Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 5/22/2015

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 / job huntress Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). This week, now that Mad Men is over (such a good show), and I’ve seen Avengers: Age of Ultron (yay), and I’ve seen Mad Max: Fury Road (this movie is A-number-one bonkers, but incredibly fun and great…go see it), my puppy executive team and I have decided to engage in some team building by cutting the day short and locking up the corporate office (my mom’s basement) to head over to the park to enjoy some fog-diffused sun, some Frisbee, and some tasty morsels (thanks Mom!). Obie is always game for cutting out early, at least he is for himself, but Tulip is kind of a workaholic, and even she thought it would be a could idea to reconnect, recharge, and re…uhhhh…eat stuff. Anyhow, why don’t y’all cut out early, de-stress, grab some tacos, and sip away at a strong ginger ale — or perhaps an iced tea, iced tea is nice — and enjoy this week’s post. Thank you for reading.


***Possible Spoilers Below***


Wytches #6
Wytches #6 - Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Jock, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Clem Robins, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics. Charlie Rooks has done the impossible: he has found his daughter, Sailor, deep in the horrifying caves of the wytches. But now, the Rooks have an even more difficult task ahead of them…getting out alive.

My pants are laying across the room, denizens. If you care to look, they’re back over behind the couch. Why is this? Well, obviously, because this book scared them right plum off of me. Man, this series has been creepy since the first few pages of issue one. Snyder has systematically been tapping into many the fears that drive / afflict most people: being alone, being singled out by something menacing, the dark, the forest, confined spaces, loss of mental faculties, powerlessness, hopelessness, noises, voices, betrayal, the otherworldly, child abduction, and the list goes on and on. The amazing thing is that the writer succeeds on all fear fronts…and then some. What’s more, Snyder knows just the right moment to pull away and leave the awfulness of certain scenes to the imagination. <brrrrrrr> While reading this issue — and the series as a whole — I had this continuous prickling, tingling feeling flowing beneath my skin, and a general sense of unease eclipsed only by a frantic determination to see what happens next. And with this first arc finale there are some true shockers to reward those brave enough to keep turning the pages of this awesome horror title.

Jock’s art is perfect for this comic. His fine lines mixed with his heavy shadows, provide the right mood, while allowing perfectly timed character acting and storytelling to deliver just the right psychological scares. The final panel on page two is a prime example of pulling the reader into the unease as Sailor stares ahead, and Charlie turns to the left in wide-eyed fright at the sound of the horrors lurking deep within the cave. That one panel sets the tone for this issue, and you better get used to it, as that feeling will follow you through to the end.

The effects of Jock’s art are compounded by Hollingsworth’s gorgeous coloring and otherworldly effects from the various glimmers and splotches that embellish each page. The flame plummeting down the cavern to reveal what awaits below, and the scenes of the wytches clawing their way out of the forest are simply beautiful…once you get past how utterly unsettling these moments are.

I love good horror stories and comics, but creating something that sticks with you long after you put the book down is not an easy thing to do. Far too often, what qualifies as horror nowadays, actually falls under the splatter pr0n category for which this Donist has little interest. But if you give me fantastic characters, preferably with terrible secrets that plague them, or give me a mysterious, lurking threat, then you have my attention. If your idea of scares is a cat jumping out of a trash can, or of some poor sucker locked in a room proclaiming, “I must eat my own eyeballs or die. Oh what must I do?!” then this is probably not the book for you. But, if you are more along the lines of “What was that sound? What is that?! Why won’t you leave us alone?” then Wytches is exactly the book you need. <sigh> Now it’s time to take the dog out into the cold, quiet, dark night. “@#$%! What was that sound?!?!” I need to reread this from the beginning…with more lights on this time, of course. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


The Fade Out #6
The Fade Out #6  - Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips, colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser, published by Image Comics. Charlie and Gil aren’t getting along. It probably has something to do with the little writing arrangement that forces them to work so closely together — it definitely has something to do with their drinking. As Charlie digs into Val’s past with an old friend, Gil meets with a pal of his own…one who sparks certain ideas.

Denizens, this is one helluva beautiful series. You have a noir, murder mystery set in Hollywood as only Brubaker can properly construct, as told through Phillip’s phenomenal character acting, deliberate lighting / shading, and storytelling that keeps you flowing from panel to panel. There is oftentimes little to no action in this series, but everything revolves around the story — what is being said, what is not being said. One of the strongest moments of this issue is the scene where Charlie talks to Jack “Flapjack” Jones about Val’s supposed suicide. It is three pages of two men passing a bottle and smoking cigarettes, which I know doesn’t sound like much, but through Brubaker’s words (and a great silent panel) and Phillip’s sideways glances and the attention to lighting up a new cigarette, you almost feel as if you are in the dimly-lit dressing room, rubbing your eyes from the smoke, and feeling the burn of the whiskey as it slides down your throat. It’s a powerful moment, and we learn a bit more about Val that pushes the story forward at its steady pace.

