Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 10/17/2014

(Sung to the tune of Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”)

So you’re wonderin’ ’bout which books you gotta read tonight
Your LCS has tons of stuff, but your wallet hurts, amiright?
Now, I won’t be glib, this here Donist don’t fib, Deadly Class is out of sight.
Though the truth I must tell ya, Trees sure rocks
but I guess I gotta say

Supreme: Blue Rose…I don’t know
Just like…what the heck’s goin’ on?
Just like…the art’s gorgeous, I’d never steer you wrong
Supreme: Blue Rose’s still strong, yeah it is

Death of the
Red Cosmonaut
Welcome back to Donist World! I’m sort of joined as ever by CFO Obie (my friends’s Boston terrier) and by marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / cool weather aficionado Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). The reason I say “sort of” for Obie is that he is “working remotely” from his home and is not at the Donist World corporate office (my mom’s basement). You see, Obie is in lockdown and being punished by his owners for trashing yet another one of the toddler’s toys (see the image of the mangled figure). Now, Obie, of course, claims he is innocent and that the kid chewed up his own toy, but to be honest, I’ve never seen a two-year-old with incisors that can do that level of damage. He further says he is not suffering from jealousy or any of the, as he puts it, “weaker emotions,” and that he was indeed framed. <sigh> Although, on our live chat this morning, I did get him to state that if he ever did chew up a red spaceman toy, it would be because it symbolized a communist cosmonaut, which goes against him being a blue-blooded American businessman. Yeah, I ain’t buying it either. Regardless, Obie’s actions have consequences, and if his extracurricular destructive activities further degrade his job performance, then I might have to consider my options…Speaking of which, do any of you denizens know of any high-level executives who will work for kibble? Donist World also offers a robust benefit package including leftover scrambled egg bits, tummy rubs, and the occasional game of fetch. Just putting my feelers out there. Anyhow, here comes Tulip with my morning coffee, so have a look at this week’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Deadly Class #8
Deadly Class #8 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, colored by Lee Loughridge, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. *WARNING, this is not a book for kids, mature readers only, denizens.* Rick Remender has been on a creator-owned roll for a while now. With his fantastic comics Black Science and Low demanding sci-fi lover’s attention, Deadly Class is the most grounded in “reality” of his three titles and is one I have greatly enjoyed, but…I’m predominantly a sci-fi / horror / fantasy guy and Low is his book that grabs me the most. This issue, however, dang…just dang! It’s a rough read, but so very, very good.

Chester Wilson. That’s the name of the psychopath linked to Marcus’s past, the very same psychopath who took Chico’s dead body. Knowing his past cannot be kept secret any longer, Marcus reveals the darkest corner of his past to someone other than his girlfriend.

I loved the first issue of this series, and really liked everything that came after, but this issue completely grabbed me. Deadly Class #8 is messed up, denizens…utterly messed up, and I was transfixed from page two through to the end. Remender finally lets us into Marcus’s past, and it is abhorrently not pretty. We also gain the name of the psychopath, Chester Wilson, and learn what exactly happened to his face, and how Marcus was at the center of it all. Everything from the orphanage / sweatshop, to the treatment of the children by the guards (armed with bats and guns no less), to the treatment of the children by the other children, to the hypocrisy of this being a religious institution, to the portrait of Ronald Reagan set near Jesus and presiding over all the abused kids is heartbreaking and a shade terrifying. In a way it makes sense that Marcus decides to take the route he does, which further disturbs me to no end. This issue fills the gap of what happened at the orphanage, as we see the extensive abuse and humiliation Marcus endured at the hands of those in charge, as well as a hint of the torment Chester routinely unleashed upon him; all in all, nine years of daily suffering. The entire flashback of this issue offers critical insight into Marcus’s character, and is one that left me startled, angry, horrified, happy that Marcus found a way out, and then horrified again that I was cheering the protagonist’s solution, the only way out he could find.

The art on this book is my favorite to date. Not because of Craig’s gorgeous line work, or Loughridge’s limited-rendering-yet-powerfully-presented colors, but because of the combined impact of both. This issue is mostly flashback, with the first three and final two pages being set in a drab, desaturated cool color scheme that conveys the dark mood of the lead character. Every page of the flashback is handled in monochromatic yellows, or greens, or oranges, with the exception of two panels that receive a striking complementary color scheme to shock the reader. Loughridge brilliantly uses the value change of what is essentially one color to draw the eye where it is most needed, while simultaneously enveloping the reader in the mood of the scene. To add to this effect, all of Craig’s linework — some of his best to date — is knocked out and replaced with a darkest value of the dominant color possible; the only black to be found in the flashback is on the balloons, tails, and text. Although what we see is actually deeply disturbing, the art presented is utterly gorgeous.

Just to be clear, I had no intention of dropping Deadly Class from my pull. I merely liked Remender’s other two creator-owned books more, but with the beautifully presented and emotionally charged nature of this month’s offering, it is safe to say I am liking this title every bit as much as Low and Black Science. You can easily catch up with the first trade (issues 1–6 at $9.99 retail!) and the two issues that follow. Again, this is definitely on the “For Mature Readers” spectrum, but if you are a “Mature Reader” and you want to read a comic about a messed up teen (and rightfully so) who is invited to join a school for assassins, then what are you waiting for? This book is for you. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Trees #6
Trees #6 - Written by Warren Ellis, art by Jason Howard, lettered by Fonografiks, published by Image Comics. Eligia’s distaste for Tito grows once she learns how he makes ends meet. Far, far away, in the artists’ world of Shu, Chenglei is reeling from the previous night spent with the trans woman, Zhen, as the military continues its surveillance. The mysterious flowers continue to take root, only in the oddest of places.

Not much happens in this issue regarding the Trees, and what we do see is relegated to but a page or two. Instead, Ellis delves into the characters of Eligia, and Chenglei. I’m uncertain as to what Eligia has planned, but the Chenglei side of the story is so heartfelt, so touching, that I cannot help but feel he is doomed as evidenced by the military presence and the appearance of the drone flying through Shu. The story is building to…something…but I don’t know if it is human against human death and destruction, or if the Trees are actually going to wake up; I have a feeling it will be the former.

Howard’s art is all about the character acting, drama, and mood in this issue and it is one of his strongest to date. This can be seen in the panel with the three military men filming Shu, and the sheer malevolence of the one’s face, or on Eligia’s expressions that tell you what she thinks of Tito’s source of revenue. As fantastic as Howard is at drama, I do, however, love the full-page splash of the little vehicle covered in black flowers out on the ice near the Trees. This is another beautiful issue.

We are no closer to seeing the Trees do anything than we were in the first issue, but that’s okay. This comic isn’t about the “alien invasion,” but rather about humanity and the struggles of some to find acceptance, and for others to take every damn thing they can from whoever they wish. If you want superheroes punching each other in the face, or aliens tearing each other apart, then this is not the book for you. If you want a smartly written look at the state of the world after alien life arrives, and how that really does not change humanity’s actions all that much, then you should definitely check this one out. RECOMMENDED!

Supreme: Blue Rose #4
Supreme: Blue Rose #4 - Written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Tula Lotay, lettered by Richard Starkings, designed by John Roshell, published by Image Comics. Diana Dane meets Doc Rocket, an Albert Einstein looking chap with pink paint covering his face and spacesuit, and who has a taste for rye whiskey (don’t we all, denizens?). He turns out to be a speedster who runs off to the weird bar where the super-hot redhead with cleavage molecules talks to him about other dimensions and times and Supremes happening, but not necessarily needed…and wait, what?!…and pizza…beer…puppies…puppies…puppies…herp derp?

Ugh…okay, sorry about that. I was attempting to read Supreme: Blue Rose and made it right to the end and the next thing I know I wake up on the floor, two hours later, with a Taco Bell Nacho Supreme tray resting on my chest. I think that is my id / ego / superego telling me that synthetic-cheese-covered stale chips is the extent of anything “Supreme” I am capable of understanding. Criminy. Okay, I’m mostly kidding, I was able to actually follow more of this issue than last month’s, but dang if I did not have to dump some ginko bilboa into my coffee to get to even that level of comprehension. Basically, to quote Doc Rocket as he holds a lowball of rye, “I don’t understand. I suspect I’m going to need this.” Indeed, Doc Rocket…indeed.

