Friday, May 1, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 5/1/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven 

Welcome back to Donist World. I’m Donist, and I am joined by our CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / Avenger Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Shhhhhhh…keep it all on the down low, denizens. As it happens with every Marvel Studios release, the dogs are excitedly running around the corporate office (Mom’s basement) believing that they will be attending the viewing of Avengers: Age of Ultron with me this afternoon. <sigh> Every single time it’s harder to sneak out the thin basement window (increasingly so…dang those extra tacos) to head over to Hollister Brewing Company for lunch and beers before the movie as is customary for this special occasion. Awwww…Tulip looks so cute in her Black Widow dog costume, and Obie looks…well, interesting…in his red and yellow tissue box outfit that can only be Iron Man. Anyhow, it’s a shorter post this week, as I am also preparing material for a graphic design portfolio for a presentation tomorrow. Now, while my executive team is distracted, I’m out the door…errrrr, window. So, grab some tacos and a strong ginger ale and enjoy this week’s post...then head on out to catch the new Avengers movie. Thank you for reading.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Bitch Planet #4
Bitch Planet #4 - Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, illustrated by Valentine De Landro, colored by Cris Peter, lettered by Clayton Cowles, cover design and logo by Rian Hughes, backmatter by Laurenn McCubbin, edited by Lauren Sankovitch, published by Image Comics. Kamau Kogo, a prisoner of the off-world, all-female penitentiary known as Bitch Planet, has been tasked with pulling together a team of prisoners to play in the sport Megaton. Megaton is usually an all-male game, but the male patriarchy has decided to add a little flavor to the sport to spice things up (i.e. improved ratings). But what happens when Kamau learns that the games might not be what she thinks they are?

The title of this comic should tell you that Bitch Planet is not for kids. The “Rated M Mature” on the cover should be a hint and a half as well. The content inside? Well, that will confirm wholeheartedly that this is not for the kiddies. But then again, you wouldn't let your kids stay up late at night to watch old, culty, ’70s women-in-prison flicks would you? Well, that's what this comic is. Bitch Planet has all the makings of the cult and sexploitation films I used to watch as a child (wait, what?!), but that is merely a paper-thin wrapping around a story that is shocking, uplifting, empowering, and that casts a light on a futuristic, sci-fi world that certain weaker-minded individuals would actually like to see become a reality (certain politicians and misogynistic groups come to mind).

After a bit of a painful delay between issues — DeConnick explains what went down in the informative backmatter section —Bitch Planet returns without missing a beat. That said, the 21 pages of material falls dreadfully short of the 96+ pages of bi-weekly comic I desperately WISH we could have from this amazing series. I’ve already mentioned how fascinating and engaging the premise of DeConnick’s story and dialogue are, and how beautifully De Landro’s characters, character acting, and storytelling are, but I want to reinforce the additional strength of the coloring of this comic. Peter uses  predominantly less-saturated colors throughout the story to deliver a sense of hopelessness, while using striking knockouts and halftone dots on the upbeat, brainwashing holographic videos the NCs (that’s noncompliant for those who are lagging jumping in) are forced to endure. On the lettering front, Cowles always keeps readers locked into the art and story, but I was so engaged with this issue, that I almost failed to catch the inmate stats layered in the background of the scene where Kamau is attempting to chose players for her team…a stunning effect that must have required a TON of careful layer masking in Illustrator; awesome. Also, I want each of the gorgeous covers as posters hanging on the wall…dig that negative space!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot, this issue also contains “The Obligatory Shower Scene.”

There you have it. I LOVE this series. We’re only on the fourth issue, so there probably won’t be a trade available until the end of summer, but why wait. The first three issues are already in second printing, so a quick stop at the ol’ LCS should get you caught up in no time flat. Do what’s right, join the ranks of the noncompliant. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Sabrina #2
Sabrina #2 - Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, illustrated by Robert Hack, lettered by Jack Morelli, published by Archie Comics Publications. Madam Satan has come to Greendale with vengeance in her heart. Greendale is also home of Sabrina, whose father was once involved with Madam Satan before the relationship went sour. Who better to wreck evil upon than the daughter of the man who wronged her, than the terrifying woman with skulls for eyes?

