Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 8/15/2014

(Sung to the tune of Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”)

Listen, baby, there are comics high
They won’t make you low, these ol’ comics got the stuff, baby
Have a looksee, wooeee, no matter where you are
So many comics, don’t worry, baby
You know the name, don’t get all in a flurry
No need to worry

’Cause baby, these ol’ comics got the stuff
They won't leave you low or rough, books so good can’t get enough
They’re sure to be thrillin’ you, baby

Hello there, and welcome back to Donist World. Things are almost back to normal after our two-week vacation, and I am joined as ever by CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / health insurance grievance counselor Tulip (my Boston terrier, Obie’s sister). Gonna keep this brief, but you might have noticed a bit of a facelift on the ol’ Donist World site; let me know what you think. For a bonus, here is a design I was thinking of using, but I decided to go for a more ’70s vibe instead...maybe I will use this as a link to my store (which if you use it to make a purchase I will get a portion of the sale at no cost to you = more weird stuff to review, so you should buy this here television). Or I might use it as a banner to, where I also get a percentage of each linked sale as credit so I can buy and review even weirder stuff. Anyhow, I will post some of my non-comics projects here to share with y’all on occasion, so let me know what you think about those as well. Now, it’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Sex Criminals #7
Sex Criminals #7 - Written by Matt Fraction, art by Chip Zdarsky, color flats by Becka Kinzie, edited by Thomas K, production by Drew Gill, published by Image Comics. This issue arrived a couple weeks later than planned, but that’s okay. I’m cool waiting a tad longer than usual for one of the best and most original comics on the stand. With many late comics, I find I have to go back a couple issues for a refresher on what has happened previously, but for Sex Criminals that is not the case. I fell in love with this series by page three of issue one, so how could I ever forget what has been happening with these characters who have become such dear close friends?

Suzie’s day might have started off bad, but when she crosses paths with her recently ignored best friend, Rachel, things begin to look up. As close friends reconnect, Jon crosses a MAJOR line with the Sex Police from which there is no going back.

As with every issue of this phenomenal series (hey, TIME magazine says so, too), you will laugh — oh how you’ll laugh — but at the same time you will sympathize with Suze or Jon, or both. You might even relate to their plight(s) a bit more than you bargained for. Heck, their situation might even make you a bit sad, and therein lies the beauty of Sex Criminals. Fraction and Zdarsky made me love their characters and each issue has succeeded in strengthening that bond. As humorous as this book can be, it is also brutally honest and sincere. Fraction somehow perfectly captures both traits of people I know, as well as (more likely…oh boy) aspects of myself, and conveys each character’s thoughts through his wonderful dialogue and captions; the words alone are enough to hook me with this series. Add in Zdarsky’s gorgeous illustrations (the colors are absolutely stunning…such vibrant glows in The Quiet) with all the drama and character acting and there is plenty to love about this comic. With but a shift of the eyes or a shrug of the shoulders, the art tells you everything about a scene you need to know, and you can rejoice in the characters’ happiness, or commiserate in their lows.

It should be pretty clear what I think of both this issue and the series as a whole: it’s a Donist World darling, through and through. Sex Criminals even passed the wife test when I gave her the stoooopidly inexpensive trade of the first five issues and she plowed through it in one sitting. The title alone should tell you that this book is strictly for mature readers, and if you fall into that category and dig things like fun and joy, then Sex Criminals is not a book to be missed. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Rachel Rising #27
Rachel Rising # 27 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. Need another fantastic comic book? If you’re a horror fan — not torture pr0n crap, real horror — and like television shows like Twin Peaks, and comics like Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing or the Hellblazer books, then you need to be reading Rachel Rising. If you are a fan of Terry Moore — and you should be after reading Strangers in Paradise and Echo — then you are probably already buying this great series.

Aunt Johnny and Earl have a heart to heart, before making a distressing discovery at the morgue. Zoe and Rachel (along with her new hairdo) order take out and find a friend. Zoe takes care of old business.

I ain’t going to lie to you, denizens, but little happens in this issue. Usually, I would be pretty annoyed by the lack of progression in the plot of a comic, but not on Rachel Rising. What Moore does instead is pull us in and ground us with these characters, who I hold near and dear to my heart. The scene with Aunt Johnny and Earl is immensely touching, almost shed-a-tear touching, but just when the scene is at its heaviest, we do get some movement in the story with their realization surrounding the deceased Carol’s supposed suicide note. Moore also delivers the humor during the Rachel and Zoe scene and the introduction of a character who I hope reappears later in the story. We also get a moment with Jet realizing one of her faults, before ending with Moore’s contest promise, which plays out well while giving a rather spooky revelation about a certain character. So, yeah, little movement with the story, but what we see with the characters, the life of this series, MORE than makes up for the slower story progression. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with the story…no siree, Bob. Resurrections, killers, witches, devils, mysteries, serial killers, century-long tales, Rachel Rising has plenty of happenings going on to keep your interest, but when you throw in Rachel, Jet, Zoe, Johnny, Earl, and the rest of the cast, you can’t help but be drawn into Moore’s beautifully creepy world. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Where Is Jake Ellis?
Where Is Jake Ellis? #4 - Written by Nathan Edmondson, lettering and art by Tonci Zonjic and Jordan Gibson, published by Image Comics. Okay, here is where the jokes can start: Where WAS Where Is Jake Ellis?; Who is Jake Ellis, Again? I Totally Forgot; etc. Apologies to the creators for the jabs — we all need to remember that crazy / tragic things can cause the delays — but it has been roughly a year and half since I read (and loved! btw) issue three. Thankfully, there is a brief summary on the first page to catch us all up on what came before.

Jon and Jake have both been captured by a mysterious organization interested in their unique “relationship.” The innocent bystander Mollie continues to be in the worst place at the worst time, and Jon and Jake plan an escape that will involve extreme measures.

I will admit that it took me a couple pages to remember what the heck was going on in this book, but once it all came back, I was pulled back to the action-packed roller coaster ride that made the first volume as well as this rapidly ending chapter so very exciting. In fact, it was easy to be swept up in the nerve-wracking intensity of Where Is Jake Ellis?. Although Zonjic might not have been responsible for some of the art in this book — it looks like Gibson will be providing all of the art on the final issue — the sharing of art duties is not intrusive or all that noticeable; you stay in the story from beginning to end. What I notice as being different from previous issues is the coloring, which is fine, but I remember the coloring as being a more vibrant and apt to fit the mood of a scene…I might be wrong about this and should reread the earlier issues to be sure. Edmondson’s story remains as solid and engaging as ever; I can’t wait to see how this ends next month (???).

You missed out if you did not pick up the spy / mystery / action-adventure romp of a first volume titled Who Is Jake Ellis?, which is readily available. Once you have read that, then hopefully a Where Is Jake Ellis? trade will be available to carry you home on this fantastic series. This issue is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Missed Books Over the Past Couple Weeks:
The Wake #10
The Wake #10 - Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Sean Murphy, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, Jared K. Fletcher, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint. The first time I read this issue I had no idea what had happened, who was who, or how things ended. Granted, that day I had packed a car full with suitcases, drove five hours, came home to spend a couple hours moving furniture, then ate a monster burrito and had two beers before attempting to read the finale to this awesome series. I’m here to tell you you can’t do that, denizens. No way. This issue ties it ALL together and puts a pretty bow on this series, but you need to have your noodle firing on all pistons for this smartly written, beautifully illustrated story. So, I reread the book while in a better state of mind (last night), when I could focus on what was being said and what it was I was seeing, and it all clicked; that’s how you’re supposed to do it.

