Saturday, January 12, 2019

Comics Lust 1/12/2019

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director/administrative assistant/w00t Stout sipper Tulip. Reverse Obie, Tulip, and I are going to keep this intro a bit short as we’re about to head out to get some beers at M*Special before we start our month-long Real Food Challenge on Monday. If we’re lucky, there’ll also be a food truck that has French fries or something along those lines that we can gorge on as our days (months, actually) of free eating are numbered…one and half days to be exact. Anyhow, be kind to each other, mind your health and sanity, treat your friends to some tacos, keep your pets safe, cherish the ones you love, hydrate, and read some great comics. Thank you for reading!


*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magiks mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.


Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.

Comics Lust

Otherworldly Wonders (Part 1)


After reading the latest issue of today’s first entry—we’ll get to it in a moment—I knew I had to come up with a topic that would ensure this particular title would be at the forefront of today’s post. Then I read my second new comic of the week—that follows second, of course—and I knew exactly what I wanted to share with you today: comics about other worlds. Whether people are traveling to other worlds/planes of existence or those worlds/planes are sending their inhabitants to ours, that’s what we are looking at today. So, sit back, relax, and open your mind as we open doorways to places that tend to not be all that welcoming.

Murder Falcon

(Everythinged by Daniel Warren Johnson, colored by Mike Spicer, lettered by Rus Wooton, published originally in 2018 by Skybound Entertainment an Image Comics imprint)
I love this comic. I love this comic. I love this comic! I first became aware of this creator through his exceptionally written and illustrated Extremity series (a comic everyone MUST read) and I knew I would be following him on anything and everything he touched both prior to and after that incredible series. Then, along came Murder Falcon. In this series, Jake has all but given up on life: he’s lost the one he loves, his band, and the will to play music. To complicate matters, the world is besieged by monsters and one just showed up in Jake’s living room. Thankfully, Murder Falcon, a warrior from a realm known as “The Heavy,” has appeared and needs Jake’s help to fight the terrors seeping into our world. Yes, the premise sounds kind of ridiculous, but trust me, it’s all in the execution, which Johnson does beautifully. The story is heartfelt, heart-wrenching, and always earnest, while the art delivers monster-stomping goodness with a heavy metal vibe that can be felt deep in your bones. The dynamic use of sound effects within the art (in addition to Wooton’s lettering), and Johnson’s switch from thin or thick straight lines to jagged ones—implying ferocious speed—accentuates his masterful storytelling prowess, giving us a helluva damn fine comic. We’re halfway through this thrilling run that features not just one but two worlds besides our own, and I suspect once we reach the end we will have something that transcends to even higher planes.


Oblivion Song

(Written by Robert Kirkman, illustrated by Lorenzo De Felici, colored by Annalise Leoni, lettered by Rus Wooton, published originally in 2018 by Skybound Entertainment an Image Comics imprint)
Now, this one snuck up on us out of the blue, but that was by design. Per the notes of the first issue, Kirkman and De Felici had a good number of issues in the bag before announcing this thrilling new series. In Oblivion Song, a large portion of Philadelphia swapped places with another dimension, losing over 300,000 people and replacing them with nightmarish monsters. Years have passed and the monster problem at home has been dealt with, but Nathan Cole continues to jump into the world called Oblivion to find and rescue the humans still stuck there. But are Nathan’s efforts truly altruistic or is he searching for something else? De Felici’s cartooning is quite different from what you will find in most Big Two comics, which makes it stand out as his work brings life to the characters through his excellent storytelling and grasp of drama, while Leoni’s colors bring a vibrant excitement to the dark subject matter of this thrilling comic. Oh, and the monsters…those things are otherworldly and terrifying. There is one trade currently available with the second on the way soon.


Ether

(Written by Matt Kindt, art and letters by David Rubín, originally published in 2016 by Dark Horse Books)
I’ve known of, read, and enjoyed many of Kindt’s comics, but it was Rubín’s art in a couple of guest-artist issues of the Donist World Darling Black Hammer series that had me searching out everything the man has illustrated. Thankfully, Ether soon found its way into my grubby, little paws. If the inhabitants of alternate worlds won’t come to us, then Boone Dias goes to them. Boone has used his extraordinary gift for science to burst into another dimension, but this dimension believes heavily in magic, something Boone attempts to explain away with science at every opportunity he can. But when a hero of the Ether is murdered with no logical explanation as to how it was done, the Ether’s inhabitants hire Boone to solve the case. Kindt’s story is sculpted into something truly delightful as Rubín brings to life some of the loveliest magical beings and monsters I have ever seen in a comic book and when you couple this with his bold, vibrant colors, you have a stunning work worthy of your favorite bookshelf. The first trade, Ether Volume 1: Death of the Golden Blaze, has been out for a while now, and the second trade, Ether Volume 2: Copper Golems, drops in the next month; I couldn’t be more excited! The magical world of Ether is one I will return to time and time again.


Doctor Strange: Damnation

(Written mostly by Donny Cates and Nick Spencer; mostly illustrated by Rod Reis, Szymon Kudranski, and Niko Henrichon, originally published in 2018 by Marvel Comics)
Some alternate worlds are more well known than others and who hasn’t heard of H-E-double hockey sticks? Yes, Hell, and I’m not talking about the hell that is getting caught in a conversation with your Aunt Bonnie, or facing a tower of dirty dishes, but rather the hell that begins with a capital “H.” In this fantastic mini event, Mephisto has brought Hell to Las Vegas and enslaved many of Earth’s strongest heroes while doing it, including Doctor Strange. Now, it’s up to Wong to gather a group of heroes who have transcended death to free the others and to miraculously restore a soul to Las Vegas. Cates was 100% the reason I sought out the thoroughly amazing Doctor Strange: Damnation the Complete Collection, which you simply must read, but with a warning. The book is a blast from beginning to end…provided you know the correct reading order, which Marvel confusingly attempts to give you on the indecipherable “Reading Chronology.” Why is this a problem? Well, instead of printing the issues in chronological order, Marvel instead opted to give us Damnation #1–4, then Doctor Strange #386–389, then Damnation: Johnny Blaze - Ghost Rider #1, then Iron Fist #78–80, and finally Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider #15–17. Why not put them in the proper reading order so you don’t have to flip around and possibly spoil things?! No idea, but to help a Denizen out, here is the recommended reading order of things for you:

  • Damnation #1
  • Doctor Strange #386
  • Damnation #2
  • Doctor Strange # 387
  • Scarlet Spider #15
  • Damnation #3
  • Iron Fist 78
  • Scarlet Spider #16
  • Johnny Blaze - Ghost Rider #1
  • Doctor Strange #388
  • Iron Fist #79
  • Iron Fist #80
  • Scarlet Spider #17
  • Damnation #4
  • Doctor Strange #389

Don’t let the reading order stuff dissuade you from reading this exciting mini event.


