Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 10/28/2011

(Sung to the tune of OMD's "Secret")

I got a Secret Avengers, Aja's king
Martial arts sincerely is his thing
Loved The Sixth Gun I will never doubt
Them demon guns to stop freaking me out
There are books that you gotta read
I, Vampire is one that you need
It's not really all that hard Obie
Visit Donist World and you will see

Alright, thank you OMD for stopping by and you are more than welcome to perform "Messages" or "Electricity" or "Enola Gay"...okay, yeah, talk to y'all later.  You guys up for meeting at In-N-Out later?  We'll just take that as a date tbd.  Until that time it looks like it is just me and your pal Obie, my friends' Boston Terrier and my second reader after my mom.  Anyhow, I bought five books this week, but I'm only going to be talking about three of them as one underwhelmed and the other just was not my thang.  So have a look-see at this week's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Sixth Gun #16
The Sixth Gun #16 - Written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Brian Hurtt, published by Oni Press.  The Sixth Gun is usually the first comic that I read when I get home from the comic store.  It is one of the most consistent titles even when guest artists are brought in and remains one of my most anticipated titles month to month.  But, after this week of being less than enthused by my other books, I realized that this stellar comic is damn near impossible to follow, so I think I will be listening Vanessa Williams's advice and "save the best for last" going forward.
The story opens with Gregory VonAllen Montcrief talking to his young step-daughter, Becky Montcrief, in what appears to be a flashback.  While Becky plays in the yard, Gregory walks into the house and retrieves the Sixth Gun from under the bed and uses it to communicate with a very much adult Becky years in the future.  Meanwhile, Gord Cantrell sits on the porch of the abandoned plantation with his dead wife, Caroline, who had her heart cut out of her chest by General Hume many years ago.   In speaking with another ghost, that of the evil plantation owner, Braxton Bill Hood, Gord learns that there might be a way to bring his wife and children back to the land of the living.  The reason and method of Hood's demise becomes clear and Gord finds the books of the Six Guns, while present-day Becky realizes that the Sword of Abraham may not have her best interest at heart.
I loved this issue!  With little in the way of action, but the realization of an incredibly new cool power for the Sixth Gun, plus a deeper look into Gord Cantrell's past, this issue left me riveted and wanting more.  Sure I'm biting my nails to learn the fate of Drake Sinclair, but it's coming.  I'm more than happy with Bunn and Hurtt taking their time getting there so long as they keep giving me stories like this and they continue delving into their other fascinating characters.  I do hope to see the day when Becky finally takes charge and we learn more about her past and character, which I'm sure is not that far down the road.  I can't wait for issue seventeen.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

I, Vampire #2
I, Vampire #2 - Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, published by DC Comics.  Last month, issue one told the story of Andrew and Mary's years together as vampires: their love, their beliefs and the beginning of the end of their relationship.  It also showed Mary's betrayal of Andrew and her goal to rule the world...all from Andrew's point of view.  The second installment tells much the same story, only this time from the perspective of Mary, Queen of Blood.
Mary Seward has been a vampire for many years, but she has held her desires at bay out of respect for the love of Andrew.  But no longer.  In an act of betrayal, Mary sets a trap for her beloved maker, namely an army of vampires, all wishing to see him dead.  As he fights the much lesser undead, Mary joins the fight in one last, vain attempt to win her love over to her side, but Andrew will not bend.  With her adversary occupied, Mary leaves the scene to begin her crusade to rule the world.
Damn.  Cool.  Comic.  Damn, cool comic.  I, Vampire is unlike any vampire book/show/comic I have seen and Fialkov has succeeded in taking a horrible, evil creature and making her plight understandable.  Although the majority of this issue is a huge fight scene, it at no time becomes boring or repetitive.  Each attack, punch, kick and transformation is important to the direction these two characters are destined to take.  Sorrentino's art brings such tension and grace to the book, where one moment Mary is a beautiful, almost whimsical-looking woman, to the next where she is a creature of terror, with elongated jaws and a torn mouth full of teeth ready to combat Andrew's flowing mist form. With introductions out of the way, I am anxious to see where Fialkov and Sorrentino take us with the tragic story of these vampire lovers turned enemies.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Secret Avengers #18
Secret Avengers #18 - Written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by David Aja, published by Marvel Comics.  True confession time...I have been on the verge of canceling this title for quite a few issues, but the introduction of John Aman and Shang-Chi occasionally to the team has kept my interest sparked and having Warren Ellis added to the equation doesn't hurt.  Now it looks like I have to get the next issue, despite my grumbling at the $3.99 price point.
Shang-Chi stands in a space station located in the "No-Zone," completely surrounded by members of the Shadow Council; they don't stand a chance.  The Council is mining "bad continuums" for transmatter, a substance that a mere two gallons worth could turn the earth into a sun, and these terrorist are willing to unleash it on the world.  All that stands in opposition to the Shadow Council is Steve Rogers, Sharon Carter (wearing a Satan Claw...badass) and the aforementioned Shang-Chi.  Again, the evil-doers don't stand a chance.
Ellis's story was fun and I especially liked the panels and development given to Shang-Chi, whether he was fighting, or expressing his disapproval at being used as a thug, this character shined.  The real draw for me--aside from one of my favorite martial artists--was the art of David Aja.  The Immortal Iron Fist by Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker and Aja is one of my all-time favorite Marvel books, not just because of the stellar story, but also because of the amazing art by David Aja.  Seeing Aja tackling Shang-Chi left me wanting more of his beautifully choreographed fight scenes and the dramatic pauses in action for a character's moment of self reflection.  ***Plea to Marvel: Give us loyal readers a Kung-Fu comic.  How about a title that is eleven pages of Iron Fist and eleven pages of Shang-Chi.  ALL PAGES drawn by Mr. Aja and each story written by a talented writer.  *cough* *cough* I'm available and I know some other new writer folks too*cough* *cough*.  RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Layoff At Marvel - Sigh...I hate to hear news like this, but I sincerely hope that all of the talented people who lost their jobs land on their feet and continue to work towards making great comics...just as they were doing previously at Marvel.  I am sorry for you all.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

