Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 9/30/2011

(sung to the tune of Astrud Gilberto's "Girl From Ipanema")

Tall and pale, not young or fit-like,
This man from Santa Barbara goes walking
To buy comics, each book he passes he goes, "Aaah..."
Rachel Rising, and The Sixth Gun
Are so darn cool and drop dead sexy
When he passes, he walks into a shelf and goes "Owww..."

Oh, that hurt so god damn badly
How can he he ever recover?
I, Vampire I'll buy gladly,
But each week at the store he does see,
Books like the awesome Locke & Key...

I have to admit that I have not picked up this week's comics yet, but with good reason as I will briefly explain in the Slice Into the Woods section below.  I will probably do a regular entry this Sunday or Monday after I read the books and with it enough to comment on them.  As you can see by this weeks song, I knew what I was going to buy and like, and I am glad that I have the awesome Locke & Key book to talk about today at the very least.

Friday Slice of Heaven


Locke & Key:
Keys to the Kingdom
Locke & Key: Keys To the Kingdom - Written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, published by IDW Comics.  Crimony!  For a series that started outstanding with the first volume, each successive chapter manages to improve upon the first, ratcheting up the tension and turning the story around in ways I never saw coming.
Chapter one opens with art that both pays homage and pokes fun at Calvin and Hobbes with Bode's discovery of the Beast Key and a shifting storyline that depicts a humorous view intermixed with the real world horrific.  Bode then finds the Skin Key" which proves helpful when Kinsey comes across Erin Voss, a seemingly deranged friend of her father's who screams the word "white," but it looks like someone has been toying with her mind.  The third chapter introduces yet more keys, but the lives of the Locke kids begin to unravel as a result of betrayal and poor decisions, plus a callback to a famous Claremont X-Men issue.  Sam Lesser speaks with Rufus who happens to be able to see the murderous ghost and Brian finally awakens from his coma as Dodge's machinations begin to come to light.  The book comes to a close with a couple of brutal deaths and changes that only one person is aware of with the Locke family mistakenly thinking that their troubles are over. that I am all caught up on the hardcovers released to date, I am left wanting more of this amazing series and I am considering buying the downloads to tide me over until the release of the fifth book that I must have to sit upon my shelf with the others.  Which brings me to the beautiful production on this book and my only complaint that this volume was missing the little ribbon bookmark found on the other three volumes.  Not a big deal, but something I would have appreciated with this beautiful book.  Joe Hill is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers with his expertly crafted Locke & Key series and I can envision no artist other than Gabriel Rodriguez to bring his words to life.  Locke and Key is a charming, terrifying and well-told tale that has become one of my all-time favorite comic books.  Not enough people are reading this fantastic series.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Out-Patient Surgery - Not to go into too much detail, I went in for a hernia operation on Wednesday (Comic new release day no less!) and left with two hernia repair operations.  I'm kind of a mess and cannot drive, plus the vicodin has jumbled the hell out of my brains.  Thankfully, I was able to latch my hospital bed to Obie, my friends' Boston Terrier and faithful critic, and he hauled me back safely home, although those speed bumps were murder on the ol' guts.  I'm looking at two weeks recovery and about a month before I can go running again.  This September sucked, but at least I had some kick-ace comics to keep me busy.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 9/23/2011

(Sung to the tune of Nena's "99 Luft Balloons")

You and I in a comic book shop
Buy The Stuff of Legend with the money we've got
Batman, Red Wing I'm tellin' you son
Wonder Woman I got none
Of course they're out, but I don't care
Sold on Witch Doctor's charming flair
One reboot book?  I won't lie
52 DC Comics fly

Peoples, I'm here this week in my own basement, since the Sears delivery man is intalling a new washer at my mom's house, but rest assured that this is the perfect place to do this little thing we call Donist World.  Since Mom is occupied, I am joined by my only other reader, Obie, my friends' Boston Terrier, and we are listening to some truly depressing stuff to maintain the mood of the past two dreadful weeks.  What better albums to put on repeat than The Cure's Disintegration and Pornography to put you down in the dumps and keep you there, but the main problem is these "gd" comics that I read this week keep screwing things up.  Seriously, how can I get my forlorned on when I have books like the below to make me good and happy?  What's a sad boy to do when the comics he reads are so amazing?  "gd"

