shadow" #17,"Brain Boy" #1, "Star Wars" #9, "True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys" #4, "Ultimate Comics The Ultimates" #30, "Superman" #23.2, "X" #5, "Bionic Man" #23, "Ghosted" #3, "Grimm" #5, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Villain Microseries" #6, "The Spider" #14, "Avengers" #19, "Clone" #10, "Green Lantern" #23.2, "Rogues" #4, "Mighty Avengers" #1, "Action Comics" #23.2, "Captain America" #11,

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

"Justice League" #23.2 was bad. First of all, it took everything interesting about the cartoonish, intentionally over-the-top Lobo and muted it in shades of "Twilight" and a vest so fey that even the cinematic Bane would find it pompous. The idea that "everything you know is a lie" has been trotted out far too often for it to even get close to "entertaining" here, and combined with the dullness of the plot, it's a complete, tedious failure on every level.

"Infinity: The Hunt" #1 was also bad. Ignoring the simplistic racial partitioning (Jimmy Woo's Asian right? Forget about him being born in the US, let's have him train Asia's next super powers) and the weak sauce Wakandan extrahumans (mostly low rent versions of Sue Storm, Bishop and Vixen), the chatty, overly expository and contrived high concept piece plodded and accomplished little.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

That wasn't so bad.

Also, the store had no order for "Mythopolis" #1. Sorry!

WINNERS AND LOSERS

A great and very surprising jump, not too much in the "bad" column, let's say things went well!

THE BUSINESS

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 will do our best to make sure 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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