If you enjoy noir-crime-mystery stories then you simply MUST read The Fade Out. Currently, there’s one trade, and another two issues past that, but if you can, I highly suggest you pick up the floppies so you can read the fascinating and informative backmatter, which is definitely worth your time and energy. Once caught up on this heavenly comic, then rush out and buy all of Brubaker and Phillips’s Criminal trades, which are also fantastic. The next issue of The Fade Out cannot come soon enough. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Satellite Sam #14
Satellite Sam #13 and 14 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Howard Chaykin, lettering and logo by Ken Bruzenak, digital production by Calvin Nye, designed by Drew Gill, edited by Thomas K, published by Image Comics. This is it Satellite Sam fans! The moment you’ve all been waiting for. Michael White learns exactly how his father died, and it’s not exactly what he was hoping to hear, but at least he has a coping mechanism in place…one that involves a match and some gasoline. Meanwhile, the Roth family decides how to deal with their blackmail problem, and Gene and Eve have a horrible experience.

Okay, I don’t know whether to be pissed or thrilled, denizens, I just don’t know. You see, my LCS forgot to give me issue 13. <sigh> Thankfully I figured out their mistake before cutting into this week’s release, otherwise I would have missed a ton of key revelations and moments that have been building throughout the series. To remedy this, I went to my LCS (didn’t have 13), I went to the new comic shop I just found out about (nope, didn’t have it either), so I did what any obsessive compulsive true comic fan would do: I bought the digital version with the intent of buying a floppy at the next available opportunity.

The bright side is that I got to read two issues of Satellite Sam back to back. The steamy / racy / completely-messed-up events (definitely NOT a series for the kiddies, boy howdy, no!) of issue 13 had me whipping through the digital pages, only to toss the ol’ iPad aside for the real deal pages of issue 14 immediately afterwards. Now, I have enjoyed Satellite Sam since issue one, but it’s clear the series is coming to an end as everything that has been building comes crashing down. Fraction and Chaykin created a huge cast of characters, some admirable, others despicable, others damaged, all interesting, and the combination of the fascinating time period, the character development, the impeccable writing, and the jaw-dropping art all succeed in telling one heck of a compelling story.

If you shed a tear over Mad Men coming to a close (wasn’t that finale great?!), or if you like murder mysteries, or if you want some mashup of the two, then you can’t go wrong with Satellite Sam. The next issue is the last, so picking up the floppies might not make all that much sense, but you can pick up the first two trades today, and probably the third a month or so after the series concludes. Then again, I think I read that Fraction mentioned a hardcover containing the entire series is in the works, and I kind of suspect I’ll be putting that on my birthday wish list. I’m biting my nails in anticipation of the finale, and my LCS best not mess around with getting me my copy in a timely manner. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


A-Force #1
A-Force #1 - Written by Marguerite Bennett and G. Willow Wilson, pencils by Jorge Molina, inked by Jorge Molina and Craig Yeung, colored by Laura Martin and Matt Milla, lettered by VC’s Cory Petit, published by Marvel Comics. The will of God Doom has created Arcadia, an island paradise, where the peace is upheld by A-Force, a team of women of immense powers and abilities. A-Force is led by She-Hulk, who is strength and heart personified, but even she and A-Force must follow Doom’s law.

As you know, I haven’t been exactly picking up that many Marvel titles over the past year aside from the Fraction/Aja Hawkeye <crickets…more crickets…and even more crickets.> Then I took a chance on Spider-Gwen (love it), and most recently Secret Wars (against my wishes I also love it), and now I find A-Force in my grubby little mitts…it's kinda alright, too.

I didn’t intend to buy this comic for fear of going down the money-consuming event black hole, but seeing only one issue remaining at my LCS, and annoyed by this The New Yorker article, I picked it up anyways. I’m glad I did. I will admit that I’m still a reeling a tad from whatever happened in the first couple issues of Secret Wars, but I figure this is one of those forget the why and how this Arcadia and A-Force exists, and just go with it. So, all/most of the Marvel superwomen protect the paradise of Arcadia, end up fighting a monster shark, and one of their number does something that violates Doom’s laws, and a chink in the paradise’s facade appears; this is where my interest in the story sprouts. Yes I love seeing my favorite heroes (and a couple ex-villains) working together to maintain peace, but it is a false peace that can come tumbling down whenever Battleworld’s god awakens in a bad mood. Also, She-Hulk is just plain awesome.

Molina’s art is ridiculous in its stunning beauty. The page 2–3 double-page spread with Captain Marvel, Miss America, Sister Grimm, Pixie, and Dazzler (’70s style, thank you very much) is stunning, especially with the partially knocked-out inks and softened colors of the Aracadian background — criminy, I want to live there. The character acting and storytelling are fantastic, and seeing these awesome heroes whale on a megalodon shark is cool and a bit funny. Between the story and the art, I’m excited to see what happens next.