The Authority

(Written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Bryan Hitch, inked by Paul Neary, colored by Laura Depuy, originally published in 1999 by Wildstorm)
The Authority is up about as high as it goes when it comes to must-read, must-own comics. Ellis’s run would definitely accompany me during any sort of prolonged stay on a deserted island. The crazy thing is that Ellis was only around for the first 12 issues—although there’s a grip of comics in his Stormwatch run, which led up to The Authority, that would certainly keep me entertained, as well—but those 12 issues are the ones that hold a special place in my heart. Jenny Sparks (master of electricity), Swift (winged aerial specialist), Apollo (solar-powered superman), The Midnighter (master combatant who sees all possible outcomes), The Engineer (nanobots in her blood that allow her to create anything she conceives), the Doctor (a man of magic), and Jack Hawksmoor (a being whose abilities escalate depending on the size of the city he inhabits) meet the most severe threats to the world head on and make sure those threats are ended quickly and with extreme prejudice. These mighty, god-like beings inhabit a living ship known as the Carrier that allows them to teleport and to travel between parallel worlds through a dividing barrier known as The Bleed. Unfortunately for both The Authority and the Earth, other worlds have the ability to navigate The Bleed which pits our heroes against an invading parallel Britain called Sliding-Albion which is ruled by a blue-skinned alien despot. More than anything, this series made me wish I was sitting aboard The Carrier as it surfs The Bleed and I witnessed its many wonders. You absolutely must check out this series whether you do so in issues, trades, or the recent hardcover.


That’ll do it for this installment. I love the idea of parallel dimensions and other worlds whether or not contacting them is in anyone’s best interests. I will definitely revisit this topic at some point in the future. Take care.



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Sunday, January 6, 2019

Comics Lust 1/5/2019

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director/administrative assistant/New Year notable Tulip. I’m going to keep this one short as I'm still physically exhausted from Thursday’s food poisoning and I definitely need a beer. Tulip, Reverse Obie, and I all want to wish you a happy New Year and one that will be much much much better than 2018. Anyhow, be kind to each other, mind your health and sanity, treat your friends to some tacos, keep your pets safe, cherish the ones you love, hydrate, and read some great comics. Thank you for reading!


*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magiks mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.


Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.

Comics Lust

Running the Maze: Ed Brubaker’s Captain America


A few entries ago, I mentioned Ed Brubaker’s fantastic Captain America run. It’s an enthralling, roller coaster of a ride spy thriller that would see the return of Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, a character thought dead for many decades. After much praise back in the day, I decided to give good ol’ Cap a try; I had not read a Captain America comic since I was a kid. It rocked my world. I was more than happy to talk about Brubaker’s run, in fact, I was quite eager to dig in and tell you all about which books to read and in what order, but I hit a few snags: namely, renumberings, one-shots, miniseries, renumberings again, new series, and stuff I had never even known about. You absolutely do not want to miss out on the intrigues and thrills of the story or any of the fantastic artists who brought Brubaker’s words to life, not to mention Cap’s ”death,” his crucial stand-in, Steve Rogers’s rebirth, the villains, the introduction of the Winter Soldier, and most importantly all-around great, must-read comics. So, today, we are going to run the maze of Brubaker’s run from issues to trades to omnibus editions and try to make some sense of this convoluted, overly-corporate mess so you know where to start and where to end. Let’s hope I can make it through this with my sanity intact.

Issues

It all started off simple enough unless you take into account that this is the “2005, Fifth Series”—meaning this is the fifth reboot/renumbering of Captain America—but with this new number one comes the official start of Brubaker’s run.
  • Captain America #1–50 (Fifth Series) (Primarily illustrated by Steve Epting, published from Jan 2005–July 2009) pretty straightforward. All good. No sweat following along. This is the start of the “Fifth Series.”
  • Captain America 65th Anniversary Special #1 (Illustrated by Eric Wight, published May 2006) And thus came unto us the first special/one-shot issue. Hey, at least it was an extra-long 48 pages.
  • Winter Soldier: Winter Kills #1 (Illustrated by Lee Weeks, published Feb 2007) Yes, another one-shot, but dang if this is not getting freakin’ good!
  • Captain America #600–615, 615.1, 616–619 (Some co-writing by Sean McKeever, primarily illustrated by Butch Guice, published Aug 2009–Aug 2011) Okay, here we go: renumbering to classic “First Series” numbering, with a 615.1 issue released as a jumping on point. Okay, fine. This is still part of the “Fifth Series.”
  • Captain America: Reborn #1–6 (Illustrated by Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice, published Sep 2009–Mar 2010) Let’s add some extra difficulty into the mix by offering this miniseries one month after the renumbering to issue #600 and having it run concurrent to the main series. Kind of like tie-in issues during big “Event” comic runs.
  • Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield? #1 (Illustrated by Butch Guice and Luke Ross, published Mar 2010) Let me get this straight: it’s March 2010, you’re already buying the renumbered Cap book with #602 dropping this month, you’re about to finish off the Reborn mini with issue #6, and now you’re also getting WWWtS. A triple-ship month. I’m not even certain which came out when during the month, but best be certain you read them all in order!
  • Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier #1–4 (illustrated by Dave Eaglesham, published Sep 2010–Dec 2010) Somehow I missed this one, which is easy to do as it came out during Captain America #608–611.
  • Captain America & Bucky #620–628 (Illustrated by Chris Samnee, Francesco Francavilla, and others, published Sep 2011–May 2012) Okay, I didn’t even know this had happened and I need to get a hold of it…preferably in a nice, nifty collection, but if your grandpappy saw this on the shelf, he might be wonderin’ about the other 619 Captain America & Bucky issues that are floating around out there, which actually do not exist.
  • Captain America #1–19 (Sixth Series) (Some issues co-written by Cullen Bunn; illustrated by Steve McNiven, Patrick Zircher, Alan Davis, Scott Eaton, and others; published Sep 2011–Dec 2012) Let me try to understand this: Brubaker writes 50 issues of Cap, then the numbers switch to being in the 600s, then the title changes to Captain America & Bucky while retaining the numbering scheme in the 600s, then this new series comes along that is also titled Captain America that starts over with issue number one and also has an artist named Steve. Toss in a bunch of specials and mini-series, and any Brubaker fan should be able to follow. No sweat? No way. Best loosen up by listening to some Pink Floyd “Dark Side of the Moon” before going down this road to madness.
  • Winter Soldier #1–14 (primarily illustrated by Butch Guice, published Apr 2012–Mar 2013) I am ashamed to say I have not read these issues...something I fully intend to remedy. That said, this one released alongside Captain America & Bucky for a few months of kinda-sorta double shipping.


