Monday, January 20, 2020

Comics Lust 1/20/2020

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/decade delighter Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). No intro this week, as there’s a TON of stuff to get through, so pour yourself some water (or a beer for a mostly-dry January), sit back, and afterward check out some great comics. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magics mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

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

Favorite Comics of the Last Decade

First off, this is not an original idea of ours. Nope. We have to give credit where credit is due as my pals at 11 O’Clock Comics (ummm…yeah, they don’t know me but I’ve known them for years now, so…pals?) recently had an episode (#646 to be exact) where they talked about their 20 favorite comics of the past decade. So, my puppy executive team and I got together over some beers and nachos and decided to totally ripoff expand upon that great idea. We began Donist World back in March 2010 and although we didn’t really begin reviewing and telling y’all about all of the wonderful comics consuming our brainwavages for a few months after our start date, nine and a half years easily rounds up to a decade of existence in our minds.

Being comic book nuts, we have to lay some ground rules as there always has to be rules around these sorts of things—it’s in our nature, why fight it? Anyhow, here are the rules and specifics:
  1. There will be 20 comics on the list
  2. The majority of the comic series, if not the entirety of them, needs to have been published within the 2010–2019 decade
  3. Original graphic novels (OGNs) definitely count
  4. If a 24-page one-shot blew our minds, then it can dang well be on the list
  5. The comic cannot be a reprint if the original material was released in an earlier decade
  6. I will provide links to the best/easiest ways to obtain a collection of the works whenever possible
  7. Trying to order these 20 titles into number one, number two, number three, etc. could quite possibly kill me, so, I’m giving them all equal weight and putting them in alphabetical order
  8. There are quite a few comics that started off strong, that would have been on this list, but for whatever reason, the creators just stopped making them. No explanations. No words of encouragement. Nothing. I will not be mentioning those books.
  9. There will be a bunch of “Honorable Mentions” because dropping many of the titles from the list caused me actual pain and y’all still need to know about them
That’s about it for the rules and disclosures, let’s get to our Favorite Comics of the Last Decade:

1) Black Hammer

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dean Ormston, published by Dark Horse Publishing beginning in 2016)
I totally regret not buying the first issue when I saw it on the stands. Oh well. Better late than never and the hardcover collection is the way to go. A bunch of heroes (Silver Age amalgamations of Marvel and DC heroes) defeat the greatest threat to all of humanity and vanish from the world to appear on a farm in a rural community from which they cannot escape. I also count Lemire’s various miniseries tie-ins (Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil and Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows) as part of the main series as those are every bit as spectacular as the main title.

2) Chew

(Written by John Layman, illustrated by Rob Guillory, published by Image Comics beginning in 2009 and ended in 2016)
Gross, disgusting, hilarious, touching, and thrilling, Chew is unlike any comic you will ever read. Detective Tony Chu is a Cibopath: one who takes on the memories/impressions of whatever he eats. If he consumes an apple, he will know where the apple came from and who picked it. If he consumes a little bite of a murder victim…well, he’ll know how that person met their end. Add in the threat of aliens, banned chicken consumption, a possible vampire, a whole mess of weirdos with food-based superpowers, and a murderous luchador chicken named “Poyo,” and you have one of the most creative and bonkers comic book series I have ever read. It’s also finger-licking amazing.

3) Daytripper

(Written and illustrated by Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon, published by DC/Vertigo Comics beginning in 2010)
Daytripper was very much outside of my wheelhouse at the time. Most of the comics I read back then gravitated toward superhero or horror comics but for some reason the unassuming image on the first issue cover of a man sitting on a bench with his dog caught my attention. What I found within the pages was a lyrical work of visual and written beauty around the life of an obituary writer named Brás de Olivia Domingos and his desire to be so much more than he is in his current station in life. That first issue ended and I was utterly floored. I had no idea what to expect in the second issue, and what followed exceeded everything I imagined. I desperately need to reread this work of pure beauty and I’m kind of getting choked up just thinking about it. So very good.

4) Descender/Ascender

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Ngyuen, published by Image Comics beginning in 2015)
Okay, you’ve been hearing me carry on and on and on about the heavenly Descender and its successor Ascender for over four years now. Without error, I mention this epic space opera in issue form, in collected form, at every year-end roundup. Basically, at every opportunity I can mention this gorgeously watercolored treasure, I am there to sing its praises. The first half is a sci-fi adventure where monstrous robots annihilate large swaths of the populace across the nine planets of the United Galactic Council, while the second half (still releasing) is a fantasy tale of witches, vampires, and a universe of limited tech. Combined, this is my favorite comic of the past four years.

5) Detective Comics

(Written by Greg Rucka and then Scott Snyder, illustrated by J.H. Williams III and then Jock and Francesco Francavilla, published by DC Comics beginning in 2009)
I might be cheating a bit with the Greg Rucka run as the majority of that landmark series that focused on the updated and amazing Batwoman first appeared in 2009, but following Kate Kane’s story as gorgeously illustrated by Williams III (one that would spawn a television show that I need to see and inspired girls, women, and this here Donist) within the same series was Snyder’s dark take on Dick Grayson taking up the mantle of the Bat. Very much a noir/serial killer tale, Jock and Francavilla (who became one of my all-time favorite artists after this comic) delivered a nervewracking Batman tale that brought the Dark Knight back onto my radar.

6) Extremity

(Everythinged by Daniel Warren Johnson, published by Image Comics beginning in 2017)
I had been hearing about this one for months before I dove into the first trade. It’s safe to say that this series changed me. Warren Johnson became my favorite artist within those first few pages and this insane Miyazaki film / Mad Max: Fury Road of a hybrid comic totally blew me away. I reached that final page of the first trade and I was desperate to see how it all ended in the second and final collection…which thankfully arrived two months later. Beautiful and kinetic illustrations with an impeccable story Extremity is one of those series I will read every other year for the rest of my life.

7) God Country

(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Geoff Shaw, originally published by Image Comics beginning in 2017)
 Another title to which I was very late to the party is the amazingly glorious God Country. With but six quick issues, you are in and out on this touching and epic tale of a man who is slowly wasting away from Alzheimer’s only to have his memories and self brought back to his grieving family when a god in the form of a sword appears in his hand to fight a great evil. Able to be both fantastic and down to Earth at the same time, God Country was a wonderful surprise that thrilled me just as much when I read it again yesterday as it did years ago.

8) Locke & Key

(Written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, published by IDW beginning in 2008 and ending in 2013)
Talk about barely making it onto the list, but the incomparable Locke & Key series saw the bulk of the issues release this past decade. What a series this is, Denizens. After a truly horrific turn of events that leaves their father dead and their mother traumatized, the Locke kids move to a mysterious mansion where strange, magical keys offer a host of experiences, but an evil lurks in the well house, whose influence knows no bounds and whose desperation to escape will torment the Lockes unless they can find a way to survive a new round of horrors. I cannot wait for the soon to arrive Netflix television series and I also cannot wait to reread one of the best horror comics not just of this decade, but of all time.

9) Mister Miracle

(Written by Tom King, illustrated by Mitch Gerads, published by DC Comics beginning in 2017)
If you read comics, then you already know how great this 12-issue series is. If you don’t read comics or you aren’t into superhero books or what have you, then please take my word on it that this is still a must-read book that you need to experience. Scott Free, the greatest escape artist of all time, a man who escaped the hellscapes of Apokolips has met his biggest challenge to date: escaping his own life. But something is not right and Scott must uncover what is real and what is not and whether escape is what he truly wants. Mister Miracle is a superhero book unlike any other and one that people will be talking about for years to come.

