Insideman’s Pull List™ Hardcover, Graphic Novel & Manga Picks for 1.4.12

Not much new out there this week… But still plenty to talk about.

I am going to go ahead and start off with something that you do not see very often… So, I guess it is fitting for the first new Insideman’s Pull List of the New Year that I admit:

I was wrong!

Specifically, I was wrong about Dynamite Entertainment when I wrote that I didn’t think the publisher could produce a worthwhile comic book NOT written by Garth Ennis.

Now they have: It’s called Warlord of Mars Volume 1.

On the surface, it’s easy to think that this is just like any other Dynamite POS licensed comic. But it’s NOT. It’s actually a rather faithful, well-considered adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic… And given how downright scary (not in a good way) most of Dynamite’s non-Ennis output is… It’s almost amazing that this collection even exists.

But it does.

When things go right, I feel very strongly that it is just as important to take time to praise as it is to negatively criticize… Especially when you hope, in some small way, that your words of acclaim won’t fall on deaf ears and might actually be considered by the Dynamite Entertainment Powers That Be moving forward… With everyone concerned working harder to make BETTER books… Not middle-of-the-road shit just pumped out to sell on the basis of name recognition alone. The list of such piss-poor licensed titles from Dynamite is almost legion, with everything from such vibrant properties as Army of Darkness to Red Sonja suffering from a lackluster, factory-type treatment.

What’s even stranger, Arvid Nelson wrote both this series and Dynamite’s Warlord of Mars Dejah Thoris Volume 1: Colossus of Mars  collection… Which I also liked, a lot.

Yet why is this strange? Well, to be blunt– I believe I have read almost everything Arvid has ever written for Dynamite and I’ve never really liked any of it before. I especially disliked his Queen Sonja Vol 2 and Robert E. Howard Presents Thulsa Doom collections. I believe I even described Nelson’s Queen Sonja stories as some of the worst Sonja comics I have ever had the displeasure to read.

And please do NOT take any of this blunt commentary as a personal attack on anybody. I don’t know Arvid and I bet he is MORE than a fine fellow. In fact, I would guess that he’s always been a very talented writer too– just looking for the right character or publishing situation to flourish… As he has done here.

So what’s changed… What happened to make Nelson go from ZERO to HERO in my eyes? Hard to tell. If I had more time, I would check and see if there were different editors for each of the series… Which, depending on the editor– or even the GROUP EDITOR– can make a HUGE difference. There might also have been MORE or LESS guidance (read as: interference) coming from the licensor of the different characters. This can also make a HUGE difference in the freedom a writer has when telling his/her tales within the confines of these licensed properties. (And the list of what you CAN’T do with licensed characters is often FAR LONGER than the list of what you CAN do.)

Writing these types of “corporate” characters (no longer owned by the original author or their family– now more the life-blood of some soulless LLC)– is tantamount to typing with handcuffs on, while a testy fellow stands behind you with a fully charged cattle prod ready to strike whenever your scene direction barely steps outside the boundaries set forth by the licensor.

In short, writing characters like these is often a thankless task.

So BIG UPS to Arvid Nelson for finally finding a way to have his talent shine through the licensing morass. What I can’t wait for: To see Mr. Nelson get a MORE CHANCES to write his own stuff on a regular basis. I’ve read his Rex Mundi and Zero Killer series (both from Dark Horse) and truly admire and recommend them… So I really hope we see another wholly unique, totally self-controlled Arvid Nelson Dream Project in the near future.

Then I can write about how RIGHT I was again!

P.S. For those who know all about my constant and unwavering appreciation of the female form, I promise that NONE of my positivity toward both of these series has anything to do with the literally almost nude Dejah Thoris seen throughout both collections. Trust that I am NOT saying that I mind her character design (based much more closely on ERB’s original descriptions than Marvel’s decades old John Carter Warlord of Mars series– Where Dejah Thoris was beautifully drawn  by Gil Kane, Dave Cockrum, Carmine Infantino and Walter Simonson– also about to be released as Marvel Omnibus in about a month)… In fact, I love that comics have come so far that we mature readers can get a Dejah Thoris attired EXACTLY the way her creator desired. Another point in favor of these series!

Eric Powell, Tracy Marsh, Victor Santos

Right about now, a flu-ravaged Jose Melendez is sitting up in bed going, “What. The. Fuck?!”

First, I rarely like to profess I’m wrong (who does?)… Then I do just that over a couple of Dynamite Entertainment trade collections. Now I am praising another IDW graphic novel. Truth be told, I praise IDW Hardcovers and Graphic Novels all the time (even if I still believe their floppies are overpriced by– at least– 50 cents USD). But I can understand Jose thinking that I might have been overtaken by a POD PERSON… Since I rarely have any kind words reserved for IDW’s licensed books.

