Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 7/31/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven


Welcome back, Donist World denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / wing-doggie Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). This week, Obie was holding down the fort at the corporate office (Mom’s basement) as Tulip, Amy the intern (my wife), and I headed up to Saratoga, CA for five days, where it was hot-hot-hot. Thankfully, there was one day of blissful pool time, and a day in the much cooler Carmel. Also, thankfully, I made it to an awesome comic book store (Comics Conspiracy), and I blissfully OBed (“Over Barbecued”) on pulled pork, sausage, gorgeously amazing BBQ ribs (ohhhhhhhh my), and accompanied all of that with a vegetable dish…BBQ chicken. Hot dang, it was glorious, but now I'm all about the broccoli, bell peppers, squash, and lettuce. But after a brutal early-early-early morning drive back to Santa Barbara, we’re back and seeing what kind of shenanigans Obie has gotten into with his “wholacracy” (his version of holacracy) nonsense. In the meantime, grab some killer tacos (or BBQ ribs!), and a strong ginger ale — or perhaps an iced tea, iced tea is nice — and settle in to enjoy this week’s post. Thank you for reading.


***Possible Spoilers Below***


Sex Criminals 11
Sex Criminals #11 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Chip Zdarsky, edited by Thomas K, production by Drew Gill, published by Image Comics. Brimpers, meet Doug D. Douglas. He’s first on the list of people Jon and Suzie seek to bring to their side in the battle against Kegelface and her Pervtastic Duo. The interesting thing about Doug is that when he enters The Quiet he _____ and manifests a _____ _____. Meanwhile, someone is sleeping with the enemy…literally.

Dang, denizens. I didn’t get one of the one-in-twenty sketch comics. Neither did the guy in line behind me, who was also buying this title. Oh well, whatchagonna do? Anyhow, the wait between arcs is finally over for what is still one of my top five comics on the racks. Fraction and Zdarsky introduce a new character, push another away, and things look to become very complicated in the near future for our heroes.

Although this issue did not have me laughing as much as other issues have, I was still smiling the whole way through given the wonderful dialogue, captions, and Zdarsky’s beautiful art. Character acting and drama drive this issue, with subtle changes in a character’s face revealing so much of what is not being said, especially in the scene with Kegelface. Speaking of her, I especially loved how the creators took two very similar scenes and had the results play out vastly different, which just goes to show how sex and sexuality, and likes and dislikes are entirely personal; there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to sex (this goes for education and child learning, too, politicians!). However, I must admit I was a little taken aback by one character refusing to be involved with Jon and Suzie, but I have a feeling they will show up again later. *Side note: Why are the dolphins in Florida smoking a joint and wearing a pink tank top respectively? The ones in California don’t do that. Curious…

Oh yeah, don’t skip reading the letters column (trust me, it’s always a hoot), or you’ll miss the last page of the story on the inside back cover.

If you are not reading Sex Criminals and you are a sex-positive adult who likes gorgeous, vibrant art and a fun story that does not treat sex as a bad thing, but rather as something that is fun, ridiculous, and complicated, then this is the book for you. Despite what the comic’s title, might lead the unbrimped to think, this book is not pr0n. It is a book about relationships and having the freedom to be yourself with the occasional hilarious dick joke tossed in for good measure. There’s some nudity, but much less than you would expect. What you can expect is to laugh the whole way through as you spot things you have personally experienced (pr0n in the woods, anyone?), or suddenly relate to the various characters in one way or another. You can pick up the first two trades, or shoot your wad on the beautiful hardcover. Sex Criminals always jumps to the top of my read pile. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Low #8
Low #8 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Greg Tocchini, colored by Dave McCaig, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. After devoting her life to quantomology and the fight against pessimism, Stel Caine beliefs have been tested. Now, after so much loss, she begins to waiver, but when a fellow survivor of the tragedy at Poluma reveals his dark past, Stel clings to hope and what a long abandoned city might hold.

Denizens, I liked Low since issue one, but it just gets better and better with each issue. Remender’s stories tend to lean toward the deeply personal and this book is no different. With Stel, we feel her pain and understand how difficult it is to remain positive, to not sink into despair and hopelessness as life continues to crumble all around her; she trudges on. Even with a reformed psychopath now joining her on her quest — as well as the merwoman Mertali — she still manages to pull herself from the brink of despair to continue to find the probe that might be humanity’s last hope for survival. Unfortunately, Stel isn’t privy to the first five pages that let us know exactly where the probe has landed, and it is chilling. Still, Stel’s optimism, as beautifully written by Remender, is infectious even after I set the comic down.

Tocchini’s art is as lovely and flowing and graceful as ever, even when depicting some fairly horrific moments that bookend this issue — whoa doggy, those are some creepy images. His work is at its most magical when Stel and Mertali glide through the darkened depths of the dead city as they search for supplies. Even though I have seen Stel’s swimming suit before, I cannot help but marvel at the killer design and thought put into the costuming of the characters. I also never would have guessed that someone other than Tocchini had colored this issue, as McCaig’s style and palette perfectly match the mood and atmosphere of what has come before. This is one helluva beautiful comic, and I’m thrilled that following the letters column, Tocchini allows us some insight into his work process with this issue.