10) My Favorite Thing is Monsters

(Everythinged by Emil Ferris, published by Fantagraphics beginning in 2017)
This one came out of nowhere and completely rocked my world. Some things to keep in mind: this is Ferris’s first published work, she was in her 50s at the time of its creation, in her 40s she contracted West Nile fever and was paralyzed in her hands for a stretch of time, and My Favorite Thing is Monsters was drawn predominantly with ballpoint pens on notebook paper. Her art is unlike anything I have ever seen and given the unforgiving nature of ballpoint pens, it is something that few others could ever hope to accomplish. Couple this with the captivating mystery/slice of life story, and you have one of the best works of art ever created that just so happens to be in comic book format. You owe it to yourself to get this treasure before volume two drops in September of this year.

11) Prez

(Written by Mark Russell, illustrated by Ben Caldwell, published by DC Comics beginning in 2015)
Wait, didn’t I say I would not be mentioning comics that the creators never finished? Yes, I did, but this case is different. The creators wanted to finish the second half of this 12-issue series, but DC Comics pulled the rug out from under them with no explanation to the adoring masses. Prez offered a satirical look at politics/big business/big pharma and was a critical success that this Donist fell head over heels in love with. It is the story of Beth the “Corndog Girl” who through the power of social media and the stupidity of established and out-of-touch politicians becomes the President of the United States. I’m sure Prez’s sales numbers weren’t the best, but given the critical success and with a little marketing push during the leadup to the Dotard becoming our President, Prez could have been so much bigger than it was allowed to be. Although the tale is not complete—and may never be complete—it is well worth your time and you, too, will be dreaming of a world where “Corndog Girl” is the actual leader of the free world.

12) Saga

(Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, published by Image Comics beginning in 2012)
Saga changed everything by starting the Image boom with a flurry of new titles from immensely popular creators. Yes, The Walking Dead and Chew came before it, but Saga is one of the few to persevere and stick to an actual release schedule amongst the many titles that followed in its wake. This grand space opera has been described as “Romeo and Juliet in space” and is very much that. A magical man with horns falls in love with a technologically advanced woman with wings and they have a baby. The problem is that the wings and the horns have the strongest of enmities and the people of the galaxy must never know that peace, let alone love, is a possibility. Laugh out loud funny, laugh out loud uncomfortable, devastatingly tragic, impossibly uplifting, this series has it all and you are certain to fall completely in love with the myriad characters and there’s a good chance you will be sobbing at various points in this wonderful tale; once you start, you are in 100%. Hopefully, the creators return from their well-deserved break later this year. …I still want to know how Staples brings her stunning visuals to life.

13) Silver Surfer: Black

(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Tradd Moore, published by Marvel Comics beginning in 2019)
I love love love this comic. I’ve always been a Silver Surfer fan, but Cates brings a tale of cosmic adventure and insanity that ties the Surfer to the world of Venom with Knull the God of the Symbiotes in the best of ways. And trust me, the story enough is reason to buy Silver Surfer: Black, but wait until you feast your peepers on Moore’s art. Oh…my…glob…it is a tripadelic visual feast from which you will never want to escape that is launched into the realm of all things heavenly by Dave Stewart’s flat-yet-vibrant colors. Definitely get the Treasury Edition so you can see the art nice and large as it was meant to be seen.

14) Starlight

(Written by Mark Millar, illustrated by Goran Parloff, published by Image Comics beginning in 2015)
Duke McQueen was once a space-traveling hero. He saved kingdoms, rescued space queens, and fought dastardly aliens but he then came back to Earth, got married, and had kids. No one believes him when he mentions his exploits. Now, his wife has passed, his kids are too busy to bother, and his life looks to continue to be inconsequential…until allies from across the galaxy reach out, requiring his help. This. Is. So. Good. When many comics dwell on the dark and on lost hope, Starlight is a ray of sunshine that will have you cheering this former hero as he strives to save the day one last time.

15) Sweet Tooth

(Everythinged by Jeff Lemire, published by DC/Vertigo Comics beginning in 2009 and ending in 2013)
We recently binge-read this fantastic series a few weeks ago and talked about it here. As uplifting and positive as the previous book Starlight is, do not expect that with Sweet Tooth. Well, to be fair, there are a few points that are uplifting, but just be prepared to have your heart broken more than you catch yourself smiling. This is the story of Gus, a hybrid child, who is the cross between a boy and a deer who holds a devastating secret and possibly the answer to a world where humanity is on the brink of collapse and the world has become a harsh, cold place. Think The Road with slight fantastical bend and characters you can actually love. A definite must-read, but one you need to be ready for.

16) Thanos Wins

(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Geoff Shaw, published by Marvel Comics beginning in 2018)
You all know how much I love Jim Starlin’s take on Warlock and Thanos and how I frequently say that only he has been able to capture the majesty of those two characters. Right? Well, Cates came along with these six issues that show he is a definite exception to the rule. Here, Thanos faces off against his greatest foe (not spoiling) and we are also introduced to the Cosmic Ghost Rider whose origins (he has a few) will take you by surprise. I just finished rereading this compelling-as-hell book this morning and love it even more than my first time through. Shaw’s depictions of the Mad Titan, Cosmic Ghost Rider, and the “Silver” Surfer (once again, check out Silver Surfer: Black) are sure to tickle your cosmic awareness and you will understand why Cates is one of Marvel’s powerhouse creators.

17) The Fade Out

(Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips, published by Image Comics beginning in 2014)
A dead starlet, a writer with a possible career-ending secret, Hollywood blacklists, questionable studio head practices, and many, many other dark secrets lurk in this murder mystery of epic proportions. You have hopefully already been reading the masterful Criminal over the past couple of decades, but if you want a quick, 12-issue look into the seedy side of Hollywood, look no further than this noir tale of lies, corruption, and murder.

18) The Sixth Gun

(Written by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Brian Hurtt, published by Oni Press beginning in 2010)
What do you get if you combine The Lord of the Rings with a Western tale? Why, The Sixth Gun, of course. Here Drake Sinclair and Becky Montcrief come into possession of one of six devastatingly powerful guns that when combined can bring about a terrible new world of the owner’s choosing. Our heroes will face monsters, spirits, and all manner of foul beings changed by the power of the guns and it is up to Drake and Becky to end the vicious cycle once and for all. 50 fantastic issues and a host of miniseries comprise this grossly underrated adventure that will thrill from beginning to end.

19) The Vision

(Written by Tom King, illustrated by Gabriel Hernandez Walta, published by Marvel Comics beginning in 2015)
Before his hit, critically-acclaimed series Mister Miracle, Tom King had the hit, critically-acclaimed series The Vision, which is every bit as deserving of the accolades it has received. Yet another 12-issue comic that someone who is not a fan of superhero comics can get behind, The Vision follows the Avenger known as The Vision, who is a powerful synthezoid who longs to be more human and thus creates a wife, son, daughter, and even a dog to round out the family he so desperately desires. They move to a neighborhood and into house with a white picket fence, they meet their neighbors, and The Vision fights super villains when need be, but all is not well in the suburbs as something begins to go wrong with the members of his family and his wife’s dark secret starts to come to light. The Vision is a mind-bending look at what it is to be “normal” and one that will stay top of mind for a good long while after you finish it for the first time.

20) Thor by Jason Aaron

(Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated by many, published by Marvel Comics beginning in 2012)
After being one of my favorite characters growing up, I had given up on Thor for a few decades until I saw that Jason Aaron was about to bring him back to prominence. He did so beyond my greatest of hopes. We got the God Butcher, Malekith the Dark Elf’s return, Mangog, and a new Thor that had those of small mind screaming in rage and those open to new and great stories cheering to the halls of Valhalla. The entirety of Aaron’s run is a quest of epic proportions that fans of Odinson and newly minted fans of Jane Foster will be reading for years to come.