Tula Lotay’s art is beyond gorgeous in this issue. I LOVED the scenes of Doc Rocket running at supersonic speed through the world and the bending of light as he travels; it simply must be seen to be appreciated. Then we get more of the lovely Zayla (molecule cleavage lady), who is very easy to look at, even when she is holding up a writhing eyeball — don’t ask. Lotay’s art alone is enough to warrant checking out this title.

So, yes. Only a step or two closer to understanding what the heck is going on in this book, and so very many, many more steps to enlightenment ahead of me. I’m sticking around, though. I want to understand what is going on, and I definitely want to see more of Lotay’s work. This is a complex series, denizens, but Supreme: Blue Rose is still worth checking out. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Anita Sarkeesian Cancels Speaking Engagement In Utah — Are you kidding? Sarkeesian just had to cancel her speaking engagement in Utah after a very specific death threat was issued to both her and any who would have attended the event. Why? All because Sarkeesian would like to see better depictions of women in video games and she is brave enough to say as much.

Death threats for a critic? How absolutely insane is that? Want to know what is equally insane? Utah has conceal-carry laws in effect that would prevent  any type of security screening for weapons to protect attendees. So, a critic can’t speak their mind because they are a woman? Not only that, a nutjob (like the one at UCSB who killed people all but three miles away from my house) would be allowed to walk into an event, fully armed, with the intent to kill, while having their “right” to conceal-carry maintained? This is so very wrong on so many levels.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 10/10/2014

(Sung to the tune of Tony Toni Toné’s “If I Had No Loot”)

If the book rocks, I want you to read it
and read it good
ah-ah, ah-ah-yeah, ah-ah-hah

Groovin’ on Sex Crims, a comic I adore
A title not to be shorted by my local store
But also awaits cool Wytches and Black Science
Chills and thrills and not a fleeting dalliance

And so you can call on this Donist for books to add to your list
They’re there, y’see, a kick in the pants to boot,
You gotta read ’em
I’m just glad to tell some truth
That Infinity’s a deal
I just want to do what’s right by you

Another night of little sleep (see “Slice Into the Woods”), so let’s get right to it. I’m Donist and I’m joined as ever by CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / neighbor disturbance specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Even though I am massively sleep deprived, I see no reason why I should not belatedly cut into this cake that Obie prepared for my 19th 26th birthday. I know he and Tulip are excited about it, because they are circling me like a couple of starved hyaenas eager for a piece. Even though it says “Happy Berfday Donut!” I’m pretty sure he meant “birthday” and “Donist” — he is a dog after all — let’s give him a pass. So it…gawd…ugh…this cake is abysmal. I should have remembered that dogs cannot eat chocolate and instead of cake, Obie ground up his duck-flavored kibble and baked it into a bread like substance…that he then covered in vanilla frosting. Man, while I tell myself it’s the thought that counts and go to gargle some mouthwash for the next couple of hours, have a look at the below announcement, and all the groovy books in this week’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven

The image in the top left corner
is from my story “Sunny Side”
My Story “Sunny Side” To Appear In Rise: Comics Against Bullying - I will get into it a bit more in a separate post in the next couple of days, but my story “Sunny Side” will appear in an issue of the anthology Rise: Comics Against Bullying which has just seen a Kickstarter pop up, and it is currently at 25% of goal with 23 days to go! Bullying is a terrible problem of which I am unfortunately all too familiar with (I got off lucky compared to many kids, though), and is something that needs to be better addressed and understood by kids, parents, teachers, and administrators alike. The books will be distributed by GLAAD, Stand For the Silent, and Prism Comics, and contains stories and art by new creators like me and “Sunny Side” artist Brian Gilman, and by superpros such as Howard Chaykin, Marc Guggenheim, Chris Roberson, and many others. I am thrilled to be contributing my story to a worthy cause, and hope you can make a pledge, no matter what size, to help bring this incredible project to life. Please have a look at the Kickstarter page to see what it is all about!

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Sex Criminals #8
Sex Criminals #8 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Chip Zdarsky, color flats by Becka Kinzie, edited by Thomas K, produced by Drew Gill, published by Image Comics. *FYI…this title is not for the kiddies. Mature readers only* I can’t begin to tell you how brimping happy I am when this title appears in my pull, denizens. The thing is, I watch my pull like a brimping hawk and barring any publisher / distributor last-minute changes / brimp-ups, I look ahead to know what’s coming for the next couple of weeks. I knew Sex Criminals was set to drop on Wednesday. Still…even though I know when the book is due, I get all giddy each time I flip through my potential purchases and find it there. Imagine my surprise when this issue wasn’t in my brimping pull this week. I had two of the three expected books, and four other things my LCS slipped in there that I didn’t want, but the key book — the hot brimper for which I went all the way downtown to buy — was not there. I was brimping brimped! I’m not sure what happened, but when I expressed my outrage (aka…openly sobbing at the cash register in front of the Magic the Gathering card purchasers and that one guy who carries around his copy of the Overstreet Price Guide to verify the LCS prices for deals / price gouging), the owner magically produced a copy of the book. He basically took it from someone else’s pull, which is fairly brimped up…amirite? But you know what? No one brimps the Donist! This goes doubly so when it comes to the brimping fantastic Sex Criminals comic. The Donist is a 24-year-long customer who was at the LCS the day the store opened. The Donist speaks in the third person and has no brimping problem making anyone uncomfortable by turning on the brimping waterworks. All that said, did I like it? You bet your bottom dollar I did. It was brimptastic!

Taking a bit of a relationship break, Suzie meets the world’s sexiest and most-put-together gynecologist, Robert Rainbow, as John has an informative meeting at the food court. Three-wheelin’ (or is it four-wheelin’?) is awkward. Suzie receives a devastating blow.

C’mon, the vagueness of the above synopsis has to spike your curiosity about this book somewhat…right? Anyways, Fraction and Zdarsky continue to deliver one heck of a beautiful and fun book. The dialogue expertly defines each individual character, oftentimes traversing into the uncomfortable in how true, how brutally honest some moments might be. Yet, even when such intense topics as depression, medication, possible sexual incompatibility, or love arise you don’t find yourself becoming sad or down, because you are either laughing the next moment at Fraction’s words, or Zdarsky’s art reveals something completely ridiculous. The prime example from this issue is when Robert Rainbow informs Suzie in wonderful detail about the different methods of birth control (including some statistics and science, denizens). But Zdarsky creates some powerful imagery in both Suzie’s actual facial expressions, and through Suzie’s imagining Robert stripping as he delivers the info; the awesome analogous color scheme of the pictograph running in the background is simply gorgeous…and a crackup to boot. The amazing thing about this issue, alongside the humor, is how in a limited space the creators handle a highly informative look at both birth control and depression; again it is truthful, it is honest. To further add to the wonderful character acting, the differently colored thought captions pertaining to each character is a nice touch that deepens my love of this book. On a side note, I think I need a couple “Running is Bullshit” shirts for when I’m out there huffing and puffing and staving off the blahs myself — love it.

All of the The Smurfs-type talking in the intro above, and the idea that the creators should create a cartoon show called The Brimps (Fraction and Zdarsky, contact Obie for the details on The Brimps! cartoon) aside, Sex Criminals continues to be one of my top three comics hitting the shelves. I absolutely love this series and I will be rereading the first trade ahead of the mountains of other reading material I have teetering menacingly nearby; I simply NEED to experience everything all over again. If you have not read this book, and you are mature enough to handle it, then you can’t go wrong with TIME Magazine’s #1 graphic novel of 2013. The one caveat I have had to buying this book in trade form has been the omission of the hilarious / earnest / informative letters column “Letter Daddies,” but thankfully that problem has been solved with the December hardcover release of Just the Tips that I now have to order. I love this brimping funny book, and I kind of suspect you will, too. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Wytches #1
Wytches #1 - Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Jock, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Clem Robins, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics. Witches used to be green-skinned hags with large noses, cackling, stirring up a cauldron of potions, and generally getting up to mischief. Now, witches are cute, or sexy, or fun-loving. Wytches are neither of those things, yet so much more. The Cray family learned this, and now it looks like the Rooks family is set discover the same thing, as a horrifying event from young Sailor Rooks’s past comes back to haunt her.

