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.


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