Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 11/04/2011

(sung to the tune of Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl")

Comics are the best,
Yeah Animal Man and Swamp Thing are sublime
But lately something's changed
Too many books to buy
Donist World's got the scoop
On comics so good they'll make you cry
Action Comics is a cool prize
And you would be lovin' Witch Doctor, I just know it
And Stormwatch is the book to read so late at night

You know I wish that you read Donist World
I wish that you read Donist World
Where can I find more comics like that?

Obie?  Obie!  Put down that chicken bone that some nincompoop threw into the bushes.  Don't they know that chicken bones can splinter and are bad for dogs?  Geesh, besides, you need to focus on what's important...comics.  For those of you playing the Donist World home game, I'm Donist, your host and this is my second reader--after my mom--Obie.  Obie is my friends' Boston Terrier and he has a love Rick Springfield surpassed only by his love of comic books, running so deep that he is willing to drop this death-stick known to most people as a chicken bone so that we can...HEY!  I said drop that.  What the hell's the matter with you?  *sigh*  The good thing about Boston Terriers is that you can pick them up, carry them into the house and force them to read...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Animal Man #3
Animal Man #3 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Travel Foreman, published by DC Comics.  Ewwww!  Gross!  Disgusting!  Awesome!  Give me more!  When this title was announced, I was intrigued enough to give it a shot.  It had a character that I loved from the Morrison days and a story steeped in horror that I could not ignore.  If I had to choose only one title of the 52, Animal Man would be the title that I bought for years to come.
Buddy Baker (Animal Man) is having a terrible time wrapping his head around the events of the past day. As he travels through The Red, a world of blood and life, and his body threatens to be torn asunder by his lack of understanding, it is his young daughter, Maxine, who is in control and understands exactly what is happening.  Once calm and adjusted to being in The Red, Buddy meets the Totems, previous Animal Men from times gone, but in talking with them he comes to a harsh realization that there is more to Maxine than he is ready to accept and his role in the coming battle with "The Rot" is not what he wishes it to be.  Meanwhile, the Hunters Three split up to confront Buddy and Maxine and to chase down his powerless wife and son.
Animal Man continues to be an amazing series that immediately leaves me wanting the next issue after each read.  Yes, it delves heavily into the grotesque world of The Red and much of the imagery might turn away some potential new readers, but this should not detract from the compelling story that Lemire has crafted or the fascinating characters, who despite having powers and abilities have all too real relationships and fears.  Foreman continues to deliver striking and disgusting visuals that work well in furthering the story and creating Lemire's world.  Brrrr...his final panel of this issue alone is enough to give me the willies.  My only complaint for this book is that a couple of panels seemed blurred, or overly smudged, but I believe that might be an issue with the production, but it was not enough to pull me out of this wonderful book.  Animal Man is my favorite of the new DC 52.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Swamp Thing #3
Swamp Thing #3 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Yanick Paquette, published by DC Comics.  I know that I just said that Animal Man is my favorite book of the new 52, but Swamp Thing is a close second.  In fact, I kind of want to lump these two books into one animal/vegetable hybrid...Animal Thing, or Swamp Man, or Animal Swamp Thing Man.  I can't imagine buying one or the other of these fantastic books that I hope to see for years to come.
This issue opens with Dr. Durock talking to a young boy named William, who has to spend his time inside a bubble that filters out the allergens and toxins that threaten to kill the boy...mainly chlorophyll.  Back to the main story, Alec Holland is being held at gun point by the beautiful (I like the new haircut) Abigail Arcane who demands that he prove he is actually Alec Holland.  He does this in a startling display of his still present powers over The Green.  William is tormented by wicked, evil terminally-ill children, but he strikes back in an unexpected and startling manner reminiscent of the Miracleman "Olympus" storyline.  Abigail then reveals a secret to Alec about the young William that I also did not see coming, ending with a page that gave me the chills.