Okay…now that was a long wait. I believe the first awesome issue of Sabrina came out back in October of 2014, now, six months later, we have the next issue; it was worth the wait. This issue primarily focuses on the creepy-as-all-heck Madam Satan, who — despite the cute depiction by Francesco Francavilla on this cover — is an absolute nightmare. She has translucent skin and skulls for eyes, and that is before taking into account her immense witching powers. Aguirre-Sacasa delivers a grand look into the character and her motivations, and by the time this issue ends, you actually feel sorry for the woman, despite the horrific things she does throughout the issue — bad move, Edward Spellman, bad move. Although we see little of Sabrina in her second issue, the story with Madam Satan is strong enough to carry you shivering with chills to the end.

Hack’s art continues to evoke a style and feel similar to what used to be found in the pages of ’70s and ’80s era Warren Magazines like Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella; this is a massive compliment. There is a tension throughout most panels that keeps you unsteady yet glued to the page, ready for something bad to happen, which of course does…often. I like the drab colors of this series, but I would also be curious to see how this title would look in black and white, and also at magazine size…hint, hint.

So, yes, for a creepy horror comic of Sabrina’s caliber, it was worth the wait, but I really hope we get the next issue much sooner. At two issues in, with the first in second printing, it is not too difficult to see what all the fuss is about. If you have been enjoying Afterlife With Archie — as you darn well should be — then picking up this second entry in the Archie horror line of comics makes perfect sense for when you need a little spine-tingling fun in your life. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Last Week - Let’s not get into the disappointment that was last week. <deep breath, denizens> Stay positive!

and on that note…

(sung to the tune of The Jesus & Mary Chain’s “Between Planets”)

Sabrina’s finally here, waited too many weeks
Creepy, witchy, horror fun
Give your nerves a tweak
You should know, you’ll love ’em so

Donist D said here’s the rest
Bitch Planet will amaze
But it’s cool noncompliance rules
In these troubling days
You should know, you’ll love ’em so

So turn around and run to your LCS, son
You must jump on
Go make the trip, take heed these tips
They’ll blow your lid

Man, I love this group. A fan-made video, but cool nonetheless.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 4/24/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven 

Welcome back to Donist World. I’m Donist, and I am joined by our CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / Daredevil enthusiast Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Okay, breathe, Donist...just breathe. <phew> Okay, my entire blog post vanished for a second there, but I was luckily able to retrieve it. Criminy, that was close. Anyhow, Tulip and Obie are not speaking to each other right now, as they both have finished watching Daredevil and they have both dressed up as ol’ Hornhead today. The problem is that they do not believe there can be two Daredevils walking around the corporate office (Mom’s basement) at the same time. <sigh> I actually had to write into the “Employee Conduct” policy a clause stating that anyone can dress up as Daredevil if they so choose. But between us...Obie dressed up in an old red towel that was hastily sewn into a costume, and Tulip has a fully-functional leather outfit complete with billy clubs that even a Boston terrier can use. No contest as to which is better...just wait until get a load of my costume when it arrives. Woo ha! Anyhow, I’m glad I retrieved the post. So, grab some tacos and a strong ginger ale and enjoy this week’s post...then cue up some Daredevil on Netflix. Thank you for reading.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Deadly Class #12
Deadly Class #12 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, colored by Lee Loughridge, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. After the death and destruction of last issue, Marcus and Maria find themselves facing down a threat even greater than that of @#$%face and his entourage of inbred psychopaths: El Alma de Diablo, head of the most violent cartel in all of Mexico. The fact that Marcus is carrying around the severed head of El Alma de Diablo’s son, does not bode well for the teens.

It’s only been a month or two since the conclusion of Deadly Class’s second arc, but it was a painful wait to finally pick up after that insane cliffhanger ending. The creators don’t miss a beat. The cover I bought for this issue pretty much sums up the mood of this issue: one of a desperate struggle to stay alive against impossible odds. My main takeaway after reading this issue — besides the need to see what happens next — is that Maria is a badass. Not only is her character design one of the best in the book, with her face painted a la Dia de los Muertos and gorgeous flowing black and red dress, but those deadly fans she uses are just plain cool. You have to see her in action to see what I mean, and action is what you most definitely get with this issue.

Craig’s storytelling skills continue to amaze as he mixes both low-panel-count and high-panel-count pages throughout to keep your eyes whipping through the scenes, unable to break away for fear of missing what happens next. Even if this issue were in black and white, it would be stunning, but Loughridge’s predominantly monochromatic panels and knockouts pack such energy and excitement into Craig’s imagery that you can’t possibly turn your gaze away. The page with Maria squaring off against Chico’s brother is one of the best to date...criminy, denizens!

