Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 11/20/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Tokyo Ghost, The Autumnlands, and Rachel Rising

Welcome back, Donist World denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / Queen of Chill Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). As I’ve explained over the past couple FSoH/SitW posts, Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magics mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap. This week has been a ball of stress as tightly wound as a wet cat covered in Scotch tape squares, but thankfully I had Team Tulip and Reverse Obie, who ordered in breakfast burritos and coffee as we discuss the really important things…namely what movies / shows we are going to marathon over next week’s holiday weekend; I’m pretty sure we’ll be powering through some Jessica Jones and stuffing ourselves with turkey and pumpkin pie. I can’t wait. Anyways, I hope you all are not traveling next week, and that you steer clear of any Black Friday nonsense, but for today you should order in some breakfast burritos of your own, and settle in for this week’s post. Thank you for reading.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Tokyo Ghost #3
Tokyo Ghost #3 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Sean Murphy, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Debbie Decay and Led Dent — or should we call him “Teddy?” — have arrived in the tech-free marvel that is Tokyo. It’s everything Debbie has hoped for, but for Teddy…let’s just say tech withdrawal is a bitch.

Dang, Denizens, after Remender, Murphy, and Hollingsworth’s depiction of Tokyo, I’m kind of ready to pack my bags and head on out to that wonderful fictitious land void of technology and the ills of the world. Of course, doing so would mean no more Donist World unless I wrote it on scrolls or something. There would also be no writing with spellcheck, no Adobe Suite for graphic design or comic book lettering, no comic books period, no Vitamix, no Bonavita coffee, no Two Dots on my iPhone, no Kingdom Rush on my iPad. Hmmmmm…yeah, I think I could swing it. Donist World Unplugged would be all about the pen and paper, baby, and hopefully a good printing press, but that’s neither here nor there.

The point is, this latest issue of this fantastic new series really got me thinking about what life might be like void of the technology that surrounds everything we do. It all looks mighty appealing as I stare at a computer screen and barrages of emails and texts and ads pummel my senses, reminding me that I am ever slipping further and further behind on my to-do list. Yeah, the creators’ version of Tokyo looks mighty appealing, especially after we see Debbie and Teddy as they adjust to their new surroundings, and finally achieve a sense of happiness. But this is a Remender book; we all know it ain’t gonna last.

Remender’s writing and pacing alone is enough to add appeal to Tokyo, but when Murphy and Holllingsworth immerse you in the “city” alongside our protagonists, the allure of the place is unescapable. The “Gardener” (not sure of her name) is radiant in every sense of the word, with lovely character acting and an entourage of forrest animals, while the pinks that color her and knockout the black inks make her otherworldly. Complement the Gardener with lush green backgrounds and the effect is stunning, especially when compared to the drab of Neo Los Angeles. This is one beautiful book, which should come as no surprise for those already familiar with this masterful art team.

As with the previous two issues, the story and art manage to stick with me for quite a while afterwards, as well as making me more conscious of the interruptions I allow tech to make in my life. In addition to the awesome story, I love the characters, who I want to see succeed and find peace together, but not without going through some serious trials first, of course; I’m sure I will not be let down. This is a great series, Denizens, and I suggest not trade waiting this one as it is a thrill to see a new issue show up in my pull, and this issue definitely does not disappoint. Anyhow, I'm off to pack my bags for this Neo-Tokyo…errrrrr maybe after the new Netflix Original Series, Jessica Jones, is released, and I finally play Lego Batman 3 while sipping coffee from my Bonavita. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Autumnlands #7
The Autumnlands #7 - Written by Kurt Busiek, illustrated by Ben Dewey, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered and designed by John Roshell and Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft, published by Image Comics. The war with the bison tribe is over, and now it is time to pick up the pieces. The magicians tend to their wounded, as Dusty and Learoyd crawl from the river to a most peculiar discovery.

That seemed like a particularly long hiatus, but I’m glad for Autumnlands’s return. After the exciting events from last issue, there is little in the way of action this month, but that does not mean the story is any less compelling. The creators add a new character to complicate political matters for the wizards, especially for Gharta and Sandorst, who are near ready to tear each other apart with tooth and claw. The majority of the issue is spent with the Champion and Dusty as they get their bearings and talk. Much to Dusty’s dismay, his discussions with Learoyd mostly serve to deflate the boy’s opinion of the Champion, which is beautifully portrayed through Dewey’s art.

Dewey brings Dusty, an anthropomorphized bull terrier boy, to life with gorgeous drama and characterization work. Every expression that Dusty makes mirrors that of an actual bull terrier, from furrowed brow and lowered ears, to shock with uplifted ears, to sad realization. Each of these realistic expressions perfectly fit with the mood of the conversation, and you can clearly see Dusty’s optimism dwindle from page to page. The same holds true for all of the animal characters. Have you ever seen an enraged great-horned owl? How about a large and in charge bald eagle? Dewey flawlessly lets the reader know exactly what is going on with these characters in a way that makes you forget you are seeing a bunch of anthropomorphic characters squabbling; they all seem so human.