But here I am… Praising Again.

IDW has finally figured out what needs to be done with their licensed properties. They’ve hired talented, smart writers to pen meaningful stories– that just happen to feature a radioactive lizard named Godzilla. That’s what Eric “Goon” Powell has done with Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters Volume One and that’s what John “Chew” Layman did with his Godzilla comic series, Godzilla: Gangsters & Goliaths.

And Eric Powell continues to do more of the same with this graphic novel. When you think about it, 99.9% of all creators of great genre Novels/Comics/TV Shows & Films do exactly the same thing too… They realize early one that their main draws lose their coolness/uniqueness/gravitas with constant overexposure.

But let’s face it, sometimes other mediums portray these characters better than comic books. If you want to see Godzilla go berserk, breathe radioactive fire and fuck shit up, there’s plenty of different films out there that showcase these extremely repetitive hissy fits. I think it is a fair assessment that most people don’t queue up for Godzilla movies to watch a story about a bunch of humans while a monster happens to flailing away in the background. They want HOT LIZARD ACTION. In contrast, Godzilla comics that follow this formula have never lasted very long.

So here’s where Godzilla comic books have the opportunity (if handled correctly) to shine over Godzilla films: They can offer a compelling story and crazy action.

Eric Powell’s Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters is NOT about Godzilla’s flammable halitosis. It’s about HUMAN things.. The human condition and how people react toward each other… While a fire breathing MONSTER happens to be lurking and kicking the shit out of stuff in the background.

And that what’s great about comics: They can give fans BOTH a great story and fast paced set pieces without worrying about budget constraints or losing readers if the humans talk a little too long. Godzilla King of Monsters is a hybrid that delivers an intelligent story and lots of cool stuff too… And isn’t that all any of us really want (or need) when we read a comic book?

Annotated Sandman Vol 1 HC - This Week’s POS*!
Avengers Academy Vol 2 Real World – Own the Hardcover
Avengers X-Men Bloodties HC – Older X-Men/Avengers clash
Batman The Dark Knight Vol 1 Golden Dawn Deluxe HC
Batman The Return Of Bruce Wayne – Own the Hardcover
Battlestar Galactica Origins Omnibus – Owned the Original Trades
Billy Fog Gift of Trouble Sight HC
Black Fire HC
BPRD Hell On Earth Vol 2 Gods and Monsters
Charlie Adlard Curse Of The Wendigo
Crawl to Me – Saw an intriguing preview
Crysis – More Video Game puffery…
Dare Detectives Snow Pea Plot Collected Edition HC
Darkness Accursed Vol 1 (Book Market Edition) – Own the Original Trade
Doc Savage Double Novel Vol 54 – Highly recommended
Donald Duck and Friends Double Duck Vol 3
Duke Nukem Glorious Bastard – See Crysis blurb above
Eerie Archives Vol 9 HC
Enders Game Ultimate Collection – Own the Original Hardcovers
Essential Fantastic Four Vol 4 (New Print)
Fear Itself HC – Aaugh! Bought (and read!) the original comics!
Fearless Vol 1
Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters Vol 2 – HOT PICK of the WEEK!
Habibi HC (Signed Bookplate Edition) – Own the Unsigned Edition
Hotwire Vol 1 HC (Limited Signed Edition) – Own the Original Trade
Hulk World War Hulks HC – Own the Original Hardcovers
Insurrection
Invincible Iron Man Vol 2 HC – Own the Original Hardcovers
Jim Hensons Dark Crystal Vol 1 Creation Myths HC
Kato Origins Vol 2 Hellfire Club
Lil Hellions
Malignant Man – Subject matter just seems gross & stupid
Modern Masters Vol 27 Ron Garney
Raising Amy
Screamland Death Of The Party
Seven Soldiers Of Victory Vol 1 (New Print) – No thanks. Again.
Shadow Double Novel Vol 56
Shaky Kanes Monster Truck GN
Spider-Man Masques HC – More McFarlane WRITTEN Spider-man
Stand Vol 2 American Nightmares – Own the Hardcover
Superfun Adventures of Jax
Tank Girl Bad Wind Rising HC
Vampire PA Pittsburgh Noir Limited HC
Walt & Skeezix Vol 5 1929 – 1930 HC
Witchfinder Vol 2 Lost and Gone Forever - Runner Up PICK of the Week!
X-Force Vol 2 HC – Own the Original Hardcovers
Young Marvelman Classic Vol 2 HC

Black Bird Vol 12
Cage of Eden Vol 3
Drops of God Vol 2
Kimi Ni Todoke Vol 12
Love Hina Vol 2 Omnibus - MANGA PICK of the WEEK!
Monster Hunter Orage Vol 3
Naruto Vol 54
Negima Omnibus Vol 3
One Piece Vol 60
Oresama Teacher Vol 6
Psyren Vol 2
Skip Beat Vol 26
Yu GI Oh Gx Vol 8

Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, John Severin

Previous readers of one of my numerous Jonah Hex & BPRD Trade reviews will remember me gushing about long-time veteran John Severin.