I’m a sucker for undersea stories, but Low is something else. We have an imaginative world, complex characters, and a real sense of peril lurking at every page turn, but it is not only the brilliant and gorgeous Stel Caine or the ultra-groovy monsters lurking in the shadows that draw me to this book, but the deep sense of hope in the face of repeated terrible events that seal the deal on this post-apocalyptic, sci-fi, underwater adventure comic. If you have not been reading Low, then by all means pick up the stoopidly inexpensive first trade ($5.18 for six issues as of today!) and see what it is all about, but be warned that this book is not for the kiddies. I wholeheartedly love this series, and hope to read it for many years to come…as well as see some Tajo and Della spinoffs of their years spent apart (please please please). VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Lazarus #18 - Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Michael Lark, inked by Michael Lark and Tyler Boss, colored by Santi Arcas, lettered by Jodi Wynne, publication design and additional content by Eric Trautmann, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics. The war between Family Carlyle and Family Hock wages on with Lake Superior of most vital importance. Casey Solomon, most recently lifted to active military duty, discovers that Lazarus Forever Carlyle is every bit as lethal and cunning as reported. Miles away, Michael Barrett, also recently lifted, discovers the stresses of his new job.

The previous chapters all begin to come together, as the characters from “Lift” appear within the ranks of the serfs of the Family Carlyle. This month, we have the usual background Family machinations, but the strongest moments come from Forever and Casey’s interactions on the battlefield, and Michael’s discovery of his one and only medical concern as new Family Carlyle doctor on staff…talk about pressure. Rucka also brings back, all too briefly, Marisol and Sonja — two of my favorite characters — where their growing camaraderie begins to show; I hope to see this develop more in the future.

Lark destroys with this issue. Not only do we see the fantastic character acting we have come to expect, we also see some tremendous storytelling moments as Forever stalks and kills the enemy combatants, dispensing them one after the other. Those first three pages had me cheering for Forever, but more so left unnerved at the thought of what it means to face off against a Lazarus <brrrrr>. Speaking of <brrrr>…Arcas’s colors are dark, moody, but my favorite images center around those in the open air of Minnesota as the white snow falls around the troops, and the background imagery is knocked out relative to the foreground. The panel of Forever and her troop walking through the city streets is my favorite of the issue.

Lazarus continues to be a fantastic read that blurs the line between science fiction and science / political / economic possibility, which is honestly quite terrifying. With great characters, a robust world, and writing and art that mesh perfectly together, you can’t go wrong with this Donist World darling of a comic. You can and should pick up the three available trades, or splurge for the impressive hardcover, but as I always say, the floppies are where it is at, as there are many pages of insightful letters, responses, and world-building tidbits that you will not find in the collections. Everyone should be reading this dystopian triumph. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Southern Bastards #10
Southern Bastards #10 - Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated by Jason Latour, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. This issue focuses on Esaw, Coach Boss’s right hand man. It is a story of redemption, of lifting one’s self above the pain and the misery, of transcending one’s lot in life to help one’s fellow man in… … …I am totally lying. Esaw is an awful human being, through and through. You already hated this Southern Bastard when you first met him, and you will hate him even more by the time you finish this issue. Guaranteed.

I must admit that I am itchy to see Tubb’s daughter arrive in Craw County, but these past two biopic-esque looks at the secondary characters in this must-read crime series have been great. I applaud the Jasons bravery in showing that not every character needs to experience a transformation of any sort in order for a book to be a compelling read. Esaw does not change at all, he is who he is. In fact, it is the secondary character in this story about a secondary character who experiences any degree of changing. If anything, Esaw is an instrument that forces others to change, while he remains constant. I anticipate he will remain so for the entirety of the series.

This comic is also not for the kiddies, which is readily apparent from the opening first-page splash…and subsequently nearly every single panel through to the end. *side note: Hot sauce?!?!* Latour’s style has changed slightly over these past few issues, which is fine, but his fantastic storytelling and character acting are as consistent and powerful as ever. Southern Bastards’s beauty lies in its awful ugliness, an ugliness that grabs hold and refuses to let you turn away. You need to be reading this book.

Dang, I wish I had picked up the cover of the dog shredding the Confederate flag, but, alas, I only found out about it after reading Latour’s informative essay at the back of this issue — another reason to buy the floppies! Oh well. As I’ve said before, I don’t care for football. I actually dislike it for many reasons (criminal dog fighters allowed to return to the MILLIONS of dollars of pay being one of many), but this crime comic centering on the darker side of the sport is just too good to pass up. Now with an FX television series in the works (it better actually happen), I am even more excited to read about something I actively hate. You can easily catch up with the first two trades (currently, you can get both for under $11!!!) or the soon-to-be-released hardcover in October, and you should, if you are a fan of football, crime comics, or just plain good ol’comic books. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Slice Into the Woods


Channeling My Inner Stel Caine - We're keeping it positive today. It’s been long week with little sleep, brutally hot weather up north, and crazy long drives. Repeat after me, denizens: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” Great things are on the horizon. Thank you for reading.


