My parents used to have this little dachshund that freaked out every time they left… Especially when my Dad would leave.
But one day, he told her he had signed the “Be Back” Book… And miraculously, she turned around, laid in her bed and slept patiently until he returned. He discovered this little gem when she was only 2 and he kept telling the dog that for another 15 years… Until she suddenly died at the amazing age of 17.
Well, even though I stepped away from IMJ for a while… I never really left… And I did sign the Be Back Book. Publishers of shit and wasters of my hard-earned money better beware… Or at least feel a little uncomfortable.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. I was born late– in the sense that my Mom and Dad had me when they were older… So most of my relatives are dead. And by most, I mean I have two living cousins and a mother left in my once very large family. Some died naturally, others died in freak accidents. As you can guess, many died young.
So it’s really not a large leap to understand my fascination with superheroes– especially Marvel superheroes… As many have origins steeped in death and family tragedy. If I listed my 10 favorite heroes, the results would read like a textbook Rorschach Test. The more brutal the hero’s origin tale, the more I identified with them.
If you think about it, no set of characters have more tortured back stories than some of the humans used as vessels for the cyborg called Deathlok.
Michael Collins (the 2nd Deathlok), created by the late, great Dwyane McDuffie, was just about as tortured as any Marvel “hero” ever. Trapped in cyborg form and forced to kill by the evil corporation Roxxon, Collins battled for his humanity and freedom on several fronts. I remember reading this book when it first came out… And the hard-hitting (and timely) themes and characterizations were fascinating to me.
You should note this version of Deathlok appeared just before the ascension of the godawful ego-driven Image Comics in the marketplace… When Marvel still seemed intent on doing their best to tell “realistic” superhero stories. Nobody had ever heard of a lenticular, die-cut holographic cover back then… And the comics world was a better place because of it.
Avenging Spider-Man Friends Beat Up Your Friends HC – OBNOXIOUS title, eh?
Batwoman Vol 1 Hydrology HC
Birds of Prey Vol 1 End Run
BPRD Vol 1 Hollow Earth & Other Stories (New Print) - Recommended
BPRD Vol 3 Plague of Frogs (New Print) - Ditto
Carnage USA HC
Cloak and Dagger Crime Punishment HC
Daredevil By Mark Waid Vol 2 HC
Dark Tower Gunslinger Way Station HC
Deathlok The Living Nightmare of Michael Collins HC - Hot Pick of the Week!
Disney Mickey Mouse Vol 3 Noon Inferno Gulch HC – Buy the boxed sets of 2 books!
Dynamite Art of Alex Ross HC (Signed Edition) – Not really, it’s a tipped in plate!
Dungeons & Dragons Classics Vol 3 – Just cause it says “classics”, don’t mean…
Eightball Caricature Nine Stories
Elric The Balance Lost Vol 2
Essential Spider-Man Vol 11
Graphic Classics Vol 9 Robert L Stevenson
Grimm Fairy Tales Cover Art HC - This Week’s POS*!
Justice – Own the over-sized version… Have never read it or even looked at it
Marvel Universe Avengers Spider-Man And Avengers Digest
Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man Great Power Digest
Mister Terrific Vol 1 Mind Games
MMW Marvel Team-Up Vol 2 HC - Runner-Up Hot Pick!
Moon Knight By Bendis Vol 1 – Not gonna make that mistake twice!
New York Mon Amour HC
Seven Soldiers of Victory Vol 2
Siegfried Vol 1 HC
Spider-Man Graphic Novels HC – Oh Look! It’s Hooky… Again!
Spider-Man Perceptions HC – Wasn’t worth $1.75 each issue the first time…
Spider-Man Spider Hunt
Sunday Funnies Collected Vol 2
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro Series Vol 1
Tiny Titans Growing Up Tiny
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye Vol 1
Ultimate Comics Spider-man by Bendis Vol 2 HC
Ultimate Spider-Man Omnibus Vol 1 HC
Arata The Legend Vol 10
Black Bird Vol 14
Dawn of the Arcana Vol 4
Earl and Fairy Vol 2
Intrigues of Haruhi Suzumiya (Prose)
Kekkaishi Vol 32 – Buying the Omnibus editions
Kitchen Princess Omnibus Vol 1
Nge Shinji Ikari Raising Project Vol 11
These Marvel Team-Up books were special. Not always perfectly drawn or superbly written. Just special. Back when these comics were released, there weren’t 420 monthly Avengers titles. There was one. Back then, Wolverine didn’t have two clones like he must have now– so can appear in three different places at once… Given the sloppy way the Marvel Universe is currently plotted.