Honorable Mentions:

  1. Amulet (Everythinged by Kazu Kibuishi, published by Graphix)
  2. Deadly Class (Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, published by Image Comics)
  3. The Flintstones (Written by Mark Russel, illustrated by Steve Pugh, published by DC Comics)
  4. Hawkeye (Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by David Aja, published by Marvel Comics)
  5. The Immortal Hulk (Written by Al Ewing, illustrated by Joe Bennett, published by Marvel Comics)
  6. Manifest Destiny (Written by Chris Dingess, illustrated by Matthew Roberts, published by Image Comics)
  7. Rachel Rising (Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio)
  8. Secret Six (Written by Gail Simone, illustrated by Dale Eaglesham, published by DC Comics)
  9. The Omega Men (Written by Tom King, illustrated by Barnaby Bagenda, published by DC Comics)
  10. The Private Eye (Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Marcos Martin, published by Panel Syndicate)

Thank you for following me these past ten years. I will see you next time!


Saturday, January 11, 2020

Donist World 2019 Year-End Roundup! (Part 2)

(Sung to the tune of Enigma’s “Sadeness”)

Chanting. Ummm…yeah, uh…a bunch of Latin-sounding stuff that I don’t understand, but the perfect soundtrack for contemplating the things we love. Welcome to…

Donist World 2019 Year-End Roundup (Part 2)!

Hey there, Denizens, and a soon to be Happy New Year! I am joined as ever by CFO Reverse Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier, whose surly attitude changed for the better after his fur colors swapped when a corrupt businessman’s curse backfired) and by marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/New Year health fanatic Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). We hope you enjoy the top 20 heavenly things of 2019 while Reverse Obie, Tulip, and I take our past-due “long winter’s nap” before mapping out the course of our lives for the coming year.

***Probably NOT Spoilers Below***

If you have a moment, check out our past FSoH/SitW Year-End Roundups to see all things heavenly including Part 1 for 2019. Now, keep in mind that some of the items listed below might have come out before 2019, but 2019 was the year that we read, watched, drank, or ate them, thus their inclusion here. We at Donist World, thank you for reading and hope you enjoy our selections as much as we do.

Donist World 20 Heavenly Things (In No Particular Order)

1) ’80s Anime (Television and Movies)

As comic book and sci-fi fans (i.e. nerds), especially those of us creeping on in years, we tend to gravitate toward the nostalgic and our remembrances of things from our youth, things that really created a lasting impression. Returning to these things as adults, well, sometimes our fond memories just don’t stand up to the test of time (the original Star Wars trilogy, for instance…simmer down, simmer down, they just don’t thrill me the same way as when I was a kid, I still love them, though). The great thing is that some shows that wowed me back in the day actually do stand up to how I remember them and such is the case with much of the ’80s anime I loved so much. Here are some I revisited in 2019:
  • Riding Bean - An Original Video Animation (OVA) from 1989 that you can watch by subscribing to the Night Flight service or by buying the available DVD. The story is fairly simple, but thrilling: Bean Bandit is a driver with his gun-toting sidekick Rally Vincent getting into all sorts of trouble. Trailer
  • Bubblegum Crisis - Eight episodes of OVA fun from 1987 with armored woman protecting the city from the menace of rogue “Boomers,” robotic workers that get twisted and go insane. Also on Night Flight and a Blu-ray is available. Trailer
  • Gunbuster - Released in 1988–1989, Gunbuster is one of my all-time favorite anime series. Everyone who likes anime must check it out, but I am sorry to say that the DVD and Blu-rays are OOP and I don’t believe these six tremendous episodes are streaming anywhere as of now. Sorry. Trailer
  • Fist of the North Star - The movie released in 1986 alongside the regular television series (which I have not seen). This “beat ’em up” spectacular gets a little wonky on the making sense side of things but, hey, grab a beer and go for it. I watched it on Prime, but I don’t think it is currently streaming there. Trailer
  • Lily C.A.T. - 1987’s Lily C.A.T. is one that I forgot I had seen before, but stumbled upon while searching Amazon Prime. An anime homage to the movie Alien, this short, fun, and oftentimes scary movie was totally thrilling and a heck of a lot of fun. Fan-made trailer
  • Space Adventure Cobra - When a space pirate seemingly returns from the dead—along with his psycho-gun arm—he falls for a beautiful bounty hunter who wants to collect on his head. So much fun and a trip and a half with some truly experimental visuals on this 1982 treasure. There’s also a television series that I need to find and watch. The movie is available on Amazon Prime. Fan-made trailer
There are a ton of other movies and television anime out there that I need to reacquaint myself with including Robotech: The Macross Saga and hopefully Starblazers/Space Battleship Yamato (if I can track them down).

2) Avengers: Endgame (Movie/Blu-ray)

Oh, my stars and garters! If I had seen this as a kid, it probably would have killed me. To see most of my favorite heroes (sorry, Adam Warlock) fighting Thanos would have been more awesomeness than my short, pudgy frame could have handled. After 11 years of buildup after the release of Iron Man—a movie, at the time, I never dreamed would exist—Marvel actually succeeded in pulling off the impossible with a thrilling movie that brought it all home, especially after the devasting events from the previous year’s Avengers: Infinity War. Dang, I think I need to watch it all over again…for the third time.

3) Danger 5 (Television)

Okay, yeah. I know. Danger 5 came out a while ago, and I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned my love of this hilarious, Australian-produced spoof on American spy shows from the ’60s/’70s that focused on World War II (for the first season) and of the dark, gritty action shows that encapsulated much of the ’80s (for the second season). In fact, this is probably the third or fourth time I’ve watched and laughed my way through Danger 5. Basically, Danger 5 are comprised of five secret agents from five different countries: Jackson (US), Claire (UK), Tucker (Australia), Ilsa (Russia), and Pierre (From somewhere in Europe, no one knows). These secret agents are tasked with killing Hitler by Colonel Chestbridge, an eagle-headed military man who is not above whipping out the “Sit Down Gun” to keep his people in line. The Danger 5 face off against Nazi lizard men, weaponized dinosaurs, and weirdo Kaiju in their efforts to take out the Fuhrer, which they succeed in doing…or did they? Thus kicks off the second season, which contrasts the bright and cheery first season with a gritty ’80s feel that deals with cops, high school, shopping malls, ninjas, and…oh, yes, more dinosaurs. Basically, Danger 5 is batshit crazy and I absolutely love every dang episode. Unfortunately, it is no longer streaming on Netflix, but I was able to find low-res episodes on YouTube. Once you watch the first couple of bizarre episodes (with their model cities, planes with strings attached, and brutal overacting) I can guarantee you’ll be hooked. Just be sure you have your perfect cocktail recipe to read off to Pierre. Hurrah!

4) 11 O’Clock Comics (Podcast)

Yup, David, Jason, and Vince B. continue to produce my favorite podcast after all these years. This is not just my favorite comic book podcast, but my favorite podcast. Period. The boys and the occasional special guest make my work commute infinitely more tolerable as well as keep me running an extra block or two or three when I’m out exercising. They discuss everything from current mainstream comics, to lesser-known titles, to books of the past, to the comics industry as a whole, to other media, and regularly have comic creators take up the fourth chair. I’ve never met these cats, but they feel like family at this point and I simply adore their show.

5) Game of Thrones (Television Show on HBO)

Yes, the show that had captivated pretty much everyone I know in both my personal and professional lives finally came to an end with the eighth season. Did it end how I hoped it would end? Not quite, but I still greatly enjoyed it and it is still very much something all fans of fantasy need to experience. Do I wish the creators would have drawn out various moments (Daenerys losing her cool or her and Jon Snow drifting apart after being one hell of a power couple) and wrapped up other plot lines/moments more quickly (episodes where people hung around chit-chatting that didn’t serve much of a purpose)? That “Long Night” episode with the Night Walkers, though, dang…that was freaking intense and awesome.

6) House of Mystery: The Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 1 (Graphic Novel from DC Comics)

I love these beastly books. Over five pounds and filled with 26 issues of pure ’70s horror brought to you by such greats as Bernie Wrightson, Jack Kirby, Len Wein, Wally Wood, Neal Adams, Alex Toth and so many more. Individual stories can run anywhere from one page to eight and all are geared toward the creepy side of the spectrum. You might need a spotter to heft this monster and you will definitely want to pick it up on sale, but most of the stories in this massive tome are total gems that will thrill, chill, and give you your fill…of the heeby-jeebies, that is. Oh, and lookie there, I just received the latest volume of this book’s sister title: House of Secrets: The Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 2!

