Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 12/30/2011

(Sung to the tune of Bing Crosby's version of "Walking in a Winter Wonderland")

Great comics, are you reading
Donist World says what you're needing
For beautiful art,
You could always start
Reading about a vampire no man's land

Vampire 'Drew is the coolest
One of DC's all new best
Fialkov is right
To give you a fright
Reading about a vampire no man's land

The Avengers got a group that's Secret (shhhhhh)
A story by Ellis you won't soon forget

He'll say: You expect this?
We'll say: No Man
But you do a fine job
Heck go to town.

Howdy Donist World folks.  Sorry for the slight delay in posting this, but with the past holiday, traveling, and the Kris Kringle Flu, I was unable to get to my LCS to buy my books...all two of them.  Once I post this, Obie should start talking to me again, it seems he is rather unforgiving when it comes to Donist World posts that are late, and I can't say that I blame the little guy.  Anyhow, I hope that everyone of my loyal readers (Mom and Obie) had a wonderful holiday and that they survived the weirdness of it all, so here's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

I, Vampire #4
I, Vampire #4 - Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, published by DC Comics.  Oh...come...on... A guest appearance already?!  We're only four issues in and already we have DC Universe characters hopping into the series?  But here's the odd thing that I am not used to seeing--the issue is not hampered by the appearance of an outside character, rather the story and the world of I, Vampire is enhanced in a great way, showing the threat of Mary Queen of Blood is not one that outsiders are going to be prepared to deal with; this includes the supernatural "dark" heroes.
While Tig and John rest at a hotel, Andrew Bennett sets out on his own to find some food, and he comes across another vampire scrounging for leftover blood in a hospital medical dumpster.  Optimistic that he has found another vampire capable of controlling the dark urges, the centuries-old vampire allows the man to live, and believing the man can handle it teaches him how to transform into a strong and powerful being.  Unfortunately, Andrew was wrong about the man who embraces his newfound power and gives up trying to contain the evil within.  The young vampire terrorizes some diner patrons, not knowing that the supernatural John Constantine is there, but Andrew prefers to deal with his own problems personally.  After dispatching the vampire, Andrew warns Constantine about Mary Queen of Blood and a disappointing truth about the identity of the young vampire is revealed.
I expected this installment of I, Vampire to be good, but I also expected a loss of momentum by the introduction of a DC Universe character so early in the game.  I'm glad I was so wrong.  Fialkov provides further characterization into Andrew Bennett and his desperate need to find more vampires like himself, ones that are able to control and deny their very nature and work for the betterment of the world.  He is wrong in his judgement and it costs people their lives.  Constantine's appearance shows that he is still as mysterious as ever and no slouch in dealing with your everyday vampire, but Andrew is not what you would call normal and takes the mystical man out of play with little trouble.  Constantine fits well into this world and maybe someday Swamp Thing will appear as well, but when the brightly colored "Supers" begin to show up, that is going to be a little more difficult to pull off.  Batman shows up next issue along with Mary, but since his is one of the darker heroes and a human, I am looking forward to the meet up, BUT I also hope to see an absence of heroes for a while to further the story as opposed to pushing cross-marketing campaigns.  Sorrentino's art is even better than previous issues, primarily the silent stunning page two and three spread of Andrew setting forth into the night.  The coloring by Marcelo Maiolo is a gorgeous showing and brings home the mood especially in the scene with Andrew talking to the younger vampire.  If you are a fan of well-told horror stories and have not yet picked up these readily available issues, then you are missing out.  Dang...I am loving this series.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Secret Avengers #20
Secret Avengers #20 - Written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Alex Maleev, published by Marvel Comics.  I think that I have mentioned before that I am trying to find an "out" on this series, primarily because of the $3.99 price point with only 20 pages of material (not counting the introductory page), but I'll be darned if Ellis doesn't keep preventing me from actually pulling the plug.  These one-and-done stories have been great and the latest installment is no different with the spotlight on surprise, surprise Black Widow (have a gander at the cover).
As the dead and dying members of her team lie strewn around her, Natasha Romanoff finds herself in possession of a time machine that removes her from certain death and takes her back to the past.  Playing with time is tricky business especially when the "timeflow must be maintained," and thus saving the lives of her teammates is difficult.  Natasha has to work with a brilliant master of time and his not-as-bright husband, Kongo, while consulting with a past version of the Beast and a back-stabbing weaponsmith in a ploy to rescue her comrades while maintaining the secret of her manipulations.
Time travel can be mind-boggling to say the least, and pulling off a good tale without confusing the heck out of the reader is not all that easy, but left in Warren Ellis's hands, this story shines.  I love Natasha's calm and realization that she has plenty of time to see things done right with little pushes and shoves and with the resources she has at hand.  Maleev's art is great for this issue and I especially enjoyed the 18-panel homage to Modesty Blaise (am I right in this?) with the change in look and production down to the cool yellowed pages of a newspaper comic strip.  Dr. Druid's appearance was a welcome surprise and I still wish that his excellent mini-series Druid--written by Ellis in '95-- had not been canceled before it had a chance to thrive.  Secret Avengers #20 was another fun, action-packed story and I will definitely be picking up the next issue.  RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Sorry for Posting Late - Yeah, again, sorry about that, but you know...the holidays, man, the holidays.  Also, I was hoping to have a copy of the Witch Doctor 1-shot, but I did not see it in my pull, so hopefully I will have that one to talk about next week.  That said, this coming Friday's post is going to be ridiculous with six titles supposedly coming out and the week after that is crazy with at least eight titles to read and talk about at Donist World.  I know, I know, "Boo hoo, Donist.  Eight whole comics.  Wah, baby pants, wah."  But reviews are difficult for me to write, which, aside from spreading the love of awesome comics, is why I do them.  The funny thing is that the rest of January will probably only see a couple of books each week, so can someone inform DC and Marvel that they need to break these books up some over the month to better accommodate my schedule?  I mean, it's for Donist World right?  But their response of, "What's Donist World?" might cancel out that initiative.
Joking aside, I wish everyone a fantastic new year and much success in 2012.  I for one am glad to see 2011 go--for the most part it was not kind to me--but I have a good feeling about the coming year and will keep everyone posted on what I am up to and what I am doing and when you can read some of my own comics.  Much success for you all.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 12/23/2011