And on that positive note…

(Sung to the tune of Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face”)

Stel Caine’s full of hope
One more bad break could bring her fall
One thing you should know
You should be reading Low
Awesome sci-fi from below
Sex Criminals’s no tease
Lazarus you need
Southern Barstards succeeds

Titres pour votre visage
Titles for your face





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Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 7/24/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven


Welcome back, Donist World denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / morale booster specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). This week, Obie has regrettably caught wind of the fairly-new holacracy movement utilized by companies such as Zappos and has decided — without including Tulip or I in the discussion — that Donist World will maintain its Fortune 320,000 status through his new management style known as “wholacracy” or “WholeEnchiladacracy.” Under Obie’s wholacracy, he tells both of us what to do, and we are to do his will without question; he should probably reread what holacracy actually is. Anyways, Tulip and I are cutting out of the office early, while Obie writes out his list of rules for his “Obie Talks, Lackeys Listen” newsletter…I doubt he’ll notice we’re gone for at least four hours. In the meantime, grab some killer tacos, and a strong ginger ale — or perhaps an iced tea, iced tea is nice — and settle in to enjoy this week’s post. Thank you for reading.


***Possible Spoilers Below***


Prez #2
Prez #2 - Written by Mark Russell, written by Ben Caldwell, inked by Mark Morales with Sean Parsons, colored by Jeremy Lawson, lettered by Travis Lanham, published by DC Comics. Corndog girl, Beth Ross, is getting crushed in her unintended run for the President of the US of A. Beth couldn’t care less, not with her ailing father withering away because of the lack of decent healthcare available to the poor. Meanwhile, it is a feeding frenzy of the brattiest of brats, state representatives wheel and deal to get whatever their hearts desire in order to get their “man” in the White House. Don’t count Beth out yet, though…

Criminy! The most un-DC comic on the stands is back, and I am in love on every level from the story, to the characters, to the illustrations, to the coloring; I love it all. Russell and Caldwell continue their satyrical look at politics from the view point of those (attempting to) pull the strings and those who suffer in the wake of our leaders’ greed and arrogance. This issue is equally devoted to the behind the scenes moments of politics as it is to Beth Ross and the mess that is her life. We see her world fall apart in the wake of a morally-bankrupt healthcare system, all while those in power use the “Taco Drone” program to supply their lunch. As I mentioned above, I enjoyed every bit of this issue, but the moments that truly slayed me were when we watched the predominantly-male state representatives chatting with one another like giddy fifteen-year-olds squeeing about the brand-new sports car they would be receiving for their sweet sixteen. “Global Warming Village” is just gravy.

Caldwell’s cartooning is immensely effective in its character acting (both exaggerated and serious), while his design work on things like Carl, the Taco Drone bot, and the bug plane are inventive and cool. His work would serve this comic well even if it were restricted to black and white, but Lawson’s colors elevate much of the dark subject matter into a disarmingly vibrant, cheerful realm that leaves the reader blissfully off balance. Art and story are in perfect harmony on this title that at times seems like it would be more at home with Vertigo than DC proper.

Reading Prez is as frustrating as it is enjoyable, as every page read is one less page waiting to be experienced. Throughout this issue, I could not help but think I do not want this to end, which caused me to linger on each page to fully take in everything that is happening within the art and between the lines of the word balloons. Oftentimes, I was torn between cracking up at various gags (Carl the End-of-Life-Bear), and recoiling at the obvious jab at the very real problems lurking in the healthcare industry. Whether we are focusing on the criminally-out-of-touch-or-is-it-selfish-or-is-it-both state reps left me rolling and smiling ear-to-ear…until it sunk in that this type of douchebaggery isn’t anything new and is steeped in reality. The moments with Beth’s father are touching and painful to experience, the wormology (capitalization intentionally removed, much like its non-profit status should be) morons are a crackup, and the ending that introduces Beth to a new character has me chomping at the bit for more more more. Prez is a smartly written, beautifully illustrated comic that will leave you laughing at its absurdity, while cringing at the bleak truths it gleefully reveals. Beth "Corndog Girl" Ross for President!!! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

*I heard a dreadful rumor that DC has slashed the planned 12-issue run down to a paltry six issues, which is a terrible decision (shareholder interest over taking a slight risk on an additional six issues on a title that can potentially do even better in trades?) for what is the only DC book I am currently buying. If this is true, I am DEEPLY disappointed.


