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 JANUARY 25, 2012
Secret Avengers #21.1
Jump from the Read Pile.
Let's be honest -- in a more crowded week, this book wouldn't have gotten the nod. However, the bromantic comedy between Steve Rogers and Clint Barton did have its merits as they invade the heretofore unknown nation Bagalia (maybe Madripoor was booked up) to try and stop an assassination of a vacationing US senator. The artwork from Patrick Zircher and Andy Troy was superlatively kinetic, however, delivering a high flying action movie on the page. Rick Remender has a great understanding of the challenging relationship between Hawkeye and Captain America -- the balance between mutual respect and grudging antagonism. The plot could have a little more zing to it, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with this comic book, and it's certainly entertaining.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
The original plan was to buy Brandon Easton's "Shadowlaw" TPB, but there was no order at Comics Ink. Still, this isn't a bad start. There's a jump, and that's a good thing, right?
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
If you're a Joss Whedon fan, you'll likely enjoy the dialogue and general energy of "Angel and Faith" #6, which reads from Giles' diary as a young Watcher. On the other hand, the actual plot of the issue was considerably less interesting. So it's a mixed bag there.
"Incorruptible" #26 wasn't bad, showing elements of Max Damage's origins and explaining a lot about the motives of both the former villain and the Plutonian he's been obsessed with. The story sagged in the middle a little, though, and that was a concern.
Yeah, "Aquaman" #5 switched Hoth for the desert and Luke for Arthur, but despite that very weird selection, the titular character continued his success strategy of "managing not to be as lame as everything around him" as a squadron of Atlantean commandos look like they're playing "Halo" and Aquaman in the desert is about as interesting as anybody walking around in the desert would be, without Jawas or cursing out your mechanized counterpart.
"Witchblade" #152 felt like a TV show, complete with a contrived romantic subplot and a ready made dramatic foil that's not quite serious enough to be an antagonist. Quick moving and breezy even when bacon-themed armor enters the picture, the idea of a woman in a tight mini dress and high heels running around in Chicago's winter borders on the ludicrous.
"Fantastic Four" #602 was considerably more linear than its counterpart (more about that in a little while), working through the world-endangering crisis faced by Marvel's first family with fairly predictable blockbuster beats but very solid artwork, and some interesting moments from Galactus. If you took the character development from "FF" #14 and married it to the plotting here, you'd have one solid comic book instead of two with challenges.
"Transformers: Robots In Disguise" #1 was something of a surprise, a locked door potboiler like the New Caprica episodes of the most recent "Battlestar Galactica." It wasn't bad, but there aren't exactly what you'd call "good guys" or even, apparently, somewhere for this story to go. The new robots aren't exactly easy to distinguish, and Bumblebee going back to a Cybertronian alt mode didn't help either.
"The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men" #5 illustrates the phrase, "be careful what you wish for." Jason Rusch is front and center in an issue that dives deep into a shadowy government organization working in secret with virtually unlimited resources ... no, not Colbert's Super PAC. Anyhoo, the story was okay if a bit unbalanced, as the Firestorms of many nations come forth like they were characters in The Ultimates. Yeah, okay.
"Elephantmen" #37 had some nice crime procedural moments overlaid with sorta "Hill Street Blues" styled character moments. It kind of suffered from "Invincible"-itis, with a series of moments hitting you instead of making an actual story. Nice to enjoy the moments, but maybe not nice enough to pay for.
Ready for a surprise? The title character stays clothed through most of "Vampirella" #13, a surprisingly Buffy-esque take on dealing with monsters and bad guys. Now, if any of those characters were interesting it might be something.
"Mice Templar Volume 3" #7 features a meaner, more Kurusawa-styled medieval tale of corrupt royal advisors and discontented underclasses. The art doesn't really carry the gravitas of the events -- even with rodents -- but the story has some interesting elements.