(Sung to the tune of The Ramones's "Sheena is a Punk Rocker")

Well the kids are all psyched up and ready to read
They're ready to read now
They've got comic books
They got Batman and Wonder Woman that's right
Stuff of Legend rules, son
You need to pick up one
Well your LCS better have it all
Oh yeah, oh yeah

Obie bought cool comics
Obie bought cool comics
Obie bought cool comics now

Hello friends.  Obie, my friends' Boston Terrier and lead Donist World reader, and I are once again hiding in my mother's basement.  "Why are you hiding in your mother's basement again, Donist?" you might ask.  Well, the answer is simple.  Obie and I are under holiday siege.  SIEGE I tell you.  Holiday elves from strategic, secretive positions located around the country are attempting to track us down, trying to find us before other holiday elves can find us.  We have been in the basement for two weeks now, and finding the time to write and to read great comic books has been difficult, but we have perservered.  We have triumphed and we will continue to fight for our right to write, and we will continue to read in the space in between.  So don't let that demon juice (Egg Nog) destroy you or prevent you from reading any of the spectacular comics listed below.  Don't let an overdose of ham or turkey leave you brain addled and unable to jot down coherent thoughts.  Don't--hold on a sec.  Sweet!  Mom's got some turkey and egg nog on the table, back in a bit.  For now, it's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Stuff of Legend, Vol. III
A Jester's Tale #3
The Stuff of Legend, Vol. III: A Jester's Tale #3 - Written by Mike Raicht & Brian Smith and illustrated by C. P. Wilson III, published by Th3rd World Studios.  I have a big problem with this title.  I know that I promised to stay away from negative reviews of comics, and to only talk about the ones that I love, the ones that I look forward to picking up every time at my LCS.  Don't worry, nothing's changed.  My problem with the latest issue of the wonderful The Stuff of Legend is that I now have to wait for the final installment in the third volume; a great problem to have.
We start with the boy stowed away on a living train, Bessie, along with the metallic conductor, his aid and the other human boy, but escaping from The Dark just became more difficult as agents of the Boogeyman board the train.  Jester's twin, "The Laughing Ghost," stumbles upon Harmony, Percy, Quackers and a group of new animals, but after a brutal confrontation that leaves one dead and others injured, the dreaded pirate makes his escape.  Jester and Filmore convince Rebecca and a group of dolls to set sail in search of the Indian Lands in hopes of finding the Princess, but Rebecca has interests of her own that don't center on rescuing the woman who holds Jester's heart.  A fight.  A death.  And two reunions close out another exciting issue.
The Stuff of Legend only gets better with each release.  Raicht, Smith and Wilson III's tale of toys who seek to rescue their boy from the dark world of the Boogeyman, contains a large cast of characters both old and new who I have come to adore; Jester and Quackers especially.  The new character Rebecca is a great addition and one who seems more of an ideal match for Jester than the Princess, although she does not share their history.  I love how Rebecca is torn between reporting to the Boogeyman--they appear to have a past together--and to Jester who has charmed the woman; I hope to see more of her for some time to come.  I also love Jester's dark twin and the havoc that he is causing throughout the Dark, and I'm curious to know more about the mysterious stolen book and the secrets that it contains.  Much ground has been covered over the past three issues with Jester, his brother, Princess, Filmore, Rebecca and possibly the boy, and next issue looks to have them all coming together in what promises to be an exciting conclusion to this third volume.  At times funny and charming, and at others intense and scary, The Stuff of Legend has it all: Fun, excitement, superb characters, gorgeous art and beautifully told story with unique production.  Everyone should be reading this fantastic comic.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batman #4
Batman #4 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo, published by DC Comics.  After last issue's ZIP, POP, BANG! ending, I was eager to see how Batman managed to survive the blast of the building and imagine my surprise when one of my favorite childhood heroes bought the farm.  Goodbye bat-titles and goodbye next summer's movie...  Okay, yes I'm only joshing you, we know Batman is going to live through the insurmountable odds stacked against him, that's a given, it's how he manages to pull through and the repercussions of his actions that brings me back month after month.
