Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 10/21/2016

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / happy hound of healing Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). As I mentioned last week, I’m not going to be able to take a look at this week’s comics in time for FSoH/SitW. Remember last week how I mixed things up a bit by taking a look at some of my favorite mini-series of the ’80s? Well, I’m going to skip doing the usual review of the week’s new comics — there was only one book in my pull anyways — and instead highlight the comics that I return to every few years or so. These are the series that for whatever reason have charmed my soul, and I cannot help but dig back into them again and again despite having plenty of other things awaiting my attention. So, let’s get started and see what’s what on the great, golden spinner rack of adoration here at Donist World headquarters (Mom’s basement). kindly kick back Jack, pour yourself a Founder’s Breakfast Stout (or a coffee if beer ain’t your thang), check out Luke Cage on Netflix (so freakin’ great!) and most of all read some great comics. Take care. Thank you for reading!

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

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Friday Slice of Heaven

As always, these are in no particular order other than as they come to mind or as I happen to see them on the shelves; they’re all treasures.


I’m rapidly approaching 500 posts here at Donist World, and I know I’ve praised Marvel’s golden-skinned tragi-hero of the cosmos quite a few times. And when you mention Adam Warlock, you also have to include his greatest foe / ally / murderer Thanos. After that, you have to be sure that the legendary writer / artist Jim Starlin is the one guiding the spaceship of this pair’s destinies, and you have a substantial library of material that I have reread so many times that I’ve lost count. In fact, I just recently reread (March 2016) ALL of Warlock and Thanos’s exploits from the Warlock comics of the ’70s, to Infinity Gauntlet, to Thanos: The Infinity Finale. I finished the epic undertaking at the end of April, and figure I’ll start the process over again in sometime around 2019 or so. This stuff never gets old and I still hold out hope that Adam Warlock someday makes it to the silver screen. Respect.

The Micronauts

Here’s another series I mention often. Wait…you haven’t heard of it? Wait, what?! How can that be?!?! Actually, I’m not all that surprised. Yeah, I hate to do it to you, Denizens, but this is one of those Marvel series that just so happens to be stuck in licensing limbo. Not to go too far into this life-changing series, but The Micronauts transformed me into a comic book collector. In fact, I love this series so much that at the beginning of 2014, I began a six-month journey on Donist World called “Micronauts Monday” (this is where it all began) where I looked at every single Marvel Micronauts comic from the viewpoint of Young Donist and present-day Donist, and I had a blast doing it…even with the less-than-compelling “New Voyages.” Sadly, if you intend to track this one down, then you are going to have to bargain bin dive to find the actual floppies as licensing purgatory currently prevents any sort of trades from being released. It might take a while, but you should definitely seek these out. Bill Mantlo writing and Michael Golden, Pat Broderick, and Butch Guice illustrating? Dang, Denizens. Such glory indeed.

The Legion of Super Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga

Hey! Whatdoyouknow…a DC comic, and what a DC comic it is! I don’t mention it all that often, but as a teen I was a huge Legion of Super Heroes fan, and although I got left way way way far behind on what has been going on with the Legion over the past couple of decades, this particular storyline roped me and my brother in deep, and what’s not to love. You have a massive roster of spacefaring superheroes, deadly and monstrous villains under the command of a mysterious master (Darkseid…sorry, Denizens, no spoilin’ as he’s right there on the dang cover), guest appearances, and stakes so high you’ll be sweatin’ it all the way to the end. Criminy…I’m pumping myself up to reread this one as I write about it. Anyhow, my brother and I read the original comics so many times that the covers nearly fell off. I also was lucky enough to get none other than Paul Levitz to sign the gorgeous hardcover of the collection, but now that I think of it, I wish I had him sign those much-loved, beat-all-to-hell floppies that are worthless because of their condition, but priceless in their importance to me.


