Thursday, November 24, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 11/25/2011

(Sung to the tune of The London Suede's "Drowners")

Won't someone, read The Sixth Gun
Hey, I bought it for my brother
So Hurtt draws the line, and Bunn writes so fine
I say 'Oh, it's one of the best books out there.'

Then there's Shade, read the Shade
It will take you over
Comics are made, don't be afraid
Let it take you over

Does someone, want somethin' fun
Well there's Secret Avengers
I, Vampire's fine, actually it's sublime
Oh, real winners

Then there's Shade, read the Shade
It will take you over
Comics are made, don't be afraid
Let it take you over

Ohhhhhhhhhhh man.  I'm sitting here on the couch in the aftermath of a wicked food coma with my friends' Boston Terrier, Obie, who is also my harshest critic and my most dedicated reader after my mom.  You see, we had a happy Donist World Thanksgiving and stuffed ourselves to the gills on turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and a whole host of other items including pumpkin pie.  Of course Obie had only kibble with a bit of turkey and gravy on top, but hey he's a comic book reading dog and cranberry sauce can't be all that good him, but he at least has the spirit.  I also happened to partake of the spirits last night which explains the needed couch time.  As we reflect on our past glorious feast and look forward to the turducken that we will have next year, we have a bit of time to discuss some great comics that were released this week. 

So put down that leftover drumbsick and have a gander at...  

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Sixth Gun #17
The Sixth Gun #17 - Written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Brian Hurtt, published by Oni Press.  The Sixth Gun continues to be one of the best and most unique titles on the shelves.  Equal parts western and supernatural horror tale, this comic is one of my top five series and it should come as no surprise it has been picked up to become a television mini-series in the near future.  Good things come to those things that are great.
The golem of BillJohn stalks toward the stronghold of the Sword of Abraham as it becomes clear to Becky Montcrief that the monks she assumed were her allies are more interested in imprisoning her as opposed to protecting her.  Brother Roberto tells of the Knight's of Solomon, a secret society seeking the power of terrible, mystical artifacts, including the six currently possessed by Becky and the missing Drake Sinclair.  Gord Cantrell sits in the basement of a haunted plantation left with a choice to take a set of books that possibly contain information on how to the destroy the six, or to burn the books and see the return of his dead wife and children. With the aid of the sixth gun, Becky learns that Drake still lives and she sets her resolve to free the imprisoned man whether he wants her to or not.
I have been saying for a while that I wanted to see Becky Montcrief step up and begin to take charge of situations as opposed to letting things just happen to her, and Bunn and Hurtt have delivered with this issue.  With a glimpse into Drake Sinclair's fate after his disappearance for multiple issues, the next arc looks to reveal what happened to the man after his fall from the train, how he became imprisoned and hopefully his rescue by a newly determined Becky.  Another great issue, that was light on action, but this was necessary for Gord to find the books and battle his own demons, while showing Becky and her new found strength.  Although I loved this issue, it is not a good jumping on point for new readers, but then the first two trades are readily available with the third collecting this finished arc coming soon as well.  If you are looking for something more than capes and tights that is well-written, expertly structured and beautifully illustrated, then you should be reading this exciting adventure.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Shade #2
The Shade #2 - Written by James Robinson and illustrated by Cully Hamner, published by DC Comics.  Robinson's Starman was one of those books that immediately grabbed my attention with Jack Knight, an antique dealer forced into the role of a superhero while fighting against the family legacy and forced to confront villains bearing grudges against the Starman family.  The series also had an impressive list of fascinating characters such as the O'Dare family, Bobo Benneti, Ted Knight (Jack's father), Mikaal, Solomon Grundy and most of all The Shade.  All of the characters had a rich history and unique personality, but none so much as the reformed villain, Richard "Dickie" Swift, The Shade, who was my favorite character after Jack Knight.  Now, the immortal master of darkness has returned in his own 12-issue series and Robinson does not miss a beat with the character he did not create, but rather defined.
Last month's issue left the Shade handless, headless and presumably dead at after his confrontation with Deathstroke, but with 11 more installments to go, there was no way the death was going to be permanent.  Swift shares a touching moment with Hope O'Dare and explains that he must disappear for her own safety until he can determine who has ordered his death.  Will Von Hammer--I'm still not familiar with this guy--is still being hounded by assassins and has information for the Shade, who is busy asking Bobo Bennetti to watch over Hope and Star City while he is gone.  The two men meet, but before anything can be discussed Bete-Noire--I don't know this villain either--arrives on the scene leading to a battle of shadow powers and a glimpse of an antagonist to come.
I was shocked to see the Shade supposedly killed last issue and when the predictable reveal that he was not actually of the dearly departed came, the explanation of how he survived was logical and made sense, fitting perfectly with the character's line of thinking.  Seeing Bobo Bennetti again was a great but short moment and I hope to see more of the man who is forever stuck in the '50s in future issues.  Overall I'm pleased as punch with my favorite villain-turned-hero receiving his own series and I'm excited for what is to come.   HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

