Saturday, October 20, 2018

Comics Lust 10/20/2018

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/pumpkin-flavor-for-everything advocate Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). It’s turning out to be a hot one today, Denizens. Whew, it sure as heck is. It’s in the mid-eighties and Tulip and Reverse Obie need to get out there and take care of some business. And by business, I don't mean maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company, but you know…potty time. Boston terriers just don’t deal well with situations that are above 74 degrees and not dealt with around a swimming pool while sipping a mojito, but whatchagonnado. Anyhow, be kind to each other, mind your health and sanity, eat some tacos, keep your pets safe, cherish the ones you love, hydrate, and read some great comics before checking out Daredevil Season 3 on Netflix. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magiks 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.

Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.

Comics Lust

Modern Times, Modern Monsters (Part 2)

Ever since I was a little kid, I have been a fan of monsters and the things that go bump in the night. Where other kids had their Sesame Street, Electric Company, and Mr. Rogers, I had Godzilla, the Wolfman, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. My love of monster movies, toys, books, and of course comics is one I wear like a badge of honor whose pull only increases every time October and Halloween come around. So, bundle up if it’s starting to get cool, pour yourself a pumpkin beer, and prepare yourself for some comics that feature some truly amazing monsters, both great and small.

The Goon

(Everythinged by Eric Powell, originally published by Avatar Comics in 1999)
I rarely mention the fantastic The Goon, and I’m not sure why that is. It probably has something to do with the fact that it’s kind of hard to narrow it down to a specific genre. It’s a comedy, noir, drama, sci-fi, horror, gangster, zombie, monster, love story of revenge and friendship. Yeah, kind of hard to narrow down, but then again why would you? The Goon is its own amazing thing that everyone should be reading. Basically, the Goon and his pal Franky are a couple of street toughs who shake down debtors to pay their dues and generally spend their time attempting to keep the peace around their little town. Unfortunately, The Priest, a diminutive and evil magic man has a horde of zombies at his command to stir up trouble. Then there are fishmen gangsters, giant zombie apes, an immortal man who hungers for undead flesh, robots, giant Spanish-speaking lizards, harpies, hobos, fish squeezings (don’t ask), and other monsters abound. But just when you think you have a bead on what The Goon is about, Powell gives you the startlingly serious and heartbreaking treasure that is “Chinatown and the Mystery of Mr. Wicker” (which is volume 6 for those reading in trades). Originally released as a hardcover graphic novel, this chapter tells the origin of Goon and how he got the scars that permanently define his face. After you sob your ever-lovin’ heart out, it’s back to mayhem and weirdness and more of Powell’s gorgeous, and I mean gorgeous, art. Powell is a master of storytelling, character design, and of creating situations that have you rolling with laughter and occasionally bringing out the tears; I should probably mention he’s pretty damn good at drawing the ladies too. If you want to see hordes of zombies get the stuffin’ beat out of them or a fishguy take a knife in the eye while robots battle lizards, then The Goon is wholeheartedly the mayhem you need in your life. Trades Vol. #0–15 are out in the wild...go get ‘em!

Scooby Apocalypse

(Written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, illustrated by Howard Porter, originally published in 2016 by DC Comics)
I am dreadfully behind on this fun series. I have only read the first trade thus far, but plan on catching up through volume four in the near future. If you are a fan of the Scooby-Doo cartoon, then this might be the series for you. If you are a fan of post-apocalyptic, monsters-take-control stories, then this might be the series for you. But if you like both, like I’m sure most people do, then you cannot go wrong with Scooby Apocalypse. Imagine a world where Daphne is a struggling television show host and Fred is her loyal cameraman. And Shaggy used to work at a top-secret government compound where he frees a particularly brilliant, dog named Scooby-Doo, who is the result of a cruel science experiment. Then there’s Velma, a scientist who is somehow linked to the plague of monsters that have seemingly taken over the planet. Put them all in the fully-stocked, fully-armored, green assault vehicle—The Mystery Machine—and the Scooby gang will fix the world and stop all monsters with extreme prejudice. After flipping through this book, I definitely need to get back into the swing of this compelling story that showcases some particularly beautiful and vibrantly colored art by Porter!