Admittedly, I had forgotten what had previously happened, but it quickly came back to me as I made my way through the issue. Yes, not much happens with the characters, but I’m happy to have The Autumnlands back, and I’m eager to see where the creators take us next. If you are not reading this amazing fantasy / sci-fi tale, then you can easily catchup on the ridiculously cheap trade (contains issues 1–6 and priced at $6.28 as of this writing). The Autumnlands is a fun, beautiful, epic tale that continues to enchant. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Rachel Rising #37
Rachel Rising #37 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. The immortal evil that is Malus has always been, and he will always be. But maybe, just maybe, that last bit is something Rachel, Zoe, and Lilith can work with.

Not much happens this issue, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t yet another fascinating installment of Rachel Rising. Although we never actually see Malus the demon, he is at the top of the characters’ minds, and we gain some insight into what he has been up to these countless years. That said, if anyone holds the top billing this issue, it is definitely Lilith, who Moore has a wickedly good time portraying as an uncaring a_hole with a series of scenes so screwed up and cruel I could not help but laugh, while feeling bad for doing so…kind of. I ain’t gonna go into specifics, but, dang, it’s totally messed up.

If I have any complaints about this issue, it’s that even when I picked it up, I could tell that it was light on content, and indeed there is only 18 pages of material and a $3.99 price. Usually, I would be out the door on something like this, but Moore has crafted such an amazing Twin Peaks-esque horror comic with characters I positively adore and care about — even the naughty ones — and with some of the best cartooning in comics, there’s no way I can keep away from this fantastic title. If you have not been reading Rachel Rising, then do not start here, but by all means start collecting the six trades so you can catch up on this Donist World Darling. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Remember How I Keep Being Slammed and Stressed Out? - Criminy!!! Okay, I am really looking forward to Thanksgiving so things hopefully slow down. I finished with one of my classes, and I’m focusing in on the other with laser-like focus, I had a last-minute design project, job hunts, and interview preparation, in addition to tutoring, and helping a friend with her portfolio project. Dang, and I still have a comic to read. Yeah, Thanksgiving is going to be great. It’s gonna be…oh yeah…that’s right, I’M making dinner. No worries, though, cooking is therapeutic for this here Donist. Wish me luck for the remainder of this week, Denizens. I need it.

And on that Stressy-Bessie note…

(Sung to the tune of Pat Benatar’s “Promises in the Dark”)

Tokyo Ghost will totes mess with your head
Deb and Led reach new shores
It soars great heights, tech addiction dread
The Autumnlands is way cool my friends
And Rachel Rising is lotsa fun, I never want it to end

Life is rough but why wear a sad frown
A new book can turn it upside down
We’re shoutin’ readin’ comics is so smart


Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 11/13/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Descender, The Twilight Children, Southern Bastards, and Secret Wars

Welcome back, Donist World denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / senior cuddle muffin Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). As I’ve explained over the past couple FSoH/SitW posts, Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magics mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap. Today, I arrived at the Donist World corporate office (Mom’s basement) and found that Reverse Obie had not just outlined a business plan to maintain our status as a Fortune 320,000 company, but built a strategy to move Donist World into the Fortune 315,000 territory. Dang, I like the cut of his jib, not to mention his go-getterness; he’s got upper-management written all over him. Regardless, pour yourself a cup of Joe, order in some tasty nachos (National Nacho Day was last week, but Donist World believes in year-round nacho appreciation), and settle in for this week’s post. Thank you for reading.

ALSO, even though Halloween is over, please check out our special “The Donist World Required Reading Halloween Bash 2015” for some truly spooktacular comics worthy of your reading time.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Descender #7
Descender #7 - Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics. The Hardwire, a group of terrorist robots, has arrived, and they mean to free TIM-21 from the clutches of the Gnishians and their anti-robot culls. This is great news for TIM-21…not so much for TIM-21’s expendable non-robot friends.

Dang, Denizens, the wait wasn’t that bad between arcs of what is not just one of my favorite new releases of the year, but also one of my favorite ongoing series. Yet each week that passed without a new issue of Descender, I felt this tremendous book’s absence. Thankfully, TIM-21, Telsa, Dr. Quon, and the rest are back, and this wonderful story is more exciting and compelling than ever.

Before the two month break, we left TIM-21, Telsa, and a grievously injured Dr. Quon just as The Hardwire made their violent appearance to rescue our hero. Last month’s startling revelation rested upon who (I ain’t spoilin’) accompanied the band of robot terrorists. With this installment, we pick up where we left off, but only after the creators introduce us to a new, deadly robot hunter whose identity slowly became apparent, yet whose reveal managed to shock nonetheless. We also get some early insight into the troubles ahead for TIM-21, Dr. Quon, and Telsa now that they are affiliated with The Hardwire, especially after the leader, Psius, commits a calculated move that looks to put them in the crosshairs of all biological lifeforms…guilt by association.