Friday Slice of Heaven

Stuff Of Legend
A Jester's Tale #2
The Stuff of Legend A Jester's Tale #2 - Written by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith and illustrated by C.P. Wilson III, published by Th3rd World Studios.  The latest chapter of the wonderful--and criminally under appreciated--The Stuff of Legend series released this week and wastes no time picking up from the cliff hanger ending of the previous issue where an unconscious Jester lay sinking beneath the waves.  
Jester awakens on a distant shore only to be captured by a group of dolls who provide insight into the history of the "Laughing Ghost" who is terrorizing the seas of The Dark and who looks surprisingly like Jester.  He is led back to the town of predominantly female dolls, many of whom he has already charmed to his favor, except for the leader of the town, Rebecca.  He finds the mayor in stockades on charges of "groping" and a duel ensues over Jester's mistaken identity as the "bad clown."  Can Jester convince Rebecca and the dolls to help him in his quest to find his missing Princess, or will they proceed with killing him.  Percy and the rest of the toys appear briefly on their trek to escape the dark, only to run into an unexpected guest.
I have been enjoying this series ever since the beginning as should be all too apparent in every posted review I have written concerning this wonderful comic.  The writing is so true and honest from the flashbacks of the relationship of the boy and his brother, to the quest to rescue Jester's true love, that it is impossible not to become enchanted by this adventurous tale.  Wilson III's art is gorgeous and the production on the book is unlike anything else on the shelf.  The Stuff of Legend continues to be one of the best comics in publication and something that everyone should be reading.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batman #1
Batman #1 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo, published by DC Comics.  After a fantastic run on Detective Comics, Scott Snyder resumes writing Gotham's dark protector in the new 52 Batman title, only this time with Bruce Wayne as the lead character.
The story opens with Batman at Arkham Asylum investigating a guard only to find himself staring down a mob of his most diabolical adversaries.  When the situation becomes dire an unexpected ally joins the fight and Bruce Wayne later explains what happened to a rebooted, younger Jim Gordon.  Always on the go, Bruce then attends a charity event where he announces that he will be dumping tons of his fortune into restoring Gotham to a beautiful city and that the rest of the Gotham elite should join the cause.  Then while investigating a grisly murder scene involving knives emblazoned with the image of owls, Batman makes an unsettling discovery and evidence in the murder points to an unexpected suspect.
I loved Snyder's dark, twisted Detective run and the lurking terror of that book can be found in the reboot, but there is also a light-hearted edge at times that I was not at all expecting, yet the story pulled me in immediately and kept me riveted.  I will say that I miss the art of Jock and Francavilla, but Greg Capullo's art is lovely and fitting to the title, with the colors pushing the story and mood to the necessary extremes.  My main concern is that a new reader will be confused as to who Red Robin and Nightwing are, and if they know anything of Batman's history why Dick Grayson is not Robin, but other than that, this issue manages to be accessible.  With no origin story or painfully blatant exposition, this comic starts with action, offers insight into Bruce Wayne and kicks into high gear with an immediate, multi-layered case to be solved.  Fun, exciting and fairly open to new readers, this book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Witch Doctor #3
Witch Doctor #3 - Written by Brandon Seifert and illustrated by Lukas Ketner, published by Image Comics.  Seifert and Ketner continue their gross, creepy, weird and at times horrific tale of Witch Doctor, Dr. Vincent Morrow and thank goodness they have.
The story begins with the end as Morrow justifying the events of the next two issues to two of his superiors in order to retain his mystical license. Through flashback, we see an actual live gillman is strapped to the table where an over-eager Morrow makes the enormous mistake of dumping water on the monster, reviving it.  Penny Dreadful comes to the rescue and some of her backstory is finally revealed, as is the nature of Morrow's blood-red sword.  Eric Gast is taught the "true history of the world" and we see exactly what it is the mystical doctor is up against.  Gast and Morrow track the gillmen back to the Arkham Aquarium where they find a most unpleasant surprise.
This penultimate issue sees questions answered and the world defined and I found myself enjoying this installment the most of the three released thus far, but then I'm a sucker for a good gillman story.  Seifert explains the world quickly and in an understandable manner to the reader through Morrow instructing Gast.  Through these revelations I am hooked.  Ketner's art is dark, dreary and perfectly suited to this tale; plus he can draw a damn fine-looking monster.  This book is the stuff of nightmares, but with interspersed moments of light-hearted comedy ("Penny, we've got not choice.  It's up to you.  Kill them all.") and an intriguing story, Witch Doctor is a fun and exciting read.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Red Wing #3
The Red Wing #1 - Written by Jonathan Hickman and illustrated by Nick Pitarra, published by Image Comics.  After leaving off with a startling ending last month, the latest The Red Wing returns with the penultimate issue of this intense sci-fi story.
The enemy returns to trouble Dom and Val's world and this time it's not just a couple of ships, but rather the entire fleet.  As the Red Wings struggle to route the enemy, Dom's father is lectured by his captor and learns their motives and that the marauders are there to strip mine the world of its resources.  Val pursues the enemy back to their time-line in an effort to determine the extent of their forces, only to learn the scope of what they are dealing with.
Although I still enjoyed this installment quite a bit, little happened in comparison to the first two issues, but the enemy was revealed and the scale of their power shown for a good lead-in to the finale.  Where the previous issues provided more characterization--with the exception of the enemy leader--this issue provided a grander glimpse of what the Red Wings are up against.  Hickman's statement on the world we leave to our children and how that poses a very real problem in this world is one I can appreciate and enjoy seeing played out.  I will again tout the lovely art of Nick Pitarra and my hope to see more of him after this project is completed...a big "wow" on the final two-page spread!   I am hopeful for a strong conclusion to this unique and fascinating sci-fi comic.  RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

I Don't Want to Go Into It - All I want to say is that my LCS was out of Wonder Woman.  The rest is not worth repeating here.  Boo hoo.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 9/16/2011

(Sung to the tune of Berlin's "Metro")

Demon Knights
With Etrigan's got lotsa class
She's kicking all kinds of ass
Monsters threaten Frankenstein
Sinestro as Green Lantern's fine
Diggin' the 52
DC really aims to please

Looks like I only bought one Marvel book
I got the amazing Criminal
I Just remembered Grifter rocking it, "gd"
Buying books at Metro

Per Obie's demand kind request, I am going to keep the intro brief and to the point as there were many great books that were released this week.  So much so, that I did not get to read everything that I bought yet and I expect some--if not all--will spill over into next week's installment.  I did read all of the new DC 52 books that I bought, all of which are listed below, so have a look and let me know what you think or if there is something else I need to check out.
"gd!"  Let's do this thing.