The "Meh" Pile
Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Fathom: Blue Descent" #4, "King Conan: The Phoenix on The Sword" #1, "All-Star Western" #5, "Infestation 2" #1, "Astonishing X-Men" #6, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" #6, "Batman: The Dark Knight" #5, "Avengers Solo" #4, "Flash" #5, "Captain America and Bucky" #626, "Green Wake" #9, "Green Lantern: New Guardians" #5, "Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates" #6, "Justice League Dark" #5, "X-Men: Legacy" #261, "Legion: Secret Origin" #4, "Dead Rising: Road to Fortune" #3, "Superman" #5, "Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters" #11
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
Okay. Somehow, in "Mighty Thor" #10, Tanarus can't be seen by Heimdall, whose sole job is to see stuff. It'd be like Darwin getting killed by the first thing that really challenged ... look, never mind that, every part of this where Tanarus is involved -- including beating down the guard of the Aesir -- was stupid. The scant panels where Thor appears are pretty impressive, but he's barely on the show at all. That's not good.
Speaking of "not good," "Deadpool" #49.1 was really, really bad. An awful, musical-themed clip show playing on songs by Naughty By Nature, Britney Spears and that weird "Chocolate Rain" thing. What do you get for enduring this? Recaps of everything that's happened in the last several months. Like, say, you could get on Wikipedia (when it's not blacked out to protest SOPA and PIPA). A serious fumble for this series.
"Justice League" #5 had, bar none, some of the stupidest writing on Batman ever. Ok, Bats is notoriously paranoid, no matter how you "relaunch," and what he did here is simply ridiculous -- unprepared, so many chances for it to go wrong ... it threw off the whole comic book, really. You can write off Hal's reaction as allegedly he's not on earth very much (it's still a little odd) but most of the team took the issue off. Not good.
If "Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred" #1 was a "hero's" origin story, it was done in a way that would have made Rorshach shudder uncomfortably. Like a fever dream fueled by ecstasy, there's not much that's not either awkward or ill conceived.
The only part worth mentioning in "Alpha Flight" #8 is the effective family drama, where Mac and Heather really struggle with each other, brain control and combat in armored suits notwithstanding. Lots of Canada gets leveled, but since some believe it is a fictional country and/or a tax dodge created by the Koch Brothers, it's hard to rate that part.
"Kirby Genesis" #5 felt like it was throwing literally everything it had out on the page at the same time. Some pages looked like they had fifty active characters on them, and not in that cool Gene Ha/George Perez kind of way either. "Here's a sentence about some random idea the King had years ago and we picked up on ... and it's gone." No development of plot or character.
Valeria had some nice moments with "Unca Doom" and her grandfather in "FF" #14, but you'd need the aforementioned "Fantastic Four" issue to get a better sense of the plot. Not as bad as some of these books, but not so great.
Now, "Savage Hawkman" #5, that's a bad comic book. Carter Hall spending way too much time pontificating and gazing thoughtfully at his Nth metal? No thanks. Also, apparently, he's hallucinating. Ugly hallucinations too, not like hanging out with Sofia Vergara or Paula Patton.
"Daken Dark Wolverine" #20 ... what happened to you? You used to be badass, now we've got this emo whining in the rain, snipping at Nefaria's heels and kind of drifting around aimlessly. Awful.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Nine stinkers to ten okay ones ... even the meh doesn't help with that.
Also, there was no order for "Dream Reavers" #3 and "Kung Fu Panda" #4. Sorry.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Given the tepid jump and the pretty rugged reads, the week kind of washed itself out to "meh."
This week on Komplicated.com: the hot new sci-fi/horror graphic novel from "Thundercats" writer Brandon Easton, a look at BMW's self driving car hitting the Autobahn, February's new Black Comic Book Day, a way to make older iOS devices run today's iOS 5, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar being named global cultural ambassador, President Obama singing an Al Green song, a big breakdown of the legal issues around SOPA and PIPA, music recommendations from Rox Fontaine, Brutha Gimel and the world famous DJ Jedi alongside free MP3 downloads and of course the commentary track for these reviews. Updated at least three times a day, every day, Komplicated is doing it for the block and the blogosphere, capturing the Black geek aesthetic.
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!