As I mention with each passing issue, the story grabs me on many levels: the retro sci-fi feel, the aftermath of a catastrophic event, the quest to find loved ones, the need to belong and be more than you are, mysteries abound, and the critical component of absolutely loving the characters. This is before you even get to Nguyen’s gorgeous watercolored art. Every issue manages to “wow” me anew, whether through storytelling, character acting, character design (humans, aliens, and robots), and background and tech design; it is all so very, very lovely. But besides the beauty of Nguyen’s work, there’s the subtle intricacies within the art that succeed in rounding out an already stunning comic. An example is midway through there’s a humanoid alien talking with the recently introduced bot hunter. This alien has a set of marble-sized black dots on each side of his nose (pierced through?) that either project or levitate lenses for the visually-impaired alien. This slight touch of sci-fi technology is never acknowledged…it just is. I actually can’t wait for a reread of the series just to see what other norms of these creators’ world that I might have missed.

Man, speaking of the art, I hope Nguyen provides process breakdowns at some point in the future. I would love nothing more than to see a blank page transition to a completed one. Come to think of it, I also hope to see some of Lemire’s sample scripts, or some examples of how the writer and artist communicate. I suppose these things will eventually come when a hardcover collection is released hopefully this time next year (please please please). What I’m trying to say, Denizens, is that I LOVE this comic so much that in addition to the writing, the art, the design, the characters, I actually want to see the beginnings of this story’s movement from the cocktail napkin, to emails, to the drawing board, and ultimately to the finished comic, which I sincerely hope you too are holding in your hands. If you do not already have this comic in your grubby little paws, then let me suggest that despite this issue claiming it is a “jumping on point,” that you do jump in here. Instead, buy this issue, and buy the ridonkulously inexpensive first trade, which contains the first six amazing issues. Descender is a truly special book that immediately sunk in its hooks and looks to hold tight for a good long while. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Twilight Children #2
The Twilight Children #2 - Written by Gilbert Hernandez, illustrated by Darwyn Cooke, colored by Dave Stewart, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics Imprint. The mystery of this sleepy, little, Latin American fishing village deepens as the spheres continue to appear and disappear. Even with the strange arrival of the lovely, but-silent, white-haired girl, and the recent blindness afflicting three children, life goes on…for better or for worse.

Last week I talked about the first issue (read about it here) and basically said that the issue completely blew me away. However, I did have a few issues with it…more on those in a sec. This four-issue mini-series is a beautifully told, gorgeously illustrated tale of life with an element of magical realism. Strange things happen — people vanish, children are blinded, spheres appear, spheres vanish without a trace — yet people continue to go about their day as wants and desires, and jealousies complicate their lives. As a reader, you instantly become a member of the creators’ mostly-tranquil, seaside village.

This comic is fantastic. Hernandez’s script continues to calmly and happily lead you along the course of events and moments, as Cooke’s oh-so-stunning art pulls you ever-deeper into the story, and Stewart’s lush, vibrant, nearly-flat color palette elevates Cooke’s already masterful illustrations to even higher levels. Everything about this comic speaks to beauty and the need to slowly, deliberately glide through the story to truly appreciate the magic of this series. I will say that I am no closer to understanding what is going on, but I will also say that I simply do not care; the experience of reading The Twilight Children is enough to keep me excited to see what happens next.

Again, however, the dang ads — of which there are six versus the seven from the first issue — are super annoying and detract from the power of this great tale. Yes we get 30 glorious pages of story and art, and a nice glossy cover with a higher paper weight, but at a $4.99 price tag, the interrupting ads are a nuisance. For a comic of this quality, paying $4.99 would not even be a problem, if the ads were relegated to the back. The ad problem has nothing to do with the creators, who clearly have the making of a timeless masterpiece on their hands.

So, yeah, despite all my griping about the ads last time, I could not stop myself from picking up this magical comic. It is so very, very good. No superheroes, no tights, no capes, just a solid story, beautifully told. If you missed out on the first issue, and don’t want the annoying ads, then you should wait for the hardcover that looks to release in May 2016, and that will surly be priced at less than cover price (after discounts), and without those intrusive ads. As a side note, I really hope to see a mini-poster set of the four stunning covers someday so I can ever be reminded of this beautiful book (please please please). This comic, minus the ads, comes VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Southern Bastards #12
Southern Bastards #12 - Written by Jason Latour, illustrated by Chris Brunner, colored by Chris Brunner and Jason Latour, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Young Tad probably shouldn’t have struck up a friendship with Earl Tubb. This is especially true after Coach Boss sent his thugs out to use the boy as a means of teaching Tubb not to poke his nose in Boss’s business. But after the beating Tad took, he’s lucky to be alive.

With this issue Jason Aaron steps back as Latour fills in on writing and Chris Brunner joins as guest artist for yet another great issue of Southern Bastards. To some, this might sound like a filler issue, but in the end, it seems to be another piece leading to Coach Boss’s eventual downfall. Since the first arc, I’ve wondered what became of poor ol’ Tad, and this issue looks to explain where he’s been and where he might be headed. It also further develops the character of Materhead, who helped beat down Tad in the first place, but is now seeing the error of his ways as he begins to regret being a “soldier” in Boss’s “army.” Folks with a grudge against Boss appear to be lining up for some payback…or at least they see the line they need to get into.

