Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 4/18/2014

(Sung to the tune of Husker Du’s “Ever Fallen In Love With Someone”)

Got burned on my comic book pull list
A month gone, I must assert
That I’m sad
Missed The Sixth Gun I was pissed
Undertow, too, but now they’re here
Now I’m glad

Oh man, have you ever read Batman?
I say, have you ever read?
Have you read Batman?
I say, have you ever read?
Have you read Batman?
You really must pick up a copy


Welcome to Donist World! I'm joined as ever by Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and by our marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/convention optimization specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). <pssst> Come over here for a second, denizens, where the dogs won't be able to hear. This week Amy the Donist World intern—aka my wife—and I are off to Wondercon, but there is a slight problem. Obie and Tulip know about the convention, and they are under the assumption that they are going with us. Oops. Why do I think this? Well, Tulip is currently dressed as Jake the Dog from Adventure Time, and Obie is dressed as…actually, I have no idea what Obie is supposed to be. He’s wearing what looks to be a shoebox that has been painted silver with two strips of black tape going lengthwise down the top. I think he’s supposed to be a toaster. If that is the case, then it is a brilliant inside joke on the Battlestar Galactica cylons. If not, then he is actually a toaster, which leads me to think that all of those business-based, self-help seminars he has been attending to solidify our standing as a Fortune 320,000 company has not only turned him into a toaster, but a corporate robot. Anyhow, they're going to be miffed once they realize that dogs are not allowed in the convention center, and that Amy and I have snuck out of the house to attend Wondercon. Oh boy, we’ll just have to deal with the fallout when we get back. In the meantime…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***


The Sixth Gun #39
The Sixth Gun #39 - Written by Cullen Bunn, Illustrated by Brian Hurtt, colored by Bill Crabtree, lettered by Crank!, designed by Keith Wood, edited by Charlie Chu, published by Oni Press. I’m tempted to say good things come to those who wait, but that is not the case with this issue of The Sixth Gun. Instead, I will say that awesome things come to those who wait. I believe this issue came out a month ago, and I have been bummed out each and every week I was told my copy had still not arrived…well, let’s just say Tulip and Obie were also not pleased. As annoying as the delay was, after the insane action of this issue, I am thrilled I only need to wait a couple weeks for the concluding issue of the “Not the Bullet, But the Fall” storyline to arrive; that is unless my LCS gets mis-shipped again.
Griselda the Grey Witch’s minions continue their siege upon Drake Sinclair, Becky Montcrief, and their companions. The sad truth is that evil is winning. One hero fell, one turned against his friends, another was captured, while another was wounded. Now, Jesup holds one of the six mystical guns, and is in hot pursuit of the rest, and the situation is only going to get worse; it does. As the remnants of Drake’s crew battle Griselda’s snake men, a true hero buys his friends the chance they need to escape. Meanwhile, if the Knights of Solomon cannot find the Grey Witch, they at least know where she will eventually end up.
Mein Gott, denizens! I feel like I opened this issue and finished it seconds later. I’m not suggesting this issue is shorter than it should be, or that it is lacking in substance. Not at all. This issue was so exciting and well-paced that I could not put it down. Boy howdy was the action intense. I’m also now upset with the creators for taking away yet another great character who I loved, especially after that character whupped so much a$$ in this issue. Okay…I'm not really mad at the creators, for they took a relatively new character and had me groovin’ on him since his introduction a few issues ago. As for getting my hate on…man, do I hate the bad guy in this issue <grrrrr>; I hope he gets what’s coming to him.
Hurtt’s art is as great as ever, only when we get to the action scenes, something changes and the insanity that had me fervently whipping through the pages kicks in. One page in particular is stunning as the villain holds the hero by the neck, then tosses the hero, who then in the final panel lands on his feet as he slides to a standstill. Keep in mind that we are talking about static images and the strength of implied motion via Hurtt’s wonderful storytelling truly shines; it’s something to behold. Dang, denizens, I’m still kind of shaken by everything that went down in this issue, which is the sign of a great comic.
The Sixth Gun is fantastic and has been since issue one. As much as I don't want to see my favorite characters die, the need to see what happens next is so overwhelming that I cannot wait to get my hands on the next issue—it sure as heck better not be late. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Batman #30
Batman #30 - Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Greg Capullo, inked by Danny Miki, colored by FCO Plascencia, lettered by Steve Wands, published by DC Comics. Confession: I don't really remember what the heck happened to Batman after the last issue. Luckily, all I had to do was reach toward the towering mountain of “read” comics, sort through them all and find out that Batman had defeated Dr. Death (the gross bone guy), but that the Riddler had taken Gotham. The weather balloon was but a decoy that began to explode before being hit by lightning. After all of the exciting battlin’ last month, it’s no wonder I missed that little detail, but I'm glad I went back as things kick off with a bang.
Bruce Wayne has been unconscious for a while after the Riddler had played him like a fine-tuned piano. He awakens to the sight of a cockroach infested apartment—and the sight of what will be a future symbol in the bat family—hooked to an I.V., and talking to a kid about the new Gotham that the Riddler has created. The criminal mastermind has sealed off Gotham from the rest of the world, and promises to keep the city in lockdown unless someone can stump him with a riddle. No one has won. In fact, if the Riddler guesses correctly, then that person's life is forfeit; needless to say, there few takers for the diabolical game. Luckily, Batman is back and dressed in a manner we have not seen since issue 21.
I might have forgotten what had happened last issue—it’s been a crazy month—but I was easily able to get back on track and on board with a Gotham gone wild, the overgrown wasteland that was promised so long ago. We also get to see Batman without all of his nifty technology and gadgetry and a makeshift costume. As much as I enjoyed the ”Red Hood” story, this is the one I have been wanting to see. On the page six and seven double-page splash, we see Bruce drawing the blinds to reveal a dilapidated and overgrown Gotham, with one key untouched building: the one with the giant purple and green question mark brandished for all to see. Snyder does a great job of making it seem like the Batman has been away for a while through each of his interactions with the key players in this story. Towards the end of the book, we also see him reuniting with Jim Gordon and we are reminded of the wonderful role these two play in each others lives. This is just the beginning of whatever madness Snyder intends to unleash over the course of the year. I can’t wait.
Capullo's art is, of course, outstanding as the issue focuses predominantly on the drama of people existing in the Riddler’s Gotham held captive. Again, though, I have to return to that gorgeous double-page spread that is jaw dropping once Plascencia applies the colors.
So, Batman, continues to be one of the two DC proper books I continue to buy on a monthly basis—the other being Swamp Thingand is one that I greatly anticipate reading from issue to issue. With the second half of the ”Zero Year” storyline kicking off, I am more than excited to see how things all play out. If you aren’t already reading Snyder and Capullo’s Batman, then you have made a grievous error, but with this issue you can safely jump in and figure out what is going one; I also bet that you will go back and pick up all the issues/trades you’ve missed in between. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Undertow #2
Undertow #2 - Written by Steve Orlando, illustrated by Artyom Trakhanov, lettered/designed by Thomas Mauer, published by Image Comics. This is the other title that shipped almost a month ago, and that I finally picked up this week. Looking on the bright side, that means I only have a week or so to wait until issue three…that is unless shipments go awry again. <pffftt> whatever. Anyhow, this is the book with the premise that makes me go I wish I thought of that, and it continues the fascinating journey of mer-people breaking from the norm to explore the deadly perils of land as they search for the ”amphibian,” an Atlantean who holds the secret to breathing air.
While the famed Anshargal and his team are away on their mission to find the amphibian, some of the crew of his ship have the stirrings of mutiny. Anshargal, on the other hand, is luckily unaware of the problems back aboard the ship, as his crew clash with a deadly sea locust. The encounter does not go well. As trouble brews back home, Anshargal’s problems have only begun as he and what remains of his crew prepare for a new encounter.
The second issue of Undertow is still a blast and reminds me of a colored version of the Warren Magazine tales of my youth…and what glorious colors they are. The pages in this issue are truly stunning to behold, and the jump from complementary to analogous to monochromatic color schemes depending on the mood of the scene, drives home just how striking the imagery can be. The story continues to be a fascinating journey into the mysteries of a world we are already familiar with, but from an entirely new point of view.
It will be interesting to see where Orlando and Trakhanov’s story goes and the good thing is that my wait to read the next issue will not be a long one. Undertow is a unique, pulpy, sci-fi story worth taking time to appreciate. Best to jump on now at this early stage. RECOMMENDED!


