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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 AUGUST 23RD, 2006

The final fate of Dream Girl is like nothing you could expect, as Colossal Boy gets an unpleasant surprise from a name that should send shivers down the back of anybody with a sense of Legion history (and should simply intrigue anyone reading due to the provocative nature of the moniker). Supergirl also has an awkward lunch with Princess Projectra, Triplicate Girl and Phantom Girl that's much less angsty than her OYL counterpart. Tony Bedard helps out on scripting for this W/KRP (Waid/Kitson Reboot Period) episode that's creepy and smart and funny and interesting and all the things that you could really want from a Legion title. The future still looks great.

NOTE: The cover image seen here is not what was available at retail on Wednesday. Speaking of creepy, Fell things are just too weird to stay at work, so the title character ends up on a date and bringing justice to a spooked corner of Snowtown. Ellis' writing is so perfectly concise here, and Ben Templesmith has gotten so good at evoking the stark, ugly realities of this backwater. The subject matter ... well, "ew," seriously, but the storytelling is so compelling, the characterization so deft. What Ellis does for blowing stuff up in "Nextwave" he does for crime fiction (and in way less space) in "Fell." Fantastic.

NOTE: The cover image seen here is not what was available at retail on Wednesday. Matty Roth decides that it's time to make a difference, and he fights with a weapon that can't be beaten when a perfect solution just deus ex machina'es into his lap. In the space of 22 pages, Wood takes the beleaguered journalist from local oddity to local legend, and the trip is a fascinating one. There's a hint of the populist Spider Jerusalem near the end, and in the same way Templesmith perfectly captures the starkness of Snowtown, Ricardo Burchielli makes the bruised, battered island of Manhattan stand in all of its shell shocked horror and grace. Nicely done.

NOTE: The cover image seen here is not what was available at retail on Wednesday. This is the last guaranteed issue of this on the Buy Pile, because the charm and sassiness that got this title to the promised land has been replaced by a grim apathy and a general sense of stellar ennui. Heath Huston's attempt at making a better future has been met by sneers and fatal derision by people who don't want their present altered (if you alter the past and destroy a future, wouldn't the people of that new future be just as invested in keeping their existence? All kinds of unanswered existential questions here) and have more than enough power to do something about it. The material is solid enough, but short of the backup story, surely not forceful enough to stick with. Sorry.

Now here's a title with a lead character who has no shortage of sass -- he tries to have the reader bugger off while he wakes up, sleeps with a woman he clearly can't stand, and shows enough moxie for any three characters in any other title. Jack's buoyant arrogance carries and sustains this issue, as Humpty Dumpty's sad escape attempt, Paul Bunyan's drunken rage and Goldilock's delightful combination of nymphomania and psychosis garnish the already tasty main course. The Pathetic Fallacy is an interestingly understated threat, and there's no telling what this Revise chap is really all about yet, but every panel is fascinating and draws you in, keeping you hooked. Good crazy all around.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Four out of five ain't bad.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

Honorable Mentions:

"52" #16 almost made it home on the strength of Black Adam and the traditional Shazam's getting along, with the added Question/Montoya drama of saving the wedding paced and played so well. Why didn't it do it? The central ideas of why Intergang and why Kahndaq (why not Zandia? Why not the Queen Bee's old stomping grounds of Bialya?) got lost in the shuffle and the real power and fascination of a wedding at this level (Black Adam is the Hugo Chavez of the DC Universe, with room to do almost anything) is only presented in brief glimpses (the page of Adam and Billy is fantastic). "New Avengers" #23 was much ado about nothing as one of Bendis' favors chooses sides in a fairly predictable way. At Wizard World Rosemont, Marvel's minds said Stark's side would be presented in a more favorable light ... it must be after that delay everybody's talking about, because here he's just an ass. "Blue Beetle" #6 was again close but felt like it pulled its punch, with an ending that was had shades of of that "Ultimate Fantastic Four" annual from a week or two ago, and talked its way out of its big dance number. "Wolverine" #45 has a very nice twist with Logan outsmarting Namor and a kind of team-up you really never could have expected, while tossing a clump of dirt at an old Dwayne McDuffie creation. "Daredevil" #88 was an interesting noirish character piece, focused on a character who's not quite as dead as many believe, but stepped frustratingly away from the newly escaped Matt Murdock. "Wonder Woman" #2 is close as well, with the best scene showing Giganta wearing Troia as a necklace. Diana's motivations are less than clear, and her scene with Cassie rang true, but there's a goofy incoherency at the plot level that just doesn't resolve (plus that ludicrous outfit Diana wears most of the issue). "Heroes for Hire" #1 was intriguing (Humbug is a star, for real) but the art was so crowded that everybody was jammed in shoulder to shoulder like a popular night club in more panels than made sense, making the action scenes stiff. "Flash" #3 was okay, with Bart shying away from the legacy while a close friend gets powers and goes whole hog and any other animal. "Ultimates Annual" #2 skips past the predictable conclusion to the series and could be called "Hard Travelin' Ultimates" as Ultimate Falcon shows some stones and Ultimate Cap is again one of the best realized characters, perfectly balancing the confusion of his fish-out-of-water status with his hard-edged lack of prevarication over being an instrument of policy. To be honest, this should have come home instead of "Fear Agent," despite merely serviceable artwork. For all of her power, Black Alice made a fairly low-impact showing in "Birds of Prey" #97.

No, just ... no ...

"Justice League of America" #1 was soapy for no good reason, with Ollie's quote being the best and the "big three" simply being there as figureheads. While the moments in "Astonishing X-Men" #16 worked, the whole product did not (but how about that hard core Kitty Pryde, or the cowardly lion impersonation Logan was doing?). The only word for "Eternals" #3 is "huh?" despite the normal amazingness of Romita and some nice bits with the script (what's up with Sersi and Iron Man?). The girl of steel having an identity crisis in "Supergirl" #9 while having a "date" with the DCU's arguable bad boy superhero ... eh. Really? That's what we're supposed to be interested in? Seriously? That gene sequencer she left in the Batcave was more interesting than anything else that went on in the whole issue.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

For the few failures, that's pretty good, given one thing here should have made the jump.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Overall a win, despite the reviewer running late and not getting a chance to look at the latest "Xena," "Elephantmen," "Grunts" #1 or "Batman & The Mad Monk" due to getting to the store too close to closing.

Oh, and as a note, we received the very thoughtful and well-written emails of Jim Martin, Kate Holden and Matthew DiCarlo, but schedule dramas have prevented those emails from getting the time they need for an appropriate response, and for that we apologize. Soon, kids. Summer's almost over, and that's the crazy time. Carry on, then.

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