One Heck of a Bad Month

Okay, this post has nothing to do with comic books, writing, or the creation of art to any degree, so totally feel free to skip it as I detail all of my not-that-entertaining health problems...okay, maybe a little entertaining for you sickos out there.  This is mostly something I wanted to write about so that I remember what happened, how scary everything was and maybe there are some answers for those going through similar situations.  I will say that I now have plenty of material for future writing projects of the horror and possibly sci-fi genres, but that is not what I'm going to talk about right now.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 10/21/2011

(Sung to the tune of Electric Light Orchestra's "Evil Woman")

I'm all happy you see, 'cause good comic books will never end.

Hey Obie, you got the blues, cos you ain't got no books to peruse
Visit your LCS, you know where, you need some titles?
Best get over there
I'm kind of stoked that Mystic three came in
But I missed issue two which equals no win
Won-der Woman it's a total gas
Snyder's Batman, it's great, you bet your ass.

W-Wonder Woman, W-Wonder Woman, W-Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman

After last week's monster FSoH/SitW entry with so many fantastic comics, it was kind of a relief to only have three books to talk about.  I'm certain there would have been four books, but I will have to put a temporary hold on Mystic #3, as my LCS skipped on issue #2 and I'm not going to read them out of order; the first issue was great btw.  I will also mention that I picked up Justice League #2, which was okay, but not for me.  I must mention that Jim Lee's art on this issue was out of control in it's beauty and definitely something to be admired.  Again, it just wasn't my cup of tea.  For now, here are the three wonderful books that I loved this week...drumroll please, Obie, it's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Batman #2
Batman #2 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo, published by DC Comics.  In a past few FSoH/SitW entries, I discussed how blown away I was by Scott Snyder's Detecive Comics run (available on Comixology and in hardcover in November, you owe it to yourself to pick it up!) and how I loved the dark, twisted, slow-burn tale he was telling.  It was genuinely scary, but something that I could not put down.  The new 52 reboot and Snyder's move to the Batman proper title is not quite as dark, but just as enjoyable.
The story opens with Bruce Wayne thinking about the architecture of Gotham and Wayne tower in particular as he is thrown through one of the "unbreakable" windows by an assassin, and left to plummet to his death.  24 hours earlier, Batman foils a robbery attempt involving a helicopter, a train and the batcycle in way that shows just how kickass Batman really is.  Later, Jim Gordon examines the autopsied body of the dead man from the first issue and is joined by Batman via a holographic image and scanner that Batman installed in the morgue to avoid having to break in on a regular basis.  The two come to a few conclusions about the man, but Batman does not disclose that the skin found under his fingernails belongs to Dick Grayson...Nightwing.  Back at the tower right before the story opener, Bruce Wayne meets with Lincoln March "the next mayor of Gotham" and the pair are assaulted by a Court of Owls assassin, a group who Batman has denied even exists.  Wayne gets trounced pretty bad, but manages to survive the encounter while the assassin, who should be dead from the fall, escapes, seemingly unscathed.
Crimony!  This was a great comic.  Issue one was very good, but served mostly to (re)introduce the reader to Batman, Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne and set up the story.  This issue opens with action and keeps the momentum going for the entire issue, while upping the creepiness factor and the threat level.  Snyder succeeds in taking Batman and his unshakeable confidence in his knowledge of everything Gotham and begins to methodically fracture that certainty.  I'm anxious to see how this turns out for Batman, it's probably not going to be pretty.  Then there is the matter of Greg Capullo's beautiful art that improves upon the already impressive first issue and FCO's colors which bring mood and life to Capullo's images in stunning fashion.  Very enjoyable and one the best of the 52.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Wonder Woman #1
Wonder Woman #1 - Written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Cliff Chiang, published by DC Comics.  I have really wanted to find a jumping on point with Wonder Woman, spending much time perusing the intimidating number of tpb's, written by a multitude of writers and with differing looks of the Amazon warrior whether in her classic gear, business suits, leather jackets with shoulder pads and long pants, or spy gear, and each time I have turned away, usure of where to start.  Thank goodness for the DC 52 reboot.  I missed this first issue the first time around, which was disappointing, but going to the glass half-full side, I got the second print and issue two on the same day.
Wonder Woman begins with a depiction of Apollo that I have never seen before: wealthy, business suit, ebony skin and burning eyes.  Apollo is attempting to locate his missing father, Zeus, who is supposedly off catting around with whatever mortal woman he can find.  A naked woman in a peacock cloak and hood creates a pair of centaurs in a horrific manner unlike anything I have ever seen before.  We then jump to a woman named Zola, who has Hermes, the messenger of the gods--also given a unique appearance--held at gunpoint, but the god is then gravely wounded by the centaurs who are after Zola, or mainly the child that she unknowingly carries; Zeus's child.  Hermes gives the panicked girl a key that teleports her to Diana, Wonder Woman, and Zola brings the warrior woman back to where the injured Hermes lies.  A brutal and intense fight between the Amazon and the centaurs erupts and Wonder Woman easily shows just how formidable she is.
Fast paced, exciting and a great (re)introduction to this amazing hero that embraces the mythological and skirts the lines of horror, providing a book that is everything I enjoy and should be enjoyable to others as well.  To those less familiar with Greek mythology, there will be some confusion as to what is going on, but things will be clarified as the story progresses.  Little insight into Wonder Woman's history is spent in these pages, and that is fine.  The reader knows that Wonder Woman is a protector of those in harm's way and at the same time a ruthless, cunning warrior not to be taken lightly and Azzarello shows this through her actions as opposed to exposition.  Cliff Chang's art is perfectly suited to the Princess of Power with smooth transitions from normal people talking, then to a horrific event and then to intense action.  I also liked the subtle touch of Diana's room in London that gave further insight into Wonder Woman's character by showing that she does not have any art or plants or personal keepsakes, only practical items: a bed, a wardrobe, a chair and water.  Also worthy of mentioning is Matthew Wilson's coloring that helped all of the characters stand out and provided additional tension to the action scenes.  Overall, this was a fantastic book that I expect to be reading for quite some time and a perfect jumping on point for those not knowing where to begin.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Wonder Woman #2
Wonder Woman #2Written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Cliff Chiang, published by DC Comics.  In case you didn't notice from the previous review, I was pretty blown away by the first issue of Wonder Woman and the second issue did not disappoint.
This issue opens with the purple-toned Strife (no idea who she is in Greek Mythology) speaking with Zeus's wife, Hera, about Zeus's dalliances and confirming that Hera wishes to destroy the child that Zola carries.  Diana, Zola and an injured Hermes travel to Paradise Island where we are introduced to Wonder Woman's mother, Hippolyta, and her great big axe.  Hermes gets bandaged up and tells Zola the legend of Diana's creation out of clay by the barren Hippolyta.  Wonder Woman agrees to a sparring match with her friend Aleka in one heck of a cool battle spread, until Strife comes down to Paradise Island, looking not for Zola but Wonder Woman, leaving many dead Amazons in her wake.
Another fast moving issue with only slightly less action, Azzarello's tale is no less compelling.  Although we only get to see a small glimpse of Paradise Island, it is apparent that there is a deep and rich history waiting to be explored and one that I hope to see told over the coming year, with other characters like Hippolyta and Aleka given some additional development.  First thing's first, though, and the mystery of Wonder Woman's back story looks to be an exciting one.  Chiang's art is again stellar and I am going to do search to see what else he has done, while Matthew Wilson's colors continue to add additional life to the already beautiful characters.  I can't wait to see what happens in issue three.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