Friday Slice of Heaven


Criminal: The Last of
The Innocent #4
Criminal: The Last of the Innocent #4 - Written by Ed Brubaker and illustrated by Sean Phillips, published by Icon, a Marvel Comics Imprint.  The only non-number one issue of the week is also one of the best and despite DC dominating my read pile with some amazing books, Marvel did have this Hope Diamond-sized gem.
Riley Richards is almost there.  He's so close to getting away with it all he can taste it.  Yes he murdered his wife and styled the killing after a suspected serial killer long thought gone, and he also framed the man who was screwing his wickedly cruel wife with the crime.  Then there is the matter of his old pal, Freakout, whose life is falling apart because of Riley using the recovering substance abuser, but hey, Riley got the money.  He also got the girl, the girl he should have been with all along, the one he was meant to be with.  Unfortunately his dead wife's father suspects foul play and has hired a detective and Freakout might not be as incoherent and oblivious as Riley had originally thought.  Will he pull off his last shot at happiness and the ultimate crime.
I have enjoyed every one of Brubaker and Phillips various Criminal books, but "The Last of the Innocent" pulled me in deeper than any of the excellent installments that preceded this exceptionally-told tale.  I loved the characters, and found myself wanting Riley to succeed, which is disturbing as the man is a selfish, gambling addicted, back-stabbing murderer who seeks to reclaim the road not traveled as a result of his own poor choices; therein lies part of Brubaker and Phillips's magic in telling a powerful story.  This book is a must-own for all fans of the noir genre and something that I will be rereading in its entirety in the coming months.  I also would like to that covers of this four issue series be released as an edition of mini posters as they are some of the most striking and beautiful images I have ever seen.  What do you say Marvel?  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batwoman #1

Batwoman #1 - Written by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman and illustrated by J.H. Williams III, published by DC Comics.  After a long and confusing break between issue number zero and number one, the book I have been anticipating has finally arrived, but was it worth the wait?  Oh yes, it most definitely was worth the wait.  The original Batwoman run in Detective Comics  (I wrote about that one here) is one of the coolest stories enhanced by the most gorgeous and striking artwork. This new series continues to blow me away.
The story opens with a bang as the creepy, apparition of a woman attempts to drown three children while leaving the parents paralyzed with fear.  Batwoman (Kate Kane) interrupts the drowning only to watch the children vanish along with the ghost, leaving her promising to find the missing kids.  The following day, Kate makes a date with female Detective Sawyer who is investigating the case.  In the absence of her father, with whom she is no longer on speaking terms, Kate has taken on her cousin, Bette Kane, as a partner to train, but the situation becomes complicated when her father returns.  With six kids drowned and the lives of thirteen missing children at stake, Batwoman sets out to find them only to receive an offer of assistance that she was not expecting.
J.H. Williams III's beautiful art is something that I have not been shy over exalting and this book continues to be a stunning example of his talents, but the book also showcases his writing skills in coordination with Blackman, his cowriter.  Kate Kane is a powerful lead character and possibly the highest profile lesbian superhero, without being exploitive, in comics today.  This issue is fairly accessible, but some of the flashback scenes, primarily the one that depict a werewolf and a squidly, might confuse the dickens out of new readers; everything else should be perfectly understandable.  I loved this book and can't wait for issue two.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Demon Knights
Demon Knights #1 - Written by Paul Cornell and illustrated by Diogenes Neves, published by DC Comics.  I've always loved the character of Etrigan the Demon ever since I first saw an add for The Demon #1 as everythinged by Jack Kirby in the '70s, and I have to admit that I was a tad worried about how this series would handle my much-loved, yellow-skinned demonic character.  I can rest easy after reading this great first issue.
After Camelot has fallen and Excaliber tossed into the lake, Madame Xanadu leaps from King Arthur's Avalon bound vessel to retrieve the legendary sword only to have it and her boat vanish, leaving her stranded.  Merlin the Magician decides to merge the captured demon, Etrigan, with the human Jason of Norwich leaving the two as one in order to fulfill a vision of the future.  Four hundred years later, the enemies of the story, The Questing Queen and Mordru, commit a bloody awful act of evil magic as they prepare to lay siege to every town and village that they pass.  Jason/Etrigan are traveling with Madame Xanadu and share an interesting relationship and come across their acquaintance Vandal Savage, the immortal barbarian, and later meet the youthful Sir Ystin, the Shining Knight.  Two more characters are introduced--Al Jabr and Exoristos--and look to join the group in the future if they all can survive an assault of the Questing Queen's horde.  But when Jason summons forth Etrigan to soak the floor with the blood of the raiders, Mordru sends some dastardly creatures to deal with those who oppose the Queen's will.
Cornell has created a fun, action-filled romp that wastes no time getting things moving.  Characters are introduced quickly and I know all of them with the exception of Al Jabr and Exoristos who I am sure will be explained later and this version of the Shining Knight looks to be the one from Grant Morrison's the Seven Soldiers series that I now must read.  I found Neves's art beautiful and well-suited to this Dark Ages tale.  Demon Knights is accessible to any new reader who is a fan of the fantasy genre.  A demonically good read.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Frankenstein Agent
of SHADE #1
Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1- Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Alberto Ponticelli, published by DC Comics.  Looking to take a journey into the weird?  Well, if you are--and you "gd" should be if you visit Donist World often--then Lemire's Frankenstein is the book for you.
The book opens with a boy and his grandfather fishing at a lake when a bunch of revolting monsters murder a dog (in gruesome fashion) and then proceed to tear apart the town.  While that is occurring, Frankenstein enters the new S.H.A.D.E. (Super Human Advanced Defense Executive) which is a three-inch indestructible sphere called "The Ant Farm" that requires visitors to be both teleported and shrunk down to size through the utilization of Ray Palmer's (The Atom from DC books of long ago) technology.  Frankie meets up with his "father" who has since taken the shape of a 12-year-old girl with a domino mask and Sailor Moon outfit ( wanted weird).  It is brought to Frankie's attention that his wife--a four-armed, green-skinned killing machine--went to stop the monsters and mysteriously vanished.  The Creature Commandos are introduced: Dr. Nina Masursky (gill woman), Warren Griffith (werewolf), Vincent Velcoro (vampire) and Khalis (mummy).  The team then heads out to confront the monster menace and find a startling discovery in the basement of a church.
I did not make up anything in the synopsis above...Jeff Lemire did, and he is awesome for it.  Those who read Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown, might be a little confused as to how that series leads into this one as a character who died in FatCotU is alive and well in this one and other characters don't appear at all, but an important thing to consider is that we got a mummy now, which is A-okay in my book.  As far as what happened in-between, I'm just going to chalk it up to a Flashpoint thing and since I did not follow the main book, I will just go with the flow.  The art took me a little getting used to, but around the half way point the roughness of the lines worked in the book's favor and set the mood.  Frankenstein is as weird as they come, but also loads of fun and something that any horror/camp/cult flick fan can jump right into.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Green Lantern #1
Green Lantern #1 - Written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Doug Mahnke, published by DC Comics.  I fell in love with the Green Lantern books during the Sinestro Corp War event from a few years ago and followed along with the introduction of the Red Lanterns, the Orange Lanterns and the rest of them.  I was psyched for the Blackest Night storyline, but was left less than enthused and Brightest Day put me off on Green Lantern all together.  If it were not for the respected opinion of a friend, I did not intend to pick this book up at all.  I'm glad I did.
Sinestro is once again a Green Lantern and the Guardians allow him to return to duty protecting his sector, despite protests from Ganthet who is lobotomized(?) by his fellow Guardians after Sinestro leaves.  Meanwhile, Hal Jordan is struggling in the real world with bills, rent and his own attitude issues that no longer work in his favor.  After his arrest and subsequent bail post by Carol Ferris, things only get worse.  Sinestro returns to his home planet of Korugar to see his old Yellow Corp subjugating his people in much the same way that he once did.  Less than pleased, he decides to seek the aid of an unlikely ally.
From what I read, Green Lantern and Batman are both books that will continue from where things left off in August, so I am unsure of why Sinestro is once again a Green Lantern and at odds with his Yellow Lantern corp, but that does not matter.  Sinestro is one of my favorite villains and I am intrigued at seeing how he handles life on the side of the "good guys" for a change, despite his eyes still burning yellow with the power of fear.  Seeing Hal Jordan fumble around his life as a civilian was a great character piece that honestly left me feeling bad for the cocky ex-hero.  Green Lantern left me with renewed interest in the book and excited to see what comes next.  As for a new reader, enough information is given to provide some idea of what is going on, but overall I can see reading this book as daunting for them; if they had seen this summer's Green Lantern movie that won't help matters.  This issue was exciting and left me hungry to see what was next which was pleasantly unexpected.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Grifter #1
Grifter #1 - Written by Nathan Edmonson and illustrated by Cafu, published by DC Comics.  Although I have known of the Grifter character from seeing him pop up in various old Wildstorm comics, I know next to nothing of who he is or what his powers and motivations are.  The purchase of this book was entirely off of the fact that I am a big fan of Edmonson's work, so it is of little surprise that I really enjoyed the first issue of Grifter.
Cole Cash is a con man wanted by the same dangerous people he has recently conned, and now all law enforcement agencies are also after him as he is a suspected terrorist and serial killer.  Life was fine for Cole until the day he was grabbed off the street by mysterious assailants and later awoke to sinister voices in his head that revealed aliens/demons that walk among us.  Too bad other people cannot hear the voices that prompt Cole to kill two individuals aboard a plane before jumping to the water below.  Unknown to Cole is that his brother, a special operations officer is now on his trail as well as the many people he has wronged.  How long was Cole unconscious?  Was it 17 minutes, 17 hours or 17 days?  What's with 17?
As I eagerly await the finale of Edmonson's fantastic Who is Jake Ellis?, Grifter looks to be a thrill ride adventure series of spys, conspiracies and a "hero" of questionable mental stability.  I was pleased to see Cafu's lovely art pushing the story and tension along and I look forward to discovering this new/old character and what this team has in store for him.  Easily accessible to anyone who is a fan of thought provoking action and conspiracy stories, Grifter is a smart fun comic that I look forward to reading for a long time to come.  RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