(Written by John Arcudi, illustrated by James Harren, colored by Dave Stewart, originally published in 2014 by Image Comics)
If you’ve been reading “Comics Lust” for a length of time, then you have definitely heard me mention the greatness that is Rumble on a few occasions. If not, Rumble is the story of a bartender, his girlfriend, his layabout buddy, and a sword-wielding, murder-machine scarecrow who was once a warrior god and now hunts down all manner of monsters, demons, and elementals as he strives to restore himself to greatness. This humorous and visually stunning tale alternates between the real world and the past, moving the story ahead quickly as we slowly piece together how Rathraq fell and came to be confined to the body of a scarecrow. The numerous colorful and wonderfully designed monsters are a huge draw for this series that has four readily-available trades, with a fifth and hopefully many more trades to come.

Doc Stearn…Mister Monster

(Everythinged by Michael T. Gilbert, originally published in 1984 by Eclipse Comics)
So many comics, so little allowance… When I first became aware of Mister Monster, I totally wanted to pick it up seeing as how it featured a beefy, costumed monster hunter with a skull on his chest and wielding some hefty guns. How could I not want to read this book? Unfortunately, there were tons of other comics out there vying for my ever-precious dollars, and Mister Monster and I are still unacquainted to this very day. This is something I hope to change, but you have to realize that reading all the stories featuring this character is not going to be an easy task. Below are the main books, but realize there are TONS of anthology comics and guest-appearances out there that are too numerous to list here:

As I said, these are the main chunks of material featuring Gilbert’s horror and superhero satire comic book character Mr. Monster, but there are appearances and one-shots galore to be tracked down. And “tracked” down is unfortunately what it looks like you will be doing as there are only a couple random graphic novels that currently look to be out of print. Now, Dark Horse…how about a Mr. Monster Omnibus or two for us fans-in-waiting?

Well, you have plenty of reading to do and it looks like you need a refresher on that pumpkin beer, so I better let you go. See you next week and I hope you have some spooktacular reading ahead of you.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Comics Lust 10/13/2018

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/enough-bad-news specialist Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Keeping this short as I’m already late and the gut punches of the last 12 months just keep coming. Put it this way…my grandma died, my uncle died, Tulip was attacked by three dogs, a whole mess of personal and professional nonsense, and now my other uncle just had a massive heart attack and it doesn't look good. Couple all of this with the evils of Drumpf, the moral bankruptcy of the GOP, a proven serial perjurer and alleged sexual assaulter (multiple allegations) on the Supreme Court, and…well, I could go on for a good LONG while on this, but let’s try to keep things chill and find something positive. Anyhow, be kind to each other, mind your health and sanity, eat some tacos, keep your pets safe, cherish the ones you love, hydrate, and read some great comics. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magiks 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.

Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.

Comics Lust

Monster Mash (Part 2)

Way back at the start of “Comics Lust,” we talked about our favorite classic monsters, or rather, those based on the Universal Monsters like Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula, and the Wolfman; all of the ones we looked at came from Marvel’s stable of books. But they weren’t the only ones dabbling in the mythos immortalized by the classic black and films of way back when. The other half of the Big Two, DC Comics, had their share of titles about vampires, man-made monsters, and other things that go bump in the night, and that is what we are looking at here today.

Now, Marvel had their werewolf book (Werewolf by Night), they had their vampire book (Tomb of Dracula), the had their Frankenstein’s monster book (The Monster of Frankenstein), they had their mummy book (Supernatural Thrillers Starring the Living Mummy), and they had their zombie book (Tales of the Zombie), but DC thought better of having multiple monster titles on the shelf and asked themselves why not put a bunch of monsters in one book? Thus the Creature Commandos were born.
Originally appearing in 1980 in the pages of Weird War Tales #93 (written by J.M. DeMatteis and others, and illustrated by Pat Broderick and many others), the Creature Commandos were created to aid in the more supernatural aspects of World War II, and had the following lineup:

  • Warren Griffith (a werewolf)
  • Pvt. Elliot “Lucky” Taylor (Frankenstein’s monster)
  • Sgt. Vincent Velcro (a vampire)
  • Dr. Myrna Rhodes (a gorgon…aka Dr. Medusa)
  • Lt. Matthew Shrieve (a normal, red-blooded, all-American soldier)
  • J.A.K.E. (Aka the G.I. Robot, who joined later)

Back when I was a kid, I had a bunch of Weird War Tales issues that someone gave to me as my starter comic book collection, but I only ended up with a couple of the issues that featured the Creature Commandos as you never really knew when they would pop up again. Dang, though, I really wanted all of them, and who in their right mind wouldn’t want them? You had monsters fighting monsters, monsters fighting human monsters (ie. Nazi scum), dinosaurs on Dinosaur Island, and they even battled Atlantian robots. Thankfully, you don’t need to track down the miscellaneous issues (Weird War Tales #93, 97, 100, 102, 105, 108–112, 114–119, 121, and 124) but you can instead pick up The Creature Commandos TPB and get them all in one fell swoop!

This, however, was not the end of the Creature Commandos, Denizens, not by a longshot…

In 2000, Timothy Truman along with the art team of Scot Eaton and Ray Kryssing, brought back our favorite wartime monsters in the pages of the eight-issue Creature Commandos…which is news to me. For this series, the commandos are found by Superman aboard Brainiac’s ship and brought back to Earth where they continue the good fight. This time, Shrieve is not in the picture, the surviving members have cool code names, and they are joined by a few new members:

  • Aten (a mummy communications specialist)
  • The Bogman (the Creature from the Black Lagoon)
  • Gunner Mackey ( a cyborg of a man who died in WWII)
  • Captain. Lucius Hunter (the new normal, red-blooded, all-American leader)

Unfortunately, there is no trade for this series and you need to hit the back issue bins to find them, but you best get to them before I do, as I am quite interested in picking them up.

Eleven years later, during the Flashpoint event, Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #1–3 arrived with a both familiar and new cast of characters to thrill and chill, including the Bride of Frankenstein and a female amphibian creature. Some members die, some lose their powers, and others go on to fight in the Atlantis/Amazon war. The series was written by Donist World favorite Jeff Lemire in 2011 and had three different sets of artists for three issues, which is kind of mind-boggling, but it is still one heck of a read. The great thing is that although you might be bummed about the various deaths by the end, you don’t need to worry your pretty little head about the state of some of the monsters, because things get reset in…

Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. also appeared in 2011 as part of the New 52 and was also written by Jeff Lemire for issues #1–9 and by Matt Kindt for issues #0, 10–16 with a luckier go of an artist this time around with Alberto Ponticelli illustrating every issue. Here the Creature Commandos are special agents of S.H.A.D.E. (Super Human Advanced Defense Executive), a group comprised of mostly monsters who protect the world while remaining hidden in the shadows. This time around, we have Frankenstein (no longer called Frankenstein’s monster and taking on the shorter name of Frankenstein), the Bride (Bride of Frankenstein), Vincent Velcoro (the vampire), Warren Griffith (the werewolf), Dr. Mina Mazursky (female amphibian woman), Khalis (a mysterious mummy medic), and Dr. Ray Palmer (the Atom, and resident scientist). The monster-stomping exploits of this monstrous team can be found in single issues or in the two trades.

The Creature Commandos also had a bunch of appearances in other titles over the years, including in 2006’s Seven Soldiers Frankenstein (written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Doug Mahnke), which I sadly have to admit to not yet having read, which is something I will remedy in the near future with the lovely omnibus!

And speaking of vampires…

The “I…Vampire” storyline was originally serialized in the pages of House of Mystery #290, 291, 293, 295, 297, 299, 302, 304–319, and Brave and the Bold #195. I…Vampire was also created by J.M. DeMatteis with help along the way from other writers and a whole mess of artists. I had a couple of these issues, but never enough to have any idea of what the heck was going on. Thankfully, the recently collected trade made it possible to read the entire story. I…Vampire follows the vampiric Andrew Bennett and an assortment of human sympathizers as they track down the evil vampiress Mary Seward, Andrew’s former love. Can Andrew save Mary from herself? You’ll have to read it to see.