Bruce Wayne, Batman, escapes the blast from the Talon's hidden base, but only barely.  With no rest for the battered and bruised, Bruce is back up and analyzing the bones of his great, great grandfather and still not convinced that the Court of Owls has been in existence since the 1800s.  Dick Grayson is worried for his former mentor, and Bruce tells of his first detective work, which began as a child and ended badly for the boy, with no confirmation of the Owls existence.  Bruce continues his search as Batman, and the story ends with a stylish cliffhanger splash page.
After reading Scott Snyder's first Batbook run on Detective Comics that can be found collected in the amazing Batman The Black Mirror (you owe it to yourself to read this fantastic and creepy book) I knew I would be following Snyder on anything he was writing that concerned the Dark Knight.  This issue had no real confrontation with the enemy, but instead focused on the mental confrontation with the Batman's belief that there never was a Court of Owls and that the evidence he has seen with his own eyes is but an elaborate fabrication.  But what if the man who knows nearly everything about his city missed something?  Snyder does a great job of convincing the reader that Batman is in control one moment and then turning the situation around until we doubt his actions and rationale.  We are as uncertain as our hero and that is exactly where the writer wants us to be.  Capullo's art is lovely as ever, but there was the panel of young Bruce kicking the owl's nest that took me a while to figure out what I was looking at.  This was a minor point as everything else was beautiful and drove the action home.  I also have to mention the outstanding coloring of FCO (Is this a person or a government agency?) who expertly directed this reader's emotions to Snyder's and Capullo's whims.  Such a fun, intense book, there's a reason Batman is heralded as one of the best of DC's 52.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Wonder Woman #4
Wonder Woman #4 - Written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Cliff Chiang, published by DC Comics.  Speaking of the best books of DC's 52, I never thought I would ever be reading a Wonder Woman comic book and so thoroughly loving it as much as I do.  Azzarello's Wonder Woman is steeped so heavily in myth that I could not help but be drawn to this series.  His gods are cruel and devious, petty and jealous and ultimately terrifying.  I can't wait to see more.
A new god, War (Ares?), is introduced as a withered old man, void of eyes, sitting in a bar in Darfur where a war is being waged.  He is literally covered up to his knees in blood when his brother Apollo arrives to discuss their missing father, Zeus.  Wonder Woman, Hermes, Zola and Strife are also in a bar, but one located in London where they watch a band perform.  A naked Hera, save for her peacock cloak (I'm curious if there is mention of this in Greek mythology...anyone know?), pays a visit to Diana's mother Hippolyta for some baby-momma drama.  Strife learns just how tough her new-found sister, Diana, really is.  Wonder Woman realizes that she was a bit harsh with her mother, and both women discover that Hera's wrath is mighty.
For an issue with little fighting or battle coming from the main characters, Wonder Woman continues to be as exciting as ever.  The reader is given a close look into the "family ties that bind and gag," but then only given a glimpse at the beginning and end result of the terrible events that Hera unleashes upon Hippolyta and the Amazonians.  Azzarello delivers another powerful story that does not need the punches to the face to be exciting, although I'm certain those are coming.  Chiang's art is stunning and dramatic especially during the scenes of Hippolyta's rage and the brief instance of her vulnerability that left me more sympathetic to her plight.  Of course I can't wait for the next issue, but Wonder Woman, although great in installments, looks to be even more enthralling when each issue is read back to back, which I look forward to doing upon completion of the first arc.  If you want a book with a strong female lead...well, you know where to find the strongest of them all.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Fighting For the Right to Write - It's no surprise that I'm usually dreadfully sick at some/multiple points from Thanksgiving through the end of the year due to the stress of the holidays and overcommitments, and I am surprised that I have not caught any flu bugs, although there is still a week to go.  Finding the time, the calm and will to beat the exhaustion of the season and actually get some writing done--whether it's comics, prose or rewrites--is not easy, but it can be done.  I currently have a goal of finishing my kids/all-ages book before the end of the year and to also find an artist to illustrate another short comic script of mine, but it is going to be tight.  I'm confident that I can reach my goals despite the terrible month of October that put me behind, and with a bit of luck there will be some cool things in 2012.
Thank you for reading the ol' Donist World, and I hope you have a wonderful holiday and that you never stop working on the the projects that truly matter to you.  In the words of my wife's favorite show, "Clear eyes, strong heart, can't lose!"