Not only do you have all of this, but you have some “events” getting involved with Fear Itself #7.1: Captain America, then “House of M” touched down in 2005’s Captain America #10, followed by Civil War with Captain America #22–24,


Trades


Yeah, traversing the quagmire above seems an insurmountable task, but thankfully, there are some trades out there…provided you can find them. To start, I’m going to cut out the first eight trades and start with the “Ultimate Collections”:

Okay, now. THAT’S a bit easier to digest. But if you want to make things even easier, then pick up the…


Omnibus Editions


Denizens, if you got the coin and the means to track them down, then this is by far the easiest route to go to get the whole kit and kaboodle.


After following the breadcrumbs and retracing my steps in the snow, I was finally able to make it through this grand labyrinth of Overlook Hotel proportions. It makes me wonder…wouldn’t it all be much easier for both current (at the time), new, and future readers if Marvel had put out two series and two limited series and cut out the single issues, renumberings, and miniseries? Like, put out Captain America #1–100 (or whatever), Winter Soldier #1–19Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier #1–4, and Captain America and Bucky #1–9. Then you can roll Captain America: Reborn and all of the other stuff into the main series—double ship on some months, if you must—and clearly number all of the trades, labeling that they are all by Ed Brubaker. Sheesh. Anyways, I hope I don’t have to type the word “Captain America” again for a good long while, and I could sure use a drink. All work and no play makes Donist a dull boy. Until next time.



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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Donist World 2018 Year-End Roundup - Part 2

(Sung to the tune of Enigma’s “Sadeness”)

Chanting. Ummm…yeah, uh…a bunch of Latin-sounding stuff that I don’t understand, but the perfect soundtrack for contemplating the things we love. Welcome to…

Donist World 2018 Year-End Roundup - Part 2!


Hey there, Denizens, and a soon to be Happy New Year! I am joined as ever by CFO Reverse Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier, whose surly attitude changed for the better after his fur colors swapped when a corrupt businessman’s curse backfired) and by marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/New Year kibble nibbler Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). We hope you enjoy the top 20 heavenly things of 2018 while Reverse Obie, Tulip, and I take our past-due “long winter’s nap” before mapping out the course of our lives for the coming year.

***Probably NOT Spoilers Below***

If you have a moment, check out our past FSoH/SitW Year-End Roundups to see all things heavenly including Part 1 for 2018. Now, keep in mind that some of the items listed below might have come out before 2018, but 2018 was the year that we read, watched, drank, or ate them, thus their inclusion here. We at Donist World, thank you for reading and hope you enjoy our selections as much as we do.

Donist World 20 Heavenly Things (In No Particular Order)


1) 11 O’Clock Comics (Podcast)

Yup, still my favorite podcast after all these years. You catch that? Not just my favorite comic book podcast, my favorite podcast. Period. David, Jason, Vince, and the occasional special guest have helped me get through some dreadful times at a job long past and currently make my work commute infinitely more tolerable. They discuss everything from current mainstream comics, to lesser-known titles, to books of the past, to the comics industry as a whole, to other media, and regularly have comic creators take up the fourth chair. I’ve never met these cats, but they feel like family at this point and I adore their show…even though they are wrong about The Goon...just sayin’. I contribute to their Patreon, and you should too.


2) The Last Podcast on the Left (Podcast)

While we’re on the subject of podcasts…Marcus, Ben, and Henry also seem like my younger brothers from other mothers. If you are looking for a podcast that is laugh-out-loud funny while being painstakingly researched on such topics as serial killers, cults, cryptids, conspiracy theories, UFOs, and the supernatural, then look no further. I will admit that it took two episodes for me to fully get into the show, but once it became clear how much work they put into each installment and how informative each one is, I was 100% in. Over the past two years, I’ve listened to all 340+ episodes—some multiple times—made my wife a believer, and have been contributing to their Patreon for almost a year now. You can also visit their site here.


3) Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Movie)

Talk about a complete surprise. I first heard about this one earlier in the year and I honestly wrote it off as a Meh, maybe I’ll watch it when it comes to streaming. Then the buzz started happening. Work colleagues who don’t care about comic books or movies about comics were carrying on about it, and reviewers I trust and follow were going crazy about it as well. I decided why not check it out. HOLY MOLY! It is a masterpiece. Everything from animation, music, and most importantly story contributed to a cinematic triumph that is not only the best animated film I saw in 2018 but one of the best films I have EVER seen. I cannot wait to rewatch and to pick up the Blu-ray whenever it is released. Definitely, see it on the big screen with a great sound system, you will be so glad you did.