I’m not going to provide a synopsis on this issue, you’re just going to have to read it yourselves, and the only way to do it is to start at the beginning (a hardcover releases in November, wink-wink-nudge-nudge) otherwise this issue will not make sense. I will say that Snyder took the original genre of the book and changed it at the midway point, and to great effect, which is a freakin’ hard thing to do. Murphy’s art makes me wish I was rich enough to buy every dang page of original art in this series, but I’ll just have to wait on the ol’ Lotto to come through. <sigh>

My biggest complaint about The Wake is the same that I have had for the past four issue: I want to see a ton more of this world. It’s kind of unfair to give us only ten issues with mere flashes of what this world and these characters have to offer. Heck, give me multiple one-shots, give me a three-issue glimpse of what happened in the past 200 years, or give us an epilogue, give us a Dash Special…I don’t care, as long as we get to see more. I know this probably won’t happen, but <sniffle> dare to dream, denizens. Dare to dream. Anyhow…this series begs to be read straight through once you have read each of the issues, which is something I fully intend to do in the near future. A great end to a great series. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Swamp Thing #34
Swamp Thing #34 - Written by Charles Soule, illustrated by Javier Pina, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Travis Lanham, published by DC Comics. Jonah dying! The Wolf transformed by Lady Weeds in an effort to enact revenge on the Swamp Thing, Alec Holland!
This issue is a blast, and an ending to the Jonah / Wolf / Lady Weeds storyline that manages to hold great potential for future stories. I want to say how great it is to have an issue free of outside interference, but then we have the final two panels that open up the the “Futures End” event that looks to be taking over next month; oh boy, we’ll see how that goes. Regardless, Swamp Thing continues to be my favorite New 52 DC book, and I remain ever hopeful for the eventual return of Arcane to the pages of this title. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Health Insurance - I’m going to keep this brief so as not to get too ranty. As I mentioned a couple times since the beginning of the year, I left a fairly well-paying job on account of being there was demoralizing and made me question the purpose of life. I saved for a long time, took care of some major financial obligations, and having a fair amount of padding, I quit. I have since become a near full-time student in a graphic design program and I am about finished with my second novel (almost there). 

Part of the reason I was able to do this was because I have been on my wife’s health insurance plan for going on 15 years. This plan has traditionally covered all employees for a family of four (individual, spouse, +2 children), this is even if the individual was unmarried, and without children, and whether or not the spouse was already insured. This was fine for a while, but she has had to pay more and more with each passing year. This year, however, everything is about to change. 

Now, the health insurance racket has gone so outer limits in its pricing and the “Affordable” Care Act has a condition that breaks the current method of insurance in place at my wife’s job. Insurance at the job now can only cover the employee (for a very high cost), and each dependent is an additional charge. Basically, what was once already expensive is now MUCH more so, for much less coverage, and at the exact wrong time for our situation; I should have quit last year. 

We looked into the “Affordable” Care Act — notice the quotes? — and it is anything but. I have no idea of how to fix the problem outside of removing health industry lobbyist from Washington, and regulating the bejesus out of any industry that profits off of the 100% guaranteed probability of illness, aging, and dying. Anyhow, our insurance is almost doubling ($350 more per month), and I feel horrible for families of four who are about to see their premiums jump by more than $500 per month (~$330 to ~$883 taking into account the average plan) with a forced move from HMO to PPO come September. How does this help anyone besides the behemoth that is the health insurance industry? We’re freaking out.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 8/8/2014

(Sung to the tune of Blue Swede’s “Hooked On a Feeling”)

You do gotta. You do. You do.
You do gotta. You do. You do.
You do gotta. You do. You do.
You do gotta. You do. You do.
You do gotta. You do. You do.

I can’t stop a readin’
Comics heavenly
Bro, you might not realize
What’s rockin’ can’t you see?

You can trust me
These dang books are tight
I’ll let you know
Comics to setcha right

I’m hooked on good comics

So now we’re back…from outer space…we just walked in to find — okay, enough songs. Anyhow, marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / dog of the world Tulip (my Boston terrier), Donist World intern Amy (my wife) and I have returned from our two and a half week long spirit quest to find the elusive infinite synergy (a vacation up north) and we are — forgive the term — dog tired as we just got back into town late yesterday afternoon. While we have been gone, CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier, Tulip’s brother) has been working hard to maintain Donist World’s status as a Fortune 320,000 company from deep within the labyrinth of our corporate headquarters (my mom’s basement)…at least that is what he claims to have been doing. What I found waiting for me in the conference room (a folding table with chairs) was multiple empty bags of kibble, 1/5 of a pitcher of mojitos, and a still smoking stogie. I also found the petty cash box to be short $57 and multiple Freebirds burrito wrappers lying around. <sigh> So, while I sweep up my executive’s mess, go see the holy-guacamole-it’s-a-right-kick-in-the-pants Guardians of the Galaxy, and then have a look at half of the books I’ve had a chance to read since yesterday. That’s right, denizens, it’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Low #1
Low #1 - Written by Rick Remender, art by Greg Tocchini, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Man, I tell ya…you go away for two weeks, and come back to a large stack of comics waiting for you at the ol’ LCS with little time to get in a timely post. Then you notice that the trusted store owner has safely tucked away a copy of what is destined to be yet another great title from Image comics, and no shocker at all, it’s written by Rick Remender. Now if you’ve been following Donist World for the past year, then you know what I think of Remender’s other recent works Black Science and Deadly Class (Spoiler alert!…both come VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! and you can buy each trade for roughly $8.00). Now with his third creator-owned series, did I have any doubts whether or not this comic would thrill my cold Donist heart? Nope, none at all;  oh how I love to be right.

Many millennia in the future, mankind has had to retreat below the waves in order to escape the building radiation from the Sun, which will eventually go supernova and eradicate the human race. Enter the Caine family. As the mother and father take their two daughters out to capture a “mammoth” to replenish their dwindling food supplies, they are ambushed by ocean floor scavengers, and everything goes wrong. Now, it is up to the steadfast optimism of wife and mother Stel Caine to confront all obstacles and keep her family safe.

I loved everything about this comic. From the moment I saw the magnificent, gorgeously colored art, great character designs, and the magical undersea world — including the room with something that gives new meaning to the term “water bed” — I was hooked like a teeny-weensie guppy. Sure, Tocchini is a fantastic storyteller, but the ships, both inside and out, with their advanced technology are something that need to be seen and experienced; I whispered “wow” multiple times as I went from panel to panel, page to page. Beautiful art is great and all, but when you have an amazing story that kicks into gear on the very first page, you know you are in for one heck of a great ride. So, yes, Remender has done it again, and I am excited beyond words to see what happens next. You need to track down a copy of this comic ASAP, if you do not have it already. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Black Science #7
Black Science #7 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Matteo Scalera, colored by Dean White, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Remember a few hundred words ago when I was extolling the recent works of Rick Remender, and how his now three creator-owned books were amazing comics everyone should be reading? Well, after a brief little hiatus, Black Science is back with a vengeance with an arrive late, leave early after-igniting-a-ton-of-powder-kegs story that leaves you desperate to catch your breath as one bout of craziness follows another.

After the immense tragedy last issue, the Anarchist League of Scientists cannot catch a break. Captured by cruel reptilian beasts, it is up to an unlikely savior to prevent the team from becoming a meal for the savage race of beasts.

Where Low had me gasping in wonder at a beautiful undersea world, Black Science had me wide-eyed and madly whipping through the pages to see what happened next. Of course Scalera’s art is amazing and White’s beautifully painted art worthy of displaying proudly in your home, but it was the madness of the pacing that had me blazing through before returning for a less-frantic second reading to appreciate every bit of beauty I had unintentionally missed. This is how you begin a second story arc, not just by hitting the ground running, but by tripping and stumbling and righting yourself as you dodge lasers and arrows while ducking and then jumping onto a fish-horse. Criminy, my heart’s still racing after this one. To heighten the experience, Donist recommends that you drink plenty of coffee before reading this nerve-wracking, ball of fire. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Chew: Warrior
Chicken Poyo
Chew: Warrior Chicken Poyo - Written and lettered by John Layman, illustrated and colored by Rob Guillory, color assists by Taylor Wells, published by Image Comics. We don’t need no stinking numbers!!! This is the second one-shot focusing on the cybernetic murder-machine that is POYO!!! and by golly I hope it is not the last. If you’re ever feeling tired (me) or down (not me, all’s good today, but you get my drift) then laughter truly is the best medicine. On this particular comic, I took my medicine well in excess of the prescribed dosage and I…am…feelin’…mighty…dang…rootin’…tootin…fine!

