Insideman’s Pull Lists™ – The Best and Worst Hardcovers, Graphic Novels and Manga from 7.25.12 & 8.1.12!

There are FIVE shipping weeks in August.

And many fans are happy their comic stack are light this week. Others are still buying a decent amount of books. But this week is a wasteland for Hardcover and Trade Waiters. So much so, I feel like I am writing the same column introduction I wrote two weeks ago.

Not much going on for the week of August 1st. I more than make up for the paucity of decent picks this week by pointing out some cool stuff for the week of July 25, 2012– plus a Random POS* that really caught my ire. Look for all this below.


30 Days of Night Vol 2
Amazingly Stupid Mad
Archie Archives Vol 6
Avengers Trial of Yellowjacket
Batman No Mans Land Vol 3 (New Print)
Cardboard
Classic GI Joe Vol 15
Cow Boy A Boy and His Horse HC
Crawl To Me Evil Edgar Edition HC
Dark Shadows Complete Series Vol 4 HC
Dead Ahead Vol 1
Dinocorps
Dive
Doc Savage Double Novel Vol 60 (Bama Cover)
Doc Savage Double Novel Vol 60 (Reg Cover) - Recommended
Dungeons & Dragons Dark Sun Vol 1
Enormous One Shot
Flash Archives Vol 6 HC
Girasol Pulp Doubles Vol 24 The Spider
Girl Genius Vol 11 Hammerless Bell HC
Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Neverland Hook
Helldorado East Eats West
Hitman Vol 7 For Tomorrow
House of Mystery Vol 8 Desolation
Incredible Hulk Regression
Iron Man Revenge of Mandarin HC
Kindred Spirits
Kung Fu Panda Vol 1 Everyone Is Kung Fu Fighting
Lady Death Vol 2 HC
Lady Death Vol 2 Signed HC
Lady Death Vol 2
Mega Man Vol 3 Return of Dr. Wily
Michael Kaluta Sketchbook Series Vol 2 SC
Monocyte HC
New X-Men Omnibus HC (New Print)
Punisher By Greg Rucka Vol 1
Route Des Maisons Rouges Vol 1
Savage The Guvnor
Shadow Double Novel Vol 63
Sonic Universe Vol 2 30 Years Later
Sonic Universe Vol 3 Knuckles Returns
Superboy Vol 1 Incubation
Superman Action Comics Vol 1 Men Of Steel HC
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ultimate Collection Vol 3 HC
Thing Classic Vol 2
Warlord of Mars Vol 2
Will Eisner’s Contract With God Trilogy HC (New Print)
X-Force Child’s Play HC – More 90s Image influenced X-Men crap
X-Men FF
X-Men Iceman HC
X-Men Operation Zero Tolerance HC – See X-Force comment above


Apple Selection Vol 2 Autumn
Blade of the Immortal Vol 25
Disgaeart Disgaea Official Illustrated Collection
Drifters Vol 2
Shining Force Feather Official Design Works
X 3-In-1 Edition Vol 3

I tend to like really strange, weird stuff. It’s one of the reasons I buy lots of Fantagraphics books– as they make a point of publishing the offbeat. Some of you may only know the publisher from their best-selling Peanuts comic strip reprints… But as a long time reader, I can guarantee you that Fantagraphics was into the weird & wacky long before they were into Charlie Brown.

Buying “off-the-wall” indie books often leads me to some great finds I would never expose myself to otherwise– like the awesome comics of John Arne Sæterøy, the Norwegian cartoonist better known as Jason. I’ve showcased his work in the Pull List before and honestly don’t believe I have ever disliked one of his Fantagraphics collections. That streak stays intact, as I am not here to complain about Jason.

I am here to throw knives, vomit and ash at a FB published Josh Simmons hardcover collection called The Furry Trap. Simmons work has appeared in several Fantagraphics publications: Jessica Farm Vol 1, House and the long running MOME anthology series. Of these, I have thankfully only read The Furry Trap… And trust me, this hardcover will be more than enough for all eternity. Really.

Fantagraphics likes to promote Simmons by noting his “…signature macabre sensibility”. Okay. Fine. I get there’s lots of black humor imbedded in his work. That’s not the problem. The problem is Simmons’ Furry Trap stories– more often than not– deliver his “sensibility” with all the elegance of an arrested adolescent wielding a sledgehammer.