No comic book series put me through as much torture as did Preacher. Every single issue left off with such a brutal cliffhanger of such gravity that I wanted to scream and holler just to release the built up tension of seeing the characters who I thoroughly loved put through all sorts of hell. I just reread the entire series for the fifth or sixth time this summer, and I could not put it down. As engaging today as it was then, Preacher is the comic I recommend to those friends I believe can handle this controversial, exciting, addictive, humorous, romantic, adventure. The funny thing is that most people think I named my dog Tulip after the flower. They say it’s cute. But the reality is I named her after Tulip O’hare from one of the best comics ever to see publication. *Side note: I know plenty of people like the television show, but I am not one of them. There are great actors, and some fantastic moments, but it just did not work for me. If you like the television show, but have not read the comics, then you are in for one heck of a treat. Get the first collection, and I suspect you will be ordering the rest of this important series by the time you finish the third issue.


The ending to this 27-issue series gets me every dang time. I mean, choked up, sniffling back the tears, but smiling wide as I sit quietly to take in the final moment of this wonderful series. The mystery of the Fourth Man, and the issue by issue examination of various pop culture icons (Godzilla, Dracula, Vertigo comics, the Fantastic Four, and so very much more) immediately dug in deep, and kept me eagerly awaiting each increasingly delayed issue. The good thing is that those new to this must-read treasure can read it all in one fell swoop…something I intend to do again before the end of the year. The thing about putting Planetary on this list, is that I also need to mention it’s companion book The Authority which I love almost as much. The Authority is more of a superhero comic than Planetary — although the members of Planetary do have superpowers — and if you are going to read one, then you might as well read the other. You won’t regret the purchase.

Saga of the Swamp Thing

There must be some sort of law stating any sort of “Best of” list must include at least one title from Alan Moore. That book for me is Saga of the Swamp Thing. Now, as I have said many times over the past few years, The Micronauts is the book that made me a comic book collector, but Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson’s Swamp Thing taught me to appreciate sequential storytelling with the remarkable tenth issue. Almost a decade later Moore’s brilliant twist on Alec Holland changed everything for me before he went on to change the world of comics with his many other great works (Miracleman, V for Vendetta, Watchmen). Moore’s Swamp Thing was scarier, more horrific than what came before, and honestly gave me a couple of nightmares over the years, but one thing is for certain: I happily return to this series often. Come to think of it, I’m about due.

Mage: The Hero Discovered

Right around the time of Saga of the Swamp Thing, I was becoming obsessed with Matt Wagner’s phenomenal Mage. A hero’s journey with great characters, humor, monsters, magic, and tragedy — oh boy, lotsa tragedy — a cool twist revealed in issue 14, and a jaw-dropping three-page foldout spread in the final issue, this series had everything both high school Donist and the Donist of today could ever want. The follow up series Mage: The Hero Defined is quite good, and someday we will hopefully see the ending to this tragic trilogy. What’s more, Mage introduced me to the also great Grendel with the backup story “Devil by Deed.” One of my favorite days was meeting Mr. Wagner at the 2007 San Diego Comic Con where he signed issues one and seven of my copies of Mage. This happened on the first day of my first comic convention, and I got to meet one of my main comic book heroes. Not bad. Not bad at all. I often feel that Mage does not get the proper attention it deserves, it is one of those key series in my life that continues to give me the chills (the good kind, by golly) and frequently calls me back to relive Kevin Matchstick’s exploits once again.

Slice into the Woods

Tired…Keeping it Positive 

All this talking about my all-time-favorite series has me feelin’ the good feels. Gonna roll with that, and keep on keepin’ on. Peace.