<sigh> I’m not sure why I do this to myself. Last issue, and now this one? Each leave you scrambling to see what happens next, and of course you have no choice but to wait. But that’s what we love so much about comics. Amiright? That driving need to make sure the characters we’ve become so attached to make it through okay, and to be left playing possible outcomes in our heads for days afterwards. If you have not been reading this fantastic Image offering about a school for assassins set in the ’80s, then you can quickly catch up with the first two trades along with this issue. Next month’s release can’t come soon enough. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Chew #48
Chew #48 - Written and lettered by John Layman, illustrated and colored by Rob Guillory, color assists by Taylor Wells, published by Image Comics. Applebee and Caesar are finally getting released from the hospital, but not without some...enhancements. Meanwhile, Tony and D-Bear are investigating what happened to Mason, Olive (Tony’s daughter), and Amelia (Tony’s lady love), but what actually happened in the broken and bloodied hospital room might not be what he expected.

New food-based powers? Check. A story that continues to intrigue and excite? Check. Art and colors that only get better with each passing issue? Check. Blatant and subtle laughs? Check. Another darn-fine issue of Chew? Check, check, and what the heck, check! Honestly, at this stage in the game, y’all know what this comic is, and how phenomenally awesome it is. Seriously, I might as well just list the title, creators, and publisher with only “Yup. More of the same” following. That is not a knock on the most unique comic on the stand, where the worst-case-scenario issue is merely very good, and the opposite end skating the heights of all things heavenly. If you have been reading and enjoying Chew, then you are well aware that the new issue you are about to read is going to have you LOLing...and occasionally crying. C’mon, this issue has a group called the “Jellyassassins” for cripe’s sake — where do these creators come up with this stuff?

Buy it if you haven’t already. You know you need to. If you haven’t read the hilarious — and sometimes gross — Chew, then you can take a sample with the ultra-cheap first trade, or take a major step in bettering your life by picking up the even better Omnivore editions, which average ten issues each, with a ribbon marker, hardcover, and oversized pages. As for this issue, it is wacky, funny, grotesque, creative, engaging, and all around great. In other words, exactly what you can expect from this fantastic series. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Lazarus #16
Lazarus #16 - Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Michael Lark with Tyler Boss, colored by Santi Arcas, “artifact” pages by Owen Freeman and Eric Trautmann, lettered by Jodi Wynne, design by Eric Trautmann, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics. Family Carlyle and Family Hock are about to go to war after the events of the Conclave. Sister Bernard, who is a nun and a physician under the sponsorship of the Carlyles, is unaware of the pending war and about to enter into Hock territory to retrieve something she is not supposed to know about.

I find this series troubling. With each issue I read, I’m left upset, anxious, and generally messed up; I wouldn’t have it any other way. Lazarus is a dystopian-future, sci-fi drama that at times seems to be set not all that far in the future, and the science fiction seems to blur into the realm of science possible. So, why do I continue reading this comic that manages to so thoroughly disturb my Wa? Simple. It’s one of Image Comic’s strongest titles currently being published.

This issue serves as a single-issue break before the next story arc, and focuses on a character we only saw briefly in the second chapter, “Lift,” and serves as a reminder of what happens in this world outside of the main players, where the majority of the population, the Waste as the they are called, struggle to survive. I liked this issue well enough, but the final four pages made things very interesting and brought back my enthusiasm despite the lack of Forever Carlyle, the family Lazarus.

Lazarus is an amazing — if not rough on your emotional wellbeing — title, that all fans of dystopian comics and sci-fi should be reading. With three trades available, you can easily catch up before the next big storyline begins. I do have to say that reading this beautifully told story is actually better in single issues, as the back matter further develops the world of the comic, and Rucka offers insight into current scientific discoveries (the real stuff) that bring us closer to the world he and Lark have envisioned. That’s both informative, and utterly terrifying. RECOMMENDED!

Daredevil Television Show (Netflix) - Okay, I’m going to keep this brief. I just finished watching all 13 episodes of this Netflix Original series, and it is safe to say Daredevil is the best superhero television show…ever. Don’t get me wrong, I love both Arrow and The Flash — a lot, actually — but Daredevil left me wanting to ignore the towering pile of “to read” comics in favor of returning to the multitudes of great comic runs for this character. The worst episode was really, really good, while the best completely blew my mind. All of the actors are perfect, they are the characters they portray. The story keeps you engaged and riveted, while the action scenes are mind-blowingly stunning (just see the The Raid-esque, single-take fight from episode two...WOW). The thing about this gritty, violent series is that one of the best episodes, “Nelson v. Murdock,” had little fighting, but rather had two friends talking and arguing through events that had happened in the story, and I could not turn away. That said, the season finale…oh my stars and garters, denizens, it’s awesome.