Many of Simmons’ “horror” tales revolve around rape, murder and cocksucking fantasies: The first story features an elf named Lothar who discovers he enjoys killing so much, it gives him a raging erection– which he promptly uses to skullfuck an evil Wizard with. For my tastes, the skullfuck sequence goes on far too long. The scene becomes even more hideous at story’s end– when the elf gets hard again and begins to non-consensually force his blood-covered member onto/into Hester, his appalled, unwilling fairy girlfriend.

Sounds like fun stuff, huh? And yes, I am absolutely aware of what I just wrote in that last paragraph. Believe me, I wish I never had to write that description… But I bought the damn book, I read it and I’m reviewing it with the same bluntness Simmons created it with– so you to know exactly how monumental a Piece of Shit we’re dealing with here. I won’t go into any more gory, grubby detail (after all, you might be eating a snack or reading this just before bedtime) but, suffice to say, most of the other tales have the same demented, childish bent and themes… And the ones that don’t (an overly long Batman story comes immediately to mind) go nowhere and leave you scratching your head, wondering why they exist.

The only way these tales can be labeled as “Horror Stories” is if, like me, you blow $24.99 USD on this poseur crap.

40 is NOT the “New 20″… No matter what your Hot Mom says.

Here’s what wrong with being a Geek and growing older: No matter how hard you try, common sense and reality often overwrite your sense of wonder. Something may still astonish you, but the moments of pure amazement are much fewer. I guess there’s nothing wrong with that… Although I do wish my reasoned adult mind would stop intruding on the part of my brain that still wants to be a kid.

Here’s a prime example of my “mature” brain overriding my “kid” brain: I watched Battle Royale for the first time last night… And I know full well if I had watched it 12 years ago– long before The Hunger Games ever existed– my reaction to this Japanese classic would have been completely different. My problem is, I’m a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due… And by watching BR now, I just couldn’t stop thinking about The Hunger Games… And the copycat controversy surrounding the two projects.

Battle Royale is an awesome film and I implore all geeks to watch it… Especially if you’ve seen The Hunger Games already. Do yourself a favor and relax– ignore the real world and let your “kid” brain take over. Just concentrate on the movie you’re watching and drive all the controversy out of your mind.

You only get to watch or read something for the first time once. If you can remember that, growing older won’t be so bad– especially when you want to feel like a kid again.

Over the last year and a half, I have seen several members of the IMJ Nation™ ask about Richard Starkings Image Comic Elephantmen. “Is it any good?” “Is it worth checking out?” The question has been raised so many times, I thought about making my responses a separate Ask Insideman™ column. But since my (usually) weekly Pull List posts continue to be some of the best read articles on IMJ (Thanks for that!), the release of the Elephantmen Vol 5 Devilish Functions Hardcover gives me the perfect opportunity to tout the BEST COMIC BOOK you are currently not buying and reading every month.

I love animals. I love Blade Runner-type science fiction and I love anthropomorphic characters done right (Blacksad)… So it should come as no surprise that I’ve been reading Elephantmen from the beginning.

In truth, the series started off a little rocky. It was a great sci-fi concept that seemed to lack a definitive sense of direction and originally suffered from a sporadic publication schedule as well… Possibly because creator Starkings was so busy with Comicraft– his expansive lettering/logo/font empire with John Roshell. It also didn’t help that Elephantmen began publication long before Image went on its current hot streak– where significant numbers of comic fans began gobbling up every new Image #1 book sight unseen.

But that’s all in the past. Elephantmen is now a bona fide monthly– coming out with more regularity than many other popular Image comics. Starkings has obviously discovered a happy medium between his Comicraft business and this passion… And every bit of his hard work– plus the awesome intensity of his super talented crew of collaborators– shows in every issue.

The list of creators who have received some of their first “mainstream” exposure with Elephantmen is astonishing: Justin Norman (Moritat) and Marian Churchland are just two of many. This comic shines due to intelligence, love and care… Creative commodities which are much harder to find– even in creator owned books nowadays… As more and more comics seem to get published by writers and artists primarily focused on landing lucrative Hollywood Film & TV deals.