Weirdworld #2
Weirdworld #2 - Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated by Mike Del Mundo, colored by Mike Del Mundo and Marco D’Alfonso, lettered by VC’s Cory Petit, published by Marvel Comics. Arkon is a warrior, a lord of Polemachus, and a rider of dragons. He had it all…now all he wants is to go home. Trapped by the Apelantis slavers and separated from his dragon, Arkon makes his first ally since becoming stranded. Things finally begin to look up for the barbarian, but one should never allow hope to rise when one walks the plains of Weirdworld.

What the Doom is going on?!?! I bought no Image books this week, and the only two books I did buy were from the Big Two. What the what?! To put things into perspective, neither book is really part of either universe, and both are going to be painfully short: Prez looks to be slashed from twelve to six issues, and Weirdworld is set for a mere four issues. Once again, awesomeness is slated to be cut short all too soon. <sigh> But let’s not lament the axe destined to come down on these titles and instead celebrate what we actually do have: freakin’ fun, awesome comics unlike anything we have seen come out of the Big Two in quite some time.

(I am going to spoil something below. You’ve been warned…)
It’s plain to see that Aaron is having a blast with Weirdworld, what with thunderbolt carrying barbarians, dragons, beautiful witches, underwater ape civilizations, monsters, crystal and magma warriors, maps, and quests, all while barely acknowledging the farthest reaches of the Secret Wars event. Aaron has the opportunity to get as weird as he can, and trust me when I say that he gets positively bonkers. Not only do we get the oddball barbarian-guy-extraordinaire Arkon, but with this issue Aaron brings us back to the world of Crystallium with The Saga of Crystar: Crystal Warrior characters such as Warbow, Moltar, and Crystar (sort of…yuck). Not to go too far offtrack, but I loved Crystar back in the day, and felt burned by the final issue that prematurely ended the series — which still kind of hacks me off decades later, but enough of the past…

The story is a simple tale of boy wants to go home, boy gets abducted by aquatic apes, boy is freed by a warrior of crystal, an evil queen steals the boy’s dragon, and the boy and his crystal pal are pitted against the molten neighborhood bullies. We’ve seen it all before, right? Wrong. Normally, you would breeze through this action-packed issue, were it not for Del Mundo’s gorgeous, and I mean gorgeous, art. Comics are, of course, a visual medium, and boy howdy does Del Mundo deliver the gospel of that statement. The action and wonderful storytelling will have you whipping through the pages, but when you come to the splash page of Warbow, or the double-page spread of the two versus Apelantis, and the final page spash — and every thing before and in-between for that matter — you will marvel at the beauty of the colors and characters. Dang…that is one mighty fine lookin’ dragon, denizens, wow.

At only two issues in, it is safe to say Weirdworld rules, but I have to say that limiting this type of greatness to a mere four issues is like meeting your soulmate the day before you blast into outer space on your mission to Mars. Why are we introduced to this bizzonkers comic only to have it mercilessly taken away. Marvel…please extend this trip for another year, or two. I accept that Weirdworld and I were never meant to be together for ever and ever, happily ever after, but give  us a chance to build some dang memories. Please don't leave me hollering, “I’ll never forget you, Weirdworld, I love you!!!” after issue four ends. <sigh> VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Ant-Man (The Movie) - Dang, I really am keeping things in the realm of the Big Two this week. Anyhow, I’m going to keep this very brief and say that even though I wasn’t expecting much from this movie, I left the theater smiling and dang happy I saw it. There are some pacing issues that I assume come from the change in directors partway through filming, but I enjoyed the story, all of the characters, and thought the movie was all a blast from beginning to end. Aside from a couple ridiculously minor swear words that I promise you your kids are already using around their friends, this is Marvel’s most family-friendly movie to date, and that it registers every bit as much as a comedy as it does a superhero flick. I laughed especially hard at a fight scene between Ant-Man and Yellow Jacket that included a song by a particular music group that ruled my world many years ago. Ant-Man may not be up there with Guardians of the Galaxy, or Captain America: The Winter Soldier, or The Avengers, but it is a heck of a way to spend the afternoon. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Slice Into the Woods


Dang, the Blows Keep on a Comin’ - I don’t think I got a job I was hoping to get. There were no calls, or emails, or letters saying I did not get the job, but the website shows it as “Closed: Filled,” and it has been quite some time since the first interview. Bummers. Oh well, right back into the thick of things. Still, dang…


Yet Another Shooting - I just saw this and had to add a comment. I am appalled — but no longer shocked — by the events in Lafayette, La. This keeps happening. Why did this fool have a gun? Not just a gun, but one capable of killing and injuring so many in so very little time? The sickening thing is it could have been so much worse. Screw the NRA and their cronies. We need sensible gun laws void of any say from the evil, profiteering criminal organization known as the NRA. We are supposedly a ”developed country,” but given the rise in mass shootings I have my doubts as to whether or not we are worthy of calling ourselves as such. My heart goes out to all those whose only goal at the time was to watch a damn movie in peace.