Brunner is a fantastic stand in for Latour on the art duties, as his style fits perfectly with the Southern Bastards style, while remaining its own, especially on Tad’s pain-killer-induced delusions. Also bringing unity to the title is the coloring — lots of muted reds, greys, and blues — while taking longtime readers by surprise with shocks of neon colors as Tad trips balls, watches violent television, and begins to see his purpose. It’s a great issue, and if you are going to rotate the creators around on this book, then Brunner is exactly the person to call in for the task.

Southern Bastards, a noir crime drama with a football-dependency problem, continues to be a great comic, and one that succeeds in making this Donist actually find something of interest in a sport. The writing is dark, gritty, honest (heaven help humanity), and oftentimes kind of scary. Latour’s art is always spot-on amazing, but Brunner steps in with grace on this issue making it a must-read, and nothing close to resembling a “filler issue,” but rather a vital part of the Southern Bastards mythos. If you are not reading this adults-only, harsh tale, you can easily catch up through the two trades, or the deluxe hardcover collection. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Secret Wars #7
Secret Wars #7 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Esad Ribic, colored by Ive Svorcina, lettered by Clayton Cowles, production by Idette Winecoor, published by Marvel Comics. Doom’s control of Battle World crumbles as forces align against him from all directions.

As I always say, Donist World is a positive blog when it comes to comics. I only talk about the books I enjoy and believe everyone should be reading. I relax on this rule when it comes to Big Two “Event” books. I occasionally buy these things with the hope that the comic ends up being different from the usual money grab — you know, the ol’ “6-issue event that changes everything and only requires that you buy 135+ additional issues to make sense of the dang story, and even then you still might have no idea as to what happened!” scenario. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike all event books. Infinity Gauntlet and Crisis on Infinite Earths are two past events that I revisit often, and there are a handful of others that are pretty cool, but, unfortunately, the event comics of the past decade tend to leave me cold at best, or irritated that I fell for the promise of greatness yet again. That said, I’m not “at that point” with Secret Wars, and I still have hope that the event will (eventually) reach a satisfying conclusion.

Remember how I warn about spoilers? You’ve been warned again…This issue has all kinds of awesome moments that whip by in the blink of an eye, as the inhabitants of Doom’s world begin to rebel against him. Cool, but…what the heck is going on? This Prophet dude mentioned in a panel or two last issue, reveals himself as Maximus, then is dealt with. Thors are divided and fighting amongst themselves for some reason. Captain Marvel (there’s two of them? clones?) somehow ended up with Mister Sinister (who has an army of selves subservient to him?), before she(s) vanishes upon the arrival of Apocalypse? The Maestro shows up with a team of Hulks smashing stuff? Black Panther (easily?) obtained the Infinity Gauntlet and is now “King of the Dead?” When did any of this stuff happen? And come to think of it, why are folks rebelling against all-mighty Doom to begin with? My guess is that many of these particulars occurred in a few issues of the 100+ side tales we needed to buy to get the full story for this supposedly self-contained comic. But there’s more than the questions raised by these out-of-left-field happenings, there’s also the questions left from Secret Wars #6. Where’s the Thing after the whole wall thing. Molecule Man? Thanos? I just don’t get it.

Those gripes aside, and the fact that I’m completely baffled by the particulars, I kind of enjoyed this issue. However, I would have liked to have seen issues four through six condensed into one issue, with issue seven built up over three issues instead of one. I would like to have seen The Prophet rise and build his army, or the rift between the Thors happen, or Sinister seduce / brainwash Captain Marvel, or Thanos actually be the eternal threat he is supposed to be, etc. As it is, waaaaaaaayyy too much of the cool stuff happened off page and / or outside of the main series. The good news is that Ribic and Svorcina’s art looks as gorgeous as ever, with some impressive battle scenes…I just wish those scenes had been expanded upon a bit more.

So yeah, I’m confused as all heck by the story, but the visuals are solid, and I do want to see how it all ends. The weird thing is that the rest of the Marvel U has supposedly trudged on with the release of all new number one issues and partial spoilers as to what actually happened at the end of the event series that still has two issues to go until its actual end. If you’ve been holding off on taking the plunge into this event, then rest assured that if your curiosity gets the best of you, you’ll be able to buy the hardcover come March 2016. I need to repeat that I did enjoy this issue, and that I don’t blame the creators for most of the missing pieces (hey, you try to juggle over 100 storylines from other creators into your main story), and I hope to add Secret Wars to the very, very, very shortlist of event comics that actually worked. RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Out of Time, Lots to Do, Stressed - Same message as last week, gonna keep it positive other than to say, “Who woulda thought being unemployed was so dang time consuming.” Job hunts, interviews, finishing two classes, tutoring college students, writing, caring for Tulip, minding the house and chores…dang…just, dang. For Pete’s sake (who the hell is this Pete character anyways?). Best not to over-think things. Focus, Donist. Trudge ever forward.