If you are not a Netflix subscriber, then I believe they offer a 30-day free trial, which I strongly encourage you to do, just so you can check out this phenomenal series. But...after you dazzle your senses with this tremendous show, consider staying on as a paying customer. The only way great shows like this will continue to happen is if people continue to subscribe to the service. With Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and (oh my gosh, oh my gosh) Iron Fist up next, not to mention the loads of other fantastic series already available, I don’t see continuing as a difficult decision. Daredevil is ridonkulously VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

No New Daredevil Episodes For a While – <sob> <sniffle> Looks like I’ll just have to watch it over again.

No Song This Week - Sorry, denizens, I’m so buried right time to write a song. But, hey, in the meantime, to solidify my all-consuming love of the Daredevil television show, just replace any mention of an actor in this hilarious Key and Peele clip with an actor from Daredevil, and all mentions of other movies with Daredevil, and that should about sum up what I think of this show.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 4/17/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven

“Dang it, Obie, knock it off!” Oh…hi, Donist World denizens. Welcome back to Donist World. I’m Donist, and I am joined by our CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / cosmic puppy Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Apologies for having to yell at Obie in front of you, but he keeps parading around the Donist World corporate office (my mom’s basement) in a graduation cap and gown, and he’s hacked the music player to keep playing the “Pomp and Circumstance” march, which after seven back-to-back plays is becoming tiresome. You see, I’m getting a certificate for being added to the college President’s Honor Roll this afternoon, which is not a graduation (I already have a degree from a while back), Obie has not accomplished anything outside of receiving a master’s degree in bugging me, and I don’t believe there is any sort of ceremony when I do receive my associate’s degree in graphic design at the end of the year…but whatever. Anyhow, while I regain control of the music player, grab some tacos and a strong ginger ale and enjoy this week’s post. Thank you for reading.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Fade Out #5
The Fade Out #5 - Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips, colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser, published by Image Comics. Someone’s got it in for screenwriter Gil Mason; that person is himself. For such a talented person, you would think Gil has it made, but his outspoken nature got him blacklisted as a communist, and now he has to work through Charlie Parish, a screenwriter who lost the skill after the war. The relationship should be an easy one…if not for Gil having an acute taste for the booze and the cards. But when Phil Brodsky, the head of studio security, comes calling to remind Gil of something he didn’t see, does Gil have the wherewithal to keep his mouth shut? Meanwhile, Charlie wonders where the hell Gil has gotten to…

I love this series. Aside from my interest in the bizarre dealings of old Hollywood (heck, new Hollywood seems to have its stories, too), The Fade Out provides a noir, murder mystery of a period piece with a huge cast of characters, each of whom has a secret to keep. The series went on a bit of a hiatus for a while, mostly to make way for the phenomenal, must-read Criminal: Special Edition (you can read my raves about it here), but now it is back. With the large cast of characters and the many moving parts of the story, I thought for sure I’d be completely lost after a couple months off, but that was not the case. Brubaker’s characterization of Gil, Charlie, and Maya, as well as smaller glimpses into Brodsky (his first name is Phil, but a guy like this…yeah, you refer to him by his last name), Valeria, Tyler, and Dottie, it’s hard to forget who these flawed characters are. The unique situations for each are compelling to the point that I was thinking about them even before I read issue five. For a comic that is effectively a drama with mostly people talking and skulking about, and with no superheroes, no zombies, no aliens, nor monsters, The Fade Out is a tremendous example of how to engage a comic book audience with the power of the writing.

Phillips takes Brubaker’s words and expands them with his grasp of storytelling and use of dramatic lighting. You only need to go as far as the first page of this issue to see Phillip’s immense talent at work, and that includes a third of the page being a solid black title block. But what he does with the remaining two thirds is incredible. Even without Brubaker’s captions and word balloons, we see a down-on-his-luck drunk, sitting with no other patrons sitting near him, rambling to a bartender who clearly wishes the drunk would just move it along. Yet the drunk keeps talking, and he’s becoming increasingly belligerent. The bartender tries to ignore him, and probably knows the drunk — at the least he’s seen and heard it all before. Then, the drunk’s attention goes to something behind him. Even if this was the first issue, and the first time we see Gil, we recognize the situation and the type of person this guy is, and all through Phillip’s character acting as enhanced by the dramatic lighting.