Friday, October 14, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 10/14/2016

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / primary caregiver Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). As I mentioned last week, I’m not going to be able to take a look at this week’s comics in time for FSoH/SitW. Sorry, Denizens, but circumstances beyond my control are gonna throw things off a bit. Tulip and Reverse Obie were all set to do the write-ups, but they too are busy working to maintain our status as a Fortune 320,000 company. But I can’t just leave y’all empty handed, so I put together a quick little somethin’-somethin’ below that I hope you’ll enjoy. Anyhow, we should be back to our regularly scheduled programming next week. So, enjoy this look at my favorite mini-series of the ’80s, pour yourself a Founder’s Breakfast Stout (or a coffee if beer ain’t your thang), check out Luke Cage on Netflix (so far, so freakin’ great!) and most of all read some great comics. Take care. Thank you for reading!

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

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Ahhhh…the mini-series of the ’80s…oh, how I love thee. Whether you were alive and loving comic books like I was during the arrival of the glorious mini-series, or whether you recently came to comics, there is a treasure trove of groovy books awaiting you in the back issue bin — or in trade format depending on the popularity of the particular series. Now, Marvel was the one releasing most of the mini-series I read, but DC also had a few gems tucked away themselves. The thing that mattered most was that we had — primarily — done-in-four-issues stories that my mom would buy for my brother and me in an effort to keep us from strangling one another during long drives to a vacation destination. Her diversionary tactics brought peace to the realm of the red Ford Mustang II, and every so often brought a period of cooperation that was rarely seen back home. These comics were magical and having gone back to reread many of them over the past few years, they still manage to make this Donist smile wide.

Let’s have a look at some, and keep in mind that they are in no particular order other than what comes to mind…

Wolverine #1–4 - Okay, now this is one that we found on the spinner rack at the grocery store, and read as the issues released. This book was also much loved and it practically fell apart in our hands, which given the going price for pristine copies of this series…well, best not to think about it too much now. Man, how could you not be a fan of The Uncanny X-Men back then? Then Marvel goes and spins off this beloved character into his own story? We had to get it. Chris Claremont wrote, Frank Miller drew, and even without any crazy, tertiary-colored supervillains to be found, this series knocked it out of the park. Thankfully, there’s a trade available of this must-read mini.
Wolverine #1

Jack of Hearts #1–4 - Huh…I thought I talked about this one ages ago, but I guess I didn’t. I knew next to nothing about this vibrantly-colored character, but Young Donist loved everything about the playing card-themed Jack, and with Bill Mantlo at the healm there was much to love, indeed.
Jack of Hearts #1

Hercules: Prince of Power #1–4 Hercules: Prince of Power #1–4 - Wait just a minute…whaaaaat?! Yup, two separate series, each with the same title. Once came out in 1982 and the other in 1984, and both are a blast. Leaning more on the humorous side of things with the introduction of Herc’s wisecracking Recorder, this futuristic series at times became really, really dark. There is actually a third chapter that was released as a Marvel Graphic Novel titled “Full Circle” that I have never read and need to get a hold of. Bob Layton rocks the socks off these books. I wrote about the two minis here and here.
Hercules V1 #1
Hercules V2 #1

The Falcon #1–4 - Here we have today’s Captain America in his own mini. And speaking of Captain America, the original appears briefly as the heroes take on the menace of Electro!
The Falcon #1

Hawkeye #1–4 - Hey now! I just finished rereading this one this week. We get classic Hawkeye and the series co-stars Mockingbird! Lot’s of action and fun even when one of the villains happens to be Oddball. Love this!
Hawkeye #1

Cloak and Dagger #1–4 - I probably should not have been reading this more adult-oriented title, what, with drugs, runaways, prostitutes, and serial killers, but gosh darn it I was a fan. I still am, which is not a difficult thing given that this mini was written by Bill Mantlo. I guess I will have to pick up the eleven-issue series that followed — also written by Mantlo, no less! I wrote about this one a while ago here.
Cloak and Dagger #1

Gargoyle #1–4 - I kind of think this character is Marvel’s answer to DC’s Etrigan the Demon, only instead of a yellow and red color scheme, we have an orange and purple one. I like this series quite a bit now, but back in the day I was a bit irked that Isaac Christians was actually an old man. Definitely worth checking out, and you can read what I had to say about it here.
Gargoyle #1