And on that Stressy-Bessie note…

(Sung to the tune of Loverboy’s “Turn Me Loose”)

Comics should be fun
A dang joy to read
The craziest stories to be seen
I gotta read ’em my way
Or no way at all

Descender’s sure to please
The Twilight Children’s key
Comic love that’s never a tease
I gotta read ’em my way
Or no way at all

Southern Bastards came around
knocked me to the ground
A brutal book yet sound
You gotta read ’em your way
Or no way at all


Friday, November 6, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 11/6/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Paper Girls, The Twilight Children, Black Science, and Lazarus

Welcome back, Donist World denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / doughnut inspector Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). As I’ve explained over the past couple FSoH/SitW posts, Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magics mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well. Today, I rolled into the Donist World corporate office (Mom’s basement) and found a delectable spread of bagels, doughnuts, and a couple of scones on display in the conference room (an adult-sized fort made with blankets with a card table in the center) as well as a freshly brewed pot of Pete’s coffee. I almost cried from joy. I love the old Obie, but the Reverse Obie is just so…so…so…thoughtful. <sigh> The old witch who lives in the swamp  a mile down the road (we’re in a drought, so the swamp is currently dried out) gave me a charm to break the Reverse Obie’s curse (or is it a blessing?), but I might hold off a little while longer before using it. Again, <sigh> Anyhow, pour yourself a cup of Joe, order in some tasty nachos (it is National Nacho Day after all), and settle in for this week’s post. Thank you for reading.

ALSO, even though Halloween is over, please check out our special “The Donist World Required Reading Halloween Bash 2015” for some truly spooktacular comics worthy of your reading time.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Paper Girls #2
Paper Girls #2 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matt Wilson, lettered and designed by Jared K. Fletcher, published by Image Comics. It’s 1988. Erin, KJ, Mac, and Tiffany have no clue as to what is going on in their paper route territory in Cleveland, OH. First there’s those ugly weirdos who dress up for Halloween all year round, then there’s the strange technology that keeps turning up, people keep disappearing, and now the scary things in the sky. Who knew working a paper route could be so dangerous?

Yup, I’m loving this series. This was the first book I read from my new comics, and I hammered through it the fastest…I couldn’t put it down. Vaughan and Chiang, of course, drew me in wholeheartedly within a few pages of the first issue (I talk about it here), and I’m still fully on board after reading this great followup issue. I love every gorgeous page of beautiful art, words, and character moments, even though we know about as much of what is going on in the girls’ town as we did last issue…which means very little. But that’s cool. We don’t need to have answers for everything yet — I’m certain they’ll eventually come. What’s more important than being spoon-fed answers with this Donist World Darling of a comic is that we learn more about the girls: who they are, where they come from, how they deal with adversity. This month, we get a quick peek into Mac, in addition to all the craziness and peculiarities rocking the girls’ world. Again, I loved it.

Vaughan’s banter (bickering / panicking) amongst the girls not only rings true, it also serves to solidify each of them as individuals with different voices on the page, while raising both laughs and tensions. Chiang’s art is every bit as tremendous as the first issue, managing to give us a awe-inspiring double page spread (I ain’t spoilin’), a cool shot of “Wally,” and some of the best character acting to be found in comics currently hitting the shelves. Even if this was a black and white comic, it would command your attentions, but then there’s Wilson’s coloring…

Holy treacherous paper routes, Denizens! I kind of freaked over the guy’s colors on the first issue, but this month he manages to top what came before. The majority of the issue is in a blue and pink / purple analogous color scheme that perfectly captures the bizarre nature of what is happening in sleepy Cleveland. The girls’ skin tones reflect the eerie lighting throughout, up until the end at Mac’s house, where everything shifts to a more complementary scheme of blues and yellows. As I previously said, this comic series would be a success as a black and white — no questions about that — but when you add Wilson’s colors, it becomes something quite heavenly.

You need to be reading this comic. No superheroes. Only paper girls fighting to stay alive in this thrilling sci-fi adventure tale that is as nerve-wracking as it is fun. I’m intentionally keeping things as spoiler-free as possible, but as I mentioned above, I know next to nothing as to what is actually going on; I wouldn’t have it any other way. If you opted to not pick up this fantastic series, then you totally messed up, son. Sorry, but it’s the cold, hard truth. But there is hope. If you count your earnings, hop on your bike, and head down to your LCS and hope they still have a copy of what looks to be a great ride…after you deliver your papers, of course. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Twilight Children #1 - Written by Gilbert Hernandez, illustrated and lettered by Darwyn Cooke, colored by Dave Stewart, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint. In a seaside Latin American village, mysterious glowing spheres occasionally appear, causing a stir, before vanishing when no one is looking. Life goes on. People fish, spouses cheat, children play, and the spheres come and go without incident…until now.

Simmer down, Denizens. I am well aware the first installment in this four-issue limited series came out a couple weeks ago, but I missed it when it was initially released. Thankfully, LCS done did me a solid by getting me a copy. LOVE!

The Twilight Children starts quickly, immersing the reader in the life of the village as if we had been living there all along. Hernandez doesn’t provide lengthy monologues or captions to tell us who is who, or about the town’s past, but rather he lets Cooke show us moments of fishing, and kids playing on the rocks in an effort to keep themselves entertained as the town drunk provides words of warning, and the awkward, disappointing glances between a man and woman as they navigate an affair. It’s a lovely snapshot of a simpler time, where life moves more slowly than in the big city. It’s all rather normal…until the appearance of the spheres.