Spider-man was a loner. He didn’t crossover in many comics. He stayed to himself– often seeming to exist in his own private hell. There was no Avengers membership. No joining the Fantastic Four… Or accompanying every Marvel hero that ever existed to fight threats like the Beyonder in Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars.
Marvel Team-Up, in many cases, represented the first time Spider-man would meet a particular hero or fight different villains that were not part of his unique Rogues Gallery. The Marvel Universe was, of course, simpler then– but the writers/editors involved with this comic still went to great lengths to have the heroes meet organically. It wasn’t unheard of for Spider-man to simply cross paths with, say, Captain America… As Spidey headed to a battle playing out in his own comic and Cap was on his way to his next story arc in his own book… Not unlike you heading out to eat lunch– then running into an old friend, changing your plans and having a beer with him/her instead.
Think of Marvel Team-Up as the ultimate side mission or side quest in a modern video game. The main characters often referenced what was happening in their main titles– and had an urgency to wrap up what they were doing together so they could get back to the things that personally mattered to them.
You’ve heard Jose and I mention most comics have no cohesion now– no sense of continuity. Heroes appear (and disappear) at will. Back then, this stuff mattered and made the Marvel Universe all the more real because the creators and editors cared about it. Marvel Masterworks Marvel Team-Up collections are prime examples of this care and are usually pretty decent stories too… In case you’d like to see how cool competently plotted comics could be– if only anyone in the 21st Century still gave a shit.
I am not a prude. To be blunt, I am about as far away from a prude as one can get. I like nude people. Nude drawings. Sex. You name it: If it’s legal and consensual– I couldn’t give a rat’s ass who’s doing what to whom.
What I don’t like: Exploitive nudity or “near nudity” on comic book covers used to sell crappy comic books with little or no nudity inside.
And this is exactly what Zenescope’s Grimm Fairy Tales suggestive/risqué covers are used for: Their sole mission is to appeal to your inner perv and get you to part with your money to see more inside. What these covers almost always do: Tease something that’s not in the interior. There’s plenty of tight outfits, comically proportioned females (and males) and some huge (covered) boobs… But that’s usually it.
I’m not saying there has never been any nudity in any Zenescope comics… I’m just saying that given the amazing plethora of sledgehammer suggestive Zenescope variants that do exist– there is barely any actual nakedness… No matter what signals these covers are sending to your easily amused private male or female body parts.
I’m also not damning Zenescope’s efforts just because of these silly covers. Until several months ago, I had purchased and read virtually every comic they’ve ever collected. (I think my opinion on their actual editorial content is obvious… But, in case you missed it– my thoughts about the company’s comics can be further explored by simply typing “Zenescope” in the SEARCH THE COOL box at the top of the IMJ Sidebar.)
Given the amount of FREE PORN on the internet, I can’t imagine anyone paying $39.99 for 147 pages of this shit. But hey, at least if you buy this book– you’ll be getting exactly what you paid for: Page after page of pin-ups… Which is better than paying $3.99+ for a comic with a suggestive cover– only to find little of the same art inside– and an often mediocre story. So if numerous doggystyle butt-shots are your thing, then go for it.
Full versions the June 6 and May 30th Insideman Pull Lists after the jump!
It was sorta crazy doing all these Pull Lists at once… Especially since I decided to do it using my 2004 back-up computer– minus most of my current graphics/web programs. I kept saying to myself, “Hey, this is will be fun!” But when everything started taking three to four times longer to accomplish… The novelty of relearning the old ways we used to do stuff around here at IMJ quickly lost its luster. So I waited until I got the computer back– and things are so much easier.
