The Buy Pile: Finding Fables on Meh Mountain

Thu, February 20th, 2014 at 11:28am PST

Comic Books
Hannibal Tabu, Columnist

WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?

Every week Hannibal Tabu (journalist/winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt/blogger/novelist/poet/jackass on Twitter/head honcho of Komplicated) grabs a whole lotta comics, sorting these periodicals (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 FEBRUARY 19, 2014

Fables #138
(Vertigo/DC Comics)
Oh Gepetto. The once feared Adversary, who ruled endless empires with magical wooden soldiers, still plots and schemes as he strains against the rules of those who defeated him. Like a Batman villain sizing up guards at Arkham, the cyclical nature of it seems kind of sad, but the witty writing of Bill Willingham and art from Russ Braun and Lee Loughridge help make it charming at least. The seed of future stories? Time will tell.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

This is a "meh" start to the week.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"Daredevil" #36 was ... interesting as Matt Murdock makes a courtroom Hail Mary play that almost literally cannot leave the pieces where they started, all while beating up white supremacists in an open courtroom. Had the antagonists been more than straw men, the impassioned rhetoric and fisticuffs might have connected more viscerally, but it sure as heck could not be called "bad."

"White Suits" #1 has a fantastic, stylized set up that could make for a riveting movie, given the right actors and director. However, the slapdash execution here makes for an elevator pitch, not a story. The art is needlessly muddy, the plot dances between cliches and vaguery ... had a more nimble creative team just taken the core concept, you might have something here.

"G.I. JOE A Real American Hero" #199 was a comedy of errors as Cobra, with every possible tactical advantage, still managed to screw up. From ruthless new BATs in the south American rain forest to occupying the Joes' own base, Cobra forces can't get it right. This doesn't ascribe any great skill or accomplishment to America's best counterterrorists, who are underprepared and playing catch up the entire time. Fans will enjoy the antics, but it's hard to say both teams played hard.

Steve Rogers and the newer, more ethnic Nick Fury 2.0 are faced with an enemy they'll have a hard time comprehending in "Captain America" #17, where the alternate dimension daughter of Arnim Zola tolerates the Captain's moral conundrum and Dr. Mindbubble shifts perceptions like he was Timothy Leary mixed with Hunter Rose. The plot drags a bit, the moralizing is a little tedious, but there are a couple of ideas here worth noting, at least, with the "Weapon Minus" program.

"Undertow" #1 wasn't a bad bit of pulpish science fiction, positing an oppressed Atlantean people escaping to the surface and looking for ways to live free. The art and coloring were a little muddy and most of the characters were forgettable, but there are some worthwhile ideas here.

"Avengers World" #3 was a hell of a kung fu movie homage for Shang-Chi, who held his own against Hydra's Gorgon for a few pages. With dramatic voice over and slick art, this could have been something if it had a whit of plot past the punching and kicking and bleeding.

"Battlestar Galactica: Starbuck" #4 was a decent prequel that had less to do with its titular character and more to do with moving plot pieces into place for continuity reasons. The characters seemed much like they did in the late 70s, down to Lord Baltar's Doctor Smith-esque smarm. Nostalgia fans will eat this up, but for more modern audiences it doesn't offer as much.

"A + X" #17 had a simply adorable story about Broo from the Jean Grey school job shadowing Tony Stark and having all kinds of shenanigans in outer space and Hoboken. The backup with Cap and Cyclops now working together was less effective, save one panel where Doom looked at Mjolnir like, "whaaaaat?" If you're a fanatic with money to burn, this will do you fine.

"Red Sonja" #7 is a solid fantasy tale as the title character is sent on a quest to acquire six specialists to make a dying emperor's final party fit for legends. The voice over narration can pull out some chuckles, but the whole issue took a while to connect. Not bad, but not remarkable.

"Wonder Woman" #28 is a challenge, because there are a number of entertaining elements. Artemis' intensity, Apollo's determination, the smugness of Zeus' First Born. However, the plot is piecemeal and the title character is almost an afterthought, so this feels like it's a piece of something, not something in and of itself. This will be a more effective part of a collected edition.

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

"Animal Man" #28, "Iron Man Annual" #1, "Morning Glories" #37, "Batman And Two-Face" #28, "Marvel Knights Hulk" #3, "Star Wars Dawn Of The Jedi: Force War" #4, "Protectors Inc" #4, "New Warriors" #1, "Bad Ass" #2, "Savage Dragon" #193, "Adventure Time" #25, "Curse" #2, "Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Wonderland Asylum" #2, "Nova" #13.NOW, "Loki Ragnarok And Roll" #1, "Kings Watch" #4, "Midas Flesh" #3, "Ben 10" #4, "Robocop Memento Mori" #1, "G.I. JOE Special Missions" #12, "Uncanny X-Men" #17, "Conan The Barbarian" #25, "Voice In The Dark" #4, "Godzilla: Rulers Of Earth" #9, "Bloodshot And H.A.R.D. Corps" #19, "Skyman" #2, "Quantum & Woody" #8, "X-Men" #11, "Trinity Of Sin: Pandora" #8, "Alex + Ada" #4, "Supergirl" #28, "Star Wars: Darth Vader And The Cry Of Shadows" #3, "Red Hood And The Outlaws" #28, "Ghosted" #7, "Justice League" #28, "Terminator Enemy Of My Enemy" #1, "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" #10, "Krampus" #3, "Green Lantern New Guardians" #28, "Unity" #4, "Birds Of Prey" #28, "God Is Dead" #7, "Batwoman" #28, "Amazing X-Men" #4, "Superior Spider-Man Team-Up" #10.

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

Hey ... nothing was terrible. That's cool!

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Despite no actual stinkers, the weight of "meh" made it a bit of a chore this week.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

An underperforming purchase and a mountain of "meh" means a week worth of comics that was a bit of a wash.

THE BUSINESS

Next week, "Artifacts" #35 written by this columnist hits retailers and there's a signing at Santa Monica's Hi De Ho Comics from 6-9PM next Wednesday. It's your chance to see the hard man of American comics in the flesh. Also on the docket will be promotions for his new fantasy novella being released for free on March 19th, so check that out as well.

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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