Then, in 2011, also part of the New 52, was I, Vampire, written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino. Trust me when I say that I LOVED this series when it first started, Denizens, but alas it was canceled and rushed to a hasty conclusion. I knew things were going to get rocky when Constantine showed up in issue four, Batman in issues five and six, and then a crossover with another series in issues seven and eight. Dang. I can only imagine the story we could have had if Fialkov and Sorrentino—this was my first exposure to his gorgeous art—had been allowed to tell the story they wanted to tell without the interference of guest appearances and crossovers. That said, even though the series ended way before I wanted it to, I still greatly enjoyed issues 0–19, and you can as well with the three trades. Again, Sorrentino’s art is stunning and Fialkov’s story compelling as this rebooted version of Andrew Bennett and Mary (now called Mary Queen of Blood)
Seward’s tragic conflict of love and hate.

That’s it for this installment. Thank you for reading and see you next time.


Saturday, October 6, 2018

Comics Lust 10/06/2018

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/birthday planning committee specialist Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Well, yes, it was my birthday yesterday. It was fine, I had to work, but my coworkers got me a couple of beers and some chocolates that are currently calling to me, which was very nice, and I got a ton of “Happy Birthday” wishes. Then that evening, Amy the intern (my wife) took me out to Bibi Ji for dinner, which is freaking amazeballs and I super-sized the experience with a beer pairing. Ah…Bibi Ji…I love you. We then went home where my puppy executive team had a bottle of Dragon’s Milk warming to cellar temperature and the next episode for our rewatch of the first season of Game of Thrones queued up despite getting us to the part that really upsets Reverse Obie—he still watched it, though. Anyhow, be kind to each other, mind your health and sanity, eat some tacos, keep your pets safe, cherish the ones you love, hydrate, and read some great comics. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magiks 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.

Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.

Comics Lust

The (Number) Ones that Started it All (Part 2)

All it takes is one tremendous comic issue to pull you wholeheartedly into a series. I’ve read plenty of comics where I like what I read month(ish) in and month(ish) out, but then something happens along the way that gives you that “whoa!” feeling, that decisive moment that changes a series from one you enjoy reading, to one you can’t live without. But sometimes, every once in a while, a debut issue arrives that so thoroughly affects you, that you skip the like stage and go immediately to the love stage. Here, we celebrate some first issues that will make you a believer before you even get to the final page of the book.

Preacher #1

(Written by Garth Ennis, illustrated by Steve Dillon, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Clem Robbins, originally published in 1995 by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint)
I honestly can’t tell you what compelled me to pick up this issue. Glenn Fabry’s cover is striking but doesn’t tell you all that much other than the comic will touch on religion somehow. It had the Vertigo stamp of Donist approval, which carried a fair amount of goodwill at the time. Or, it might have been a slow comic week for me and I had a few extra dollars weighing me down. All I know is that I had something special once I started reading, something truly unique that took only a few pages to suck me in completely. Actually, it only took three pages for Ennis and Dillon to thoroughly capture my attention. It’s their characters that did it: Tulip, the ex-girlfriend with a gun; Jesse, the one who left her and who became a preacher only to kill a town; and Cassidy, a foul-mouthed, carefree and careless Irishman who’s more than he seems. The kicker is that all they do for those three pages is calmly talk about literally finding God. In those pages, Ennis’s dialogue brings such life to the characters that you get a strong sense of who they are and what they’re about. You also know they each have a story to tell, and boy howdy are those stories a doozy. Angels, Demons, new beings, a missing god, the Saint of Killers, murder, and mayhem all contribute to what will probably always be my favorite comic series of all time. The crazy thing, Denizens…it only gets better and better from here. Get the trades or get the hardcovers, just be sure you read this series.

