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). Â 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 SEPTEMBER 17TH, 2008
All Star Superman #12
All Star Superman #12(DC Comics)
It's truly a tragedy that this collection of paper and ink and staples could represent the last chance we'll have to see this creative team working on Superman this way. Â "Here the choice is simple," a delusion tells our hero. Â "To remain at play within the field of living, fluid consciousness. Or to turn and face face down evil one last time." Â Isn't that really what you show up to hear? Â Lex Luthor, wielding a sneer that could wilt concrete, has the powers of Superman and a grudge the size of Ganymede. Â A battle in (and through) the streets of Metropolis filled with rage, recriminations and an impossible artifact. Â A declaration of undying love. Â This is a wildly fascinating comic book, one worth holding up and showing to people, the sort of thing that can rekindle the love of the art form in broken hearts. Â Wow.
G0dland #25(Image Comics)
Adam Archer's got a mission -- cross the stars to save his sister. Â This means taking some extreme measures: smashing in a wall or two, borrowing a space shuttle to practice teleporting, you know, the basics. Â Meanwhile, on the other side of the galaxy, crazy stuff is going on with time travel and fooling with evolution and the work of crazy space gods run amok. Â It goes by quickly, and it lacks the humor and whimsy of some earlier issues, but it's good nonetheless. Â
Secret Invasion: Thor #2
Secret Invasion: Thor #2(Marvel Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. Â Sure, an army of superpower-enhanced Skrull warriors attacking Asgard may seem ... what's the word ... preposterous? Â Gods. Â Attacking an entire city of sword and axe-wielding gods. Â Worse, not getting blown off the map from word go? Â That's weird. Â While beams of force are hurled and weapons swung in anger, Donald Blake stays focused on bringing one tiny human life into being, knowing the struggles of his kindred, but unable to turn away from his promise to the pending mother. Â Tense and intimate while being epic in scale, the little moments really shine (like the bit with the volunteer firemen). Â A sneaky surprise.
Transformers: All Hail Megatron #3
Transfomers: All Hail Megatron #3(IDW Publishing)
Jump from the Read Pile. Â The sound of the train coming is not an instance for joy, as the Decepticons have their way with not just New York City, but Los Angeles, Washington and more. Â This leads to some amazingly shocking images and three fascinating pages of interaction between Starscream and the Decepticon leader. Â This, like the last three issues, is way too brief but makes up for it in sheer gumption and overkill. Â Way more fun than it should be. Â
Air #2(Vertigo/DC Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. Â G. Willow Wilson stepped up her storytelling with the emotional quest of a woman to find a man in a country that doesn't exist. Â Go on, roll that one around in your brain for a moment. Â Blythe finds her mystery man in her bed before he's in a prison behind the borders of the nowhere nation of Narimar. Â Secret codes, a nice call back to the first issue (which is made better by reading this one). Â Another pleasant surprise sneaking up on you where you don't expect it.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Three jumps, a masterpiece and a good read. Â That's a really good start.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions:Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"Scalped" #21 was very, very close to making the jump with some really good character work (Jason Aaron can make a supporting character vibrant in such a small amount of space) despite a plot that entertained but didn't actually do anything. Â
"Sword" #11 has a great fight scene, despite the fact that the villain in question seems to be stuck on one trick. Â There's little story there, but some really interesting things happen if you're a fan of violence well depicted. Â
"Incredible Hercules" #121 was cute but largely superficial as Amazons attack (Herc and Amazons having a beef, that one's not new, despite their new patron following up on the God Squad stuff) while Herc makes time with Namora of the Agents of Atlas. Â Amadeus Cho gets precious little panel time, which is a bit of a deficit, as is the skimpiness of the actual plot (why such a motivation, Amazons?) but it's less of a crisis and more of an annoyance. Â
"DC Universe Decisions" #1 was a bit of a surprise as Green Arrow predictably does something stupid while the JLA takes a page from the Jack Bauer handbook (season one, before all the overly extreme torture). Â The action and dramatic tension were good, but the art was just okay and the story starts to set up an ideological debate without ever actually engaging in it. Â It is interesting to see what kind of payroll the Bat runs, though ...
"X-Factor" #35 was almost good but got caught meandering around, in love with the words flowing from the smooth dialogue. Â But dialogue by itself does not a story make. Â Good to see Larry Stroman working, though.
The fighting in "Trinity" #16 wasn't as clear as the work from "Sword," but it was as compelling as Enigma's secret was revealed (sort of), Hawkman shows up for the job and the three leads love working together. Â
"Mighty Avengers" #18 -- again -- had no actual Avengers in it, but showed Nick Fury borrowing pages from both Grevioux' "New Warriors" and "V for Vendetta" in his training of Secret Warriors, but the plot and pacing just kind of jogged where it needed -- badly -- to run. Â
"Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam" #2 did a good job in introducing a teen aged Theo Adam who's forgotten the magic word (yet mysteriously speaks English after being trapped in another dimension for thousands of years while the language developed) but spends too much time on Mary Marvel hijinks. Â She's a distraction that detracts. Â
Drax has a solution for Skrulls in "Guardians of the Galaxy" #5, despite being accused of sabotage. Â Time travel weirdness happens, internecine struggles within the team and an old friend turns out to hang out with the wrong crowd. Â Not bad. Â
"Robin" #178 was doing okay, with the talking heads showing the title character growing up fast (and planning for what DiDio called "The Battle for The Cowl," perhaps) but this issue totally spun out at the end. Â Plus, the Red Robin thing is a distraction that's not working.
"Iron Man: Director of SHIELD" #33 got better despite very little involvement from the title character as a battle-weary Jim Rhodes brings it to the Skrulls, Japanimation style! Â
The "Meh" Pile Â Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Stormwatch: PHD" #14, "Secret Invasion" #6, "Titans" #5, "Uncanny X-Men" #502, "Flash" #244 (complete with old school power limitations), Â "Zero-G" #1, "Captain Britain and MI-13" #5, "Birds of Prey" #122, "Young X-Men" #6, "Batgirl" #3 and "Fathom" #2.
No, just ... no ... Â These comics? Â Not so much ...
"Checkmate" #30 ... seriously, WTH? Â What was Bad Samaritan's shtick all about? Â What was August General in Iron's thing with that staff? Â What happened here? Â No ...
The week's saddest book was "Age of the Sentry" #1, a limp attempt at emulating nostalgia, not even being nostalgic itself. Â The incomplete mimeographing of Clark Kent (this guy's not a reporter, he edits encyclopedia entries ... seriously), the campy silver age attempt ... why did this comic have to happen? Â
"Batman and the Outsiders" #11 was whiny and confused and frustrated ... and that's just the characters! Â Send it back.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
The three stinkers didn't bring down the whole thing.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Three jumps, good reads and "All Star Superman" -- these are the weeks that make you drive faster to the comics store, just to rush towards this kind of excitement!
Got a comic you think should be reviewed in The Buy Pile? Â 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. Â Physical comics? Â Geddouttahere. Â Too much drama to store with diminishing resources. Â
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 you can check out six shots of microfiction from Chinedum Richard Ofoegbu. Â New content is posted every Wednesday.