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WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?

Every week Hannibal Tabu (journalist/blogger/novelist/poet/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 books that are too good to not own) 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 JULY 25TH, 2007

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #32 (DC Comics)

The sleepy rural planet of Winath holds some surprises, and three antagonistic young heroes are left alongside a litigious bureaucrat to face it. This is the start of the Hunt for Cosmic Boy, who’s either a huge hero or a genocidal war criminal, depending on where you stand. Problem is, it’s kind of … well, dull. As dull as actually living on Winath seems. Sure, Braniac 5 gets some nice browbeating in on Star Boy, but in trying to flesh out Lightning Lad’s older brother Mekt, it kind of drabbed him out a bit. Not a bad effort from writer Tony Bedard, but not his finest work. Dennis Calero’s art feels incomplete and inconsistent in spots — Mekt’s face in a number of panels, for example. Not what we really expect from the W/KRP Legion.

Grendel: Behold the Devil #0 (Dark Horse Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile. First of all, it was just fifty cents. Very little priced that low won’t automatically get a jump, on principle alone. Maybe on vice principle. Whatever. Anyhow, even though it’s a very brief snippet of Hunter Rose’s journals, as read by his reluctant successor Christine Spar, it’s tantalizing and sets up an interesting double storytelling exercise. At the price, you surely can’t beat that kind of value.

All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Update (Acts of Vengeance to Zodiac Key) (Marvel Comics)

As handbooks go, this one is kind of dull. Sure, it’s got some unmistakable “WTH?” moments — for example, The Kidney Lady, who (and this is a quote) “previously used magic powers that allowed her to create the Chair-Thing.” Seriously. The Masked Marauder proves that more people get to be head of the Maggia than get to sleep with Lindsey Lohan. The lengthy Namor entry is very useful as well. But on entries like the Ghost — who used to be interesting but here got all the panache sucked out of his character — or Dragon Man or Le Peregrine, the writing just seems to sag. Eh.

WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?

The best comic of the week was essentially free. Grrr.

THIS WEEK’S READ PILE

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

“Black Summer” #1 starts the ball rolling with some very nice moments of violence, a bit of a Moore/Gibbons feel to the team itself (despite the fact that they dress like The Authority), and its conclusions all make sense … but there’s not enough emotional content in what this issue says to make it work. We’ve seen it all before.

“Blue Beetle” #17 was close to the mark, with a nice phone call, a wonderful way to take on Typhoon (no wonder he’s been a punching bag so long) and a genuine moment of emotional regret at losing something. But the art is less than evocative, the coloring is sometimes obscure and the package feels underdone.

“Iron Man” #20 shows even more why Tony Stark is the most successful super villain in recent comics history, but he kind of spent the issue whining after getting himself handled.

“Doktor Sleepless” #1 should feel very familiar to fans of Warren Ellis — a smidge of Spider Jerusalem here, a dash of Lazarus Churchyard there — but it’s still fun.

“Annihilation Conquest: Star Lord” #1 is solidly okay, bringing a Dirty Dozen

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

What’s with DC books these days? “Batman” #666 had elements of “Batman Beyond” and “Dark Knight Returns” soaking their DNA in raw crazy. Best to not even think about it.

“Wonder Woman” #11 will have you wondering, “did the gods all go crazy?” Through divine intervention and massive threats, the only through line is the whining of Diana herself.

Marvel dropped the ball on something with the Zombie-tastic action in “Black Panther” #29, which was just slapstick and futile. There’s no impending sense of consequence, like what’s happening here will mean nothing to any of the characters. Eh.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Lots of books came out, but so many — “The Ride: Die Valkyrie” #2, “Heroes for Hire,” “Green Arrow: Year One and so on … they weren’t good enough or bad enough to mention.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Not a good week, compounded by trying to stay awake on the CBR yacht while everybody else snoozes.

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