I Have Mystic #3 But Not Mystic #2 - Grrrrrrr...I really want to read this book, but I can't go out of sequence on this really cool four-issue mini.  It's on order so hopefully in a couple weeks I will have a copy in my collection.

Further Health Issues - I'm writing a long piece about what has been going on over the past three weeks, that I am deciding whether or not I should post.  I probably will, but we'll see.  Let's just say it hasn't been pleasant and has been quite scary, but I am hoping things are finally under control and that I am recovering.   I am beyond thankful for my wife's help and caring through everything; she is the true Wonder Woman.  I'm also glad to have more of my wits about me so I can continue writing and working on my projects and such.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 10/14/2011

(sung to the tune of Prince's "Let's Go Crazy")

Dear comic reader, we have gathered here today
To read some kick ass comics
Groovy word comics it means super heroes, cool spies and troubled teens
But I'm here to tell you 'bout some sweet books from...
The Donist World!
A world of never ending happiness
Batwoman and Who Is Jake Ellis? Yeah!

So when you go to your LCS to buy Grifter
Or you know the ones...Frankenstein, The Shade and Stormwatch
Instead of asking them how much this is gonna cost
Ask him how much of your mind, baby.
'Cause in this life Demon Knights and Green Lantern are the most
This life you got Donist World

And if your LCS tries to bring you down
Go Crazy
Buy even more comics!