DC's Version of Where's Waldo...errr...the Lady in Red - Alright, this is not really a gripe or a problem, just a point of confusion.  So what is the deal with the mysterious Lady in Red who appears in each of the new 52 books anyways?  The most popular theory is that she is the big reset button on the the DC Universe if things were to blow up in the comic company's face, which does not appear to be an issue if sales continue to be high.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, look for the lady with the red hood that is hidden somewhere in one of the panels of each of the 52.  Trust me, cue up some Chris De Burgh's "Lady In Red" and play some "find the hooded chick," it's fun for about ten minutes.

Gd Retailers Getting All gd Incensed Over gd Crap
Sorry about that.  My dog jumped on my lap three times while writing the title of this entry and knocked the wind out of me...much in the way being hit by a shell fired from a tank would feel, I guess.  Anyhow some retailer got all bent out of shape over Superman saying the incredibly insulting, make-your-momma-cry, I-can't-believe-it's-not-butter sound of "gd."  You read that right, folks.  "Gd."  I think I might be sick I'm so appalled.  How could Grant Morrison commit such an affront and cause this poor, lone retailer to threaten to not stock the book or any other Morrison books?  And just in time for Banned Book Week no less!  Ban it!  Ban it!  Ban it!
"Gd."  What was the goddamn retailer thinking?!  Goddamnit!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 9/9/2011

(sung to the tune of Journey's "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)")

Batgirl's out
Only bought four of the 52 (two, two)
Got Stormwatch 
Need sadness
I'm buying Sweet Tooth (Tooth, Tooth)

Yes Animal Man
It will terrify
As does Swamp Thing, bro
It horrifies but I love those guys

Action Comics'll thrill you
That's 'cause DC wants it to
One read will remind you
Just how much
We liked the 52
If reboots are not for you
Morning Glories should do
Marvel, I still love you

Only this week
We liked the 52

No little story to introduce things this week, folks, there's a lot to talk about.   This past Wednesday was the first real week of the DC 52 releases and I have to say that my expectations were surpassed with the great comics that I picked up.  My main disappoint is with Batgirl, but only because my LCS was out of that book and it was not on my pull.  In fact, by the time I arrived at the shop (3:00 PM on Wednesday) almost all of the DC relaunch books were sold out, with Animal Man, Swamp Thing, OMAC, Batwing and another book being left to pick through.  I am surprised that Animal Man and Swamp Thing were two of the stragglers as these are two amazing books, which I will get to in a moment.  So what happened?  Did my comic shop get bum-rushed and have their stock decimated before I could get down there, or did they under order on these surefire hits?  I really hope it was the former case.

