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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 APRIL 5TH, 2006

Planetary #25 (Wildstorm/DC Comics)

First of all, the cover seen here is not anywhere near as flavorful as the one on stands, and for some reason it’s not online (and the scanner is under a pile of stuff). FYI.

That said, this is a fantastic issue which answers questions, blows stuff up, reveals hidden information and all around gives you the madness and wonder you look to “Planetary” for. An old friend has to be brought in, as Jakita, Drums and the wholly more entertaining Elijah Snow take him on in an action sequence that shows why John Cassaday is such a valuable commodity in the marketplace today. To say much more would spoil a great deal of a story that’s gone on so long that somebody at the comic book store called this “the latest ‘Planetary’ Annual,” but suffice it to say that this is great stuff. Perhaps an uphill climb for a new reader, but surely enthralling enough to make them want to know more.

Marvel Team-Up #19 (Marvel Comics)

Since a Diamond screw up never delivered the last issue to Comics Ink in Culver City (Diamond rep: “What are you complaining about? You got a credit!”), this “jumping on” issue starts with a done-in-one prologue about Cable and Wolverine back in the halcyon days of 1991 (which makes it funny that Jubilee is still in high school, but whatever). The “anachronistic” art style used by Cory Walker and inker Cliff Rathburn, complete with period-apropos coloring by Bill Crabtree, all combine to give you the feeling that this is almost a “lost” issue. Cable in Graymalkin, with his nostalgically-named robot servants, shows off why people were into the character in the first place — the mystery, the possibilities, the world-weariness of an almost eternal soldier. Combine it with the formerly mysterious and wholly single-minded Wolverine gritting his teeth while playing reluctant father figure to Jubilation Lee, and you’ve got some solid starting ingredients. Throw in a super powerful McGuffin and the Mandarin blowing up crap and it’s all good. A fun issue with no significant problems.

WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?

Affordable and enjoyable — can’t beat that.

THIS WEEK’S READ PILE

Honorable Mentions:

Almost bought “Silver Surfer: Annihilation” #1, but its pacing was just a bit off and the whole purpose (“Surfer mad!”) took too long to get to, which may be a bigger criticism of the character than of this issue in particular. It is nice to know that the recently cancelled series and the recent Defenders mini are all ignored in Norrin’s depiction. The intricate workings of “Outsiders” #35 was also quite close to the mark, with fascinating team dynamics and a compelling story of really smart superhero work — and how cool was that last page? “Marvel Zombies” #5 was creepy funny, with the zombified residents of that universe generally causing all kinds of cosmic powered madness (why nobody ever thought to eat the Silver Surfer before is a mystery). Not too sure what to make of “Moon Knight” #1, which started off as a playful Batman take off and went all drunken lunacy a la “Son of M” or “Queen & Country” or “Sentry.” Which is kind of icky to watch — even Tony Stark as a drunk had less blatantly manipulative energy around his pathos, but interesting to see what’s happening. “Ultimate X-Men #69” was still an interesting scenic route to getting these kids to Shi’ar and Phoenix stories, but the “dates” were less central to the plot (the storyline is called “Date Night”) and the story more scattered. About the same could be said for “Ex Machina” #19, which has no focus at all with continued stress on the mayor and no answers for the questions that have lingered the entire series. Maybe “Green Arrow” stealing the superhero mayor shtick took some of the flavor out of this series at the same time?

No, just … no …

“Infinite Crisis” #6 was almost not crappy, showing Kid Quantum’s Legion on Earth 247, but it was all much ado about nothing to give this Crisis its Kara Zor-El (but not having it be Kara Zor El, who’s still stuck in space, if memory serves). Likewise the wholly incidental “Omac Project: Infinite Crisis Special” seemed like a DVD extra you could pass by, since the end result was really never in question. You knew it was over for “Teen Titans” #34 when they introduced Wendy and Marvin (that’s not a joke), giving a travelogue of Titans behaviors for a conveniently un-comatose Cyborg. There were too many coincidences in “Young Avengers #11” (the facts of which, had they been known, could have stopped both “Avengers Disassembled” and “House of M” before they started) and included a moment of out and out poor decision making (Cap’s uniform is bullet proof chainmail, duh) that seemed pointlessly maudlin.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Eh.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Spent next to no money, wasn’t violently angry at anything … a week that just edges by with a win.

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