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.


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