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 12/16/2011

(Sung to the tune of REM's "It's the End of the World and We Know it")

That's great it starts with a Wednesday, comic books just have a look
At Jeff Lemire's killer book
Son it's called Frankenstein, that cat brings the sci-fi
D-World knows what you need, cousin you should have a read
Below's a damn fine lead, grunt
Robinson's hero/villain Shade's well-played with top hat fancy that.
Hark it's the dark representing Dickie Swift dueling lizard gods with heart, all right a fight
Now there's Flamebird's goose getting cooked by a freak's hook in the Batwoman book.
My oh my, Kate Kane's night was out of sight, but drats
Chase is on her case!  Fine then.
Uh Oh, undertow, Weeping Woman's dead, yo.  What's she gonna do?
Read yourself, serve yourself
Also great's Demon Knights, spotlights the Shining Knight
Learn about a quest for a treasure and wizard, right?  Right
Comic book thrills and chills best bust out the bright night light,
Feeling pretty psyched.

Obie loves Donist World yeah you know it.
Obie loves Donist World yeah you know it.
Obie loves Donist World yeah you know it and I hope you do too.

Okay, short intro this week as that song has left me completely tongue tied and unable to form a clear thought.  Of course there were some great comics this week as detailed below and there were a couple that I am probably going to drop, but that is the way it goes.  Maybe if the titles that are on the fence for me were to drop to $1.99 digital I would keep buying them, but at $2.99 and $3.99...funds are unfortunately limited.  This saddens Obie, but unfortunately it's the laaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwww of the west*. 
(*a line I remember from an old Tom & Jerry episode)