Again, I am loving a comic that leaves me just as confused as the characters as to what is going on, and even without the compelling mystery of the glowing orbs, the setting and the slow build of the characters make me excited for the next issue. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have some powerhouse creators on the comic providing beauty through the perfect melding of the written word and imagery. Plus, Cooke’s characters are always lovely, but Tito…dang, Denizens, she is beautiful to the extreme.

This is a great comic through and through except for a couple of factors that really rubbed me the wrong way that I must mention. First of all, my problems have nothing to do with the creators or the tale they tell, but rather with Big Two business practices. First, a $4.99 price point is ridiculous for a 30-page comic filled with flow-crushing ads that completely pulled me out of the experience with every single irritating interruption. Plus, if you are trying to revitalize the once-great Vertigo Comics line, a work of this caliber is a great way to go, and the heavier card stock of the cover is much appreciated, but placing the burden of the extra cost onto those you are trying to lure back to the line, makes little sense. Unfortunately, I missed out on Image’s Monstress, which is also priced at $4.99, but it is sixty-six pages long, and I’ll bet you a doughnut that all ads (if any) are at the back of the book, so you can start the story and stay in it through to the end. Yes, I realize DC is a business, and ads can allow fewer sales, but an ad for The Colonel of Two Worlds?! C’mon! But, again, my gripes have nothing to do with the actual comic, which I simply adore.

So, yes, The Twilight Children is a fantastic comic, but given the steep price, and the wealth of ads scourging the pages, I am strongly considering waiting for a trade collecting the whole series. The trade will most likely cost less than the retail price of the next three issues and without the ever-annoying ads. Again, I must emphasize that the comic itself is set to be something special and is worthy of your time…provided you can get past the unfortunate interruptions. Without the ads, this comic is VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Lazarus #20
Lazarus #20 - Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated and inked by Michael Lark, ink assists by Tyler Boss, colored by Santi Arcas, lettered by Jodi Wynne, designed by Eric Trautmann, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics. The Family Carlyle’s war against the Family Hock has not been going well. Forever and her small team have been separated and are vastly outnumbered, as Johanna makes her move.

The war between the families seems like it has been going on for longer than it actually has. This is not a complaint. The depiction of war in Rucka and Lark’s world is actually quite interesting: the weaponry, the technology, uniforms, and tactics. That said, I am excited for the conclusion to arrive, and hope to see more of Forever, Sonja, and Marisol together, as well as revisit some of the other Lazari. The action towards the end of this issue is tense, as are the power plays going on back home with Johanna, and Lark continues to deliver some great character acting and storytelling.

Lazarus is a fantastic and engaging post-apocalyptic, sci-fi tale that tends to unnerve me for days after reading each issue. Of course the comic is not true, but the world the creators have crafted provides a stark look at where humanity might very well be headed, which is terrifying to say the least. If you have not been reading Lazarus, and you are cool with a heavy comic with little-to-no comedic moments to alleviate the tension, then this Donist World Darling is for you. You can catch up through the trades, or through the hardcover (a second volume is coming soon), and see just why so many comic fans are loving this tremendous series. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Black Science #17
Black Science #17 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Matteo Scalera, colored by Moreno Dinisio, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Three years have passed since Grant McKay’s latest and most devastating incident involving the pillar. Alone, save for a newfound companion (who’s not the best of conversationalists), McKay strives to reunite with his friends and family. Unfortunately, not all is well with our favorite anarchist scientist.

The break between story arcs was particularly rough on this last go, but Black Science is finally back; what a way to start! We’ve grown accustomed to the usual seat-of-your-pants roller coaster ride storytelling, but with this new beginning, the frenetic pacing has been slowed to allow us time to embrace McKay’s latest predicament. We arrive late — three years late — to see what McKay has been up to, the friend he has made, and the possible health concerns afflicting him. In so doing we experience the the new world on which he is stranded and Scalera gives us some amazing new creature / character / costume designs, as well as some gorgeous backgrounds brought to life through Dinisio’s lovely colors. This is yet another gorgeous issue.

After the void left following the spectacular end of Fear Agent (another must-read Remender sci-fi epic), it is refreshing to have an equally thrilling book to fill that gap. Black Science is a tense, fun, dramatic adventure comic with great, flawed characters and an abundance of weirdness that harkens back to the best sci-fi peculiarities of the ’70s and ’80s. If you need to catch up, then you can easily do so with the three available trades, or better yet, wait until the over-sized hardcover collecting issues 1–16 releases in December. I’m glad the wait for the latest chapter is over, but now I’m even more thrilled that I have no idea of where we are headed…especially given the cliffhanger final panel. So, fasten your seat belts, Denizens, things are about to go into hyperspace. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Out of Time, Lots to Do, Stressed - Gonna keep it positive other than to say, “Who woulda thought being unemployed was so dang time consuming.” Job hunts, interviews, finishing two classes, a Paper Show, writing, caring for Tulip, minding the house and chores…dang…just, dang. For Pete’s sake (who the hell is this Pete character anyways?), I still have a couple of comics to read. Best not to over-think things. Focus, Donist. Trudge ever forward.

