WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?
Every week Hannibal Tabu (two-time Eisner-winning journalist/blogger/novelist/poet/jackass on Twitter/head honcho of Komplicated.com) 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 NOVEMBER 2ND, 2011
The Last of The Greats #2
Jump from the Read Pile.
Seven superhumans came to earth with cures for disease, ways to settle ancient grudges and more. Humans, being who they are, murdered six of them. The last one has agreed to use his ridiculous powers to save humanity from an alien invasion fleet…for just the teensy cost of complete domination of the planet. Okay. There’s so many twists and turns to this delicious plot that there’s literally nobody one can trust, shocks every few pages and a mean spirited directness that is simply relentless. Joshua Hale Fialkov infuses the title character with the kind of aloof misanthropy and elevated disdain that one would remember from Mike Carey’s Lucifer or Grant Morrison’s Metron. Likewise, the struggle represented by the human representative is well depicted, giving the story some grounding. If we had some names and the script didn’t rush by so many things, it’d be alarmingly stellar, but as is, this is still one fun read with some real meat on its bones.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
Inexpensive and entertaining. Good start.
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
“Avengers Academy” #21 was very close to making the mark, with an intense moment for Mettle and Hazmat, a lot of Jocasta and an interesting twist ending. The problems, however, lie in some really pointless (and foolhardy) pugilism and lots of talking heads hand-wringing. The new members of the cast are a mixed bag, from a dull racial stereotype (not Wakandan at least) to a character that’s bounced around a few titles and may be developing into somebody. Not a bad issue, but with too many elements at work at the same time, offering distinctive challenges that kept it from working well enough.
“Invincible” #84 showed some of the first signs of some new ideas, as the title character steps across a line recently straddled by the Red Hulk (possibly offering a rationale for that weird solicitations image). Still, tons of prevarication and slow chatterboxing made the plot sag as it stumbled towards its climax.
“Stormwatch” #3 never let up on the throttle, working the chords of action tropes through fighting the moon and smacking asteroids out of the sky. However, the attempts at snark lacked wit, the plot lacked focus and the characters are barely even discussed — what exactly does Adam One do, anyway? — making it hard to feel anything for them.
“X-Men” #20 was a special mission for a Storm-led team doing some covert ops tracking down black market Sentinels unleashed by the new juvenile Hellfire Club. That seems to be going well until War Machine pops up to intercede, which of course leads to a needless superhero battle and lots of pointless collateral damage, but the idea of mutant clandestine operations has some appeal, and Storm makes an imposing figure as a tactical leader.
“Charismagic” #3 was actually two pretty good comic books forced into the space of just one issue. On one hand, the lead character’s journey has some elements that readers of “Starborn” would recognize with a kind of buddy comedy vibe. On the other hand, there’s an attempt to survive in a post apocalyptic landscape going on with the “B” story. Either could be good on their own. Jammed together, neither can be as good, and that’s a deficit, despite the ambition in trying.
Prowl’s police stylings are back in “Transformers” #29, discovering disturbing facts that strain human/Autobot relationships, reveal a hidden hand behind chaos on multiple continents and blowing up lots of stuff. Ambitious, but too much going on for one issue, although you certainly can’t complain that it dawdled.
“Villains for Hire” #0.1 wasn’t bad, with a very speedy mission for Misty Knight’s team inspiring a group of bad guys to mimic her methods. What’s that? Sounds like something you read in Gail Simone’s “Birds of Prey?” Oh…well…yes, that’s likely true, but now it’s at Marvel. Look, Babs isn’t even Oracle anymore, what are you mad about? Anyway, the team dynamic was okay and the action was on point, but the characters danced in so quickly that you barely got a sense of them. If you knew who everybody was, you’d be fine, though.
“Witch Doctor” #4 made a big deal about a special sword that’s attached to some kind of prophecy or what have you as the protagonist justified his actions through an elaborate flashback. Witty but ultimately empty as you never got to know the characters being dragged along, therefore had no investment in what happened to them.
Mix a little “Kick-Ass” with the bullying and hyper-sexualization from “Glee,” them toss in a dash of super powers and you’ll have something like “The Strange Talent of Luther Strode” #2. Nothing wrong with being derivative or what have you, but nothing really made this distinctive either.
“Pilot Season: Misdirection” #1 had the hyper kinetic charm of recent series like “The Ride” or AiT/PlanetLar’s “Black Diamond,” forcing a disgraced NASCAR driver into a criminal enterprise like his name was Jason Statham. A little cursory in its application, even with the good scene between the lead and his ex wife, and therefore not strong enough to really win you over.
Again proving that in this iteration, the terrorists are far better at their jobs, “G.I. Joe” #7 features undersea terror and a game of technological chess while another team of Joes played out a scene from “Terminator.” Okay stuff, but it had the same problem many older issues of “Invincible” had in believing plot points make a coherent plot.