Thank you, Prince for joining Obie, my friends' Boston Terrier and my only other reader outside of my mom, and I here at Donist World.  Or do you prefer to go by Symbol?  Or is it The Artist Formerly Known As Prince?  I...oh, where you going?  Um we made some PB&J sandwiches, don't you want--okay, stay cool Prince.  (Donist then goes through the following motions: points at his eye, pretends to snap a twig, makes a gun shape with his fingers that he then points at his head, then holds up four fingers, then points at Prince as his driver slams the car door shut and the Purple One speeds off with the rising sun).  Okay, thank you, buddy.  Anyhow, let's not drag things on as I bought ten books this week and I'm going to be talking about nine of them, so this will be a LONG Donist World entry.  Hold on, Obie is spelling something out with his kibble...Donist, you su...hold on, he's still spelling it out.  Looks like he is adding a "c" to the "su"...well, we'll come back to Obie in about never, so for now hold on to your seat, it's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Batwoman #2
Batwoman #2 - Written by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, illustrated by J.H. Williams III, published by DC Comics.  I'm a huge fan of Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III's run on Batwoman and have written about it here at Donist World in the past, heaping the praise on both the creators and this fascinating character.  But, when I heard that Rucka was bidding a fond farewell to DC and that Williams III and someone named W. Haden Blackman were going to pick up where the original run had left off, I was hesitant to be excited about this rebooted book.  Boy howdy was I wrong. 
The story opens with Batwoman and Flamebird beating the snot out of some golden age-era thugs with some moments reminiscent of Sonny Chiba in Street Fighter to grim, but awesome effect.  Cameron Chase from the Department of Extranormal Operations tracks down Detective Sawyer, suspecting her of being Batwoman.  The Weeping Woman claims another victim.  Kate Kane begins to romance Detective Sawyer, who walks knee deep into a gang-related murder mystery of the weirdest proportions.  Batman attempts to bring Batwoman into the Batman, Inc fold.  The story ends where the Weeping Woman's murders began...the boat house, but will Kate survive her ghostly adversary?
I am loving this book.  I'm counting it up there with Animal Man and Swamp Thing as my most eagerly anticipated monthly books of the 52.  The story continues to be strong and adds the new element of the gang war murders, but it is the development of Kate Kane as a character, her apprehension to talking to her father, her hesitance to join Batman, Inc, her budding romance with Detective Sawyer and her mentoring of Flamebird that I am loving the most; now I'm anxious to dig into the other characters.  Then, of course, there's the creepy mystery of the Weeping Woman lingering in the background daring the reader to want to know more.  Williams III's art is beautiful as ever, with one of the coolest pages occurring at the beginning where the bad guys are colored in bright flats, Flamebird colored with less saturated hues, and Batwoman being fully rendered to a visually striking degree; the effect is stunning.  Blackman and Williams III had a hard act to follow with the original Detective Comics Batwoman run, but they pulled it off with no problems.  If you want a great story, a scary mystery and a strong female lead, who is not all bouncing boobies and a total ditz in overly-revealing clothes, but instead seek someone intelligent, passionate, who knows what she wants and dares opponents to defy her, then this is the book for you.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Who Is Jake Ellis #5
Who Is Jake Ellis? # 5 - Written by Nathan Edmondson and illustrated by Tonci Zonjic, published by Image comics.  The concluding issue of this exceptional spy/mystery tale finally arrived, but was it worth not just the wait, but the journey as well?  Definitely.  
Jon Moore and the mysterious Jake Ellis, the man in Jon's head, have infiltrated the Sandbox where the men remember being experimented upon, but something is not right with Jake.  The closer they get to discovering the truth, the less Jake seems to know and the more confused he becomes, until Jake suddenly vanishes from Jon's mind.  Then enters the doctor who experimented/tortured Jon and the explanations begin to fly, including the full reveal.  Armed with the knowledge of who Jake is, Jon attempts to escape the Sandbox with his friend in tact, but doing so will be no easy task and may very well cost both Jon and Jake their lives. 
Wow, I really did not expect that.  I was close to determining who/what Jake was, but I still did not guess this.  All I will say is that I was stunned and surprised in the best of ways.  Edmondson crafted an intriguing story with two characters who really held my interest and left me wanting more for the entirety of this excellent series.  Then there is Tonci Zonjic and his beautiful art and unique use of color to pull emotion and excitement even further panel to panel (the Barcelona pages left me wishing I was there again, so very lovely).  I was introduced to Edmondson's work through the Comics Experience program and was impressed by the man's passion for telling stories and his honesty and willingness to share everything about his experiences in the comic industry with the class and when he brought up Who Is Jake Ellis? I knew I had to give the title a shot; I am so glad that I did.  I believe a trade of this fantastic series will be available in about a month and this is a book for those needing a break from the capes and tights.  Give it a try and just buy it!  Also available through Comixology.  I'm anxious to read the series again in its entirety.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Grifter #2

Grifter #2 -  Written by Nathan Edmondson and illustrated by Cafu, published by DC Comics.  The story about a character who I knew next to nothing about from the forgotten days of the pre-52 continues with non-stop action and excitement.  
Cole Cash is still plagued by the alien voices in his head, but he has a moment of relief when his partner in crime, the lovely Gretchen, agrees to meet the frazzled con artist at a diner.  But, things just won't slow down long enough for Cole to organize his thoughts as an alien posing as a police officer notices him and Cole is again fighting for his life.  Gretchen misunderstands the fight and chases Cole off, who then steals a police car until he comes face to face with his brother, Max, the man tasked with bringing him in.  Finally, certain government agencies begin to suspect that Cole might not be as crazy as he seems.
Talk about epic action scenes that work well with the story and do not exist merely for the sake of being gratuitous, and you have another great issue of Grifter.  Edmondson excels at the slow reveal intermixed with fast-paced storytelling and this issue is no exception.  Cafu provides some lovely panels and the scenes all flow naturally at a lightning pace that left me frantically flipping through the pages.  Exciting, fun and engaging this is a great book for new readers and old.  I can't wait to see what comes next.  RECOMMENDED!