Green Lantern:
The Animated Series
Green Lantern: The Animated Series - Wow! Here I thought I would watch a couple episodes of this one—and regrettably only—season of this show, and the next thing I know I watched the entire 26 episodes over the course of two weeks. The show recently popped up on Netflix, and I'm not going to really get into it, but it is one of the best animated shows I have ever seen. Beautiful graphics, fantastic voice acting, a familiar yet different take on the Green Lantern story, and characters (old and new) who I instantly fell in love with. It is simply a phenomenal show. I am so irked that the powers that be struck down a second season because of the flop that was the Green Lantern movie—which I hated—and now we don’t get to see the next stage of the show, which probably would have gone into Black Lantern territory. Don't let the fact that this amazing show only received one season prevent you from checking it out, as I am convinced that once you watch the first two or three episodes, you will be drawn in until the end. Now I need to buy the blu-ray. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

No Negativity This Week - We’re off to Wondercon, so let’s not be negative. Sure things have been crazy busy with my rapidly ending graphic design courses, so I'm looking forward to the mini vacation, and I expect to kick into my writing even more in the coming weeks. Look for some changes to Donist World coming soon. Take care.


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Monday, April 14, 2014

Micronauts Monday 4/14/2014

Hey there, Donist World denizens. Welcome back to Micronauts Monday, where I talk about my longtime favorite comic book series The Micronauts. You'll get a summary of the issue, my remembered reaction/experience with the comic book as a kid, and my thoughts as an adult after rereading the issues over the past week. The Micronauts is the book that introduced me to the wonderful world of comic book addiction. The sad thing about this amazing series is--as I explained in the first post here--is that if you haven't read the comics, doing so is going to be a bit of a hunt, since reprinting rights are firmly wedged into a Prometheus Pit of a printing-rights purgatory. But don't despair, it can be done, you can find them. Mycomicshop.com has most of the main series for a fairly inexpensive price. If you want to dip your toe into the glory that is the Microverse before committing to a hunt for individual issues, then you could also check out the five "Special Editions," which I believe had two or three issues included in each. Or, better yet, if you have an opportunity to do some longbox diving into the $.50-$1.00 bins at your LCS, then I'm sure you can find many issues there. My only caution here is that the story has a tremendous narrative that builds over the course of the series, one that deserves to be read in order, but that said, any Micronauts is good Micronauts! 

Remember last week when I told you things were about to get kind of weird in the Microverse? Well, yeah, things are about to get weird over the next three issues, but the story's building to some great things, which you can easily guess to be a reunion of the Micronauts, and their inevitable confrontation with the inhuman King Argon. We have to get to that point first, however, as Commander Rann, and what is left of his crew, make a shocking discovery. So, denizens, set your trusty rocketlance in the corner (carefully!), grab a cup of coffee, and check out these three issues before you return to the anti-Argon rebellion.

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***


The Micronauts #46
The Micronauts # 46 - Written by Bill Mantlo, art by Luke McDonnell and Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Janice Chiang, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. When last we saw the Earth-trapped half of our heroes—Commander Rann, Devil, Microtron and Nanotron—they had barely managed to escape the clutches of the sinister X-Men foe, Arcade. Now, as Arcade's sea platform sinks into the ocean, Rann's glider provides him safety, but the fire-scorched Devil has once again gone feral, and the two roboids (a synthesis of organics and machinery) look to sink like rocks and drown. It's a hopeless situation, but there is land in the distance. When they make it to the island and find the mysterious, diminuitive, orange-skinned inhabitants, will they wish they sank beneath the waves after all? Meanwhile, Princess Mari has barely survived the battle with her evil brother, the mind swapped Slug and Belladonna work together as Slug tells her tragic past, and Bug and Acroyear stalk into the dreaded Pleasure Pits to rescue a imprisoned ally.
Young Donist - (My thoughts at some point in '83 or '84.) Devil needs to stop acting like this. He's gonna get everyone—well, half of everyone—killed! I totally like his black fur look, though. I wonder if that is why Devil's fur is black on issue 35. Huh? Anyhow,  I miss the happy Devil I came to know and love. Why is Mari not bleeding from being stabbed by King Argon's energy sword that he grew from his own body? What I do know is that seeing her deal with that gnarly fall is awesome…I wish I could marry someone like her when I'm older. Whoa! Slug is almost naked! I want to marry someone like Slug, too! Bug and Acroyear—my two favorites—have rescued Prince Argon? YES! But I wish they showed more of this than the 13 pages of Commander Rann gliding around the ocean and being bummed out. The orange weirdos look better on the cover than they do inside the comic for some reason, but they still really freak me out. Not my favorite issue—except for the parts with Mari, Bug and Acroyear—but I will say this comic is RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - I liked this issue much more now than I did in my younger days, although I still would have preferred to see the Rann and crew pages, the ones where they are flying over the ocean, streamlined a bit more. I am still confused as to why Mari was not bleeding after Argon had stabbed her last issue, but I guess those energy blades are like being stabbed with electricity…but  if that is the case, then how come he was blocking Mari’s steel blades with those things, so…ack…best not to overthink it. I did find the brief one-pager of Slug’s origins interesting, but more than that, utterly horrifying. I’ve been wanting more of her story, but now that I have it, it’s one of those things where maybe not knowing is the better deal. You'll have to read it yourself, but just know that Baron Karza was a monster, and now it looks like Argon is nearly ready to fill his exceptionally-high boots. Seeing Bug and Acroyear rescue Pharoid still makes me cheer, and all I can say is “Get that boy his star scepter!”
Although I wanted less of Rann flying over the ocean, once he gets to the island with the mouthless, bug-eyed, big-brained, orange fellas, I felt this mounting sense of uneasiness and was completely creeped out by them in the best of ways. Just watching these things carrying the unconscious Commander Rann—man, that dude spends A LOT of time unconscious in this series—and laying him in his old hybernation couch, which is effectively a coffin is bone chilling. I'm not sure where Gil Kane went on this title, but the new art is fine, although the style does change from page to page, which is a tad distracting. I still do not like how crude these orange guys look within the comic when compared to how they look on the tremendous wrap-around cover. Despite the art inconsistencies, the Microverse portions of the story, and the Warren Magazine-esque tone of the portions with the orange creatures left me enjoying this issue much more than I did as a kid. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


The Micronauts #46
The Micronauts # 47 - Written by Bill Mantlo, art by Mike Vosburg and Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Jim Novak, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. When we last saw Microtron and Nanotron, they were sinking below the ocean's surface. Now, because of their organic parts, they are at risk of drowning; that is if the terrors of the sea don't kill them first. As all hope seems lost, they find something…unexpected. Meanwhile, Rann’s orange-skinned saviors are far more bizarre than he could have ever imagined. Not only did they originate from the Microverse, but they had met Rann many centuries ago when he roamed the shrunken galaxy as the Time Traveler. Now, these former humans who were transformed upon breaching the spacewall see Rann as a god. Back in the Microverse, Bug, Acroyear, and the battered wreck that is Prince Pharoid face off, once again, against the Death Squad (it’s on the cover), but the battle is not going well. Belladonna and Slug find Pharoid’s star scepter, Mari encounters an old foe as she attempts to destroy Argon’s weather tower, and Devil has survived and is more savage than ever.
Young Donist - This issue kind of blew my mind. What Microtron and Nanotron find on the ocean floor is insane, but cool, and I am liking the look of these orange guys far more than I was last issue. Getting a glimpse into what these Time Traveler worshippers do to feed is terrifying, but really cool. Seeing the Death Squad battle caused me to melt in the awesomeness of those few pages, and left me desperately wishing for toys of each character so I could recreate the entire fight. I was, however, disappointed that Pharoid, after being imprisoned, beaten, and tortured, pulled himself together enough to grab his star scepter and…nothing. Pharoid gets no payback or even a solitary cool moment to get even. That said, I remember giving a hearty "YES!" at seeing Mari's opposition, and the scene with Devil getting taken down by one of the psionic vampires was just brutal. That final panel, though, I could not wait for the next issue. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - This issue is every bit as good as I remembered. The psionic vampires idolatry of Rann—or rather the Time Traveler—is just creepy, and the recounting of their origins is fascinating, but seeing these Micronaut-sized creatures consume that crash-landed pilot…<brrrrr>. The fight with the Death Squad is still a ton of fun, and Lobros is just disgusting, but I am still bummed that Pharoid does not even get a brief moment to shine. As for Mari and the character-I-am-intentionally-not-naming meeting for one panel made me desperate to get to the next issue. The psionic vampires feeding on Devil is a horrible, but well-played, moment that recaptures what I loved about the character, and then quickly turned that against him; but that is okay. I don't exactly remember what happens to Devil after this, but I sure as heck want to get to the next issue. As for that final panel...boy howdy! Bring it on!
With this issue, we get the horror, the weird sci-fi, the action, and the drama. Since The Micronauts went to a solely direct market distribution model, things have been a little rough in regard to the consistency of the illustrations and the story itself, but over the past two issues, Mantlo and his artists have once again found their footing and returned the series to that which I love: an unparalleled sci-fi space opera. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