These oversized hardcover editions reflect Starkings consummate attention to detail and their design offers a luxurious reading experience– far surpassing the cookie cutter quality found in most hardcover offerings… Almost as if Starkings and crew intend these books to stand as definitive editions for all time. All the Elephantmen collections have a permanent spot on my shelves– with my full intent to re-read them soon.

I can’t think of a higher recommendation.


Aragones Groo the Wanderer Artist Edition HC
Artifacts Deluxe HC – Own all the Trades
Batula HC
Convention Sketchbook HC
Crow Midnight Legends Vol 1 Dead Time
Daredevil By Mark Waid Vol 1 – Own the Hardcover
DC Super Pets Biggest Little Hero
DC Super Pets Cat Crime Club
DC Super Pets Deep Sea Duel
DC Super Pets Fantastic Flexy Frog
DC Super Pets Night Of Scaredy Crows
DC Super Pets Swamp Thing Vs Zombie Pets
Deadworld Last Siesta
Dragon Age Vol 1 Silent Grove HC
Elephantmen Vol 5 Devilish Functions HC - Hot Pick of the Week!
Fictionauts
Garfield & Co Vol 6 Mother Garfield HC
Gatecrasher Vol 1 Ring of Fire
Green Arrow Vol 1 Into The Woods
Grifter Vol 1 Most Wanted
Jack Hammer Vol 1
Kevin Smith Bionic Man Vol 1 Some Assembly Required
KISS Greatest Hits Volume 1 The Marvel Years
Kull Vol 3 The Cat and The Skull
Marie Severin Mirthful Mistress of Comics SC
MMW Fantastic Four Vol 8 SC
Modern Masters Vol 28 Eric Powell
No Straight Lines Four Decades Of Queer Comics HC
Red Hulk Haunted
Reed Gunther Vol 2
Scalped Vol 9 Knuckle Up - Runner Up Pick of the Week!
Secret Avengers by Rick Remender Vol 1 HC
The Monolith HC
Thor The Deviants Saga
Tick Complete Edlund (New Edition)
Transformers Autocracy
Transformers Classics UK Vol 3
Transformers Robots in Disguise Vol 1
Ultimate Comics Hawkeye By Jonathan Hickman
Ultimate Comics X-Men by Nick Spencer Vol 2 HC
Underwater Welder
Vic Boone
Wally Wood EC Stories Artist Edition HC (New Print) – Missed the 1st Print
We Go Pogo Walt Kelly Politics & America Satire SC
Whatever Happened to The World of Tomorrow
Wonder Woman Vol 1 Odyssey – Sadly, I own the Hardcover
X-Men Steve Rogers Escape From Negative Zone – Own the Hardcover


Apple Selection Vol 2 Autumn
Arisa Vol 8
Kimi ni Todoke Vol 14 From Me To You
Maohden Novel Vol 1 SC
Metal Gear Solid Guns Of The Patriots SC
Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Vol 5
Sakuran Vol 1

Let me put the “Is Jason Aaron a good comic writer” question to rest– at least for me. The answer is “Yes”. In fact, I will take my acclamation a step further and say Aaron is a great comic book writer– when he chooses to be. Yeah, that’s a bit of a snipe– a backhanded compliment, if you will… But it also happens to be true.

I’m 98% certain that I have read almost every comic book Jason Aaron has ever written… And unlike a lot of IMJ Readers, I was not first introduced to his work via Marvel. I knew Aaron from his Vertigo series Scalped– having been a huge fan since Day One.

Two of my best friends are of American Indian descent and I have been partially raised and strongly influenced by their culture since childhood. Knowing that about me may make the following sound a little crazy… But Aaron’s depiction of life on a “Rez” is so brutally accurate, I convinced myself he must be an American Indian (long before I actually researched him, of course). That’s just how good of a writer Jason Aaron can be.

For non-readers, Scalped is not a Western. It’s not even about the West or even filled with the usual Western tropes. It is a modern-day story set on an American Indian Reservation and revolves around sin, graft, corruption, duty and discovering one’s true purpose in life. The comic is filled with unique stories, characters and violence that converge in a brutally poetic way… As opposed to Aaron’s Wolverine, where the violence and story often just seem brutal and, at times, pedestrian– in a valiant attempt to try to please the “macho fanboys” who make up a large portion of the X-man’s fan base.