Oh my goodness, denizens, I dug this first issue. Snyder’s roots lie deep in the horror genre, and he reminds us of this within the first four pages. Having spent the first ten years of my life in Akron, OH, and knowing full well the thrills and scares residing within the woods, Snyder immediately taps into the strongest, creepiest elements country living has to offer, and then begins the story of the Rooks family. We quickly meet Sailor and her illustrator father, followed by Sailor’s mother, who is confined to a wheelchair for reasons as yet unrevealed. Through cleverly concealed exposition and natural dialogue we learn how this family works and some traumatic event(s) had happened in the past. Snyder then reveals exactly what happened to Sailor back in their old hometown, and the events are chilling and in turn open up many more questions. Things only get crazier from there.

I’m used to seeing Jock’s art on the superhero titles or the crime titles, but this is the first I’ve seen of his horror work. If the cold shiver coursing through my body at the glimpse of the tree, the woman, the look on the boy’s face, the man in the woods, the bully in the woods, the deer, another woman in the tree, the teeth…basically every dang thing in this issue is unnerving; I love it. The character acting is fantastic as we see Sailor’s father, Reg, being a goofball for his daughter’s benefit one moment, and then once she leaves on the bus a silent panel shows us exactly how this man feels.

Adding to the mood of every moment of this book are Hollingsworth’s dark colors and background textures, with the key scenes of Sailor and her bully meeting in the woods. This is also true of the creepy first four pages. With this issue of Wytches we get an awesome bonus for process junkies like myself, in that the creators provide the script for the fourth page, then the inked art for that page, and finally the colors-only page four. Both the inked page and the colored page are gorgeous in their gruesomeness, especially when you see the impact both art forms add separately, and more so on the finished page. I would actually love to see a black and white version of the rest of this book, and one that is colors only (no line art), but whatchagonnado?

Aside from being impeccably-written, beautifully illustrated and colored, and scary-as-all-get-out, the first issue of Wytches clocks in at 28 pages and a $2.99 price point that the Big Two could learn a thing or two from. The funny thing is that I flew through this book, and when I came to the end, I wished I had another 28 pages to curl up with, while I shivered under the covers as I read with my flashlight. This is creepy stuff, denizens, and if you like that sort of thing, like I do, then you simply must pick this up…if you can find a copy. Wytches #1 is a fantastic start and comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Black Science #9
Black Science #9 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Matteo Scalera, painted by Dean White, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. As we catch a glimpse of Rebecca’s tragic past, Grant McCay’s (possibly-not-long) surviving children, Nate and Pia, are on the run alone on a deadly world. Sword-wielding goblins, sentient and well-spoken centipede creatures bearing the “onion” coat of arms, and the return — sort of — of a lost colleague await.

Without even reaching page two, I have to say I would PROUDLY hang both the cover and page one on any wall in my home if the creators (hint-hint) decided to release them as posters. Anyhow, this issue slows things down a bit — if you can call trolls and giant bugs slowing things down — but is still highly entertaining, if not a tad confusing. I believe this is by design, and things will become as clear as the creators wish to make them come the next couple of issues.

Black Science continues to be a fantastic series, and although this issue did not grab me as much as the previous issues, that does not mean it was in any way bad. Quite the opposite actually, and I cannot wait to see what happens next on this tremendous series. If you have not been reading yet another of Image Comics’s amazing success stories by these amazing creators, you can catch up with the first trade ($9.99 retail for six issues!) and then just pick up issues 7–9, which I strongly encourage you to do. Treat yo’ self! RECOMMENDED!

Infinity TPB
Infinity TPB - Written by Jonathan Hickman with Nick Spencer; illustrated by Mike Deodato, Stefano Caselli, Marco Rudy, Marco Checchetto, Jim Cheung, Jerome Opeña, Dustin Weaver, Leinil Francis Yu, Mark Morales, Guillermo Ortego, Dave Meikis; colored and lettered by too many exceptionally talented folks to list; published by Marvel Comics. As half of the Avengers head off to distant galaxies to combat the threat of the deadly “Builders,” the remaining Earth-stuck members find themselves fighting back the threat of Thanos the Mad Titan’s murderous “Black Order.” Interstellar alliances are built and shattered in this taut thriller of political intrigue and secrets coming to light.

Remember last week when I was freaking out (in the best of ways) about Avengers Versus Thanos TPB beast of a book? Well, coming off the high of that mixed with a frustrating bout of insomnia — no more late-night coffee yogurt with chocolate chips for me, boy howdy — I hammered through the monstrous Infinity TPB over the course of four days. This tome is stuffed to the gills with Marvel cosmic superhero goodness with the following issues contained within: Infinity 1–6, New Avengers 7–12, and Avengers 14–23. At a $49.99 price point, it is a hefty chunk of cash, but if you click on the cover / title above, you will save roughly $15, which is definitely the way to go.

As for the book itself, I loved it, but I will say that there are a bunch of areas that left me a tad bewildered and struggling to catch up as a result of having not read the Avengers 1–13 and New Avengers 1–6.  I had no idea of who Black Swan, or Smasher (the woman version), or Eden, or Abyss, or Nightmask, or Ex Nihilo are, or what the deal is with the tons of other Ex Nihili (Ex Nihilii, Ex Sleepy, Ex Grumpy, Ex Bashful, Ex Donaldo Trumpo…just kidding on the last four). Instead or fretting about it, I just allowed the story to take me away, and I ended up being fine, although with a marked interest in reading the first two Avengers trades, and the first New Avengers trade as well.

As for the flow of the story, or rather the order in which the individual issues are presented, I could not begin to tell you as there are multiple chapter breaks. Each utilizes Hickman’s graphic design sensibilities with a predominant use of white space, but no indication of issue covers or numbers to clarify what book you are actually reading. This is awesome, in that reading this book gives you the feeling of reading a standalone graphic novel as opposed to a mere compilation of comic book issues that had been written for the trade; not an easy thing to do. This is further aided by the seamless flow of the myriad of artists showcased within, whose styles are indeed different and recognizable, yet not once was I removed from the story by jarring art shifts.

As for the story itself, it is what you can expect from Hickman; brilliantly-plotted, massive, and unapologetically complex, but ultimately rewarding. I loved seeing the space team of Avengers joining up with the various alien races, many of whom were previously enemies, in an effort to stop the very real threat posed by the grotesque Builders. I equally enjoyed the more earthbound story dealing with Thanos, and although my favorite Mad Titan really only appears in about a third of this book, his “Black Order” fanatics were cool enough to keep me enthralled. I will also admit to a bit confusion by much of the stuff going on with Black Bolt and the Inhumans, but I suppose reading the trades mentioned above will clarify things. Then there is the “Infinity: Prelude” stuff, with a character called Superia who works with A.I.M. and sends some robotic creature thing in between two dead universes, which never gets another mention (at least I don’t think so). All my enjoyment of this book aside, I’m left wondering how you can have an “Infinity” book with out my main man, Adam Warlock, but I’m certain Marvel has plans for him in the near future. Time will tell.

So, yes, I enjoyed reading this book quite a bit. If you are a fan of the Marvel cosmic side of things, then this is a must-own book, but be warned, if you love the Guardians of the Galaxy movie and its sharp wit and humor, don’t expect to be laughing at any point through Infinity — it just ain’t that kind of book. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Neighbors - One of my goals in life is to not have neighbors either above or below, or connected on either side, or less than twenty feet across from us. Now, I don’t want to be unneighborly or anything, but as I mentioned in the Wytches review above, I grew up in the country with loads of space. You know, space enough to where the college girls on the adjoining right of our unit can’t wake us up as they drunkenly(?) pound on their sliding glass door (bad idea) for over an hour beginning at 12:15 AM. Yes, Santa Barbara is a college town, but our complex is off-the-beaten path and is relatively quiet…even the infrequent sketchy people coming off the railroad tracks and who stumble across our area keep to themselves. But these dang girls…

After angrily throwing on some clothes, stomping downstairs, flipping on the outdoor light, and heading out to see what the problem was, I peer over the low fence to see one girl, clearly out of it (alcohol? drugs? there was a case of beer I could see inside her unit) smacking the bejesus out of the glass door to get someone’s attention to let her in.

I say, “What’s going on?” as I wonder why none of the other neighbors have called the cops on her.