Dang, I guess I’ll be picking up the next issue…doggone event pulling me in, dagnabbit. A-Force is a heck of a lot of fun, even though I don’t totally get what all led up to it. But, again, who cares. Just go with it and enjoy seeing a dinosaur shark get busted in the chops by some of the coolest heroes Marvel has to offer. And when you look at the cover — and the interior for that matter — I doubt you’ll see any imaginary “porn stars,” but rather a group of heroes you wish actually existed. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Slice Into the Woods



Oh my Dawg! How could
you not support THIS!!!
Again With the Archie Kickstarter - Well, it looks like Archie canceled the Kickstarter, which I believe was the right thing to do. As I griped about last week, Kickstarter is a place for those of us without corporate entity protection (nope, corporations are NOT people), without the availability of business lines of credit, and without the ability to obtain a bank loan to print funny books. That said, I applaud Archie’s willingness to think outside the box and to take risks, and I realize that although they sell a large number of comics and are a known publisher, they are still markedly smaller than the Big Two. Maybe the whole thing would have gone over better if the rewards had been much, much better than two comics for $20. You know, something to actually thank their current — and potentially new — readership for their support and belief in the Archie brand. Then again, maybe Archie knew all along that their rewards were severely lacking, and that having this Kickstarter was more about promoting not just the three new comics and the creators involved, but the new Archie, and the fact that they want you to buy Archie comics in Walmart (evil corporation, btw, but one that could open up a whole new world of readers for the publisher) and Target. Maybe the Kickstarter wasn’t supposed to be funded, but actually engage a wider audience outside of the current comic book microcosm. I think they succeeded in that.

Now, I want to be clear that I LOVE Archie Comics. Not just for being progressive champions for gay rights with Kevin Keller, and standing up to the pro-censorship idiocy that is One Million Moms (actually more like 48 moms, including Debbie, whose young Timmy sells pornos, clove cigarettes, and sage masquerading as weed to all of the other Moms’ kids…you know it’s true, Debbie, just admit it already), but also for taking crazy risks by mixing things up with the Predator, the Punisher, and KISS, and for giving us the must-read series Archie: The Married Life, Afterlife With Archie, and Sabrina. Even though I did not like the whole Kickstarter thing, I still love this company and will pick up those titles and the new Archie when they come out.
*I MUST own the cover of Archie rescuing a Bostie stuck up a tree!


The Santa Barbara Oil Spill - I didn’t see signs of this on Wednesday, but if the mess is not here today, it soon will be. It’s been bad enough coming across so many hurting and dead sea lions the past four months, now this. Hopefully, I will live to see the day Big Oil and and all of their execs and bought-and-paid-for politicians are put out of business for good (I’m cool with jail time and/or environmental community service for them as well), and clean / sustainable / renewable resources reign supreme. Dare to dream, Donist, dare to dream.


and on that note…

(sung to the tune of The B-52s’s “Party Out of Bounds”)

Surprise, comics
Yeah, A-Force you can just drop in
Where’s Satellite Sam?
Or The Fade Out?
Eww, Wytches grossest!

Who’s to blame, when you’re shafted on your comics, man?
Who’s to blame, not this Donist, denizens!
Hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo



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Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 5/15/2015

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 / road warrior Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). This week, my puppy executive team is gearing up to have their hearts broken yet again. You see, they think they are going with myself and Obie’s owner to catch the new Mad Max movie — following lunch at Hollister Brewing Co., of course. Ummm…yeah…movie theaters still don’t allow dogs, even when they are dressed in torn up leather outfits (Obie is wearing chaps…disturbing), and mohawk / Tina Turner wigs. Sorry dogs, keep on keepin’ on with maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company; we’ll have a corporate office (Mom’s basement) viewing when it eventually comes out on Blu-ray. <sigh> So, grab some tacos and a strong ginger ale — or perhaps an iced tea, iced tea is nice — and enjoy this week’s post...then head on out to catch the new Mad Max movie…I’m so excited! Thank you for reading.


***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #28
Saga #28 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered by Fonografiks, coordinated by Eric Stephenson, published by Image Comics. Sophie and The Brand’s chat is interrupted when Halvor makes his presence known. Alana, Hazel, Klara, their kidnapper Dengo, and the baby princeling robot all come to the conclusion that they have a bad Last Revolution problem. And Prince Robot IV’s family obligations finally catch up with him (and Marko, and Ghüs, and Yuma, too)…the reunion doesn’t go well. Oh yeah…Friendo!