And on that bleak note, let’s boost some Donist spirits with…

(Sung to the tune of Billy Idol’s “Catch My Fall”)

You’ve got some time, so so you will read yeah
Sweet comic books, totes off the hook yeah
Weirdworld is bonkers, best believe it, Cuz yeah
Wow me Prez it’s awesome, out of this world

I bet they will thrill you, but read for yourself

You cannot stumble
Read ’em, y’all yeah
You cannot stumble
Read ’em, y’all yeah
Read ’em, y’all yeah





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Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 07/17/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven


Welcome back, Donist World denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / personal cheerleader Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). This week, we’re all fairly excited about seeing Ant-Man — despite the fact that dogs are not allowed in the movie theater, which never seems to register with them — but I am massively bummed that I most likely will not be going to Hollister Brewing Company for lunch followed by seeing the movie, which has kind of become my own personal holiday celebration for these big-time superhero movies. Still, never lose hope, denizens, never lose hope. Anyhow, while I try to get to the bottom of why Obie has been stockpiling paperclips when we run a predominantly paperless office, you should grab some killer tacos, and a strong ginger ale — or perhaps an iced tea, iced tea is nice — and settle in to enjoy this week’s post before heading out to watch Ant-Man. Thank you for reading.


***Possible Spoilers Below***


Hawkeye #22
Hawkeye #22 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by David Aja, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Chris Eliopoulos, published by Marvel Comics. Hawkguy, Hawkgal, and Lucky (the mighty Pizza Dog!) get by with a little help from their friends as they take on the Tracksuit Draculas and the murderous Clown. The end is here.

Let’s leave all the jabs over how late this book is at the door. Instead, let’s celebrate what is/was one of my all-time-favorite Marvel comic books, and by that I mean ever. The series as a whole caught me by the first page of the first issue, but I was predestined to be a fan of Hawkeye after reading Fraction, Aja, and Ed Brubaker’s mindblowing Immortal Iron Fist. Hawkeye had everything I needed in a Big Two property (great characters, stunning art and coloring that is stylistically atypical of current comic book trends, an earnest and at times hilarious story that remained compelling and unique), while steering clear of the things that continuously push me away (mired in continuity nonsense, tie-ins to publisher-wide events, mandated crossovers with bigger heroes). Everything from Fraction’s storytelling to Aja’s gorgeous art (man, I want every page this guy has illustrated covering my walls) spoke to me. Even when Hawkgal split off for her own tales with Annie Wu’s beautiful art, or the hurricane benefit issue with Steve Lieber’s stunning work, or Francesco Francavilla’s (another personal favorite artist of mine) gorgeous imagery from issues 10 and 12, I was in for the the long haul. That said, with all of the massively talented creators involved with Hawkeye, the Fraction / Aja / Hollingsworth team issues are the ones that I hold most near and dear to my heart.

But how does this final issue compare to what came before, and does it deliver a satisfying ending to this much-loved title? Yeahsureyoubetcha! I will give zero spoilers here, and I will keep it brief, but this issue had the expected thrills, chills, and intense action we’ve come to expect, while delivering a few scenes that made me gasp (one even upset me greatly for a moment), some that made me laugh, and another that invoked a triumphant fist pump. I always thought Kate Bishop was pretty cool, but with this issue, she is cemented as a total badass through and through. And Clint…yeah, even though he is oftentimes the human punching bag who never quits, he leaves the reader with a firm understanding why this guy with no superpowers is a member of the Avengers.

Again, as with all other Aja comics, I want to buy two extra copies of the issue, careful cut each page out of the book and frame them as a long 30-page sequence that I can read as I make my way up the stairs. Aja’s characterization and storytelling and cinematic moments (especially the silent fight scenes…oh my dawg!) demand to be reread multiple times to properly appreciate every detail on each lovely panel. Hollingsworth’s colors provide just as much impact to this phenomenal title, even as his flat colors provide so much life and mood to this comic that it wouldn’t have been the same without him.

Buy this book! Hawkeye is unlike any other superhero title on the stand and is one of the best things I have ever read from the Big Two. Characters can be a huge draw to a comic book series, but characters are nothing until talented creators like Fraction, Aja, and Hollingsworth add their touch to bring life and resonance to the book. Although they did not create Hawkeye (guy or gal), this book is every bit theirs. If you trade waited (a long wait, indeed), then the fourth trade is available come mid-August, the final hardcover in December, and an Omnibus collecting the whole shebang in early November…for which I will be double-dipping. The finale is everything I could have hoped for, and a straight-through rereading from beginning to end is definitely in my immediate future. Hawkeye, both the series and this final issue, comes VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Rachel Rising #35
Rachel Rising #35 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. Rachel and Lilith hold a sit-down meeting as Zoe squirms uncomfortably. Rachel will never be the same upon learning the secrets Lilith has to tell.