The Micronauts #48
The Micronauts # 48 - Written by Bill Mantlo, pencilled by Butch Guice, embellished (inked?) by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Jim Novak, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. No spoilers here, as it is clear as day on the cover…Biotron is back. Sort of at least, because he is as big as a spaceship. As Devil lies dying after having most of his life force drained by the Soul Survivors (psionic vampires), a confused Commander Rann enters the enormous ship that wears the shape of his friend Biotron. He then converses with the Biotron ships’s brain—yes, an actual giant brain. Back in the Microverse, although Acroyear has been captured, he is not going back to the Pleasure Pits easily, but when Bug and Pharoid’s lives are at risk, he surrenders and the dog soldiers melt his armor off his body. The mind-swapped Belladonna and Slug, armed with the mighty-but-currently-powerless star scepter, attempt to restore themselves to their rightful bodies, as Princess Mari fights against a dreadfully powerful foe. Will Commander Rann be able to give himself over to this Biotron impersonator so he can travel back to the Microverse, and what of the sinister stowaway lurking in the bowels of the ship.
Young Donist - *gasp!* I could not believe that the bad guys were actually able to get Acroyear out of his armor. Yeah, the guy is tough, but without his armor?! Dang. Mari’s fight at the weather control tower was just unbelievably cool. Here she is, totally outmatched, yet she continues to press on and in the end it is her quick thinking that will keep her alive. Her offer to her adversary is a possibility that I hoped-hoped-hoped would come to pass—spoiler alert, it will, but you'll have to wait to find out what I'm talking about. The moments with Commander Rann talking to the Biotron ship ran a bit long for me, and I hate his new look…absolutely hate it. Thankfully, the Micronauts who were stranded on Earth are on their way back to the Microverse, and I can't wait for them to get there. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - I feel almost exactly the same about this issue as Young Donist. The key difference is that I am a bit more forgiving of the Commander Rann and Biotron discussion. Also, Butch Guice, holy cow. Those fight scenes between Acroyear and the Death Squad are freakin’ gorgeous. Man! In fact, it’s the entire book that looks just stunning. I forgot that Guice took over art for a while on this title, and I can easily say that he is right up there with Michael Golden and Pat Broderick as the most important artist to ever put pencil to page on this series. The Mari versus *not sayin’* fight consists of four stunning pages I wish I could see hanging side-by-side on my wall, but maybe it is best I don't have those original pages, because I’d never leave the house—I’d just stand there staring at them all day. That said, and not Guice’s fault, I still hate Rann’s new look; yuckers. But that is just a minor quibble as my much-loved characters are poised to reunite. The only other thing I can say is that I know what I’m going to be reading tonight. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Oh boy. Oh boy. Next week, I'll be looking at issues 49, 50 and probably 51 (I’ll be at Wondercon that weekend, so not sure if I can talk about three books or not). Issue 50 (or was it issue 52?) is the first issue of the comic that I picked up following issue 37 when The Micronauts went to a direct market distribution model. Regardless of which issue it was, you just need to know that issue 50 is another one of those “Big Time” events in the Microverse that solidified this amazing series as one of my all-time-favorite comic books. If I remember correctly, issue 50 is right up there with issues 11, 28, and 35 as shining examples of how a not-as-popular super hero title can achieve levels of greatness. I truly hope issue 50 holds up, but I have a sneaking suspicion I will not be disappointed. Thank you for reading and see you next week.


While writing this entry, I listened to a Spotify.com radio channel of primarily instrumental ambient music. Two songs of note were Yppah's song “Never Mess With Sunday” from the album Eighty One and Ulrich Schnauss’s song  “A Letter From Home” from the album A Strangely Isolated Place. Each are perfect for writing and worth checking out.


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Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 4/11/2014

(Sung to the tune of ABBA’s “Angeleyes”)

Keep thinking ’bout that Private Eye
I keep thinking, a-aah

Last night, I strolled into my store to buy my comics
And I saw that my pull had only one book
And the look I gave the owner was of sadness
’Cause the norm has been way more books than on that day
Then I saw that the book was the killer East of West, I have to say
“Ah-ha-ha, everything’s gonna be okay”

Have you read The Private Eye
One read and you’re hypnotized
But let's journey back
And see Marshal Law’s worth the price



Hello there Donist World denizens, I'm joined by Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and by our marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/anger management specialist Tulip. The puppies ain’t talking to me this week, denizens. It’s a sad thing, but just amongst all of us, their anger and stubbornness has given Donist World headquarters (my mom’s basement) some much needed quiet time. In fact, I’ve been able to get a TON of work done because of it. Heck, I don't remember the last time I was ever so productive. To answer your question as to why Tulip and Obie are pissed off at me, it’s quite simple: Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Even though they both know that dogs are not allowed in the movie theater—regardless of their executive-level positions at Donist World, or their dedication to comic book awesomeness—they still blame me for not “going that extra mile,” or for not “taking one for the team.” I would normally feel bad, but hey…Cap 2 was freakin’ awesome! They are also upset about our missing copies of the latest The Sixth Gun and Undertow, neither of which are my fault, but if my executive team wishes to be a couple of poopy heads, then that is fine with me. So, with all of this quiet time, I’m going to take advantage of this temporary moment and look into some new ventures: start my memoirs, write my biography, or maybe take up making jewelry, or something. Besides the silence, it was an incredibly slow week in regards to books in my pull; there was only one. In the meantime, take a peek at…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below