Here’s my point: Every once in a while, I can see some of Aaron’s innate charm make its’ way past Marvel’s Editors… But if you are a fan of Aaron’s Marvel comics and have never read Scalped (and your numbers are legion)– you are continuously missing the best comic Aaron writes every month. If you are a die-hard Jason Aaron fan, somebody who thinks Aaron is the best writer ever– and you have never given (at least) the first two Scalped collections a try… Then you have no fucking idea how good your man is… And that, my friends, is simply the truth.

R.M. Guera is also the perfect choice to draw Scalped. His amazing art is very reminiscent of the late, great master Tony DeZuniga. Guera draws real people… Manly men and sexy, earthy women. His backgrounds are just as vibrant as his main characters too. Best of all, when somebody gets hurt in Scalped, I actually feel their injuries flow from the fluidity of Guera’s graceful line art.

This is must read Vertigo series. Check it out. (If your 18 and above, of course.)

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11 Responses to Insideman’s Pull Lists™ – The Best and Worst Hardcovers, Graphic Novels and Manga from 7.25.12 & 8.1.12!

  1. M. Fewko says:

    I like Aaron’s writing, too. The whole drama between him and Moore seems irrelevant now, even though I have problems with what he said (and some problems with what Moore has said) but, moving on, he’s a good writer, and I would of loved to keep buying his Hulk comic, but 19 pages of art for 4-fucking-dollars??? Nope.

    Marvel, you are so unenlightened to the ways of business…

  2. TheMSpot says:

    “Do yourself a favor and relax– ignore the real world and let your “kid” brain take over. Just concentrate on the movie you’re watching and drive all the controversy out of your mind.” Is basically what I said to myself about 20 minutes into watching The Dark Knight Rises for the first time.

  3. Allfather says:

    Scalped is truly awesome – all 9 Volumes are equally high quality writing and art. This series simply should not be missed.
    I’m certainly been itching to try out Elephantmen – you might have finally convinced me.

  4. Whats with all those shitty Marvel reprints? Did you not get Hulk: Regression(#286-300) because its a $40 softcover or because (they failed to mention) it does not include issue 296/297 because Hasbro has the rights to the ROM character..That Yellowjacket trade is also 40 bucks..I remember getting oversized hardcovers for that price

    Elephantman…oversized hardcover with very thick pages..opened it up and it went SNAP, ALL pages were detached from the binding..but thats nitpicking…no but, I really liked the concept of the first volume..the SF-part that is…If you say its getting better after vol 1..I am really tempted to pick up Vol 2 then…The other part I didnt like was the pirate story which was more like a picture book and I was like fuck that shit..I rather see a dude skullfuck an evil magician..but not 4 more then 2 panels..everybody knows that right? Funny stuff

    Wally Wood Artist Edition..If you like Wally Wood..this is probably THE book where you can actually ask people money just to look at a book..its that impressive..

    • Insideman says:

      Hack/Slash,

      As I mentioned before, Marvel has never published a story they wouldn’t be happy to print again. :D

      You’re exactly right: I didn’t buy the Hulk book because it was $39.99 USD. That’s a ridiculous price for the material. I didn’t even realize the ROM stories were missing. Now, I am totally glad I passed. ROM was about the only toy turned into a comic book I liked back in the day.

      Per the Hank Pym/Yellowjacket Avengers reprint: Again, this book is way too pricey for the quality of art and story. Plus, the character is forever ruined for me because he’s a wife beater. Of course, Jim Shooter now says Hank was never supposed to be a wife beater: http://www.jimshooter.com/2011/03/hank-pym-was-not-wife-beater.html

      Whatever, Jim. If this was all Bob Hall’s fault, then why haven’t I seen any “Bob Hall Fucked Hank Pym!” T-Shirts? Does anybody really believe “There was no time to have it [the panel] redrawn, which, to this day has caused the tragic story of Hank Pym to be known as the “wife-beater” story.”? If it was that egregious an error on Hall’s part, there were any number of artists in the “Marvel Bullpen” sitting around that could have corrected that panel in less than 20 MINUTES.

