WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?
Every week Hannibal Tabu (two-time Eisner-winning journalist/blogger/novelist/poet/jackass on Twitter/head honcho of Komplicated.com) goes to a comic book store called Comics Ink in Culver City, CA (Overland and Braddock — hey Steve, Jason, Vince and Quislet) and grabs a whole lotta comics. These periodicals are quickly sorted (how) into two piles — the “buy” pile (a small pile most weeks, comprised of planned purchases) and the “read” pile (often huge, often including comics that are really crappy but have some value to stay abreast of). Thursday afternoons you’ll be able to get his thoughts (and they’re just the opinions of one guy, so calm down, and here’s some common definitions used in the column) about all of that… which goes something like this…
THE BUY PILE FOR OCTOBER 26, 2011
He’s back! Well, sort of. Deadpool’s pretty emo, honestly, and he’s only brutally murdering people when it does something good now, but that doesn’t matter when you have “Evil Deadpool.” What the what? Imagine that somebody had a bunch of severed parts of Deadpool, and those parts grew together to make a whole new, much weirder dude. Well, weirder looking anyway — the parts don’t fit so closely together — but he actually acts like the Deadpool of yore. Quick to murder people (“After much deliberation, I have arrived at a conclusion”), unapologetic in his quips, and darned entertaining. The actual title character is still a little whiny, but his Bizarro doppelganger completely makes up for it. Good to see this being fun again.
The Mighty Thor #7
Jump from the Read Pile.
The stuff of legends, literally, as the exact story of the Serpent’s rise (and ultimate fall) from the throne of Asgard is chronicled, looping the story around with a poignant ending that’s very effective. Pasqual Ferry’s stellar artwork once again brings across amazing moments (“I feel no fear. You?”) with great effectiveness while Matt Fraction’s script likewise hits all the right notes (“This thing I am feeling, Skadi — what is this?” “This is what it feels like. Outside of his room, in your shadow”) to make this an instant classic. Wonderful work.
Secret Avengers #18
Jump from the Read Pile.
All you need is Shang-Chi, Sharon Carter and Steve Rogers, who weave the fabric of violence and mayhem into an attack on the still-interesting Secret Empire (their anonymous legions have some new visual elements introduced that look great) and a new version of an old favorite, made ridiculous and wonderful by the madness of Warren Ellis (“I will burn your world and live on the surface of a new star like the god I am”). The Escher-powered artwork from David Aja and Raul Allen is inspiring, working the fluidity of Shang-Chi with great effectiveness.
Journey Into Mystery #630
Volstagg gets a wonderful character examination as his role in the struggle against Odin’s twisted brother. Volstagg — like many others — had a fateful conversation with Loki (who’s here, but dials it down a little), and then he has to deal with the consequences (“We sharpened the executioner’s blade when my lord’s head was on the chopping block”) while going home to his family. There’s not much you can say without spoiling the story, but this is wonderful work.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
It’d be very fair to say “make mine Marvel” with winning comics like these.
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
“Annihilators: Earthfall” #2 was very close to making the mark, once again showcasing the great interaction between Ikon the spaceknight and Quasar as a pointless fight delayed the plot’s development. The last page reveal was creepy (yet repetitive, if you’ve read anything about this antagonist) and this issue needed some serious trimming to make it work.
The last imperial guardsman Kir Kanos is back in “Star Wars: Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost” #1, facing off against a “Star Wars” legend while Luke Skywalker continues training a new generation of Jedi (didn’t he only train for like, two months? How is he teaching people so much?). Toss in some quotables and maybe better depicted action and this could have worked, but as is, it was just close.
Save the “One More Day”-styled dodge of one line of dialogue, “Incorruptible” #23 could have made it home. Max has an unorthodox battle with the returned Plutonian that literally changed things for the series’ status quo, but didn’t make it have enough of an emotional impact.
“Daredevil” #5 was super close as well, with fantastic tension as a set of criminals wants Matt Murdock’s latest client dead due to an idea so wonderful that it’s shocking nobody thought of it before. Marcos Martin’s layouts and breakdowns are dynamic and the coloring’s muted but clearly contrasted tones made the line work pop perfectly. If Waid took another pass on the solid (but just shy of excellent) script, this could have been a classic.
“Aquaman” #2 continues the “poking fun at the character while Arthur plays straight guy” shtick, but again the bad guys are boring and that limits the emotional connection the reader feels from their threat to the protagonist. Very pretty art, Aquaman has never looked this good, and his moments with Mera almost lifted off the page. That percentage was too small to carry the work, but it’s worth noting.
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen “Infinite Horizon” and with #5 the comic retained its sweeping, literary sense while bringing in a bang with some action scenes worthy of a FPS game. If you can remember why you’d care about these characters, you’d have a leg up, as this issue does nothing to restore the reader’s connection, and if someone was coming in cold, this would be a failure. In the collected edition it’ll probably play better.