Poyo is back and living the chicken life as he does important things. You know, like saving the President from micro-nuclear-battle-nanites, or traveling into a fantasy world to combat an evil groceryomancer hellbent on raising an army of murderous vegetable monsters. Here is the problem for all who oppose Poyo: NONE have a chance of withstanding the wrath of a chicken. Game over, jerkwads, game over.

I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before, but whatever they are feedin’ Chew’s creators that enables them to come up with this stuff, I would like to place my order and super size it to boot. I’m not joking. I was cracking up throughout this entire book. Whether I was watching Poyo eviscerate some terrorists, or reading a random sign held by some idiot on the double-page splash — or the sign on the “troll bridge” on the following page — I knew I was in for something special and I was only on page six. Then it was on to the Conan-style barbarian goodness of epic battles and mighty warriors (Dorothy and Toto?!?!) and more hilarity. If you are a fan of Chew, then this is a MUST OWN book. If you have never even cracked a peek at that fantastic series — for shame, btw — and you could use a healthy dose of hilarity in your life, then you should seek this one out. I thoroughly loved this special. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Hawkeye #19
Hawkeye #19 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by David Aja, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Chris Eliopoulos and David Aja, published by Marvel Comics. When did the last Aja issue come out? I honestly don’t remember, but I will say that I am very glad to see Hawkeye return. I’m also hoping that we don’t have to wait as long between issues for what is my favorite superhero comic.

Clint and Buddy have survived the ruthless attack by the assassin known as the Clown. As Clint decides how to deal with his possibly-permanent deafness, and Buddy how to cope with being confined to a wheelchair, they put together a plan to finally deal with the tracksuit Draculas and this Clown jerkwad.

Great pacing, a touching storyline, and an ending that made me cheer as my heroes pull their act together despite their dang-near broken bodies. Even after far-too-many months, Hawkeye is the Marvel comic I am loving the most. Even if you dropped off because of the lengthy waits, you should definitely return to this fantastic book as this issue does not miss a beat. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

East of West #14
East of West #14 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics. As Secretary Chamberlain sees his machinations begin to pay off, War, Conquest and Famine come to a consensus as to what to do with the Beast, the son of Death. Conquest’s son might have some issues with the Horsemen’s plans, as war begins.

As I say with every release, Hickman and Dragotta are playing the long game with the fantastic East of West, and they have shown, patience will be well rewarded as the more supernatural players come closer to confrontation. This is a heavy read, denizens, no mistaking that, and precious little is spoon-fed to the reader. You have to listen and pay close attention to what is happening and what is being said, as the tale unwinds. I will also say that either rereading the individual issues or binge reading this series (two trades are thus far available) might be the way to fully appreciate the intricacies of the story the creators have crafted. I continue to love this delightfully complex comic. Oh afraid, be very afraid, the horsebeast rides again. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Guardians of the Galaxy (Movie) - I’m not going to spoil anything here, other than to tell you that I thought the movie was beyond anything I could have ever hoped for. This is leaps and bounds my favorite of the Marvel movies, and that is taking into account the tremendous Avengers movie, and the the spytastically great Captain America: Winter Soldier. Starlord, Gamora, Rocket, Groot, Drax, Ronan, Nebula and everyone else were great, and I left the theater with the same feeling I had decades prior after seeing Star Wars for the first time. Now I’m plotting my second viewing, and counting the days until I can buy this funny, action-packed, touching, visual extravaganza on blu-ray. Man, I wish I was off to the theater to see it again right now. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Rush, Rush, Rush - Okay. Sorry, denizens. I just returned from a two and a half week long vacation (Big Sur, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, Los Gatos, Timber Cove, Carmel) and rolled into town mid-afternoon yesterday. I then had to put the house back together on account of some work done to the interior, and then I ran downtown to pick up a hefty stack of books. Needless to say, I have not yet read everything, so I will probably have to talk about some of the as-yet-unread titles next Friday. Sorry, about that, but I wanted to be sure I posted a little somethin’ somethin’ about what I did read and what I discovered to be most heavenly. Anyways…HEY! Where’s my copy of Lazarus?! Awwww man. Dagnabbit!


Friday, August 1, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 8/1/2014

(Sung to the tune of Loverboy’s “Everybody’s Working For the Weekend”)

Everyone’s wantin’ to read great books it’s true
How ’bout some ’80s for you? Oh
Everyone’s wonderin’ what Donist’ll say tonight
What books will he say’ll set you right

Everybody’s readin’ books this weekend
Hows about some post-apocalyptic romance
Everybody wants to go off the deep end
Hey, you gotta give these comics a real chance. Oh.

Well, denizens, it looks like ol’ Donist is still stranded. Only this time, I have access to a phone and an internet connection, but regrettably I am without the week's newest comics. This hurts, as I know there are quite a few things waiting for me in my pull. I am still joined by Donist World marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / survivalist Tulip (my Boston terrier), but our CFO Obie (Tulip’s brother, my friends’ Boston terrier) is still at the corporate office (my mom’s basement) working hard at maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company. I have instructed him to make arrangements to deliver our new books to my location, but he is not answering emails or the phone…perhaps he is “working” from home. I will say…hold on…here comes a pigeon that has dropped a little parachute with a message attached. It reads: Hey, @$$%^&*. What did you do with the key to the petty cash drawer? A puppy’s gotta eat tacos from Tom’s Taco Bus. Capiche? Get back to me. Hmmmmm…I guess I should not expect to read this week’s comics anytime soon. Oh well, thankfully, I never travel without a healthy supply of comics and trades on hand. So, without further ado, it’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Six From Sirius #1
Six From Sirius #6 - Written by Doug Moench, illustrated by Paul Gulacy, lettered by Gaspar Saladino, edited by Archie Goodwin, published by Epic Illustrated. Back when my brother and I were wee-little kiddies, we would go on the big summer trip. Whether the trip was to Tahoe, Lake Almanor, Huntington Lake, or what have you, my mom always loaded us up with comics to read on the long drives in the hope that we would not murderize each other from lack of better things to do. For the most part, her idea worked.

Now, as an adult, I still prefer to travel with a bunch of comics to read wherever I am. Although I could load up the iPad and the kindle, the nostalgia of being away from home and holding an actual comic in my hands is a feeling digital can never recreate. Digital also can’t recreate the awesome feeling of walking into a new comic book shop (Atlantis Fantasy World) and finding a few treasures in their $.50 bin, something like Six From Sirius, which I somehow missed back in ’84. Better late than never, especially on this awesome first issue.

The “Six” are intergalactic problem solvers, each with a particular specialty that they bring to the team. Their current mission is to rescue a beautiful ambassador being held on a high-security prison satellite before negotiations between two planets on the brink of war degrade any further. With a meticulously planned scheme, the Six infiltrate the satellite, but when they finally find the ambassador, they are shocked to discover that she is perfectly fine staying right where she is.

Spoiler alert—I love this timeless sci-fi comic. Each of the Six get their “moment” to shine and clue the reader into the nature of their character; this is also true of the ambassador. Yes, there are a lot of word balloons on each page — emphasis on  “a lot” — but Moench’s writing pulled me in completely by the third page. From there it is half character development and the rest is breaking into the prison and a history lesson on the strife between two planets, and a moon inhabited by spiritualists who look to be caught in the middle. Gulacy’s art (design, coloring, storytelling, linework…everything) is completely stunning, and each character is distinct, realistically brought to life on the page. In searching around the net, I read somewhere that Gulacy used markers to color this issue, and given that the book is from ’84, the quality of this entire issue is beyond impressive, especially the gorgeous, atypical-for-the-time colors, which must have been nerve wracking in the finality of the technique; digital colorists have it easy with but a quick ctrl + z.