The Private Eye #6
The Private Eye #6 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Marcos Martin, colored by Muntsa Vicente, published by Panel Syndicate. I believe I made a huge mistake, denizens. Actually, I know I did. I neglected to talk about The Private Eye #5 back when it came out. Spoiler alert...it, like each of the issues that came before, was VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! If you are a fan of Saga, or Y The Last Man, then there is no reason to miss this digital-only work by Vaughan. If Vaughan's name is not enough to pull you in, then how about the business model behind this series? The Private Eye is 100% creator owned and is on a pay-what-you-want-even-if-that-amount-is-nothing model. From the outset, Vaughan and Martin have said that they would release the first few issues, and then if contributions did not match expenses they would halt the book. In the letters column of this issue, Vaughan states that money brought in on issue five was so encouraging that he can easily see this story running its 10-issue course. That, denizens, is not just good news, its ridonkulously good news, as The Private Eye is a fantastic read, set in a future that could possibly happen, especially given the hush-hush SSL breach that just went down. So, try an issue or two for free, and then go back and contribute once you see how well-crafted and freakin’ amazing this series is. Heck, I gave them $3.50 for this issue, which is what most Image physical books go for nowadays.
P.I.’s buddy, Melanie, ain’t doin’ so hot. After the horrific car accident back in issue 4, P.I. and Raveena were fairly banged up, but Mel was put in a coma and just awakened with an acute case of almost-got-my-ass-killed-itis. Mel’s a wreck, and to make matters worse, the press (what the police have become) is snooping around, asking questions about what Mel was doing immediately after a dead woman’s confidential search history was stolen. The dead woman is Taj, Raveena’s sister, and it was in fact P.I. and Raveena who stole the information, with Mel as the getaway driver. Unfortunately for Mel, Taj’s murderer, a mysterious man known as Daguerre, has sent a pair of murderous French twins out to grab her to use as leverage against P.I., who is closing in on Daguerre's ultimate mission: to bring back the internet.
I'm about a week behind on this review, but here's the thing...I have a difficult time keeping track of my digital purchases. This is only compounded when I look at the leaning tower of comics and graphic novels I have looming dangerously above me. In fact, I have a virtual ton of digital comics I purchased a while ago, and I just forget about them. This is...odd...as I'm preparing to take my own works digital, but here’s the thing: this negligence does not extend to The Private Eye. Yes I forgot to review issue five and I'm getting to issue six a week late, but I read each as soon as they were released, which is not the case for many other digital comics I am excited to read, but see get pushed aside for the physical deal; nothing beats the feel of a gloriously presented comic/trade that you can hold in your hands. 
As for the content of the comic—do I really need to say anything more? It’s Brian K. Vaughan, by golly. You’re going to get a solid story set in a fascinating, yet terrifyingly possible, world. You have great characters, and Martin displays amazing character/world designs, and a strong storytelling sense that will lead you from the first panel through to the last with nary a moment to catch your breath. 
The Private Eye is a creator-owned experiment gone right in that those who actually made the comic are the ones directly benefiting from their hard work. They are the first ones paid, as opposed to the last ones, and no one is taking a “bite” out of their efforts. You can also visit their site at www.panelsyndicate.com and pick up the first five issues—plus bonus material—in one fell swoop as a “trade," all for the price of whatever-the-hell-you-want. You need this book, denizens, not just because it is a Donist World darling, or because it is a wonderful story with beautiful art, or because it directly supports the creators, but also because—given the current SSL breach—Vaughan might have actually predicted the future, which is a terrifying concept to say the least. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


East of West #11
East of West #11 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics. Before I get into anything about this book, I just need to say that this is one heck of a gorgeous cover. Yes, I am desperate to know about Crow, but everything involved in the design of this one-color cover—I believe it is different tints of the darkest purple—just grabs me. Couple that with the off-kilter logo design, the strategic use of white space and the information (creators, issue number, price, and blurb) on the left makes this cover stand out amidst everything else on the stand. That said, Crow, unfortunately, does not appear anywhere within this issue. Still, this month’s East of West is worth reading, and it comes complete with yet more nightmare-inducing imagery involving eyes. <shudder>
Xiaolian, Death's wife, is on the move and preparing to take on the Chosen— those who have received “the Message” and who currently work with three of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Xiaolian goes to meet those who rule the world at a neutral location known as the Wall. As the Union, the Kingdom, the PRA, the Texas Republic, and the Confederacy all meet, along with the until now unseen Endless Nation, the world holds its collective breath over what might transpire. 
Not much happens in this issue...but that is okay. As I have said since the beginning, Hickman and Dragotta are in this story for the long haul, and each intricately planned storyline, character and event has a purpose. This issue appears to be the calm before the chaos, as we focus primarily on the Chosen, with not a hint of Death, the horse beast, Crow or Wolf, or mention of the killing that occurred last issue. What you mostly see is beautiful character acting and political intrigue; the action will come later. 
East of West is still one of the best books to come out of Image (of which there are many ridiculously good books) and is one I look forward to each month. Although this issue is mostly setup for what is to come, it is still a fascinating read and the series is one that commands your attention. The second trade was just released, making this smart, complex series something you can binge read to immerse yourself within this bleak world. RECOMMENDED!


Flashback Friday:
Pinhead Vs. Marshall Law:
Law In Hell #1 & 2
Pinhead Vs. Marshal Law: Law In Hell #1 & 2 - Written by Pat Mills, illustrated by Kevin O'Neill, colored by Steve Buccellato, lettered by Janice Chiang, published by Epic Comics, formerly a Marvel Comics imprint. Back in mid-2013, I received the Marshal Law: The Deluxe Edition HC (DC Comics) and I rejoiced. Marshal Law was a series that Young Donist absolutely loved back at its introduction, and the chance to own most of the series in a hardcover edition was something I could not pass up. The key word in the previous sentence is “most.” The hardcover edition contained everything but three crossover mini-series that featured our surly hero meeting Pinhead (from the Hellraiser films/comics), the Savage Dragon, and finally the Mask. My guess is that reprinting those stories would have been a logistical and licensing nightmare, so DC just didn’t trouble themselves, which is understandable, as reining in BOOM, Dark Horse and Image sounds…complicated. Anyhow, if you have a moment, check out my reviews of the individual series that make up the hardcover (start at the bottom and move up), and you’ll come away with my feelings at the time Marshal Law was being released, and you’ll quickly learn that I kind of adore the series of mini-series within that collection. But what about the issues not in collection? Hmmmm...let's see. 
The good Marshal has been feeling a little bit better about life lately. After his girlfriend was murdered by a super-powered serial killer acting out on his seething daddy issues—with his daddy being an A-Number-One asshole—Joe (Marshal Law) slid further into his hatred of any and all heroes. Then he met Super Nova. Yes, she’s a super heroine, and she is a bit…off her rocker, but that’s okay, who isn’t crazy these days? She’s also slammin’ hot. What else besides love could ever convince Joe to attend a super hero therapy party; did I mention Super Nova’s a looker? Anyhow, the party is a load of crap, and the Marshal is not making any friends, but when an angelic “hero” named Seraph presents a mysterious cube to the partygoers a gateway to hell opens. Now trapped amongst the sadistic beings known as the Cenobites, with the one known as Pinhead leading them, it’s up to Marshal Law to get himself and Super Nova back to reality. That is, of course, if they can trick Pinhead into releasing them, but does the Cenobite leader want to kill our hero…or hire him?
Ahhhhhh…1993. A time when speculators were beginning to implode the comics market, and we can see some of that in this two issue mini. Each cover is of a heavier stock with four-color printing, one color being a metallic red that admittedly looks kind of cool. The second issue is a four-color job with black on black and silver on the front with red on the interior cover, which also looks pretty darn cool. What was not cool at the time was the $2.95 price tag for a comic printed in 1993. Yes, each issue has 32 pages of comic, but the cover stock and the ink must have cost a pretty penny, which was passed onto the reader and set the pricing for comics going forward. Thankfully, this pricing has stuck (except on some of Marvel and DC’s bigger titles), but publishers also began to drop the page count and backed off the pricier cover gimmicks. But, then again…them covers sure do look purty.
As for the content, I enjoyed rereading these issues after so many years. I’ve always had a soft spot for the early Hellraiser movies and the screwed up world and imagery, and if you’ve read last year’s posts about the individual issues of the Marshal Law HC (please do! Just go here to check it all out!), then you already know that Marshal Law plays a crucial part in my love of comic books. That said, I liked rereading these issues, and I know that crossovers are done to sell-sell-sell, but I would have loved to have seen the hero hunter go back to his roots of beating the snot out of your average super hero; you know, like maybe target a speedster with a public indecency problem, or a master of the mystic arts who can’t stop taking magical drugs. But, I enjoyed this crossover, and some of the witty bits are hilarious—Razorhead rallying a group of heroes by utilizing his ability to speak fluent cliche?! Classic! 
One negative on this mini is the art seems rushed on some of the second issue's pages, giving an inconsistent look, but that is a minor problem. You can still find the hidden jokes and Easter eggs strewn throughout, and some of the designs on both the heroes and the villains are a riot. 
I believe I found the first issue of this crossover back when it was released, but the second issue was something that took a year or two for me to track down. If you are a Marshal Law fan and have not yet read this crossover, then the decision is a no brainer. If you are new to the character—and you are fine with some potentially offensive stuff—then this is NOT the book to start with. You need to start at the beginning, denizens. You need to learn what the hero hunter is all about and then proceed along the title’s schizophrenic order of release, and there is no better way to do this than by picking up the beautiful hardcover. If you are strapped for cash, then finding the individual issues on the cheap will not be that difficult a chore, which you can do at MyComicShop.com. Pinhead Vs. Marshal Law: Law In Hell has a bit the ol’ nostalgia factor working in its favor, but I'm glad I took the time to revisit on of my favorite characters. So to you I say, ”You must strike now! It’s a slim chance! But the only one you’ve got! You must read Marshal Law, before it is too late! Heads up, denizens. It’s clobbering time and this series is there for you…so take it!” RECOMMENDED!