Well, here I am doing it again. What else can I say? Well, I can start with this:

The Dude is NINETY YEARS OLD!

Put that in your crack pipe and smoke it, supporters of ageism! John Severin’s work at 90 is just as good– if not BETTER– than his work when he was 40! Everyone knows I love Mike for not only remembering– but ROUTINELY hiring– such great artistic stalwarts as Richard Corben and John Severin for his books. In other words, don’t let the striking Mignola cover on this edition fool you!

The GREAT Severin Art is INSIDE!

Neil Gaiman / Various

I’m going to catch HELL for this… I am going to catch HELL for this…

And you know what? I don’t give a flying damn.

Many of you know I have been a lifelong comics reader… But I did take a break for about 8 years while I pursued other interests. I read some comics during this time but not many. One of the series I really wanted to read, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman got away from me early on and I didn’t read it until much, much later… After the fetishisation of the series was already complete. There was a time when even the slightest disparagement of Gaiman’s Sandman in front of comic geeks would be tantamount to spitting at the very sound of Meryl Streep’s name at an Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences gathering (usually called the Oscars®).

In other words: You. just. did. NOT. do. it.

Thankfully times change and while there are still tons of Sandman fans out there… There are also plenty of people like me, wh0– for the most part– like it but don’t feel like it is ANYWHERE NEAR the best comic book writing or the best comic book series ever written. It just isn’t.

If you feel like it is, then please believe me when I tell you I grant that your opinion has just as much validity as mine. I simply just don’t agree with your assessment.

That’s why books like The Annotated Sandman Volume One make me want to vomit! The publishers– most of whom haven’t read nearly as many comics as you and I have– buy into the decades-old hype and print this shit. They are also quick to remind that their intentions are of the purest form– as they hope these annotated editions bring NEW FANS to the genre… People who originally turned down this supposed masterpiece because it had the audacity to be published in comic book form.

You know what? BULLSHIT! Fuck your “NEW FANS“… Those who would DENY ARTISTIC VALIDITY to an ENTIRE ARTISTIC MEDIUM simply because the stories therein were originally published in cheap, easily consumable formats.

Who cares of the opinions of a group of people who can only infer ARTISTIC VIABILITY on works if they are published in a $49.99 Hardcover Format accompanied with paragraph after fawning paragraph added to insure these morons understand what Gaiman supposedly truly meant when he wrote these comic book scripts in the first place?

I KNOW I DON’T… And that’s why The Annotated Sandman Volume One is This Week’s POS!

This entry was posted in A Public Service Post, Awesome, Buying Comics, COMIC BOOK INDUSTRY, Comics Commentary, Commentary, Common Sense, Conspicuous Consumerism, Controversy, COSTLY COMIC BOOKS, Dark Horse Comics, DC Comics, DC NEW 52, DC/Vertigo, DCnU, Dynamite Entertainment, Epic Fail, Hardcover Review, Hardcover Reviews, Hardcovers & Graphic Novels, Hardcovers & Trade Paperbacks, Ian MacMillan, IDW, IMJ Nation™, IMJ REGULAR FEATURE, IMJ WEEKLY FEATURE, Insideman, Insideman's Pull List™, Insideman's Weekly Hardcover & Graphic Novel Picks, Inveterate Media Junkies™ Exclusive, Inveterate Media Junkies™ Regular Feature, Inveterate Media Junkies™ Weekly Feature, Jose Melendez, Mainstream Comics, Marvel Comics, New This Week, NEWS ALERT!, Opinion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Insideman’s Pull List™ Hardcover, Graphic Novel & Manga Picks for 1.4.12

  1. Locusmortis says:

    I haven’t read Arvid nelson’s other Dynamite work but he’s done some good work on Dark Horses Conan series. It may be, as you said, an editorial issue as Dynamite are doing a good job with the Kirby Genesis books at the moment. On the other hand their Battlestar galactica books were horrible and they managed to completely mess up the Red Sonja books with Brian Woods ill-judged “reimagining”

    You didn’t buy Shaky Kane’s Monster Truck? I realise its a bit odd…but Shaky’s a great guy and produces fun books, Bulletproof Coffin was ace.

    And finally I agree about the Sandman series, I loved it when it originally came out (and its still a good read now) however….DC are REALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLY milking it for all its worth. Or to use another phrase its flogging a dead horse, just how many formats have they tried selling it in at this stage? Listen up DC, Sandman is done, get over it and move on and promote something else for fucks sake.