The Fade Out as a whole is a beautiful comic, even though what goes down within the pages of the story is very far from pretty. I love this book and I’m eager to see what comes next. The great thing about this creator-owned comic is that the creators can expand an issue to fit the pacing and story as they see fit. Issue five clocks in at 26 pages of comic story, plus a “Cast of Characters” page, three pages of letters, and four pages for a bonus bio piece. You get your money’s worth with this must-read series, and if you missed out on what happened previously, then you can right the ship by picking up the recently released $9.99 trade that contains issues #1–4, and pick up this issue in one go…which you really should do. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Infinity Revelation
Thanos: The Infinity Revelation HC - Written and illustrated by Jim Starlin, inked by Andy Smith, colored by Frank D’Armata with Rachelle Rossenberg, lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna, published by Marvel Comics. The “Mad Titan” Thanos has noticed an imbalance in the universe and has taken it upon himself to investigate. When none other than Adam Warlock, Thanos’s one time most fiercest foe and greatest ally, resurrects on Thanos’s ship, he knows his task is one of grave importance. Warlock agrees to aid the Titan, and the two are brought into conflict with none other than the ruthless Annihilators. With the boundaries of reality wavering and madness taking hold, can Thanos and Warlock succeed in setting things right…before they themselves are annihilated?

I. Freakin’. Love. This. OGN. I love it. In case you are new to Donist World, I should probably clarify that I am a Jim Starlin cosmic comic junky, especially when it comes to my favorite characters of the Marvel Universe: Warlock and Thanos (see my look at the Avengers Versus Thanos from a few months back here). Man, after plowing through this 112-page OGN in one sitting, I almost feel like going up to the balcony and sipping a glass of pinot noir while watching the sun set across Santa Barbara as I reflect upon the mind trip that is this book. All is at ease, I’m good. Hmmmmmmmm…

Oh, sorry, I’m back, and I’ll try my best to stay focused. Anyhow, this book brought back my favorite moments of Thanos and Warlock over the decades, from their initial meeting in the ’70s, to the awesome The Infinity Gauntlet and The Infinity War, The Infinity Abyss, and Marvel Universe the End. What’s even better is, like the earlier and later stories, Starlin both writes and illustrates this beautiful book, with the most visually-stunning moments coming from every page that takes place in the cosmos, especially with a couple double-page spreads near the end of the book that have to be seen to be believed. He also draws one helluva Thanos.

I’m not going to go into the story beyond the teaser above, as doing so might give things away, but just know that as a Warlock / Thanos fan for almost four decades, this book does not disappoint. You have outer space, near-omnipotent beings manipulating reality, madness, conflict, a plethora of cosmic heroes, a mysterious relic, and of course some decent fisticuffs. If you’re a fan of the Marvel space opera books, or even better, Jim Starlin, then you definitely need to check out this book. What’s even better is that a second OGN, Thanos: The Infinity Relativity is set to release toward the end of May! I can’t wait. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
*Oh yeah, a shout out to my good buddy, Bret, for surprising me with this book earlier this week, it could not have come at a better time.

Sinestro Vol. 1
The Demon Within
Sinestro Vol. 1 The Demon Within - Written by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Dale Eaglesham and Rags Morales with Igor Lima and Ruy José, colored by Jason Wright and Andrew Dalhouse, lettered by Dezi Sienty, Taylor Esposito, Carlos M. Mangual, Rob Leigh, and Dave Sharpe, published by DC Comics. Thaal Sinestro has forsaken both the Green and Yellow Lanterns, and he could not care less. He has lost everything: his people, his planet, his family, his stations (both of them), and his true friend. Now, when Lyssa Drak, the blue-skinned, razor-toothed possessor of the Book of Paralax has come calling to prove that none dispense fear better than the former leader of the Sinestro Corp, Sinestro will seek to reclaim some of what he has lost; the tales of his exploits are still being written.

Okay, I read this one about a month ago and just didn’t have the time or space to talk about it…thank goodness for the odd, light, new comic book week. I feel in love with the Green Lantern mythos at the time of Rebirth, and was completely floored by the awesome Sinestro Corp War arc and on through the Orange and Red Lantern books. Then came the Blackest Night, which left me vastly underwhelmed, and the Brightest Day books that left me so annoyed that I dropped off of Green Lantern entirely. I had interest — and still do — in everything that’s happened after the Brightest Day junk, as well as everything that happened with the New 52 Green Lantern, but once I saw all of the many spinoffs, I decided to take a pass. Then DC put out a book on Sinestro as penned by my hero from The Sixth Gun, Cullen Bunn.