4) The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling (Graphic Novel)

My brother surprised me with this book for my birthday. I had never heard of the publisher or the creators and I had no idea that this book even existed until he placed it in my grubby mitts. This well-researched book explores the roots of wrestling from back in prehistoric times to carnival sideshows to the current multibillion-dollar industry it is today. Jeff and I became fanatics right around the time of the WWF’s Wrestlemania II and followed for many years after. This book touches upon not just those halcyon days, but well before and well after. I especially enjoyed learning about the insane business dealings and inside politics of “The One True Sport.” Whether or not you are a wrestling fan this is one you should check out. (Created by Aubrey Sitterson and Chris Moreno, published by Ten Speed Press)


5) Kingdom Rush: Vengeance (iOS Game)

One franchise of tower defense games will rule them all! Kingdom Rush sucked me in. Then came Kingdom Rush: Frontiers followed by Kingdom Rush: Origins. Heck, Ironhide Game Studio even took a fun-as-all-get-out leap into outer space with Iron Marines, but now they’re back on Earth with their latest installment Kingdom Rush: Vengeance! This time around, you take the side of the evil Vez’nan as you control goblins, dark elves, the undead, and all manner of hellishly cute creatures as they strike back. I am already anxiously awaiting updates to my favorite iOS game franchise of all time.


6) Avengers: Infinity War (Movie)

After years of building off of the massive success of the first Iron Man film, the moment I never thought would see (I also never thought I’d see an Iron Man movie) finally arrived: Thanos on the big screen. All the Avengers, Doctor Strange, The Guardians of the Galaxy, and even Spider-Man somehow broke through oppressive corporate nonsense to come together to face their most dire foe. Their meeting was better than anything I could have ever hoped for. After nearly two and a half hours of action and thrills and staggering shocks, I left the theater completely exhausted and not sure how to process the tragic (yet completely expected by this comic book fan) events of the movie. I will be taking the day off of work the Friday the sequel debuts so I can grab lunch, have a few beers, and see how it all ends.


7) Thanos Wins (Graphic Novel)

Donny Cates has been blowing me away for the past year and a half. He has been crushing it with his Marvel work on titles like Doctor Strange, Damnation, Venom, and The Death of the Inhumans. He even wowed the Donist World puppy executive team with Cosmic Ghost Rider, a character he created (or rather, created off of previously created characters and concepts), but what blew us away the most was the series that introduced that character in the first place: Thanos Wins. Now, I’ve said many times, that Jim Starlin is the only one who has ever really handled Thanos to my satisfaction, but then Cates comes in and gives us a tremendous look at what happens when Thanos gets what he has always wanted. We finally see what happens when Thanos wins. I am definitely rereading this early in the new year. (Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Geoff Shaw and others, published by Marvel Comics)


8) Deadpool 2 (Movie)

I always thought the character of Deadpool was…whatever. He was fine, but not something I really gave much thought about. Then I saw the first Deadpool movie. Oh. My. Gawd. I was laughing so hard I was crying, and that was during the opening credits. The rest was even better. Then came the sequel. I don’t know what it says about me, maybe it’s the times, but I had little hope for what the sequel would bring. Sometimes it’s good to be wrong. Deadpool 2 was every bit as good as the first with the introduction of Cable (Josh Brolin...awesome) and Domino (Zazie Beetz...awesome…and gorgeous) and the rest of “X-Force.” I just watched this for a second time a couple days ago and I’m already gearing up for a third. Great action, great comedy, great thrills, oh my!


9) Marvel on Netflix (Television)

Yeah, I know, I’m totally cheating, but it’s my list and I can do whatever the hell I want, including lumping a bunch of great shows into one category. Daredevil season three was definitely the best of the four series we saw this year, but Jessica Jones was exciting, Luke Cage was consistently better than the first season, and Iron Fist miraculously rallied into something I thoroughly enjoyed after the fairly-awful first season gave one of my favorite Marvel superheroes a thousand-palms strike to the midsection. Man, I was even thoroughly stoked for the hinted at third season of Iron Fist…only to find all of the series had been canceled. WTF?!?! We’ll see what happens in the new year, but my hopes for a Heroes for Hire or Daughters of the Dragon series are probably going to be dashed.


10) Unnatural (Graphic Novel)

Whoa! Oh my. Excuse me as I fan myself, for I do believe I have the vapours. My goodness. First off: not for the kiddies and NSFW. Lordy no. Just look at the cover and you will get a hint as to why. This is a world where anthropomorphic animals run the show, and some of them—specifically the star, a pig girl named Leslie—are S-E-X-Y as hell. Leslie works a dumb job, spends time with her housemate, obsesses over sushi, and often dreams about her big, bad wolf. The problem with Leslie’s involuntary fantasy is that the totalitarian government (ugh, so much totalitarianism these days) has decreed that interspecies relationships (and homosexual relationships, for that matter) are “unnatural” and a punishable crime. Breathtaking art and colors bring to life this beautiful statement about love and the perils of oppression in a twelve-issue series from the hyper-talented Mirka Andolfo. Part social commentary and part drama with a dash of the supernatural, Unnatural is a thrilling and sexy-as-hell comic that I can’t wait to see more of in 2019. (Everythinged by Mirka Andolfo, published by Image Comics)


11) Spider-Man (PS4 Game)

Sigh. I didn’t want to do it. I really didn’t. But I know The Last of Us 2 is going to be coming out someday hopefully soon, and Best Buy was having a sale on the PS4. I bought one. For $199.99, I got a PS4 bundle that came with the new(ish) Spider-Man game and I was in no way ready for the experience. Yes, the story is great, the animation is gorgeous, and it’s mighty satisfying to web some fool to a wall before he knows what hit him, but the highlight of this game is being Spider-Man as he swings all across New York City. Man, climbing to the tippy-top of a skyscraper, leaping off into the vast sky, plummeting down countless stories only to catch yourself at the last minute with a strand of webbing before swinging to a senses-shattering leap across the park to land atop a light post before striking down some muggers?!?! Okay, beating up the muggers is fun, too. This game is pure joy and I still have so much to see and do.


