Saturday, March 19, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 3/18/2011

Hi there, all you happy people.  Usually I begin the Friday Slice of Heaven section with something funny or weird or just plain stupid, but this week I read a bunch of amazing books that I need to shed some light on and convince y'all to run out and support the creators by buying.  What a great week.  In no order of preference, but in the order I read each book, with some SPOILERS here is the...

Friday Slice of Heaven

The Stonekeeper (Amulet, Book 1)The Amulet - Created by Kazu Kibuishi, published by Graphix an imprint of Scholastic.  I don't remember where I first heard about this wonderful all-ages graphic novel, but I am glad that I did.  Although I say, "all-ages" be warned that some heavy situations occur within the first twelve pages of this nearly 200 page book, that could scare some children.  Since I already mentioned that there would be spoilers, I will say that the tragic loss of the children's, Emily and Navin's, father is emotionally draining but handled very well.  After the tragedy, we see Emily, Navin and their mother unable to make ends meet and on the road after leaving their home.  They eventually retreat to an old, abandoned family-owned house which they intend to make their new residence.

The house once belonged to their missing grandfather who was an inventor and collector of wondrous things.  The family quickly discovers that they are not alone and Emily gains possession of a mysterious amulet as their mother is abducted by a grotesque monster lurking in the basement.  The children give chase and find themselves in a fantastic world of robots, monsters and evil beings set on recovering the immensely powerful amulet that has now become linked to Emily.

Exciting, beautifully told and a page turner.  My only disappointment is that it took me this long to discover this book, but the upside is that two more volumes are readily available.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Morning Glories #8 - Written by Nick Spencer and illustrated by Joe Eisma, published by Image Comics.  No spoilers here --and as indicated on the front cover--this issue focuses on Hunter, the nerdier and somewhat-of-a-mess recent Morning Glory Academy student.  This issue provides a brief flashback into the life of a boy who has always had a problem with time, a problem, as we have come to expect from Mr. Spencer, that is much more than it seems and a possible basis as to why Hunter was chosen for the Academy.  Back in real time (can't be sure of that with this series), Hunter asks Casey on a date and Jun offers some tips   showing a developing friendship.  Throw in a couple of nutsoid bullies, a troubling secret from Jun, and awful stomach problems and you have an issue that I rather enjoyed.
Although this series has been likened to Lost, and I do agree somewhat, that is where the comparison ends.  Both throw mystery and intrigue into their stories at a fast past, but where Lost lost its direction over a couple of seasons, Morning Glories does not read that way.  I can tell with each minuscule reveal that Spencer knows what he is doing and has an end in sight.  Everything is in here for a reason and more questions will be asked before they are answered, but unlike Lost I believe all will be revealed in time.  I continue to love this book.  RECOMMENDED.

THUNDER Agents #5 - Written by Nick Spencer and illustrated by Cafu and Ryan Sook, published by DC Comics.  I love this non-DC-Universe-out-of-continuity tale, which sadly tells me not to become too attached to the series as it is probably on the chopping block.  That said, people need to be reading this book if they are fans of well-told superhero tales and the unexpected twists and turns that Nick Spencer can be expected to throw the reader's way.
The secret behind SPIDER begins to unfold and the mystery behind Toby the Salesman is revealed...with much more to him than I ever thought.  The Menthor Helmet shows up, although its purpose is still unclear, and the other THUNDER Agents come to arms to show the devastation they are capable of delivering.
The immediate fast paced reveal of SPIDER had me at smirking at first, but upon further thought, it made sense and left me sympathetic for the brothers who want to change the world.  The twist upon twist was also welcome and neither were anticipated.
One small complaint, but one that took me completely out of the story for a moment was the lettering/editor slip up almost midway through the comic where Colleen says to a distraught Lightning, "Yes. You keep doing this, you will be die.  But if you don't--they will."  "You will be die?"  "All your base are belong to us" more like it.  A forgivable mixup, but one that took me a moment to figure out what the hell Colleen was saying at a key moment in the action.  Aside from that snafu, this was another fantastic issue that people should be reading.  RECOMMENDED.

Bad Dog #4 - Written by Joe Kelly and illustrated by Diego Greco, published by Image Comics.  First of all...I am deeply offended by the shear volume of blatant sex, drug and alcohol usage, rock and roll, Las Vegas, prostitution, Elvis impersonators, talking heads in plastic bags stuffed in a refrigerator, 97% werewolf nudity, 98% female nudity, 98% dwarf nudity, and vomiting of blood...this comic is awesome and I relish in its assault on my morals.
This issue picks up where issue #3 leftoff, with the werewolf, Lou, and his ultra-violent pal, Wendell, seeking to...ummm...yeah...what were they doing back then?  You see, it has been about a year and a half since issue #3 came out, but this book is so over the top and out of control that I do not care in the least.  Regardless of what happened in the first three issues, #4 sees Lou and Wendell getting their Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas on and finding themselves in all manner of bizarre situations with Lou possibly finding his guardian angel...a hooker named Ruby.  Loads of fun and the first three issues are at the top of my reread stack.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth #1 - Written by Malachai Nicolle and illustrated by Ethan Nicolle, published by Image comics.  Where Bad Dog #4 is crazy, wacky fun that should not be allowed within twenty feet of anyone under the age of eighteen, Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth #1 comes along and is crazy, wacky fun that should be required reading for all ages.  For those living under a rock, Axe Cop has been around as a web comic for a while now and I found out about it around the third episode.  The series is written by a now six-year-old boy and illustrated by his thirty-year-old brother, and I cannot begin to give justice to this book by describing the insanity that exists in a young boy's mind and put onto the comics page.  Crazy, at times nonsensical, an entourage of characters whose physical features and powers are a revolving door of change, coupled with refreshingly beautiful and unique art make this book a treasure.
Keeping this brief, there is a cop with an axe named Axe Cop, his brother (?), a cop named Flute Cop, who was transformed into Dinosaur Soldier and they have vowed to kill all bad guys.  Throw in their pals Wesker, a Tyrannosaurus Rex with machine gun arms, Ralph Wrinkles, a dog with shades who does god-only-knows-what, and Sockarang, a crazy looking dude with socks for arms and you are set for a good time unlike anything you have ever experienced.  Check out the website or buy the trade from the beginning of the series and I think you will be hooked.  It is refreshing to find something so new and unlike anything on the racks.  And always remember, "Axe Cop saw a cup of water sitting at the next table.  So he drank it...and it screamed," and that is only the first four panels of page one.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Slice Into the Woods

The Tragedy That Continues To Unfold In Japan - Not much more to say on this one, other than I hope for the best and that the situation does not continue to worsen.

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