This week had lots of great stuff. There are a lot of my usual favorites: The Boys Volume 11, Creepy Archives Volume 13 HC, DMZ Volume 12, Doc Savage Double Novel Volume 59, Prince Valiant 1945 – 1946 HC… But it seems unnecessary to recycle previous praise over and over. I also have a strong Piece of Shit (POS*) definitely worth steering you far away from… Even though that hardcover barely trumped the Spider-man Big Time Ultimate Collection. But going after that book seemed redundant too, given our copious amounts of criticism for Dan Slott penned Amazing Spider-man comics in the past. Plus…
Oh hell, let’s just get on with it.
I could blah, blah, blah about the sad state of the comic book industry because my Hot Pick of the Week! is an art book solely composed of drawings of back alleys and urban landscapes– but facts are facts. That’s exactly what this week’s Hot Pick is: Michael Cho’s Back Alleys and Urban Landscapes. And to prove I am not the least bit xenophobic– these alleys don’t exist in the gritty US environs of New York City, Chicago or dingy Los Angeles… They hail from downtown Toronto, Canada! (Hello, Canadian readers!)
That’s right– our beautiful, ever more enticing “neighbour” to the North has bleak, dirty cityscapes just like us goddamn American city slickers do! Who knew? (Well, actually I did. I practically lived in Canada in the 1990s… And, as everyone knows, I’m naturally drawn to the allure of back alleys.)
Michael Cho renders all his ‘scapes beautifully… With an insightful, creative eye. There’s art in these details and a certain je ne sais quoi that makes each drawing mesmerizing. Different colors are used for different seasons and you’ll find (if you give this book a try) a distinct personality and feeling in each piece.
You won’t see nary a peek of Garth Ennis’ and Amanda Conner’s The Pro giving speedy superhero handjobs in any of these alleys and… Hey! Maybe that is the point! It isn’t sad Cho’s Back Alleys and Urban Landscapes is the Hot Pick for a comic-centric column on an oftentimes comic-centric website… It’s great! Just another book showing the American Comic Market is growing up and expanding.
Who needs to sit around and bitch about Brian Michael Bendis’ always weird fascination with Power Man when we have Michael Cho’s existentially poetic Power Lines to appreciate?
Activity Vol 1
Alien Colonial Marines Technical Manual SC
Amazing Spider-Man Vol 2 Vulture Readers Novel
Avengers West Coast Along Came A Spider-Woman
Back Alleys and Urban Landscapes - Hot Pick of the Week!
Bart Simpson Out To Lunch
Batman Detective Comics Vol 1 Faces Of Death HC
Boys Vol 11 Over The Hill With Swords Of A Thousand Men - Recommended
Civil War Prose Novel HC
Complete Little Orphan Annie Vol 8 HC
Creepy Archives Vol 13 HC - Recommended
Danger Girl Revolver
Deadpool Vol 9 Institutionalized
DMZ Vol 12 The Five Nations of New York - Recommended
Doc Savage Double Novel Vol 59 - Recommended
Doctor Who Vol 4 As Time Goes By
Dungeons & Dragons Vol 1 Shadowplague
Ed the Happy Clown HC
George RR Martin’s Fevre Dream HC - This Week’s POS*
GI Joe Cobra Command Vol 1
Green Lantern Corps Revolt of Alpha Lanterns
Infestation 2 Vol 1
Moon Knight By Bendis and Maleev Vol 1 – Ugh. Own the Hardcover
Prince Valiant Vol 5 1945-1946 HC - Recommended
Red Lanterns Vol 1 Blood And Rage
Spider-Man Big Time Ultimate Collection – No fucking thanks!
Star Wars Omnibus Droids and Ewoks
Trinity Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb
Uncanny X-Men By Kieron Gillen Vol 2 HC
Voltron Force Vol 2
Walking Dead And Philosophy
Walking Dead Novel Rise Of The Governor SC
Walking Dead Vol 16 A Larger World - Runner-Up Pick of the Week!
Wally Woods Lunar Tunes
Witchblade Rebirth Vol 1
Bleach Vol 40
Bleach Vol 41
Devil and Her Love Song Vol 3
GTO 14 Days In Shonan Vol 3
Nura Rise of the Yokai Clan Vol 9
Ouran High School Host Club Vol 18
Pokemon Adventures Diamond And Pearl Platinum Vol 5
Sakura Hime Legend of Princess Sakura Vol 8
Slam Dunk Vol 22
Yu GI Oh Zexal Vol 1
Okay, I’ve finally figured out Robert Kirkman’s writing style. Dude likes talky people who enjoy scrutinizing themselves and debating hot button topics. (Goes a long way toward explaining Dale’s dialogue diarrhea in Season 2 of The Walking Dead TV Show.)