She mumbles in a near whisper, “Sorry, sir,” not even looking in my direction.

“Do you need me to call someone?” I say, irritated.

“No, sir,” she mutters again, still refusing to look at me.

At first I thought there was only one of them out there, causing this calamity, but then a second girl materializes from the shadows — had she been sleeping out there? — says something to the first girl, and they both turn to fade away, allowing the darkness of the night to claim them.

Unsure of what to do, I stood out there as moths descended upon me, but the girls stayed hidden, so I went back inside. We heard them rap on the glass a couple more times, but I guess their passed out friend finally woke up enough to let their creepy, messed-up carcasses back inside.

No sleep for us after that. Ugh. Morons. Hey…she called me “sir”…twice! As if I was a police officer or an old man or something. Ugh. Morons.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 10/3/2014

(Sung to the tune of Puffy Amiyumi’s “Planet Tokyo”) For the life of me, I cannot find the Puffy Amiyumi video that I am sure I watched a few years back. No idea why…my guess is lawsuits or somethin’…

So many books, where to turn oh Heaven knows
What to test drive, decide, and watch your smile grow
Swamp Thing kingdoms rise on up with the Machine
Both fun and scares oh my for you and me and me

These here comic books will take you to the stars
Versus Thanos, Bro, this hefty book’ll take you far
Then The Fade Out’s so another book for you to read
These here comic books are the ones you surely need

Okay, a shorter intro today on account of a lack of sleep this week. Welcome to Donist World. I’m joined as ever by CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / insomniac Tulip (my dog, Obies’s sister). So you might be asking, “Why aren’t you sleeping, Donist?” Well, denizens, given that Tulip shares my bed (she’s my executive AND my dog, sickos) and that it has been stoopidly hot for the past couple of weeks AND that I am a terrible sleeper, things have not been working out quite how I like. The problem is that Tulip gets hot in the middle of the night, jumps off the bed, and then noisily rolls around on the carpet to cool off (I think that’s what she is doing). From there it falls to Donist World Intern Amy (my wife) or I to tell Tulip to knock it off and get back in bed, which Tulip ignores for a few minutes. Oftentimes, Tulip will come to the side of the bed and not attempt to jump up, but instead stands there waiting for one of us to get up and put her on the bed. This does not aid in the sleeping process. I’m not sure what Obie does, but I have a suspicion it involves staying up all night, drinking loads of coffee, and sending text messages to those shady financiers up in Healdsburg, but that is a separate problem all together. Anyhow, while I go lie down for a minute or two, take a gander at this week’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Swamp Thing #35
Swamp Thing #35 - Written by Charles Soule, illustrated by Jesus Saiz, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Travis Lanham, published by DC Comics. Remember what happened last month in Swamp Thing, denizens? Yup, it was that “Futures End” event thingy, that was actually 85–92.3% enjoyable — the remainder was diminished by outside unneccesary superheroicular (my word, I own it) interference, but whatchagonnado. That said, do you remember what happened the month prior to the interrupting event of our regularly scheduled programming? No, seriously, do you remember? You see, I didn’t. Thankfully, Soule and Saiz bring us back to the story they were attempting to tell with the fourth page of this issue.

First we learned of the Green. Then of the Red and the Rot. Not long ago we became aware of the Grey, and now the Machine makes its presence known. The Machine sends a servent, or a Calculus as is calls itself, to approach the Swamp Thing with an appealing offer. Brother Jonah provides some unexpected advice on how to best handle this offer.

Above I mentioned the fourth page bringing us back to the regular story, and the creators do this through fantastic dialogue (the Swamp Thing and the Calculus) and clever hints / reminders in the artwork (the smoldering, fetid corpse of what was once the Wolf). The Calculus — who I mistakenly thought had something to do with the “Futures End” thing — is an awesome new character brought to life through its quirky manner of speaking that humorously, yet effectively, uses combinations of social networking lingo, poorly translated lines a la “All Your Base Are Belong to Us,” and the myriad of news headlines and commercials we are bombarded with on a regular basis. The character design of the Calculus is equally cool, as “he” is a featureless, silver-skinned being dressed impeccably in a pinstriped suit that is rendered with unbending, perfectly vertical stripes, almost as if his perfectly-tailored suit is itself a monitor. The only way Hollingsworth depicts creases or folds in the Calculus’s suit is through a darkening (or possibly a lowering of opacity) of various areas of the striping. You really just need to check out the page; it’s rather cool.

Also worth noting are the first three pages of the book, which although having little of Saiz’s gorgeous artwork, is still fascinating in that we briefly learn the moment of the Machine’s awakening to its own kingdom. To do this Saiz uses only straight lines to simulate a network, which Hollingsworth brings to life with vibrant glows as Soule carries the weight of the storytelling through his captions. Despite being primarily text and straight lines on a double-page spread, Saiz provides a bit of overlay of the expanding Machine overtop of the Red, Grey, Rot, and Green, making these first three pages an incredibly effective introduction to the new kingdom.

So, that’s what I thought about the first four pages, and of course you have all the fantastic writing, and gorgeous illustrations you’ve come to expect from this title. In addition you get some great moments seeing Alec’s true dream, some time with Brother Jonah, and one heck of a double-page spread of a prehistoric meeting between the Red and the Green that is certain to knock any Swamp Thing fan senseless. All this without a single punch being thrown…that looks to be next issue.

Now that Soule has gone exclusive with Marvel, his time with Swamp Thing is now limited, which is a bummer. He brought a degree of humor to this book that was not normally found in the treasured Alan Moore run, yet Soule managed to make it work while retaining the horror element I so love with this character. I am excited to see what he gives us before he moves on. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Fade Out #2
The Fade Out #2 - Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips, colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics. Funerals. They’re where the observant can notice things about their fellow attendees. For instance, Charlie knows the dead starlet did not commit suicide, she was murdered, possibly by someone in attendance. Why, oh why, did he confess he was the one who found Valeria’s murdered body, to Gil Mason, of all people? It might have something to do with Charlie and Gil’s unique working relationship.

Not much happens in the case of who murdered up-and-coming starlet Valeria Sommers…but that’s okay, we’re still learning about the players and the world of this story. This is especially true on the clever, complex relationship Brubaker and Phillips have developed between Charlie and Gil, which is something I did not see coming, yet adds a pleasant twist to the story. As with all stories by this creative team, so very much is tucked away in the details of a page…on an individual panel even. In this issue we see more of the friendship between Charlie and Val as they discuss her lines on a script. The body language of the scene shows Val snuggling up close, reclining on him, sharing a cigarette, and then giving him a compliment, to which he says nothing; the scene ends with Val’s smile and her knowing eyes. What she knows, or whether or not she is somehow manipulating Charlie is not yet clear, but there is more between them than we yet know.

Although this issue is primarily people conversing in relevant settings, there a couple pages of action at the graveyard, where Phillips beautifully choreographs an argument that comes to blows. It’s a well-crafted scene, as the “camera” rotates slowly clockwise around the players, and Breitweiser’s cool color scheme heats up to four panels of intense reds; it’s dang impressive.

What’s equally impressive, or rather shocking, is the backup story by Jess Nevins that briefly details the injustice of the scandal to which Rosco “Fatty” Arbuckle (1887–1933) found himself mired in. I had never heard of this travesty of justice before and the situation is so unreal that it is hard to believe it actually happened. Definitely worth taking the time to read, and I now must see if I can dig up a documentary or some such about this Fatty Arbuckle tragedy. As for the comic itself, we are only two issues in thus far, and I can tell you with certainty that I am staying around to see how things play out. A great new crime period piece. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Flashback Friday

Avengers Versus
Thanos TPB
Avengers Versus Thanos TPB - Written by Jim Starlin, Mike Friedrich, Steve Gerber, Steve Engelhart & Scott Edelman, illustrated by Jim Starlin, Don Heck, Bob Brown, John Buscema & Mike Zeck, inked and colored and lettered by so many people I just can’t list them all here, published by Marvel Comics. Now, if you’ve been following Donist World for any length of time — like, say, over four and a half years — then you know I have a love…a thang…a soft spot in my cold, dark Donist heart for the Jim Starlin Warlock and Thanos stories (you can read my thoughts about it here, here, and most substantially here).

So…done reading those ancient posts from a Donist World past? Good, let’s do this thing.