Remember in past reviews how I said that at its worst a new issue of Saga tends to be merely awesome? Well, this month’s release falls on the other end of that spectrum. This issue pulls all three main groups of characters into the issue, each with their own spectacular moment(s). I’m not going to spoil it, denizens, but that final, full-page splash is beautiful as an illustration, but within the context of the story and the particular scene…stunning, shocking. I’ve gone on and on in the past about how the creators leave their readers desperately loving their characters, even the “bad guys,” and we smile when good things happen for them, wince as they make self-destructive decisions, and are saddened when bad things happen — ugh, poor Heist. I even want Prince Robot IV to be safe and come out ahead, and he was once the big-bad-threats of the series. What I’m saying is that I would like to plead to Vaughan and Staples not to allow any harm to come to Marko, Alana, or Hazel. Or The Will and The Brand. Or Lying Cat and Sweet Boy. Or Gwendolyn. Or Sophie. Or Prince Robot IV. Or even Dengo and the princeling. Or Yuma. Or Klara. Or, by all that holy, no harm to Ghüs or Friendo. There’s also the telepathic, aquatic, gay reporters we haven’t seen for a while…keep them safe, too. But then that final sequence… <sigh>

It’s moments like the opening page that sucks you in and refuses to let go. We have three horizontal pages, only two word balloons that total six words, and absolutely nothing happens on that page. Panel one is of Lying Cat sleeping in a tree, panel two of Gwendolyn sleeping on a dozing Sweet Boy, and finally Sophie and The Brand talking and roasting marshmallows over a camp fire. Staples’s gorgeous art makes you smile, and your heart warms at the tenderness of the scene. Then Vaughan’s two words, followed by four words practically made me shoot my beer out my nose — which doesn’t feel good, denizens, believe you me.  I was laughing and more than anything desperately needed to find out more of the context of their conversation. It’s a classic “arrive late” moment that works oh so well and completely turns the tranquility of the moment on its head. Heh, I’m still cracking up…man, I love these characters.

So, yes, Saga continues to be my favorite book on the stands as well as one of my all-time-favorite comic book series. It’s sci-fi, fantasy, adventure, and drama with some brutally real moments that ring all too true despite being wrapped between layers of rockets made out of trees, Lying Cats, robot sex, adorable seal boys brandishing enchanted axes, and quests for magic dragon semen — no, I did not mistype type any of that. If you have not yet read Saga, then I’m sure you’re scratching your head over my description of this must-read series, but you need to trust Ol’ Donist on this one…pick up the trades or go full Monty with the gorgeous hardcover. After you get caught up, I'm certain you’ll welcome these wonderful characters into you imaginary family with open arms. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


East of West #19
East of West #19 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics. It’s all Babylon, the son of Death, all day and all night. Actually, it’s all night, and there are lessons to be learned. The problem is that Babylon might be learning lessons that the corrupted “Balloon” never intended.

East of West continues to be a fantastic, dark, post-apocalyptic tale. Usually, each issue is wrought with characters plotting and manipulating to achieve their desires with the repercussions of their actions affecting the world on a global scale, but not so much with this issue. Of course Babylon is being manipulated by Balloon — as he has been since day one — but as we saw last issue, the Prophet Orion has updated Balloon’s programming to something a bit more sinister. The cool thing is that Hickman narrows the focus of this issue to only Babylon and Balloon’s interactions, and we see Death’s son begin to question what he is experiencing in the real world. This has been building for a while, and I am torn between fearing and seeing what happens when Babylon finally sheds the VR goggles and the Beats by Dre headphones to experience the world as it actually is. <brrrrrr>…feel that chill creep up the spine.

Dragotta’s art on this issue is as heavenly as ever with fantastic character acting and character design for both Babylon and Balloon, but it is his storytelling on the nearly silent double-page action sequence of 22 panels that is sure to make readers gasp in appreciation. Then you turn the page to the awesome full-page splash… You have to see it to believe it.

With a rich, complex story, and stunning illustrations, East of West is sure to please those who want an intricate story with many moving parts. You will, however, need to wear your thinking caps, and you should be well-rested before tackling this awesome comic. Actually, you should do some jumping jacks to get the blood pumping…and you should hydrate beforehand as well, that’s always important. Basically, you need to be ready for this fine comic. If you have not yet read East of West, you can easily catch up with the first three trades, but be warned, you might not know what’s going on at first, but stick with it through the third issue and you will be glad you did. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Secret Wars #2
Secret Wars #2 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Esad Ribic, colored by Ive Svorcina, lettered by Chris Eliopoulos, production by Idette Winecoor, published by Marvel Comics. The Thor police force of Doomgard gain a new recruit as Bar Sinister and Higher Avalon have grievances requiring regulation. So says the god Doom. The new status quo is harsh, brutal, but is Doom’s ascension to godhood prepared for those who seek to complicate matters.

My reaction to the first issue was one of confusion at what was going on in the well-written story, awe at Ribic’s gorgeous art and take on Marvel’s top heroes (...how about a four-issue mini for Iron Fist? please please please!), and a spike in my interest and hope in this event book. So, a week later, we have issue two with no change in artist, waaaaaay fewer ads and interruptions in the story (thank you, Marvel!), over 40 pages of material, an absolutely bonkers story that mostly makes sense and is pretty dang cool, and some visually stunning moments. Is this honestly an event book? It seems too good to be an event book. Yup, it’s still an event book.