Captain America: The Winter Soldier - No spoilers here. I loved it. One of my top three favorite comic book movies. I loved The Avengers, but this might be tied with that monumental film. I want to take my wife to see it. I want to take my mom to see it. I want to sneak Obie and Tulip into the theater to see it. I wouldn't be surprised if I make it back to the theater this weekend. Time never flew by as fast as it flew by in this movie. Respect! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Slice Into the Woods

Sis-a-frack-a-brick-a-brackin’ Where Are My Missing Comics?! - I'm still missing the latest issues of The Sixth Gun and Undertow. What a revoltin’ development. Dagnabbit!



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Monday, April 7, 2014

Micronauts Monday 4/7/2014

Hey there, Donist World denizens. Welcome back to Micronauts Monday, where I talk about my longtime favorite comic book series The Micronauts. You'll get a summary of the issue, my remembered reaction/experience with the comic book as a kid, and my thoughts as an adult after rereading the issues over the past week. The Micronauts is the book that introduced me to the wonderful world of comic book addiction. The sad thing about this amazing series is--as I explained in the first post here--is that if you haven't read the comics, doing so is going to be a bit of a hunt, since reprinting rights are firmly wedged into a Prometheus Pit of a printing-rights purgatory. But don't despair, it can be done, you can find them. Mycomicshop.com has most of the main series for a fairly inexpensive price. If you want to dip your toe into the glory that is the Microverse before committing to a hunt for individual issues, then you could also check out the five "Special Editions," which I believe had two or three issues included in each. Or, better yet, if you have an opportunity to do some longbox diving into the $.50-$1.00 bins at your LCS, then I'm sure you can find many issues there. My only caution here is that the story has a tremendous narrative that builds over the course of the series, one that deserves to be read in order, but that said, any Micronauts is good Micronauts! 

As you know after reading last week’s entry, which covered issues 39–42, neither Young Donist nor Current Donist was very impressed by those issues. After shifting to a direct market model on my beloved comic series, the comic seemed more intent on having oddball stories, guest appearances that did not work, art that seemed different from not just page to page but panel to panel, and very little attention to the compelling main storyline that enveloped this kid’s world for most of the series. I am fine with a comic veering off course for a few issues, so long as there's something interesting to say, or if it traipses into the realm of Warren Magazine style territory, but those issues had little of that. In the end, it seemed The Micronauts had moved in the direction of smack-you-in-the-face exposition, Marvel Universe guest-star nonsense, cute little tykes as heroes in an effort to open the demographic appeal to a younger audience. This is confusing, especially when the move to the direct market was touted as a boon for true Micronauts fans for a series that deftly handled weird sci-fi action, fascinating characters, despotic rulers, tyranny, organ trade, gambling with one's own body parts, regicide, attempted fratricide, death of loved ones, spies, traitors, and the list goes on. It might just be me, but The Micronauts is not the type of title that easily converts to a broad-based, “kid-friendly” title over the course of an issue or two within the same series. This kid was fine having a brother pronounce his sister and her colleagues traitors to be killed (King Argon's decree for Princess Mari and his hiring of the Death Squad), or the new ruler (again, King Argon) swapping the mind of his former lover and wife-to-be with that of an ambitious elderly duchess who would be more compliant, and the list of craziness continues. If I had not missed issues 38–49, before picking up again with the phenomenal issue 50 (we're getting there!) I might have dropped this book all together. Thank goodness I did not, as things get exciting.

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***


The Micronauts #43
The Micronauts #43 - Written by Bill Mantlo, breakdowns by Gil Kane, finishes by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Jim Novak, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. We open with Bug, Mari, and Acroyear shrinking back to their proper size back in the Microverse after their tussle with the villain Dr. Nemesis. They are home, but they will not receive a warm reception as King Argon, Mari's brother, continues to show the people of Homeworld that he is every bit—if not more—worse than Baron Karza. Meanwhile, Commander Rann, Devil, Microtron, and Nanotron are still on Earth, and after they determine that not even the Avengers can help return them home, they are off to Florida to investigate the Prometheus Pit as their final option. Unfortunately, once there, they will learn that access to the Prometheus Pit is guarded by not one old foe, but two. 
Young Donist - Heck yeah! The Micronauts I know and love are back. Half of my heroes take up the rebellion against that jack-face King Argon, as the other half hang out with the Avengers—I don't even care about all of the talking. Then two really coold bad guys from the past show up in the same book?! YES! Even though the bad guys only get a couple pages toward the tail end of the book, I was amped for what was about to go down, and the creepy-as-all-heck final panel left me with the best case of Comic Book Anticipation Madness (CoBAM for short. Those seeking further information about this life-affecting disorder should contact either Current Donist or their Local Comic Store). HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - I warned y'all, denizens, that I might spoil things, and that's what's gonna happen. No big spoiler, as the dang cover gives away the big reveal at the end with the zombified Professor Prometheus, but the one pulling the nearly-mindless monstrosity's strings is none other than Computrex, the Living Computer. I love seeing half of our heroes back in the Microverse and taking on the diabolical Force Commander, whose name fits him more than ever as he has shed his humanity to become a being of living energy. But even with all of that happening, I am for the first time in a while excited about what is going down on Earth. Mantlo brings back two villains, each of whom are cool in their own right, and adds an honestly horrifying twist with the zombified Professor Prometheus. What's even better is that the tone of the book has shifted back to what interested me throughout most of the series, and the blatant exposition of the past few issues has been minimized. Kane's/Bulanadi's art is fantastic, although the art style does change noticeably from panel to panel, but I don't care. Just seeing the shambling horror of what is left of Professor Prometheus is enough to leave me whipping through to the next issue. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


The Micronauts #44
The Micronauts #44 Written by Bill Mantlo, breakdowns by Gil Kane, finishes by Danny Bulanadi and Al Milgrom and Potts, lettered by Jim Novak, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. 
The Micronauts's trouble spans two worlds: the Microverse, and Earth. Commander Rann and Devil face a reanimated Professor Prometheus, who is being controlled by the Living Computer, Computrex, as Microtron and Nanotron spin helplessly on a magnetized metal wheel. What's worse is Devil has been loosing more and more control of himself over to his savage, more animalistic side; the scent of Prometheus's rotting flesh is not helping matters. Computrex wants to destroy the Micronauts after “his” past defeat, but the mad computer knows the Microverse has the means to give “him” what he most wants—a living body. Computrex aims to pull the information out of Rann's brain; it will hurt. Meanwhile, Bug, Mari, and Acroyear make a pilgrimage, disguised as pilgrims, into the subterranean area known as Subzone. There they find a new religion has grown that deifies Argon, while hooking the poor inhabitants into a gambling system that robs them of life and limb. Can the separated diminutive heroes survive a rebellion and the horrors of Computrex and the rotting husk of Professor Prometheus?!
Young Donist - I seem to remember madly running in circles around the living room after reading this issue. It creeped me out in the best of ways and set me on my life-long love of good zombie tales, and my fascination with computers gone awry. Seeing Computrex's needles closing in on Rann's head gave me something to have nightmares about...forever. I will say that the panel of the priest saying, “All you have to do is play…the game,” freaked me out almost as much as those needles. Devil gets a raw deal, that made me furious with Computrex, but seeing him pull himself together and take out Zombo-Prometheus made me cheer. I did, however, find the shifting art styles distracting, but that was not enough to dissuade my opinion of this issue that is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Man, that was a heck of a fun issue, even though—or because— it gets fairly brutal in parts. Even though the jarring shifts in the look of the art from panel to panel is noticeable, Kane's underlying storytelling with his breakdowns is unquestionable. With this issue, we clearly see more of Kane's distinct style scattered throughout this highly enjoyable issue. 
The actual story is even more fantastic, as Mantlo juggles two worlds and a dozen heroes and villains with ease. The final scenes of Computrex having to turn on Zombo-Prometheus is just too cool and keeps me on my toes to this day. The finale of Rann, Devil, Microtron and Nanotron being converted into waves of light left me eager for the next issue. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