12) Extremity Volume 2: Warrior (Graphic Novel)

The first volume of Extremity took my breath away in 2017 and the final, concluding volume did the same in early 2018. An odd mixture of Hayao Miyazaki’s manga Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and the film Mad Max: Fury Road, Extremity follows Thea of the Roto clan as she continues her path of bloody vengeance against a rival clan that took her family and her greatest gift. The cycle of revenge and violence will never cease unless Thea can somehow change, and change is never easy. This is the book that turned me on to Daniel Warren Johnson who is now not just one of my favorite artists, but one of my favorite writers as well. I truly hope Extremity one day gets the oversized hardcover volume it so rightfully deserves. Brutal, haunting, yet beautiful all the same. This one is a must-read, must-own series. (Everythinged by Daniel Warren Johnson, published by Image Comics)


13) Space Riders, Volume 2: Galaxy of Brutality (Graphic Novel)

Okay, Denizens, dim the lights, pop a relaxing edible, finish that glass of beer/wine before pouring yourself a fresh one, and embrace your chill. Be sure to have some prog rock playing to fully embrace the mood…before having the needle on the record scratch and sharply kick into some late-’70s/early-’80s, melt-your-face-off heavy metal as you jump forward in time while simultaneously traveling backward to four-color, cosmic COMIC CALAMITY!!! That is what reading the mindbending awesomeness of Space Riders is like, a warm, velvet-gloved hand slapping you across the face. Join Capitan Peligro and the crew of the Santa Muerte as they right the evils corrupting the galaxy. Kirby meets LSD while under a black light. You need to read volume one first, before diving in deep on this fun as hell series. Fuck, yeah! (Written by Fabian Rangel Jr., illustrated by Alexis Ziritt, published by Black Mask Comics)


14) The House of Secrets: The Bronze Age Omnibus, Volume 1 (Graphic Novel)

This massive tome was a birthday present to myself this year and I’ve been loving every one of its 860+ pages. This thing isn’t the easiest to read—it sure does weigh a lot—but it is so very worth it. With stories of horror and general creepiness from the ’70s as narrated by horror host extraordinaire Abel (of Cain and Abel fame), I have but five issues remaining until I reach the end. Of what I have read thus far, I would say that roughly 85% of the stories are great with the rest being merely good. Inside, you will find such talents as Len Wein, Bernie Wrightson, Don Heck, Jim Aparo, and so very many others. I can only hope a second volume arrives soon, but I will merrily pass the time reading the companion book The House of Mystery: The Bronze Age Omnibus, Volume 1 when it releases next week. (Written and illustrated by various, published by DC Comics)


15) Invincible Compendium, Volume 3 (Graphic Novel)

I originally read Invincible in trades but fell off the series around volume 14. No reason why. I still adored the book, I just lost track of things. Then, years later, I heard it ended and it got me remembering about what I had been missing. So, I got all three compendiums and read them back to back. Oh, my stars and garters, had I been missing out. This ultra-violent story of young Mark Grayson finally coming into his superhuman powers and becoming a superhero who has to navigate secret identities, legacies, parental baggage (which is extensive to say the least), love, duty, betrayal, and so much more, ended up being one of the best superhero sagas I have ever read, and it’s not even one of the Big Two. I will also say that the finale is one of the most satisfying endings I have ever read. Well worth reading all 144 issues from beginning to end in one fell swoop. (Written by Robert Kirkman, illustrated by Ryan Ottley and Cory Walker, published by Image Comics)


16) Black Hammer Library Edition, Volume 1 (Graphic Novel)

As a huge Jeff Lemire fan, I have to admit I definitely lagged a bit on picking this one up. I’m not sure what the holdup was, but when I finally read the first trade, I instantly understood exactly what I had been missing. Black Hammer is essentially a love letter to the comics of old that celebrates superhero/horror/mystery genres by featuring new characters who are amalgamations of the classic Marvel and DC characters we all know and love. In Black Hammer, a group of heroes is trapped in a mysterious, lone town in the country where they have to hole up and try not to be discovered by the normal townsfolk. But even after the greatest of them is killed while attempting to leave the area, some begin to grow accustomed to rural life while others will do anything to escape it. This series is one of my top five comics currently being published and I love the various spin-offs as well. When this greatly oversized volume stuffed with extra goodies was released, I knew it had to be mine. There’s a reason why this series has been optioned for both movies AND television. Take the plunge and get it, get it, get it!


17) The Venture Bros. Season 7 (Television)

Wow. It’s been a good, long while since we last heard of The Venture Bros. so imagine my surprise when I did a random search online only to find that the first new episode in years was dropping in less than two weeks. Joy. The Venture Bros. is animation gold that is 100% for adults and rightfully so—especially given the Eyes Wide Shut-esque episode that had full-frontal nudity throughout. I have been with the show for nearly fifteen years now, and I will be with it until it ends while laughing time and time again with each rewatch. For those unfamiliar, The Venture Bros. follows the Venture Family: Dr. Venture, a former “boy adventurer” and now an ethically-challenged super scientist forever overshadowed by his father’s legacy; Hank and Dean Venture, Dr. Venture’s sons who tend to get into all sorts of trouble be it lizardmen, villains, or the prospect of girls; Brock Samson, the Venture family’s murderous bodyguard; and H.E.L.P.eR., a oftentimes useless robot. The Ventures are constantly under threat from b-list villains, like the Monarch, and their endless supply of henchmen. Basically, it’s a modern, comedic twist on Jonny Quest with curse words, satire, nudity, laugh-out-loud goofiness, and a whole lot of pokes at all the pop culture I love. So very good!


18) Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Television)

I was crazy for the Afterlife with Archie comic when it came out so many years ago, and I was equally thrilled by Chilling Adventures of Sabrina when it, too, was released. I LOVED the new horror twist on Archie and was always eager for the next issue…until they stopped coming altogether. That was a few years ago. Now, we at least get somewhat of a bone thrown our direction with the Netflix release of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Although not exactly as dark and doom-ridden as the comic, the television show is an immense and welcome surprise. Everyone has their moment to shine in this series with Kiernan Shipka stealing the show. Scary, funny, touching, and thoroughly entertaining, Sabrina tends to pay homage to many of the great horror films of the past, while offering plenty of clever commentary about society and religion as the menace of Satan looms in the wings. A great Christmas special just came out to tide us over until the series returns in April 2019!


19) Deadly Class (Television)

You all know I’m a huge fan of Rick Remender and Wes Craig’s Deadly Class comic, but I was a little worried when I heard that SYFY had picked up the rights to the television show. After seeing the advance premiere of the pilot episode, it is safe to say I had absolutely nothing to worry about. The show does not pull any punches in regard to the action and violence seen in the comic and it remains set in the ’80s with a kickass soundtrack that matches the time period. Every actor perfectly encapsulates their role and although there are some minor plot changes here and there, the pilot completely rings true to the comic and does what it is supposed to do: it leaves me desperate for the next episode. Dang! Best buckle your seatbelts, this one is going to be a helluva ride.


20) Beer (Beer)

As always, let’s close out with a look at the beers that wowed me the most in 2018. Some of these will pop up year-after-year, while others make their shiny first appearance:

  • Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) (Imperial stout aged in Bourbon Barrels from Founders Brewing Co.) - Man, this one came and went too fast. At least I have two bottles left until this tried and true Donist World darling returns.
  • w00tstout 2018 (Imperial stout from Stone Brewing) - Hells yes! They put this out in six-packs! Hells no! I only got one six-pack and never found anything other than a single 22oz bomber after that. You came and went too fast w00t, much too fast.
  • Pliny the Elder (Double IPA from Russian River Brewing) - Finally. We are finally starting to see more Russian River beers here in town. I have had Pliny on draft at a tap room and bought a bottle at another. Still one of my top three beers.
  • Pump[KY]n (Imperial pumpkin porter aged in bourbon barrels from Avery Brewing Co.) - I had this one two days after my birthday while watching Avengers: Infinity War at home. It might be $14.99 for a 12oz bottle, but this baby packs an 18.6% ABV punch. Man, I love this one.
  • Spruce Tip Sculpin (IPA with spruce tips from Ballast Point Brewing Company) - Yes, I know they’re almost considered “Big Beer” because of their partial buyout, but dang if this update on the classic Sculpin isn’t all sorts of great. A perfect beer for the holidays.
  • Celebration Fresh Hop IPA (IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.) - Speaking of great holiday beers, this classic never gets old…especially since it’s about to vanish from store shelves until next year. Time to get some more.
  • Big Bad Baptista (Imperial stout from Epic Brewing Co.) - I wish I had bought a few more bottles of this super-duper stout aged in whiskey barrels with vanilla, cinnamon, Mexican coffee, and cacao nibs. Damn, this one’s good.


That wraps up this year’s roundup. If you think of anything I should be reading, watching, playing, or drinking, then please let me know. I hope you had a fantastic 2018 and I wish you all the best for 2019! Thank you for reading.



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Monday, December 24, 2018

Donist World 2018 Year-End Roundup! (Part 1)

(Sung to the tune of The Sound of Music's “My Favorite Things”)

Death by sweet hot licks and shredding hot metal
Black Barns in farmlands and cities unsettle
X-Men through history perfection sings
These are a few of my favorite things

Robots and humans at war out in deep space
Vaughan and Fiona stream tears straight down your face
Venom and the Hulk true horror they bring
These are a few of my favorite things

Geoff Johns and Gary Frank expand on a classic
That book by Tom and Mitch is freakin’ fantastic
Desperate heroes vanquishing Mud Kings
These are a few of my favorite things

Diamond misships
Then my beer spills
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

Slice of Heaven For the Year!


Happy holidays, Denizens! Oh, what a year it has been. From December 2017 until mid-November 2018, things were kind of rough for the Donist. I lost my Grandma, my uncle, my other uncle, there were fires, floods, mudslides, more fires, evacuating in the night during a 104-degree heatwave, Tulip and I were attacked by a couple of pit bulls, and all sorts of chaos that I did not want in my life, including the scourge that is the Dotard in Chief.

Thankfully, we had a few sources of light to guide us through this dark period, one of which being an unending flow of great comics. So, take this time to retreat to your bunker of deflection, that place where no invading relatives can disrupt your chill. Grab a winter warmer beer, or whip up some smooth-as-silk hot chocolate and be sure to line up some tacos (or X-Mas tamales, if you got ‘em) and have at the ready some gingerbread cookies (with the oh-so-crunchy frosting), and settle in to read about the comics that rocked our world the most throughout 2018. Then, once you’re done, create your own top ten list and let me know about your favorites if you’re so inclined. I should also mention that if you hear a pounding on your bunker door, ignore it. It’s probably just Uncle Billy Joe Jim Bob—who invited him over this year anyway?—desperately wanting to edumacate you on some sort of bullshit or other (witch hunts, the myth of climate change, the Dotard is innocent, HER emails, etc.), but the pounding should stop once he passes out; he did drink a full bottle of sweet vermouth, after all (gross). You have our permission to take some time for yourself and to take a deep calming breath before letting go of all those worries for just a little while.


***Probably NOT spoilers below***


If you have a moment, check out our past Slice of Heaven Year-End Roundups to see what’s stayed the same and what’s changed over the years. I had quite a few pleasant surprises this year, so let’s get to it!