My main problem with Six From Sirius is now that I have read the first issue, I desperately need to know what happens next. It’s kind of horrible, denizens, I combed through the bins for issues two through four, but to no avail. If I had read the issue in the store, I would have been incredibly more thorough in my desperate search for the remaining issues in this dynamic series. So, I hope to find a well-stocked comic shop in my travels, or to pick up the Dynamite reissue trade and the volume two four-issue follow up. If not, I will be ordering ALL of the issues in this must-read, timeless treasure. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slash Maraud #1
Slash Maraud #1–6 - Written by Doug Moench, illustrated by Paul Gulacy, colored by Adrienne Roy, lettered by John Costanza, published by DC Comics. How’s this for a coincidence? I pick up the amazing first issue of Six From Sirius at a store in Santa Cruz, read it, love it, and then four days later visit a comic shop in San Jose and come across a six-issue bundle ($4.00 no less!) of Slash Maraud, a mini by the exact same creators. First off, I don’t remember seeing this 1987 release at all back in the day. Not during the ’80s, and not until two and a half decades later in a bargain bin of a store I had never visited before did this gem find its way into my loving mitts. Crazy, huh? What’s not crazy is this series is a heck of a blast to read, but after just checking out Moench and Gulacy’s other awesome book, the fact that this post-apocalyptic, sci-fi thriller is a great read from start to finish is no far stretch.

Back before the arrival of the “Shapers,” brown fuzzy alien invaders bent on “shaping” the Earth to fit their own homeworld, humanity was not doing so hot. Human’s were the same ol’, disappointing, parasitic vermin who kill their own kind along with their own planet. What’s even more disappointing is the fact that when the Shapers arrived to take the planet as their own, meaning the eventual extinction of the human race, humanity did not band together to thwart their enslavers, they at best allowed them to take over, and at worst embraced their new masters. Slash Maraud couldn’t stomach the weakness of his species and vanished from the public eye…until now. Slash is back and on the hunt for his old main squeeze, Wild Blue, and to confirm the rumor that a Shaper has turned traitor and holds the key to stopping Earth’s transformation of death. But in order to begin to set things right, Slash is going to need more than a traitor and Blue…he’s going to need an army.

Dude! Radical! Okay, if you grew up in the ’80s, then you remember the onslaught of post-apocalyptic movies that were around, both good and bad. The mullets flowed, the shoulder pads jutted, the surly attitudes of our stalwart heroes alone could blacken an eye, and this series embraces it all, but most importantly, it is well-written and paced, and beautifully illustrated — although it has the more traditional style of coloring, which is cool, too. Each issue is action-packed and touches on some aspect of popular ’80s cinema through the use of sci-fi, horror, action, exploitation, train heists, nazi scumbags, and the ultimate alien threat. This series is a total kick in the pants, and greatly reminds me of a Tarrantino film, before there were Tarrantino films. I enjoyed this mini tremendously, and implore you denizens to dive into your nearest bargain bins to seek out this freakin’ fun comic. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Hellblazer Volume 1:
Original Sins
Hellblazer: Original Sins TPB Volume 1 - Written by Jamie Delano and Rick Veitch; illustrated by John Ridgeway, Bret Ewins, Jim McCarthy, Rick Veitch and Tom Mandrake; inked by Alfredo Alcala; colored by Lovern Kindzierski and Tatjana Wood; lettered by Annie Halfacree, Todd Klein and John Costanza; published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint. Since we are talking almost exclusively about the ’80s today…remember how I mentioned above that since a very young age I have always traveled with a stack of comics? Well, before I even left the house on this trip, I acquired the first three bulky trades of Hellblazer with the resolution to read all three before I set foot back in my home. It shouldn’t be a problem.

Hellblazer is one of those books I bought as the issues were being released up until about issue 12, where I regrettably dropped off the series. I suppose I could do a “Young Donist” “Current Donist” look at the first few issues of this trade, but since I didn’t stick around all that long, let me just say that although I did like the series back in the day, I appreciate it far more in 2014.

I was first introduced to John Constantine in the pages of my desert island favorite Saga of the Swamp Thing by Alan Moore, and loved the mysterious character the second his Sting-esque form walked onto the page. From there, I stumbled into the series, and enjoyed his appearance in The Sandman as well. Sadly, living and money eventually meant I had to sacrifice something, and Hellblazer was one of the casualties of the time; thank goodness, I have a lot of catching up to do.

“Original Sins” contains issues one through nine, as well as Swamp Thing numbers 76 and 77, so it is kind of a burly book, but at least it is not all that heavy as it is printed on the lighter — and arguably better — paper from the time. I have thus far only read issues one through four of this chilling horror series that is soon to become a television show called Constantine, which I will definitely be checking out come fall. If you like scary subject matter centered around a protagonist who is kind of an a_hole, along with demons, and evil, and possession, and the struggles of heaven and hell, then this is completely the book for you. Yes, I have not yet finished this first volume, but I can whole-heartedly say you have nothing to fear by picking up this awesome series in this reasonably priced format. I know I will eventually be buying each volume of this series in relatively short order. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Keeping It Positive…Y'Know, Chillin’ - Yeah, keeping things happy this week, plus I actually have to hit the road here in short order in order to prevent Obie from tracking me down and guilting me into divulging the location of the petty cash box key. You, denizens, have the mission of acquiring great comics of the ’80s this month, primarily the Moench and Gulacy books I spoke about up top. If you can’t find any, then your secondary mission is to assimilate as many post-apocalyptic ’80s movies (good and bad) as you can possibly find. Peace be with you. Good luck.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 7/25/2014

(Unfortunately, there are no musical guests this week, but at least we have somethin’ below)

*beedeep, bedeep, bedoop, doop, beep!* This is Donist reporting late Friday night from the depths of the smoldering wild North. I am on location with Tulip (my Boston terrier) our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / climate accepter and intern Amy (my wife). We have spent the past couple days completely cut off from the outside world: no cell phone service, and no wireless, but we are now back up and running. Obie, our CFO (Tulip’s sister, my friends’s Boston terrier), attempted to parachute in external connectivity devices along with a healthy dose of comic books and almond croissants, but to no avail. Thankfully, we were able to procure said croissants and we managed to pick up our comics before departure, but ,alas, connectivity was not achieved, and thus we have today’s very, very brief post; we do not want to break our long-running streak of FSoH/SitW. So, now that we are no longer traveling and I finally have a chance to breathe, it’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven (Minimus Style)

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #21 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, published by Image Comics. I like Saga. I like it a lot. We all know this. But what about this month’s offering? Yup, I still like it.

In this issue: Alana continues along her path; Marko and Girl-Bat chat; Friendo represents like a freakin’ boss (FRIENDO!); Prince Robot “returns.” And some other crazy, sexy-time stuff happens.

This issue is like a cement roller version of a train wreck slowly unfolding. It is painful to watch these characters who we have learned to love and who we so desperately want to succeed, yet they go about making decisions that are going to spell  big T-R-O-U-B-L-E down the road…and there’s nothing we can do about it. The thing is, Vaughan so perfectly sets up these situations for Alana and Marko, that their actions kind of make sense…it’s all rather complicated. Staples’s art is gorgeous as always, with Friendo and Girl-Bat being thoroughly adorable for very different reasons. Saga is a phenomenal book that I hope will continue forever and ever. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Afterlife With Archie #6 - Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, illustrated by Francesco Francavilla, lettered by Jack Morelli, published by Archie Comic Publications. Up until a few years ago, I had never really paid attention to anything from Archie Comics. Bad move on my part. Not even factoring in this must-own series, I am now an admirer of the old stuff as well as the new, like the dang-fine Archie: The Married Life. 

