WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?
Every week Hannibal Tabu (journalist/blogger/novelist/poet/jackass) goes to a comic book store called Comics Ink in Culver City, CA (Overland and Braddock -- hey Steve and Jason) and grabs a whole lotta comics. These periodicals are quickly sorted into two piles -- the "buy" pile (a small pile most weeks, comprised of books that are too good to not own) and the "read" pile (often huge, often including comics that are really crappy but have some value to stay abreast of). Thursdays (Diamond monopolistic practices willing), 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 24TH, 2007
ERRATA: Last week's reviews incorrectly talked about the comic Suburban Glamour being set in the US, when it was actually set in the UK. Right. Sorry. Moving on ...
If the scene in Austin Powers: Goldmember where Heather Graham seduced Mike Myers in a fat suit grossed you out, there will be disturbing panels in this issue for you. Also fun: the title character never appears in its pages. That said, there's a ton of sex in this issue, Casanova's dad tries to come to terms with his black ops past, and The Secret Cinema makes its horrible debut, all while "New Jack City" get quoted, you get an interesting lamb recipe, and the writer makes a wholly meta in joke about his own work. Kooky enough, yet? The wonderfully whimsical world of espionage and ethereal concepts takes a swing at you while presenting a tight narrative that leads to the next issue without requiring it to finish off its points. Crazy fun.
Comics veteran Peter David takes over this issue, and gives Jen a new job -- bounty hunter -- and a few surprises that are not actually explained. Which is interesting, after a fashion, but not actually compelling. Shawn Moll's visual storytelling is solid -- made more so by the work of inker Victor Olazaba and Avalon's Rob Ro on colors -- but not remarkable nor wildly memorable (nice work on the guest star, though). The core surprise here is just a hair too "what the ... how did that?" for its own good, and the issue flies by with alarming speed. Not gone from contention yet, but the next issue needs to haul ass like a dump truck full of strippers ...
Jump from the Read Pile. Would you believe that World War Hulk was actually the best case scenario? In this wonderful lead speculative story, Hulk saves Caiera and dies in the process. To paraphrase a certain Skywalker, the Oldstrong is not as forgiving as Doctor Banner is. Within the first few pages, she's completely dismantled the most powerful defenders (and avengers) that Earth 616 can field and her final resolution to bringing the pain for the Marvel Universe is not pretty, as Jen Walters, Ben Grimm and Peter Rasputin can attest to first hand. This is the way to smash -- fast, hard and endlessly -- and it's a shame this isn't how things really went. The backup shows how people can see the Hulk as a hero, even as his feuding personalities struggle against one another. A very interesting side project for fans of the crossover with some real substance in the script.
Handbooks always have a certain dryness to them, some entries that are yawn inducing. This one, however, doesn't have any of the opposite -- no wildly whimsical and zany elements to take the edge off of the reference feel. Even Man-Ape -- possibly one of the goofiest characters ever -- is taken completely seriously here. Sure, it helps summarize facts in some of many recent developments -- great background on many storylines, from recent developments with the Winter Soldier all the way to two Marvel Boys from the 40s. But whereas many issues have some laugh out loud moments just on the sheer "wow, what were they smoking when they came up with this guy?" factor, but here it's all very cut and dried with Mar-Vell and the Red Skull and even Aqueduct. seriously.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Despite the jump, two question mark reads are like clouds on the horizon -- better get a jacket.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"Green Lantern Corps" #17 showed some improvement, with some interesting visuals (check out Kilowog's fight), a show of power from the Guardians and world-to-world action. But with the art still just "eh" and the events of other DC books barely reflecting this turn of events (kids, making your comics is hard work, so support your editor) it seems like more ambition than execution. Oh, but read this before you read the rather whiny (until the last third) "Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Superman Prime" to follow the story, as best you could.
Psycho Man makes an appearance in "Black Panther" #31 and there's some good chemistry between the characters (love the T'Challa/Ben banter) but this issue kind of has Kirkman Syndrome -- great lines, but not exactly a "beginning," "middle" and "end" for this issue, is there?
Somebody has a big surprise coming in "Countdown" #27, and it's the first sign of something happening here in ... what, more than twelve weeks? Not enough to buy, but interesting to note.
"Transformers: Devastation" #1 fell down on the job by introducing a bad Hasbro idea too soon, making a messy ending for an otherwise pretty enjoyable issue. If you can follow the Cybertronian forms, you might get a kick out of "Transformers: Megatron Origin" #4, which kicks some major butt but never really has anything behind the violence.
"Uncle Sam & The Freedom Fighters" #2 had a kind of interesting "cost of fame" story, but it sure could have picked up the pace.
"Doktor Sleepless" #3 and "Thunderbolts" #117 -- two more Warren Ellis joints -- both have all of his trademark chutzpah and command of dialogue (with the nurse getting the spotlight in the former and Len Samson making a house call in the latter) but aside from the arguable arc of Samson's psychiatric session, there's not much to be called an actual "story" in either. Truthfully the same could be said for "Daredevil" #101.
"Velocity: Pilot Season" #1 probably won't win the competition, but it's a simple and harmless little speedster vignette, showing kind of a "working girl" angle having a hard time balancing dating with people trying to kill you and what have you.
Despite its nice ambiance, "Foolkiller" #1 was too preliminary to even be called foreplay, with one appearance by the title character and a whole lotta talking.
"Blue Beetle" #20 tried to cross over with that Sinestro Corps business, but it didn't help the visual storytelling. Nice characterization on Peacemaker though.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
The retcon in "Superman" #669 just plain stinks -- it posits a new DCU with the possibilities of nigh-immortal Kryptonians wandering the spaceways, and a Krypton where the yellow sun difference was fairly common knowledge. That would make Kandor a whole different party, gives a whole sheen au "Smallville" (in the bad season six way, not the good season two way) ... gah.
All the possibility for "Authority Prime" #1, but all you'll get is another swipe at Henry Bendix' memory tower and a chance for the old(er) school to fight the new(er). Seriously? Argh.
"Annihilation Conquest: Wraith" #4 ended the crossover so weakly that it barely even registered. A huge let down.
The Bizarro JLA in "Action Comics" #857? Not so much, no. "Green Arrow: Year One" #6 was limp as well.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Eh. Kinda lame.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Two snoozer purchases (there was literal nodding off with the handbook) and a grind to read through? Urf. Time for a nap.