And on that Stressy-Bessie note…

(Sung to the tune of Marc Almond “Tears Run Rings”)

Oh heavenly books
You so fill up my life
Unforgettable plots
Unforgettable strife

The Twilight Children, rocks
Lazarus is dark stuff
That Black Science, my friends
And what Paper Girls portends

Those creepy guys
The Paper Girls spy
Monstrous things
Up in the sky


Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 10/30/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Prez, Weirdworld, and Chew

Welcome back, Donist World denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / Halloween costuming specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). As I’ve explained over the past couple FSoH/SitW posts, Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magics mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well. Gone are the days of pilfering the petty cash drawer to buy top-shelf kibble and tacos. Away are the questionable meetings where he attempts to unleash his fringe management styles upon Tulip, Amy the intern (my wife), and I. Get a load of this…today, I came into the office (Mom’s basement), and found the latest comics neatly stacked on my desk (the fold-up card table) along with a list of talking points and words of encouragement. He also went into the dreaded Closet of Doom and excavated a stack of older comics that he felt I would enjoy rereading. Not only that, he gave me a cup of piping-hot coffee, and delivered it with a “Thank you, Boss-Man.” Is it wrong if I don’t look into reversing the curse (or blessing in this case) afflicting my CFO? I kind of like the new attitude. Anyhow, pour yourself a cup of Joe, order in some tasty tacos, and settle in for this week’s post. Thank you for reading.

ALSO, please check out our special “The Donist World Required Reading Halloween Bash 2015” from earlier this week for some truly spooktacular comics worthy of your reading time.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Prez #5
Prez #5 - Written by Mark Russell, illustrated by Ben Caldwell, inked by Mark Morales, colored by Jeremy Lawson, lettered by Travis Lanham, published by DC Comics. The Good Ol’ US of A has done quite a bit of good over its existence, but it has also made more than its fair share of mistakes; some of which are pretty bad. Thankfully, teenage President of the United States Beth “Corndog Girl” Ross has a rather simple solution to begin to set things right.

I love this comic, Denizens. With the arrival of the Not-New-52, new DC Comics, Prez was the comic that sounded the most interesting of everything being offered. No capes, no tights, no powers, or masks, just a world set in the not so distant future, where a teenage girl becomes the President by a fluke in the electoral process of the current guard’s own creation. In all honesty, Prez should have been released as a Vertigo book. Heck, if it had been set to release during October, I have no doubt that it would have fallen under that umbrella, and rightfully so.

Visually, the comic appears to be a lighthearted, heartwarming tale of a teenage girl accidentally rising to the role of one of the most powerful people in the world. But don’t let the oh-so-gorgeous art fool you. Russell and Caldwell’s book is a dark satyrical look at the world we’ve allowed to come to pass, and the stark trajectory we are currently on in regard to politics, corporate malfeasance, corruption, extremism, healthcare, greed masquerading as ideology, elder care, and the unstoppable progression of technology. With Prez, I laugh and smile at many of the more ridiculous notions as I read each issue, but then the creators’ true meaning begins to push through, and although I still gleefully hammer through the comic, it becomes clear that those ridiculous notions unfortunately ring all too true. Prez touches upon the terrifying realities of our world to such a degree that merely categorizing the comic as a comedy (a hilarious one at that), is actually a disservice as the book can easily be filed under “horror” once you begin to really think about it. Yup, this is a Vertigo book through and through.

The art and story are a perfect balancing act of harmony and conflict with subtext creeping in to change laughter and glee, to nervousness and unease once the realization that the absurdity of what you are reading is actually kind of happening. Criminy…I can feel a shiver rattle down my spine, but I can’t help but laugh every time I see that Pharmaduke. <brrrrrrrr> Caldwell’s cartooning is so filled with joy, and oftentimes goofiness, and Lawson’s vibrant, mostly-flat colors so exciting and cheerful, that it is all rather disarming once the underlying meaning of what you are seeing sinks in. But more than the fantastic colors and characterization, the visual storytelling and character acting are phenomenal from page one through to the end; dang, I really want some Caldwell art to display in my house.

Prez is easily my favorite new series for 2015, and it continues to boggle my mind that this is a DC book. I don’t mean this as a knock on DC, but as I said above, this book is as far removed from traditional superheroes as you can get. The keyword here is “traditional.” President Beth “Corndog Girl” Ross is in no way a traditional hero, but her outsider’s look at our political system and the world we have built looks to be everything our country needs to progress; she doesn’t require powers, a cape, or brightly colored outfit, just intelligence, and a rational mind. Don’t wait for the February 2016 trade release of this amazing comic, Denizens. If you are not reading Prez, then head out to your LCS and pick up the available five issues to ensure we continue to see Russell and Caldwell’s series reach its intended end. Prez is a timely triumph that will have you cracking up even as you realize it’s touching upon reality. Screw the other candidates, Beth “Corndog Girl” Ross for President!!! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
* Side note: I find it interesting that despite Prez’s commentary about the invasiveness of multinational corporations, we get a full-page ad for the KFC and The Flash comic book, The Colonel of Two Worlds. No, sadly, I am not joking. I am looking forward to a Superman Saves WalMart in the near future. Geez Louise.