The Micronauts #45
The Micronauts #45 - Written by Bill Mantlo, breakdowns by Gil Kane, finishes by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Jim Novak, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. The vile villain Arcade has his sights set on tormenting the X-Men, but when he shoots a energy beam to transport his foes into his Murder Machine, he inadvertently intercepts the lightwave containing Rann, Devil, Microtron, and Nanotron. Despite his initial disappointment, he can still have fun with these heroic-looking newcomers. Back on Homeworld, Bug, Acroyear, and Mari lead the rebellion against the tyranical Argon. Princess Mari eventually confronts her brother, who is no longer human, and finds herself in a mismatched fight to the death that does not go her way.
Young Donist - I had no idea who Arcade was, but the fact that he was pitting half of the Micronauts against the equivalent of “Dig Dug” and “Galaga” got my attention. I especially loved the look of the knockouts of pink and blue in the video game, but what got me the most was the fight between Mari and Argon, as Bug and Acroyear set out to rescue Prince Pharoid (yay!). Despite being completely out matched by her living-energy brother, Mari fights on and...I wish I could marry her when I grow up. Lady Slug (in Belladonna's aged body) showing up to try to take out the mad ruler only made this portion of the story set in the Microverse even more awesomerer. Then—HOLY CRAP! IS MARI DEAD?! I know she’s not, but dang…brutal. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Okay, I guess Marvel wasn't done with the Marvel U guest star action with this one-issue fight with Arcade, but it still works well and is a heck of a lot of fun…once I pushed past one huge problem. What might that be? Well, glad you asked. Arcade essentially pits our heroes against his evil Atari 2600. Now, here is the problem with reading about tech of the time—two decades later it is massively outdated. You see, denizens, at one time in my life, I beat the NES video game “Metroid,” so beating the equivalent of Atari's “Adventure” is something even Current Donist could do, so, yeah, no big whup. Pushing that aside, this is a heck of a fun read. But still, my interest lies with the Mari and Argon fight and that freakin’ gorgeous splash page that I wish I owned. Holy cow! I don’t remember how Mari pulls through, but dang if I don't want to jump right on into the next issue. If I wasn't already happily married, I think Mari and I would make a great couple…long walks on the beach, quiet dinners out, watching the love of my life beat the hell out of anyone who messed with us...hmmmmmm... HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Well there you have it. The Micronauts has redeemed itself both with Young Donist and Current Donist. My memory of what is coming over the next three issues is quite fuzzy, but I do remember that things are about to get very very very weird, but in the best of ways. Some gnarly stuff is on the horizon, and I hope you join me to hear all about it. Thanks for stopping by, and may the Enigma Force be with you.


While writing this entry, I listened to Grant Green's albums “First Session” and the damn phenomenal “Idle Moments” each of which are perfect for writing or getting into the groove of whatever it is you are doing. These songs are pure aural bliss. Oh yeah...Go see Captain America 2!!!!!


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Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 4/4/2014

(Sung to the tune of Oingo Boingo’s ”Weird Science”)

From the store into my hands
I'll help you alls understand killer comics

Black
Black Science

Pretty Deadly I tell ya, man
Words sure to please and the
Art of fights in Death's land
How about Black Science

Rachel Rising knows the score
Characters I adore
Swamp Thing’s in a bind, yo man it's all fine
Black Science

Grant McKay, what to do?
Broken pillars, tellin’ you
Sci-fi love, it's the best
Black Science