Dang, reveals of the magnitude found in this issue tend to come out of the blue on this phenomenal Twin Peaks-esque horror title that continues to be a total joy to read…despite only having 18 pages of material. That one quip aside, I never suspected the major things Lilith reveals to Rachel (I’m not going to spoil ’em, either), but now that we gain some insight into the women's’ connection to each other, it all makes sense. I think It’s about time I reread the series from the beginning to pick up some of the flashback moments seen throughout the series thus far.

With Rachel Rising, you know you are going to see Moore’s tremendous character design and character acting come to life on the page every bit as much as you would on his seminal work, Strangers in Paradise. And like SiP, you can also count on a brilliantly told story that is funny, thoughtful, at times touching, at times harsh, but what differs with this latest project is that it can at times be creepy and oh-so scary — I positively love it. You can easily catch up via the first five trades, with a sixth sure to be coming before the end of the year. Every sale and every preorder of the floppies helps keep this phenomenal book in print that I hope to be reading for some time to come. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Silver Surfer Vol. 2
Worlds Apart
Silver Surfer Volume 2: Worlds Apart - Written by Dan Slott, illustrated by Mike Allred, colored by Laura Allred, lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino, published by Marvel Comics. The Silver Surfer, former herald of the mighty Galactus, and his traveling companion Dawn Greenwood, former inhabitant of the planet Earth, continue their tour of the cosmos. Their adventures will bring them to strange, wondrous new worlds where they meet all varieties of beings. But traveling along with them is the Surfer’s dark past, a past that Dawn knows little about, but most sentient beings across the many universes are only all too familiar.

As you will remember from my FSoH/SitW post about the first volume from Slott and the Allreds (here), I fell in love with the Silver Surfer all over again after reading just the first issue in the collection. I’m happy to say that this volume is equally as much a joy to read as the first. What’s even better this time around, is that the creators have an opportunity to tell the stories they want to tell without any other heroes appearing, no events mussing things up, and no pesky continuity to get in the way. Without those distractions, what we get are the characters’ sense of wonder that comes from exploring the unknown and the sense of friendship that arrises when these two seemingly different people find they have so very much in common; it’s all rather touching. But it’s not all good times for Dawn and the Surfer, as Slott also infuses conflict and danger with the very real threat of one’s past coming back to haunt them — in this case in a very literal way — greatly complicating Dawn and the Surfer’s relationship.

Allred, both Mike and Laura, seem to have been born to explore the cosmos, and I can’t help but hope for a day that they illustrate an Adam Warlock story, but that is beside the point. Here, they continue their sharply illustrated, vibrantly colored exploration of the bizarre, and every page is pure magic. Even when situations take a turn for the worst, I can’t stop myself from smiling throughout a groovy fight scene every bit as much as I did for a solitary splash page of Dawn and the Surfer lying on opposite sides of the surfboard, completely at peace as they drift through space. Both story and art work so perfectly together that I know I will be rereading these Silver Surfer volumes many, many times over the years to come.

If you like the cosmic superheroes, then you absolutely must read this series. If you think outer space is cool and would love nothing more than to travel the galaxy with the Silver Surfer as your tour guide, then picking up both this book and the first volume is a an absolute must. Silver Surfer is still an absolute joy to read, and the third volume cannot come soon enough. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Slice into the Woods


Things Continue to be Tough All Over - I don’t want to get into it, it’s boring, I’ve just got a ton of immensely frustrating stuff going on…but I hope to have it all sorted out soon. Yay.

Ack…screw that depressing noise, let’s kick it up a notch with this week’s song…

(Sung to the tune of Billy Idol’s “Dancing with Myself”)

At your local LCS
There’s so much to read, what a mess
With a massive selection
It’s all quite perplexin’
The best books on the shelf

Well that Hawkeye’s dynamite
Rachel Rising’ll treat you right
Silver Surfer’s strong
Cosmic love sensation
They’re the best books on the shelf



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Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 7/10/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven


Welcome back, Donist World denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / beachcomber Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). This week we aren’t doing anything at the corporate office (Mom’s basement): No Power Point presentations about securing our status as a Fortune 320,000 company, no Risks Benefit Assessment discussions concerning tacos al carbón versus tacos al pastor versus tacos de barbacoa, no ROI meetings concerning Obie’s MbDM (Management by Dungeon Mastering) style. Nothing. We didn’t even bother having Amy the intern (my wife) refuse to make us all coffee. You want to know why? Because it’s SDCC week and we are not there. See? Sad, right? Anyhow, we’ve been taking it easy, relaxing a little, playing to spark creativity, and doing team building exercises to improve our corporate culture…all while feverishly checking in with the latest SDCC news. If you aren’t at SDCC, you might as well join us. So write that last email, cut out of the office early, grab some killer tacos, and a strong ginger ale — or perhaps an iced tea, iced tea is nice — and settle in to enjoy this week’s post before heading out. Thank you for reading.