Friday Slice of Heaven


Animal Man #1
Animal Man #1 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Travel Foreman, published by DC Comics.  This is the book that I was most excited to read and the payoff was beyond what I could have ever hoped for.  Of the 52 released this week Animal Man is the clear champion of the day and I loved every bit of what I read.
Buddy Baker is many things: family man, stuntman, actor, activist and superhero.  Lately, he is going through somewhat of a midlife crisis, unsure of what his true path should be, opting "to take opportunities as they present themselves," but never achieving his full potential.  When he hears of a deranged man taking hostage of an entire hospital wing, Buddy dons the Animal Man suit and soars into the calm night sky, relieved at the momentary calm. At the hospital he easily stops the threat with the use of his animal powers, but receives an unexpected side effect when he starts to bleed profusely from the eyes.  Disturbed and exhausted, Buddy heads home to sleep, only to dream a horrific nightmare involving his family in peril as inflicted by "The Hunters Three," misshapen beasts that threaten "The Red" with rot.  He awakens to hear his panicked wife yelling for him to come outside, where he finds his daughter, Maxine, with some very unexpected guests.
Animal Man started as a family-centered superhero book and twisted and contorted to become a family-centered horror book unlike anything I could have expected.  Lemire succeeded in creating a story that hooked this long-time comic reader and made it something that a non-comic reader could enjoy.  He nails the realistic family dynamic perfectly with the tension between Animal Man and his wife, and the interactions with his children to such a degree that Buddy would be embarrassed to know his life was this open to the readers.
Also worthy of much praise is Travel Foreman and the images of tender moments and horrific ones with some of the best page turn reveals I have seen in a while.  I especially loved the nightmare sequence in black, white, red and gray that definitely brought the creepy.  Then there is the final page...brrrrrr.
In case I did not make it clear, I loved this book and I hope to see Lemire's Animal Man on the shelves for years to come.  This book exemplifies what DC set out to do with the relaunch, by creating a comic that was accessible, fun, and addictive; they very much succeeded.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Sweet Tooth #25
Sweet Tooth #25 - Everythinged by Jeff Lemire, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint.  Hey, will you looky there...another one of them funny books by Jeff Lemire.  It's safe to say that you can expect to see Sweet Tooth here in some form or other every time it comes out, which is not nearly enough (Weekly? Daily? Please?).
This brutal post-apocalyptic story continues as Gus fights for his life after receiving a gunshot wound from a mysterious shooter, and although Singh was able to remove the bullet, Gus has lost far too much blood.  While the animal hybrid boy lies dying, the tension between Jepperd and Walter Fish worsens, while the rest of the group sides with Fish and the perceived serenity that life at the dam holds for them.  Jepperd is cast out to fend for himself, and Gus delves further into his dream state (premonition?) that leaves him with having to make a terrible decision that hopefully will not have to play out in reality.  The issue ends with the return of someone thought dead and the return of others who we wish were dead.
I am pleased that Sweet Tooth (a Vertigo comic) survived the DC 52 reboot as it is one of my top five books on the shelves today.  Even though after reading every issue of this intense series I'm left feeling like someone punched me in the stomach 52 times and then tore my heart from my chest, I still come back hungry for more.  A mighty fine book that not enough people are reading, yet they should be.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
*I need to point out to all of the aspiring comic creators out there, that Tuesday, September 27, 2011, as part of the Comics Experience Comic Creators Workshop, Jeff Lemire will be on hand to discuss the first two trades of his incredible series Sweet Tooth.  This is not an event to be missed, but you must sign up to attend.  I have been involved with the Comics Experience community for over a year now and the experience and opportunities available are invaluable.

Action Comics #1
Action Comics #1 - Written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Rags Morales, published by DC Comics.  If someone were to tell me that a Superman comic would be reviewed on this site that did not feature Krypto and was not the fantastic All Star Superman, I would have called them a "no good stinking liar," but I would have been dead wrong.  The aptly named Action Comics was precisely that, loads of action and an immensely fun read that drew me in from the very first page.
The Glenmorgan company is celebrating a deal gone well, but unfortunately a young, unable-to-fly Superman is not happy with Mr. Glenmorgan's company policies.  Going outside the boundaries of law, Superman scares a confession of wrong doing out of the terrified CEO against the will of the Metropolis police, but to the vast approval of the average citizens who see the alien as a hero.  We next see Clark Kent as a ruffled young reporter paying rent in a rundown apartment and calling his friend Jimmy Olsen who is in the company of coworker Lois Lane who both work...for a rival newspaper.  A shorter, pudgier Lex Luthor, with the aid of a disgruntled Glenmorgan, sends a speeding bullet train out of control in an effort to draw out the mysterious alien who Lex repeatedly refers to as "it" and into the arms of the government.  All in one issue.
I immediately related to this jeans and boots wearing Superman that Morrison has provided and cheered as he tore down the corrupt corporation, while still learning the scope of his abilities.  Both Superman and Clark possess a well-defined charm, and Jimmy and Lois look to become great supporting characters, while Lex is definitely the villain you'll love to hate.  This book is a great reintroduction of this classic character with a highly accessible storyline that anyone should be able to pickup and enjoy.  I very much look forward to the next issue.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
*"Hey Supes?  I can get you the address for Koch Industries if you like.  You might want to have a chat with a couple brothers that work there.  I'm just sayin'..."