Sinestro boasts a bunch of new characters in this title who I have zero background on, but they are all pretty cool and interesting, and I am curious to find out more about each of them. Hal Jordan shows up briefly, which is fine, but he doesn’t need to make an appearance as the rich, complex character of Sinestro can carry the burden of the his title all on his own. Hopefully, The Powers That Be allow Sinestro to be its own book, without having to force frequent appearances from other lanterns — the universes are big places, after all — or bloated events…of course, there’s some sort of thing called Convergence going on, so who knows what’s going to happen next.

If you enjoyed the Sinestro Corp event from years past, or you just want a great story about a strong super villain, then look no further than this great trade.  I for one am anticipating the next volume, and I’m probably going to have to revisit those old Green Lantern collections in the near future. DC’s take on the space opera is pretty out of this world. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Minnesota Proposes Classroom Censorship Bills - <sigh> I figured it out, denizens. If I want to ruin my day, all I have to do is go to the vitally important Comic Book Legal Defense Fund site ( and read through an article or two. Seriously. The level of audacity and stupidity of some people and some states is thoroughly disappointing and frustrating, but at least we have someone like the tremendous CBLDF making the evil workings of cerebrally-challenged, censoring nimrods available for all to see. Take the three bills in Minnesota that have come up from some we-know-what-is-best-for-you-and-everyone-else-too lawmakers in this article.

Crazy, huh? So, if the worst of the three bills passes, then one psycho parent can deem a book like The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, or The Catcher in the Rye as “harmful to minors,” and thus force school districts to publicly justify retaining said book as part of the curriculum…all while the crusading psycho’s identity remains anonymous. All of this is in spite of the fact that parents already have the right to opt out their child from books they deem wrong for their child. If the bill passes, then one faceless, nameless individual decides what is suitable for all; they decide what is appropriate for other parents and children. This is wrong, and needs to be stopped.

Grrrrrr…I’m going to order another CBLDF t-shirt to help support them, and as denizens of all things heavenly, and protectors of the right to decide what books you and your family read, I hope you will do the same. Just don’t read their site first thing in the morning. Have some toast and coffee first.

and on this week’s annoying censoring note…

(sung to the tune of Ratt’s “Lay It Down”)

I know some books you must see
The Fade Out continues to intrigue, amaze me
I’m into Thanos: The Infinity Revelation
Sinestro cosmic comic totes thrills me

You know you really want to read ’em now
Right now and how
I know you really want to read ’em now
Right now

Read ’em now, read ’em now
Read ’em now, read ’em now


Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 4/10/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven

Hello there, Donist World denizens, and welcome back. I’m Donist, and I am joined by our CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / Nameless-figure-outer-puppy Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). This week, the Donist World administrative team is offsite from our corporate office (Mom’s basement) and we are instead reclining on our relatively new Casper mattress in my room. You see, we all just read Nameless, and we’re kinda, sorta, mostly perplexed about what is going on in that comic. Obie says he understands it completely, and just keeps staring at me with a smirk on his face, shaking his head in amused disappointment as if I were a child. Fair enough, but I know he doesn’t get it either. Tulip freely admits she doesn’t understand it, and is violently shaking the bejesus out of her stuffed donkey toy…perhaps we should just let it all go until the next issue. Anyhow, while I crash out for a moment and mentally prepare to head out into the world in search of great tacos, please enjoy this week’s post. Thank you for reading! ***Oh yeah, if you are looking for a new mattress and are considering buying from Casper, email me and I will send you a $50 off coupon code. Spreading the wealth, denizens, spreading the wealth.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #27
Saga #27 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, coordinated by Eric Stephenson, published by Image Comics. Marko’s having a bad trip as a result of the Fadeaway drug he took, and he hallucinates through an eye-opening journey into his past, which ain’t so pretty. Prince Robot IV, however, has had about enough of Marko’s nonsense, but at least Ghüs the seal boy is around to talk sense into the hotheads aboard the rocket tree, as the group attempts to locate their missing families.

Now this is the Saga I remember. Okay, okay, denizens, simmer down. Tarnations…let me explain. You see, there ain’t an issue of this here dang-fine comic that I don’t like; not a one. That said, not all issues are created equal and some are better than others. The past couple issues of what is still my favorite comic on the stands have been merely amazing, as opposed to flat out heavenly. I suspect the reasoning for this is because issue 25 and 26 delved into all three of the large character groups in the storyline…as well as introducing new characters to the mix. This meant too little time spent with each group — it wasn’t enough, but then again, is it ever? This issue focuses solely on Marko, Prince Robot IV, Ghüs, and Yuma, providing an insightful flashback into Marko’s past, as well as a look into what drives the man. We needed to see this, and the decision to slow things down and stay with this group is a good one.