7) The Last Podcast on the Left (Podcast)

At almost 400 episodes of cryptids, serial killers, conspiracy theories, reptilians (like Moscow Mitch McConnell), and all other assortments of oddity subject matter, I have listened to every episode—some multiple times. I generally listen to Ben, Henry, and Marcus at work and there have actually been a few times I had to press pause and “walk it off” because I was cracking up and starting to scare my coworkers. Give ’em three episodes or so on something you’re interested in like Jeffrey Dahmer (icky!) or Albert Fish (brrrrrrr) and you will be hooked. I also love having random people say “Hail Yourself!” when I’m wearing my TLPotL t-shirt. I also can't wait for their book The Last Book on the Left to come out.

8) Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (Television Show on HBO)

It’s a shame that in order to get to the heart of what is actually happening in the world that we have to turn away from regular news sources (and no, Faux News is not a credible source of news or an example of journalism in any sense of the word) and turn to a comedy show filled with f-bombs to get to the truth. Oliver makes me laugh when my heart is racing at the latest awfulness being enacted/enabled by our criminal of a President and the GOP. It’s going to be a long wait until Oliver returns in February when I’m sure we will be needing our spirits lifted from whatever shitshow Drumpf is enacting upon the world at that particular moment.

9) Man-Wolf: The Complete Collection (Graphic Novel from Marvel Comics)

Did you know that J. Jonah Jameson has a son? How about that he was an astronaut? No? Well, he does and he’s all sortsa dreamy. John Jameson also recently came back from a trip to the moon where he brought back a mysterious, groovy red gem that he, in turn, swiped from his job. Long story short, he’s a man-wolf now. Yup. Goes around attacking people, causing, mayhem, and fighting the likes of Spider-Man and Frankenstein’s monster. Some might call it a curse. All kidding aside, I loved this collection that brought back some fond memories of listening to the Power Records 45 rpm/comic over and over and over again. I also had a smattering of issues from the ’70s featuring Man-Wolf that I loved and this wonderful collection brought it all back while also introducing me to the insane issues where Man-Wolf goes from savage beast to swashbuckling fantasy hero. Man-Wolf: The Complete Collection stands up to the test of time and is well worth seeking out for some weirdness from the likes of Gerry Conway, Marv Wolfman, Doug Moench, John Byrne, John Romita, and many more.
Also, bonus points if you know what the hell is going on in this panel from the…just wow.

10) Ms. Tree: One Mean Mother (Graphic Novel from Titan Comics)

Sadly, Ms. Tree is a crime comic from the ’80s that I somehow missed the first time around that survived a few publisher jumps and lasted until the early ’90s. Michael Tree—yes, her name is Michael, don’t call her Michelle—is a female private detective who after the murder of her husband takes over the successful private detective business and finds herself in all sorts of dangerous situations. Written by Max Collins and illustrated by co-creator Terry Beatty. Ms. Tree began a 50-issue run that began in 1983 at Eclipse Comics, then went to Aardvark-Vanaheim, then to Renegade Press. During that time there was a Summer Special, a 3-D comic, another 3-D comic, a three-issue crossover at First Publishing called The P.I.’s: Michael Mauser and Ms. Tree, and finally a 10-issue run at DC Comics for the Ms. Tree Quarterly which was an 80-page noir spectacular in each issue. The first Ms. Tree collection from Titan Comics opts to not go chronologically and reprints a few stories from Ms. Tree Quarterly and boy howdy are they great. You don’t need to start at the beginning as this collection throws you in the deep end and you hit the ground running with no trouble at all. I can’t wait to get the next volume this summer.

11) Pod Save America (Podcast)

It’s kind of hard to say that I “enjoy” this podcast as it is a response to the horror/shit show that is everything Trump and the GOP. Former aides of President Obama, Jon Favreau—Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer, and Tommy Vietor—recap the week’s calamities, bringing actual facts and insights into the world of politics. Yes, they skew to the “Left,” but that just means they are critical of both sides (god, I hate those words…both sides, ugh) and call out where the crimes, lies, and injustices are taking place. Pod Save America cheers me up when the news of the world is so damn horrendous and political criminals seem to get away with robbing us of our money, our healthcare, our retirement, and our rights as the uber-wealthy get richer and richer.

12) Resident Evil 2 (Playstation 4 Video Game)

This is the remake of the Playstation 2 game that blew me away so many years ago with its combination of zombies, corporate conspiracies, puzzles, nigh-unstoppable monsters, and limited resources. The main differences: some majorly kicked up graphics, tweaks to the actual story, and I believe some end-of-game extras…provided you didn’t die a whole bunch like I did. Oh, well, that’s okay, I’ll just have to play the game again, only this time I will start with Claire instead of Leon to get some slightly different cut scenes. Whether you played the first Resident Evil 2 back in the day or not, this remake is well worth your time if you are a fan of survival horror games and it’s pretty darn cheap nowadays, too. I will say this, there ain’t no better feelin’ than launching an incendiary round straight into a plant-man’s face. Prepare to be scared!

13) Stranger Things (Television Show on Netflix)

If you’ve been reading Donist World for any length of time, then you know I LOVE LOVE LOVE me some Stranger Things. Between the ’80s nostalgia kick, the amazing and loveable characters, the creepy monsters, secret agencies and special powers, the phenomenal soundtrack and score, and so much more, the first season blew my mind even more than Game of Thrones at the time, as did the second and the third seasons; the title credits alone are something I never get tired of experiencing. Scary and unnerving, laugh-out-loud funny, and oftentimes heartwarming, this show hit pretty much ALL of the Donist buttons in the best of ways. Now, with news of the fourth season beginning production just a few days ago, I’m going to be biting my nails until it releases (hopefully) much later this year. I guess I’ll just have to head out to the mall, play some Space Invaders at the Gold Mine, and drink Orange Julius drinks until I’m sick in order to pass the time. I think what this Donist needs is a bingemode rewatch of epic proportions. *side note—I REALLY want this Lego set.

14) Swamp Thing by Alan Moore Absolute Edition Vol. 1 (Graphic Novel from DC Comics)

Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing is one of my top-three comics of all time. It never gets old for me and it is one I read every other year. It makes me want to be a better writer and it took my love of the original series (check the next item) that I have loved since the age of five or six and compounded it countless times over. I have all of the original issues, the first round of trades, and now this glorious deluxe hardcover. This gorgeous, slipcased edition holds an oversized, velvet wrapped hardcover with metallic inks and a ribbon bookmark and boasts recolored artwork that is stunning and vibrant—as the Green should be—but I will say that I still hold a place in my heart for the original colors. This beast of a collector’s treasure trove is a must-own collection, but it is damn expensive given that it only contains issues 20–34 and Annual #2. That said, it does have a substantial amount of backmatter including additional stunning art from Stephen Bissette, John Totleben, and others that make this well worth the price. I love this book and I can’t wait for the second volume that drops in August of 2020.

15) Swamp Thing: The Bronze Age Omnibus (Graphic Novel from DC Comics)

As I have said countless times over the years, Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson’s Swamp Thing is the series that showed me not all comics are created equal. It was with Swamp Thing #10—damn, I love this issue!—that Wrightson’s stunning art changed the way I looked at comic books with his depiction of the horrific Anton Arcane battling my favorite swamp monster as the moon blazed through the trees and deep, sprawling shadows lined the combating monsters, their muscle definition conveying the toll each of their blows was taking. But there was also a solid story, that even though my reading was limited at such a young age, to which I was able to follow along. Un-Men resurrecting the “deceased” Anton Arcane, escaped murderers in chains, the horrors of slavery, hauntings, and the deepest and darkest of evils all came through loud and clear as I lingered on each lovely page. I read that issue until it literally fell apart, but with this must-own omnibus, you get it all. This collection contains The House of Secrets #92 (first appearance of the Swamp Thing…or at least an early version of him), Swamp Thing #1–24 (with the incredible run from Wein and Wrightson as well as some…interesting…later issues from other creators), Saga of the Swamp Thing #1–19 (which preceded Alan Moore’s life-changing run and that had plenty of fantastic issues from Martin Pasko and Tom Yeates), and Swamp Thing Annual #1. Fans of Moore’s issues should definitely check out Alec Holland’s original roots and fans of the character cannot do without this historic book.