Swamp Thing #1
Swamp Thing #1 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Yanick Paquette, published by DC Comics.  I have been a fan of Swamp Thing since the '70s when Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson's introduced the plant monster to the DC Universe, but it wasn't until Alan Moore redefined Swamp Thing that I truly fell in love with the character.  Moore's Swamp Thing is one of my "stranded on a deserted island" books along with Miracleman, The Preacher, The Authority and Starman, so I have to admit that seeing Scott Snyder--one of my current favorite writers--attached to the property had me both joyful and apprehensive.  How does Snyder possibly followup Moore's treasured run?  Answer: Very well indeed, with an amazing story of his own.
Animals are dying in the air, underground and in the sea and no one knows why.  Alec Holland has returned to the land of the living and has the memories of the creature known as Swamp Thing and no idea how to be rid of them or the plants that are mysteriously drawn to him.  When Superman drops by to discuss the dying animals with Alec, he declines the alien's request and sends the man of steel on his way.  Meanwhile, something bad, something evil has risen in the desert and has taken shape with the use of dead animal parts.  It promptly attacks three men and forces them to kill themselves and to become Invunche(?).  The scene is nightmarish and will stick with the readers long after they put the issue down.  The book ends with Alec turning his back on "The Green," but that does not mean "The Green" intends to let him go.
I loved almost every bit of Snyder's Swamp Thing and had the same feeling of excitement that I had reading Moore's issues from over two decades ago.  There's some truly scary stuff to be found in these pages and Yanick Paquette's art perfectly complements the creepy story that Snyder is telling.  An added bonus is that with "The Green" and "The Red" both Swamp Thing and Animal Man look to be complementary titles that most likely will overlap at some point, which I am more than cool with.  My one and only problem with the book is the somewhat confusing timeline of what happened to Alec Holland.  Is this story its own deal, or set after Flashpoint or Brightest Day?  Also, when did this new Superman die?  Why was Alec Holland resurrected?  I'm not sure, but the other 95% of the story was great; maybe answers are coming further down the line.
The wait for issue two looks to be a painful one, and if not for the slightly confusing origin, I would not have to take the "very" from this HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! book.

Morning Glories #12
Morning Glories #12 - Written by Nick Spencer and illustrated by Joe Eisma, published by Image Comics.  Morning Glories has always been a polarizing series, but one that I have very much enjoyed and recommend although some of my friend's and colleagues would disagree.  To each their own as this issue provides insight into just how far away Morning Glory Academy actually is and reveals that the right people can and do leave.
The story opens with a cheerful Miss Hodge, the Morning Glory Academy school counselor returning from the outside world (?) and making a grand trek to reach the school.  The moment she steps inside the gates, Hodge is greeted by students thrilled to see her back on campus.  She jokes and laughs until she learns that students have been dying in her absence and she will have none of that.  Hodge appears to be one of the few people who can challenge Mrs. Daramount and an answer to the nature of their relationship is given.  Also revealed is the amount of control and cruelty the enigmatic "Headmaster" is willing to use on everyone at the academy.  But Hodge is not as truthful as she would like everyone to believe and whether or not she can be trusted is another question entirely.
Okay, is Miss Hodge a new character or someone we were introduced to back at the beginning of the series and I need to do some rereading?  I honestly have no idea, but I am intrigued by the woman and what her relationship to the new students will be.  Although answers to the ever-compiling questions still prove to be elusive, Morning Glories retains its grip on me and is a title that I look forward to reading each month.  RECOMMENDED!

Stormwatch #1
Stormwatch #1 - Written by Paul Cornell and illustrated by Miguel Sepulveda, published by DC Comics.  Yet another comic this week revamping a must-read series by a fantastic creator.  Warren Ellis's Stormwatch and The Authority are two of the best series about superheroes I have ever read, so I approached this book with some caution, but thus far, things seem like their going to be all right.
The book opens with The Engineer and Jack Hawksmoor (Ellis creations), Jenny Quantum (Mark Millar creation), and Adam One and Projectionist (Cornell creations?) along with Martian Manhunter (old as dirt, yet awesome character) attempting to convince Apollo (Ellis creation) to join their "professional" team of superheroes as someone who can possibly help save the world and/or standup to Superman if the need ever arises.  Meanwhile, The Engineer has determined that the moon is threatening the Earth and that poor Harry Tanner (Cornell creation?), who happens to be investigating the moon, might be in need of some help.  The Midnighter (Ellis creation) arrives to offer Apollo a different path than what Stormwatch is peddling.
Much happens in a very short amount of time in this issue, but we appear to know most, if not all, of the players involved and the scope of what Stormwatch is and does.  This is fine for someone who is familiar with most of the characters, but to a new reader the barrier to entry on this title is currently a bit high and likely to leave them confused.  This is not to say that issue two won't rein in the story, and the book becomes more accessible to all, I just see this first issue as problematic for new readers, which is the risk of starting a new group book.  That said, I still enjoyed the title and I am curious to see what happens next.  I want to know more about Adam One, Projectionist, and Harry Tanner and I'm curious to hear the backstory on all my Authority favorites.  Even though characters are being switched up, I hope that Apollo and Midnighter become the gay couple they were in the Wildstorm verse and remain the most powerful and the deadliest men alive.  RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

I Had to Restart This Entry From Scratch - I cannot begin to tell you how angry I was this morning when Blogger failed to Auto-save (a possibly deadly function to begin with) the later 2/3 of what I wrote this morning and then proceeded to auto-save a web address over the entire blog after I had nearly finished writing it.  That's right.  What you are reading was completely rewritten from the ground up.  Oh well, you live, you burn...with rage.  But hey, it's here!  I'm so very, very tired.

