Thursday, November 10, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 11/11/11 - Part 1

(Sung to the tune of Astrud Gilberto's "So Nice")

Some book I want to read, that would be very nice
Some book I really need, that would be very nice.
Some book like Frankenstein, that is a dream to me
Some book like Demon Knights, that is the team for me

So nice, life would be so nice, if one day I'd find
More books like Rachel Rising
That Beck girls's rocking you see?

Oh yes, that would be so nice
Only the best comic books
I can see it would be nice

It might be a freezing cold (sorry East Coasters) 54 degrees out by Santa Barbara standards, but Obie, my friends' Boston Terrier--my only other reader besides my mom--and I are sitting in front of the heat dish, wearing sunglasses and drinking a Big Gulp-sized caipirinha while listening to only the best classic bossa nova music.  "Agua de Beber?"  At 7:00 AM?  Are you kidding?  No way.  We'll listen to the beautiful song, but we are sticking with caipirinhas for now my friends.  That is at least until I have to head in to the day job, and leave Obie to scrutinize and criticize the projects I am working on and my life in general.  It's okay, that's his thing.  For now though, there are are a few things that we agree on, and that's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Rachel Rising #3
Rachel Rising #3 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio.  Holy moly I am loving this book.  I was already a fan of Mr. Moore from his Strangers In Paradise series and the recently completed Echo series.  I became even more impressed with his works after sitting in on a few of his inspiring panels at SDCC and Wondercon in the past and I was curious as to how Moore would handle a horror comic when he announced Rachel Rising.  Now I know...with mood, a fantastic central character, a dark chill-inspiring character and the looming mystery of a woman investigating her own murder.
Rachel Beck was murdered a few days ago, but for good or bad, death didn't stick.  Suffering from memory loss, Rachel sets off on a journey to discover what happened and more importantly who was the cause of her demise, leading her to The Blue Note jazz club.  Aside from dazzling a bartender with her beauty, Rachel's evening becomes more confusing when she coughs up a bit of rope before foretelling the death of a soon-to-be-wed woman named Natalie.  Meanwhile, a woman who bears a striking resemblance to Rachel uses her mystical (?) abilities to incite a man to murder his wife-to-be Natalie, the very woman who Rachel just frightened in the The Blue Note bathroom.  Rachel notices her doppelganger and follows her to the rooftop only to find the woman gone and Natalie's dead body rolling down the roof to knock her off the building to cold, hard surface of the street five stories below.  The issue ends with the little girl from last issue torching her home and driving off to dispose of her dead sister's body, who she murdered after speaking to Rachel's double.
Again, I loved this issue.  Currently, I barely know more about what is transpiring than Rachel Beck and I am fine with that.  Moore has set up a deliberately slow-paced murder mystery that pulls the reader in to join Rachel in her attempt to solve her own murder.  As fragments of what has happened are uncovered, new mysteries come into play, such as Rachel's ability to predict someone's death, but not in a Lost (the TV show) sort of way.  Every reveal is here for a reason that might take a while to unfold, but that is all part of the fun of this series that leaves the reader thinking about the most recent events up until the highly anticipated next issue which cannot come soon enough.  Great character designs, painstakingly detailed backgrounds and a phenomenal action sequence ("Kool" goes it) only enhance this great new series that reminds me of the best moments of Twin Peaks and leaves me with the same feeling of trying to sleep after watching a particularly scary psychological thriller.  It's safe to say that I like this book and you will too.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Demon Knights #3
Demon Knights #3 - Written by Paul Cornell and illustrated by Diogenes Neves, published by DC Comics.  Last issue had fighting, spell casting and Vandal Savage remembering the wonderful taste of dragon meat.  This issue had none of that, opting to slow things down and focusing on looking more at the characters and the dire situation they are in.  I am totally fine with this.
Etrigan streaks through the sky on his recently grown wings, while carrying his immortal (?) lover, Madame Xanadu, in his arms away from a powerful mystical barrier that she has just created.  The problem is that the spell took nearly all of her power and the cost has withered her to an ancient crone.  In anger, the yellow-skinned demon does something not very nice to a happy cleric.  Vandal Savage sets out to build an army from the slim pickings available.  The mysterious warrior-woman (Amazonian?), Exoristos, and the Shining Knight build a wall.  Exoristos is convinced that the Shining Knight is a girl--an incredibly strong one at that--and the androgynous knight briefly mentions a terrible quest that she/he is on.  Finally, Exoristos not just allows, but encourages a young girl to attempt to sneak past the waiting horde on the other side of the magical shield to a disastrous, but realistic end.  The horde might be hungry for blood, but the Demon Knights are filled with fury--except for Vandal Savage, who is thrilled at the impending bloodshed; the invaders don't stand a chance.