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Batwoman #4
Batwoman #4 - Cowritten by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, illustrated by J.H. Williams III, published by DC Comics.  Another great installment that really could have used the old--can you believe this is considered old?--format of 22 pages.
As Kate Kane (Batwoman) enjoys a night of intimacy with Detective Maggie Sawyer, Kate's cousin, Bette Kane (Flamebird) hits the night and also the faces of some gun runners.  A new villain arrives on the scene, one looking like a Frankenstein/Solomon Grundy mashup with a hook/scythe on his left hand, an instrument that he uses to practically eviscerate the outmatched Flamebird.  Cameron Chase, who is hot on the Batwoman's trail, locates the barely living Flamebird and pumps the dying woman for information in a cruel and heartless way.  Batwoman, still unaware of the dire straits of her cousin's life, continues to track the Weeping Woman and discovers her identity to be that of a dead woman.  Speaking of discovered identities, what happens now that Chase and those who employ her know the name of the woman who calls herself Batwoman?
With Batwoman you can expect beautiful art and an engaging story and this issue does not disappoint, although, as I mentioned above, this issue could have used the extra two pages of the not-so-olden-days past to develop Hooky, or Hooker (huh?) or Agapanthus, or whatever the new villain's name is and why the Weeping Woman appeared from nowhere to warn Flamebird.  I am not saying that the Flamebird fight against Hookster was not exciting or expertly executed, but that I needed just a kick more to really bring it home. The love scene between Kate and Maggie was beautiful and dreamlike as it played out between the scenes of Flamebird being brutally taken down and nearly killed.  I also liked how Williams III portrayed the usually in charge and tough-as-all-getout Kate the next morning as calm, quiet and uncertain through the use of her expressions and body language (this was also the third style of art used in the book at that point).  Cameron Chase comes across as a cruel and dangerous woman, and I'm left wanting to know more about her and how and why she became so cold (going to have to pick up the Chase TPB in January or on Comixology).  Overall, I really want to see Kate beat the living daylights out of Hookie-Cookie and make that jerkwad pay for what he did to her cousin, but that is probably going happen in the second arc.  The next issue brings the conclusion to the current "Hydrology" storyline and I can't wait to see what happens next.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Demon Knights #4
Demon Knights #4 - Written by Paul Cornell and illustrated by Michael Choi and Diogenes Neves, published by DC Comics.  Another issue has come and gone and this one does not have a single panel of Etrigan the Demon to be found.  You know what?  That's okay.  What has finally sunk into my head is that although the title of this book is Demon Knights, that does not mean that the Demon is necessarily the main character.  Rather, what you should be holding in your hands is a fantasy team book that looks to give equal time to shine to all of the characters involved and not just a yellow-skinned, pointy-eared Etrigan.
After the cliffhanger death of the young girl from last issue, the Shining Knight is ready to enact vengeance on the Horde, but instead she (??? seems like it, but then again...) has a vision of Merlin and we learn of the Shining Knight's quest that she herself was not fully aware of until now.  Ages past, the young warrior was gravely wounded at the fall of Camelot and would have perished if not for Merlin allowing the child with "two natures" to drink from the holy grail and thus heal and gain immortality.  The knight learns of how Merlin later lost the grail and how she (?) was charged with retrieving the artifact.  She also gains insight into her own future and certain events look less than desirable and unfortunately unavoidable.  The evil red-bearded child killer meets a just end at the hands of the "horse woman," but she then turns on the Demon Knights and commits a completely unexpected act.