The Shade #1
The Shade #1 - Written by James Robinson and illustrated by Cully Hamner, published by DC Comics.  I was a fan of Robinson's Starman with the release of the "Zero" issue back in the mid-nineties.  I could see much of myself in the the reluctant hero of Jack Knight and that was enough to sell me on the book alone, but it was the character of the enigmatic Shade that really pulled me deep into the book.  Here is a character who was a joke in the olden days, and now one who has done horrible, terrible things, but he has grown tired of the ways of evil and has found a new purpose, that of protecting that which he loves most...Opal City.  I loved the redemption of this borderline demonic character and the respect/friendship that he developed with Jack and the degree to which Robinson made me care about this villain turned noble.  Here we are years later and I still love the character and I'm sold on this 12 issue series.
October brings melancholy for Opal City's dark benefactor Richard Swift, also known as The Shade.  It is the month that he was created and became the master of the darkness and creatures that live within the world he controls.  Mikaal, the blue-skinned alien and most recent hero of Opal City to wear the mantle of Starman, enjoys a cup of tea with The Shade, but neither can get past their gloomy moods.  Private Detective William Von Hammer finds himself the target of an assassination attempt by some meta-humans, which makes Hammer worried for The Shade. The Shade and his love, Hope O'Dare, share an intimate moment, but Dickie Swift is not himself and Hope prescribes going on an adventure to sort himself out.  At the end, a surprise villain appears and The Shade is left in the most dire of situations that only he (hopefully...we have eleven more issues to go!) can survive.
I was thrilled when I read that Robinson was returning to The Shade, a character that he did not create, yet one that he defined to be one of my favorite reformed villains.  The reintroduction to Dickie Swift is refreshing and this issue left me excited for the next issue.  Cully Hamner provides a unique, almost cartoonish look to the characters in the book, but when The Shade uses his powers the reader witnesses a transformation to thedark, cruel Shade of the past to great effect.  Well worth the purchase for Starman fans, but possibly a bit confusing to the new reader (if you have not read Robinson's Starman it is must-read material) initially, but enough background is given to bring them up to speed.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Stormwatch #2
Stormwatch #2 - Written by Paul Cornell and illustrated by Miguel Sepulveda and Al Barrionuevo, published by DC Comics.  The first issue of Stormwatch moved bit too fast in an effort to introduce all of the characters, many of whom were brand new, but it was still an enjoyable read.  With introductions out of the way, issue 2 kicks everything into high gear giving more pages to the story and the threat at hand.
The chapter opens with a look at who Adam One is and his historical origin, but not all is well in the ranks of Stormwatch as The Engineer does not respect the nearly immortal man as leader.  Martian Manhunter attempts to recruit not only Apollo, but also the Midnighter to the ranks of the team.  Poor Harry Tanner is forced to deal with "The Scourge of Worlds" on his lonesome, but he manages to hold his own against the terrifying beast, while Adam One and the Projectionist attempt to hide the monstrous threat from the populace of the earth, to comical degree.  But that is where the fun ends as the moon launches monsters at the earth and Harry Tanner might be a much different man after taking on the knowledge of The Scourge of the Worlds.
Although I really enjoyed the first issue, Stormwatch #2 manages to improve on both pacing and story and the threat level becomes real.  Cornell inserts some subtle humor into this epic superhero team book without pushing aside the urgency of the situation or the nature of the characters.  The art is also a vast improvement over the first issue, whether it is the introduction of Al Barrionuevo or some other unknown factor, it just looks better; maybe the beautiful colors of Alex Sinclair had something to do with it as well.  A nice cliffhanger and the next issue looks to be filled with action; I look forward to it.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Demon Knights #2
Demon Knights #2 - Written by Paul Cornell and illustrated by Diogenes Neves, published by DC Comics.  Being a big fan of Etrigan the Demon, Demon Knights looked to be right up my alley, and although Etrigan and Jason Blood are not as prevalent in the second issue as they were in the first, the story is enjoyable and the action tremendous when coupled with the excellent supporting cast. 
Dragons strike the tavern that houses Etrigan and those who I assume will become the Demon Knights, and boy did they pick the wrong tavern to plunder.  Blood flies, Vandal Savage (who is fantastic as a fun loving eternal warrior) beats a dragon to death with...another dragon, Etrigan grows wings, and the Shining Knight slices and dices.  The Wandering Queen and Mordru take notice of the magics being used and send some powerful magic of their own at the warriors.
This series is very much engrained in the realm of fantasy, which is a benefit for DC as none of their other titles fit into the "sword and sorcery" category.  Neves's art is beautiful and his sequential storytelling intense and I hope to see him on this title for quite some time.  As for the lead character, well, it's Etrigan, of course I love him, but not much is revealed into his character in this book, with the shining stars definitely belonging to Vandal Savage and the The Shining Knight; Ex is not that bad either, although I really want to know more about her.  This is a fun book that looks to get better as the story progresses and I am happy to be along for the ride.  RECOMMENDED!

Frankenstein Agent
of SHADE #2
Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #2 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Alberto Ponticelli, published by DC Comics.  This comic is odd, weird and ultimately a highly enjoyable read.  Frankenstein reminds me of the old black and white Vampirella and Monsters magazines that I used to love as a kid, but this book takes the monster mashup genre and mixes in a healthy dose of weird sci-fi, for yet another unique book in DC's 52 lineup.
Frankenstein and the gang have succeeded in routing the monsters that were destroying the city, but when it is determined that they came from a portal at the bottom of Bone Lake that leads to Dead Space the Creature Commandoes go to check it out.  The big guy and Nina dive into the lake to research the portal and the reader is provided a glimpse into the life of Nina Mazursky and how she was the one who turned herself and fellow teammates into the sea creature, werewolf and vampires they are today.  We also learn that her previous failed experiments were banished to a microscopic prison within their microscopic base, leaving a future storyline in the making.  At the bottom of the lake, Nina and Frankenstein uncover the town's horrendous history, before they are joined by the rest of the team to head into the portal where they find...
Frankenstein continues the monster mayhem and the cliffhanger ending promises that issue 3 will be intense as the crew fights their way through Dead Space.  Lemire shows his love of the classic characters and subject matter and when combined with Ponticelli's rough, stylized pencils the result is an homage to the horror books of the '70s.  Jose Villarrubia also deserves much praise for his wonderful color palette that imperceptibly leads the eye where it needs to go.  This is not a book that is to be taken too seriously, but one that any fan of monsters with science fiction should enjoy.  RECOMMENDED!

Green Lantern #2
Green Lantern #2 - Written Geoff Johns and illustrated by Doug Mahnke, published by DC Comics.  Green Lantern: Rebirth got me back into Green Lantern and especially Hal Jordan, then came along the brutal Sinestro Corp War and I was excited for everything Green Lantern.  Then with the promise of the other emotional spectrum rings I was enthralled and biting my nails for Blackest Night, which fell flat for me.  Even more so for Brightest Day.  After that I was done with GL, but with the reboot I thought, "Why not?"  I'm glad I did.
There's nothing worse than hearing the doorbell ring, and fully expecting the mailman with an amazon package with the new blu-ray you ordered waiting for you, only to find Sinestro standing in the doorway.  Welcome to Hal Jordan's life.  Having lost the power ring, Jordan is helpless as Sinestro abducts him and proceeds to lecture the former hero about responsibility and thinking on a grander scale than he has in the past.  Sinestro then creates a ring for Jordan, a ring incapable of causing its creator harm and with a shutoff switch that Sinestro can control with a whim.  Sinestro then provides a demonstration of thinking on a grander scale by not just saving individuals, but fixing the problem endangering them in the first place.  A Sinestro corp member attempts to kill Sinestro, and fails, and Jordan is told what Sinestro actually wants of him.
Wow, this was a fun book. The story looks to scale out nicely in the next issue and with any luck Hal will actually have more to do than look stunned and speechless, but that is fine for this issue.  The spotlight belonged to Sinestro and that is actually why I chose to take a chance and buy these first two issues and I'll be back for the next as well.  RECOMMENDED!