Now, I have no idea as to how Doom gained the powers from issue one, or what the deal is with the white outfit, but you know what, denizens, why over think it? I’m fine with the god Doom of this world and his harsh punishment of those who willfully disobey his rule. Thankfully, he still pays heed to the words of Susan Storm (The Invisible Woman) in scenes that remind me of the best parts of A Game of Thrones, complete with Dr. Strange who is the sheriff of this series, yet who visually reminds me so much of Littlefinger. The duel between Sinister and Jaime Braddock (I had to look him up) is beautifully choreographed and something that slowed my reading of the comic as I just had to linger over every panel.

Then we get three and a half pages of Jaime as he submits to his fate and descends the wall into the realm of the Marvel Zombies (the Deadlands). This is where Ribic, whose art is gorgeous on its own, is elevated into the realm of all things heavenly by the talents of Ive Svorcina. I have no idea how Svorcina achieves the unique look that he imparts upon Ribic’s art, but when scenes change to outer space, or the mystical, that is where Svorcina floors me. He has a style that makes scenes like the Deadlands look positively ethereal and ultimately haunting, especially when Jaime fires up his sword and looks into the mist to see Venom approaching. It was so creepy and beautiful that I almost couldn’t bring myself turn the page. Almost.

I can’t wait to see what happens next. There, I said it. I never thought I would say that about an event book. The equally surprising thing is that I am optimistic about the six remaining issues in this mini-series, and if the book can keep Ribic and Svorcina with no hastily put together pages, or fill-in artists, then I might <gasp> be happy with an event comic. At a quarter of the way in, I can say that this issue and the series thus far come HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Black Science #14
Black Science #14 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Mateo Scalera, colored by Moreno Dinisio, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Grant and Shawn have contracted the plague unleashed upon this world by parallel versions of themselves. They are dying. But they don’t have time for that. They need to rescue Grant’s wife, Sara, (a parallel version of his wife at least) and Grant’s daughter, Pia, not to mention get critical parts for the Pillar back to the rest of the group. But then the unthinkable happens…Sara and Pia’s vital signs disappear from the tracking device…

The roller coaster ride continues in grand style as we fly through the city with Grant and Shawn as they attempt to reach Pia and Sara. Scalera’s visuals are exciting, intense, commanding your eyes to stick to the action, but with this issue, Remender’s captions are what steal the show. It’s heartbreaking to read Grant’s final realization that he has not just screwed up his own life, or that of his coworkers, but mostly that of his children and his wife. Grant had thrown his life into his work and missed out on what should have been some of the best moments a happy life has to offer…for work. Years are gone that can never be regained, and this character’s thoughts are so strong, so real, that I could not help but think of time lost in my own life. <brrrrr> Powerful stuff. But amidst the intensity of this issue, I still had a blast reading this comic, and by the end Grant McKay’s growth from a self-centered a_hole to something new left me smiling.

Black Science truly is the equivalent of a sci-fi Indiana Jones movie, keeping you off-balance and on-guard for at any moment things might get positively nuts, and they usually do. If you aren’t reading this phenomenal Image Comics series, then you can easily catch up via the first two trades in time for the third, which will be available shortly after the next two issues in this arc. I kind of love this long form, weird sci-fi story that successfully blends the feel of the old Warren Magazine stories with their modern takes, all in one exhilarating package. You need to be reading this. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Slice Into the Woods


Kickstarter and Archie Comics - I’m going to keep this brief. Please don’t support this. If you have been reading Donist World for any length of time, then you know I have been championing Afterlife with Archie, Sabrina, and Archie: The Married Life, as well as Archie Comics’s forward-thinking stance on important issues, and their willingness to say…throw Archie and the gang into the midst of the Predator, KISS, and at some point Sharknado. Awesome, right? Not so much their horrible decision to go to Kickstarter to potentially release three comics. Here are the problems I have with this:

  1. Archie Comics is a corporation, a mid-sized comic book publisher, whose books have been garnering critical attention, and media exposure for some time now. They shouldn’t be about to shutter the business anytime soon.
  2. They are asking for $350,000 for this campaign.
  3. Kickstarter is for the “little guy,” folks like me, who probably won’t ask for even 1% of what Archie Comics is requesting. A contribution to this established, well-known company potentially pulls money away from the “little guys” who want to see their dream comics a reality.
  4. The prizes don’t match the contribution levels. $20 gets you two floppies, a pdf of one of them, a credit in a comic, an emailed newsletter. Seriously? $20 should get you the new Archie book, all three Kickstarter comics, the newsletter (plus opt-out option), all four PDFs, a button, a poster, a limited edition print cover of all four comics. 

So, yeah, I feel bad about ripping on this, but c’mon…EVERYONE is trying to take our money away nowadays, so why not give those willing show their enthusiasm and support something that shows you appreciate their business and truly respect their continued enthusiasm and support. Please don’t support this campaign.

Ack…Sorry folks, no time for a song this week…again. I had two graphic design project that were due this week, and I still gotta do job hunt stuff. The Donist needs to get P.A.I.D.