“Men of War” #3 was a fairly normal, fairly predictable military story until its very, very weird ending, bringing back memories of servicemen pinned down by gunfire, like you might have seen in “Special Forces.” Hard to pin down what’s happening here, and forgettable characters don’t help.
“Our Love Is Real” was weird. Like, “make you really uncomfortable” weird. However, it was a decently written near-future tale of a tumultuous society struggling with allowing freedom to citizens while sliding down a slippery slope of moral relativism. Unless you’re very, very open minded, ideas like “vegisexuals” could leave you recoiling, even as the story pushes you to think about intolerance and discrimination.
“Marksmen” #4 had a lot of the kind of energy you might remember from the Barry Bostwick-led movie “Megaforce” (yeah, he tried to be an action star, sort of)…no, in a good way! Unfortunately, from the cliche death to the mustache twirling villain, nothing else worked hard enough to sell this fairly predictable story. There’s a scene at the end that could have been epic, but its artwork was merely serviceable.
“Batwing” #3 was actually an improvement, with both more backgrounds memorable in artwork and some moments of heroism that really stood out. However, Massacre is still an empty shirt, the legacy of this historical African super team remains obscure and the lead character’s not as innocent as some might have expected. Improvement is good, though.
“The Rinse” #3 was a solid crime comic — not as gritty as Brubaker’s work on “Criminal” nor as breezy as, say, “White Collar,” but walking a comfortable middle road that could easily be a series on TNT. If that’s what you’re looking for, this is a great use of your money.
“Heart” #1 goes to the grass roots of the world of mixed martial arts, mixing elements from “Wanted” and “8 Mile” into a story Jack Murdock would be able to relate to. Nothing wrong, just nothing really distinguished this story, not eve the art on the fights, and only people jazzed about it would likely be people in similar situations or fascinated by MMA.
“Irredeemable” #31 had some surprises and played out the story about Survivor in a way that’s kind of gallows humor, but again just kind of drifts along with a kind of C-3PO sentiment of “we’re doomed.”
“Action Comics” #3 improved some, with Clark Kent struggling to fit in as his powers develop, giving Lex a chance to do something really stupid and showing Jor-El as a joke on Krypton. This issue tries really hard, delivering a few key moments (Clark and his landlady, dealing with police harassment, his quiet moment thinking of his parents) but still doesn’t fully connect.
The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
“Spawn” #213, “X-23” #16, “Moriarity” #6, “New Mutants” #33, “Savage Dragon” #175, “Mystic” #4, “Pilot Season: Fleshdigger” #1, “Moon Knight” #7, “Infinite Vacation” #3, “Hulk” #44, “Hack/Slash” #9, “Fear Itself: The Fearless” #2, “True Blood: The French Quarter” #3, “Static Shock” #3, “Jack Avarice Is The Courier” #1, “Red Lanterns” #3, “Crysis” #6, “Justice League International” #3, “Cold War” #2, “Hawk and Dove” #3, “Stan Lee’s Traveler” #12, “Green Arrow” #3, “Roger Landridge’s Snarked” #2, “Detective Comics” #3, “Peanuts” #0, “Animal Man” #3, “Elric: The Balance Lost” #5, “O.M.A.C.” #3, “Betrayal of the Planet of The Apes” #1, “7 Warriors” #1.
No, just…no … These comics? Not so much …
“Fear Itself” #7.1…wow. Let’s just decide that nothing means anything, that any emotional stakes raised by a story are just cardboard. To spend an entire issue debunking the climax of a previous issue…to tease a new ongoing…no, dude, not cool.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Mostly meh, which kind of washes over you.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
One purchase, one stinker, a big midsection of mediocrity…it’s a wash, like this week may as well not have even happened.
This week on Komplicated.com, we checked out the trailer for “Grand Theft Auto 5” (San Andreas!), enjoyed the last #whodwin Wednesday session before the big playoffs starting November 9th, took a look at how artist Khary Randolph helps create “Charismagic,” as well as breaking down the latest Trojan for Mac, produced an hour-long webcast focusing on the 2011 Hollywood Black Film Festival, viewed new character posters from “The Hunger Games,” read an interview with new “Static Shock” writer Marc Bernardin and previewed an early look at a museum exhibit combining Kirby influences with Black faces. Of course, that ran alongside the regular weekly madness including a Halloween-themed set of free MP3 downloads (and recommendations on what to select), musical recommendations from DJ Jedi and Brutha Gimel, our weekly guide of where to find Black people in media, an in-depth look at Fishbone, and of course the commentary track for these reviews. Komplicated is updated no fewer than three times a day, every day, and will be at Los Angeles’ Comikaze Expo debuting all new t-shirt designs and raising awareness (look for an announcement on Komplicated.com by 4PM PST).
Back to this website — have you 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, you should use the contact form as the CBR email address hasn’t been regularly checked since George W. Bush was in office. Sorry!