Rumble #1

(Written by John Arcudi, illustrated by James Harren, colored by Dave Stewart, lettered by Chris Eliopoulos, designed by Vincent Kukua, originally published in 2014 by Image Comics)
I’ve always had a soft spot for scarecrows. Not the Wizard of Oz goofy kind of scarecrow, but the kind you find at Halloween, or in horror films, or real life creepy ones presiding over a field of corn in the Midwest. So, when I heard of a comic with a scarecrow warrior god that fights monsters…there was really no decision to be made as to whether or not I was going to buy it. The story opens with a bartender at closing time talking to the final patron for the evening. The patron leaves only to run into a scarecrow with a massive sword who then chops off the patron’s arm and chases him back into the bar. From there…things get weird in the best of ways. Harren’s exaggerated motions and speed lines are so thrilling and keep you whipping through the book until you sadly realize you are at the cliffhanger ending; there’s no way you won’t return to see what happens next. At four trades released to date, you too will eagerly be awaiting the fifth to see what happens to Rathraq, Bobby, Del, and Timah.

Extremity #1

(Everythinged by Daniel Warren Johnson, colored by Mike Spicer, lettered by Rus Wooton, originally published in 2017 by Image Comics)
This one hooked me almost as much Preacher, which is high praise indeed. A mixture of Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Mad Max: Fury Road this brutal look at the dark path of revenge follows a young woman, Thea, whose purpose in life was viciously taken from her along with the life of her mother and her home. Now a nomad along with her brother, father, and the rest of her tribe, Thea seeks to brutally payback those who hurt them and is at risk of corrupting her soul. Exciting battles mixed with endearing moments and amazing character and monster designs with intricate backgrounds and dynamic sound effects instantly made me a fan of DWJ and had me seeking out his other works—like the tremendous Ghost Fleet and Space Mullet. The thing is that it’s not just the amazing art that makes Extremity so compelling, but the story and characters are equally so; DWJ is the real deal. Now I just need to figure out how to get a commission from this amazing talent as I wait for the soon-to-be-released Murder Falcon. Two trades are readily available, but I think we all deserve a comprehensive, oversized hardcover to do this series justice. Maybe someday…

Locke and Key #1

(Written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, colored by Jay Fotos, lettered by Robbie Robins, originally published in 2008 by IDW)
I lagged and I lagged and I lagged on Locke and Key. I repeatedly heard of how amazing a series it is and how everyone must read it, but still, I didn’t pick it up. But around the time the third hardcover and trade had released, I finally ordered a digital copy of the first issue for $.99. It was amazing and I ordered the first hardcover, “Welcome to Lovecraft.” I hammered through that beautifully designed treasure, ordered the next two hardcovers, and prepared for a long, cold wait until the fourth, which I knew I would have to own. You need to be prepared for the fact that this is a horror title and that the first issue is going to be rough—my goodness, it is rough—as we join the Locke children (Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode) at the funeral for their father who was brutally murdered. We then see what happened to the father, their mother, and to them and it is truly devastating. After the survivors move to their family mansion on the East Coast, the youngest, Bode, finds a mysterious key that grants him a strange ability. There are six volumes, both hardcover and trade, or even better, the three Locke & Key Master Edition volumes, in total and I suspect that it will only take the first issue to convince you to pick up the whole shebang, which I strongly encourage you to do. Dang, this book is a masterwork that will put your emotions through the paces, but you will be thankful for how it affects you; I think I need to dive back in soon.

Chew #1

(Written and lettered by John Layman, illustrated and colored by Rob Guillory, originally published in 2009 by Image Comics)
What happens when the avian flu wipes out millions of people in America? The government outlaws poultry and the FDA becomes one of the most powerful agencies in the world. What happens when FDA Agent Tony Chu, a Cibopath, gets put on the case to stop an illegal fried chicken joint only to discover one of the chefs is a serial killer? To answer that question, you probably need to know what the heck a Cibopath actually is. Well, a Cibopath is a person who gains a psychic impression from everything he eats—except for beets—which means if Tony eats an apple he learns about the orchard and the person who picked it. But if he eats meat he gets a less favorable impression of what happened to the poor animal. If he’s on a case where a murderer dies...then one or two little bites might just help find where the killer’s victims are located. Yeah, Chew is the most unique book I have ever read, which is saying a lot. But here’s the thing: Chew might sound like a horror book, but believe me when I say it is much more a crazy comedy than it is scary. Throughout its 60 issue run and multiple one-shots, Layman and Guillory had me laughing out loud from the humorous dialogue, absurd situations, and food-based powers as well as from Guillory’s amazing cartooning and countless sight gags hidden throughout almost every panel. You can read Chew as trades, hardcover Omnivore editions, or the super-hard-to-find-and-pricy Smorgasbord editions, just be prepared to laugh, to be grossed out, to cry, and to never ever know what to expect from this nutty but brilliantly created series.