The Walking Dead Volume 16: A Larger World is no exception. Some may remember I was so put off by the previous Walking Dead volume (Insideman’s Pull List™ Hardcover, Graphic Novel & Manga Picks for 12.14.11) that I actually wrote it should never have seen the light of day. Harsh, I know. Justified? Yes. But I also wrote, given my love for the series, that I was “willing to look the other way… This time”. And I did. I didn’t spend weeks harping on the subject… I just waited for this next collection to arrive.
After reading TWD Volume 16: A Larger World, I’d love to yell, “Whoo hoo! I’m back on The Walking Dead train!” But I just can’t. And this time, it wasn’t the talkety-talk-talk that did me in. It was that old demon called Decompression.
I think it’s important at this point to remind you that you’re reading my Runner-Up Pick of the Week right now. Even though I’m sad that TWD didn’t completely rebound– or at least attempt to reach for its former glory… This story arc is not so bad to be rated anywhere near a POS* pick for the week.
I just wish Kirkman would get the whole train back on track. There was a two-page spread in this book that was so worthless– its existence as a story-stretcher was beyond obvious. (It also served to expose every one of the flaws in Charlie Adlard’s sometimes rushed looking art style.)
In truth, the only thing that made this volume truly worth mentioning is what I think Kirkman is turning Rick Grimes into. I write, “I think” because, obviously, I don’t know… Plus I see no reason to “spoil” anything for non-readers who are TV watchers… Even though, if this story goes where I think it’s headed… I know it will never see the light of day on AMC’s Walking Dead television series. (That sort of makes my whole theory seem intriguing– at least in my head.)
The sad thing is– without the “Rick Twist” and what I think I see coming on the horizon… This trade would have been a bummer on par with the last one. I did indeed look the other way last time and the character development was enough to get me to even recommend this volume… But I swear the fall from Runner-up Pick of the Week to being This Week’s POS* is not that steep.
I’ve never read a George R.R. Martin novel. Didn’t know a Game of Thrones from a game of dice before the show premiered on HBO. But I’ve liked the cable series… So with my time limited and my spare moments spent reading comic books, I thought Avatar’s collection of Martin’s Fevre Dream looked more than interesting– like the perfect book for a summer read.
This book had everything going for it: I like Old West style tales (even stories set in old-time Louisiana like Cullen Bunn’s The Sixth Gun). I still like vampire stories– despite the existence of everything Twilight. So I was set… Or so I thought.
I have no idea what the original novel is like, but the comics adaptation of Fevre Dream is a boring mess. There are tons of different characters (not as many as GoT, of course) but it doesn’t work here… As there is no real cohesion to the narrative. Like ten bad guys politely waiting their turn to individually attack the hero in a Steven Seagal movie– one or two characters grab center stage for several pages in this comic, then disappear for little or no reason. The art, for lack of anything better to say, is adequate… Which I guess is exactly the word I’ve been struggling to find to describe this entire book.
At 192 pages, it’s a thick volume– for what that’s worth. In the end, it doesn’t matter how much stuff is crammed between two covers if that material does nothing to move you in one direction or another. If you are a big George R.R. Martin fan and plan on buying this despite my misgivings– please be aware there is a much cheaper softcover version also available… Or better yet: Just buy the original prose novel!
Let’s see… I started writing this Mega Edition of Insideman’s Pull List last Tuesday 6.12.11. I also did it in an odd way: I saved this week to write about last, instead of starting with the oldest week first. So it’s time for another confession: I’m a full-blown, unapologetic candy whore. I like almost any sweets but I rarely eat them since being diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Used to be I could polish off a Snickers, a Butterfinger and maybe something else– and call it “Lunch”… Yet I still walked around with a 32 inch waist. In short, I was hated by almost everyone I knew.
Now my situation is quite different. Despite taking my medication and condition quite seriously, it seems if I even think about eating a piece of candy I gain weight.