Morning Glories #13
Morning Glories # 13 - Written by Nick Spencer and illustrated by Joe Eisma, published by Image Comics.  This series continues to confuse, yet enthrall and keep me coming back for more.  Spencer has mentioned this book lasting anywhere from 60 to 100 issues, and I'm buckled in and ready for the ride.
A brief flashback to a young Casey provides a little insight into her strong will and determination.  Back at the academy after delivering the "let's just be friends" deathblow to Hunter, Casey receives an envelope from Mrs. Hodge, the guidance counselor, that leaves her worried and she sets off with Jade to find the boy she just crushed.  Unfortunately for the Morning Glories, the school decrees the day to be "Woodrun" day (no idea what that is) and all the students are put into groups of three.  With worsening luck, Casey ends up with Jade and the boy she despises most, Ike.  Not to be dissuaded, Casey drags her "team" to a hidden cave to meed Mrs. Hodge, who is less than enthused to see Ike instead of Hunter.  The group then enter an underground room of dancing shadows and light, and Mrs. Hodge and Casey attempt to leave the school and succeed, but not quite in the way they hoped to.
Okay, I'm not totally sure what the hell is going on, but I am definitely enjoying the mystery and the suspense.  "Woodrun" leaves me fearful, Mrs. Hodge and the cave leave me bewildered and the Morning Glories--minus Ike--leave me sympathetic, but stuff is happening even if I am not certain of what it is exactly.  Eisma's art continues to be consistent and does not feel as rushed as it has on past issues, although there is panel four on page two where young Casey is doing something weird in front of a she hugging it?  Kissing it?  Walking into it?  I have no idea, but it is a odd choice to let this one panel through.  That said, this issue was 32 pages of story for $2.99 and that simply cannot be beat, so a big thank you to Spencer and Eisma for eating the additional cost and holding the line at $2.99.  Morning Glories continues to be an enjoyable read, but not necessarily accessible to someone just wanting to jump in on this issue.  If you want something very different from all of the superhero books, and you are patient enough to wait for the payoff, then definitely pick up the trades.  RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

This Post Was a Doozy! - Not complaining about this, but of the ten books that I bought this week, the nine mentioned above rocked my world and were worthy of mentioning.  90% amazing works for me, but dang this post took a while to write, but I am thrilled that comics of such quality are hitting the stands and that readership is up, which is great for aspiring writers like ol' Donist.  My pocketbook is not happy with me this week, I will tell you that much.  If you want to read some fantastic comics, definitely check these out, you can't go wrong.

As always, let me know what you think, or let me know of books I should be reading to further beat the crap out of my finances in this down economy.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 10/07/2011

(Sung to the tune of Hall & Oats's "Your Kiss Is On My List")

Obie wonders why I buy books
All of the time, what can I say
I don't think they'll ever give Animal Man away
He's not sure about Chew but I know that I'm right, all right

He's just better off listening to my dang advice
But I insist that Sweet Tooth is bliss, I tell him this
Is Action Comics good? You bet it is!
Puppy just buy the comic and I'll tell you why

(It's my pull list)
That title's on my list
(It's my pull list)
That title's on my list
(Swamp Thing is on my list)
Of the best things in life

Thank you Misters Hall and Oats for visiting me while I convalesce and for performing this week's Donist World opening song for both myself and my friends' Boston Terrier, Obie, one of my two faithful readers...hi Mom.  Anyway thanks again and I am indeed happy to be off the vicodin and able to string together a semi-compent string of thoughts and words.  I would say that the past week has been a long one, but that is not necessarily true as it is all one big blur, which is probably for the best, but good thing that I am on the mend as there were a few books that I had to read and tell y'all about this week.  So here comes...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Animal Man #2
Animal Man #2 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Travel Foreman, published by DC Comics.  If my LCS had not pulled this title for me this week, I would have been pretty upset as this is the comic in the new 52 that I enjoyed the most.  But did it deliver everything that I hoped a followup issue could deliver?  Oh yes, very much so.
The Baker family is shocked to their very foundations when they find their youngest child, Maxine, in the backyard playing with some of the neighborhood animals.  The only problem is that all of the animals are dead.  Aside from resurrecting pets, Maxine exhibits powers that rival those of her father and she has a knowledge of "the red" that is far beyond her years.  When Buddy again bleeds from the eyes and strange markings, almost like tattoos, appear on his body, his daughter is the one who points out that the markings are a map to "the red."  An angry neighbor discovers first hand (get it? gotta read it) the disturbing effects of what Max can do, and Animal Man and his daughter fly off on their journey.  At the end, the monstrosities from the first issue make an appearance in one of the most horrific scenes I have ever seen. 
Wow!  I blazed through this book and was saddened that I now have a month-long wait for the next installment.  Reading the story of Maxine and Buddy reminds me of the great Alan Moore issues of Miracleman with the immensely powerful Winter explaining the world to her father who can no longer keep up with his daughter.  Lemire ups the horror aspect of this exceptional book to eleven, instilling the reader with a feeling of dread but leaving them unable to turn away.  Travel Foreman's art is now the only art that I can imagine on Animal Man, with his ability to one moment show the emotion and vulnerabilities of the Baker family and the next show the grotesque nature of the Hunters Three.  Complementing Foreman's beautiful art is the coloring of Lovern Kindzierski, who uses a muted coloring beautifully to remind the reader that they are reading a comic book and a great one at that.  This is the best book of the current 52 and I cannot express enough how great it is.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!

