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WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?

Every week Hannibal Tabu (journalist/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 thoughts about all of that … something like this …

THE BUY PILE FOR DECEMBER 7TH, 2006

———>Beyond #6 (Marvel Comics)

Ah, now that’s a satisfying way to end a miniseries. Proving once and for all that this is not your father’s Secret Wars (or even yours), every question is revealed (if not answered — while never really following the “two teams” ideal, which makes some of the random adversaries like Dragon Man seem out of place), the big fix comes from big Hank Pym, who out thinks the whole situation in a manner you’ll have to see to believe. If you’re a student of Marvel history, there’s so many Easter eggs in here you might have to check for a rabbit nearby, while casual readers can just enjoy a simple adventure yarn with a crafty twist. Highly entertaining.

———>The Nightly News #2 (Image Comics)

Jump from the Real Pile. A very challenging issue, but worth it. As stylistic as a David Mack issue of “Daredevil” while carrying on the violent mediagenic tone of a work like “Transmetropolitan,” this iconoclastic issue is equal parts “Boston Legal” style rants and Chuck Palahniuk paranoia. The tiny comments in odd margins (“I just love parties”) alongside the infodense “Intimates” style inner reporting make this a work worth more than one read, revealing nuance and clarity at every mean-spirited, Orwellian turn. The new “brainier-than-thou” title worth watching, and now a Buy Pile “buy on site” one as well.

———>Doctor Strange: The Oath #3 (Marvel Comics)

It’s all fun and games until Wong whacks you with part of a broken robot … and to be honest, it’s still pretty fun after that. With a dry wit and solid action, this issue continues the good doctor’s quest to find a way to save his friend, and the Night Nurse keeps playing the Dana Scully card. Fun, magic tinted stuff with twists and turns and no telling where you’ll wind up, but an agreeable trip to take you there.

———>Jeremiah Harm #5 (Boom! Studios)

A bit less avant-garde than previous issues, the lead character and his supporting cast trade cliche-heavy quips while getting all “Temple of Doom” on a quest for a mystery McGuffin that could destroy the world. Not bad, but not as good as previous issues either.

———>The Official Handbook of the Invincible Universe #1 (Image Comics)

Done in the style of the classic 1980s OHOTMU project, this guidebook has absolutely crucial reference data on all the crazy ideas Kirkman has founded his project on, from knockoffs like Darkwing and Dupli-Kate to the flawed likes of the explosive David Hiles or Allen the Alien. If you needed a primer to catch you up on the whole series, it’s cheaper and more succinct than trades, and easier to refer to, plus has some great pin up art from the likes of Jason Pearson and Mike Zeck.

———>Agents of Atlas #5 (Marvel Comics)

Jimmy Woo turns cold and handles business, rooting out the double agent (kind of easy to tell, if one thinks about it) and shoring up the team after some troubling internecine moments. This mini series has yet to disappoint, as one team member learns the truth and all of them face their fears and dark secrets (and nice way to work in some Christopher Priest-era continuity with the White Wolf in Wakanda), forming a crucible that makes them have to be a stronger unit. A continued surprise in its flexibility and the emotional gravitas of fairly new characters (to most readers).

———>Tranquility #1 (Wildstorm/DC Comics)

Jump from the Real Pile. It’s hard to get old for people who aren’t avionics prodigies or super-powered behemoths, so when the cape and mask crowd get long in the tooth, the bite could be worse than the bark. With only the pursed-lipped determination of Sheriff Thomasina Lindo riding herd over what could be the retirement village for Astro City or Top 10, a crisis and a documentary film maker frame this look inside the later years of the greater names. Well written with convincing and engaging art by Neil Googe.

———>Hero Squared #4 (Boom! Studios)

Another simple one, except this time the name of the game is “punching.” While being called Eustace every five seconds by the Milo of the current universe, the creators deliver a clone story that’s just a smidge different. Not as packed with laughs as previous issues, but an intentional departure from the therapy issue that preceded things. Worth a look.

WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?

Two jumps, six for eight on solid and very re-readable entertainment … can’t beat that with a bat. Even though Diamond shorted the store on the entire order of “Nextwave” #10 from last week (those bastards) and owner Steve noted that of the last year, only two weeks have gone with zero “this costs me money” errors in his Diamond order.

THIS WEEK’S READ PILE

Honorable Mentions:

Your faithful reviewer is very sleepy, and therefore doesn’t have time to break down all the crazy this week. So, just for a glance, “very close to making it home” books included: “Outsiders” #43, “Newuniversal” #1, “Detective Comics” #826 and the much improved “White Tiger” #2. “Not so bad” included “Ultimate Vision” #1, “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” Volume 2 #3 “Justice Society of America” #1, “Batman Confidential” #1, “Invincible” #37, “52” #31 and “Superman Confidential” #2. Our store was shorted “Mystery in Space” #1.

No, just … no …

Again, just a quickie, more detail next week: pass by “Nightwing” #127 and “Supergirl” #12.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Gotta say it went well.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Good week … and if sleep wasn’t such an issue, you’d hear more about why. For some reason, doing a search for “december 2006” or “solicit december 2006” came up dry, hence no images. Sorry.

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