***Possible Spoilers Below***


Descender #5
Descender #5 - Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics. TIM-21 and his band of protectors have been taken by a team of Scrappers to the planet Gnish, home world of the Robot Culls. Once delivered, TIM, Telsa, and Dr. Quon have a meeting with the Gnish leader that does not go well, as Driller, Bandit, and Tullis head into the dreaded Melting Pits.

Criminy! This series continues to blow me away with its compelling story, characters, world, writing, art…everything. As I have said with each of the past four issues, Lemire pulls on my ’70s and ’80s sci-fi animation / comics heartstrings with this harsh but beautiful tale. Previously, I would have mentioned “beauty” before “harsh,” but that all changes with this month’s installment: the interrogation scene, the Melting Pits, the shocking reveal. This is not to say the issue is overshadowed by the more brutal scenes. We still delve further into TIM and Driller as the creators grow their vast world, all while catching a glimpse of some of the behind the scenes machinations of The United Galactic Council (UGC). This issue is already perfect, but a new and surprising complication — the wolf in sheep's clothing moment — caused me to sit up straight with dread. I was then filled with even more dread when I realized I was already at the halfway point of the issue, and I desperately did not want it to end.

Lemire’s story alone makes Descender a must-read comic, but when joined with Nguyen's gorgeous watercolors that bring every scene to life, I have to add a must-own designation to this brilliant sci-fi tale as well. The storytelling and character acting are phenomenal and reason enough to praise Nguyen for his visuals, but his character designs, costuming, architecture, machinery, weaponry, and tone are simply astounding.

To summarize: I love everything about this comic.

If you aren’t reading Descender, then please write yourself a one-day hall pass from your job, school, dentist appointment, or whatever, and get to your LCS to pick up these five issues. If you don’t find all of the issues at your LCS, then go to your NCLCS (next-closest to the LCS), then the NCNCLCS (next-closest to the next-closest to the LCS). Yes, denizens, I know. The first six-issue trade is available sometime in September, but why would you ever wait? Don’t do that do yourself…you deserve Descender, and you deserve it now. Hey, I'm going to get the trade in addition to the floppies, and I will even triple dip on the eventual hardcover release (please please please!). So, yeah, I kind of dig this comic, and I know you will, too. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Archie #1
Archie #1 - Written by Mark Waid, illustrated by Fiona Staples, colored by Andre Szymanowicz with Jen Vaughn, lettered by Jack Morelli, published by Jon Goldwater of Archie Comic Publications. Throughout history there have been power couples, but none have been as historic as Riverdale High School’s own Archie Andrews and Betty Cooper. Those two have been together since kindergarten. They were supposed to get married, get a dog, have kids, the whole white picket fence American dream. But then came the “Lipstick Incident”…

Wow! This blew me away. Anytime I say anything related to Archie Publications, I mention how as a kid I thought the comic was “for girls,” but how over the past decade I have reassessed and realized just how wrong I have been for most of my life. I realized this even before the phenomenal (and phenomenally slowly released) Afterlife with Archie, after delving into The Best of Archie Comics and the beautiful and emotional Archie The Married Life (which I desperately need to catch up on). Dang…sometimes it’s so good to be so wrong.

Waid immediately pulls you in with just three word balloons atop Staples and Szymanowicz’s stunning first page splash. Turn the page and Waid helps you realize that not all of the popular kids are a bunch of cruel, entitled, rich d_bags; occasionally you get an Archie Andrews and a Betty Cooper, who happen to be pretty good people. With this new reboot / refresh, we experience a flash of imagery alongside Archie’s earnest break-the-fourth-wall recounting of his and Betty’s time together and mentioning the “Lipstick Incident” that drove them apart…something they swore to never speak of. What is this “Lipstick Incident?” No one knows, except for Archie, Betty…and Jughead, who ain’t talking. The mystery of what happened is not just the obsession of everyone at Riverdale High, but it becomes an obsession of the reader as well. Waid’s characterization and his ability to tease and lure you into this fun, romantic, refreshing story is a joy to read from beginning to end.

Fiona Staples…you know her from Saga, and you know how much this ol’ Donist is thrilled by her illustrations. It’s business as usual on this title, and business is good. Although she does not color her own drawings here, you won’t be disappointed with Szymanowicz’s colors which remind me very much of Staples’s beautiful style. The character acting, design, and storytelling are just as stunning here as on Saga, and I love her updated take on the cast of Riverdale, especially on Jughead.

Speaking of Jughead…I love him. Waid has him as somewhat of a zen, leave-your-problems-at-the-door kind of guy who not only thinks outside of the box, he lives his life outside of it. Jughead Jones knows he’s a different sort of cat as he tends to think far ahead of his fellow students, and hates to see everyone desperately trying to get in his best friend’s business. (Crazy glue…ha ha ha ha.) Come October, I will totally be picking up Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson’s Jughead series…who woulda thunk it?

