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WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?

Every week Hannibal Tabu (journalist/blogger/novelist/poet/jackass on Twitter) 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 27TH, 2011

Deadpool #36 (Marvel Comics)

The titular hero finds out some interesting things about himself and engages in lots of violence along the way, which isn’t unusual at all for this title. It’s only frustrating for him because someone he killed stubbornly refuses to stay dead. It’s also unusual that a woman who’s been considered a hero has opened herself up to homicide, but that’s a marginal part of the issue so not really a problem. It’s hard to say much without spoiling the admittedly sparse but still very entertaining story, but this issue has all the random hilarity you’ve come to expect (“Leeerooooyy Jenkins!!!” “People love me … Sue they do! Have you not seen how many followers I have on Twitter?) and brings back many previous characters including Bob, Agent of Hydra. Plus there’s a really funny part about blindness and automatic gunfire. Great fun.

Xombi #2 (DC Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile. There’s lots of fighting in this issue too, but mixed in are some interesting character moments (“… he wants to hate it. He wants to feel the urge to reach forward and tear its paper wasp nest head from its shoulders and stomp it in the ground. Instead, he feels no animosity towards this unliving thing. He feels nothing at all”) and some creepy moments (“Your hair looks so silky, I’d like to wipe my bottom with it”) that combine to form a fascinating collection of moments that moves this mystery onwards pretty effectively. Magical coins, crafty tie ins with the DC universe as a whole, novena bullets — all good stuff.

The Incredible Hulks #627 (Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile. Sneaking into top secret NATO briefings, using Hercules as a scientific measurement, an immortal Roman warlord who never says no. When you get involved with intelligence-styled work in the Marvel universe, things can get interesting really fast. Betty Ross-Banner has become a much more zealous, less considered creature than she once was, sopping down wine and she’s a long way from being interested in reconciling with her estranged gamma powered husband. The struggle between the two of them is at the core of this international incident and having Amadeus Cho as a kind of Greek chorus kibbutzing along the sides makes the chemistry work perfectly. Tyrannus makes himself out as an amiably pompous antagonist, not chewing the scenery too much but still making himself a credible threat. Solid, fun work here.

WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?

Two jumps, all entertaining, very good stuff all around.

THIS WEEK’S READ PILE

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

“FF” #2 posits the problem of fixing Dr. Doom, who (like Mr. Terrific) is losing his mind. There’s a sizable contingent of the team that finds this an outstandingly bad idea worthy of copious amounts of drinking. The last page has a cute twist to it and there are a few cute moments, but the issue didn’t gel very well, like a band playing a song just slightly off beat and maybe they didn’t rehearse enough.

“Osborn” #5 was likewise quite ambitious, showcasing not just an undersea prison break but a tense drama involving the machinations of law enforcement. There were too many loose ends — the montages of some of the other escapees, for example — but the points where Norman’s literally laughing in the faces of people who want to stop him, those are worthy of your Vril Doxes or your Thanos types.

“Batman, Incorporated” #5 brought a quartet of Bats in Argentina with secret agendas everywhere and a plot that got a little too busy for its own good. The original Bat had a Horatio Caine-esque non-confrontation with the antagonist, but despite some interesting dialogue moments and the work of “Her Majesty’s Super Secret Service” it never came together.

“Amazing Spider-Man” #659 literally riffed off of classic cartoons with goofy adventuring and zombie pirates that made Peter Parker cheery even while his girlfriend complained of his absence. The final pages seemed a little ridiculous — a group of antagonists that Spidey alone could handle, when now he has Ben, Sue and Reed alongside, plus Valeria and the kids for tech support — but it was cutely told storytelling and would have worked well in an episodic television setting.

“Ruse” #2 kind of just ran in one gear — “go! go! go!” which is fine when the lead character is spouting some of his egotistical soliloquies, but Emma Bishop’s narration didn’t leap off the page and the plot just kind of spun its wheels.

“Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Lost Command” #4 made the Sith apprentice look less than impressive as he starts off the issue betrayed and surrounded by stormtroopers in his own personal Order 66 moment, mysteriously running around without his helmet on (uh … hadn’t we established he needs that?) for some time. The story wasn’t bad, but if seeing Darth Vader rock more like Chad Vader is your thing, you’re on YouTube, not plunking down your cash for a comic.

“Justice Society of America” #50 is good if you’re into that old-timey, speechifying, “this is what’s good for you” kind of superheroics. You can hear the wholesome orchestral theme swelling behind Jay Garrick as he talks about a simpler time, or when today’s heroes show how they were inspired by the JSA … okay. If you buy into that whole mythos, this issue’s a must have.

It’s a little scary that “Avengers” #12.1 revealed that Steve Rogers has no idea what S.W.O.R.D. is, but once you get past that and the minor continuity quibbles (like the fact that one of the villains has been depowered, another is very busily imprisoned, et cetera) and the tedious return of yet another perennial threat, you’ll likely enjoy the interplay between a hand picked team of “special missions” Avengers and the nod to Marvel’s toy-licensed heydays.

“I came to help with my stick of great stabbing!” The new Loki is surely more whimsical than his previous incarnations, and he shines in “Mighty Thor” #1, but the rest of the issue, and the titular thunder god, are merely meh by comparison.

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

“Captain America” #617, “Traveler” #6, “Godzilla: King of Monsters” #2, “Detective Comics” #876, “Dr. Solar: Man of the Atom” #6, “Flash” #11, “Star Wars: Legacy War” #5, “Green Arrow” #11, “Thunderstrike” #5, “Danger Girl and the Army of Darkness” #1, “Power Man and Iron Fist” #4, “Angel” #44, “Green Lantern Emerald Warriors” #9, “Secret Avengers” #12.1, “Earp: Saints for Sinners” #3

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

“Action Comics” #900 makes Lex Luthor out to be either really stupid or dangerously controlled by his emotions. When the book gets to literal waves of happiness, you know something has gone off the rails. Why the characters introduced in the Reign of the Supermen are playing minotaur games with Doomsday is a mystery, but that was happening too.

To discuss the specific thing that’s stupid and torpedoes “Uncanny X-Men” #536 would be a spoiler, and we try to avoid that here. However, the almost New Caprica-esque refugee dramas of Breakworld runaways camping out in Utopia was empty emotion (except for one female character who was working well) and Scott Summers should probably be better at avoiding traps like this by now.

“Brightest Day” #24 showed that the white lantern is a talky, jerkish kind of thing, isn’t it? Mars, Wind and Fire (and air) did something involving Swamp Thing that, honestly, wasn’t all that clear and there’s a clear influence from “Smallville” of a few seasons ago in the “epilogue-a-go-go” that follows far too long after a denouement. Rushed, dull, overwrought … no.

Speaking of rushed, “Justice League Generation Lost” #24 has an OMAC/Amazo combo as its central threat with a long, tedious fight that didn’t do much to Maxwell Lord while not even being an interesting conflict. We’re better than this one.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

They tried hard out there …

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Two jumps, not that many truly awful comics … that’s a good week, right?

THE BUSINESS

This Sunday *should* see the debut of Komplicated on Geekweek.com’s live video channel. In theory. You’ll have to keep an eye on the Twitter page or Facebook page for details, but it should be cracking around noon PST. What the heck is Komplicated? Taking stock of pop culture from a Black geek perspective, it ain’t your father’s webcast nor website.

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, blogs: thanks to Suuru Designs you’ll find blogs at the Soapbox. That’s where you’ll see Commentary Track blogs on these reviews, normally within a day or two of their publication. Also, Wednesdays have two sneak peeks at what’s going to be in the column (one Wednesday afternoon, the second hopefully by midnight) from the Operative Network Mobile Edition. Enjoy!

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