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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 SEPTEMBER 1ST, 2010

Secret Six #25 (DC Comics)

Two teams of mercenaries are after the same target as the mysterious Mockingbird continues to pull strings from behind the scenes. Somehow, a divorcing couple is involved in this. There’s also more of Gail Simone’s trademark brilliant dialogue (“I know where bullets want to go”) and the always skilled hands of J. Calafiore and Jason Wright bringing those words to life. When the story takes a turn for the teleportational, it’s done so smoothly and without any jarring plot challenges, making this yet another great issue in a seemingly endless stream of them. Some added undertones — Giganta and Dwarfstar brushing past current events with Ryan Choi, for example — make this issue a keeper.

The Avengers, Thor and Captain America: Official Index to the Marvel Universe #5 (Marvel Comics)

Okay, more old books, lessee here … a whole issue dominated by a meeting because deadline problems caused the writers to put out a reprint or something. That’s actually kind of boring, let’s see what else we can do. Oh, well, Olympus and Asgard kind of going to war with one another, that’s kind of cool, especially since Loki got in the middle of it, agitating things. A military general transfers his brain into the body of a 12′ combat robot. That’s … well, that’s kind of stupid. Honestly? There’s not much special here. The Thor stories at least have some grandeur to them, but Secret Stamp was likely interminable in the ’40s and does no better today. Still, if somebody tries to tell you that Captain America beat up the Lincoln Memorial in issue #223, you can correct them so they’ll know it happened in #222. Hang on, what?

Astro City Special: Silver Agent #2 (WildStorm)

When “Marvel Boy” #1 hit, the captain of his ship inspired with a mere sentence. Here, the Silver Agent has shades of Kal-El when he travels to the future. Alan Craig struggles, wondering if he’s really as heroic as the legend that’s risen around his name or if he’s capable of living up to the example. When he follows through with the narrative noted in the story, it led to a really wonderful ending that satisfied in every way. This was a great piece of work that hit it out of the park.

The Prince of Power #4 (Marvel Comics)

Left over from last week. No time for a long review, so let’s just say that despite the fact that it served largely as a set up for the next big crossover, resolving the Delphyne storyline was great, bringing in some old members of the Pantheon was a nice touch and Thor was surprisingly wise. Amadeus Cho does it again.

Gravel #20 (Avatar Press)

Left over from last week. Uh … the title character’s supposed to be a badass, right? Then, the magicians he chose to work with, they should be kind of impressive too, one would suspect. Hh. Kind of a let down here.

WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?

Good to get caught up from Diamond’s screw up from last week, but things were a little hit and miss.

THIS WEEK’S READ PILE

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

“Hawkeye and Mockingbird” #4 scrolled back from last month’s cliffhanger but tried to jam too much into one issue, even though there was a great moment between Clint and Bobbi. Still interesting and worth checking out.

“Heroic Age: One Month to Live” #1 was a pleasant surprise, with a fairly engaging story. However, the characterization points were a little on the cliche side, too much shorthand and not enough specificity. But literally everything else went right. Had this come out in a week as thin as last week, it’d have been a purchase.

Lots happened in “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” #158, with action on three fronts but not always going together properly. It had some of the Marvel series’ energy but not the crisply tailored plots that always tied things together so well.

“Marvel Universe vs. Punisher” #3 had a number of interesting surprises in its “heroes go bad” story, presenting “patient zero” as a “talker” but keeping Frank Castle on his own brutal path. The narrative runs a little fast and this might not be best suited for a monthly, but it’s still worth watching.

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

“Avengers: The Children’s Crusade” #2, “Freedom Fighters” #1, “Spike: The Devil You Know” #3, “JSA All-Stars” #10, “G.I. Joe: Hearts and Minds” #4, “Superman: The Last Family of Krypton” #2, “I, Zombie” #5, “Murderland” #2

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

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” #36 was all over the map. Spike and Angel and breaking things and … really, there was little sign of coherency or clarity in this comic, and it was jarring, honestly.

“Scarlet” #2 was marginally less terrible than its predecessor, which was so bad that the shop actively suggested customers not buy it, and this week engendered this reaction from the store’s owner, which he was happy to have the creators know about. It was still one talky, overwrought, largely self-important piece of drivel.

It’s amazing that three Braniacs are in “R.E.B.E.L.S.” #20 and it remains one of the stupidest comics to have come out this year. Really. The ending that happened … it’s sad, honestly. For all the characters to have come to that, it’s … what the hell happened to this series? A failure on every level.

“Brightest Day” #9 reveals a lot about the new Aqualad (continuing a disturbing Vader-esque trend that is too spoilery to discuss here, check the commentary track on the blog later for that) with J’onn J’onnz having some issues of control. Honestly, it was just below mediocre, not as bad as normal.

“Jack of Fables” #47 had three humorous elements that could have been tied together into a story, but really just stumbled all over each other. This used to be such a great title, what happened here?

From last week: “Namor: The First Mutant” #1 — two words, “vampire squid.” No.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Honestly? Kind of terrible.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

The week just barely went badly with many mixed up messages and stories that failed in general. Troubling, honestly.

THE BUSINESS

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, and there’s blogging too: I’m back with a newly unified blogging platform thanks to (yes, I’m eating crow for even saying this) WordPress and the theme-adapting styles of Suuru Designs at the Soapbox. That’s where you’ll find Commentary Track blogs on these reviews, normally within a day or two of their publication. Also, if you’re so impatient that you can’t wait on Wednesday nights (hopefully by 9PM), you can get an “Early Forecast” of what’s going into the column on the Operative Network Mobile Edition. Enjoy, you bastards.

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