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WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?

Every week Hannibal Tabu (journalist/blogger/novelist/poet/karaoke host/jackass) goes to a comic book store called Comics Ink in Culver City, CA (Overland and Braddock — hey Steve and Jason) and grabs a whole lotta comics. These periodicals are quickly sorted 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). Thursdays (Diamond monopolistic practices willing), you’ll be able to get his thoughts (and they’re just the opinions of one guy, so calm down) about all of that … which goes something like this …

THE BUY PILE FOR FEBRUARY 6TH, 2008

Fables #69 (Vertigo/DC Comics)

So it all comes down to this — Flycatcher has one last play to make in fighting against the Adversary … and it’s something almost nobody could expect. It’s the big one for all the marbles and the breakdown (which takes up a great deal of the issue) is like a huge sigh of relief for one side (the Buy Pile tries to avoid spoilers). What’s most interesting here is what’s not on the page — how will the developments here effect the intensive training of Fabletown’s military minds? What about the thoughts of the ruthless Snow Queen and the Adversary himself after this turn of events? More questions are raised than settled, but Ambrose the Flycatcher King goes a long way to make sure he’ll be remembered for something new.

WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?

One book to buy. It was good. That’s … interesting (we try to keep a “two-comic minimum” but that was impossible today).

THIS WEEK’S READ PILE

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

The storytelling in “The Twelve” #2 had a certain charm to it, being one of the week’s nearest misses. “Yesterday’s men of tomorrow — today!” Waking up sixty years away from everything you know could create a great deal of culture shock in the most sturdy personalities but for fringe types like “tourists” with domino masks and no powers … the “surprises” of the modern world, from mixed-race marriages to knowing the media landscape, the chronal castaways struggle with baggage from their former lives in a way that’s very appropriate for novels but lags in a periodical format. Almost literally made for trades, but worth watching. Honestly, you could take a lot of this review, replace “The Twelve” #2 with “Clan Destine” #1 and it’s be about the same.

“Scalped” #14 was good, a close call that didn’t have much of a core despite a number of interesting components. The FBI’s drama stresses out the lead character while he’s trying to forget about one dead mother and there’s a vengeful son trapped in the system who can’t stop thinking about his own mother, slain in a whorehouse. The art’s either getting better or it has the capacity to wear you down. Either way, not quite, this issue.

“Transformers: Devastation” #5 had a somewhat unbelievable turn of events and the supposedly genocidal destructive force of the Reapers failing to even remotely be impressive. Oh, and some fan favorites make a Simon Furman-minded appearance at the end. Not bad, but not really doing much either.

“Doktor Sleepless” #5 was an improvement over the rambling attempts at narrative in previous issues. The largely coherent storyline showed both a smart and a vulnerable side of the technophile, who put forth a Standard Issue Warren Ellis Monologue and did a snarky bit with the local constabulary. But the middle of the issue drags terribly and the whole thing could use a bit more pep, kind of like, say, a title called “Transmetropolitan” (whereas this is much more “Lazarus Churchyard” … not in a good way).

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” #11 had some of the week’s best dialogue, but with all the whining and fighting and blonde hair flipping around, it was almost like reading an issue of “Ms. Marvel,” except with it being, you know, more entertaining.

The dialogue on “Midnighter” #16 was very good as well, with really crisp art work and coloring. The title’s normal mean spirit is there — aping Warren Ellis’ snark ably — but very little actually happened in an issue that seemed more prologue than story.

“Star Wars: Legacy” #19 had an interesting story and two scenes that should have been really impressive, both of which fell down on the job due to wholly pedestrian artwork. If you and your friends at home could make a more interesting lightsaber battle than this, then chances are the fight choreography needs spicing up, let alone “camera” angles. Shame, really.

The last page of “Atom” #20 was really great, but the rest of the issue just seemed like goofiness for goofiness’ sake. Seriously, if we could get The Head, Fat Cobra and Machine Man in a comic together, it’s be gold, Jerry! Gold!

“The Circle” #3 was best when it didn’t deal with the eastern European mercenaries, and instead focused on the Everett K. Ross-styled MI-6 analyst. His scenes were fresh and interesting, but the rest of the issue played like standard issue modern espionage fare with torture and the like.

A simple retrieval mission — of course — gets complicated in “Abe Sapien: The Drowning” #1, which needs a lot more of its title character to really work out. It was okay, though.

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

“Supergirl” #26 is — again — one of the ding dang dumbest comics on the stands. Seriously, this title is abhorrent. While fighting a galaxy-class threat, Kara can’t even figure out how to properly use her strength and speed to save not even one hundred people. Clark comes in late and manages it without even thinking. How can the character be so much smarter in the thirty first century and such a dim bulb here? Bah.

Speaking of whiny blondes who punch a lot, “Ms. Marvel” #24 had a return of the Binary powers, a nuclear weapon and not nearly enough Aaron Stack. Oh, and there’s a Skrull-flavored treat at the end, and by “treat” that means “insipid and pointless plot point that will fuel an issue and then be forgotten.”

Not only did Black Lightning have a daughter in Thunder from the Outsiders, he now apparently has an electrical-powered daughter (Jennifer Roosevelt) and a son around somewhere (Zappy Roosevelt?). Plus an unnamed wife. Which nobody has, to the knowledge of Google, ever heard about before. Fantastic. “I’m Geoff Johns, your continuity means nothing to me! Hyperflies! Sharahazombie!” Gah! Oh, sorry, this is all from “Justice Society of America” #12, which also features yet another stolen element from a much better storyline.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Boring, actually.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

One good purchase can’t overcome a whole lotta “blah,” so let’s say it’s a week that loses.

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