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 MARCH 13, 2012
Secret Avengers #2 (Marvel Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. The world of Earth-616 is getting more complex as two sovereign nations have become, essentially, extra-human kleptocracies. S.H.I.E.L.D., of course, doesn't like that, and the newly ethnic Nick Fury has an angle on how to deal with it. Taskmaster (who, hopefully, isn't an amnesiac this week) is the axle upon which this issue pivots as A.I.M., Marvel's favorite science villain beekeepers, have a sovereign island, a new costumed high council and plans to be important. That's interesting. They have their hooks in another kleptocracy and S.H.I.E.L.D. makes some smart moves to counter all this. As good as the tone of "Checkmate" back in the Rucka period, but with a much grittier, noirish vibe to it. Solidly entertaining script from "Morning Glories" vet Nick Spencer and equally great art from Luke Ross, Matthew Wilson and Clayton Cowles.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
A good way to start ...
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
In "Batman" #18, the titular hero punches a teenaged girl and breaks her nose. Let's move past that. This issue is also superlatively emo, like a night crying into an unused prom dress while listening to the Cranberries. Let's move past that too. However, this issue is one of the best at actually depicting the struggle of a grieving father throwing himself into work and frayed at the ends. You will have to get past two pretty concerning narrative issues to enjoy that, though.
There's a smart comic hiding inside of "Ultimate Comics X-Men" #24, which sets up runaway mutants in a verdant Utopia of their own making, carved out of the middle of a desert. This issue establishes multiple mutant minded factions jockeying for positions but doesn't have much room for characterization and the lines being drawn are a touch too arbitrary. Room for improvement here.
If you found "Buddy Cops" -- the story of a jetpack wearing, drunken space policeman demoted to the NYPD teamed up with a tight laced traffic android promoted to detective -- on TV, you'd make sure you never missed an episode again. There's short, self-contained bits of science heroism and humor that were fun and harmless. Nothing you'd burn down the house to get, but not bad.
In "Fearless Defenders" #2, a fairly new idea gets a DJ Odin remix already (oy) and while the interplay between incongruous homegirls Misty Knight and Valkyrie surprisingly works out, the plot did not.
In "Batgirl" #18, James Gordon really, really wants to be a threatening villain type. He stalks his sister, he makes threatening phone calls, and so on ... but at the end of the day, he's so anonymous, so plain that even threatening his own mom just seems de rigueur. He's really trying, though! Ambitious, but falling short.
Fred Van Lente turns in another intriguing script for "Archer & Armstrong" #8, but in giving characters such thorough moments to shine, the plot stalled slightly. The interplay between characters works well, but having two large groups of antagonists made things go a little off the rails. Not irrevocable, but not as strong as it could have been.
While one could complain that the secret origin of the God Butcher in "Thor: God of Thunder" #6 was SUPER boring, it did at least deliver one of the best lines in recent months, about Volstagg eating nothing but worm droppings and his own scabs for five hundred years. That one will stick with you.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Avengers Arena" #6, "Ghostbusters" #2, "Fantastic Four" #5, "Ravagers" #10, "Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 9" #19, "High Ways #3," "Ultimate Comics Wolverine" #1, "Shadow" #10, "Grace Randolph's Supurbia" #5, "Thunderbolts" #6, "Mars Attacks" #8, "X-Treme X-Men" #12, "Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files Ghoul Goblin" #3, "Rocketeer Hollywood Horror" #2, "Team 7" #6, "Executive Assistant Iris Volume 3" #3, "X-Men Legacy" #7, "Manhattan Projects" #10, "Transformers Regeneration One" #89, "Peter Cannon Thunderbolt" #7, "R.I.P.D. City Of The Damned" #4, "Suicide Squad" #18, "Aliens Vs. Parker" #1, "Superboy" #18, "Shrugged Volume 2" #1, "Bravest Warriors" #6, "Dejah Thoris And The Green Men Of Mars" #2, "Where Is Jake Ellis" #3, "Uncanny X-Men" #3, "Emily And The Strangers" #2, "Wolverine" #1, "Mind The Gap" #8, "Kevin Smith's The Bionic Man Annual" #1, "Fever Ridge A Tale Of MacArthur's Jungle War" #2, "Wolverine And The X-Men" #26, "Katana" #2, "Hoax Hunters" #8, "Deathstroke" #18, "Age Of Ultron" #2.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
"Batman and Robin" #18 tried to pull the "silent issue" gag, with Bruce Wayne spending twenty or so pages crying and punching and crying some more. Really. Manipulative, cloying, tedious and ultimately a waste of time.
Re: "Change" #4. What in the world wide hell was that about? There's next to nothing resembling a coherent narrative here, the art's not engaging ... it's a mess, y'all.
Volthoom the First Lantern plays an emotionally torturous game of "What If?" in "Green Lantern Corps" #18, manipulating memories and emotions for John Stewart (not the guy from "The Daily Show") and the Star Sapphire formerly known as Fatality. Did this actually change anything for anybody or move any kind of story alone? No. Awful. Simply awful.
"Alpha: Big Time" #2 is fetch. That's not a good thing. Really, it's time to stop. Whining most of the issue, beating up things nobody will remember ... time to stop.
If you take "Threshold" #3 at face value, it's simply boring. Its characters are flat and uninspiring, especially a misogynistic, hubristic well-armed rabbit man. It also, for better or worse, distracts from the riff on the Bachmann books "Running Man" shtick, which is its throughline or something ... oh, and Larfreeze gets into a pointless fight. If you actually look at the fact it's a riff on Captain Carrot and Pig Iron ... why? Really ... why?
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
More bad than normal, and lots of meh that either just passed by or didn't work out, but it was still more good than bad.
Oh, Comics Ink's order of "Spawn" #229 was shorted by Diamond. Nothing anybody can do about that.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Not much to recommend it, and five bad books weighing the week down? Let's try again next week, this one didn't do it.
As of right now, you can spend ten bucks and get about 175,000 of fiction from the writer of this column. The links that follow tell you where you can get "The Crown: Ascension" and "Faraway," five bucks a piece. Love these reviews? It'd be great if you picked up a copy. Hate these reviews? Find out what this guy thinks is so freakin' great. There's free sample chapters too, and all proceeds to towards the care and maintenance of his kids ... oh, and to buy comic books, of course. What are you waiting for? Go buy a freakin' book already!
Oh, and the writer of this column is selling some pretty sweet toys on eBay. Electronic twelve inch Vader? Li Mu Bai from "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon?" Steel from the Morrison-era "JLA?" Get 'em while you can. More to go up next week.
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!