Afterlife With Archie is something all comic lovers should give a try. Not just because of Aguirre-Sacasa’s engaging and honestly scary story, or Francavilla’s gorgeous art and perfectly moody colors (I am REALLY bummed I am not at SDCC to get his Star Lord print <sniffle>), but because of the power of their combined efforts on this beautiful, yet creepy, book. This month, we get to see what Sabrina the Teenage Witch has been up to, and it is sure to send shivers down your spine. Thankfully, you can buy the first five issues in trade and pick up this newly released issue to get caught up right-quick on this Donist World darling. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batman #33 -  Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Greg Capullo, inked by Danny Miki, colors by FCO Plasencia, lettered by Dezi Sienti, published by DC Comics. This is it, Zero Year concludes its long run, and with Bats finally having to facedown the mad villainy of the Riddler, will he be able to save Gotham from pending doom?! Well duh, silly, of course he will, this is Zero Year; it takes place in the past. But this story is about how he takes down the menace. The writing and dialogue are great, Capullo’s art is absolutely beautiful in its storytelling, drama, and character design, and if you have not been reading this “maxi-series,” then I suggest you get caught up when the trade is eventually released. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Trees #3 - Written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Jason Howard, lettered by Fonografiks, published by Image Comics. Okay, I’m not totally certain what is going on now with this story, but we follow one woman who wants to disappear, and another who wants an artist to leave his room. As for the “trees” themselves? I think there is only a single panel showing a portion of one, but dang if I am still not enjoying this look at how different people in different parts of the world deal with the an alien invasion that did so very little. It’s still early for this sci-fi, cultural anthropology study of the human race. Fantastic art from Howard. RECOMMENDED!

Supreme Blue Rose #1 - Written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Tula Lotay, colored by John Roshell, lettered by Richard Starkings, published by Image Comics. At Donist World, we’re all about the honesty, so I’m going to be honest and say that I am not completely certain what I just read, or what this book is about. You see, I’m freakin’ exhausted and sweating like a cow from the heat, and things have been hectic. BUT...I can tell you that I enjoyed the writing, and that although I am new to Lotay’s art, it is something I desperately need to see more of. I will reread this beautiful comic once I have a chance to properly take it all in…hopefully tomorrow. I can tell you it is a safe buy and that it is at least RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

No Time Like the…Well, No Time - Sorry for the brief post, denizens, but between school wrapping up, our home being worked on, traveling, and a funeral set for tomorrow…hey, at least I got something out. Right?


Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 7/17/2014

(Sung to the tune of Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love”)

Satellite Sam
Delayed to me
Things like that drive me
Out of my mind

It’s all good I got it now
Along with The Bunker times three

Satellite Sam love
Satellite Sam love
Satellite Sam love
Satellite Sam

Quick introductions…Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) is our CFO. Tulip (my Boston terrier, Obie’s sister) is our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / anger management liaison. I, of course, am Donist, CEO and general manager of Donist World, and we are so mad we could spit. In fact, Obie is so mad he barfed in the corner of our corporate office (my mom’s basement), but then again that might be the carne asada tacos coming back up…they’re way too spicy for dogs. Anyhow, we had our childhood and our puppyhood annihilated this week by the news that Thor will soon become a woman in Marvel continuity. Can you believe that, denizens!? CAN YOU!? Oh my stars and garters this is devastating news even though we have not read this book, nor have we been buying any Thor books since the amazing “God Butcher” storyline, but still…Thor a dang woman?!?! Noooooo. Why would we ever accept a publisher mixing things up to give us something we have not seen before, something new, something surprising that might end up being cool?! I mean, without taking chances in the past, we would never have seen the likes of Beta Ray Bill, or Frog-Thor, or Loki as a kid, or the death of Odin, or old-man Odin, or…or…or… oh, I see. It’s like Sir Ken Robinson said, “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” Obie and Tulip are now nodding their heads in agreement. We have actually been chased away from series and characters who merely kept repeating the same adventures time and time again. Heck, it was Beta Ray Bill taking up the hammer of Thor (thanks, Walt Simonson) that ended up bringing me back to the character decades ago. Not only that, this is a Big Two book that just so happens to have a certain high-profile movie coming out next year that features Thor, so I have zero doubt that the thunder god I grew up with will be returning in the not so distant future. My guess is the new “Thor” will be one of his three daughters, but regardless of who it is, we might just get something awesome. Now that our rage-filled hearts are a cool pool of tranquility, Tulip is excited that she can make believe she is the new god(dess) of thunder, and we’re happy to look at some cool stuff.

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Satellite Sam #9
Satellite Sam #9 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Howard Chaykin, lettered by Ken Bruzenak, digital production by Jed Dougherty, cover colored by Jesus Aburtov, designed by Drew Gil, edited by Thomas K, published by Image Comics. There’s a reason I was so filled with nerd rage a couple weeks ago when my LCS told me that they had been shorted (once again) on their Satellite Sam order from the monopoly distributor: it’s a darn fine comic. You see, when I received the bad news, I was so enraged I let loose a cacophonous whisper of “Oh, okay, two weeks then?” and went out of the store with a “thank you, see you next week” — I told them, denizens, boy howdy did I tell them. Then, once the book finally arrived this past Wednesday, I politely laid into my LCS owner with a “Oh cool, it came in!” and let him know my two weeks of displeasure by chatting about weddings and trips to Mexico, and how cool our dogs are…I think he got the hint: NO ONE messes with the Donist’s comic books, even if it is the monopoly’s distributor’s fault. Anyhow, after nearly having my childhood murdered by the lack of a book that was never even available during my childhood, I am happy to say the wait was well worth it. 

Guy Roth, writer of the mega-hit television show Satellite Sam, has written an epic teleplay about a homosexual on Wall Street and he also has an ultimatum: either the show airs, or he quits. This does not go over well with Satellite Sam director/producer Dick Danning, who is blindsided by the demand, but little does Dick know that Guy’s teleplay is somewhat autobiographical, and a response to some nasty blackmail pictures that could take down the show and possibly the station. Unfortunately for Dick, he has more pressing matters. Meanwhile, Michael White, the star of Satellite Sam, gets closer to understanding his father’s mysterious death after he talks to the owner of LeMonde Network’s wife.

I love this series. Fraction and Chaykin are not a team I ever envisioned putting out a book, which is part of the magic of Satellite Sam. We have Fraction stretching his writing skills to make a mystery, period piece, drama with an enormous cast of characters who speak appropriate for the time and who each have their own distinct voice. The impressive thing Fraction has done with this series is take all these players — none of whom are actual “good guys” by any means, with the possible exception of secondary character Libby Meyers — and make each one compelling to the point the reader can’t help but bear witness to the train wreck of their lives. Although, come to think of it, I might classify Guy Roth as a “good guy,” especially after his brave and admirable ultimatum from this issue that he uses as a means to end his little blackmailing problem. 

As for Chaykin’s art on this tremendous series, there’s a two step process to reading an issue of Satellite Sam you need to be aware of: first, you read the comic straight through so you don’t miss a beat of the exceptional dialogue and drama; second, you immediately go back through to further appreciate Chaykin’s phenomenal character acting, storytelling, and amazing background settings. Yes the book is in black and white, but through the use of greys and textured patterns, you soon get past the lack of C, M, and Y, and cling to the wonderful story being told. Also on the visuals, I have to commend letterer Bruzenak on the use of grey blotches on Dick’s word balloons to suggest just how advanced Dick’s cancer has become, and the effect is startling, harsh, yet serves to enhance the reading experience.

If you’ve been reading Satellite Sam, then I’m sure you understand my incredibly polite, boiling rage at having to wait to read this great series, but it all worked out as I had nothing else in my pull this week. If you have not been reading this fine comic that stands firm among Image Comics’s onslaught of greatness, then you can read the first five issues in trade for only $9.99, which is a great way to experience this content-rich, dense, smart read. Keep in mind though, this is not for the kiddies in any way, shape, or form, but solely for us adults who enjoy television shows like Madmen or who loved American Flagg back in the day. You cannot go wrong with Satellite Sam. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Bunker  #1
The Bunker #1–3 - Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov, illustrated and colored and lettered by Joe Infurnari, edited by James Lucas Jones and Robin Herrera, published by Oni Press. Before we even get to The Bunker I want to state how much I like Fialkov as a writer. I have covered his wickedly thought-provoking Echoes in the past, as well as following I, Vampire through to it its end — I still wish we could have seen I, Vampire without all of the crossovers and “events,” y’know, the story that Fialkov wanted to tell had he been allowed to do so. On top of his past work, he graciously dropped by Comics Experience one night a couple years back to discuss Echoes, where someone asked How do you stay motivated? He replied with the following advice that I have since taken to heart: 

“I don’t need an artificial way to stay motivated…for people who aren’t writing full-time, that should be your motivation. Your motivation should be writing full-time. Because I know what it is like to have the heart of a writer and to be stuck behind a desk doing a job you hate. That’ll kill you. That’ll kill you, it’ll destroy you. Because…I know, I spent years doing that. Finding a way to actually turn your passion into a way of making a living should be your motivation. And honestly, if it is not, then being a writer is not your passion.”