Donist World Top 10 Favorite Comic Series of 2018 (In No Particular Order)



Descender

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, published by Image Comics)
What can I say, Descender continues to be my favorite comic year after year. But this is the final year that you will see this transcendent sci-fi series on the “Year-End Roundup.” If you are not reading this amazing series, then you might assume this is because the series has ended, that it is done, that it is terminé. Well, you are correct and wrong. Descender, the first chapter of Lemire and Nguyen’s story, has indeed ended, but the second chapter, Ascender, will begin at some point in the first half of the new year. This series has all of the right components of an epic space opera that gives me the right kind of chills: robots, giant robots, aliens, spaceships, mysterious worlds and beings, and a crew of characters I positively adore. Descender is the tale of TIM-21, a boy companion-bot who awakens after being “asleep” for 10 years to a universe that was decimated by the Harvesters, enigmatic robots the size of moons that rained down devastation before vanishing as quickly as they appeared. Robots then were deemed too dangerous to exist and scrappers rose up to capture and kill them all. But TIM-21 might hold the key to stopping the deadly Harvesters. Lemire’s story is fantastic and Nguyen’s otherworldly, watercolored artwork is a thing of pure beauty that you have to see to believe. I will definitely be rereading the six trades of this remarkable series before the eagerly anticipated Ascender arrives.


Murder Falcon

(Everythinged by Daniel Warren Johnson, published by Image Comics)
F_ yeah! I am throwing up some devil horns and banging my head to a heavy metal anthem no one else can hear as I think about this damn fine series. So. Much. Shred! Okay, okay, Murder Falcon is the story of Jake, a once up-and-coming heavy metal guitarist whose life completely fell apart after a tragedy, prompting him to give up music in its entirety. Now, he pretty much exists in a state of perpetual malaise. Unfortunately, the world is also beset by gigantic, deadly monsters but when one of these monsters threatens to kill Jake, a magical guitar appears along with a muscular, humanoid falcon with a mechanical arm: Murder Falcon. Jake and Murf (as Jake calls him) are connected and the more Jake shreds on the guitar, the stronger Murder Falcon becomes. But the monsters are getting bigger and deadlier and Jake might have to get the band back together with magical, musical instruments of their own. If this description isn’t the most out-there thing you’ve heard all week, then I’ll be a monkey’s uncle (what the hell does that phrase even mean?). I only recently discovered the oh-so-gorgeous works of Daniel Warren Johnson, and I have to say that he is now one of my all-time-favorite artists and someone I MUST figure out how to get a commission from. He’s also a freakin’ helluva writer and an impressive heavy metal guitarist to boot. I am with this series until the kick-ass end.


Venom

(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Ryan Stegman, published by Marvel Comics)
Not only is there a Marvel superhero book on my top-ten list, but a freakin’ comic starring Venom?!?! I never thought I’d see this day. I’ve always thought Venom was fine as a bad guy or good guy or whatever the hell he’s been for so many years, but it was definitely Cates’s name that grabbed my attention more than that of the character. So, even without a clue as to what came before, I gave it a try and I’m so glad I did. You don’t need to know what happened in the past, as Cates quickly lets you know that Venom (the alien symbiote) has once again bonded to Eddie Brock—the original Venom—and that despite the alien somewhat being a major factor in the destruction of Brock’s personal life, it also allows him to lead a somewhat superheroic life and the two are forever entwined. But the situation becomes dire as a cosmic god of the symbiotes awakens an ancient creature previously trapped on Earth, and Venom will be forced into a fight for the fate of their world. Cates is another creator I recently discovered and one whose entire catalog of work I am attempting to track down. Cates weaves a story that is part redemption, part superhero, part horror while Stegman gives us some of the most spectacular action sequences blended with a solid storytelling prowess to give us one of the most thrilling titles Marvel currently has to offer. These creators have made me a believer. Check out the first trade.


Mister Miracle

(Written by Tom King, illustrated by Mitch Gerads, published by DC Comics)
Mister Miracle began in 2017 and recently concluded in what has been a fascinating take on this B-list superhero/New God. Even if I decided to tell you how this series ended, I would definitely have to think on it for a bit, as the creators gave us much to ponder. What I will tell you is that the series begins after Scott Free, Mister Miracle, has failed at a suicide attempt. His wife and fellow superhero/New God, Big Barda, is the one who finds Scott and the two have to move on from there. The series deftly juggles topics of life and death, hope and despair, family obligations, duty, dysfunctional families, war, politics, careers, fate, and so much more. Gerads beautifully illustrates the entire series in a nine-panel grid format and at times adds a mysterious visual effect that continuously reminds readers that something is not quite right in Scott Free’s world. I was captivated by Mister Miracle from beginning to end and it is no wonder that it was one of this year’s critically-acclaimed darlings. Oh, my stars and garters. This one was a trip and a half to read and one I eagerly await rereading in a solid 12-issue chunk. Let’s hope we one day get a hardcover collection for this masterwork from King and Gerads.


Saga

(Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, published by Image Comics)
Oh, for the love of…I’m pissed. I am so pissed! Not because the creators have opted to take at least a year off for a hiatus after the completion of the ninth story arc (nine trades are now available to read). No, that’s not what’s got me in a tizzy. I am upset because of what the creators have done to one or more characters in the final issue of said story arc. You DON’T do that to ______ and ______. It’s mean, it’s cruel, it breaks my freaking heart, it makes sense to the story, it’s been hinted at since the beginning, it’s…dammit! It’s what had to happen. Yes, I know that, but…arrrrgh…it still hurts! This is what reading Saga is like. You positively love and adore these characters. They become family, even as you watch them make incredibly bad decisions, you still love and wish them the best. Sometimes, Vaughan and Staples have you crying because you are laughing so hard (Fard), or crying because you are made so uncomfortable and grossed out (the dragon), or just plain crying because a very real tragedy strikes. The thing about this series is that the creators instill this emotional investment in their comic beginning in the first issue and that feeling carries through to issue #54. The combination of Vaughan’s honest and heartfelt scripting and Staples’s gorgeous painting—I still can’t figure out how she actually pulls off the imagery found in this amazing title—roped me in years ago, and although I know the future will hold plenty more heartache I cannot see this fine book not being in my life. I can’t wait for its return.