Swamp Thing #2
Swamp Thing #2 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Yanick Paquette, published by DC Comics.  My only complaint with the first issue is that there was some confusion as to what was going on and what had happened in the past.  This issue managed to clarify on what had happened.
The story opens with World War II fighter pilot Calbraith A.H. Rodgers recounting his life and recounting his need to be a pilot in order to be as far away from the ground and "the green" as possible.  But when he is shot down he is eventually taken and changed into the Swamp Thing of the time.  This Swamp Thing is who stands before the resurrected Alec Holland to ask him to become a champion of "the green" and challenge the horror that is Sethe, the opposing force to both "the green" and "the red," a force of rot and decay.  Having left the protection of the Parliament of Trees and deteriorating rapidly, with his dying breath the Swamp Thing warns Holland to beware the woman with the white hair.  Holland returns to his room only to find the property is overrun with the dead, all of whom have their heads facing backward.  When all seems lost, a woman with a motorcycle rescues Alex, but he might just be in worse shape than he was before, as this woman has white hair.
Swamp Thing and Animal Man are the perfect complementary books to one another and I hope that they stay that way for a long time to come.  Snyder is no stranger to writing compelling horror stories, and this one does not spare the chills for a moment.  Paquette only adds to the fear and darkness with amazing art with my only complaint being that some of the pages are a tad confusing in regard to text balloon flow, but with a little effort the story soon became clear.  Swamp Thing is a scary comic and one that should be read right before bedtime and in the same sitting as Animal Man.  The next issue cannot come soon enough.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Action Comics #2
Action Comics #2 - Written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Rags Morales, published by DC Comics.  Here I am back after a month and excited for a Superman book...a Superman book.  Who would have ever thunk it?  Not me, that is for sure and this month's installment does not disappoint, rather it exceeded my already high expectations.
The man of steel is being held prisoner by Lex Luthor to determine any and all weaknesses that the alien might have.  The testing is not going well...for Luthor or the military.  Lois Lane knows that Superman is being held on the base and attempts to talk her way into seeing the man who saved her and Jimmy Olsen last issue, but Superman has already made his escape.   The story ends with Lex receiving a call from someone I was not expecting in the least.
Action Comics has managed to reignite my love of Superman, something I had lost more that two decades ago.  Morrison provides an interesting take on the early years of the man of steel and provides the back story for the enmity that will eventually rise between Kal-El and Lex Luthor.  Rags Morales provides more stunning artwork, not counting a couple odd shots of Lois Lane.  Action Comics continues to be fun and exciting and I highly anticipate issue three, which for a lapsed Superman fan is a feat in itself.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Chew #21
Chew # 21 - Written by John Layman and illustrated by Rob Guillory, published by Image Comics.  Chew has not failed me yet, and I would say that this latest issue was just as good as all the others, but it isn''s even better.
Applebee is overjoyed to finally be rid of Tony Chu, after firing him and having him moved down to the traffic division.  Tony has to wear a silly getup, and where he leaves dreading his first day of work at the new job, things don't go all that bad.  Where Applebee hated him, his new boss, Marshall Mello, welcomes him to the team wholeheartedly and Tony is taken aback by the kind treatment.  But handing out parking citations begins to weigh heavily on the cibopath until a crime scene presents itself and this newly appointed traffic cop takes charge and solves the case.  The only question is, how will Mello take the news of Tony going outside of his current duties.
This issue was classic and the first two pages of Applebee skipping through the street--especially the Michael Jackson homage--are some of the funniest pages I have read outside of Axe Cop.  This comic continues to attempt to gross out readers, but at the heart of each issue is a great story with unique and fantastic art that make this series a joy to read.  Everyone should be reading this book.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Sweet Tooth #26
Sweet Tooth #26 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Matt Kindt, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint.  With the past couple of issues we have been left with Gus on the verge of dying from a gunshot wound inflicted by an unknown assailant and the group becoming divided over their next course of action.  This issue, everything comes to a head as...well...okay, nothing comes to a head.  The latest chapter of Sweet Tooth does not feature a single panel of Gus, Jepperd, Singh or any of the group.
In 1911, Dr. James Thacker embarks on a voyage to locate his sister's long-lost husband-to-be, who journeyed to Alaska  to spread the word of Christ to the native "seal-eating savages." The journey to Alaska is long and tedious, but it is the journey across the ice itself where the terror and the danger rises.  The team's dogs are brutally slaughtered, the deathly silent church they find holds a terrible truth and Louis is found...only he has gone through some changes.
This is a great story and one that I would have bought outside of the Sweet Tooth universe for its slow build horror factor and eye-catching art of Matt Kindt.  That said, I was surprised to see that after being taken on the journey of Gus dying for the past three issues, that this new three-issue arc does not feature any of the main characters at all.  In fact, the only similarity this story holds to the main one is the goal of reaching Alaska.  I have every confidence that Lemire will flawlessly weave the two stories together, but for my sake, I hope that happens very soon...preferably next issue to some degree.  Definitely still worth a read.  RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Hey Wait...Where's My Stormwatch #2 - Awwwww...shucks.