How about that? So, I typed out and printed his quote, and stuck it under the glass of my desk so that I see it every day. With summer classes ending this week, it looks like it’s time to double down on my writing, but that has nothing to do with the awesome new creator-owned series The Bunker.

Five longtime friends are celebrating their college graduation by hiking into the woods to bury a time capsule, which they intend to retrieve 20 years from this day. The shovel strikes shallow dirt, along with something else: steel. What they find is a monstrous bunker exactly where they had intended to bury their capsule, but the most startling thing of all is that four of the five have their full names printed on the hatch. Perplexed, they enter the bunker to find a history of how in the future they will bring about the end of the world. What is most terrifying is that they each — except for Billy — have a note supposedly written to them by their older selves. What do you do when you know you play a part in humanity’s downfall? And where is Billy’s note?

I warned you that there would be spoilers up top, but don’t worry, denizens, this is just the first third of issue one, and trust me when I say that things get real weird as you go along through to issue three. Fialkov lays out an intense mystery as to what happened while providing a hard look at each of the five characters as we learn what their ultimate fates will be if they don't change things. Unfortunately, some of the advice from their future selves causes them much grief. How the heck do you justify staying the course at the behest of your future self, knowing full well that the death of humanity is nigh? How do you know when to deviate from that course? How do you even know you can trust yourself? What the heck happened to Billy and his note? Fialkov smacks you with all of these questions, and given that there is a bunker in the ground, you might think of the television show Lost where there ended up being far more questions than answers. The creators are aware of this, and even have the characters joke about the similarity of their plight to that of the fictional show. Unlike Lost, I trust the creators to carry us through this story in a manner that will satisfy us adoring readers in the end. I am hooked.

Infurnari’s art is perfect for this story. It is dark and rough, and his use of drama and body language pulls you immediately into the thick of things. His incredible storytelling coupled with his nearly invisible lettering (this is a good thing, and is not easy to pull off) keeps your eyes trained firmly on the page as you glide from panel to panel through to the end of the book. Then there is the striking, mood provided by Infurnari’s colors, which brings me to the early version of The Bunker. This comic originally was Fialkov and Infurnari’s digital-only creation that lasted two (?) issues, before they decided to actually do an official release through Oni Press. Now with a publisher, the creators tweaked the format and colored the comic for a physical, floppy release. This was a great decision, as the colors add much to the impact of this compelling story.

I’ve been sitting on these first three issues — the first two Fialkov kindly signed for me at Wondercon back in April — for far too long, but I'm glad I read them this week. Actually, I couldn’t put the dang things down. Not only that, I missed issue four and I am now on an urgent mission to find a copy when I head up north in the next couple weeks; I MUST know what’s going to happen next. If you missed out on these first four issues, then never fear, you can pick up the trade in August, which I strongly suggest you do. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Slice Into the Woods

You Get It From the Intro - Yeah, nerd rage…so stupid. Ease up. Nothing ever lasts in the Big Two — Phoenix, Bucky, Frog-Thor, etc. — so sit back, relax, and you might just get something awesome. If not, well, It’ll all go back to normal soon enough anyways.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Micronauts Monday 7/14/2014

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

Oh boy. Here we go with the end of The Micronauts: The New Voyages — volume two for those of you unfamiliar with the original, AWESOME volume one. Today we’re going to take a peek at the last two issues of the series. If you’ve been following along since the first “Micronauts Monday” post (thank you, btw!), then you’ve probably guessed that I did not like the second volume either in my younger years, or in my later years, which is a total bummer. That said, there are still two issues remaining, so before we come to any consensus on these issues, let's walk out onto the diving board, gaze into the pool below, close our eyes, plug our nose…and leap in.

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts:
The New Voyages #19
The Micronauts: The New Voyages #19 - Written by Peter B. Gillis, pencilled by Howard Bender, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Janice Chiang, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Ralph Macchio, published by Marvel Comics. We all know that covers never lie (“ we don’t”), and this one heralds the return of Baron Karza!!! Yeah, not quite. The Micronauts are back on Homeworld, what is left of it anyhow, and the desolation is nothing compared to molecular planet’s individual spheres being blasted apart. Scion appears in his new form, and tells the Micronauts what Solitaire did way way way way way way way long time ago. They fight. Solitaire crys. Rann also cries as he explains on and on and on and on about what has happened over the past 18 issues, and it all leads back to Baron Karza’s version of the Prometheus Pit. There’s also stuff about stopping the Pain, and being “prime beings,” and Rann discovers how to control the pit.

Young Donist - Young Donist couldn’t make it through a read of this issue. He did, however, start with hope, especially after opening to page two and three to see Karza talking about something or other, but after flipping to the next page it was clear that the Baron wasn’t going to be showing up in any substantial form at all. The cover lied. Not only that, the two characters I never even liked — and felt the Micronauts should never have given the time of day — get into a fight and I just didn’t care. Sure the growing to giant size, and shifting forms as they fought was neat(ish), but all the crying and the talking seemed to go on forever. Even when Rann puts on the Karza armor, and began to get that certain evil tingle…yawn. I reached for my Mage, my Elementals, and my Squadron Supreme. Blah. No recommendo, my friendo.

Current Donist - First of all, I should know better than attempting to read The Micronauts: The New Voyages late at night, right before bed, after a full day. This issue took two attempts to get through and I really wanted to understand what the heck has been going on with the Pain, the Makers, what Baron Karza knew and didn’t know, who these Solitaire and Scion characters are, what this reverse-engineered Prometheus Pit is all about, and on and on. It wasn’t easy to kinda-sorta get the gist of what the heck has been going on for the majority of this second volume, and unfortunately once I did sort of “get it” I was anxious to be done with the series.

I’m only guessing here, but I suspect that this storyline was supposed to play out over many more issues and have the rather intricate plot come about slowly, but upon receiving notice of the series cancelation, the creators had to wrap things up quickly. Or perhaps Takara decided to yank the licensing to the property, whether because of the direction of the series, or flagging sales, or something else entirely — I need to do a little digging. Regardless of the reason to cancel The Micronauts: the New Voyages, I agree that it was time. That said, I would have preferred to see a volume three, or an entirely new creative team brought in to return the series to the exciting, action-packed, space opera many of us grew up loving; years later, we almost got a third volume.

Rann trying on the Karza armor and beginning to bend to the madman’s will is an awesome idea, and something that should have been pursued back in…say for instance…issue two. Unfortunately, we get this cool twist in the penultimate issue which is a bit of a bummer. As for the Scion/Solitaire stuff, I have to defer to my younger self. Yeah, I never really jived with those two, and I never understood why smart, rational, seasoned, space-faring, heroes would ever put up with these meddlers’ level of nonsense. Solitaire a five-million-year-old trilobite? Scion a newer model of Solitaire? Seeding Planets? It just ain’t my bag.

The Micronauts: The New Voyages #20 - Written by Peter B. Gillis, pencilled by Kelley Jones, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Janice Chiang, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Ralph Macchio, published by Marvel Comics. Face front true believers! We’re here for the exciting “cosmic conclusion” to the series! We begin with a splash page of an image that has never happened in the book, that the Micronauts were never able to achieve, and that does not happen at the end in any shape of form…but whatever, let’s just call it a bonus pin-up that somehow became page one and leave it at that. Scion and the Micronauts all jump into the Prometheus Pit to go to individual planet spheres to be obliterated so their genetic goop can bring new life to the Microverse. The Makers appear and look like a mix between the Celestials and the Acroyears, and Rann goes full-on eeeeevil, but Mari dive-tackles him into the Prometheus Pit so he can seed a planet somewhere, too. Meanwhile, Solitaire skulks off to be miserable for another million years.