My feelings have not changed one bit since the days I first read the six-issue Warlock Special Edition reprints that blew my 12-year-old mind away. Since then, I have reread those stories on a fairly consistent annual basis and my love and appreciation has only increased over those three (oh, denizens, has it been that long?!) decades. One thing, however, that drove me absolutely nuts about the Warlock re-issues was that they oftentimes referenced the Iron-Man, Avengers, and Captain Marvel issues that covered their encounters with Thanos who had then held the Cosmic Cube. Not only that, it showed the green-skinned, purple-clad Drax the Destroyer, who I would only see a year later in 1983 in the pages of the Marvel lovers’ sacred text known as The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (aka OHOTMU, for those of you playing the home game, and which I am now on a quest to reacquire). Characters I loved, cool new characters I knew nothing about, something called a Cosmic Cube, Thanos as a disembodied, all-powerful head floating in outer space… How could you not love that?! Anyhow, buying and reading those missing individual issues back then were beyond my financial capabilities (I did have The Micronauts commanding my allowance money, after all). Until now.

The Avengers Versus Thanos TPB is a beast of a book at 472 pages of mostly comic book story that is approximately 2/3 of material I had not read (Thanos first arriving on the scene, Drax the Destroyer, Captain Marvel cosmic awesomeness, and the Cosmic Cube), with the remaining 1/3 belonging to my treasured Warlock stories. The volume of individual comics contained in this collection is simply daunting and further reason to pick up this trade as opposed to hunting down all of the pricey individual issues. You get issues of The Invincible Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Marvel Feature, The Avengers, Daredevil, Warlock, Marvel Two-In-One, and the Logan’s Run Thanos material as well. All you need is this hefty book to get in on the key Captain Marvel and Warlock issues and see where Thanos got his start.

After all of the rambling above, the question looms: did I like this addition of Thanos and the Cosmic Cube, or was the hope of this story better than the actual thing? Oh, denizens, it was so much the former; I LOVE this book. If you are a fan of Starlin’s (how could you not be) brilliant space opera storytelling (both written and drawn), his gorgeous character designs, and his awe-inspiring cosmic layouts, then you simply must own this book. I did prefer some issues in the collection to others — all of Starlin’s are of course my favorites — and as fantastic as the Cosmic Cube stories are, the Warlock ones still reign supreme for me, but I will say Thanos’s quest for power and his early confrontations with Drax and Captain Marvel have earned their place on my annual reread of this monumental Marvel work.

I breezed through this volume over the course of a week, and then hammered through all of the recent Infinity TPB, which I hope to talk about next week — SPOILER ALERT: buy it as well. Now with two monstrous cosmic / Thanos books down, I’m off to read The Thanos Imperative, The Infinity Gauntlet, and it looks like it’s high time I finally read that Avengers The Korvac Saga storyline I’ve wanted to read for the majority of my life. As for The Avengers Versus Thanos, you simply must read this tremendous book. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Riverside Unified School District Bans The Fault In Our Stars From Its Junior High Libraries - First things first. I have not YET read The Fault In Our Stars, and I kind of wonder if the psycho parent at the center of this whole book banning by the Riverside USD has either. Oftentimes, those who seek to decide what actual freedom-loving individuals can and cannot read have not read the very books they are so deeply “offended” by. It’s kind of frightening that one overly-vocal minority can decide what I can/cannot read, what you can/cannot read, what your child can/cannot read, or what that random person across the street can/cannot read. What’s even more frightening is that the Riverside USD lacked the fortitude to tell this parent that if they do not want their child to read an immensely popular and beloved book (and now a major motion picture, btw), then that parent should exercise their right as a parent and not allow their child to read said book. Riverside USD should have said the parent has ZERO grounds to inflict their short-sighted will on other peoples’ children.

Whatever Riverside USD’s rationale for stomping on the rights of their students and that of the parents who are fine with their kids reading The Fault In Our Stars — or any other book by Nerdfighter John Green for that matter — they failed the majority of those they serve; I guess any student suffering from a terminal illness, or feeling alone and desperate, or wanting to read the book their friends talk so much about will have to just buy the book themselves because the library, a place created for the collection and dispersion of the written word to everyone, has been censored by one overly vocal minority.

Although I can understand every school’s fear of a lawsuit, Riverside Unified School District has a commitment to their students and to the community to make books such as The Fault In Our Stars available to their students, as most schools around the country already do. Parents should only be allowed to control what their child reads, not what other people’s children read.

So, stand up to this one censoring jerk’s efforts to squash freedom in Riverside, and read the book, buy the book for a friend, see the movie, visit the Nerdfighters page, check out brothers John Green and Hank Green’s amazing Vlogbrothers YouTube channel, or the highly-informative Mental Floss YouTube Channel (where I find helpful tidbits like this), and if you are a parent in Riverside, contact the district office and voice your displeasure over one parent’s successful censorship crusade…I’m sure there are far more you (rational), then there are of them (positively nuts).


Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 9/26/2014

(Sung to the tune of Ultramagnetic MCs’s “Traveling At the Speed Of Thought”)

I go 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
As I take your mind off
and on to a new book
So let’s have a look
Respect Low, as it whups your brain
Eyeball strain, leaves you prayin’
In the ocean as it thrills your skull
It’s dang cool as it’s melting ya skull
You want hurt and pain, love, bats, death
Saga’s down, covering you for some eye jammy
It’ll take your brain from the back
and pull it to the front ’cause it rocks
Rachel Rising, oh no, another lunatic
The Sixth Gun, cowboy thugs, monsters scare
Tao-Boy fights Eelyaki psycho
Read this book Chew, ’cause it rocks
There’re more good books than you ever thought

I usually listen to the awesome remix of that song, but seeing as how I never heard the original version of “Traveling at the Speed of Thought,” or that there was an old video for it, let’s just say my spirits rose a bit. Hello, denizens, and welcome back to Donist World. I’m joined as ever by CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / kool beats specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). We’re going to keep it brief, as we have a bunch of books to look at this week — I got a copy of last week’s Satellite Sam and still have not had a chance to read it. We also have some Slice Into the Woods thoughts below about Banned Books Week (Check out and the American Library Association page for the list of most challenged books) and show your support to stopping any censorship efforts going down in your community and around the country. So, while I run out to stop my executive team from peeing on the tires of some pro-censorship psycho’s attempt to pull Jeff Smith’s wonderful graphic novel Bone (#10 on the Top Ten Challenged Books list) from the library’s shelves…actually, nah, I’m going to let Tulip and Obie do the deed, and then we’re off for some pollo asado tacos. While we do that, feast your peepers on this week’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Low #3
Low #3 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Greg Tocchini, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. The first issue of Low took me completely by surprise. Not because we received a well-written, and beautiful character study by Remender, but because were introduced to the man’s third amazing creator-owned comic in less than a year — the other two being Black Science and Deadly Class, of course. All three comics are still going strong in addition to Remender’s books at Marvel (which I need to read some day), but as of this issue Low snatched me up to drag me along on it’s magical yet terrifying journey. This is not to say I was floundering on the first two issues — I loved everything about them — this issue, however, moved us into the main story: that of a journey to the abandoned surface of the Earth to locate humanity’s last hope for survival. The first issue is the prelude, and the second a more in-depth introduction to the world and the character of Stel as she struggles to remain optimistic, while her self-destructive son follows the course of their people. The adventure to the surface begins with this third issue.

With the City of Salus’s remaining air supply spoiling and the inhabitants’s days numbered, Stel Caine’s hope for salvation arrives in the form of a returned space probe that might hold the roadmap to an inhabitable planet. Unfortunately, the probe has landed on the surface, a place long-abandoned over a millennia ago. If only the wealthiest and most powerful of Salus could pause their debaucherous, self-destructive behavior and listen to Stel for a moment, they would see the chance in front of them; giving up is easier than striving onward. Stel hopes to bring her son, Marik, with her, but she must act fast, else his despair consumes him.

This issue can be divided into two halves: the preparation for the journey, and the crossing of the threshold that marks the beginning of the journey. Each part is compelling, but for different reasons. When Stel shows up at the senator’s party (this book is not for the kiddies, let’s leave it at that), we see the excesses and ignorance of the ruling class, the very ones who helped hasten their own demise. They eat with abandon and allow food to rot as the greater populace starves; it’s a familiar setting that resonates all too clearly the greed and self-destruction of our own world. Remender shows us the depths of Marik’s despair and desperation as his resistance to his mother’s optimistic views leads him to a drastic choice. Then, Stel removes Marik from the small microcosm he had confined himself to and the adventure begins. This is the point when the chills hit me.