The Demon #1–4 - About time DC made an appearance, and what better series than one of my favorite ’80s minis of all time. I adore this book not just for Etrigan, but because it is written and drawn by Matt Wagner of the amazing Mage and Grendel. A great story of monsters, mayhem, and intrigue. Dang, why haven’t I talked about this one yet?! Oh, wait, I did here. A trade recently came out.
The Demon #1

X-Men and the Micronauts #1–4 - A couple years ago, I covered each and every issue of Marvel’s The Micronauts in a series of posts called “Micronauts Monday.” For each post, I examined each issue from the perspective of my younger self and as an adult. The Micronauts is what made me a comic book collector, and what better way to grab my attention than to mix two of my favorite series into one. Hallelujah! You can read what I had to say here and then here. Unfortunately, because of licensing issues with The Micronauts, you will probably have to back issue bin dive to find it, or you can click on the link above and easily order up the series lickety-split.
X-Men and the
Micronauts #1

Vision and the Scarlet Witch - This is the the mini that got me through the massive trip to Huntington Lake back when I was a wee Donist. I read these four issues over and over again and really enjoyed them again a few years ago. One hint about issue four…Who’s your daddy? It’s also your lucky day, Denizens, you can find a trade of this mini with no probs, but buying the originals will probably save you a few gold pieces.
Vision and the
Scarlet Witch #1

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are a bunch of others out there, some I have read, some I haven’t, but whether I like the stories or not, they all have a special place in this Donist’s heart. If you think of any others, let me know!


Friday, October 7, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 10/07/2016

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / pumpkin bread connoisseur Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). I’m not gonna dance around the subject, Denizens. It was my birthday on new comic book Wednesday, so the gang and I have been a little…less than productive around the ol’ corporate office (Mom’s basement) this week. The pups and Amy the intern (my wife) pulled together and baked me some exquisite pumpkin bread, then took me to dinner at a beer / burger joint where I had spicy chicken sliders, a Founder’s Breakfast Stout (love it), and an ultra-special Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA (I’ve been wanting to try this for years!). They also gave me Shang-Chi: Master of Kung-Fu Omnibus Volume 1 which I am thrilled to finally read in its entirety after all these years. Man, I tell ya, a fella could sure get used to this. So, pour yourself a Founder’s Breakfast Stout (or a coffee if beer ain’t your thang), check out Luke Cage on Netflix (so far, so freakin’ great!) and most of all read some great comics. Take care. Thank you for reading!

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

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Flintstones #4
The Flinstones #4 - Written by Mark Russel, illustrated by Steve Pugh, colored by Chris Chuckry, lettered by Dave Sharpe, published by DC Comics. Fred and Wilma are happily married, but monogamy is a relatively new and scandalous way of being with someone, and some of the more “deplorable” members of society ain’t gonna stand for it. Also, the appliances hang out.

Denizens, remember all the praise I’ve been heapin’ on the new The Flintstones comic? Yeah, more of the dang same stuff, except I would like to kick it up a notch. The previous issues have tackled some pretty grand political / societal issues, with this month’s installment exploring the relatively new (to Bedrock at least) institution of marriage as a sinful, hedonistic way of life that has many up in arms. In true Russell fashion, this reversal of a hot-button topic — yeah, I know, it’s 2016 and it’s still a hot-button topic. How…deplorable — had me laughing at the absurdity of the situation and shaking my head in frustration that some (deplorables?) think they have a monopoly on the practice. But before my smile can be turned upside down, we are introduced to the characters of Adam and Steve, and I couldn’t help but laugh aloud. Adam and Steve…heck yeah! Can I get a “Praise Gerald!”? (That exclamation won’t make a lick of sense unless you’ve read the issue that covered religion…such a crack up.)

