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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 JUNE 7TH, 2006

This issue sums up the way that most metahuman newbie experiences probably go, as a "normal guy" wielding a piece of a Cosmic Cube inside of one of the Mandarin's old rings decides to make himself a crime fighter, with his 30' sphere of reality warping influence. His first team up is with a Tony Stark-enhanced Spider-Man (yes, the new uniform is more functional, but it's dumb looking) and his first adversary is the Abomination. Yeah, that'll go well. Andy Kuhn's art is not a slam dunk on this one, with certain panels filled with too much busy imagery and some facial shots looking down right weird. Still, Kirkman tackles the core issues quite effectively (including a relationship that's so normal that even the fanboys can't complain about it). Moreover, a certain SHIELD agent picked a horrible time not to get trigger happy. How hard is it to "shoot them if they wake up and try to kill me." Are those instructions not explicit enough? Anyway, a fun book, but not the right fit for Kuhn's stylized look at the world.

Star Wars: Legacy #0 (Dark Horse Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile. The main reason this comic came home was its cost: twenty five cents. Serving mainly as a kind of "Secret Files and Origins" style guide book (read: dangerously little by way of details), this issue gives a laundry list of elements in a galaxy set forty years after the Battle of Yavin, where Luke Skywalker's grandson wanders around and a New Empire (tm) holds sway. The elements are all familiar -- there's even a character reminiscent of Greedo -- and it's like an interesting fan fiction account spiced up by the likes of Kevin Anderson. Intended to launch a new arena of storytelling, it remains to be seen if the result will be as dull as some of the other books Dark Horse has put out or as sublime as some of their surprises, like a lot of the Boba Fett books or Darth Maul vs. Darth Vader. Nothing to complain about for a quarter.

The cover image shows it all -- Cosmic Rae's secret is out, and somebody's not happy about it. Just remember, kids: violence against females is never acceptable, but violence against robots always is. At least until they get a lot more numerous and aggressive, then we'll look at things again. Serving as the spine for this story, her problem is a disturbing and interesting look at Rusty Noble more than anything else. The machinations of the Blackthornes bubble nicely near the surface, we get a cool guest appearance from another Faerber-verse character, while Race goes through more typical soap opera behaviors. Doc Noble's telling line in the third-from-last panel was most interesting here, even more so than Slate Blackthorne continuing his strangely aberrant choices. Dependable confectionary entertainment that drives you merrily along towards the next issue.

G.I. Joe Declassified #1 (Devil's Due Publishing)

Jump from the Read Pile. When you read the work of some creators, it doesn't stand the test of time. You can pick up an issue from twenty years ago, and it doesn't read as well as it did at the time. Larry Hama's run on "G.I. Joe" doesn't fall in that category, and if this jam-packed issue is any indication, he hasn't lost a step at all. This story acts as a prequel, looking at the formative days of the team before anyone had ever even said a certain snake's name. This issue feels like a classic Marvel run one, down to Pat Quinn and Valentine De Landro recreating the gritty feel and simple visual choices, and the addition of early appearances by future team members and one very old easter egg makes it even better. A wholly fascinating look between the cracks with the intent of "Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes" but more action and more sheer content. A great comic book, even after noticing ... holy crap, this thing cost nine bucks for forty-eight pages? Yowza. Still good, though.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

The proper term here would be "hell yeah."

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

Honorable Mentions:

A suggestion was floated around our shop that someone send a copy of "Outsiders" #37 (and all the "OYL" issues) to Doselle Young to show him what people expected of "The Monarchy." In an issue that was so close to coming home that it tried to crawl towards the cash register, Nightwing stood up to the big names of the DCU and came out all right, hell bent on changing things and kind of accomplishing something. "Invincible" #32 was an okay set of moments, but calling this issue a "story" would be something of a stretch, more like an outline (or even a blog) of plot points that kind of connect. "Silver Surfer: Annihilation" #3 showed some signs of improvement as Galactus gets involved and reveals some of the secret history of the universe while Annihilus and Thanos bicker. "Manifest Eternity" was a nice try but lacked focus, too strong on ambition and not solid enough on concrete details to make the characters worth caring about (and the narration bit at the beginning was disconcerting for a page or two). "JSA" #86 was finally a bit more coherent, but that didn't make it interesting, as this story seems to be taking a long time to get anywhere.

No, just ... no ...

"Civil War: Front Line" #1 was just plain stupid, given the pre-Warren Ellis "Iron Man" issues, with a sheerly mean spirited footnote for the New Warriors (room for She-Hulk to get involved?) and a really hamfisted attempt at dragging in the suffering of World War 2 Japanese-Americans as a metaphor (because people of color just freaking love it when their suffering is co-opted for the financial benefit of people who look like the ones who started the suffering in the first place). "52" #5 had tons of whining back on terra firma with a weird bit of zeta beam wackiness for some other MIA characters -- blech. "Wonder Woman #1" started off interesting with another "mantle" being passed on, but the last page seemed reminiscent of Dr. Donald Blake, and really, who needs that drama again?

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

It went by so fast, with two jumps we're gonna say "okay."

WINNERS AND LOSERS

"Hell yeah" plus "okay" is a good thing, so the week goes in the "win" column.

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