I liked Marko the moment I met him in the first issue, but here at issue 27, we finally get a deeper look into him, his rage, and the mistakes he has made — although, I stand by what he did as a young kid…you don’t hurt animals. Vaughan’s character dialogue is as spot on as ever, even when touching briefly upon a bystander character who we will never see again. In addition to mostly looking at Marko, the moments with Ghüs are equally fantastic. The happy-go-lucky seal boy’s dialogue is a joy to read, and so thoroughly defines his background, his nature, and his way of dealing with others, you can’t help but smile.

Speaking of Ghüs…whichever of the creators decided to dress him in crimson-red long johns as he carries his beloved “chopper” around the ship is a genius. I loved the kid when he wore his fisherman’s overalls, but this is just too cute to properly describe. Seriously, denizens, you have to see him, I promise you’ll be smiling when you do. Despite Ghüs being completely adorable, I do, however, have to remind potential readers that this is a “Rated M for Mature” title as the book opens with sex stuff and there is plenty of bad language, although it is probably a bit tamer than what your kids hear at school on a daily basis. Still, Staples’s art only gets better, and again I want a poster of the final page. ***side note: Aren’t we due for some more process examples from Staples? I would LOVE to see another breakdown of how she makes these unbelievable, magical images.

So yes, Saga continues to be a stellar comic with a return to greatness. As I said above, this does not mean the previous two issues of this Donist World darling were bad — there is no such thing when it comes to Saga — but rather the issue as a standalone worked better by following only one of the groups of characters, with much of the focus falling on Marko. An individual issue of Saga always falls within the spectrum of really, really good, and freakin’ awesome, and this issue lands firmly in the awesome category. If you are seeking a comic that is more than your typical capes and tights fare, then Saga should be at the top of your list. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Descender #2
Descender #2 - Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics. TIM-21 awoke to a very different world than to what he was accustomed: Ten years had passed, his family vanished, all the other people on the mining colony were gone, and giant robots called Harvesters had wrecked havoc across the nine core worlds. At least TIM-21 has his trusty robo-dog, Bandit, with him. But when a team of “Scrappers” come looking to sell TIM-21 for parts, and the boy has to run for his life.

If you remember from last month, the first issue of Descender positively blew me away. The comic touched on so many of my favorite memories of the ’70s and ’80s with the book’s anime / Blade Runner vibe and the overall feeling I used to get reading comics and watching the late-night Night Flight program on television. I was instantly charmed by both Lemire’s story and Nguyen’s gorgeous watercolored art. I also think I got a little spoiled with the 36 pages of that issue versus the 20 from this month. I totally understand that cranking out 36 phenomenal pages a month is next to impossible for a book of this quality, but the good news is that the creators have their hooks so deep into me with this title, that I doubt 200 pages would be enough to keep me satisfied.

This book slows the pacing down a bit, as we only see Doctor Jin Quon in two pages of flashback, and the rest of the issue is about TIM-21’s past with his new family, and his trying to survive the dreaded arrival of the Scrappers. You would think a boy robot created to be part of a family would have no chance of surviving against a team of ruthless mercenaries, but Jin Quon outfitted the boy with some fairly curious upgrades — I look forward to learning why. Lemire also loads roughly half the issue with a look back at TIM-21 being prepped to go out into the world. Nguyen’s lovely monochromatic watercolored imagery delivers beautiful flashback scenes of TIM-21 being welcomed wholeheartedly into the family, and Nguyen adds a softness to his characters’ eyes and a gentleness to their smiles capable of melting the coldest heart. It all seems almost too good to be true, but then again something terrible did happen to the mining colony that we have yet to learn about.