After two issues of action and fighting, issue three focuses on letting the reader have a quick peek into who the protagonists are and to great effect.  I want to know more about the story of who this Exoristos woman is and I can't wait to hear the tale of the Shining Knight and his/her terrible quest.  Al-Jabr, the seemingly powerless engineer, holds much intrigue as well.  Then there's Vandal Savage with his could-care-less attitude and fun-loving spirit, who is the star of this series thus far, but I suspect that when the immortal man eventually does let anger reign it will be momentous.  The unnamed horsewoman and Madame Xanadu are interesting, but the oddest thing about this serious for me is that the character I care the least about thus far is Etrigan, which is odd seeing as how The Demon has been one of my favorite characters since I was a child.  Despite this, Demon Knights is a great book and I am dying to see our heroes kick the bejesus out of that mean, mean, mean red-haired jerkface next issue.  I also have faith in Cornell to bring my much-loved demon to the forefront of this fantasy team book and allow him to become the great and possibly tragic character he is supposed to be.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Frankenstein Agent
of S.H.A.D.E #3
Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #3 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Alberto Ponticelli, published by DC Comics.  Where the hell was this book when I was seven?  Seriously.  As much as I loved The Micronauts, Swamp Thing, Spider-Man, Batman, Iron Man, Aquaman and all the rest of those guys, I was enamored with the Hollywood movie monsters.  Dracula, the Wolf Man, the Creature From the Black Lagoon, Frankenstein's Monster, and the Mummy.  All these guys rocked my world and those scary Hammer Horror movies that I was probably too young to be watching only made me love those characters more.  Now in my...slightly older years...I have the comic I dreamed of and I'm a kid all over again, only now I'm a married, beer drinking, stay-up-as-late-as-I-want "adult" kid.  Candy before bedtime?  Don't mind if I do.
Frankenstein and his Creature Commandos arrive to rescue Frankenstein's (ex)wife on what they regret to find is a planet of horrid monsters.  Hopelessly outnumbered with the tide of the battle turning against them, Khalis, the mysterious mummy, casts a magical spell that knocks him unconscious, but saves the day.  Unfortunately, the egg-shaped ship that brought the unlikely heroes to the monster planet was damaged and needs time to self-repair.  What's worse is the monster planet is moving toward a portal that will bring it to Earth.  During a briefing on the situation, an enormous "Spider Titan" appears, but an unfazed Frankenstein takes care of the menace in a gruesomely amazing manner.  The team then learns they have three hours to vanquish a sea monster titan and an ogre titan before the planet breaches the portal to Earth and they are forced to split up to meet the challenge.  Back on Earth Ray Palmer and "Father" learn that their troubles are just beginning.
This comic is just plain nuts and it's clear that Lemire is enjoying doing whatever he wants, which is part of the strength of this title.  A successful mashup of classic horror and weird science, Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. is not something I ever expected to see come from today's DC Comics, but I am thrilled to have this title and hope it continues for some time to come.  I also need to point out (SPOILERS) the awesomeness of Frankenstein jumping down the Spider Titan's throat and bursting through it's chest, which has been done before, but in this instance he also brings along with him the creature's heart, which he impales with his sword in front of his team.  How often do you get to see that?!  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Diamond Distributors - I should probably watch what I say here as I hope to someday soon have my own comics going through the near-monopoly that is Diamond Distributors, but that said they shorted my LCS half of their shipment.  What this meant was no Batwoman or Green Lantern yet and I was highly anticipating picking up those books.  They might deliver today, or they might show up next Wednesday, but who the heck knows.  For a comics store enjoying a definite upswing in sales, seeing a late/delayed shipment of about 500 books can be damaging, but with any luck they can convince shoppers to pick up an extra trade or better yet a new title such as the amazing Stuff of Legend, The Sixth Gun, or Locke and Key.  I will write a "Part II" to this entry once I have my missing comics.  Waiting blows.  Boo hoo.


  1. Rachel Rising is already on #3? I must get this - thanks for the capsule synopsis!

  2. You have to pick this up! Definitely not one to trade-wait as I love the painful cliffhangers between issues. Hopefully you won't have trouble finding a copy, but I suspect most shops under ordered this title for "Big Two" books, which is sad. Good luck.