Tocchini’s art, character acting, and colors are striking during the beginning half of this issue; the warm-colored, monochromatic orgy scene and the complementary colors of Marik’s jail cell are gorgeous. This half stands out in its beauty, but then the double-page spread of darkness happens followed by the interior of the ship and the magical move into the wondrous ocean; it is here where I was wowed. The design on Stel and Marik’s wetsuits is stunning with the multiply-webbed areas and the long flowing flippers commanding appreciation and showing a sci-fi functionality that bursts from the page as the warm orange colors cut the cool blues of their surroundings. Then we see bizarre fish and and jellyfish and mammoths as Marik sheds his sadness for just a moment, and Toccini delivers the one-two punch of the final three pages that left me desperately wishing there was more to experience.

I had goosebumps on my first read through, denizens, and I am strapped in for this ride that looks to be my favorite book Remender is currently writing. If you are an adult / mature reader, then you need to be reading this spectacular sci-fi series. We are only three issues in, and I am so deeply hooked I want to mark off the days until issue four arrives and blows me away all over again. Remender tells us that life will not be easy for our characters going forward, but as long as we see more of this magical world and these wonderful characters, I will be there to see it all and cringe at what they are put through. A second printing of issue one is available, so catching up on this phenomenal new series is not too difficult and something I urge you to do as soon as possible. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Saga #23
Saga #23 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, published by Image Comics. I know, I’m as shocked as you that the latest issue of Saga is not at the top of the list, it usually is — but that does not mean this issue was not as compelling and all-around awesome as it always is. In fact, this issue was freakin’ great, but if you read this series, then you already know that.

What does a husband / father do when he just had the worst fight in the entirety of his relationship with his wife / mother-of-his-child, and he has been kicked out of his rocket tree house? Simple, go see Ginny the bat-girl, who is already half of the problem between Marko and Alana to begin with. Meanwhile, Prince Robot IV is on the case of finding his abducted son, while said abductor’s killing spree leads him to a certain rocket tree house…

Friendo sighting in this issue, denizens. FRIENDO! Ahem…oh boy, that intro splash-page of Ginny spells all sorts of bad news, but geez Louise is she hot, and going off of Hazel’s narration, it looks like she is going to be around for a while. Again, bad news, but that is part of Saga’s charm. Vaughan and Staples have created a gorgeous sci-fi / fantasy universe, yet they ground everything in real-life situations: arguments over family and responsibility; dissatisfaction with routine; the dwindling of passionate fires; the meddling “other” woman; drug use; etc. Yes, we are planet hopping with multitudes of alien races, but these characters still deal with the same things we deal with or at least routinely see on television. The difference is these characters are so well developed and beloved that it hurts to see them suffer and behave poorly; we can’t help but frantically scramble to see what happens next, as we hope for things to turn out fine.

This comic book rules. I know it. Your life coach knows it. Even your dog knows it. I buy this series in issues, and also in trades which the Donist World intern (my wife) then reads. Come November, I will buy the super-duper-special-edition hardcover that contains the first 18 issues as well as loads of other groovy stuff. If you are not reading this series, then I am sad for you, because you are missing out on one of the best books to come out in quite some time. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Tao-Boy and Engine OGN
Tao-Boy and Engine - Written by Bret Bernal, illustrated by Al Bigley, colored by King Bola, lettered by Dave Sharpe, published by Markosia Enterprises. Full disclosure…I know this Bret Bernal cat. In fact, I know him pretty dang well. We met a few years ago in Andy Schmidt’s Comics Experience Creators Workshop and we’ve been friends ever since. Now, I’m not one to steer the denizens wrong, and I’m also not one to hurt a fellow creator’s feelings, and thankfully I don’t have to do either today.

Kan Yan, or rather Tao-Boy, is the youngest fisherman of his village and an adept student of the Tao. But when the evil forces of the oppressive ruler, Eelyaki, invade Tao-Boy’s village, abduct his grandmother, and take an artifact of great power, it is up to Tao-Boy to rescue her and keep Eelyaki from taking over the world. Thankfully, he has the aid of an amnesia-stricken robot to aid him on his journey. Thieves, giants, chases, and a monstrous ruler with an appetite for human flesh…oh my!

Bernal and Bigley’s graphic novel embraces something we don’t see all that often in today’s comic books: fun appropriate for all ages. Tao-Boy is likable, Engine is cool, Eelyaki is despicable in the best of ways, and the morally-questionable thief, Jia, are just a few of the many characters you will find. Tao-Boy and Engine is a mixture of sci-fi and fantasy that succeeds through Bernal’s compelling story, interesting and unique characters, and fluid dialogue. Bigley’s storytelling keeps you in the action, and his character designs, especially when it comes to Engine and Eelyaki, are just plain cool; I love the look of these guys and Jia reminds me of a girl I had a crush on many moons ago, but let’s not go there… King provides a vibrant color palette in a comic book landscape that tends toward dark and muddy color schemes, almost giving the book a classic feel. Combined, you get a tight comic that will have you smiling all the way to the finish line.

Clicking on the title or the image above will take you to Comixology, where you can buy the 66-page comic for the ridiculously low price of $3.99. You get three comics for the price of one Big Two book, and you can’t go wrong with that, especially given how enjoyable you will find this all-ages comic from this team of talented creators. Definitely check it out, and hopefully we see more of Tao-Boy and Engine’s adventures in the future. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Rachel Rising #28
Rachel Rising #28 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. Rachel and Zoey connect atop a building as Rachel digs for possible information regarding who killed her. Jet stops by Louis’s for a disturbing conversation. Then it’s off to Aunt Johnny’s place of employment for a few unsettling discoveries.

Rachel Rising continues to be my favorite horror-themed comic on the stands. Yes there is murder, demons, witches, plagues of rats, dead girls walking around like everything is fine, a murderous kid in possession of Lucifer’s sword, but there is so much more. There are also in-jokes, and tightly-knit relationships between characters Moore has expertly made us love ever since the first issue. We also have the creepy setting of Manson made real by Moore’s lovely illustrations, the crystal clear storytelling, and character acting that make each issue a pleasure to read.

This excellent series continues to keep me eagerly anticipating each issue as the characters begin to look into the mystery of who murdered Rachel. Rachel Rising is a comic more interested in portraying the fear of what’s out there as opposed to being just another splatter pr0n yawn-fest, while never forgetting to look at the human side of the main characters. Every issue features gorgeous art, a compelling story, and is deserving of being noticed far more than it actually has been. You can easily catch up with the first four trades, with a fifth coming some time at the beginning of the new year. All horror comic lovers should be reading this fantastic book…spread the word, denizens! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Chew #43
Chew #43 - Written and lettered by John Layman, illustrated and colored by Rob Guillory, color assists by Taylor Wells, published by Image Comics. Olive Chu has always excelled at every endeavor she has attempted, but then again, not everyone is an immensely powerful cibopath. As Savoy, Colby, and POYO! take Olive on her first trial mission, Tony Chu is stuck in Antarctica…oh boy, will he be mad when he finds out he was tricked into being as far away from his daughter as possible.

Spoiler Alert! Not. I’m still loving / in love with Chew. I believe there are only 17 issues left in the series — discounting any surprise POYO one-shots — but lets try not to think about that. Instead, let’s focus on the insanity that is this comic. We have a crazy world, a wacky premise, gross-outs abound, ridiculous situations, power sets that are completely outer limits, characters as lovable as they are bizarre, an artistic style unlike anything I have ever seen in a comic book, and pages containing both blatant and concealed jokes that leave you lingering on every panel. Nowhere else will you find surly, cigar chompin’ snowmen, or cybernetic luchador death chickens, or girls trained in the deadly art of tortilla weaponry. Not only that, seeing the portly Mason Savoy disguised as a starry-eyed bear mascot, holding a “Yum” sign no less, is just not something that goes down in most comic books…thank goodness for that.