  2. TheMSpot says:

    I’m glad The Annotated Sandman Vol One is this week’s POS.

  3. Allfather says:

    I used to practically worship Sandman back in the day, but although I still think the series is a good read, I presently do not hold the very high esteem that I used to for it.

    My confusion is, I at least would get some small amount of enjoyment of reading the Annotated Sandman Volume 1 – if I read a copy of it from the library (but I would really have to be very bored to do so). But Batman The Dark Knight Volume 1 Golden Dawn does not get the POS of the week instead? Tradegy.

    • Allfather says:

      Tragedy. Goddamn non-existent spell check

    • Insideman says:

      I weigh these options all the time, Allfather.

      I came in, seriously, with no malice aforethought for either title. I even had a similar conversation about movie reviews with Jose the other day (who, to his credit, attempted to chime in– even though it was mostly just hacking and wheezing from his end).

      In between the strange noises, he said that he didn’t know if he would ever trust another movie reviewer after Roger Ebert dies. I told him that I understood– which is why I always tend to trust Variety movie reviews.

      Variety writers are trained to review movies based on whether they think the elements involved have come together to produce a successful movie in the eyes of modern moviegoers. In other words, they are trained to try to decide whether or not the movie will be a success based on just what they see… No prejudice toward directors, actors or producers– just will (or won’t) the movie be a hit.

      The good Variety reviewers then give ample reasons (good or bad acting, directing, etc.) to support their decisions. It drives people in the movie business crazy because the reviews often could not be more blunt.

      While mainstream media reviewers might be influenced by all kinds of things– including their desire to be quoted in a movie’s national and international advertising– Variety reviewers can literally list 25 different reasons why a movie sucks, then write “And none of this should make one bit of difference to the movie-going public. Despite every one of this film’s faults being directly on display, it will be a HUGE hit.”

      That’s why I have used Variety to decide what movies to go see for years. Which is also a long way of saying, this is sort of how I make my weekly POS decisions.

      Since David Finch has been writing as well as drawing for a while now, I think his fans are fairly impervious to my (or anybody else’s) criticisms. Which is fine: Just like Todd McFarlane, people are going to buy Finch’s stuff because they think he draws “purty”… They are obviously in it for Finch’s art– not his “skills” as a writer… Although I am certain that their are rabid fans who would defend his writing as well… And more power to them. (You can’t mature as a comic reader unless you BUY comics on a regular basis… And it is often these bone-headed comic successes that help pay for the much more fun, less formulaic lesser selling unique titles.)

      So while Finch’s Golden Dawn Batman Collection (Hell, using the words “Golden Dawn” in conjunction with anything Batman should be enough to warn readers what they are in for) is automatically a candidate for the OBVIOUS POS… I felt it was better to warn people that if they drop $49.99 on this Annotated Sandman collection that it isn’t (at least, in my eyes) the classic gem they’re being led to believe it is. Hell, some long time comic readers might finally take the plunge when they see the comic book getting this type of treatment– simply because they might believe the actual “annotated” treatment itself disproves any misgivings they may have had for never purchasing the title.

      So, in the end… I felt The Annotated Sandman was the bigger piece of puffery… And considering the price (and other factors I mentioned in the review)– deserved my critical eye more than Finch’s hardcover.

      But hey, it’s only the first of week of the New Year! If Finch can squeak out a few more Bat books in the next 359 days, I might get a second shot at him come November or December. :D

      • PhilBetaGAMMA says:

        l know that Finch is pretty much, more or less an aftethought on what u’re responding 2 here, lan, but l thought l’d put my two cents in on the Finch deal, regardless. As some1 who has in the past, not been timid about liking what a fair number of ppl have disliked (vice versa, as well), l sometimes wonder where “fandom” ends, & “loyalism” begins”

        When Finch drew the Avengers Disassembled storyline, l enjoyed his work. When he was on Moon Knight, l hoped he wouldn’t leave, although l remember thinking; “Were he 2 move over 2 DC, he’d be IDEAL 4 Batman, then some time later, l was reminded of the saying; “Be careful of what u wish 4, u just might, get it”

        U mention that Finch fans r likely not buying his Batman, 4 the writing, and while l don’t doubt that, l would (?), why would they buy it 4 the art, either. Finch has a very “rendery” way of drawing, which l tend 2 like, but when the “construction” is off, as it has been on MOST stuff of his, while he’s been at DC, its been lost on me.

        2 me, the Finch fans u speak of, r not fans, at all. Giving some1 credit, not because of their work, but because of their name, means they’re loyalists…in my book, anyway.

        Anyway, my apologies 4 prattling on what was your commenting 2 Allfather’s inquiry, but l thought l’d add my two cents, 4 what it’s worth. :-)

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