In honor of this marathon post, I decided to fuel the writing of it with a combination of Diet Mountain Dew (loyal podcast listeners know I have an obsession with that) and some individual “Snack Size” Almond Joys. And even though I know they don’t compare to even the worst piece of European chocolate, they are still quite tasty. Maybe that’s why I am still writing this post. As long as I write, I get to eat Almond Joys. The second I’m done, whatever is left goes to a kid I know in the condo building.
On a book note: Stay away from the Judge Dredd digests. I can certainly understand this foray into a smaller size… Perhaps as an attempt to attract “younger readers” to the long-running series. I purchased both but, just as I feared, they are ridiculously small and squash the dynamic art/story that are the hallmarks for most Dredd stories. I’m warning you here because I didn’t want to slap them into the POS* category just because they were unfortunately tiny.
Most Mike Mignola comics, at least for me, are always solid. The latest Mignola hardcover, Baltimore Volume 2 The Curse Bells, is no exception. Two reasons I love Mike’s characters so much: 1) They often analyze the absurdity of their situations while they are experiencing them. 2) They usually have a potent combination of nonchalant disdain and steadfast dislike for their adversaries. Demons, Witches and Nazis are always bad. The hell with them and whatever they intend to do… They must die.
What makes Lord Henry Baltimore so interesting: He has no ability for self-analyzation. He sets his mind to what he wants to do and never questions his motives or wonders what crazy business he’s embroiled himself in. He’s like a living, breathing early 20th Century Terminator. His overriding obsession is vampire named Haigus– a monster Baltimore unwittingly awakened on a Word War One battlefield… Leading to a new vampire plague across Europe. Baltimore wants Haigus truly dead… And anyone or anything that stops or slows Lord Henry’s quest is often cannon fodder.
As he battles a Warlock and a gaggle of undead nuns in a small European town, Baltimore’s obsession leads to some very interesting character choices. While most “heroes” would immediately move to stop the Warlock’s abominable scheme, the good Lord just can’t get his priorities straight.
Leave it to Mignola and scripter Christopher Golden to create an interesting hero out of a human being that is about as “one note” as a character can get. It takes special talent to do so much with so little. The Curse Bells is also several leaps better than Baltimore Volume 1: The Plague Ships (although that book is very good). You have to start somewhere, right? And you’d could do a helluva lot worse than buying either Baltimore collection.
Amory Wars Secrets of Silent Earth 3 Ultimate Edition
Angelman Fallen Angel HC
Avatar Last Airbender Vol 2 Promise Part 2
Baltimore Vol 2 The Curse Bells HC - Hot Pick of the Week!
Batman Death by Design Deluxe Edition HC
Best of the Three Stooges
Black Images in the Comics SC
Boy Who Made Silence
Captain America and Bucky Old Wounds HC
Channel Zero Complete Collection - Recommended
Cow Boy A Boy and His Horse HC
Daredevil by Brubaker & Lark Ultimate Collection Book 2 - Recommended
Darkness Compendium Vol 2 HC – Own the Graphic Novels
Elephantman Vol 0 – Already own it
Empowered Vol 7
Fables Deluxe Edition Vol 5 HC
Grimm Fairy Tales Myths & Legends Vol 3 - Baaaarf!
Green Arrow Vol 1 The Midas Touch
Hack Slash Omnibus Vol 4 - Recommended
Hellraiser Vol 1
Incorruptible Vol 6 - Recommended
Irredeemable Vol 9 - Runner-up Pick of the Week!
Judge Dredd Complete Case Files Vol 19
Judge Dredd Digest Cursed Earth Saga
Judge Dredd Digest Day the Law Died
Kick-Ass 2 HC - Aack!