If you’ve never read Chew, then you are probably a sick person who talks during movies and chews with your mouth open, but Dr. Donist has the prescription you need. You can pick up the first eight trades, or the first four hardcovers (like I double-dipped on), with no problem at all. The world is a dark place, denizens, so why not add in a little weird fun to brighten up your life. Hey, you owe it to yourself. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Sixth Gun #43
The Sixth Gun #43 - 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. The Knights of Solomon and the Sword of Abraham have been feuding with each other for quite some time, but the King of Secrets, the mysterious leader of the Knights of Solomon, seeks to put an end to the conflict once and for all. Drake, Becky, and Screaming Crow need to find Griselda the Grey Witch so they can attempt their risk-ladened plan to rid the world of the six guns once and for all. Their desperation will lead them to an unexpected conclusion as to what must be done.

I won’t lie to you, denizens, not a whole lot happens in this issue, as the creators set us up for the battle to come, which looks to be quite a doozy. This is fine. After loosing more than half of their group a couple issues ago, and being on the run ever since, the slowdown in pacing is a relief for us to collect our breath as we spiral toward the end of the series. I will admit to being a mite confused by the zombie guys and their declarations, but when it comes to the supernatural, sometimes you just have to roll with things. The art on this issue is as beautiful as ever, and I am still loving the freaky design of this King of Secrets character, who I hope to see more of in the future.

I’m not certain what happened with the whole television series, but I would rather see The Sixth Gun wrap up on the creators’ terms, and then see a television series come out. Until that day, new readers can jump aboard this awesome supernatural Western series via the trade paperbacks, and see what this highly creative series is all about. With a premise like The Lord of the Rings set in the old West, you can’t go wrong. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Wood

Banned Books Week - No, I am not upset about Banned Books Week, rather I am upset there even has to be a Banned Books Week at all. It is fantastic that the ALA releases its list of most challenged books, and that they actively strive to prevent the attempted censorship of the written word, by an overly vocal minority bent on compromising our country’s freedom to decide what we can and cannot read. If you don’t like The Hunger Games (I love it), then don’t read it. If you don’t want your children reading the beautifully-illustrated and wonderfully-told graphic novel Bone — a pillar of excellence in graphic storytelling, btw — then try a different approach with your child, you know, parenting and possibly paying attention to what they are doing; leave everyone else’s children out of it.

The problem doesn’t stop there. I realize I am about to narrow the issue down to school libraries when books are challenged at public libraries far too often. Anyways, it is not just that children miss out on opportunities to be excited about reading, there is also a massive time and money suck involved when a book is challenged. It’s shocking to hear when a “concerned” parent-on-a-crusade begins with first an email to the school, then a phone call, then a personal appearance, followed by all sorts of disruptive behaviors (like storming a teacher’s class room during school…trust me, I know people this has happened to) that schools would never tolerate from its students, yet occasionally allow from an adult. Another problem, sadly, is that some librarians and teachers, not wanting the headache of yet another battle, might not even put a book on the shelf. This is done in fear of having to deal with a psycho parent bent on taking away everyone’s right to choose what they will or will not read in an effort to instill the parent’s all-encompassing, unflinching morality on everyone else. It’s a shame these censorship cuckoos are feared, much less granted the time of day, but alas they oftentimes get their way. Why let one adult take away every child’s ability to read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, when that book keeps them reading and/or helps them process certain situations pertinent to their own lives? If your kid wants to read Captain Underpants (#1 on the list for 2013, btw) and nothing else, why allow a stranger to bully the book out of the library, when that book is actually the bridge to your child’s eventual love of other literature.  

So, in honor of Banned Books Week, I ask that you visit the site, see what has been challenged, laugh at the stupidity involved, and then begin to worry that this is actually an issue. Once you have done that, then read a challenged book you already own, buy a new challenged book that you have never read (support authors!), and if you have the financial means then give a little somethin’ somethin’ to the American Library Association for all their hard work in keeping books available for us to decide which ones are worthy of our time. If you are a parent and hear of a book(s) being challenged at your school library, then please contact your school administrators and say that you want the book(s) kept available for each individual to choose if it is right for them or not, and for those administrators to stand up against the whims of censoring whackjobs.

***Side Note*** This reminds me I need to buy another Bone: The Complete Cartoon Epic In One Volume, because I showed it to my friend a long time ago, telling him that his very young, yet already smarter than this ol’ Donist, son should check it out. My friend took my copy believing I was giving it to him, but I bit my tongue and was later thrilled to hear his son had read it multiple times, and has been an avid reader of everything ever since. True story. (Hey Nick, when you eventually get to high school and start accepting résumés for whatever successful business you will eventually start, please keep me in mind. Cool? Cool.)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 9/19/2014

(Sung to the tune of Electronic’s “Getting Away With It”)

I’ve been thinking ’bout my books
Freaking myself out on purpose
The Private Eye’s on my mind
Would internet-free life be worse?
I’ve been reading great comic books all my life
(Reading great books)

However I look, it’s clear to see
Deadly Class is intriguing
However I look, it’s clear to see
Ellis’s Trees has sure hooked me

Over two decades old, and I still really love that song. Hello there, Donist World denizens! I’m back with our CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / getting-away-with-it specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister) and we are trying to pull our collective acts together after this stoopidly hot heatwave. You see, even from the safety of our glorious corporate office (my mom’s non-air-conditioned basement) the heat was still getting to us…then we had to go home. Tulip and I sleep upstairs in a room with vaulted ceilings, a weak fan, and not much air circulation; it was miserable. Needless to say, neither of us slept at all for three whole nights. Obie tells us that at his “crib” (his words) it was so hot he snuck out of his crate, dumped all the ice from the ice cube trays onto the floor, placed a towel over them, and slept like a baby. Of course, now he’s grounded because of the two grand worth of water damage he caused to my friends’ hardwood floor. But whatchagonnado? It was hot. Thankfully, today is much cooler, so to celebrate we’re going to pause our efforts in maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company, and we’re heading out for walk-’n’-talk meeting followed by a trip to the taco truck…my treat. So, grab a cold beverage of your liking and have a look at this week’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Private Eye #8
The Private Eye #8 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Marcos Martin, colored by Muntsa Vicente, published by Panel Syndicate. I love stories that have the whole this-is-a-look-at-the-world-that-might-be feel to them. Or rather, I love those types of stories until such a point that the writer’s fiction starts to transition toward reality. Such is the case with Rucka and Lark’s frightening Lazarus, and, of course, with Vaughan and Martin’s amazing The Private Eye. 

A severely-wounded DeGuerre and the ever-subdued Nebular are poised to see the fruits of their brutal labor, as they prepare to launch their satellite into orbit and tear down the privacy of the world in their bid to restore the flow of information; the internet might soon live again! P.I., however, could care less. All he wants is to get back his seen-better-days sidekick, Melanie, who just so happens to be in DeGuerre and Nebular’s custody. As the clock ticks on the restoration of the internet, so does the time left for Melanie’s life…the girl’s sharp, cruel tongue looks to hasten her demise.

You know what, denizens? I love this dang comic. This donation-only-(this-includes-free!) comic is so good, so thought-provoking, you will gladly kick down a couple bucks to the creators. Then, if you are like me, you’ll even throw in an extra dollar or two, because you are all giddy from that email that just informed you a new issue has become available. The amazing — and frightening — aspect of this comic is that it centers on a world where the privacy we thought a life in the cloud afforded us all, eroded in one fell swoop exposing everyone’s secrets, big and small; lesser versions of this actually happen all too often (see “Slice Into the Woods” below). If that wasn’t enough, the creators throw other glimpses of other worrisome concerns at us, such as global warming (aka SCIENCE! to all climate denying, dum-dums out there), and although what we see at the wall might be exaggerated (possibly not…again, SCIENCE!) it is shocking.

Vaughan and Martin are not completely one-sided in their depiction of a world without internet. Even the morally-reprehensible character of DeGuerre makes some very valid points concerning the flow of information, and how knowledge should be made available. But then, so does the battered and bruised character, Melanie. The funny thing is the creators keep saying they will never put The Private Eye into any sort of tangible form of print, which is a brilliant comment regarding what would happen to this very work if the events leading to the creation of their world actually did occur. Yes, maybe Martin actually used art boards when drawing each page, but the lettering would see different positioning, and thus the work as we originally saw it would be gone forever; if Martin illustrated digitally, this book would be lost along with the web. It’s crazy to think about.