16) Unnatural (Graphic Novel from Image Comics)

2020 saw the release of the “final” two trade collections of Mirka Andolfo’s gorgeously painted, infinitely sexy, don’t-let-your-coworkers-see-what-you’re-reading, NSFW (get the hint?) adventure/supernatural/erotic comic book series. The story follows Leslie, an anthropomorphic pig girl, who has a power growing within her linked to a long-passed big, bad wolf who gives her all manner of dreams. Couple this with a mysterious cult who seems to know of her power and seeks to take it from her by any means necessary and Leslie’s once-normal life becomes a fight for survival. Always looming in the background, however, are the ultra-rightwing laws that prohibit inter-species as well as same-sex relationships among the populace and forced “racial purity” by requiring young adults to find, date, marry, and procreate only with a member of their own species of the opposite sex after a certain age. Unnatural is a wonderful series that is something to behold and one that I hope to see more of following the hint that there is more to come. I will definitely be following Andolfo to whatever she does next. Did I mention this series is NSFW? Whoa, spicey!

17) Us (Movie)

If you had told me that Jordan Peele of the hilarious Key & Peele television show was going to direct/produce/write two of the best horror movies of the past couple of decades, I would have said you were nuts. I’m so glad to be wrong. After the phenomenal Get Out, Peele delivers Us, a taut, psychological horror about a family on vacation who is tormented by a family of twisted doppelgangers. That’s all I’m going to say about it other than you need to see this masterfully written and directed movie that had me checking under the bed and nervous to open the door to the outside world.

18) Watchmen (Television Show on HBO)

They said it couldn’t be done. I didn’t believe it could be done. But HBO and Damon Lindelof actually pulled off a continuation of the industry-disrupting, masterpiece Watchmen (written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons, DC Comics, 1986) comic book with nine brilliant episodes that completely drew me in from the first episode all the way through to the end. The television show, set thirty years after the events of the comic, provides the next logical path for the surviving characters while introducing a host of new characters into a world that is once again on the brink of collapse, only this time there’s the double-sided threat of the white supremacist, Rorschach-identifying, Seventh Kavalry and the corporate juggernaut that is Trieu Enterprises. Thrilling, humorous, freaking weird, and with continually building mysteries to which you eventually receive answers, Watchmen—like Stranger Things S3 and Game of Thrones S8—had me anticipating and celebrating every moment I was able to watch the next enthralling episode. If you have not read the original comic, then you should be able to follow the story of the television show—plenty of people have been able to do so—but you will definitely get more out of this exceptional television show after reading what is the greatest comic book series of all time.

19) Weapon Brown (Graphic Novel from Death Ray Graphics)

First up: Just rush out and buy this. Do it. This is a must-read comic of epic proportions that completely took my breath away this summer after I had heard about it from Jason Wood on the 11 O’Clock Comics podcast. Everythinged by creator Jason Yungbluth, this is what happens when you take Charlie Brown and Snoopy from the “Peanuts” comic strip, put them in a post-apocalyptic world, change their names to Chuck and Snoop, give Chuck a deadly robotic arm, and have them cross paths with other popular strip characters like Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield, Little Orphan Annie, Popeye, and tons of others. Not only that, throw in some harsh language, sex, nudity, violence, and some of the most creatively insane ideas I have ever witnessed on the page, and you get Weapon Brown. It is true that this 400+ monster of a heavenliness released a few years ago, but it sure as heck is new to me, thus the addition to the Year-End Roundup. I REALLY hope to see a return to this gem of a comic at some point in the near future.

20) Beer

As indicated by the extra eight pounds I put on toward the latter part of the year, beer doesn’t really appear to be loving me as much as I love beer, thus my 2020 resolution to greatly dial back my beer and alcohol consumption. That said, I do need to mention some of the outstanding beers/breweries that rocked my world in 2019, that will probably sneak into many a pint glass in 2020 when I consciously decide to indulge:
  • Alvarado Street Brewery (Brewery) - My friend introduced me to this brewery back in the fall, when their offerings began appearing in select places around Santa Barbara. They release tons of mind-blowing Hazy IPAs in ’80s-inspired, beautifully-designed, individual, 16-ounce cans. And when I say “tons,” I mean if you find a beer you love (VERY likely), don’t expect to find it on the shelves the following week. The good news is that whatever offering happens to be available at any given time, it is sure to be at worst better than everything else and at best something life-changing.
  • Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) (Imperial stout aged in Bourbon Barrels from Founders Brewing Co.) - At least I have four bottles left until this tried and true Donist World darling returns.
  • w00tstout 2019 (Imperial stout from Stone Brewing) - Hells yes! They put this out in six-pack cans with box and can art by none other than comic great Alan Davis! Hells no! I only got one six-pack in reserve left. You came and went too fast w00t, much too fast.
  • Celebration Fresh Hop IPA (IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.) - Speaking of great holiday beers, this classic never gets old…especially since it’s about to vanish from store shelves until next year. Time to get some more.
  • Big Bad Baptista (Imperial stout from Epic Brewing Co.) - A super-duper stout aged in whiskey barrels with vanilla, cinnamon, Mexican coffee, and cacao nibs that is now readily available after Epic’s acquisition of Santa Barbara’s own Telegraphy Brewery which is within walking distance. Damn, this one’s good.
  • Modern Times Brewery (Brewery) - Modern Times just opened a location on State Street and if I’m in the mood to sample a bunch of fantastic Hazy IPAs or barrel-aged stouts, then heaven is but a short drive away.

That wraps up this year’s roundup. If you think of anything I should be reading, watching, playing, or drinking, then please let me know. I hope you had a fantastic 2019 and I wish you all the best for 2020! Thank you for reading.


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Donist World 2019 Year-End Roundup! (Part 1)

(Sung to the tune of The Sound of Music's “My Favorite Things”)

Scores of cool mutants Xavier must wrangle
Blue skinned man’s junk before Supes it does dangle
Little Bird’s knife blade deep cuts as it swings
These are a few of my favorite things

Robotic doggies unleash devastation
Infected surfers witness maker’s creation
Shredding hot metal Murder Falcon he brings
These are a few of my favorite things

The Princess of Power’s world it does shatter
Green-skinned goliath pursues causes that matter
Horrific Black Barns the madness bell rings
These are a few of my favorite things

Diamond misships
Then my beer spills
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

Slice of Heaven For the Year!

Happy holidays, Denizens! What a crazy year 2019 has been. It was markedly better than the awfulness that was 2018 for this here Donist, but it definitely had its stressors: selling a house, buying a new place, packing and moving, and dealing with a seemingly unending array of repairs both expected and unexpected. I had some grand expectations for myself with a new position I took at work and I am fairly happy with the way things are going on that front. I also got some vindication around some 2018 nonsense, but it’s best not to go into that. Amy the Intern (my wife) had some health setbacks, but she is on the mend and the coming year should hopefully be better for her. I work with an amazing group of people at my day job, my puppy executive team at Donist World is without compare, and I am thankful for all of the Denizens who continue to read Donist World. I wish the best for you all in 2020. I also have high hopes to see a certain Dotard and his co-conspirators behind bars where they all belong...fingers crossed.

***Probably NOT spoilers below***

If you have a moment, check out our past Slice of Heaven Year-End Roundups to see what’s stayed the same and what’s changed over the years. I had quite a few pleasant surprises this year, so let’s get to it!