      Of course, it also hurts that virtually every writer who has used Hank Pym since references the wife beating episode as part of the character’s history. Seems everyone in the FREE WORLD misinterpreted that panel in that comic… And yet, it was too late in the publishing process to fix it? Again: Whatever, Jim.

      Of course, with the way Marvel prices their Hardcovers/Trades nowadays, I guess we should feel lucky they didn’t charge $79.99 for each book. :)

      Per Elephantmen: I have the first 5 Deluxe Hardcovers and can only guess you must have gotten a lemon with that Vol 1 binding. I have had no problems with the bindings at all. Per the story, I promise you it gets LOTS BETTER. As I noted in my review, the first issues focus on various cool– yet disjointed– concepts. These all come into focus in later issues and the book now has it all:

      Compelling Characters, Great Plot, Conspiracy Theories, Adult Relationships– all set against a sci-fi backdrop.

      I would seriously suggest you pick up Elephantmen Vol 2– while the hardcovers are still available. If you’re like me, I like to collect series in all the same format.

      I’m definitely going to peek at the Wally Wood book. I promise. And I’ll probably end up feeling sorry for myself one day and buy it. Doing stuff like that always makes me feel better. :)

      • ed2962 says:

        Very interesting point about the Hank Pym thing, Ian! It kinda piggy backs on your last column about editors. Back during Shooter’s reign, Marvel ( and Jim in particular) had a LOT tighter editorial control when it came to depictions of their characters. Some ppl might not remember that X-Men 137 was completely written and penciled with Jean Grey living at the end until Jim got involved and felt letting her walk away sent a questionable moral message. He’s also the the guy that made Dave Micheline change the plot of Avengers 200 cuz he thought the original story was too close to some What If story so Dave came up with the Marcus “subliminal” rape story at the last minute. More than likely, everyone saw Hank hit Jan and just thought it was no big deal. It was 30 yrs ago and domestic violence wasn’t quite as sensitive as it is now. AND recent writers keep going back to that story, so maybe that’s why Jim’s like, “Um, well Bob was there too! Criticize him too!” But whatever I guess…

        Also, I noticed Walt Kelly’s Pogo on the list. I’m aware of Pogo ( I think Alan Moore did a tribute during his run on Swamp Thing), but I’m not a expert. I was wondering if you had anything positive or negative to say about any particular collection?

        • Insideman says:

          Ed, I’m not a big fan of revisionist history… And it seems to me lots of older comic pros like to give their versions of the events… Even when, like I point out above– they seemingly don’t make the right amount of sense.

          Walt Kelly’s Pogo is a strange strip for me. As I’ve mentioned before, I was a comic strip nut when I was a kid. Couldn’t get enough of them. And yet, over the years, I could never get into Pogo.

          There is no question that Kelly was a master draftsman/cartoonist. He could draw like nobody’s business. But Pogo takes place in the Okefenokee Swamp and Kelly often used weird dialects and poems etc… All the while touching on themes that could be very adult and topical… All the while interweaving his thoughts amongst very whimsical characters.

          So, in other words, the content/innuendo was probably over my head at the time I was so into comic strips. I understood Peanuts, Wizard of ID, BC, Andy Capp, etc. and I knew Walt Kelly was a fantastic artist… But the themes, jokes were lost on me.

          I haven’t revisited Pogo as an adult and I should. I know lots of people who love the strip. Still, the book you reference from the above list– We Go Pogo: Walt Kelly Politics & America Satire SC– is a primarily prose work that looks to analyze Pogo and its place in political satire. It could very well be an interesting read– but I would suggest an actual collection of actual Pogo comic strips to see if you even like Pogo first.

          This first volume looks like a perfect place to start: Pogo: The Complete Daily & Sunday Comic Strips, Vol. 1: Through the Wild Blue Wonder.

  5. Locusmortis says:

    Good to hear that you enjoyed Battle Royale, that was one of the first dvds I ever bought, must dig it out again sometime.

  6. Morlock50 says:

    Hey Ian. Great post, and your comments about The Furry Trap got me thinking.

    I tend to be more upset by extreme violence in comic books than movies. There is something about a static visual image in a comic that makes it harder for me to get over, for some reason. But I can watch a movie like Visitor Q, and accept all the craziness as part of the plot. Is that strange or what?

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