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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 MAY 3RD, 2006

Most of this issue features non-super powered everyday life with characters you've never seen before. That's not a bad thing -- Kirkman delivers a Tim Duncan-esque performance mastering the fundamentals of characterization and dialogue, expanding a group of friends who meet for breakfast every day, while setting up the larger story. Which would be great in, say, a novel. However, in a book called "Marvel Team-Up," it features very little that you could even characterize as "Marvel" related (Captain America beats some people up and gets dressed down by SHIELD), with a last page digression that's a complete non sequitur in the context of this issue, not to mention exposing all the weaknesses in Andy Kuhn's art while playing to virtually none of his strengths. Kirkman had the same problem in "Fantastic Four: Foes" where things made sense once the entire tapestry was revealed, but in pieces things made no sense. A great stylistic trick for larger works, but a failure in this individual issue despite the somewhat interesting dynamics between this soon-to-be-forgotten group of friends.

Marvel Romance Redux: I Should Have Been A Blonde #1 (Marvel Comics)

Some of these remix comics are hilarious, others just kind of fall flat. This is a "falls flat" one. With none of the meta amusements of the last installment, this one feels like a missed opportunity (like Prince being on "SNL" and not getting him in "The Prince Show" skit) with Patsy Walker (who was a romance comics staple back in the day) in a story involving Satan ... and no mention of Damion Hellstorm, her Defenders pal. Strange. Anyhoo, the fashion notes were worth a smirk or two, but the self-reflective mockery for the art falls flat. Oh, and for fun, even by remix comics standards, the last two stories make no sense. Only purchased because it was a slow week, and already regretted.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Not good -- two books that provided little entertainment value once gotten home. Like waking up with somebody fat. Ick.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

Honorable Mentions:

You've probably already seen the review of "Civil War" #1 (and no, it would not have made it home), so no need to dwell on that ... even though it's still probably the best book this week (damned by faint praise). It was a surprisingly light week, with "Outsiders" #36 veering off the interesting course it had taken up with an all-too-brief fight with a super speedster (with a SECRET! *yawn*), and "Action Comics" #838 did the same, as a year worth of changes in the life of Clark Kent could be undone as Intergang gets angry at the ace reporter. There was nothing wrong with "Sentinel Squad ONE" #5 ... but there was nothing right about it either, a talky yarn with the political feel of "Checkmate" but none of its urgency. Thanos made a tantalizingly teasing appearance in "Silver Surfer: Annihilation" #2, a sadly vague comic book that reveals (after a fashion) some of what Annihilus is up to (giving him a far more regal bearing than other appearances) but in a way that could be considered opaque at best.

No, just ... no ...

With the close of "Infinite Crisis" #7, there's so much wrong that it's almost too much work to describe it. From the factual errors (super breath can't be that much colder than the vacuum of space) to the insulting story bits (The Joker's appearance) to the simply foolish tactics (the huge assemblage of Lanterns at the end), nothing much was said as the "crisis" fizzled into nothing despite a few more bodies tossed in for kicks. We might have a new Shazam-powered hero coming (with a fascinating new uniform that's part cult leader and part Klansman ... and yet it's still somehow cool), a new Batgirl, a new Uncle Sam (bulky coat there, old man) and oh, Booster Gold? Cable called from the early 90s, he wants his modus operandi back. In other comics, Levitz continues to confound on "JSA" #85 which reaches for a suspenseful mystery but simply waddles along, "Doc Samson" #5 was a huge interdimensional mess that had no redeeming qualities and the internecine and pointless divisions in "Teen Titans" #35 made about as much sense as the continuity bending last page.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

"Painful" would be the right adjective.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Have you ever been in a fight and had somebody punch you in the throat? Where you fall flat, and can't breathe, and you start blacking out a little as your legs thrash and flail. That was what reading comics was like this week. Ow.

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