I'm surprised that I did not have more twisted dreams last night after reading these two complementary and horrifying titles.  I have to admit that I had reservations about anyone writing Swamp Thing after the Alan Moore run that is one of my favorite comics of all time, but three issues into the new series and Snyder is doing just fine.  The slow, creeping terror of this book is building in such a way that allays all my worries about the series, leaving me one happy and scared camper.  Paquette's work is adapting nicely to the title and although great from the beginning his art continues to improve with each issue.  I also appreciate the cover that is reminiscent of the old Saga of the Swamp Thing Tom Yeates covers (I liked the Yeates shout-out on Abby's jeans btw), with a killer eye-catching triadic color scheme (a side thanks to Chris Sotomayor for the informative and challenging coloring class this summer!).  If you are a fan of engaging and intense horror stories, you cannot go wrong with this title, BUT you are doing yourself an immense disservice if you do not pickup the complementary Animal Man title as well.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Sweet Tooth #27
Sweet Tooth #27 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Matt Kindt, published by Vertigo Comic, a DC Comics imprint.  "The Taxidermist" storyline continues with again no appearances by Gus, Jepperd or any of the rest of the Sweet Tooth cast, but that is okay as the story begins to clue the reader into what happened to the world.
James Thacker and his crew have found Louis Simpson in the frozen and perilous regions of Alaska, but unfortunately the man did not want to be found.  In fact, Simpson was the one who sabotaged their expedition from the beginning and is now considered a member of the tribe living in the region.  Simpson believes that his attempts to thwart the expedition was a way to save the lives of the search party as a sickness had killed all of the missionaries that came before them; a sickness that Simpson unleashed into the world.  He then tells of a strange cave filled with stone tablets, especially one that bore the likeness of a deer that when opened contained the skeleton of strange creature.  After his desecration of the tomb, the sickness came and the elder blamed Simpson.  Thacker believes none of what he was told until his friend shows him his son, a baby born with antlers.
As confused and hesitant as I was with the last issue, I am fully back to loving Sweet Tooth after the insane reveals in this latest chapter.  Now I desperately want to know how the final installment in "The Taxidermist" storyline fits in with the present world of Sweet Tooth and there are still many questions to answer.  Kindt continues to be an excellent fill-in artist for Lemire and this glimpse into the past has jumped one of my favorite comics back up to HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Action Comics #3
Action Comics #3 - Written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Rags Morales and Gene Ha, published by DC Comics.  The book that did the impossible and made me once again excited about Superman returns in a less action packed if not hastily paced issue.  Although a somewhat abrupt and slightly disjointed outing, Action Comics continues to be a fun and exciting look at the early days of the Man of Steel.
The story opens with a flashback of baby Kal-El with his mother, Lara, at a party for her sister, only to be warned by her husband, Jor-El, to leave Kandor due to the invasion of an alien consciousness that is taking over the planet and killing its inhabitants.  In real time, a roughed-up and frazzled Clark Kent is awakened by his landlady and Inspector Blake who is investigating the young journalist under suspicion of pushing Superman into action against businessman Glen Glenmorgan.  Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane attempt to entice Clark to work for the Daily Planet, while Glenmorgan attempts to pull attention from his illegal activities by successfully turning people against the alien Superman with the aid of the media.  Clark Kent sets out to expose another businessman replacing his workers with robots, only to find that those robots have come under control of the same alien consciousness that destroyed his birth planet.  At the end, the true villain takes shape in a modified human body.
Another great issue in this series, but as I mentioned above, some sections moved far too fast to convince me that Superman would go from being a hero in issue two to a feared menace in issue three. I respect and love how this comic takes situations very much alive in the today's world, but more than a page or two was needed to make this change come across successfully.  There was also an odd panel that out of nowhere shows Clark sitting on a park bench as a homeless person tells him that a white dog (a ghost) watches over him, with no other transition given; I am guessing this to mean my main puppy, Krypto.  Jarring actions aside, there is still plenty that is done right, especially with the characterization and the movement of the story.  Fun, exciting and a book that I look forward to reading next month, Action Comics continues to be a stellar read.  RECOMMENDED!