Off Vicodin but on Benadryl - "What does this have to do with comics?" Obie is asking me.  Good question Obie.  Well, while taking Vicodin, reading comics--or anything for that matter--is somewhat of a chore, and writing about comics is all but impossible.  But now it turns out that I'm allergic to the glue that was used on all four incisions and I am on Benadryl, which provides roughly the same effect.  I just know that the Umbrella Corporation is behind these two drugs somehow.  Now if I could get up from the couch long enough to research and prove--Oh look...Resident Evil: Afterlife is on.  Sweet.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 9/23/2011 - Part 2 - Revenge of the Fallen

(Sung to the tune of John Cage's "4'33"")

*Rachel Rising...* Shhhhhhhhh!
*The Sixth Gun rules!* Hey buddy, do you mind keeping it down?
*I, VAMPIRE!  Ahhhh, I can't take it, I can't take it! The silence!  The crushing silence!*

Wow, song of the environment my sweet patootie.  Alright, here's the rest of Friday's FSoH/SitW entry that I did not get to do on account of being immobile, on vicodin and no way to pick up my books, until  I could properly bribe Obie into running down to the LCS and picking them up for me.  Hopefully, this week's entry will be on time and I am well down the road to recovery.

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Rachel Rising #2
Rachel Rising #2 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio.  I really enjoyed the first issue of Terry Moore's latest series.  The slow pacing and the building of mood was just perfect and the latest installment does not disappoint in this regard either.
Rachel Beck continues her quest to discover who killed her and why, but she finally gains an ally with her Aunt Johnny, who unfortunately is tad off after working for 20 years at a mortuary.  The blond woman who witnessed Rachel's rise from the dead briefly appears to a young girl who then murders her own sister in a horrific manner.  Who is the mysterious blond woman and why does she and Rachel bare a resemblance to one another?  And, why do the people who knew Rachel not recognize her?  All questions I can't wait to learn the answer to.
Again, not much momentum is gained in the story, but this is a good thing while Moore takes the reader through the process of preparing a dead body for viewing, as Rachel tries to explain to Johnny what has happened.  Although there is some humor to the scene, a quick cut to the girl murdering her sister firmly reminds us that this is book of mystery and horror, and very different from the types of stories that Moore has written in the past.  Rachel Rising succeeds in showing off Moore's skill with pacing and character building and the ever-lovely art looks as good as ever.  The next issue cannot come soon enough.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Sixth Gun #15
The Sixth Gun #15 - Written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Brian Hurtt, published by Oni Press.  Despite the awesome news that Bunn and Hurtt's properties are being made for television, writing for Marvel and illustrating a Vertigo book, the pair continue to bring out The Sixth Gun--one of my favorite books on the stand--on a regular basis, keeping the quality of the writing and the art top notch.  I imagine this is not an easy feat, and as a reader I could not be more pleased.
After a couple of train heist issues and a glimpse into the history of the terrifying mummy, the story slows down slightly to focus on Becky Montcrief and to bring back Gord Cantrell.  Gord returns to the haunted estate of Braxton Bell Hood for reasons as yet unexplained and stirs up the ghost of not only the cruel estate owner, Hood, but also a few ghosts he would never have expected to see.  Becky finds herself in the protective stronghold of the Sword of Abraham and attempts to learn the fate of Drake Sinclair through the aid of an uncooperative sixth gun.  Brother Roberto shows her the holy location that imprisons General Hume's body and Becky begins to see ghosts of her own.
Bunn and Hurtt delve more into the horror aspect of their story through the use of silent panels and creepy imagery to great effect.  Although not a single gun was fired and not a single skirmish occurred, this book expands The Sixth Gun world and pulled me in even deeper than before.  This series continues to be one of the comics I anticipate picking up the most on a monthly basis.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

I, Vampire #1
I, Vampire #1 - Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, published by DC Comics.  I remember the days when I was a kid and seeing House of Mystery with the "I...Vampire" tale on the spinner rack at the grocery store.  Although I often flipped through the book, I usually opted to buy The Micronauts or The Saga of the Swamp Thing as my one comic that I was allowed to purchase.  Now I wish I had pushed mom to go the extra $.60.  Fast forward to the 52 relaunch and I am essentially a new reader to the franchise and know as much as the next newbie.
Andrew Stanton is a vampire who hunts and kills other vampires, but his main conflict--emotional and soon to be physical--arises when Mary, a vampire he sired and has loved deeply for 400 years, fully embraces her evil nature.  The story alternates between lovely flashbacks of the pair realizing their time together is over and the present of Andrew walking into a trap of dire consequences.  Mary Queen of Blood, as she now calls herself, has set her sights on ruling the world and no one, not Andrew or any caped superhero will stop her plans.
I'm going to admit that I was fairly confused by this book on the first read through and I don't believe it was because of the vicodin.  It's understandable, because on the first page, the location caption, Andrew's captions and Mary's captions all look remarkably similar and then there are the flashbacks that occur without any sort of notice at all.  That is not to say that I did not enjoy the book, quite the contrary, it just took a couple of reads to make sense, which is not the best way to go for a new series.  That said, Fialkov does a wonderful job of explaining the world, and Andrew and Mary's relationship without slapping the reader in the face with blatant exposition.  Also worthy of praise is the haunting art of Andrea Sorrentino coupled with some of the most intricate coloring to set the mood firmly in the reader's eyes.  All three artists combined produce an incredible book that looks to become better and better.  I only drop the "HIGHLY" from this book due to the confusion of the like colored caption boxes, which was probably something that happened in the production stage of this fine book.  RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Vicodin - I hate this crap.  Sure it takes the pain down a few notches--so I HAVE to take it--but it really clouds the mind.  Writing even these three pieces has been a tremendous chore and I have not been able to work on the book or any of my comic book projects, but soon enough I will be off of it and back into the flow of things.  I can't wait to get back to being productive.

The 52 Scorecard

Loved and Keeping!
Animal Man
Swamp Thing
Action Comics
Demon Knights

Really Enjoyed and Keeping!
Frankenstein - Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
Green Lantern
I, Vampire

Might Drop After Issue Two
Justice League

Ones I Missed
Wonder Woman
All-Star Western

Let me know if you have any comments on the 52 or any of the other books I've been mentioning, I would love to see them.