Pugh is a champion of both character acting and body language this issue to such an extent you can practically feel the enthusiasm or apprehension or irritation of each character on every page. Were the book wordless (perish the thought), you could pretty much gauge most of the situations, including the ones involving the animal appliances. One thing that definitely does not need words is the lovely Wilma, whose beauty under Pugh’s pen is enough to fortify the idea of monogamy in any stone-age town. At the same time, Pugh adds weight to the less-attractive Fred’s brutally honest worries at the marriage retreat, which reminds readers that as humorous as the situations are and as gorgeous as the art is, The Flintstones still has plenty of heart.

Dang. I think I’m going to reread the series from the beginning, and we’re only four issues in. I love The Flintstones so much, which is something I never thought I would say. I’m also going to go out on a limb and say that this book is approaching my love of Russell’s other amazing work Prez — which was sadly canceled. If you have nostalgia for the cartoon and an interest in incredibly smart satire, then you positively cannot go a day longer without taking a look at this fantastic series. Such L-O-V-E. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Paper Girls #10
Paper Girls #10 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matt Wilson, lettered and designed by Jared K. Fletcher, color flats by Dee Cunniffe, published by Image Comics. The weirdness continues as monsters appear, future Erin reveals herself, and the girls take a terrifying leap of faith.

Calling all Denizens. I repeat…calling all Denizens. You need to be reading Brian K. Vaughan’s amazing new ’80s-present-future, sci-fi, adventure about four paper girls standing up to invaders from the future. At least, I think the enemies are invaders from the future…no, I’m pretty sure they are from the future, but they might be from a parallel dimension or something or…crud, I don’t know. What I do know is that I love the characters — both good and bad — and although I don’t really know what the heck is going on, I’m stickin’ around for the long haul.

The dialogue and dramatic moments of this book range from laugh-out-loud funny, to touching, but more than anything this tale is hella compelling (scientifically speaking, of course) in no small part because of Chiang and Wilson’s beautiful art. Past issues have wowed with crazy creatures and bizarre technology, of which little can be found in this issue. However, here we have the power of Chiang’s strong character acting and storytelling to drive the story, and Wilson’s otherworldly colors to set the tone of the issue. When writing, line work, and color palette all meld to this level of perfection, you get one heck of an enjoyable read.

You know that Netflix show, Stranger Things, that I’ve been carryin’ on about for just over a month now? Well, if you love that series even half as much as I do, then it’s a safe bet you’ll really dig Paper Girls, too. You can quickly catch up with the super-inexpensive first trade, with the must-read second trade dropping towards the beginning of December. Then you get to wait in the same painful boat as the rest of us as we wait for the third arc to start up the beginning of February 2017. Dang, this series is a blast. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Cage #1
Cage #1 - Written and illustrated by Genndy Tartakovsky, inked by Stephen DeStephano, colored by Scott Wills, lettered by Clayton Cowles, published by Marvel Comics. A comic series long thought lost finally sees the light of day. Sweet Christmas, it’s Power Man!

In order to talk about this awesome, fun new mini-series, I have to mention not just my love of Luke Cage during his Power Man and Iron Fist days, and my renewed love of the character from the awesome new Netflix series Luke Cage, but I have also had a deep love of Tartakovsky’s gorgeous Samurai Jack cartoon for some time. As a kid, my Power Man and Iron Fist comics were barely held together by what remained of the staples, and oftentimes the covers had fallen off, and although I wasn’t able to actually read the comics, they were much loved. As an adult, I would watch my Samurai Jack DVDs late at night, while sipping a beer, all the while marveling at the stunning backgrounds, character designs, and story. Dang, Denizens, you gotta love when two great things come together in a great way.

I’m not going to go into the story other than to say it’s set in the ’70s and centers on the mystery of both superheroes and Misty Knight disappearing, which puts Power Man on the case. The story and dialogue are a reminder of the lighter, goofier tone of the period, and mixes humor, action, and drama successfully; I was smiling and laughing from beginning to end. Tartakovsky’s cartooning is exaggerated in the best of ways with some great panel layouts, and his storytelling is spot on, with the only distraction to the story that I could find being that I was sadly approaching the end of the issue. You ever see Power Man punch a fool in the face so hard that his ski mask explodes? I know you haven’t. How about someone pull a snitch through jail cell bars so that all his clothes are left on the other side? Nope, I kinda doubt you’ve seen that, either.