Obie Received a Skunk Mouthwash Earlier This Week - Okay, having your blog post vanish is annoying, but it is not nearly as terrible as getting skunked in the face, which happened to my friends' Boston Terrier, Obie, who is also my only other reader outside of my mom...and even she is on the fence about still following me.  Poor little puppy.  I'm sure it's going to be a rough couple of weeks for my friends having to live with that smell, but I can only imagine how bad it must be for a dog's sensitive nose.  It just goes to show you that when life sticks its ass in your face, backing away slowly might be a better course of action than confronting that particular problem.  I'm just sayin'.

A Twittering Moron and a Great Response By Gail Simone - You never know what you might find out on the ol' interwebs, but earlier this week I came across a tweet from some jerk begging Gail Simone to not put any gay people into her upcoming Fury of Firestorm comic book.  My first reaction was that this was a friend of hers making a joke, but that was not the case.  I was annoyed that someone could be that moronic, but Simone's response made me smile.  She basically said that if the guy was really that upset by a gay person being featured in one of her books and that if such a thing was offensive/a sin, then the guy should stop buying all of her books and move on to something else.  Cheers, Gail Simone.  I admittedly was not going to buy the Fury of Firestorm, but I will now, and I hope to see plenty of gay people in know, drinking coffee, driving cars, having good and bad days just like WE ALL DO.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 9/2/2011

(sung to the tune of Jay-Z "99 Problems")

If you've got comic problems I feel bad for you son
But this week's Donist World really shouldn't be one

I got the dish you see on the Locke and Key
Best get to your LCS before it's closed
Justice League's some big time "Money Cash Dough"
It's comics stupid, trust Donist he surely knows
The Sixth Gun's got mummies, yup it's got one of those
If you don't cry for Asher Cobb then your cold heart's been froze
Obie's the critic go bake him a casserole
If you don't like comics then go watch Jersey Shore
I got beef with FOX, no Locke and Key pilot. No show.
People really want to see it, That SO blows
At least put it on the damn iTunes
No go on Comic Con, I missed it there too, suckers
Oh well, Secret Avengers's cool
Just take a dip in the ol Donist comic book pool
Comic problems?  I feel bad for you son
But this week's Donist World really shouldn't be one
Hit me

Not sure yet, but this might be the last Donist World entry about comics.  You see, as I was writing the intro song I discovered my new found passion for the art rapping.  Comic book rapping to be exact.  I have sent Obie out to find me representation and to get me a dope record deal, which I have been lead to believe from those late night infomercials actually still exists.  We'll see, my faithful two readers, this time next year I should be rolling in cash-money from album sales and my hit single "Soul Gems, Warlock's Got 'Em, Beotch."

Friday Slice of Heaven


Locke & Key Vol. 2:
Head Games
Locke & Key Vol. 2: Head Games - Written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, published by IDW.  Alrighty folks, I'm stupid.  I read the first installment of the amazing Locke & Key series almost a year ago, and wrote a poorly worded review of it here.  Although I loved it, I waited until now to pick up the next storyline and all I can say is "What the hell was I thinking for waiting so long?"
Dodge, posing as high school student Zack Wells, is free and tormenting Ellie Whedon, who he is now living with, as he attempts to befriend Tyler and Kinsey Locke in an attempt to gather more of the magical keys.  Bode reveals the Head Key that he found to his older sister, brother and Zack leaving the four to begin experimenting with the key that allows the user to cram most anything into their head and gain knowledge from the item.  More distressing is the ability to take things out of one's head, which can do more harm than good.  Also a look back at how Dodge ended up in the Wellhouse.
Locke & Key changes what was originally my top three favorite comics on the stands to the now top four comics on the stands.  I LOVE this book.  A slow-burn horror tale with some of the most relatable characters I have ever had the pleasure to read.  Hill writes an addictive story that I did not want to put down and have already reread it a second time.  So very good and something everyone MUST read.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Locke & Key Vol. 3:
Crown of Shadows
Locke & Key Vol. 3: Crown of Shadows - Written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, published by IDW.  Thank goodness I ordered book three at the same time that I ordered the immensely enjoyable book two.
As the Locke children's mother continues to suffer an emotional breakdown, Dodge has succeeded in acquiring four of the keys (Anywhere, Echo, Ghost and Gender), but an altercation with the ghost of Sam Lesser sees the loss of one of those keys.  Kinsey, now minus certain components of her mind as a result of using the Head key, catches the eye of punker/mod Scot Kavanaugh and the pair along with two friends explore a cave that may very well take their lives.  Bode and Tyler discover the Giant key as Dodge locates the Shadow key, leading him to the Crown of Shadows and a renewed effort to locate the mysterious Black door.  With the Crown in his possession, Dodge unleashes all the shadows in the house to terrify and torment the Locke kids.  Finally, two more keys are found as the kids hold an unplanned intervention for their mother, Nina, concerning her alcoholism that goes all shades of wrong.
Damn.  This book gets better and better.  Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows has incredible dialogue, the like of which I can only dream of writing, and one of the most intriguing horror stories I have ever read.  Gabriel Rodriguez delivers some of his most stunning artwork to date with the best series of splash pages in comics.  My main problem with this book is that it has sucked me in completely and my LCS was out of volume four, which is a damn crying shame.  Just buy it!  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Sixth Gun #14
The Sixth Gun #14 - Written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Tyler Crook (huh?), published by Oni Press.  This issue served to rattle the norm of what I was used to reading in The Sixth Gun, with a story that barely mentioned Drake Sinclair and did not mention Becky Montcrief at all.
Instead, we find the tale of Asher Cobb, the "9-Foot Mystery Mummy" who attempted to steal the body of General Oliander Bedford Hume, but was distracted at the sight of Drake Sinclair before he was knocked off the moving train.  This issue opens with a traveling sideshow barker telling a young boy about the life of Asher and his amazing abilities, and how his mother died during childbirth, leaving the doctor to raise the boy as his own.  Suffering from giantism and distrusted by the town folk, Asher formed a bond with Ruth, a kind girl who he grew to love.  Unfortunately, Asher also suffered from "The Sight" and could see the future, including the death of himself, followed by Ruth.  Desperate to change fate, he consults some witches who turn him into the monstrous mummy that now does the bidding of his dark masters.  We also learn what he whispered to Drake at the end of the previous issue.
I read this issue before bed where my first thought was what the hell?  Where's Drake, Becky and the guns?  And what's up with Hurtt's art?  I was falling asleep as I read, not for lack of wanting to read the book, but rather exhaustion, so I went to sleep.  The following morning I reread the comic and was awake enough to see that Brian Hurtt did not illustrate this issue, but rather Tyler Crook (Petrograd, BPRD) was used as stand-in artist.  Although I prefer Hurtt on the book because his art is what I am used to (and beautiful to boot), Crook's art style is similar at times and different enough at others to keep things interesting, primarily during Asher's premonitions.  The matter of the missing main cast was not a problem as Asher's history is interesting and appears to be part of the overall story and not just filler.   The bottom line is that I really enjoyed this issue from The Sixth Gun-verse and the title remains one of my top three four series currently in print.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
*Note - I can't wait to see The Sixth Gun on SyFy and The Damned on Showtime.  Huge congratulations to Bunn and Hurtt on this tremendous news.

