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 SEPTEMBER 26TH, 2007
NOTE: The cover shown here was not what was available at retail. Three trios of super powered teenagers are scouring the galaxy for one of their own. Okay. However, each mission has a secret agenda, as determined by their super-genius "teammate" (he kind of views them all as pawns). This issue starts the second of the three adventures, sending feral Timber Wolf, hyper-violent shrinking heroine Atom Girl and "The Shadow Champion of Talok 8" or just "Shadow Lass" to her pals. The three of them have landed on the world of Lallor (and old fashioned Legion fans will perk up at the mention of that planet), and there they find another "old friend" with his origins in the early days of the W/KRP Legion as well as being a person who LSH fans from before Zero Hour can appreciate. A complicated tale of revenge and misunderstandings, Tony Bedard's script works perfectly in this brave new future, even though Dennis Calero's art is a little rough around the edges, as is Nathan Eyring's coloring.
The mini-series draws to a close as the Williams brothers are drawn back together amidst a flurry of supernatural and gang violence engulfing Astro City. This, however, is just the main course, as delicious side dishes like a time traveling super hero and an old family secret accompanying the chaos. According to the lettercol, this marks the half-way point for this story, which is a potboiler that satisfies in call back references and nuance.
Jump from the Read Pile. This title has been consistently good since its inception. However, very rarely it strives to make it above that mark, and this issue is one that did the job. The Beetle and a local crimelord called La Dama have an uneasy detente in the Texas town of El Paso, and that's based on a series of secrets they keep for each other. One of those secrets comes to light this issue, and that struggle makes this issue excel over its fairly simple battle with Giganta (although many elements, from Blue Beetle's phone call to the quips to the final conclusion are very entertaining). The new Peacemaker continues to be one of the best supporting characters around ("How does Batman keep his kid focused? Swear he drugs Robin's water") while other supporting characters got chances to shine and get developed. The guest art team of David Baldeon and Steve Bird give the issue a very fast paced yet accessible feel, ably assisted by Guy Major's coloring.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Solid thus far ...
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
Dwayne McDuffie's debut on "Justice League of America" #13 was extremely close to making it home, with a sprawling cast and smart plotting, even allowing an interesting moment between Superman and Vixen that fed into the story. Its sole downfall was that it was just too much going on, too many characters angling for panel time, too much good stuff going on to allow any of it room to breathe. If you're gonna get left at the store, having the cause be "an embarrassment of riches" is the way to do it.
if there was too much good stuff going on in the last comic, "Criminal" #9 was too sparse with its quality. The ongoing problem with this series is that it takes. Its. Time. With. Each. Gem. Of. Brilliance. This leads to stories that are very cinematic and would work well in a crime novel, but at the price point makes them too little bang for the buck. The actual story beats are fascinating, they're just too far in between.
The writing and art were better from a craft perspective than the actual story in "Batman" #669, which built characters and set moods with the best of 'em while sleepwalking through a fairly tepid plot. It gave some fairly laughable and forgotten DC creations a measure of dignity and worthiness.
"The Immortal Iron Fist" #9 likewise could have made it home had it not walked away from the really interesting kung fu movie-styled tournament of "immortal weapons" in the "seven cities of heaven" (just typing that feels cool) to essentially go on a kind of fact finding mission for a retconned mystery. The issue still managed to have some fun and of course Fat Cobra kicks major butt.
Despite the fact that this is, what, the grillionth "future Titans" story in a variety of media, the slow certainty of a caped Kon-El and a gun wielding Tim Drake made "Teen Titans" #51 at least somewhat enjoyable, as motivations of the power behind them make their machinations all the more intriguing.
The procedural investigation in "Avengers: The Initiative" #6 was pretty dull -- the investigators, in particular, had no personalities whatsoever -- but that extra wacky last page reveal showing a surprising side of a heretofore forgettable character really makes for some interesting developments in the team's status quo. Really, that last page is all you need, since the rest of the issue takes too long to get there.
The actual story in "52 Aftermath: The Four Horsemen" #2 was merely adequate, but the idea that the Calculator is now a diplomat for a sovereign Oolong Island (not smart, UN) and has (get this) diplomatic immunity ... well, that's a detail that's just freakin' fascinating. Best known as a tidbit, though, and not worth Batman and Superman's posturing to wade through for. Oh, and how is Apokolips not at all out war with Earth, given the multiple incursions? Seriously? Do people really think a Justice League-led combat force can't beat a "god" in short shorts and Vermin Vunderbar? Anyhoo ...
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
When asked about "All-Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder" #7, retailer Steve LeClaire said,, "I felt like I needed to take a shower." In an issue that includes rainy under-cape humping, amateur psychoanalysis, and a prepubescent Dick Grayson locked in the Batcave and wielding an axe ... it's nice to see someone admit Bruce Wayne is a raving psychopath, but it's disturbing to watch it be so ... gleeful.
Tossing in a previously unknown sibling smacked of poor planning in "Brit" #2, which also has a very cliche ending, and this was a big disappointment.
There's more answers in "Captain America: Chosen" #2 and you can kind of see where the story is going ... sort of ... but this pretty looking comic is still short when it comes to delivering the goods. It'd almost be better if it was a delusion.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Well, despite learning that Earth 3's Crime Society has an evil Spectre (ooooh), the new Captain Universe is a whiner, that Monarch has an army of super-scoundrels (including two extradimensional Kryptonians, even though one's a Nazi), that Tony Stark has no idea how bad of a super villain he really is and that Uncle Sam's Freedom Fighters are now firmly back in continuity (figure that out, Father Time), it was kind of blah overall.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
One jump does not a winning week make, as the drearies reigned supreme in a week that loses by a hair.