I hope to get back to the songs next week. Thank you for reading.
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Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 5/8/2015

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 / Black Widow enthusiast Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Thankfully, Tulip and Obie have forgiven me for sneaking out and ditching them last week to see the awesome Avengers Age of Ultron movie, which I really want to see again in the very near future. It’s been a crazy week this week here at the corporate office (Mom’s basement) with tons of comics, job interviews, and the submission of a Comic Books & Craft Beers app for my Publishing Design class that I created in InDesign using the Adobe DPS (Digital Publishing Suite), which is something I need to figure out how to make available somehow for y’all denizens to check out if you so choose. Anyhow, let’s get right to it. 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…while ignoring the naysayers. Thank you for reading.


***Possible Spoilers Below***


Descender #3
Descender #3 - Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics. TIM-21 is dead…or is he? After suffering grievous harm at the hands of the wicked Scrappers, he awakens to meet a robot who has long been dead. The robot wants to show the boy something and TIM-21 follows. Meanwhile, Driller and Bandit, a mining bot and a robo-dog respectively, rush to save the boy's life, only to run into Dr. Quon (father of robotics), Telsa, and Tullis; the meeting does not go well.

I absolutely love this comic series. What’s even better than just reading this candidate for “Best New Series of 2015” is listening to appropriate background music while doing so. Take for instance the awesome La Planete Sauvage O.S.T., which should definitely put you a sci-fi state of mind, for this gorgeous sci-fi comic.

After the brutal cliffhanger from last month, Descender #3 picks up at the worst case scenario, and it is just as we feared. Lemire instantly made us fall in love with TIM-21 with but a page or two of the first issue, yet despite knowing that the creators intend for this series to last quite a while, we can't help but fear for the boy robot's safety. Lemire’s beautiful characterization and dialogue give us no choice in the matter. We also get to see more of Dr. Quon, who we also learned to love in the first issue, as well as the mysterious and surly Telsa, who I desperately want to learn more about. In short: The story and the characters are going to keep those ol’ peepers of yours glued to the page.

Nguyen’s art…oh my stars and garters, denizens, it is something to behold. The beauty of his character acting and his engaging storytelling skills are just part of this amazing comic. When you factor in the lush watercolors and otherworldly rose-colored hue of the robot afterlife, I suspect you will be as transfixed as I am with each panel of this beautiful comic that brings back all the best memories of Epic Comics in the early ’80s.

<sigh> Apologies. That was a not a sigh of frustration, but a sigh of contentment…mixed with a tad bit of disappointment that a great experience is over all too soon. To repeat what I stated above and on each of the first two issues, I absolutely love this comic series. LOVE IT! Don’t trade wait this beautiful, emotional, sci-fi mystery comic. At only three issues in, you should be able to catch up with little hassle. The first issue is in second printing, and I believe the second issue will be headed there as well. I already know I will be picking up the deluxe hardcover that I hope will be released sometime late next year (please please please), as Descender looks to be one of the truly special ones. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Afterlife with Archie #8
Afterlife with Archie - Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacassa, illustrated by Francesco Francavilla, lettered by Jack Morelli, published by Archie Comics Publications. A month has passed since “Blaze” walked out of the woods carrying a bloodied machete and proclaimed that her twin brother, Jason, would not be joining the group of zombie survivors…ever. Now, the gang is holed up in the Bradbury Hotel and Archie is having a conversation with his good pal, Jughead — Jughead is supposed to be dead. Disagreements, decisions, and declarations, oh my.

I don’t know where this comic has been these past many months — that bleak time was cold, so very cold — but I’m glad Afterlife with Archie is back. I came to the world of Archie late in life after having deemed it too “kiddie” when I too was a kid. I was terribly wrong, and eventually learned to love and respect this publisher. When Afterlife with Archie first appeared, I was at first dismissive, but made the buy anyways, and was beyond surprised by this phenomenal, horrifying, touching, and earnest take on the gang from Riverdale; I fell in love.

Aguirre-Sacassa continues to take the lovable characters from out of their past lives of soda shops, sock hops, and goofy hijinks into a modern world of real problems: Death, unfulfilled lives, secret loves, and so very much more. With the first issue, I knew many of the characters (Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead), but throughout the course of the series, I have been better introduced to the twins Cheryl and Jason Blossom, Nancy and Ginger, Reggie, and many others, but what Aguirre-Sacassa does so well is make you quickly care for all of the characters and their plights. At times, Zom-Jughead and his zombie army, as awesome as they are, take a backseat to Archie and his gangs’ most intimate moments. The Shining-esque scenes of this issue with Archie and Ghost-Jughead only make an already fantastic comic truly heavenly.

Francavilla…geez Louise, this guy could illustrate the two most boring people in the world talking and make the scene utterly beautiful. But, take two popular and fascinating characters like Jughead and Archie, put them alone in a creepy hotel bar with an uplit surface, and the colors and shading alone are mind-blowing. The character acting and sequentials all ensure you can’t turn away until you reach the end. The combined efforts of the creators make this series something even non-comic book lovers can appreciate.