Donist World Top 10 Favorite Comic Series of 2019 (In No Particular Order)


(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, published by Image Comics)
After three or four years of seeing Descender at the top spot of the Year-End Roundup, it is finally supplanted by a new contender, a brand new…wait a minute…Descender wasn’t removed from the list because of any storytelling grievances. Nope. That first half of Lemire and Nguyen’s phenomenal space opera ended in 2018 and the second half, Ascender, kicked off in early 2019. Whereas Descender was a sci-fi extravaganza that saw monstrous robots (the Harvesters) appear to rain death and destruction upon the nine planets of the UGC (United Galactic Council) and focused primarily on TIM-21, a robotic boy who held the key to the Harvesters, Ascender shifts to the fantasy side of things, with witches, monsters, vampires, and galaxies void of technology. Now, the key to escaping the oppressive reign of the ruthless sorceress known as Mother might lie in TIM-21’s human “brother“ Andy—now a father of a young girl named Mila—getting off-planet, rediscovering technology. and learning of TIM-21’s true fate after the War of the Robots. Thankfully, Andy’s robotic dog, Bandit, appeared out of nowhere and with some serious weaponized upgrades. If you are a Descender fan like me, then Ascender continues the compelling saga without missing a beat while delivering Nguyen’s stunning watercolored artwork and delivering characters you have no choice but to fall in love with. Can you read Ascender without having read Descender? I suppose, but doing so will cause you to miss out on vital backstory and crucial character moments that will make Ascender that much more impactful. You will cheer characters as they reappear into the story and have your heart crushed to learn the fate of others, but most importantly you will be unable to put this book down as you become part of the story and fall in love with the various characters like Andy, Bandit, Telsa, and the others. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ascender at the top of next year’s Roundup.

Murder Falcon

(Everythinged by Daniel Warren Johnson, colored by Mike Spicer, published by Image Comics)
Yeah, speaking of heartbreak…this dang book, man. Okay, I’m fully aware that the premise might not grab your average comic book reader, but y’all need to trust me on this one’s absolute greatness. Okay…monsters exist and run rampant across the city with no one that can stop them. That is until Jake, a former heavy metal guitarist who gave up music after a tragic event, comes home to find his shattered guitar restored and a hulking falcon/Rambo-type creature with a mechanical arm standing in his living room and begging Jake to pick up the “Axe” once again. After some convincing, it all comes back to Jake as he shreds, Murder Falcon’s power grows and he is able to fight the monsters. I know, it sounds odd, but even not factoring in Johnson’s lovely art—he is my current favorite artist…DAMN, you need to see his character designs and how he expresses motion and speed…whoa, mama—the story is one that will take you by surprise and quickly upend what you think is happening, all while having you bang your head to the metal riffs the art invokes before leaving you wiping away the tears. It is a tale of perseverance and friendship and loss and one you will return to often. Murder Falcon is a remarkable achievement that once you give it a chance, you will be a DWJ convert.

Wonder Woman: Dead Earth

(Everythinged by Daniel Warren Johnson, colored by Mike Spicer, published by DC Comics on their Black Label)
I know, I know. “Only one issue of this four-issue limited series came out this year, so how the heck can you include it as one of your favorite comics for an entire year?!" Well, simple: my site, my rules, and I was honestly moved by this single comic. It was also another Johnson book that had some great monsters, battles, and backgrounds. Equal part mystery and post-apocalyptic nightmare, Wonder Woman awakens many years in the future to find the heroes of Earth are dead and/or gone and her powers are greatly diminished. Monsters roam the wastelands as the remnants of humanity continue their wicked ways and attempt to dominate one another as resources run scarce and hope dwindles. But with Diana’s return, humankind sees a sliver of light shining amidst the darkness as the Princess of Power encounters old friends/enemies as she attempts to understand how she became cryogenically frozen and what really happened to her world and its heroes. Not only does this oversized, double-length comic give you a form factor that allows you to see Johnson’s stunning art in all of its glory, but the story also pulls you in and won’t let you go until you reach its end. I’m fairly certain you will be seeing this comic featured in 2020’s Year-End Roundup this time next year.

Silver Surfer Black

(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Tradd Moore, colored by Dave Stewart, published by Marvel Comics)
Marvel is at their best when they take risks such as bringing us some non-standard comic book fare. Indeed, Silver Surfer Black is unlike any of Marvel’s other comics on the shelves thanks to the mind-bending beauty of Moore’s tripadelic art that is pushed to heavenly heights by Stewart’s gloriously flat and brilliantly vibrant colors. Even if the story was about something dumb like the Surfer delivering some lost mail across the galaxy, the art alone would make the five-issue miniseries a must-buy comic. Thankfully, the story is well worth the price of admission, too. Here, Cates has the Surfer confront Knull the God of the Symbiotes, travel back in time, weigh killing a destroyer of galaxies before he is even born, and teaming up with a young Ego the Living Planet all while the Surfer is slowly consumed by Knull’s darkness. This five-issue series was a wonderful surprise and one you should definitely pick up as the oversized Silver Surfer Black Treasury Edition which I am going to order later this afternoon so I can enjoy Moore’s art at an even larger scale. Dang, I hope hope hope these two join forces for a followup of some sort in 2020.

Little Bird

(Written by Darcy Van Poelgeest, illustrated by Ian Bertram, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Aditya Bidikar, designed by Ben Didier, published by Image Comics)
Another jaw-dropping limited series was the five-issue Little Bird from Image that positively blew me away. I stupidly passed on this title when I first saw it sitting at my LCS, but after some hype around the web, I knew I had made a grand mistake letting this one pass me by. Thankfully, a couple of weeks later, my store had a copy and I learned what all of the fuss was about. Having somewhat of a European comic vibe that you would expect to see in the pages of Heavy Metal Magazine, Little Bird is set in a dystopic future where the United Nations of America (a theocratically ruled US of A that I find positively horrifying) has recently decimated a village, killing all but a hidden child known as “Little Bird.” Seeking revenge, Little Bird looks to free a Canadian hero with enhanced abilities known as The Axe from a UNA prison so she can settle the score once and for all. Oh so gorgeously rendered by Bertram (and prompting me to seek out any and all things this man has illustrated) and expertly told by Van Poelgeest, Little Bird was a true surprise and one that had me rushing to my LCS to be sure I didn’t miss a single issue. The hardcover collection is definitely the way to go with this series, and I cannot wait to see the follow up that Van Poeleest mentioned he and Bertram were working on for release in 2020. Oh, my stars and garters, that one week that saw an issue of both Little Bird and Silver Surfer Black drop made for one helluva comic book brain bender of an evening.

The Immortal Hulk

(Written by Al Ewing, illustrated by Joe Bennett, published by Marvel Comics)
Once again, I have to commend Marvel for taking a chance by taking one of their most well-known characters and completely turning expectations on their head by making The Immortal Hulk a horror comic. Since the beginning of this award-winning series, The Hulk hunts the problems facing the Earth and confronts them in the harshest of ways. A human kills another human in a horrific manner? The Hulk deals with them. A gamma-irradiated monster lurks in the countryside? The Hulk deals with him. A multi-national company with a sociopathic CEO (who is also a minotaur) who devastates the climate in the name of profits? Oh, yeah, the Hulk deals with him, too. The thing is, the Hulk doesn’t seek to put the offensive parties in prison. No. He does what he does best: he smashes, he destroys, he obliterates. And it is all spectacular thanks to Bennett’s beautiful-yet-unnerving line work. You haven’t seen disturbing until you’ve seen the Hulk caught mid-transformation or the Abomination spitting acid on one of his victims and Ewing‘s story presses all of the right Donist buttons especially when the Hulk takes on corporate juggernauts. At 28 issues as of this writing, The Immortal Hulk only gets better and better and I hope to be reading Ewing and Bennett’s powerhouse comic for years to come.

