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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 JULY 6TH, 2006

Jump from the Read Pile. Bough largely on a recommendation from store owner Steve LeClaire, this done-in-one gem shows writer Paul Dini having a real mastery of the inner workings of the "everyday" Bat, the "Law & Order," almost procedural Bruce Wayne as he analyzes a case and breaks down the competition, keeping his witty banter to internal monologuing. The coloring effects of John Kalisz on the combat effects was a really smart choice, and Jared Fletcher's iconoclastic choices for the Bat's running commentary were also a great decision. Just a well put together comic from top to bottom and a solid piece of entertainment.

Jump from the Read Pile. Dwayne McDuffie is the writer. That was enough to make the jump by itself -- one of the masterminds behind the "Justice League" cartoon, back in the sandbox where he'd created "Damage Control?" Done. When you get inside, you find out that maybe, just maybe the Secret Wars never ended ... and a new and wholly motley crew of capes and masks (including Gravity, who serves as the perspective character) have been snatched up and sent off to who knows where ... it becomes a mystery. How could this have gone on? Is it another Beyonder? Who really thought "The Hood" was a good idea? Seriously? Toss in some great dialogue tidbits (favorites such as Kraven: "There's nobody in this room you're capable of killing, even with these toys, except maybe the fat scientist." Pym: "I am not fat." Or Spidey having a number of bon mots like, "Thanks for the offer, but the day I can't take this bozo down by my lonesome ... well, to be honest, that day I'll probably ask for help. I'm not proud." Classic.) This issue raises far more questions than it answers, but in a good "Lost" way, not an annoying "Supergirl" way (but we'll get to that in a moment). An interesting start to a ... looks like a six-issue mini. McDuffie can pull a twist out of his hat that'd made M. Night Shyamalan gasp with surprise, and given how little information is given about the man in the first three pages, there's no telling what could happen in this clearly extra-continuity exercise.

Talent #2 (Boom! Studios)

Speaking of "Lost"-like intrigue. Christopher Golden and Tom Sniegoski have a really interesting project going on here that's hampered by the indie-styled artwork when the crisp stylings of a Gary Erskine would be more apropos. Once you get past the loose line work (and the composition is great, just the details are sketchy), but a really interesting conspiracy slant pops up. This issue could have used some of that song, "A Little Less Talk, A Lot More Action," as it feels like about two thirds of a story, but it's a good bit of exposition that keeps things moving along. Still worth having.

Late review from last week. Apparently, your intrepid reviewer was dangerously drunk for forgetting this Buy Pile regular. Argh. Anyway, Chameleon's career as a part time science police officer hits an interesting twist when he's accused of murder, and the developments that follow from his Verbal Kint style interrogation show the paranoid nature of 31st-century Earth as well as provide an interesting "whodunnit" tale that could be a futuristic episode of "CSI." The only problem is, if Chameleon turns into a Byntenthian skeetfly, how does the law of conservation of mass work in regards to not only his own bodily mass, but the notoriously unusual properties of a LSH flight ring (which is bigger than said fly)? Otherwise top notch, though.

Evil Tony Stark. Done. That's almost all you have to say. Andy Kuhn's sometimes cartoonish artwork may not have been the best choice here (for example: a hospital lobby scene with a lot of emotional histrionics has too much of a Kyle Baker style of whimsy than it needs, making it hard for the moment to connect). During Evil Stark's monologuing while he armored up (it's Stark, you knew armor would have to be involved), there was a split second where you could say, "oh god, wait, does that mean you left Jakita, Drums and Elijah alone to fight them?" but that passes quickly. We're not going to dignify the goofy name that Evil Stark takes on (calling him Evil Stark is cool, unlike "Dark Beast" which was just goofy), and the wide number of plates Kirkman tries to keep spinning can sometimes detract from the really interesting bits (read: Evil Stark), but it's a good yarn and you'll surely not suffer from any lack of content here.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Two jumps, a solid read, and something good from last week? "Excellent!"

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

Honorable Mentions:

You got some answers in "52" #9, and some of them were even worth caring about. But not most of them. That's ... yeah, that's about it. It was a really light week.

No, just ... no ...

Urg. It was double-your-apeman-love week with Monsieur Mallah and the Brain making their way into both "Outsiders #38" and "Teen Titans" 37" ("Kiss me, Mallah!" Ew!), with the "Outsiders" book being the more tolerable (shocker) as Tim Drake crosses a friendship line and nothing else makes sense with the teen heroes. "JSA" #87 was just sad, with a "shock" revelation about Wildcat's lineage and a fight with no real consequence. Speaking of lacking consequence, "OMAC" #1 trained its crosshairs in an attempt at making suspense but the gag got old after a page. CBR vet Gail Simone manages to make the discovery of bite-sized super powers dull even with a naked guy, and some readers in the store called this issue a "Byrne victim." Most strange and almost vomit inducing of all was "Supergirl" #7, which had a scene that'll probably play well in the inbred parts of the Ozarks but otherwise was just plain weird, as the "Candor" adventures of some brand of alternate Kal-El, Power Girl and Supergirl continue to make very little sense (is this the same Kandor where that blonde guy came from a year or two ago, than just kind of fizzled out?), especially with a Kryptonian using the term "nerf herder," which implies either George Lucas is more pervasive than any of us thought or we really need to get them more money for editorial assistance at DC, because too much is slipping through the cracks for their overworked overseers.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

It was like a flat tire on your way to a booty call. Super disappointing, even with so few books showing up at all.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

The good buys were overwhelmed by the dumbness of the reads.

Batman #71 Shows That Bane Just Might Have Broken the Bat Already

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