That’s it for this chapter. No idea what the subject will be next week, but we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it. See you then.


Saturday, September 29, 2018

Comics Lust 9/29/2018

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/autumn is coming Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister).

Anyhow, be kind to each other, mind your health and sanity, eat some tacos, keep your pets safe, cherish the ones you love, hydrate, and read some great comics. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magiks 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.

Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.

Comics Lust

The (Number) Ones that Started it All (Part 1)

The list of comic book series that I absolutely love and could never live without just gets bigger and bigger as time goes on. With many, I jumped smack dab into the middle of the fray and had to forage through newsstands and grocery store spinner racks in the hope of finding great comics, which was the only way of reading comics back in the days before the interwebs and comics on demand and the LCS. Other series on my list took a few issues to get into the flow of things or to fall in love with the characters or the world. But then, some comic creators deliver a comic that grabs you by the shirt and shakes you to attention with the very first issue—some manage to do so within the first few pages!—and that is what we are here to celebrate today: the truly exceptional first issue.

Descender #1

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, originally published in 2015 by Image Comics)
Space Opera? Check. Robots including a robotic dog named Bandit? Check. Watercolored artwork reminiscent of the best comics of the ’80s? Check. Jeff Lemire? Check. A story so compelling that I reread the first issue immediately after reading it? Check. I could keep going, but Descender had everything I could want from a comic and more, which is why this Donist World Darling has topped my “Year-End Roundup” every year since its debut in 2015. This thrilling emotional roller coaster ride of a sci-fi powerhouse got better and better with each issue, both in story and oh-so-gorgeous art. Descender tells the story of the robot boy TIM-21 who awakens from a ten-year slumber to a universe that had been ravaged by planet-sized robots known as Harvesters. Since that devastating moment, robots have been outlawed and hunted out of fear and for profit, but TIM-21 might hold the key to the Harvesters and their motives. I fell in love with nearly every character in this series and continued to be thrilled by all 32 issues in the first part of the tale. Now, with the second chapter, titled Ascender, set to debut in early 2019 with a massive shift in focus that I will not spoil here, it looks like I have some time to reread all six trades to prepare for that eagerly awaited new first issue. Everyone should be reading this fine comic.

Venom #1

(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Ryan Stegman, inked by JP Mayer, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles, originally published in 2018 by Marvel Comics)
I read a comic book about Venom and I not only liked it, I loved it! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never had anything against the character, I always thought he was fine and all, it’s just that I never had much interest. Enter Donny Cates. I was a little late to the Cates train with first exposure to his work being the mind-bending Atomahawk #0, and then the amazing Ghost Fleet and his fantastic run on Doctor Strange. So, I thought, Why not give Venom a try? I’m so very glad I did. You don’t need to know the character’s long, convoluted history other than he is a superhero/anti-hero who had troubles with Spider-Man in the past and is seeking to redeem himself by doing good in his own way. This horror/thriller/action comic brings in a host of twisted symbiotes as well as a mysterious new threat alongside military intrigue and leaving me with a thought I never expected: When the heck does the next issue arrive? A trade of the monumental first arc—issues #1–6—drops the first week of December. You’re going to want to check this one out.