The beginnings of the Legion of Super-Heroes is a kind of “given” set of facts in comics lore. Three idealistic super powered teens met by coincidence and were in the right place at the right time to stop the assassination of the richest man in the galaxy, who then helped them found an organization for galactic justice. It’s like Superman’s rocket or Crime Alley, people just accept that’s how it is. “Legion Secret Origin” #1 steps back from that and places a kind of conspiracy behind the story you know, tying the Legion’s genesis to the United Planets, conspiracies and positing an older super-powered cabal that keeps tabs on Braniac 5 before he ever set foot off of Colu. Not bad, but kind of like that “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” series a while back, it looks between the panels we already saw and mines it for more story. If that’s your thing, you should be elated. If not, this issue didn’t quite do enough to enthrall non-Legion adherents.
If you love Jim Starlin’s work, the names Wyrd and Dreadstar are likely familiar to you. In “Breed 3” #6, there’s a Starlin-tastic team up of epic proportions involving many of his finest playthings. However, if you don’t know Dreadstar from a base star, a bunch of wholly anonymous guys pop up to fight an endless horde of anonymous demons for reasons you just barely have a grasp on. Surely not for the uninitiated, but entertaining enough if you’re already drinking the delicious Starlin-flavored Kool-Aid.
“Superman” #2 had a collection of great moments — Clark and Lois having an honest conversation, her dad having a tense working relationship with the title character, and a smart use of Superman’s vision powers — but another deathly dull antagonist and seemingly senseless property damage cut down on the connection this issue could make and made the collection of moments never coalesce into a cohesive whole story.
The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
“Batman: The Dark Knight” #2, “Li’l Depressed Boy” #7, “Angel and Faith” #3, “Gladstone’s School For World Conquerors” #6, “All-Star Western” #2, “The Magdalena” #9, “Pilot Season: The Beauty” #1, “Blackhawks” #2, “The Darkness” #94, “Avengers Academy” #20, “Vescell” #3, “Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters” #8, “The Flash” #2, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” #3, “Avengers Solo” #1, “Butcher Baker: The Righteous Maker” #7, “Spaceman” #1, “Guarding The Globe” #6, “Ultimate Comics The Ultimates” #3, “Planet of the Apes” #7, “Voodoo” #2, “Cobra” #6, “27: Second Set” #2 and “The Vault” #3.
No, just… no… These comics? Not so much…
Kade Kilgore put on his Sue Sylvester shtick in “Wolverine and the X-Men” #1, which leans heavily on the “humor” of a homicidal maniac and his loony cabal try to convince stock character administrative types that another school in Westchester won’t make property values reminiscent of Kigali. The plot was boring, the art was serviceable, the cast was unremarkable.
“Savage Hawkman” #2 looked bad. The dull villain is a nightmare of visual design, Carter Hall’s shirtless posturing was riddled with cliche and tedium. The shadowy coloring didn’t do anybody any favors. This one needed a lot of help.
“Eternal Descent Volume 2” #1 was such a breathtaking mess that it was almost invigorating. Some form of demons and angel struggle takes place as a kind of Marvin/Arthur Dent dynamic is played out involving a guitar, but it was so obtuse that deciphering it wouldn’t be easy for much of anybody.
Hey, “Green Wake” #6 — “Fallen Angel” called, they want Bete Noir back.
On The Island of Doctor Banner… er, “Incredible Hulk” #1, the Banner-free Hulk has become a hero of the Moloids, brooding and pondering and blah blah blah before his inevitable ditching of that dull scene pops up. Why did this have to happen?
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
The dynamic ambition of the Honorable Mentions tops the inundation of “meh” and the challenges of the worst comics of the week.
Oh, and “DMZ” #70 didn’t show up thanks to shenanigans from Diamond. Woops.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Survey says? WIN!
This week on Komplicated.com, they announced that “Grand Theft Auto 5” is coming out, took a closer look at the integration of “Invincible” (maybe), showed how quantum levitation works, noted Sam Witwer joining “Clone Wars” as Darth Maul and examined how Google Chrome Remote can run your computer from any web browser. The regular weekly madness? An all-kid version of #whodwin Wednesday, free MP3 downloads (with Estelle, Coldplay, Drake, Lil Wayne, Common, Jay-Z, Adele, et cetera) recommended selections from Rox Fontaine, a big webcast featuring Felicia “The Poetess” Morris, even more hot music recommendations from DJ Jedi, the weekly guide on where to find Black people in media and of course the commentary track for last week’s Buy Pile reviews. Updated three times a day, every day, Komplicated aims to capture the Black geek aesthetic in the areas of music, technology, escapism and culture.
Getting back to this website, have you got a comic you think should be reviewed in The Buy Pile? If we get a PDF of a fairly normal length comic (i.e. “less than 64 pages”) by no later than 24 hours before the actual issue arrives in stores (and sorry, we can only review comics people can go to stores and buy), we guarantee the work will get reviewed, if remembered. Physical comics? Geddouttahere. Too much drama to store with diminishing resources. If you send it in more than two days before comics come out, the possibility of it being forgotten increases exponentially. Oh, you should use the contact form as the CBR email address hasn’t been regularly checked since George W. Bush was in office. Sorry!
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