Weirdworld #5
Weirdworld #5 - Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated and colored by Mike Del Mundo, color assists by Marco D’Alfonso, lettered by VC’s Cory Petit, published by Marvel Comics. When we last saw Arkon, he was a tad distressed (an understatement) about never being able to reach his home of Polemachus. But he was filled with something more powerful than despair, a great seething rage with which to unleash upon Morgan Le Fay, and even Weirdworld itself. Best not stand in his way.

Holy furious dragon doo-doo! This is one of the most insane comics I have read from the Big Two in I don’t know how long. Whoa… Dang, Denizens, I was upstairs on the tiny porch, enjoying my second Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (sooooo good) and Weirdworld was the last comic in my stack for the night — what a way to end a healthy bout of comic booking. I gave a hearty cheer (ummmm, or rather mumbled audibly causing Amy the Intern, my wife, to look up from her book in annoyance) more than once at multiple guest appearances, a killer double-page spread, and an awesome last page splash. Even writing down my experience reading this issue, and flipping through the pages, I’m grinning like a Man-Thing playing croquet with his dope-ass staff. This issue was a heck of a great way to end the five-issue mini, left me wanting one surprise guest appearance to appear in their own book once again, and excited for the new ongoing series coming in December from Sam Humphries and Mike Del Mundo. I soooooo cannot wait.

If you are looking for a positively bonkers adventure comic book as written by one of the best writers in comics today, and gorgeously illustrated by the same artist who provides the striking (regular version) covers, then look no further than the five-issue Weirdworld, which will be available in trade mid- to-late December. The only negative thing I can say about this book is that the many ads (including two super-obnoxious fold out pieces) really disrupt the reading experience; this is not the creators’ fault in the slightest. I took a chance on this title, and boy howdy am I glad I did. I can see returning to this fun-filled adventure many times in the future, and I suspect you will, too. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Chew #51
Chew #51 - Written and lettered by Jonathan Layman, illustrated and colored by Rob Guillory, color assists by Taylor Wells, published by Image Comics. Now that Tony Chu has handed the serial killing Collector his ass (if you missed last issue, then you done messed up, son!), it’s time to check in on Toni and Olive Chu. Oh yeah, check it out…Chonks!

Last issue wrapped one of the major arcs that has been playing out since the beginning of the series. I talked about it here, but to summarize: it was hella awesome, and the three month wait for the followup was painful, yet, as always, so very worth it. Although we now only have ten issues <sniffle> remaining with this Donist World Darling — and possibly a Poyo!!! special — the countdown to the end of Chew has begun. Even though the Collector storyline ended, there’s still plenty that awaits some answers: Was the Avian Flu a grand hoax? What about the mysterious, fiery space writing? How about our beloved Poyo? Or the space fruit that tastes like chicken? Not to mention all of the various awesome character arcs. Although I don’t want this series to ever end, I can’t help but want every single remaining issue in my grubby paws now now NOW! I can’t wait to see how it all ends. Not to mention…Chonks?!?!

I know I’m not really going into any detail of this specific issue other than to say that we see a cute preview of what’s in store for a few characters, we’re introduced to a new character, a new creature shows up, E.G.G. shows up, and Tony doesn’t even grace a single panel (okay, maybe one), which is fine. In fact, I don’t even mind that the lead character doesn’t show, I’ve spent so much time with all of these characters and the creators have developed them all so beautifully that I love them all. Heck, I love this series so much that I have reread the first three Chew: The Omnivore Edition volumes and the fourth is next in my queue (I discuss the actual presentation of the volumes here). If you are new to Chew (what is wrong with you, you monster!), then just jumping in now is not advised. My recommendation is to go with the lovely, slightly-oversized The Omnivore Editions, but if you must go the route of the trades, then that is an easy option for you to get started with the most unique comic on the stands. I weep for the approaching end, but I celebrate this fantastic comic created exactly as Layman and Guillory intended; their way. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

A Fire Hits Montecito - Ack…we were so close to having the El Nino storm that is supposedly (most likely) going to pummel the bejesus out of Santa Barbara in the very near future. Having lived in Santa Barbara for 35 years, I’ve seen my share of fires come through, and I have to say that there are few things as freaky as seeing the mountain range blaze in fury, or blue skies turn a sickly yellow as ash falls like rain, while I scramble to make plans for what items to pack up in the event we have to evacuate. Now, the Gibraltar brush fire is small — and hopefully extinguished soon — but having spent the last year with nerves on edge with every siren I hear is getting old. “Rain, rain, come today. Stick around for many days.” It’s about time this heatwave and the drought went on its way.

And on that nervous note…

(Sung to the tune of The Pixies “Debaser”)

Got me some comics
I want you to know
Prez, Chew, and Weirdworld
I want you to know
They are so groovy
I want you to know
So very good it’s true
But I am un bien lector de comic ah
I am un bien lector de comic ah
I am un bien lector de comic ah
I am un bien lector de comic ah
Wanna grow
Up to be
Be a comic lover, lover