I have a feeling this comic is going to sell out quick. You need to do something about it ASAP, and get yourself a copy. It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of the character or a fan of the creator or a fan of both, what is important is that you like fun, unique, action-packed comics done right. Man, I cannot wait for issue two. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Future Quest #5
Future Quest #5 - Written by Jeff Parker, illustrated by Evan “Doc” Shaner and Craig Rousseau, colored by Hi-Fi and Jeremy Lawson, lettered by ALW Studios’s Dave Lanphear, published by DC Comics. A hero returns as new heroes arrive.

To be honest, the 12–13 pages of material tied to the main story, and roughly 10 pages of side story to introduce even more new characters is kind of making the story drag a bit. Were this comic to be coming out every two weeks like most of the DC superhero titles, then this format would work a bit better. Now, I don’t mean to bash Future Quest, rather I am loving the series over all, but the urgency of the terrifying enemy and the desperate hope promised by the appearance of Space Ghost in those first two issues had me completely amped to see what was to happen next. I admit, the allure of having all these great characters appear in one book was exciting at first, but now I think it is all a bit too much. Maybe sticking to Space Ghost (and gang), Birdman, Jonny Quest, the Herculoids, and Mightor would have been the way to go, and then keep the other characters on the side for a future Future Quest series. That said, I am still immensely digging this comic.

I know it sounds like I’m just griping about this series, Denizens, but that is not the case. I’m not dropping Future Quest or anything; I still love it quite a bit. If anything, it’s the love — both of what came before, and of what we currently are reading — that has me so pumped to see how our heroes (all 10,000 of them…roughly) will save the day. Maybe, what I need to do before the next issue is a quick back-to-back read to get me good and psyched to see what these talented creators have in store for us next. RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Next Week - Hmmmmmm…Next week is a tricky one. There’s a bunch of books coming out and I’m not going to be around to write actual reviews for them. In the past 6 1/2 years that I have been posting at Donist World, I have never missed a week of writing at least something. What I will probably do is take a look at some other books I have read recently, or maybe repost last year’s Halloween reading with any updates I can think of. Not sure what I’ll post yet, just know that I might have to skip or greatly condense my look at next week’s titles. Just letting you know.


Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 9/30/2016

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / concertgoer Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Earlier this week, the Donist World corporate office (Mom’s basement) let out early to attend a Dolly Parton concert at the Santa Barbara County Bowl. Now, Amy the intern (my wife), Reverse Obie, and Tulip were really excited about the show, but I was mostly indifferent…until the rhinestone goddess took the stage. Holy moley was she amazing. She has one of the strongest voices I have ever hear, she played six or seven instruments, she told stories in between numbers, joked with the crowd, and is one of the best performers I have ever seen. Period. Dang, Tulip still can’t stop singing “Jolene,” which is weird to hear a dog do, yet I find myself humming along with her. <phew> Anyhow, comics…So, while queueing up some classic Dolly Parton tunes, be sure to read some of the awesome Prez comic, checkout tonight’s premiere of Luke Cage on Netflix (I can’t wait!!!) and most of all read some great comics. Take care. Thank you for reading!

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

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #38
Saga #38 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, coordinated by Eric Stephenson, published by Image Comics. Marko, Alana, and crew look to refuel their rocket tree and help out a stranded family of seemingly innocent creatures. Meanwhile, The Will looks to meet up with Gwendolyn, as new player The March makes their debut.