Young Donist - “That’s it?! You’re kidding me. Arrrrrgh!” Young Donist was not impressed by either the finale or the series as a whole, and we better leave it at that, as I have tried to clean up my potty mouth over the past couple years here on Donist World. Just know that the second volume of The Micronauts was not Young Donist’s favorite thing in the world.

Current Donist - “You’ve got to be kidding me.” <sigh> So, the Micronauts allowed themselves to be manipulated for roughly 17 issues and all so they can be made into cosmic seeds to restore life to the Microverse. Why couldn’t Scion do it? It’s what he was created for. What about Scion’s other siblings? Can’t they do it. Plus, why do the Micronauts get the healthy hi-pro glow to begin with, when they were never created to seed the Microverse to begin with? Dang, denizens, I have tons of other gripey questions about this, but I just want to be done this second volume, which is unfortunate. The series started with so much promise, but it kind of went too far into the metaphysical and the what does it all mean? when there was really no reason to go there, as I explained last week.

I did not like the Micronauts-as-seeds-of-life ending, and after 59 issues and two annuals for volume one, a four-issue crossover with the X-Men, and now 20 issues in the second volume, I find it hard to…digest? absorb? accept?…that Rann and Mari’s last moment together is her dive-tackling him into the Prometheus Pit before he can become the new Baron Karza. After all of the strife and obstacles seeking to keep these two lovers apart, the series ends with them apart in a forced moment. Then Bug sneezes butterflies and each Micronaut commits suicide: alone, and separated from those who were their closest friends, comrades, loves, their family…basically the things that made the original series so damn compelling. I will say that Jones’s art looks great, but not even that is enough to salvage this issue, or the series in the end. Not recommended.

Yikes. Sorry, denizens, I wish I had better news to report on the second volume of what is one of my all-time-favorite comic book series, but unfortunately I do not. That said, I beg you to seek out all 59 issues of the original series, as well as The X-Men and the Micronauts four-issue mini-series; the two annuals are up to you, they’re only okay. If you are a fan of the original series that changed my life, and you have not read The Micronauts: The New Voyages, then pick up the first couple issues and see if they work for you. You never know, they just might tickle your fancy, but those first 59 issues are magic that more than stand the test of time.

The first three scripts and artwork (I believe) for a proposed third volume exists and I will have a look at those, and will probably revisit “Micronauts Monday” at some point in the future, but for now it looks like the end. Thank you so much for joining me the past few months, and I hope you enjoyed my ramblings about the series that created a comic fan, and made me interested in writing my own stories. So…Did any of you denizens read this follow-up to one of the greatest comic series of all time? If so, what did you think of it? Do you have your own experience with The Micronauts you would like to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thank you so very much for reading.

While writing this entry, I listened to the amazing new(ish) album by the Dum Dum Girls “Too True,” and to the awesome new album by Beverly “Careers.” Give both a listen, and you will see what I mean.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 7/11/2014

(Sung to the tune of Gloria Estefan “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You”)

O eh oo aah, o eh oo aah
(Yah ya goh)

Wednesday when the new comics arrive
If there’s nuthin’ for you to buy
Yeah, Yeah Donist World’s gonna help you

It’s cool, bro, there’s plenty to be read
Comic books to wake the dead
But I know it, Donist World’s gonna help you

Private Eye rules I tell you
Velvet is great it rocks, dude
Darklon’s old but good, too
Donist World’s gonna help you…alright!

Yeah, so my executive team is pissed at me again — like I have anything to do with comic book release schedules — but whatever. Despite the terrible, horrible, soul-crushing experience of not having a single new comic waiting for me at my LCS, I was able to pull out a couple recent releases, as well as a certain somethin’ somethin’ from the ’80s. Oh, how rude of me, welcome to Donist World and I’m joined as ever by the surly executive team of CFO Obie (my friend’s Boston terrier) and marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / party pooper Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). I honestly think the pups are pretending to be more upset than they actually are, so that they can get out of working on our fourth quarter plan to maintain our status as a Fortune 320,000 company. You see, we have stacks and stacks of comics and graphic novels we’ve not yet been able to talk about here at Donist World, and we have a substantial backlog of things to read, as well as some much loved books to reread. But without further ado, here’s Tulip to explain…wait a minute. Where’s my executive team? Ahhhh…the taco truck by the park. <sigh> Well, I could go for a taco or four myself, so while I retrieve the escapees, feast your peepers on…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Private Eye #7
The Private Eye #7 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Marcos Martin, Colored by Muntsa Vicente, published by Panel Syndicate. Yes, I’m behind on my digital comics reading. Waaaaaay behind on my digital comic reading, actually. I have a virtual ton of digital comics waiting in the confines of my computer and at a quick download to my pitiful iPad 1 — that poor ol’ beast. Therein lies the problem with reading digital comics in a timely fashion...with print, I am oftentimes tripping over my books, or fielding spousal complaints about the towering twin piles of the read and unread comics and “what I plan to do with them.” The cool thing about digital is if I had the actual print books, they would tower higher than my 6' 2" frame, but the bad thing is that they are truly out of sight, out of mind. This is not the case with The Private Eye. With this book, although it might take me anywhere from a day to two weeks to get to it, it’s always on my mind. Why? Because it is so darn good.

I’ll get to some specifics in a moment, but one thing I absolutely love about this comic is the business model. You see, the creators decided to bank on the power of their names, their painstakingly built fanbase from days spent at the Big Two, and have created a digital-only platform for this comic. There is no publisher taking the lion's share of the profits, there are no apps that give a third-party 30% of their profits, and no printing costs. But how much does each issue costs since all possible middlemen have been cut out of the picture…or rather the profit pie? The answer: as much as you are willing to pay. This includes nothing. Let me say that again, this includes a whole heaping bunch of nuthin’ for these creators, who take their time to collaborate, script, pencil, ink, color, letter, digitally produce, compile into different formats (.pdf, .cbr, .cbz), translate into Spanish, and also eventually into Catalan. With this being a digital offering, this does not mean the process is without costs. There are VAST amounts of time involved in making a comic (which should be apparent from the previous sentence): if an artist is drawing an issue and is paid after an issue’s released (hopefully), then the time spent drawing those pages is time not spent drawing work for hire from the Big Two…aka opportunity costs. When I said there are no middlemen, that was not necessarily true. There are also server/host costs to maintain / store / distribute the files, and there are fees to using Paypal for the handling of money…that’s if someone actually decides to pay them. So, the big question: why pay for these comic issues when they are FREE!, when you don’t have to pay a dime? Easy. Because time is money, and if this phenomenal comic becomes too costly to produce, then the creators would just walk and we will never get the full ten issues. More importantly, though, we the fans have an opportunity to give directly to the amazing creators who have brought us so much awesomeness over the years, and we know that our money is going directly to them. According to this week’s letters column, even with a nuthin’-to-whatever-you-want business model, the creators are making BETTER than a Big Two page rate, which means a full ten issues of The Private Eye as well as the possibility of future projects down the line. I’m more than cool with that.

Oh yeah, this issue…

We begin with a flashback of the time P.I. first met his spunky driver, Melanie. In the present, however, Melanie ain’t feeling all that spunky after the horrific car accident she barely survived, and now she is being wheeled off by a one of the surviving(?) French psychopath assassin twins to meet with the killer’s boss. Meanwhile, P.I. and Raveena have found Nebular’s home…and all the perverse items therein. But when Nebular and Deguerre — the man calling the shots — arrive, the chase is on. Can P.I. and Ravenna uncover Deguerre’s crazy plan, and how the heck can Gramps help?

