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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 ...

NOTE: Due to oversleeping and Diamond not shipping one book to Comics Ink (whadda ya gonna do? They're a monopoly), some books did not get covered as planned this week, including "Runaways" #17, "New Avengers" #21, "Ronan: Annihilation" #3, "JLA Classified" #23, "GI Joe Vs. Transformers" Vol. 3 #4, "Savage Dragon" #127, "Invincible" #33, and "Moon Knight" #3. Sorry, will set more than one alarm next week. Off we go ...

THE BUY PILE FOR JUNE 28TH, 2006

On one hand, it is wholly true that every page of this issue involves one single fight scene. Unavoidably true. Plot? Pshaw. Beating is the plot. Which would be a big problem in any comic not this gleefully confectionary. There's the equivalent of five whole pages that have absolutely no dialogue, and it doesn't even matter. "No good can come of a robot in a bra." "Don't try and impress me with your English counting. You know I growed up in a trailer park." "I an Aaron Stack, hero robot, and you can all bite my valve." What more do you need? Vile, delicious fun. Yes, "Nextwave" is love. Hoo hah!

Between maneuvering through the press and gearing up for a bachelor party, the world's most pimped out guy in tights (sorry Thomas Fireheart) and his ivory-maned bride-to-be negotiate the pomp and circumstance leading up to a huge wedding. It was great how Hudlin showed the intimate moments between T'Challa and Ororo, the real kind of newlywed joy that often gets passed over in the hullabaloo. The Princess Zanda ("The Paris Hilton of Africa" -- so wrong) and Man-Ape cameos were both hilarious and sad, while the Ambassador T'Shan subplot just keeps chugging along in the background. Interesting and a full story of the time before, with enough action and humor to offset the necessary chattiness of it.

The announcement that this would be the final issue was not a big enough deal, as the title character has a final, fateful meeting with his father and looks back on his own life, coming to terms with the momentous decisions he made throughout his existence. An issue of great teleological implications done completely in minor keys. "That's what desire is," Lucifer says. "The need for what we can't have. The need for what's readily available is called greed." The first among fallen has one last lesson to teach, but the manner in which he chooses to impart it is fascinating. A solemn and subtle end, but a fitting one somehow, like the ending of the film "Hoodlum."

Yes, Marvel can keep making these forever, and they'd always be on the Buy Pile. We all know that. This month's installment saves you all the trouble of TPBs by telling you everything you could ever wanna know about the likes of Korvac and Kismet and Loki and even the Living Tribunal in multiple page entries. Did you know there were two blonde jungle guys named Ka-Zar? Strange but true. Covering the old (all the way back to Erik Killmonger) to the new (all the way up to Machine Teen and Major Mapleleaf). Good crazy and literally tons of re-readable fun.

NOTE: The image shown here is not the cover of the book on shelves, but an image shown as the cover for next month's issue.

Everybody's suspicious of the overly grim and well-informed Layla Miller, while a particularly motivated dupe comes home with something of a surprise, all while Pietro's a comin' ... with all that can imply. Spider-Man has an uncredited guest starring role which is both funny and informative (and provides a kind of cute debate about the core of the Civil War without getting into the details). An issue showing all the pieces coming together, and all the king's horses and all the king's men can get ready all they want, but the final page shows that something is gonna get broken but good. Hoo boy!

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Let's go with "damned entertaining," from subtle brush strokes to petawatt lasers.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

Honorable Mentions:

"Blue Beetle" #4 was very close to making the mark, with a call from Oracle going just a bit too quickly than need be (which was effectively her fault). "Daredevil" #86 has a charm to it and will seem familiar despite the fact that the writer has no acquaintance with the show "Prison Break" (which is also funny, because this reviewer's latest novel ends up brushing up against similar themes -- must just be something about incarceration), but surely has a must-have value for some fans given the sheer clash of personalities in the latter third of the issue. "DC: Brave New World" #1 was as entertaining as a collection of trailers for other books could be (although the last page was really stupid and clearly "Uatu" know better), and "Wolverine" #43 shows Logan pulling off a trick deemed impossible at other times (but since the Hulk has done it, it's clearly not impossible) and adds a wrinkle of a mysterious subplot, but just features the Canucklehead shaking his head and voiceovering events while waiting to do his thing. The tension in "American Way" #5 is very close to the mark, as the comic pushes things in directions that almost can't end well, which is compelling in an awkward kind of way. "Civil War: Front Line" #2 managed to improve on its staggeringly bad predecessor, giving the business to Speedball, dealing with Ben Urich's guilt, trailering for other things (a popular shtick this week with crossovers), showing things going wrong as the powers that be start getting all Rumsfeld in making strange bedfellows. Finally, the sort of WB arguing between Natasha Irons and her uncle (the once and perhaps future Steel) in "52" gives Lex a chance to get crazy and snag some limelight. "Storm" #5 was just "okay."

No, just ... no ...

"Action Comics" #840 is a huge reset button, so yawn. Speaking of "yawn," the Thing gets all navel-gazing in "Fantastic Four" #538 as he grapples with concepts that seem a bit out of his mental reach. "Crisis Aftermath: Spectre" #2 was whiny, as the erstwhile detective struggles with the nature of his new job and "Young Avengers" #12 makes absolutely no sense showing Iron Man and Cap basically letting these kids run loose with Civil War playing out literally everywhere else -- is that the leeway a "big name" gets?

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

It's a shrug -- nothing overly offensive, but nothing great either.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

A thin win, but you take 'em any way you can get 'em.

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