Whoa, boy. Dang, Denizens. Now the creators have gone and done it. <sniffle> I just need to take a breath and not overthink what went down this issue, so I can cleverly dance around the fact that something terribly distressing happens in this book, and I’m not about to tell you what that is. I know, I know, but spoilin’ something of this magnitude would be a total dick move, and I’m not about to do that to you, Denizens. Nay. I respect you way too much. All I will say is that with Saga, you can expect to read a beautifully told story, with gorgeous art, characters you will come to love, and the occasional moments that will leave you rolling with laughter or turning away in disgust — oftentimes both. Sometimes, every so often, you can expect to be shocked to the core and to have your heart torn from your chest to be drop kicked across the room; this happens to be one of those times. No more on the story, only that it is as great as usual.

Also “great as usual,” an understatement to be sure, is Staples’s art, which delivers the devastation through the emotional roundhouse blow of her flawless character acting and storytelling. The new characters are delightfully odd and intriguing, but also worthy of melting the ol’ peepers is the coloring and backgrounds. Every panel Staples lays out is a thing of vibrant beauty that continues to leave me scratching my head over how the heck she manages to make already stunning art look even better. I know I keep saying this, but I really want a process video or a quick look under the hood of her layers (whoa…that sounded kind of bad), so I can finally rest knowing that it doesn’t involve actual magic.

If you’re a Saga fan, then I’m certain you’ve already read this issue, and you’re just as distraught as I am. I mean, you must be, right? It’s been 24 hours since I read the latest issue and I’m still kind of messed up over what happened. If you are new to Saga, and you’re curious as to what all the hullabaloo is about, then just know that this comic is a (usually) NSFW, sci-fi, fantasy, adventure, drama, about love, life, loss, and <sniffle> death. Be prepared for laughs, be prepared for heartache, be prepared for a dang-fine series and one of the best comics on the stand. Do not just dive in willy nilly! Start at the beginning either with the trades or the lovely oversized hardcover, just be sure you aren’t missing out on the heavenly Saga. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Descender #15
Descender #15 - Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics. Since the coming of the Harvesters, Andy and TIM-21 have not seen each other for ten years. Much has changed since then. As Andy attempts to find his “brother,” we take a look at those missing ten years and his relationship with the girl who will one day become Queen Between.

It’s an unseasonably hot day, but I have the fan on, a cold beer on my left, Tulip sleeping on my right, and a new issue of the Donist World Darling, my favorite comic being published, Descender. All is well. Since Andy’s reintroduction to the story as an adult, I have been desperate to know what happened to him during those ten years he was separated from TIM-21, and we finally get some answers. We also get a bit of back story on Andy’s wife, Queen Between, or Effie as she was known way back then. This is a Lemire story, and as such you can expect plenty of touching, heart-wrenching moments, handled with such realism that you will at times forget the story is set in outer space, with aliens, robots, and spaceships. There’s loss and change and growing apart to an extent that, even before a new tragedy strikes, it’s clear that things will never be the same for Andy and Effie. And although we already know how things end up for these two, it’s all so very sad, nonetheless.

Despite the tragic tone of this issue, however, what is sure to lift your spirits is the outstanding visuals of Nguyen’s phenomenal watercolored artwork. Previous issues have featured lush worlds, bizarre alien races, and a diversity of robots, but this one mostly focuses on the drama, which is what makes the devastating moments of the amazing story all the more powerful. Again, the art is watercolored, which is a skill few can pull off, yet Nguyen not only makes the book lovely, he makes it look effortless.

Yeah, I love this comic. I mean, I really love this comic, and if you are a fan of the look and feel of ’80s sci-fi comics, anime, or movies — or great sci-fi in general — then you need to immediately get a hold of the first two trades and the third when it comes out in December. I can safely say I will be triple-dipping on the oversized hardcover when it is eventually announced and released. Descender is the real deal, Denizens, and although there are some fairly sad moments, I promise this wonderful book is well worth your time. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Wonder Woman #7
Wonder Woman #7 - Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Liam Sharp, colored by Laura Martin, lettered by Jodi Wynne, published by DC Comics. Wonder Woman and the Cheetah move to rescue Steve Trevor from the clutches of Cadulo in hopes of stopping the madman from bringing the god, Urzkartaga, into the world.