Prez #1

(Written by Mark Russell, illustrated by Ben Caldwell, inked by Mark Morales, colored by Jeremy Lawson, lettered by Travis Lanham, originally published in 2015 by DC Comics)
This first issue blew me away. I knew nothing of Russell, who would go on from this critically acclaimed series to the critically acclaimed The Flintstones, and then to the critically acclaimed The Snagglepuss Chronicles. The main difference between Prez and these later works is that Prez only got through the first arc of what was a planned two arc series. Needless to say, I was devastated once I learned that issues 7–12 would never see the light of day. This was in spite of the aforementioned critical acclaim and the devastating events of the then-looming 2016 election to which Prez would have been all too timely and would have provided some much-needed laughter. This series is about the ridiculous combination of harmful politics, corporate interest, and social media leading to a teenage girl becoming President of the US. Russell injects a healthy dose of satire and social commentary on the state of modern politics, economics, classism, corporate influence, healthcare, warfare, and so much more. The first issue had me rolling with laughter as my teeth clenched in anxiety over just how true this futuristic world actually was given the current state of the country. This is only compounded by Caldwell’s joyful illustrations and Lawson’s vibrant colors contrasted against the stark reality underlying Russell’s wickedly sharp commentary. What’s even more brutal is that the amazing six-issue trade included a “sneak peek” of the never-released seventh issue, but don’t let the fact that the series never received the conclusion it so richly deserved dissuade you from checking it out. What we actually did get to see is so very worth the read.

The Stuff of Legend #1

(Written by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith, illustrated by C.P. Wilson III, designed and colored by Jon Conkling and Michael De Vito, originally published in 2009 by Th3rd World Studios)
In 1944, from the depths of an ominous closet, The Boogeyman kidnaps a young boy into the world of the Dark. Lamenting the loss of their owner and friend, the boy’s toys band together along with his dog Scout to enter the Dark to find him. Along the way, they encounter allies and enemies amongst long-forgotten toys and legitimate dangers aplenty that claim the life of one of their own. Now, this one, Denizens, this one grabbed me on more levels than any book ever has before. Not only do we have the dark, compelling story with jaw-dropping artwork, The Stuff of Legend has a unique square format (8-in. X 8-in.), a sepia-toned coloring aesthetic, an artificially-aged look, and an overwhelming feeling that you are holding a truly special comic. Four trades have released over the past eight years, with a fifth volume (hopefully) wrapping soon before we enter the final chapter of this haunting-yet-captivating series. With a handful of issues left until completion, a board game on the horizon, and rumblings of a live-action film, The Stuff of Legend is a grown-up answer to that question we used to ask ourselves as children: What do my toys do when I am not around?

Supreme Power #1

(Written by J. Michael Straczynski, illustrated by Gary Frank, inked by Jon Sibal, colored by Chris Sotomayor, lettered by VC’s Rus Wooton and Chris Eliopoulos, originally published in 2003 by Marvel Comics)
I was a HUGE fan of Mark Gruenwald and Bob Hall’s 12-issue limited series The Squadron Supreme, so when I heard that the Marvel Max line was releasing a reimagined and modernized version of Marvel’s favorite DC analogues, I absolutely had to check it out. Supreme Power did not disappoint. This fantastic first issue deals with the question of what happens when a kindly couple finds a baby inside a rocket that has crash landed on their farm. Well, the government arrives, erases the couple, seizes the baby that looks human yet has a markedly different DNA structure, and raises him in secret, with fake parents, and with a steady diet of propaganda and ideals. Then the child’s powers begin to manifest as does his realization that his entire life has been a lie. Heavy stuff, Denizens, and I love every page of this issue as we get a glimpse of other superpowered characters who will slowly appear in subsequent issues. Frank’s art and storytelling add to the drama of this issue and although it is relatively action-free, the escalating tension of the situation makes this issue and the series as a whole incredibly compelling. You can read the three trades of the first 18 issues, and then jump to the tragically unfinished Squadron Supreme: The Pre-War Years that contained seven issues. Dang, Denizens, this whole series just jumped to the top of my reread pile, I can’t wait.

That’s it for now, and I’ll see you next week when I pick up with some more great number ones. Oh, and speaking of Gary Frank, Doomsday Clock #7 (written by some up-and-coming guy named Geoff Johns) is freaking great and continues to have me frantic to see what comes next. Be sure to check it out!