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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 SEPTEMBER 10TH, 2008

Secret Invasion: X-Men #1

Secret Invasion: X-Men #2 (Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.  The Skrulls have landed in San Francisco, and ... well, they weren't expecting a certain group of mutants.  Borrowing a page from the IRA school of counterinsurgency, Scott Summers leads a group of mutants and humans in a fight against the ruthless invaders ... what's that?  This sounds like Marc Singer in "V?"  Well ... yeah.  But it's done rather well, with Cyclops leaning on all of the strengths people normally chide him for, and Nightcrawler struggles with a Jedi Holocron, er, interactive telepathic Skrull bible that tells a parable of the shapeshifting people.  This is a close up look at battles at street levels with powers that are sometimes way beyond that.  Admittedly, in tighter economic times, this wouldn't have been good enough, but it was a profitable week.   

Green Lantern Corps #28

Green Lantern Corps #28 (DC Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.  A threat in the stars is killing the families of rookie Lanterns and sending the severed eyes to Oa.  Nasty, huh?  This has Honor Lanterns Rayner and Gardner on edge, as well as the Lantern's "drill sergeant" Kilowog.  A relative neophyte named Saarek, however, has an unusual gift that gives the Lanterns a crucial clue to the killer's identity, sending them out spanning the stars in search of the culprit.  The somber artwork from Luke Ross and Fabio Laguna, with Nei Ruffino's intimate coloring.  A well-depicted interstellar procedural, the twist Neil Tomasi's script adds is fitting and smart, and leads to an interesting last page that pushes the story onwards for next month.  

Criminal #5

Criminal #5 (Icon/Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.  Ed Brubaker's on fire with this series these days, as his hostage crisis turns sexier and more complicated as Jacob gets pulled deeper and deeper into Danny and Iris' madness while he completes the forgery of an FBI badge.  Sean Phillips knows how to work with Brubaker's pitch perfect pacing and the product here is seamless noir so tangible that it could practically pull up to your house in a '57 Roadmaster.  That's good crazy, and would have made the jump no matter how little money was available.

Pax Romana #3

Pax Romana #3 (Image Comics)

Jonathan Hickman's alternative history tale takes an interesting turn when "a relaxing of standards" starts to develop as General Chase's men "go native" and get altered by the past as much as they seek to change the future.  Is this the best art in the world?  No -- the virtual two-page text spread here almost derails the issue, if the content wasn't so damned compelling -- but even as posed talking heads, this virtual prose comic intrigues and enthralls.  As intellectually stimulating as Vertigo used to be, and featuring some real surprises along the way.  Jonathan Hickman is really turning into somebody.  

Deadpool #1

Deadpool #1 (Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.  The last page will shock you, but the rest of the issue -- from the schizophrenic narration to the quip-filled violence (and the call back, which worked excellently) give a great balance between the reality of Deadpool as a merciless killer and the whimsical lunacy of Deadpool as a whimsical lunatic.  Hallucinations, high explosives and hitting somebody with a whole spaceship -- the fact that you can, indeed, buy entertainment like this is fantastic.  Another sure jump, no matter the week, because Wade Wilson is back!  

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Four jumps, two without reservations and Jonathan Hickman.  That's a freakin' fabulous start.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

Despite its cartoonish looks, "Star Wars: Clone Wars" #1 was pretty good, giving some youthful playfulness to a pre-grim Anakin and a female padawan named Ashoka, while Obi-Wan grows into his butt kicking elder statesman role.  Dooku lingers in the periphery as a big bad, giving the series legs as he marches his endless armies of automotons through the galaxy, and the clones of Jango have a certain moxie and esprit de corps that's not as bad.  But given how so much of the overall story is clear from the start, this issue failed to give the events within its pages resonance, ending up just an adequate diversion that doesn't leap into your hand for re-reading.

Speaking of moxie, "Secret Invasions: Inhumans" #2 shows the flaw in the Skrull plan -- it's much harder invading an entire city of superhumans, especially when they're already mad at you.  Maximus makes a creepy appearance, showing his Loki-esque charm, all while Karnak and Medusa have great character moments and Black Bolt's fate is revealed.  The art could have had a better sense of the scale of this (intimacy was the wrong way to go here, conceptually) though.

If "Trinity" #15 is any indication, this could be a series worth buying in a week or two, as a huge melee erupts but it still keeps the plot pieces coming (who knew Hawkman could be the beak out, er, break out star here?) and surprises popping up.  The problem of the three focal characters seeing their very personalities merging almost slowed down the Bat, whose indomitable will shone through ultimately.  Really digging its way out of its dull origins.

The biggest surprise of the week is the Chris Claremont-scripted "Big Hero 6" #1, which was -- brace yourselves -- almost good.  The plot was zippy, the characterization was less unidimensional than some of Claremont's other recent work, the action was well paced and well planned.  If the central adolescent character weren't so limp, this could have gone somewhere.  Perhaps more Amadeus Cho and less Hiro Okamura ...

The last pages of moral dilemma really did a lot for the otherwise ordinary "Invincible" #52, as interaction with Kid Omni Man may not be the influence Mark Grayson would have expected. 

Again, "Ms. Marvel" #30 worked on the title character's determination but dropped the ball by having essentially 22 or so pages of melee combat.  Which is fine, in its way, cheesecake and all, but not worth three bucks.  

"Dynamo 5" #16 was an improvement over some dull months, as the original characters were essentially all dull and the new team -- including a guy who can go off his meds -- are compelling.  The two Firebirds finally get an interesting dynamic as well, and the tight continuity's a plus as well.  

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

"Ultimate X-Men/Fantastic Four Annual" #1, "Final Crisis: Revelations" #2 (Radiant is god's mercy? What about Jeebus?), "Booster Gold" #12, "X-Men: Magneto Testament" #1 (how Anakin of you, Magnus), "Ex Machina" #38, "Odd Squad" #1, "King Sized Cable" #1, "Wonder Woman" #24.

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

"Patsy Walker: Hellcat" #3 ... for real, WTH?  The wolf in the car ... the possibly drug-addled ranting ... huh?  

"House of M: Civil War" #1 is more prequel than combined crossover, showing how Magneto could conceivably have come to power (with some serious help)

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

That went pretty okay -- even the bad stuff was just kind of tedious or sad, not actually infuriating.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Big win with all the jumps and nothing so bad it makes your eyes water.

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 the topic is strip clubs ... and it's nothing you could expect.  New content is posted every Wednesday.

Tags: deadpool, green lantern, secret invasion comics, pax romana comics, criminal comics

Elseworlds: Why Is This Gotham Rooftop So Damned Weird?
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