I am totally enjoying both the past and present tales in Wonder Woman, and this showdown with Urzkartaga is exactly what I hoped it would be: a reminder of how iconic and great Wonder Woman is. In this series, Diana is a confident, fearless warrior intent on saving her friends and keeping her promise to free Barbara Ann from the curse of the Cheetah. I won’t spoil the ending, but will say that I loved seeing the effect our hero has on the prisoners as she inspires them to stand up to their oppressor and believe in themselves; it’s exactly what being a superhero is all about.

Sharpe’s art seems to be getting better and better, which is saying something as it’s been beautiful since day one. I especially liked the hyper-creative panel layouts which reminded me of various moments from Swamp Thing throughout the years. I also appreciate the confidence behind Wonder Woman’s slight smile during her battle with the evil god (is he somehow related to the Swamp Thing or the Green? Kinda seems like it. Hmmm…). Cheetah stomping Cadulo and the jackal men are pretty alright, too. I will say that although I love Martin’s colors on this issue, they are from a darker palette than in previous issues, but then again, the story takes place in Urzkartaga’s lair, and he doesn’t appear to be down the livelier colors of the rainbow.

Wonder Woman’s good, Denizens. It’s a blast, and like I said above, the issues set in the past are every bit as good as the ones set in the present. If you’ve been looking for a good Wonder Woman story to jump in on, then rest assured this is one not to be missed. The creators look to have some great things in store for us, and I’m happy to say I will there to see it all unfold. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Deadly Class #22
Deadly Class #22 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, colored by Jordon Boyd, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Freshman finals is over, and the survivors return to King’s Dominion to find a new batch of freshmen and to see new plays for power.

Remember issue 21, Denizens. Remember what a mess I was after reading it? Yeah. Shizzle. Went. Down. And it all went down hard. Part of me went “Holy moly. There’s no way that really happened.” Apparently, it did. Dang. A lot of characters died in that issued, and I guess they’re gonna stay dead. Again, dang. Now that the survivors know what to expect, it’s fascinating to see them already vying for leadership over the other students, and how the new crop of kids attempt to impress each other and the sophomores; the coming year promises to be brutal for them all.

After the hiatus — only a couple months, but it felt like forever — Craig doesn’t miss a beat with his superb storytelling and his ability to utilize high-panel-count pages in ways that few can effectively pull off. (Dang, I need to look into getting some of his original art.) The black and white line art alone would make this comic worth the price of admission, but the addition of Boyd’s coloring makes this comic quite lovely. Boyd utilizes little rendering, focusing predominantly on monochromatic and analogous colors that perfectly set the tone of the story while giving the book an experimental look and edge. It’s stunning.

I have some ideas as to what is going on but given the punishment these creators routinely put on us through — I’m not complaining, mind you — I could totally be wrong. We’ll just have to wait and see. That said, for all you Deadly Class newbies, don’t jump in here. Don’t do it. Yes, this is year two, and it might seem like a jumping on point, but it is not. All the crazy — boy, howdy, do I mean crazy! — stuff that happened in the previous 21 issues necessitates starting at the beginning of this fine series to better understand this world, the characters, and their relationships. Plus, messed up stuff goes down often in Deadly Class, and why would you want to miss any of that? So, if you’re in the market for a series about a school for young assassins, then you should start with the first four trades or the lovely hardcover; you’ll be glad you did. I can’t wait to see how this all plays out. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Heat Wave - Enough is enough, already. Thankfully, things have finally cooled down some, and I hope that fall is ready to stick around. As much as I loved the Dolly Parton concert, the mixture of intense heat and the intensely uncomfortable chairs hurt the experience some, but not enough to prevent us from having a blast. Sleeping through the night with this heat this week, though…ugh. Awful.