X-Men Grand Design: Second Genesis

(Everythinged by Ed Piskor, published by Marvel Comics)
Things that surprised me about X-Men Grand Design: that Marvel allowed it to be made in the first place; that Piskor is able to take decade after decade of convoluted material that is at times contradictory and that is cherished by its fans and refine it all down into what will eventually be six oversized issues; and that Marvel would give Piskor full control over every aspect of the book right down to the quality paper stock. The thing is…this book works on every imaginable level. The textured, artificially aged look of this impeccably designed and produced book lets you know you have something different the second you crack open the cover. But once inside, you see that Piskor knows his subject matter, that he has every panel of every page plotted out to an obsessive degree. He widdles down 100s of issues into one and the story makes sense and keeps you thoroughly enthralled. Then you have his masterful illustrations that perfectly blend the Indy style those familiar with his Hip Hop Family Tree have come to love with flat-colored, Bronze Age, superhero glory. One small thing that means the world to me is when Piskor brings in solid white for certain characters (Iceman) and special moments (explosions) that show the power of using piercing white at just the right time. The final two issues are coming out in 2019, and I will eagerly be awaiting their release. Two oversized collections are out that demand to be placed on your most prized shelf.


The Immortal Hulk

(Written by Al Ewing, illustrated by Joe Bennett, published by Marvel Comics)
Three Marvel books on my top-ten list?!?! I’m as shocked as you are, but it’s totally deserved; this isn’t even considering a trade or two I’ll be looking at in part 2. I will say that it was the premise that originally lured me in on the first issue. Think of it this way: what if you take the Hulk, make him an unkillable force of nature that seeks to stop evil permanently, and thus morph the tone of this widely-known character into a superhero horror book? There was no way I could resist. I honestly expected this series to be a train wreck that I would have abandoned after the first issue, but Ewing completely pulled me in as the Hulk sought revenge against a normal person on behalf of a normal person who could not seek justice on their own. It’s a dark issue but I had to see this bad guy brought low and see it we did. Bennett knows when to come in close to shock the reader and when to pull out wide to continue shocking the reader, all the while delivering the drama and excellent storytelling to keep you from being able to turn away. The other stories thus far push the scary and unnerving angle ever further and The Immortal Hulk shines for it. My only nitpick is that I would rather see superhero guest appearances kept to a minimum and the focus kept on one or two-issue story arcs—with a broader story building in the background, of course—and keep the focus on Banner and the Hulk, while keeping a rich, unsettling feeling looming throughout. There’s a very good reason everyone is raving about this book, and you can leap in with the first trade.


Seven to Eternity

(Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Jerome Opeña, published by Image Comics)
I’ve been in love with Seven to Eternity since its release in 2016. A strange, new world of magic where a single person seeks to control it all as a lone family refuses to bend the knee and side with this so-called Mud King, this God of Whispers. Then there’s the dwindling group of beings in possession of great abilities seeking to thwart the tyrant in a last-ditch effort to free everyone from the Mud King’s influence. This was not all. It’s also written by my hero, Rick Remender, and so gorgeously illustrated by Jerome Opeña, who gives as much intimate detail to the background as he does to his stunning character designs with every page being something truly spectacular to behold. Seven to Eternity was everything I could ever want in a comic. Then the delays came and we waited almost a year for the next issue to arrive, which happened in August of 2018. I was bummed about it up until the time I cracked the cover and saw Opeña’s lovely art and I remembered (mostly) why I love this book so much. I need a reread as soon as possible and you should check out the first two trade when you can.


Gideon Falls

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, published by Image Comics)
Lemire and Sorrentino, the same creators who brought The Green Arrow and Old Man Logan to life, join together to bring a comic series that is like a more horror-tinged Twin Peaks. A couple issues in and it was optioned for television after a bidding war. What more do you need to know? Gideon Falls tells the tale of a priest with a mysterious past coming to live in a small town that has been plagued throughout history by the occasional appearance of a Black Barn that brings death and despair. However, in the city, a presumably mentally ill man scours the area’s trash for fragments of the Black Barn, which has appeared and disappeared there as well, but when his psychotherapist also begins to see things, the pair begins to seek answers. All will converge as the madness grows and the Black Barn slides into view. Phew! I will warn that you need to be ready to tackle this one as it is definitely a cerebral journey that will leave you reeling in its wake. That’s why I’m thrilled to reread all the available issues back to back to see what clues or patterns I can find in this bizarre and engrossing psychological thriller. There’s currently only one trade available to catch up on, which you should definitely do.



Doomsday Clock

(Written by Geoff Johns, illustrated by Gary Frank, published by DC Comics)
Yeah, there’s been a bit of a delay between issues, but I am still loving this follow up to Alan Moore’s seminal work Watchmen. Doomsday Clock is also a bridge of the heroes of the DCU and those of Watchmen’s universe, which sounds kind of…not appealing…at first, but then you have to take into account the creators involved. Both the narrative and the visuals flow very well from the inspiring work and although the premise might seem a little hokey at first, rest assured it is not. The DCU is in shambles as Superman, Batman, and the other surviving heroes find the world on the brink of nuclear war with an ever-increasing blame being shifted towards the heroes. Sound somewhat familiar to Watchmen. This is by design. Throughout the eight available issues thus far, we jump around from Rorschach to Batman to Ozymandias to Superman and back while being introduced to two of the coolest new villains I have ever seen: Marionette and the Mime. I won’t lie, this one is bleak, but it is definitely thrilling and despite what the naysayers say, many of whom probably haven’t even given this maxiseries a try, I am loving every page of it. I have no idea how Johns and Frank intend to bring it all home in the final four issues, but I do know I can’t wait to see how it all plays out. I’m 100% in.


But wait, I’m sure there's more...


I'm sure there are plenty of other comics I somehow forgot to mention or have not yet bought or read in 2018. If there are any glaring omissions, please let me know. There's plenty of room at the Donist World corporate offices for more comics and...hold on a sec...actually, Amy the intern (my wife) has corrected me and said that "No, there is not plenty of room here." <psssttt...hey denizens, let me know anyways. I can totally sneak more comics in on the down low. Just let me know. We can do this…>

Stay tuned next week for the “Donist World 2018 Year-End Roundup! (Part 2)”



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