<shhhhh> Be very, very quiet, Donist World denizens. I'm currently sitting in the conference room of Donist World headquarters (my mom’s basement) to bring you this message. CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and the Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/proud-to-be-a-Captain-American Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister) are upstairs having the receptionist (Mom) paint the white parts of their fur blue and red, while affixing cardboard red, white, and blue shields to their backs. You, of course, already know that today is Captain America: Winter Soldier release day and the dogs have forgotten all about their Power Point presentation on “Driving the Boundaries of Productivity Through Better Brands of Kibble,” as they prepare to have their physically-small-yet-emotionally-huge hearts crushed once again. With every one of these great comic book movie releases, they rediscover the brutal truth that dogs are not allowed in theaters. It bums me out as well, and I almost feel guilty about sneaking out the window to attend an early showing; key words: almost feel guilty. Still, I got to hand it to the receptionist (Mom) for her use of negative space in placing the star on Tulip and Obie’s chests; it's pretty impressive. Anyhow, while I squeeze through this window, please take a gander at this week’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Black Science #5
Black Science #5 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Matteo Scalera, colored by Dean White, lettered and designed by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. I was blown away by the first issue of this tremendous series. Within the first panel or two you were caught up in a whirlwind of action, gaining background bits and pieces of the characters and story as we followed Grant McCay through a strange and deadly world of amphibian creatures. Issues two through four found our “heroes” of the Anarchist League of Scientists trapped in a world of techno Native Americans, fighting the under-equipped Germans; those issues were also a heck of a good read. Characters were killed, Grant almost died, we had treachery, desperation, a literal ticking clock, and the curiosity of the unknown to carry us forward. Now with this issue, we take one quick breath as the whirlwind that is Black Science kicks up once again.
Some love the anarchist scientist Grant McKay. Others hate him. Ask Grant McKay what he loves and he will answer without hesitation…science…errrrr, his kids. Yes, definitely his kids, which is the truth, but science is an incredibly close second. As Grant and his crew take a moment to relax and prepare for their next involuntary jump to an unknown world, the mysterious costumed stranger makes his appearance known by snatching Grant's kids. Rushing against the clock before the next world jump, Grant gives chase to retrieve his kids, even at risk of becoming stranded on the current parallel world. He also learns a tidbit of information that won't make him happy.
No doubt about it, this series is a blast. One moment you think you know what's going to happen, but then the creators do something completely unexpected. Is there any better indication of how enjoyable a comic is than reaching the final panel on each right facing page and muttering, “Oh man, what's gonna happen next?” It also doesn't hurt to have cool characters (a couple of whom have already died for Pete's sake), an awesome premise, and a story that can go anywhere. Throw in Scalera’s beautiful sequentials, his intense action scenes, a three-headed robotic bird thing, and White’s gorgeously insane coloring palette and there’s plenty to love about this book. Just have a look at the page with the amorous alien couple getting “Blazzatted” in their parked beetle thing, or the final two-page spread of the next world with its lush blues and you will completely understand just how well Scalera and White’s art looks together. I am more amped than ever for the next issue. 
This is a must read book, denizens. There is far too much going on to adequately describe all the intricacies of the story…you just need to read it. If you haven't yet picked up the series or you can't find the multiple reprints of the first couple issues, you are in luck. Amazon.com slates the $9.99 retail trade as being available on June 10, and is listed as having 152 pages, which I believe will cover issues 1–5; each issue is longer than your average comic book. So, I guess what I'm saying is you need to be reading this sci-fi adventure that will remind you with every issue just how great it is to be a comic book fan. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Rachel Rising #24
Rachel Rising #24 - Everthinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. I have loved every page of this series since it first started, and it only continues to get better and better with each issue as we learn more about what happened with/to Rachel/Bryn Erin, Lilith, and the town of Manson. The series is a mixture of the Twin Peaks television show, the creepier stories from The Twilight Zone, and a crime drama, all while maintaining the feel of a Terry Moore work (Strangers In Paradise, Echo…each a must-own series in its own right). 
The first story arc comes to a conclusion as Rachel/Bryn Erin, James (trapped in Jet's body), and the murderous Zoe face down Lilith, the witch who wishes to destroy the town of Manson once and for all after the hangings of 100 supposed “witches” from over a century ago. It is an eerie scene as 97 bodies hang by the neck, suspended in the nothingness, both as testament to what happened and as a distraction. But where are the other three bodies? It's witches, wolves, snakes, killers, and the dead risen as this chapter comes to an exciting conclusion.
<puff> <pah> That's the sound of me “smoking” my candy cigarette and taking a sip of rye after reading this darn-fine issue. Moore satisfactorily answers many questions with this first-chapter conclusion, all while leaving plenty of situations looming for the next story arc; namely, the identity of who killed Rachel in the first place. Moore gives his all in this issue (doesn't he always?): some truly bone-rattling scenes of horror—the hanged women screaming <brrrrrr>; clever quips from Zoe that made me laugh between my nervousness; intense action; gruesome scenes of vengeance; a bone-chilling fate for the villain; and so much more. This is just considering the elements of the story. 
The art is some of Moore's best work to date. The sense of scope as Rachel/Bryn, James/Jet, and Zoe stare up at the night’s sky as the snow falls all around them in the opening silent panel is utterly haunting. The character acting is phenomenal, and the action as sharp as Zoe’s knife, Jack. Whether we see the reactions to a couple of wolves charging down a hill, a snake springing from someone’s mouth, or one person admonishing another who said something truly awful, you know exactly what each person is feeling…you can't help but feel it, too. Again, all of this happens during a tremendous snowstorm, and Moore refuses to let the intensity subside, until that moment the snow finally stops.
Most important of all, Moore has me so excited for the second arc, that I want to reread all 24 issues so I can experience this series again to better prepared myself what comes next; it's also just a joy to read. If you haven't been following this must-read series, then you can buy the first three trades easy enough—I'm sure the fourth is on the horizon, and it wouldn't surprise me to see a compendium of some sort before the end of the year. Beautiful to read, beautiful to look at, I can't wait to see what happens next as we continue our search for Rachel’s killer. Oh man! What about Aunt Johnny!!! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Swamp Thing #30
Swamp Thing #30 - Written by Charles Soule, illustrated by Jesus Saiz, finishes on various pages by Javi Pina, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Travis Lanham, published by DC Comics. Dang, denizens, I thought it was a really bad idea for the Swamp Thing (Alec Holland) to give up his Avatar status to those “Serene” hippies who showed up out-of the blue, all so Alec could once again, for a brief period, walk in a man’s shoes. To be honest, I thought it was kind of dumb on his part, but then I started thinking—you know what happens when I start doing that—he failed to realize just how much he missed being human. To quote the rock band Cinderella, "You don’t know what you got till it’s gone," which is the case with Alec. His desperate attempt to reclaim what he lost, even if just for a moment, might very well be his doom.
The body of the Avatar is long gone from the bayou, and is in the corrupt hands of an evil corporation. Speaking of bodies…the Lady Weeds is sporting some new ink as she and the Wolf continue their scheming after Alec had changed them from former Avatars into humans. But when they, Brother Jonah and Capucine find Alec in a human body and near death after the fake Serene members poisoned him, Capucine calls on a surprise friend of hers from way way way back. Armed with new information, Alec and Capucine travel to Italy to find the Serene, but what they find there is shocking, especially when it comes to what the mysterious Miki has to say.
This issue is highly enjoyable as all the characters involved play their games to achieve their goals, but it is the final four-panel page that leaves me desperate to see what happens next. I really want to spoil what is going on with this girl, Miki, but I'm going to bite my tongue and commend Soule on taking these Serene characters and their abilities to places I never suspected, and opened the story to some interesting possibilities. 
The art is beautiful as ever and Wilson's colors are perfect for this title which was the New 52 book I was most excited to read, and the one that continues to be one of my current favorites. Definitely a book to watch. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Pretty Deadly #5
Pretty Deadly #5 - Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, illustrated by Emma Rios, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered by Clayton Cowles, edited by Sigrid Ellis, published by Image Comics. The first chapter of Pretty Deadly comes to a close as we join Bones Bunny and Butterfly as they continue the tale of Ginny (Death's daughter), Sissy (the vulture girl with the mismatched eyes), Johnny (the “coward”), Fox (Sissy's guardian), Sarah, and Molly the raven as they attempt venture into Death's domain. Death's time has come and Sissy is slated to take his place…so long as Death doesn't kill them all first. First, they must get past Big Alice and the Shield Maids. It's daughter against father in this exciting conclusion.
If you have not been reading this series, then I suppose the first two sentences are going to leave you scratching your head as to what the heck I'm talking about. That said, if you've read the book—and you're like me—then you were probably still scratching your head until you took a hit of coffee, thunkeded your brain stuffs real hard, and reread the book until you got what was going on. That's okay. We don't need to be spoon fed every detail of what is transpiring. DeConnick and Rios have crafted a highly intelligent, beautifully written, and elegantly illustrated fairytale of the West whose past five issues were heavy, yet rewarding for those who stuck through to the end.
With the last few pages leaving me questioning whether or not the series would continue, I was more than pleased to see the final caption “Deathface Ginny will return in Pretty Deadly Volume 2.” The story can go anywhere from here on out, but if one thing is for certain, I know I will be there for each precious word that is to come. The first trade will release in mid-May if you missed this series the first time around, and it will retail for the very low price of $9.99. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Now This Is Just Getting Stupid—Still no @#$% The Sixth Gun or Undertow. Dang, denizens, I tell you, by the time I get March’s issues, April’s issue will be coming out. Of course, the brighter side of this is that I can read two issues of these series back-to-back and that's kind of cool. Still, I hate having to wait. Another plus is that I think I only have East of West in my pull next week, so if I get both books next Wednesday, the timing will be perfect for FSoH/SitW. Speaking of the next post, I might just have to pull out a trade or two to talk about next week as well. We'll see. Anyhow, go on now…git…go make ol’ Donist proud and see some Captain America: Winter Soldier.


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Monday, March 31, 2014

Micronauts Monday 3/31/2014

Hey there, Donist World denizens. Welcome back to Micronauts Monday, where I talk about my longtime favorite comic book series The Micronauts. You'll get a summary of the issue, my remembered reaction/experience with the comic book as a kid, and my thoughts as an adult after rereading the issues over the past week. The Micronauts is the book that introduced me to the wonderful world of comic book addiction. The sad thing about this amazing series is--as I explained in the first post here--is that if you haven't read the comics, doing so is going to be a bit of a hunt, since reprinting rights are firmly wedged into a Prometheus Pit of a printing-rights purgatory. But don't despair, it can be done, you can find them. Mycomicshop.com has most of the main series for a fairly inexpensive price. If you want to dip your toe into the glory that is the Microverse before committing to a hunt for individual issues, then you could also check out the five "Special Editions," which I believe had two or three issues included in each. Or, better yet, if you have an opportunity to do some longbox diving into the $.50-$1.00 bins at your LCS, then I'm sure you can find many issues there. My only caution here is that the story has a tremendous narrative that builds over the course of the series, one that deserves to be read in order, but that said, any Micronauts is good Micronauts! 

I'm not going to lie to you, Donist World denizens. The next eight or so issues are a little rough. As I said last week, Young Donist lost track of his beloved The Micronauts after issue 37 when the book went exclusively to the direct market. What this meant was that the comic book I used to be find on spinner racks at 7-11, K-Mart, or the grocery store (in other words, everywhere) were now only sold in comic book specialty stores, of which I did not know one existed in my town for about a year…hey, I was 12 and the internet didn't even exist yet. I would not see my next issue of this fantastic series until issue 50, and then had to chip away at the back issues box (held behind the counter) for issues 38-49 all while having my eyes opened to the world of MANY other comics outside of Marvel and DC, such as Eclipse, First, Epic, Pacific, and not much later than that...Mirage Studios. Anyhow, I think it was a good thing that I initially missed out on issues 38-49 as at least half of those issues might have scared me away from the series all together. Stick around, though, things get insanely better by around issue 48!