Oh, yeah, the story and art are as tremendous as ever…in case you didn’t gather that from prior reviews.

The Private Eye always gets me thinking, but this is after I read each issue. During each read, however, I am swept away with this roller coaster ride of excitement. Brilliant writing and illustrations have made this “book” a Donist World darling  ever since the first issue, and this unbelievably compelling story leaves me frothing at the mouth for the final two issues. DANG! I cannot wait to see what happens next. Please support these amazing creators so we continue to benefit from the exceptional quality of their work…at least until the internet implodes. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Deadly Class #7
Deadly Class #7 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, colored by Lee Loughridge, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. After a brief hiatus, Deadly Class returns for its second arc. Remender is on a creator-owned roll with three tremendous titles currently seeing release (Black Science and Low are the other two must-read titles), and this is in addition to his well-received Marvel work, and his robust history that includes the phenomenal Fear Agent. After reading this issue of Deadly Class, the guy does not appear to be slowing down in the slightest…thank goodness for us.

Young love is in the air…as well as all the jealousy, doubt, and wandering eyes that go along with it. Also in the air is Marcus and his friends’ worry as to what He did with Chico’s body. Like Marcus, He has a family of his very own, all of whom are nearly as ruthless and terrifying as He. Meanwhile, someone close is not what he seems.

How’s that for vague? Removing the whole school-of-assassins aspect of the story, Remender perfectly captures the rush, the confusion, the conflicting emotions of young love. He mixes in the feelings of belonging for some, while not belonging for others, as he tackles the subject of depression and the tenacious grip it maintains on so very many. The lives of each character in Deadly Class are so richly steeped in reality, that you don’t even flinch when the fantastical elements of the murdered psychopath Chico, or He, or adolescents belonging to a school dedicated to killing arise. Through Remender’s characterization, dialogue, and intentionally chaotic thoughts via the captions, it’s all too easy to remember the tumultuous experience of being Marcus’s age — minus the assassinationing (deliberate word choice here, denizens), of course.

Craig’s art continues to be simply stunning. High-panel-density pages are the norm, and each and every one adds to the drama and escalation of the page to the point that when you come across a page with four or fewer panels, you are rattled by the transition; this is by design, something pivotal has just occurred. Craig’s character acting tells you most everything you need to know about a character and a scene, with the exception of the enigmatic Saya and the massively-scarred He (you can read His actual name in the book). Pushing the mood of Craig’s art is Loughride’s primarily analogous coloring scheme which does so much, with so little. Although there is little rendering, the mood and the storytelling skills delivered by his color palette are unmistakable.

I rarely mention letterers, it is the “invisible” art after all, but Wooton expertly steers a reader through the occasional dialogue-dense scenes without breaking the flow of the story. This is not an easy thing to do — I know — but Wooton makes keeping the eye moving through the story seem effortless to the point that most readers will fail to notice any of the word balloons.

So, yes, a couple months off, and Deadly Class does not miss a beat. This excellent title succeeds in capturing the chaos of youth, while mixing in a compelling story that is certain to appeal to mature readers who want something more than the usual capes and tights fare. Now is the time to jump on, as you can pick up the first trade (contains issues 1–6) for only $9.99 retail, and with this fantastic issue you will be all caught up on yet another great Remender comic. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Trees #5
Trees #5 - Written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Jason Howard, lettered by Fonografiks, published by Image Comics. Most of the characters and locations since the first issue appear in some capacity as the trees continue to do nothing…or so it seems. Some try to spur the trees to action, one realizes his purpose as peace collapses, another’s potential is appreciated, as something shocking transpires in the frozen north.

If any of the above makes sense, then good…that’s really about all I can tell you about what transpires in this issue. This is not because I want to avoid spoiling anything, but rather because I really couldn’t tell you much more than that; anything else is beyond this Donist’s feeble mind to comprehend. That’s okay, though, I’m enjoying these glimpses into different parts of the world and the people who live in those places. This is a comic more about human nature, as opposed to the alien trees. So much so, we never even saw the trees’ arrival on Earth, we only see —thus far — humanity acting in its myriad of ways, regardless of whether or not that world includes the trees.

Howard’s artwork is as strong as ever, with his command of character acting and coloring driving the impact of every scene. One thing I can glean from Howard’s tremendous art is that this issue signals the beginning of many things to come, as indicated by varying color schemes, and the subtleties within each panel. Whatever is in store for us, I’ll be there to see it happen…I can’t wait. RECOMMENDED!

Supreme Blue Rose #3
Supreme: Blue Rose #3 - Written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Tula Lotay, lettered by Richard Starkings, designed by John Roshell, published by Image Comics. Diana Dane continues her search for Ethan Crane…the blue rose that does not, and should not, exist. She is also being paid an incredible amount of money to do so by billionaire Darius Dax. As she rides in a limousine with some…uh…guy who just appeared there for no reason, he informs Diana that she is on a road that is 250,000 miles long and has taken countless lifetimes to traverse. Then…ummmm <cough, cough> a television show about someone called Professor Night means something or other, as (dang…I’m dyin’ over here) a hot redhead with cleavage molecules appears at a bar at Dax’s complex, a bar that doesn’t exist (what?!). Then...crud…a blue guy talks about something and an African-American Albert Einstein in a cool spacesuit steps out of a wrecked army medical vehicle (don’t text and drive, denizens!). Ummm…yup, that sure is what happened, alrighty.

I feel dumb.

What the heck? Even after writing down only what I see — the words kinda make things more crazy-complex — I feel the need to give my poor brain a break with some Rich Mean Housewives Who Dance While There Are Stars-a-Boo-Boo, just to make myself feel semi-intelligent again. So, no idea what’s going on, but I’m looking at this as a freakin’ challenge.

When the first story arc wraps, I’m going to detox from bad foods, beer, caffeine, and television for a good week. During that time, I will engage in some long runs, yoga, and meditation, while helping woodland animals. Then, and only then, will I light 44 candles in my Fortress of Donistude and reread each issue straight through. This will be no mere reading, but an osmosis of comprehension from the Ellisplane to the new pocket universe of my own making. That should help things make sense.

All joking aside — am I joking? — I still like this comic…whatever it is. Lotay’s artwork is stunning, magical, especially when depicting the gorgeous women…doubly so for those with molecule cleavage. The coloring on every page is jaw-dropping beauty that makes me wonder how she achieved the various effects she utilizes. The rainbow of squiggles that flow through panels and gutters and out into the bleed add to the visual delight of this book as well.

I ain’t going to lie to you, denizens, this is varsity-level comic booking. There are no capes and tights or cheerful, light-hearted moments, and things might not (yet) make sense, but my love of the creators will keep me coming back to see if I can figure out what is going on. So, if you want something truly not like anything else on the stands, then do some jumping jacks, some pushups, and give Supreme Blue Rose a read. Let me know what’s going on if you figure it out. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Crud…I Forgot Satellite Sam #10 - Darn. Add that to the list of missing Image comics, alongside God Hates Astronauts #1 and Lazarus #10. Dang.

The Private Eye Got Me Thinkin’ (Oh No) - You remember what just happened a couple weeks ago? Some…not a very nice person(s)…shattered many female actresses’ perceived privacy by releasing countless nude photos of them on a methodically scheduled basis for all the world to see. In a sense, a small-scale version of The Private Eye played out right in front of our faces. This could have happened to you, it could have happened to me. (Un)fortunately, I don’t think I’m pretty enough to get this sort of treatment, but please know, denizens, I have been working out. Sadly, this is the world we now live in, the world of cloud computing, our “private” lives stored in cyber space even when we don’t know our camera / phone is placing that info up deep into the interwebs. We are practically told to change all of our passwords on a quarterly basis as passwords and personal information are routinely pilfered from any number of websites. Not only that, we now live in the age of services versus ownership, where computer software — I am specifically calling out Adobe here — is now rented to us with the only set of keys belonging solely to the company as handed down through an internet connection (which other companies are attempting prioritize based on $$$s); if the internet goes down, so does your access to those programs. It’s a scary world where nothing is private and we own less and less and less. If the internet ever goes down hard with all of our juiciest secrets up for grabs, just remember that Vaughan and Martin’s The Private Eye told you so.