House of X/Powers of X

(Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Pepe Laraz and R.B. Silva, published by Marvel Comics)
At the beginning of 2019, if you had told me that I would be not just enjoying but enthusiastically rushing to the comic book store for 12 weeks straight to buy an X-Men comic—an event no less!—I would have surely thought you were mad. Well, I was mad for not trusting in Hickman to bring me back to the mutants I used to love so much so many decades ago. In this event, House of X told the main story at a single point in time while Powers of X jumped back and forward (year one, year ten, year one hundred, and year one thousand). In this series, newly-revealed-to-be-a-mutant Moira MacTaggert attempts to help Charles Xavier and Magneto to ensure mutantkind is not eradicated by humanity. To do this, the trio develope some creative ways to help mutants thrive and never die out: they establish their own nation on Krakoa island, they develope pharmaceuticals to provide all of the money they will ever need, and they unite mutants by giving some of the X-Men’s past enemies a seat at the decision table. Hox/PoX wrapped near the beginning of October, and I still cannot stop thinking about Moira’s revealed power, or the revelations of keeping mutants alive and well (hint: It involves Goldballs), or the details of Xavier’s plans. This was a wholly satisfying event (something you almost never hear me say) and one that was expertly plotted and executed and ultimately did the impossible: it brought me back to the X-Men fold. The recently released collection is the way to go for this one, but I will say that I hope to see more of the “X2: Year One Hundred (The War)” mutants at some point in the future.


(Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Leinel Francis Yu, published by Marvel Comics)
It makes sense that the event that brought me back to the X-Men, also kept me glued for the inevitable release of the new X-Men comic. Only three issues of this ongoing series have been released thus far, but Hickman’s carefully plotted and expertly paced story have pulled me in while introducing me to newer characters and potential villains. I love that a sentient island is a prominent character and that Cyclops is no longer the punching bag he has been for the past decade or two. Along with this book came fiver or six other titles that I have not yet read, but I intend to look into at some point in the future, but for the time being, I intend to stay with X-Men for as long as Hickman is attached to the book. If you were as thrilled as I was by House of X/Powers of X as I was, then picking up the continuing story is an easy decision to make. I’m sure a trade or two will drop over the course of 2020.

Gideon Falls

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, published by Image Comics)
Lemire and Sorrentino, the same creators who brought The Green ArrowOld Man Logan, and Joker: Killer Smile (which would be #11 on this list!) to life, join together to bring a comic series that can be likened to a more horror-tinged Twin Peaks. A couple issues in and this creepy-as-all-get-out story was optioned for television after a bidding war. Gideon Falls tells the tale of a priest with a mysterious past who moves to the countryside after his predecessor's bewildering death and a presumably mentally ill man in the city who hunts through the area’s trash for fragments of the Black Barn, a mysterious structure that causes death and despair whenever it appears. Even more alarming is the terrifying Laughing Man, who has escaped the confines of the Black Barn to rain murder and mayhem against all who cross his path. Parallel worlds, infernal machines, secret societies, and an unrelenting evil make this series one of my most disturbing and anticipated reads with every new release. There’re currently three trades available with a fourth dropping in April 2020.

Doomsday Clock

(Written by Geoff Johns, illustrated by Gary Frank, published by DC Comics)
Okay, I have a sneaking suspicion that the story Johns and Frank initially set out to tell morphed into the thing that we ultimately got. That’s okay, though, I still thoroughly enjoyed Doomsday Clock as it was the comic I never thought I would ever see: a meeting of the DCU with that of Alan Moore’s Watchmen. Does this mean that we will soon see the Mime and the Marionette tormenting Batwoman? Or Rorschach investigating a conspiracy as The Question attempts to capture the deranged vigilante? Or Ozymandias creating a shell corporation to take over Queen Industries and aggressively attacking the oil industry? I have no idea, but I hope so. I honestly don’t really even know what the ending of this story holds for the DCU or the world of Watchmen going forward, but, again, that’s okay. The creators had some hefty shoes to fill and they did so brilliantly, creating a style and tone consistent with the original work and expanding upon it to create an interesting, ominous, and at times exciting story that fans of both Watchmen and the DC heroes can enjoy provided they give it a chance. I look forward to rereading Doomsday Clock in one fell swoop—without the story flow damaging, lengthy delays—to see all of the finer points I missed the first time through. Still, I hope to hear what Johns and Frank’s original vision was for the series, but as long as we get more Mime and Marionette, I will be a happy camper.

But wait, I’m sure there's more...

I'm sure there are plenty of other comics I somehow forgot to mention or have not yet bought or read in 2019. If there are any glaring omissions, please let me know. There's plenty of room at the Donist World corporate offices for more comics and...hold on a sec...actually, Amy the intern (my wife) has corrected me and said that "No, there is not plenty of room here." <psssttt...hey denizens, let me know anyways. I can totally sneak more comics in on the down-low. Just let me know. We can do this…>

Stay tuned next week for the “Donist World 2019 Year-End Roundup! (Part 2)”


Sunday, December 22, 2019

Slice of Heaven 12/22/2019

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/devourer of comics Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Keeping this one short as there’s a ton of books to go over and I now have some work-work to do. Tulip and Reverse Obie also have some planning to be sure we remain a Fortune 320,000 company in the year 2020…they’re also hitting me up for some petty cash to fund some “research” they say they need to do at the local taco shop, which kinda sounds like a good idea. Anyhow, take a breath, let your shoulders relax, grab a drink (you deserve it…unless that’s not your thing) and see if you can dig up some of those dark chocolate and mint cookies from Trader Joes, sit back, and afterward check out some great comics. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magics mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Friday Slice of Heaven

Wonder Woman: Dead Earth #1

(Most everythinged by Daniel Warren Johnson, colored by Mike Spicer, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by DC Comics on their Black Label)
After being blown away by the must-own Extremity, Murder Falcon, Space Mullet, and his art on Ghost Fleet over the past couple of years, Daniel Warren Johnson's new comic miniseries looks to continue rocking this Donist’s world with a beautifully paced, gloriously illustrated, and ultimately thrilling Black Label Wonder Woman comic. When Murder Falcon ended earlier this year, I immediately hit the interwebs to find what Johnson’s next project would be. If it ended up being a creator-owned comic about the Housewives of Some City, I would have gleefully picked it up and because of this man’s compelling writing and his stunning, kinetically-charged art, I would have loved it. Thankfully, that’s not what we got this week. I only just read the solicit about this Elseworlds-esque title a month or two ago and made an audible “Ooooooooooooo” at the cover and preview pages for what will ultimately be a four-issue miniseries.
Here, Wonder Woman awakens to a world devastated by a nuclear bomb. She has no idea how she ended up in a state of suspended animation, but she has little time to consider her situation as a horrific monster known as a Haedra attacks her and the young scavengers who accidentally released her from her state of near-death. Wonder Woman defeats the terrifying creature but quickly realizes her strength is greatly diminished and her protective bracers are gone. Infinitely worse, what remains of the planet is on the verge of extinction as resources dwindle and the haedras ravage all in their path. Fighting monsters and attempting to restore hope to those who have none, the Princess of Power must use what remaining might she has and a lifetime of skills to save what remains of humanity.
Love this, love this, love this! Johnson may as well have created this comic specifically for me: Wonder Woman, post-apocalyptic landscapes, monsters, old villains/allies mutated by radiation, incredible stakes, this comic has it all. Couple that with stunning visuals from my favorite artist of the past couple of years and there is no way I would miss this exciting adventure. What’s even better is that this “Prestige Plus” format book is about twice as long, magazine-sized, and printed on a higher quality paper. Sure it retails for $6.99, but with these specs and such an amazing story and such heavenly artwork—complete with thrilling fight scenes, sound effects you can feel in your bones, and masterful storytelling—Wonder Woman: Dead Earth is the superhero comic of the holiday season that you need the most.