Micronauts Monday


***Possible Spoilers Below***



The Micronauts #39 - Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Steve Ditko, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Jim Novak, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. In a failed attempt to warp back to the Microverse, the Micronauts' ship, the Endeavor, mistakenly appears out of the front cover of an issue of none other than The Micronauts #1 at a comic book specialty store. How crazy is that?! Our heroes find themselves assaulted by a cigar-chomping store owner, toys (not living or animated toys, just normal toys) that look like Baron Karza or their current enemy the Force Commander. Meanwhile, back in the Microverse, King Argon denies Huntarr (the menace from the awesome issue 37 starring Nightcrawler) his request to be put to death, as Duchess Belladonna—an elderly, wicked woman—sees her request for a new body approved…unfortunately, that body belongs to former rebel leader Slug. Not only that, Acroyear’s old love, Cilicia, is working with Argon and sends an Acroyear assault team to Earth to capture the Micronauts.
Young Donist - What…the…hell…is…this?! Let me get this straight. You take my favorite comic, move it to something called a “comic specialty store,” leave me with over a year-long absence, and this is your second issue for this move? A fight in a comic book store, when they come out of their own comic book?! Man! Brutal! Ugh..., although I did like seeing Huntarr again for all of three panels. Micronauts versus Acroyears was okay, and I liked the art, but dang…if this wasn't sealed in a bag by Andromeda Book Store (RIP), I would have not picked it up. I would not recommend this issue to anyone.
Current Donist - <sigh> Yeah, I still do not like this issue. Supposedly Steve Ditko was the illustrator, but if you are familiar Ditko's art style, or have read The Micronauts Annual #1 and 2 (which I have not yet talked about), then only a few panels will strike you as being his. I'm not totally certain, but my guess is Ditko did the layouts with Bulanadi providing the finishes, but I will say that I did enjoy the art. It’s just the story that grinds my gears, with the exception on the three pages with King Argon, Huntarr, Belladonna, and Cilicia to spark my interest. Yeah, I still cannot recommend this issue.


The Micronauts #40 Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Gil Kane, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Jim Novak and Albers, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. In this issue, as the cover clearly tells you, The Micronauts meet up once again with the ever-lovin’, blue-eyed Thing! The Endeavor has fallen into a sewer and is sinking fast, as our heroes attempt to save the battle damaged vessel. Bug needlessly endangers his comrades, but directs them to the Baxter Building, home of the Fantastic Four and the chance for a way home. There they meet Franklin Richards, an evil host of antrons (alien bug creatures), and the Thing who would like nothing more than to get back to his nap.
Young Donist - <shaking his head> Why me? If I didn't already know that issue 50 is a fistful of awesome, I might have been done after this issue. It doesn't need a Marvel super guest-appearance (The Thing), and more than that, it doesn't need a freakin’ toddler (Franklin) to be the hero! Plus, talking, lots and lots of talking. The 1.75 pages of King Argon were great and I wanted more of that. Okay, I will admit that the antrons look really cool, but other than those two things…barf. I would not have recommended this issue to anyone.
Current Donist - Is this where my dislike of the “guest-appearance” first began to grow? Possibly. Like the issue before, I do not see the listed artist, Gil Kane, as being the primary artist on this issue. Kane has a very distinct style—just look at the cover—and the art inside is more like the previous issue than the cover. I'm guessing Kane did mostly layouts and Bulanadi finished, but despite who did what, I like the art, especially on Bug, Devil and the antrons. I also wish that Sharen could have done more of his intense coloring like he does on a page of the antrons and on Argon's scientist, Degrayde. The story is filled with exposition, and for a series flagged for specialty stores only, it sure has a lot of ties to the regular Marvel Universe. Wasn't the move so the creators could do more edgy stories? Thank goodness I kind of remember what is coming. I cannot recommend this issue unless you are an obsessive hoarder like me.


The Micronauts #41
The Micronauts #41 - Written by Bill Mantlo, art by Gil Kane and Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Jim Novak and Albers, colored by Bob Sharen and Warfield, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. In this issue…Doom! The Endeavor has fallen into a sewer and is sinking fast, as our heroes attempt to save the battle damaged vessel (yes, the exact same sentence as the previous review, but it happens again). This time they lose and the ship is lost. Thankfully they have their hovering Astrostation to get around. Back on Homeworld in the Microverse, King Argon's madness escalates as he has swapped the minds of the young, strong Slug—to whom he was once engaged—with that of the aged Duchess Belladonna. To make matters worse, he becomes more and more like the deceased Baron Karza, as he is no longer a man, but rather something more, as he has transformed his body into living energy. Lady Slug (in Belladonna's aged body) and the beaten Prince Pharoid begin to plot. Back on Earth, The Micronauts travel to a US bound Castle Doom (Huh?) where they find a miniaturized village, where none other than The Puppet Master is shrunk and held captive by a miniature puppet of Dr. Doom!
Young Donist - COME ON! Give me back the stories I love! Okay, yes, I want to see Acroyear kick Dr. Doom's butt, but this isn't the real Dr. Doom and this bald Puppet Master guy is about as threatening as my eight-year-old cousin. Those gripes aside, the stuff about King Argon becoming energy…can we just see that, please? That is awesome, and that look of vengeance in Slug's eyes is more along the lines of what I wanted. I like most of the art. I would not have recommended this issue to anyone, except my eight-year-old cousin or brother…they totally used to bug me.
Current Donist - Hmmm...okay, I agree with some of my younger self in that the Homeworld based storyline—all five pages of it—is the best part of this book, but I actually like this issue more than I did as a kid. Despite the Doom "guest-appearance" and the use of a regular Marvel Universe villain, this issue creeps back into the Warren Magazine (Creepy, Eerie, etc.) style territory that I love so much. The five pages with King Argon are fascinating and still interest me far more than what is happening on Earth.
It doesn't move the story forward that much, but I did enjoy the House of Wax influence and the creepiness of the village. Again, despite the Kane cover, little in the way of his art is within the actual pages, but this time Kane and Bulanadi are credited as "artists." Young Donist might not have liked this comic, and even though I would have preferred to NOT see Doom in this issue, it regained some of the feel of the book I fell in love with. RECOMMENDED!


The Micronauts #42
The Micronauts #42 - Written by Bill Mantlo, art by Gil Kane and Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Leferman and Albers, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. In this issue a guest-appearance by…The Wasp! <groan...ahem> Devil is becoming more unhinged, more feral with each passing day. After the death of Fireflyte, the absence of her song has caused the once amiable Micronaut to return to his buried animalistic side. Music does calm the savage beast. We catch up with the story—again—and somehow Bug finds himself psychically linked to none other than Janet Van Dyne (the Wasp), and he rushes off to her rescue placing his teammates in harms way—again. It turns out that one of Hank Pyms old enemies, Dr. Nemesis, has broken in and stolen a miniaturized adamantium suit that can shrink things out of existence…like the Wasp's clothes. Can the Micronauts save the Wasp, and does Dr. Nemesis have the means to return them home, or to destroy them?
Young Donist - <drops the issue on the floor and kicks it under the bed> At least half of the team might be back in the Microverse. I'm going outside to play. I would not have recommended this issue.
Current Donist - Whoa. Young Donist really has nothing more to say about this issue, and I'm pretty sure he only read it once. This book is just whatever. It has more panels that look reminiscent of Kane's work, and some of the action scenes are pretty cool, but this Dr. Nemesis clown didn't stand a chance when he faces the people responsible for taking down a tyrant who threatened not one but two universes. In fact, the only thing at risk in this issue are The Wasp's clothes, which get shrunk out of existence; she spends half of the issue naked but "covered" by strategically placed things like laser blasts, arms, and wings. This issue isn't as bad as 39 and 40, but without a glimpse into what is happening back in the Microverse, I think I'll just flip through it when my next reread pops up in a couple years. I don't recommend this one.


<sigh> There you go. Nothing all that great, on one of my all-time-favorite comic book series. But that's okay, I know what is coming, and trust me, it is going to be mind blowing. Hey, you can't expect to make an omelet without dropping an egg on the floor and having Tulip eat up that egg before you can pick it up…or however the saying goes. Although I did not enjoy these comics as much as I enjoyed most of the previous 37 issues that came before, please understand that they are not bad—#39 comes close—just not as gripping as what came before. Next time, things begin to look up as half of our heroes are back home, but even though half are still trapped on Earth, I'm still excited to see what happens next. Thank you for reading.

While writing this entry, I listened to Tycho's albums "Awake" and "Dive" each of which are perfect for writing or getting into the groove of whatever it is you are doing. I especially like the song titled "Dive."


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