I love this series. Yes, I would prefer to not have the lengthy delays, but as long as new issues continue to be released, I’m a happy Donist. I have given the Afterlife with Archie trade to a handful of friends over the past year, and I will continue to do so for all who might appreciate this think-outside-of-the-box comic that probably would not work without these talented creators’ touch. If you aren’t reading Afterlife with Archie, you are missing out on an important and spooky-fun comic. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Rachel Rising #33
Rachel Rising #33 - Everthinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. Out in the woods, someone, or rather some thing, rises from the dirt to once again wreck havoc upon the town of Manson.

Not much happens in this month, so it’s pretty easy to write a teaser about the issue. This in no way implies that this issue is lacking in substance or direction for the series, even though Rachel, Zoe, nor any of their friends appear within the pages. Instead, it’s all about the return of a major character from the past, whose identity I assume you can easily guess if you have been reading this terrific Twin Peaks-meets-horror-comics series. I did, however, miss seeing Rachel and discovering more about who originally killed her, but that's cool, I can wait.

The art in this issue is as beautiful as ever, especially where Moore’s character acting and design are concerned, and the depiction of the returned character is as wicked and manipulative as ever. The scene where the character tries to convince an old man to let them in his house showcases Moore’s dramatic range as the angry person puts on a happy, naive face that barely manages to hide the frustration and rage. It’s all quite stunning, but you can always expect such attention to detail from this tremendous creator.

Although I did not expect this interlude issue, I did enjoy it — this is despite the fact my issue has a misprint as pages three and four are exactly the same. If you like smart horror, the kind that slowly creeps up upon you as opposed to torture pr0n or cheap scares like cats jumping out of trash cans, then you must read this phenomenal comic (five trades available!) that can at times make you laugh and at others give you the willies. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Spider-Gwen #4
Spider-Gwen #4 - Written by Jason Latour, illustrated by Robbi Rodriguez, colored by Rico Renzi, lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles, designed by Idette Winecoor and Jessica Pizarro, published by Marvel Comics. With the Vulture out of the picture — for the time being — Gwen has a moment to breathe and think about what it is she is doing. Sometimes fighting super villains is easier than dealing with the battles going on in your mind.

Last issue, there were fights, and punching, and fighting, and kicking, and if I remember correctly, some fights. This issue sees none of that, and is all the stronger because of it. Latour gives both Gwen and the reader a moment to think about what has transpired thus far. He provides some great moments between Spider-Woman and some barely-criminals, and some beautifully honest moments with the cheerful Uncle Ben and Aunt May, the latter of whom helps Gwen through her turmoil. It’s all deeply real after Peter Parker’s death (dang, I really need to get a hold of that Edge of Spider-Verse #2), with the possible exception of Aunt May repeating Gwen’s name back to her a few too many times.

Rodriguez and Renzi’s art alone is enough to warrant a look at this title, with the taggers versus Spider-Woman part being gorgeous…dig that splash page, denizens! Speaking of splash pages, the one with Gwen finding Aunt May’s scrapbook, and the one of The Mary Janes are just too cool for school, and would look quite lovely hanging on the wall above the printer.

I really wish there was a The Mary Janes band out there. I kinda think I’d be listening to them right now.

So, Spider-Gwen continues to be the only Marvel Comics comic book I am actively picking up aside from Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye <crickets chirping…loudly>.  We get something more with this series than the same ol’ characters doing the same ol’ things, and this is despite the series containing many of the same ol’ characters, who are not so much “ol’ ” as they are reimagined in a way that sparks my interest. As long as Spider-Gwen continues to be exciting and different in both story and art, I look to be onboard for quite a while. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


God Hates Astronauts #8
God Hates Astronauts #8 - Most everythinged by Ryan Browne, colors by Jordan Boyd and Ryan Browne, lettered by Chris Crank and Ryan Browne, edited by Jordan Browne, designed by Thomas Quinn, published by Image Comics. The host with the most, the 3-D Ghost, is back — although he is totally drunk — and leads us on a journey through time and space, as Starrior attempts to recruit Star Fighter, Big-Head Star Fighter, and Star Grass into her efforts to rescue her kidnapped daughter, Starlina, from the clutches of some cosmic a_holes. Most shocking of all…Star Fighter insults Dr. Professor. Repeatedly.

This comic is soooooooo stupid. I mean this as a tremendous compliment. I guarantee you have not read anything like this insane comic. The fact that the little summary above actually makes some degree of sense is a shocker in and of itself, but this hilarious, weird, vulgar, head trip of a hot mess is something all comic lovers seeking a break from the dark, shadowy, darkly-dark darkness found in most of the comics being released should check out (don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE many of those bleak comics). The dialogue alone in this series is enough to crack me up, but when it comes from an exchange between a ghost-cow-headed star warrior and an anthropomorphic rhino with a mustache you just can’t go wrong. The art, though, is a powerhouse as well. Just have a look at the King Tiger Eating a Cheeseburger (the name exactly describes this character) versus Sir Hippothesis (a muscular, sword-wielding hippo warrior) and you will fully experience Browne’s command of storytelling, humor, hilarious sound effects lettering, and character acting.

