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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, Jason, Vince and Sally) 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).  Thursday afternoons (Diamond monopolistic practices willing, and yes, it used to be mornings, but management asked for it to slide back some), 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 OCTOBER 29TH, 2008

Secret Invasion: Thor #3

Secret Invasion: Thor #3 (Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile. "You will not pass." Donald Blake, as a mere mortal man, said these words on the first page of the issue, defiantly standing before a Super-Skrull armed with the weapon of his good friend Beta Ray Bill. It's not Super Mario, but the Hammer Brothers are here and they're handling business. Setting the stakes high at the jump and carrying on powerfully from the previous issue, this issue is a triumph of characterization, showcasing the Asgardians in their best enviroment, the glory of melee combat. Sit back and enjoy the ride, as this is one heck of a thriller.

Jack of Fables #27

Jack of Fables #27 (Vertigo/DC Comics)

The last of the three Page sisters is examined here (briefly) alongside some other fascinating narrative elements as the Book Burner and his army of forgotten Fables (Man 'o Fruit? The Mysterious Hornswaggle?) marches on the Golden Boughs Retirement Community, itself a secret camp full of captured Fables. Not the non-stop laughs you might expect from the series, as it needed some space to introduce a Francophone and some other elements, but it still delivers on every level.

Immortal Iron Fist #19

The Immortal Iron Fist #19 (Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile. Brace yourself: Fat Cobra is back. There's a monster called Ch'i-Lin that's prowled the centuries, killing the champions of K'un-Lun. Iron Fists? This guy's got their number. This leads to lots of big combat, some craftiness on the part of the lead character and some very moody art from Travel Foreman. A solid adventure story with great momentum.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Two jumps is a good start, and nobody's ever mad at a week with a book by Bill Willingham.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"Incredible Hercules" #122 was not bad, with an Amazon attack pimpslapping some divinity, Namor predictably flying off the handle and more brains from the title character than some might expect. Quick and upbeat, and a little more tightness in the plotting would get it right.

"Chuck" #5 was okay, despite the switcheroo that happens in a very J.J. Abrams "Alias" sort of way. The energy of the show is here but the formatting saps some of the ability of the series to complete a thought.

"Legion of Super Heroes" #47 was pretty good with a character making decisions to turn to a darker direction, an unexpected romantic interlude and some okay work in the relationships between Legionnaires.

"Sword" #12 was pretty whup ass in its fight scenes and its sheer grit, but it was all combat and not much actual story. This will play better in the collection than as a single issue.

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

"Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes" one shot, "Justice League of America" #26, "Captain Action" #1, "Superman/Batman" #53 (the "Freaky Friday" method? Seriously?), "Avengers: The Initiative" #18, "Checkmate" #31 (Freedom Beast? Not having it), "X-Force" #8 (but that shot of the guest star is an amazing visual), "Project Superpowers" #7, "Nova" #18 (why do the Super Skrulls dress like people they hate?), "Teen Titans" #64 (it's not spelled "holocost") and "Secret Invasion: X-Men" #3.

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

The first, most embarrassing comic in the bad column is "Ultimate Captain America Annual" #1, which takes the concept of the Black Panther, urinates on it and then pours chocolate chips on it for kicks. Involving Weapon X and weakening T'Chaka that way ... it just ain't right.

"DC Universe Decisions" #4 has a guy named Mento, and he's not a Freshmaker. The "villain" here gets dumb quickly before shuffling off to another series. Really, the fact that Superman turns into a PSA for pages upon pages ... it's an insulting bit of preaching to the choir. Vote "no" on this proposition.

You know what else was stupid? "Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns" #1. A whole corps of people who spend what seems like most of their time literally vomiting with rage. Literal bloody throw up on a preponderance of the pages here. The last page reveal is less than compelling, the modus operandi of the Red Lanterns (wouldn't "crimson" have been cooler?) lacks meaning, and you can forget about characterization. The art could have been good looking if not for all the, you know, vomit.

Hi, "Trinity" #22? The ibis-headed divinity in the Kemetic (you mortals call it "Egyptian") pantheon doesn't represent the moon. At all. You're looking for the cow-headed goddess who, fun fact, actually has a moon in the headdress she's often seen with. Throws off your little attempt at mapping the divinities to your own "trinity," yeah, but hey, it's a fact.

Also, another Kent Nelson, "Reign in Hell" #4? Here's a short story about that: no. The rest is just random and driving all over the road, but that, that's just cheap after that whole "throw the helmet into space" thing.

The Fortress of Solitude is at which pole, kids?

In "Superman" #681, Perry and Lois discuss the location of the city of Kandor, one noting that it's at the north pole and one who said it's in the Antarctic. Here's the thing: when you're dealing with polar issues, you always have at least a 50 percent chance of getting it right. Within two panels, this error was shown. On the same page. A page edited by ... lessee here ... a Matt Idelson. Which is not to say he was drunk at the wheel, but which is not to say he wasn't.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

There was a very high concentration of stupitron particles in this week's batch.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

The reading stuff was not good, the purchases were ... let's just call it a wash.

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. Physical comics? Geddouttahere. Too much drama to store with diminishing resources.

Furthermore, as if this reviewer here wasn't obnoxious enough with his opinions, he's part of an effort to teach writers about how to do the work at The Hundred and Four, where this week has a review of the film we all know and love, "The Dark Knight." New content is posted every Wednesday.

Tags: thor, iron fist, jack of fables

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