Secret Avengers #16
Secret Avengers #16 - Written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Jamie McKelvie, published by Marvel Comics.  Secret Avengers returns backed by one of the creators of some of my favorite all-time comics (The Authority, Planetary, Stormwatch), Warren Ellis, who instills a spark in a series that was beginning to see my interest wane.
This issue follows Steve Rogers, The Beast, Black Widow and Moon Knight as they explore a seemingly abandoned secret city located a mile under Cincinnati.  After exploring the wondrous locale, the four come into contact with members of the Shadow Council who have diabolical plans in store for the city and only the Secret Avengers stand between them and the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.  But The Beast has a plan, a plan with terrible repercussions that will trouble him for the rest of his days.
I was on the verge of removing Secret Avengers from my pull, but I decided to give the series another shot because of the new creative team; I am thankful I did.  Ellis brings his unique brand of humor and his knack for dialogue as well as enough action to keep any reader happy.  Then there is the McKelvie with his stylized art that gives, what has been a darker comic, an unanticipated look that I rather enjoyed.  McKelvie must have also been bribed to some degree on this series as he drew tons of different vehicles and buildings which I have heard are the bane of artists everywhere...perhaps next issue will see Ellis writing in tons of horses mixed with cars to really push his artist over the edge.  I enjoyed this issue and look forward to the next.  RECOMMENDED!

Justice League #1
Justice League #1 - Written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Jim Lee, published by DC comics.  Okay, as I said last week, I will be writing some thoughts on every one of the DC 52 titles that I actually pick up--for better or for worse.  I read this issue from the perspective of the guy who has been interested in comic books for almost three and a half decades and as young Donist, freshly prepped to be tormented for the later parts of junior high and visiting the comic store with his two dollar weekly allowance--of course I would need more than two weeks allowance to buy this comic but that is neither here nor there.
Justice League opens with the Gotham Police in pursuit of Batman who is in pursuit of a goggled, froggy-faced guy with the ability to change into ever-more dangerous monsters.  Enter Green Lantern, who is cocky and a bit naive for someone in charge of watching over the planet, and the pair track down the monster who kills himself before planting a device and chanting the name of he-who-will-be-the-villain...who does not show up.  The pair then decide to track down Superman, because the device is of an alien nature and so is "that guy in Metropolis."  They might have made a grave mistake.
Old man Donist says that Justice League was fun overall, but felt like something was missing and he let out a groan or two with some of dialogue, but nothing too bad; he will pick up the next issue.  He wants to see Darkseid, one of his favorite villains.
Young boy Donist says that Justice League was cool and he wants to see Green Lantern and Batman fight Superman (who looks spiffy in his new outfit btw).  He wants to see Darkseid and Wonder Woman...oh yes...he's really interested in seeing Wonder Woman.
Never-read-a-comic-in-his-life-but-watches-all-the-cartoons-and-movies Donist thought this was interesting, but has no idea what the hell a Darkseid is and wonders where all of the other characters are.  He will give the next issue a try, but he is concerned about the price and is not completely sold on what all the hubbub is about.  Digital at $3.99 is not something he is interested in.  $1.99 mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmaybe, but $.99 even better.
All three incarnations of the Donist say: RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

I Can't Watch the Locke & Key FOX Pilot - What the hell?!  Dancing With the Bores gets renewed season after season, yet a creative, thought-provoking pilot for a series based on a multiple award nominated/winning book gets a pass?  This just boggles my mind.  Have I seen the pilot?  No, but I would like to.  If if was available on iTunes or the PSN I would have already bought it and watched it...twice!  Now I'm going to have to resort to seedier means to gain access to this one episode and I really wish that was not the case.  Does anyone know of a back alley where I can buy a DVD of a handcam version of the Comic Con screener.  You know, one with people walking in front of the screen and loud mouth breathers.  I really want to see it and heck, I want to see the Wonder Woman pilot too.