Marvel Firsts 1970s Vol 3
Mediterranea Vol 1
Mega City Undercover Vol 2 – Can’t find Volume 1 anywhere…
Monsieur Jean Singles Theory HC
Mr Twee Deedle Raggedy Ann Cousin Gruelle HC
Naughty & Nice Good Girl Art Bruce Timm (New Print) - Recommended
Ninjago Vol 3 Rise of the Serpentine
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z Vol 5
Spawn Compendium Vol 1 - This Week’s POS*
Squa Tront #13
Stand Vol 3 Soul Survivors – Own the Hardcover
Star Wars Knight Errant Vol 2 Deluge
Starman Omnibus Vol 1 – Own the Deluxe Hardcover Editions
Steve Ditko Archives Vol 3 HC
Tales from the Clockwork Empire
Usagi Yojimbo Vol 1 Ronin
Villains For Hire Knight Takes King
What Is All This
Wonder Woman Vol 1 Blood HC
World War Hack
X-23 Vol 3 Don’t Look Back HC
X-Factor They Keep Killing Madrox HC
X-Men Curse Of Mutants Mutants Vs Vampires – Own the Hardcover
X-Men Phoenix Endsong Warsong Ultimate Collection – Own it
Xenoholics Vol 1
Genshiken Omnibus Vol 1
Wallflower Vol 28
I’ve praised this series before. And yes, I am aware the comic just ended with Irredeemable #37. But for us Trade Waiters, that ending is still a little ways off.
I had the same reaction to Irredeemable Volume 9 as I have had to every other edition: I really liked it. But this collection hit me differently than usual, as it collects comics from two series, Irredeemable #32 – 33 and Incorruptible #25 – 26.
For non-readers, Irredeemable is Mark Waid’s story of a former hero called the Plutonian– who goes as bad as any hero can. Incorruptible is Waid’s flip side to Irredeemable– villain Max Damage is a very bad man who decides to go straight in the wake of the Plutonian’s genocidal attacks against Earth.
In essence, this crossover trade exists to show how Max and the Plutonian’s lives have intertwined from the beginning… An association never revealed until now. Some readers have cried foul, acting as if this bit of info was tacked on by Waid in the final moments of both series. I emphatically disagree. (Since Max Damage’s series only appeared after Irredeemable’s success, I know why many look at the Incorruptible comic as a last-minute “cash-grab” tack on– but I don’t.) A writer of Waid’s caliber doesn’t create a story about a superhuman going berserk, then follow it up a few months later with a series about a villain’s redemption without, at the very least, having an end game where the two are co-dependent. The symmetry is far too clear not to have them feed off each other.
What’s crazy: How good Incorruptible has suddenly gotten. This comic has always been Irredeemable’s bastard stepchild… Making me wish this crossover had happened sooner– not later (or at all). For those reading along, Incorruptible’s sudden forward progress is quite evident in Incorruptible Volume 6. (Also released this week, this trade should be read after the Irredeemable book.)
While I’m not looking forward to the end of either series, I sort of also welcome it… Especially if both end on this kind of high note.
I try not to be wishy-washy. Just tell it like it is and let the shit fall where it may. There have been a lot of Spawn Trades and Deluxe Hardcovers released over the last year or so… As if someone finally convinced creator Todd McFarlane that thar’s still gold in them thar hills. And that’s fine, good for him. I certainly can’t blame Todd for cashing in again.
After all, I bought every single one of these books recently. I stayed far away from this comic (and many of the other ego-driven Image vanity projects printed by the millions in the 90s)… But I actually have to read something before I can come close to criticizing it… So ironically, I’m here anyway.
The only upside: I paid a hell of a lot less for these comics in collected form than if I had been feverishly searching for them as singles before the comic book back issue price implosion.
Plus, reading these stories all at once (while slightly akin to slow water torture) at least gives me some idea if anyone was ever truly attempting to accomplish something– or not. I don’t try to get into a writer or artist’s head (unless I know them and can ask them) to figure out why they did what they did when they did it. I don’t play that game. I leave that kind of speculation to amateurs.
Suffice to say, I can easily see why these comics were popular in the “Who Gives a Shit About Good Comics?” 1990s… But, for the life of me, I can’t understand why anyone actually read them. Sophomoric horseshit doesn’t even begin to describe my general feeling toward Spawn comics… Although they can often be nice to look at– if you like that scratchy, overly detailed art style.
Which brings me to Spawn Compendium Volume 1. I can see someone saying, “Finally! A ‘cheap’ black and white Spawn collection! I think I’ll buy it!” Really? Don’t. Just stop yourself this second and go spend your $59.99(!) on something else… And take the time you would spend reading this book to help somebody– or just read some different comics. I can see how some people may still dig this art… But personally, if I had to see it– I’d rather have it in color. (See the “scratchy, overly detailed art style” snipe above.)
All that said, here’s an idea for the next Spawn collection: Put the color back in and remove all the words… Then we’ll be in business!