Whether you have been reading Archie Comics for years, or you are fairly new to the publication, you need to be reading this comic. No superheroes, no darkly moody dark darkness, no robots, no violence, none of that stuff. Archie is just good plain ol’ fun that is exquisitely written and illustrated and that leaves me thrilled to see what comes next. I honestly cannot wait. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Black Science #16
Black Science #16 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Matteo Scalera, colored by Moreno Dinisio, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Grant McKay seeks to save the very world that actively wants to see him dead. Treachery within the Dimensionauts and misread intentions plague the group as the pillar’s timer ticks down to one…final…jump.

Straight up, this is possibly my favorite issue of the amazing Black Science series to date. Watching Grant fly about the city, trying to save this parallel dimension was so action-packed, so thrilling that I was whipping through the first half of the issue. Thankfully, I went back through to give Scalera’s art the proper amount of time and appreciation it so richly deserves. That’s the problem with Scalera: the guy has storytelling down to such a degree that you can’t help but fly along with Grant at breakneck speed from panel to panel, page to page, but move that fast and you’ll miss all the wondrous details of his imagery. Still…breeze through, or linger in awe? Answer: Breeze through, then reread and linger. Dinisio’s colors only make this issue even more striking and fantastic, as he pushes the mood and visuals even further. Dang, denizens, this is one heck of a pretty comic.

Remender’s story snags you by the arm and pulls quickly through from beginning to end with few points to catch your breath. The creators made good on last issue’s promise that crazy, gnarly things were going to happen, and that Black Science was in for some big changes going forward. Characters’ wants and preconceived notions cause all sorts of problems by the end, which seems to be the theme of the book since Grant’s obsession with the pillar forced everyone on this journey, as did Kadir’s selfishness, and Rebecca’s as well. Even as Grant actually does something right, his stubborn, unflinching mind leads him to a misunderstanding that backfires horribly. Other terrible things happen, and then the malfunctioning pillar jumps…and now we wait until November. To be honest, my heart is still racing after this one. <phew>

If you liked Fear Agent — and you darn tootin’ better have liked it — then you MUST read the crazy sci-fi / adventure roller coaster that is Black Science. If you are already reading Remender’s current three creator-owned awesome comics (Deadly Class and Low are the other two), then I know you are sitting there shaking your head in agreement that Black Science is science fiction comics done right. If not…<sigh>…you can still catch up with the first two trades today (the third comes out next month), or wait until December for the premiere hardcover. Whatever you do, check this great series out! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Saga #30
Saga #30 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, coordinated by Eric Stephenson, published by Image Comics. Crashing your dragon skull spaceship is probably not the best way to reunite families, but Marko, Prince Robot IV, and Ghüs really had little say in the matter. Now it’s up to Alana, Hazel, Dengo, and their group to stay alive long enough for the reunion. All that and The Will finally gets the cure he needs, but he might not be overly gracious.

Thus concludes the fifth arc of Saga. Holy schmoley these past six issues have really cleaned up many of the characters roaming around in this vast, rich universe. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m happy to see these characters go — mostly in horrific ways, btw — I am merely pointing out that plenty of folks, both good and bad, croaked this arc. Of those surviving characters, roughly half get what they wanted (Ghüs reunited with Friendo…FRIENDO!!!), and others only get part of what they wanted, which makes things almost worse…while gracefully leading us into the sixth chapter of what is still one of my favorite series.

I will say that getting a double-dose of Fiona Staples heavenliness is something I do NOT want to grow used to — one book is enough to drive a fella insane with happiness, but two comics the same week is more than us mere mortals can take. This issue has a few fantastic storytelling moments, such as the clever dual reunion of Marko and Alana, and Prince Robot IV and Dengo, which almost mirror each other in layout, only with vastly differing end results; each is beautiful. The focus, however, is on all of the key dramatic moments that have been building for some time, and as always Staples’s vibrant imagery is pure magic. (Her FRIENDO! moments are of course top notch.)

I still love this series and the cliffhanger does its job dang well as it leaves me with a desperate need to see what happens next. Although nothing decidedly mind-blowing happens this issue, Saga continues to take us along for one heck of a wonderful ride. If you aren’t reading what is one of the best comics on the stands, then you can easily catch up via the beautiful hardcover and/or the four currently available trades. Now begins the sad, painful wait for next fantastic issue…and hopefully more FRIENDO! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods


I Wish I Was at SDCC - Actually, I only partially wish I was there. I went to two back-to-back SDCCs in 2007 and 2008, and Amy and I had a freakin’ blast. However, I will say that by the time we left the 2008 SDCC, we were totally over the crowds, which were noticeably worse than the previous year in terms of mass quantities of people. We had also noticed that movies, television, video games, and other non-comic stuff had a stronger presence than our first time, and as much fun as we had at both, diminishing returns had already set in. Still…I wish I was there right now. <sigh>


And on that note, this week’s song…

(sung to the tune of OMD’s “Electricity”)

Want to know hot books to read?
Simplify the discovery
Descender rules for me
Archie will set you free
Cool books you must read
Black Science you have to see
Saga still rocks it, G
Preachin’ cool books you must read




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