Stormwatch #3
Stormwatch #3 - Written by Paul Cornell and illustrated by Miguel Sepulveda, published by DC Comics.  Although I have read some complaints about this title, I am still enjoying it and will continue to buy it for a few more issues at least.  I am wondering when Apollo will actually put on the uniform that he has been shown to wear on the all three covers, yet he has not changed out of civies in the interiors.  Things that make you go, "hmmmm."
Jack Hawksmoor consults with three of the major cities of the world in order to discover how to combat the monster that landed in Colorado--in a very clever manner I might add.  Apollo soars into the heavens to engage the monsters rocketing towards Earth, while Jenny Quantum and the Engineer "rescue" Harry Tanner who has just taken the knowledge of "The Scourge of the Worlds."  The situation in Colorado is worse than expected and with Apollo occupied, the rest of Stormwatch attempt to fight the monstrous creature that is absorbing everything it touches and the the hidden city in Colorado refuses to listen to Jack.  In the end, one member of the group stands to fight the menace that threatens the world.
Where Action Comics was light on action, Stormwatch had an abundance, and that is what made this issue so enjoyable.  There was still some essential character moments, primarily with Hawksmoor and Cornell's unique vision and personification of Paris, Metropolis and Gotham reminding me of how much I loved Warren Ellis's version of the "God of Cities."  This title has a lot of promise and will hopefully become as great as Cornell's other title Demon Knights, but more time and pages are needed to develop the large cast of characters.  My main criticism thus far lies with some inconsistent depictions of the characters from issue to issue and at times from panel to panel, but this is a minor point and did not overly detract from my enjoyment of this comic.  RECOMMENDED!

Witch Doctor #4
Witch Doctor #4 - Written by Brandon Seifert and illustrated by Lukas Ketner, published by Skybound, an Image Comics imprint.  The final issue--of the mini-series--of the "House meets the Supernatural" mashup arrives and it continues its mad whirlwind of monsters, medicine and curing the common "Patient from the Black Lagoon."
At the "Mystics Without Borders Board Hearing" Dr. Vincent Morrow is under review and at risk of losing his mystical medical license over his unorthodox methodology.  He launches into the final portion of his tale of how he, Eric Gast and the monstrous Penny Dreadful took down the Cthulu-worshipping gillpeople with magic pills, extreme violence and harsh, mocking criticism.  What Morrow deduces is that the gillpeople are afflicted with a reproductive bacteria and treating bacteria is a simple matter of using antibiotics.  But how do you administer antibiotics to a small army of creatures that wish to tear you and your friends to pieces?  The Witch Doctor gang win the day and Dr. Morrow shows the board who's really in charge, but the victory might only be a bandaid on a deeper problem.
The "final" issue was all sorts of fun in all of its tense, humorous, and gruesome glory, but this is not the end of Witch Doctor, as a one-shot is set to release in December with a followup mini coming in 2012.  Much congratulations to Seifert and Ketner on the success of this unique and enjoyable first-time comic book.  I also need to point out how much I love Ketner's creatures with special praise going to the goofy looking gillman with the angler fish lure-light coming out of his head...too funny.  This is not a book for the faint of heart or those with a weak stomach and probably not germaphobes either, but if you are a fan of horror mixed with doses of comedy and wit, then you will definitely enjoy this book.  RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Too Many Comics, Too Little Money and Overly Late Books - Crimony.  I bought nine books this week, which was pricy and I still have not had a chance to read two of the comics yet.  The seventh book that I read was good, but I will probably talk about that series as a whole at some later date.  Not to be overly mysterious, but the book was so delayed that I have forgotten much of what happened in previous issues.  The same can be said of late comic book number eight, but unread comic number nine is Mystic #2, which finally arrived at my shop and I hope to read it this evening.  I have a sneaking suspicion that I will really enjoy Mystic #2 and #3 and that they will be appearing on FSoH/SitW at a later date.  HEY!  Mystic #4 was supposed to be released this past Wednesday...dammit!

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