You can probably guess by the lengthy buildup that I LOVED this issue. The Private Eye falls into the realm of a sci-fi book that dances on the edge of “Holy crud, I can see this actually happening” in regard to privacy versus security, and what happens in a world where security ultimately failed and privacy completely vanished. Vaughan throws in many twists and turns to the story and the characters are so interesting that I want to know everything about them; this includes the despicable bad guys. With this issue, as with the others, you are in a constant state of being off balance from the action, the chases, the excitement of it all, only to be jarred when everything slows for a moment as our heroes learn something new regarding the mystery of who killed Raveena’s sister. Then things go batsh!t crazy and you are swept up into the insanity all over again. The strength of the script and the dialogue alone will carry you along, desperate to find out what happens next (you can see an example of a script in the “making of” at — pay what you want, of course), but then you also have the power of the art.

Martin…dang, denizens, this cat Martin, I tell ya. You just have to see it. The character acting is great, outstanding actually, but the gnarly (I had to go full-on Valley Girl here) splash pages and the beautiful calamity of the chase scene are worthy of a heck of a lot of moments of your time. I was especially floored by the double “BLAM” panel with the silhouette foreground, and it is something I am sooooo gonna…uhhh, borrow…on the next thing I letter. You also have amazing speed lines, close ups on determined eyes, and storytelling prowess that simply refuses to allow you to look away. Don’t be surprised if you are tempted to immediately reread this issue, which you should do, just so you can see what you missed the first time through.

Love, denizens. I have love. I also have a burning, desperate need for the next dang issue to get here. I’m also going to be sure I read the next installment the day it is released. Sure this is a digital, invisible book that does not add to the clutter of our lives, but a comic book this grand has a presence all its own that simply must be experienced. So, we’ve established that you don’t need to pay them to check out the best comic NOT on the stands (but you should), that it doesn’t take up space, and that this Donist World darling is a book you simply must be reading. Tell you what…download the first issue or “trade” (issues 1–5) and I’m certain you’ll be fine kicking a few bucks to these hard-working creators for the exceptional job they have done on this exceptional comic book. I gleefully gave $3 for this issue, and you should, too. I can’t wait to reread The Private Eye from the beginning. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Velvet: Before the
Living End TPB
Velvet Vol. 1 TPB - Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Steve Epting, colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser, lettered by Chris Eliopoulos, edited by David Brothers, production by Drew Gill, published by Image Comics. During the Image onslaught of the past couple years, and especially during their doubled efforts over the past year for comic book domination, occasionally a series falls through the cracks at the Donist World offices (my mom’s basement). Velvet is one of those books. Thankfully, Image remedies this problem with the release of a $9.99 retail trade that spans the first five issues…you can even find the trade for as low as $8.00 (click the link)! Aside from price and quantity of issues therein, it’s also a dang-fine comic that fans of Brubaker and Epting MUST check out.

Velvet Templeton is the secretary to the Director of the Agency, but when the top secret agent, X-14, is killed, Velvet becomes suspect number one. She is being framed, but something those working against her failed to realize is her past; Velvet was once one of the Agency’s top agents, and she hasn’t forgotten a thing. On the run, and attempting to find X-14’s killer, Velvet uncovers a terrible secret that’s been building for many years. Her chances of survival are not looking good.

We all know that Brubaker has the espionage / spy / crime thriller down, but with Velvet he pushes the genre further with his strong female lead. She’s smart, tough, deadly, and her no-nonsense approach to her predicament is inspiring; she might seem harmless, but she is a terror if you are on her bad side. That said, she is not infallible, and some of her actions go so very, very wrong. Even when Velvet is making a mistake, Brubaker’s treatment of the character leaves you trusting in her skill and her confidence, as you are pulled from one harrowing situation to the next. The dialogue and voiceover captions are fantastic throughout.

Epting is a king of tension and storytelling, but the emotions and drama of a scene are where he shines the brightest. A subtle change in Velvet’s eyes moves her from a misleading appearance of helpless to a look that says I’m going to ruin you all…the intense action sequence that follows confirms she was right. The color scheme runs on the darker side, as it should for a comic of this nature, and Breitweiser creates some stunning nighttime scenes with cool purples and blues, and warmly lit cities. Together, every page is a beauty.

If you are not reading Velvet, you are definitely missing out on a great new series, and at this ridonkulously low entry price, there is no reason to deprive yourself any longer on this fantastic creator-owned series. I can’t wait to see what happens next! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Flashback Friday
Darklon the Mystic #1
Darklon the Mytstic #1 - Story and art by Jim Starlin, colored by Glorie Cohen, Basilio Amaro, and Joe Chiodo, published by Pacific Comics. If you dig waaaaay back into the Donist World archives, you’ll come across a couple of posts I made about one of my all time favorite Marvel characters and one of my all-time favorite series / storylines: Warlock by my hero Jim Starlin (read those four-years-old posts here and here). I dig the cosmic stuff, especially when Starlin is at the helm, whether it is Warlock, Captain Marvel, Thanos, or the Silver Surfer, but his cosmic work was not solely confined to Marvel. He had his Dreadstar series, which I know was published by Epic, which was owned my Marvel, but Epic was a totally different company…at least until it wasn’t. Anyhow, between his work with Warlock and Dreadstar, Starlin created a handful of Darklon the Mystic strips for Warren Magazine’s Eerie (issues 76, 79, 80, 84, and 100. All in black and white). Pacific Comics then collected those stories, colored them and released them in one issue, with nothing further appearing from ol’ Darklon after that…sort of (we’ll get to that at the end).

Anyhow, I’ve wanted this comic for a while and was happy to find it in the $.50 bin at my LCS; for that price, the purchase was a no-brainer. The story opens with Darklon and his dealings with an assassin before launching into his origin of shame and the terrible choice he makes to rescue his father from the clutches of cosmic usurper. Darklon then battles both his father and his demonic maker in an over-sized comic that tells a few complete stories, but ends much too soon.

I really enjoyed this book, with the exception of one GLARING issue, which I will get to in a moment. The story is typical Starlin space-faring insanity at its best, with a cool, tormented character who gets put through the ringer (beheaded and de-eyed!) and who still manages to press on. We see a complicated relationship with a son and father, and a return to the familiar theme of illness (like Star-Thief from the pages of Warlock and Captain Marvel in the amazing The Death of Captain Marvel). This comic is harsh in its subject matter, but none the less fun, and I definitely wanted to see more by the time I finished reading.

Here’s the bad…the coloring / printing on this comic is abysmal. The original Eerie issues were all black and white and Darklon the Mystic looks gorgeous (I found some of the original pages with a Google search), which is to be expected from Starlin. His artwork is epic, something to linger over and appreciate, but the colors in this issue are serviceable at best, and muddy to the point of being illegible at worst. Criminy, the colors are simply deplorable on various pages, and I suspect it’s mostly the result of bad printing than any fault of the colorists involved, but, man… I would love to see this recolored, or at the least collected in black and white so we can fully enjoy Starlin’s bold line work and storytelling.

As a side note, a Darklon-esque character called Darklore showed up in the pages of Warlock Chronicles and Warlock and the Infinity Watch. This charcter has a cape, fancy boots, a sash-like belt, he used magic, and was missing an eye. Aside from a new hairstyle (and hair color) and a differently colored costume, we was pretty much the same guy.

If you like Jim Starlin’s work — and I know you do — you should definitely pick up this oldie-but-goodie, but go into it knowing that the colors will pull you out of the story as you try to make sense of what you are seeing in the final chapter. My love of the creator’s work and for the groovy story make me give this issue a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, but the crap coloring / printing force me to only give this a RECOMMENDED! If you are rich, then seek out the early Eerie issues to see these stories in their full black and white glory.

Slice Into the Woods 

Thumbs Down Comic Week For Donist - <grrrrr> So, not only did I not have a single new comic in my pull this week, I’m still missing my issue of Undertow (3 weeks late), and also Satellite Sam (1 week late). Yay Monopolies? It also looks like I have a whole heaping helping of nuthin’ in my pull next week as well, and then the weeks following that I’m going to be bombarded with titles. Looks like it is time for ol’ Donist to get Marvel, DC, and Image (mostly Image) on the horn and throw my weight around to get a distribution schedule more to my likings. Yup, time to use that Donist World clout!