Last week I commented that The Dying and the Dead is the best new book of 2015, but I’ll be darned if Descender isn’t right there beside it as an equally great book. I have to know what’s going to happen next, and I’m already going crazy with anticipation for the next issue. If you are a fan of ’70s / ’80s sci-fi and anime, with only two issues out thus far, I cannot stress enough that you need to check out this bold and striking new series. Want to kick your reading experience up a notch? Then give Descender a read while listening to “Magic Fly” by Space. It’s completely instrumental, but I think it totally enhances the experience of this wonderful comic that I anticipate rocking my world and quite possibly crushing my heart throughout its run. So very good. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Nameless #3
Nameless #3 - Written by Grant Morrison, illustrated by Chris Burnham, colored by Nathan Fairbairn, lettered by Simon Bowland, published by Image Comics. Nameless and the Darius Transnational space crew launch three drones toward the monstrous asteroid, Xibalba, and they hold the key to unlocking one of its mega-structures. They hope to find wealths of knowledge within the towering solid iron structure, but soon discover that it was not so much built to keep things out, as it was to keep things in.

<phew> Okay. I had a much easier time following what the heck is going on with this series than I did with the previous two issues. However, that feeling only lasted until I hit the 3/4 mark. What the heck?! Anyhow, as far as I can tell, there’s some sort of reality-bending, madness monsters lurking about that have caused people to go crazy (first two issues), and that Xibalba contains something(s) infinitely worse (this issue). As for what has happened by the end is beyond me, but probably something that will be explained / worked out in the next few issues. Despite my continued confusion with this series, I am still on board and wanting to know both what has happened, and what’s in store for us next.

Nameless primarily has my attention because of the bizarre and intriguing story, as I have not yet connected with any of the characters. I believe this is by design. The story moves quick, and we have had little time to become acquainted with Sofia Darius, and Nameless continues to be…well…a nameless enigma. But this is fine. Morrison’s crazy story is compelling with the extinction-level threat to humanity in the form of Xibalba and the terrible secrets locked away within. Unfortunately, humanity has the key, and our desire to understand what’s inside looks to be our undoing.

A huge part of Nameless’s draw is Burnham’s breathtaking art. It is pure hard-sci-fi goodness that immediately took me back to the first time I watched the film Alien, and gave the same feeling of insignificance amidst the vastness of space, and the dread of tampering with forces far beyond us. The first page splash of the tiny spaceship floating above Xibalba’s surface, which looks like a monstrous skull, conveys the feeling of being far out of our league, as do the moments when the probes travel through the bunker. Aside from the killer structures and creepy architecture, Burnham wows the reader with fantastic character acting; the spacesuits are pretty nifty, too. Fairbairn’s colors succeed in lifting the gorgeous line work to even greater heights, and drive home the foreboding Alienesque feel of this issue.

Yup, I’m just as lost as I was with the first issue, but I’m lost on a completely different level than I was back then. Still, I want to understand, I want to see what happens next, and I want to continue with the sci-fi / horror vibe Morrison, Burnham, and Fairbairn have successfully delivered with this issue. If a confusing outer-space monster comic that delves into the far reaches of madness sounds appealing, denizens, then this is the book for you. It’s totally what I want from these creators, which is why this issue comes RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

The “Clean Reader” App - I hate everything about this app. I learned about it on the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s site here. As a consumer, I have to agree with Doctorow that once a person buys something, then they can do whatever they dang well wish with it. As a writer, I would almost prefer a person not read any of my books as opposed to censoring my work, but if they paid for it, hey, knock yourself out. Of course I currently only have one all-ages book out, and there are no swear words in it, but the urban fantasy book I have not yet released has plenty of cursing, plenty of references to S-E-X, and if someone can’t handle such things, then perhaps they should stay away from not just the book, but the genre as well. But, again, if they paid for it they can do what they want with it.

My problem is when someone, or an institution (schools, libraries, book stores, government, etc.) take it upon themselves to decide how others will experience a work.  That. Is. The. Problem. This harkens back to the time certain companies were “sanitizing” movies for distribution at family-friendly video stores, or recutting music, or editing historically relevant books such as Tom Sawyer (which is great how it is). Books are meant to be read as the author intended for them to be read. This means unedited. Changing a work without the creator’s consent is a copyright violation and just plain wrong.

The creators of “Clean Reader” were clever in that their app adds an overlay to eBook files as opposed to changing anything, which prevents them from being sued for copyright infringement. Thankfully, angry authors and publishers pressured “Clean Reader” into no longer being allowed to sell books through their app or profiting off their mangling of a creator’s work. The fact that some intensely weak-minded overly-sensitive people even want this nonsense is completely baffling to me. If you can’t handle a work as it is, then don’t consume that work.

and on that lameoid censoring note…

(danced to the tune of Space’s “Magic Fly”)

No song this week, but instead get up and groove to this awesome video from Space. Man, this was so ahead of the times back in ’77. Dig those rocking spacemen and that gold-skinned dancing lady! Have fun, we’re off to get our dance on.