If you are ready to take a dive into the deep end of the bizarre, then look not further than God Hates Astronauts, but you gotta do it right. Read this one in order by starting with the first two trades. I don’t mean to suggest that this will help you understand Browne’s mind any better — no one can claim that honor — but rather you will get to know some of the oddball characters on this nutty series. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Secret Wars #1
Secret Wars #1 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Esad Ribic, colored by Ive Svorcina, lettered by Chris Eliopoulos, production by Idette Winecoor, published by Marvel Comics. “The Multiverse is dying. Only two universes remain. Today, Earths collide.”

Notice the quotes around the description, denizens. Yeah, I didn’t write that, but took it from the sixth page (fifth page if you don’t count the storyline-flow-crushing Gillette ad on page two)…you know, the one across from the storyline-flow-crushing Hasbro ad for Avengers Age of Ultron toys. Discounting the storyline-flow-crushing ads for AC*BC, Avengers Age of Ultron movie (okay, this one gets a pass), Share Your Universe, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television show, and the Secret Wars tie-ins ad, you get 35 pages of art and story, and despite my hesitance to ever delve into any sort of event book, I actually enjoyed the first issue of Secret Wars. That said, there is a ton I did not fully understand, as I have not read most (or any) of what’s come before. That’s okay, just go with the flow…ignoring the intrusive ads, of course.

Ribic and Svorcina provide some stunning visuals that remind me of everything I loved about their awesome run on Thor God of Thunder from a few years ago, and it is especially awesome to see their take on the many heroes and villains who show up in this book. The battle in the sky is jaw-dropping and the art as a whole makes this book worthy of checking out.

I know Donist World’s statement is to focus on the positive, and for the most part I do that, but every once in a blue moon, I decide to give an event book a shot. On these high-profile books, I’m willing to bend the rules a little and say what I think, as opposed to my usual rule of just not talking about something I did not love. As I said, I did enjoy this $4.99 book, despite my annoyance that it kinda doubled as a way to serve ads to readers, but the quality of the stuff that matters, the actual story and art, made the purchase worth it. So, yeah, I’m a little confused as to what is going on, but I will be definitely check out the next issue with my fingers crossed that we get a book of substance (like Hickman’s awesome Infinity event, which I reviewed here), instead of a vehicle designed to just sell us stuff. This issue is RECOMMENDED!


Avengers Age of Ultron the Movie - I am going to keep this one brief. I absolutely loved it, although there were some things that kind of bugged me, but the same can be said of all movies. Remember way up at the top of this post how I said “***Possible Spoilers Below***?” Well, I warned you. Anyhow, I loved the humor (especially the stuff with Thor’s hammer), Vision was absolutely killer, Ultron was great, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were great, I liked the extra time with Hawkeye, and the budding relationship with Natasha and Banner was believable and nothing worth freaking out about. My main complaint stems from the film trying to do too much, and it was obvious that there’s some excess material that was hacked out of the film. I would have rather seen the Hulk Vs. Iron Man fight trimmed if not cut — although it was visually pretty amazing — it just didn’t quite jive with the story that was being told. Quicksilver died in a superheroic manner that completely redeemed him of his past crimes, yet I wanted more time for Wanda, Clint, and the rest to actually grieve and pay respects for the guy outside of giving a baby the middle name of Pietro. Still, I LOVED the film. If I had to rank the movies thus far, Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: Winter Soldier are tied at number one, Avengers 1 is number two, with Avengers Age of Ultron being number three. I can’t wait to see it again. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Slice into the Woods

Death Threat Sending Morons - I’m of course talking about the whole Whedon and Twitter bs that has been going on.
Firstly, if you send death threats to anyone because of a movie, then you are a complete and total moron who should be doing jail time for the crime of Stupid in the First Degree. It doesn’t really matter how you interpreted the Natasha / Banner scene, you just don’t do that.
Secondly, Natasha confiding in Banner about what was done to her for the sake of the “job” was merely her expressing to Banner that he is not alone; a strong character expressed a level of understanding to someone who feels they are alone in the world.
Thirdly, when Natasha states that she is a “monster,” she is referring to the “red” files, meaning all of the people she has flat out murdered and ruined over the course of her darker times. This is something The Avengers, Iron Man 3, and Captain America: Winter Soldier have been hammering into our skulls over the past three years. I will concede that maybe if you have not seen the other movies that there could be some confusion as to what she is referring, but I will have to rewatch the scene to be sure.
Finally, Twitter, Facebook, and all of the other social media platforms are time sucks. If you get caught up in the vortex of social media, then your productivity is sure to go down the toilet, along with a fair amount of your happiness and self esteem. I don’t blame Whedon for bailing, especially if morons are calling for his death. Remember, it’s a fricking movie, and one from the guy who brought us Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and The Avengers, which you all loved so much. People, get a grip.

Sorry folks, no time for a song this week…I gotta do job hunt stuff. The Donist needs to get P.A.I.D.


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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.




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