I, Vampire #3
I, Vampire #3 - Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, published by DC Comics.  I still know little about the "I...Vampire" story that appeared in DC comic's House of Mystery in the early eighties, and I was thrilled to learn that a collection of those tales will be released in February.  I am most interested in this older material out of a sense of nostalgia for the times, plus I always wanted to read those stories as a kid, but always passed on them because of an allowance that only afforded me my precious Micronauts, Swamp Thing and X-Men comics.   Now, after being drawn to this relaunch title by writer Fialkov, I will definitely be buying the original tales, not because I need them to understand what is happening in the relaunched title, but because the current creators are constructing one heck of a fine tale and I am curious about what came before.
Professor John Troughton has been a close friend of Andrew Bennett, an immensely powerful vampire, since the moment he was saved from slaughter by rogue vampires 25 years ago.  When Andrew collapses in his friend's doorway in the worst condition John as ever seen him, it's time to start worrying.  Mary's vampiric army has spread to four cities, which is more than a man/vampire can handle on his own, but even with John agreeing to help the odds are still not looking good.  The pair follow up on a lead that is a dead end, but introduces them to Tig, a young vampire killer who is more deadly than her looks would suggest.  The newly formed trio discover an all-too-clear and intentionally placed sign that tells exactly where Mary Queen of Blood intends to strike next and a certain caped crusader will not be pleased when she makes her move.  Contemplating the terrible task before them, John comes to a startling but simple conclusion about how to end the vampire menace once and for all.
I am enjoying the heck out of this book, and this third issue further cements the fact that this is one of the 52 that I will be picking up for a while.  As I mentioned above, I only knew of the original "I...Vampire" story, but the relaunched title is a perfect jumping on point even though the first issue is a bit complex as I mentioned in the review of the first issue.  Fialkov has done a wonderful job pulling me into this world and its characters and although I was worried about bringing the DC superheroes into the mix, I feel more and more confident that he will be able to pull off the meet up in a manner that is not hokey.  Sorrentino continues to deliver some stunning pages--primarily the introduction of John in the '70s--and colorist Marcelo Maiolo drives home the mood of each scene to great effect.  Even with the introduction of the DC heroes to this book, I am looking forward to see how this tragic love/horror story plays out.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Secret Avengers #19
Secret Avengers #19 - Written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Michael Lark, published by Marvel Comics.  I'm pretty sure this is the only Marvel book that I am currently buying.  I intend to pick up Remender's Uncanny X-Force trade at some point, but I have been losing interest in Marvel for a while.  I fully intended to drop this title as well, but Ellis's great stories keep pulling me back in, refusing to let me leave.
The Secret Avengers are deployed to the city of Aniana in the country of Symkaria to stop a drug lord named Voydanoi from selling a mysterious new drug to the Shadow Council.  Moon Knight poses as a wealthy business man with an interest in the women in the employ of the establishment, while Black Widow and Sharon Carter arrive as supposed escorts for Voydanoi.  Meanwhile, Steve Rogers patrols the frigid streets only to barely escape with his life when he comes across a guard enhanced with what Rogers assumes is a modified super-soldier formula. Moon Knight is introduced to his girl for the evening, whose life he makes much better, before he dons his mask and proceeds to show how badass he really is.  The Secret Avengers fight their way up to Voydanoi's office only to learn that the drug czar is actually selling a powerful demonic drug that enhances the user to supernatural proportions and one that he has been taking for quite some time.
That was some damn fine action if I do say so myself.  Ellis, created another great standalone issue filled with tension and some cool character moments that read all too fast.  Moon Knight has some great fight scenes as drawn by Lark and the hero looked cool in his white suit, silver tie, white gloves and mask; I wanted to cheer with each super thug he took down.  Overall a fun comic and one that I will gladly contribute my $3.99 to for as long as the superheroic stories of this caliber continue.  RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

It's Thanksgiving, So Let's Be Thankful and Not Gripe About Petty Crap - Enough said...although, I do feel kind of fat...


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