Joker: Killer Smile #2

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered by Steve Wands, published by DC Comics on their Black Label)
May as well continue on the DC Black Label train with the second installment of Joker: Killer Smile. The interesting thing about this fascinating look into the detrimental effect sustained exposure to the Joker’s presence can have on a person is that the Joker is not the main character of the book. The protagonist is actually Dr. Ben Arnell, a psychotherapist who seeks to cure the Clown Prince of Crime of his maladies. The Joker only appears on a handful of pages, but Lemire and Sorrentino channel the creeping, foreboding sense of dread they bring to their Image Comics title Gideon Falls and the Joker’s presence and influence oozes into nearly every panel of every page. It’s all rather disturbing in the best of ways for this psychological thriller. I’m not certain if this is a three or four-issue miniseries, I just know that I’m aboard for the entire unnerving ride.

Gideon Falls #19

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, colored by Dave Stewart, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics)
While we are on the subject of Lemire and Sorrentino, Gideon Falls continues to be a spine-tingling mind trip as the lead characters travel between parallel worlds (I think that’s whats going on) as they attempt to discover the secrets of the Black Barn and to stop its evil from affecting the world(s). Unfortunately, the “Smiling Man” walks the Earth and death follows in his wake with only the Ploughmen to either kill the evil entity or put it back in the Black Barn forever. Gideon Falls will someday soon become a television series and you should definitely get caught up with the soon to be three available trades worth of mindbending and awesome horror.

The Last God #3

(Written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, illustrated by Ricardo Federici, colored by Sunny Gho with Dean White, lettered by Tom Napolitano, cartography by Jared Brando, published by DC Comics on their Black Label)
Okay, I’m not as lost as to what is going on in this exciting new fantasy series as I was last time but I should reread all three of the currently available issues so I can get a better grasp on the key players and to help things make a tad bit more sense. That said, I love this gorgeously illustrated comic of myth, magic, monsters, and mayhem. If you are a fan of fantasy/adventure regardless of what form it takes—comics/novels/movies/television—then you need to be buying this series and showing DC that taking a step outside of their comfort zone is worth their risk so we can continue to see more of the like of this great series.

Family Tree #2

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Phil Hester, inked by Eric Gapstur, colored by Ryan Cody, lettered by Steve Wands, edited by Will Dennis, published by Image Comics)
If you had told me I was going to be reading a comic book about a little girl who is steadily transforming into a tree, I wouldn’t have believed you. But add that the girl is being hunted by a bunch of bald, weirdo, white guys and that her absent grandfather would return with a wooden hand to protect his family, then my curiosity would be peaked but probably not enough to pick up the book. All it takes is to mention Lemire as the writer and Hester as the artist and this comic jumps firmly into my pull list. At two issues in, the mystery as to what is going on deepens and Lemire’s incredible character development seals the deal that this is yet another of his comics we all need to be reading. I’m excited to see where this goes.

Deadly Class #42

(Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, colored by Justin Boyd, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Briah Skelly, production by Erika Schnatz, published by Image Comics)
A house party in the middle of snow-covered nowhere with many of the students of King’s Dominion Atelier? What could possibly go wrong? Who’s hooking up with whom? Who’s heart is going to be broken? Who’s going to do some experimenting? Who’s going to get straight-up murdered? Find out in this kickass new issue. If you are interested in a story about the students who attend a high school for assassins then you should definitely check out the eight trades or the two oversized hardcovers.

Undiscovered Country #2

(Written by Scott Snyder and Charles Soule, illustrated by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Daniele Orlandini, colored by Matt Wilson, lettered by Crank!, published by Image Comics)
I’m still excited about this series despite not fully knowing who all the players are in this dystopic, futuristic adventure comic, but I’m sure they will all start to click as the series progresses. What grabs me the most is the premise and mystery behind what happens when the United States builds a wall around the entire country and shuts down all forms of communication to the outside world for 30 years…until now. This one is going to be intense. I can’t wait to see what the creators have in store for us.

The Immortal Hulk #28

(Written by Al Ewing, art by Tom Reilly and Matías Bergara, colored by Chris O'Halloran, lettered by VC’s Cory Petit, published by Marvel Comics)
Even with a guest-artist, The Immortal Hulk continues to be the best, most consistent comic Marvel has been putting out in some time. Although mostly a stand-alone issue, there are moments that show Dario Agger (the Minotaur) acting as you would expect your typical CEO to act (ohhhhh, burn!) and coming to a plan of how to deal with his Hulk problem. The rest of the issue follows a security guard who is fed a steady stream of steamin’ hot right-wing radio/Faux News bullshit that has turned this once happy man into a fear-ridden, hate-filled husk who talks of the “Deep State” and knows all too well what it means to “stand your ground.” When a bunch of Roxxon protestors wearing plastic Hulk masks arrive at his facility, this Roxxon security guard thinks he knows what to do next. I can already hear a few chants of “why’d they have to go and make things political?!?!” My answer: because it fits the Hulk’s mission, it is relevant to the times, and it’s one helluva story. You all need to be reading this incredible horror/superhero title, which you can do with the beautiful hardcover or via the readily available trades.

Guardians of the Galaxy #12

(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Cory Smith and a bunch of guest artists, inked by Victor Olazaba, colored by David Curial, lettered by VC’s Cory Petit, published by Marvel Comics)
And with that, Cates’s run on Guardians of the Galaxy comes to an end. As Rocket’s strength slowly fades and death draws ever closer, he shows the Church of Universal truth why he is never to be underestimated. This issue is a fitting close to this series as it pays homage to the exciting cosmic stories of the past few years, while opening the door to the next Guardians run that will be helmed by Al Ewing (yup, that Al Ewing). You might also get a bit teary-eyed with the ending Rocket sequence…I’ll leave it at that.

Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child

(Written by Frank Miller, illustrated by Rafael Grampá, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered by John Workman and Deron Bennett, published by DC Comics on their Black Label)
Yup…“Why’d they have to make it political?!?!” To which I say, “Sigh, this is not for you, none of the good/great comics are.” Anyways, I will do full disclosure that I have not read any of Miller’s Dark Knight books since Dark Knight Strikes Again, so I don’t know anything about the main stars of this series other than Carrie Kelley is now Batwoman and a kickass one at that. I don’t know what happened to Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent, and Clark’s kids—Lara and Jonathan—appear to be a couple of the new heroes of this future world. Lara struggles to understand why she should bother saving humanity, while Jonathan maintains more of his father’s ideals. Here, Darkseid has joined with the Joker (a Joker? the original Joker only younger? no idea) and the pair seek to get a Trump-style stooge elected via good-ol’-fashioned GOP voter suppression. It’s the Trump-supporting Jokers versus the anti-fascists Bat mob and I loved every second of it even though I was a shade lost at times from not having read DKIII: The Master Race, although it wasn’t too difficult to fill in the blanks. Again, full disclosure, I probably would not have picked up this book if not for the fact that Grampá (if you can find it, check out his hard-to-find-but-worth-the-search Mesmo Delivery Service) was providing the oh-so-gooey-gorgeous art, but after reading this fun one-shot, it is safe to say that I definitely want to see more more more of these creators tackling this rich world.

Doomsday Clock #12

(Written by Geoff Johns, illustrated by Gary Frank, colored by Brad Anderson, lettered by Rob Leigh, published by DC Comics)
I’m going to need to read this one from beginning to end in one fell swoop. The lengthy delays between issues greatly affected the story flow, but now that this one-year event that took almost two years to come out is done, I’m sure it will make a heck of a lot more sense. I also have a suspicion that the story Johns and Frank set out to tell was altered midway through per some sort of editorial edict, but regardless of what did/did not happen, I still enjoyed this ambitious project and see it as a win. I love the whole Superman “versus” Dr. Manhattan angle and how various pieces are put back in place while others appear to be left on the board for future stories. Frank’s art is lovely as ever, especially on a couple of double-page spreads that need to be seen to be believed. I never thought a story like this would ever see the light of day, but I’m glad it did. Whether or not the end product is what the creators originally intended, Doomsday Clock still rocked this Donist’s world.

Whoa, Nelly. That about does it for this installment. Have a happy holiday season and I hope to see you next time.