Whoa now!  What the heck?!  I was not expecting that ending at all.  Cornell has been pulling me into this magical world since the first issue and this spotlight on the Shining Knight makes me love this unusual team book all the more.  Although we get a look into the this character's origin, there are still plenty of questions left unanswered and some new ones raised during the process.  Michael Choi provides the artwork for the vision scenes, which is most of the book, and he does a stellar job in telling this tale.  Diogenes Neves does have a few pages, which are beautiful as ever and he will supposedly be returning to the illustrate the entirety of issue five.  Not much happened in this installment to move the main story forward, but that is perfectly acceptable when Cornell allows us a glimpse into the history of one of his fascinating characters; I can't wait for Savage to have his turn.  Demon Knights is ready to accelerate forward, and moments to pause and take a breath like this only help this rich world, leaving me wanting more.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Frankenstein Agent
of S.H.A.D.E. #4
Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Alberto Ponticelli, published by DC Comics.  I like this series more and more with each passing issue.  Frankenstein completely reminds me of something you would find in the Warren Magazines of old, and that is definitely a good thing.
Frankenstein and his team learn that Monster World is actually a living, telepathic planet that was overtaken by the three titans--only two remain after Frankenstein took care of one in amazing fashion last issue.  The problem is that the monsters have nearly killed the planet and they will only have one place to turn to...Earth.  Frankenstein and Nina go after the sea titan and the vast monstrosities of the ocean have a most odd reaction to the pair's arrival.  Lady Frankenstein, Velcoro (Vampire) and Griffith (Werewolf) are charged with killing the Ogre titan, but they are quickly overwhelmed by the masses aligned against them.  Thus arrives "The Toybox" and its G.I. Robots and the incredibly cool War Wheels, which helps even the odds.  Lady Frankenstein proves to be a skilled tactician, but even if they Creature Commandos can defy the odds and defeat the Titans, time is running out for them to return home.
Crimony this issue was a blast.  What could have been one of the silliest of the 52 comics to see print, turns out to be one of my favorites, which should be no surprise with Lemire writing this fun and exciting comic book.  Despite the title, this issue belongs equally to Lady Frankenstein and to what I call the "back office" or the ones running the show from behind the scenes.  The fantastic page with Dr. Belroy and Father Time taking remote control of the War Wheels cracked me up and it is apparent that Lemire is having a grand old time with all of these characters.  The premise is ludicrous, but the right mixture of charm and intense situations makes the comic work.  If you are tired of your average superhero fare, take a look at the supernatural heroes in Frankenstein and you should not be disappointed.  This is exactly the type of alternate programming that DC Comics needed and I hope to be reading this title for years to come.  Forget team Edward and team Jacob, I'm team Frankenstein all the way.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Shade #3
The Shade #3 - Written by James Robinson and illustrated by Cully Hamner, published by DC Comics.  Once relegated to the ranks of F-List characters, The Shade was revitalized to the big leagues by Robinson's excellent Starman series and he was cemented as one of my favorite DC characters of all time.  So, it should come as no surprise that I like this series, but there is plenty to love for those new to the character and any confusion after the first issue should be a thing of the past--you should still read all of the Starman Omnibus books though.
The Shade arrives in Sydney, Australia to aid an old friend in return for information that he might have in finding who has put a hit on the life of the master of darkness.  He learns that Darnell Caldecott is now called John Cross and that the man lives in a secluded home and is under the guard of a lizard god, a creature even the Shade has no prayer of besting.  The Shade then consults with magician Diablo Blacksmith, an old adversary who agrees to offer some advice, and the lizard god battles the Shade allowing a startling secret to be revealed.
Although this issue seemed slightly less engaging than the previous two installments, it was still immensely enjoyable.  It was great to see the Shade cut loose with his powers against an unbeatable foe he has no hope of defeating, but what was missing were the character moments that I loved so much from the previous two issues.  Still, this was a fun book and after the cliffhanger reveal of Richard Swift's enemy, the next issue promises to be most interesting indeed.  RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

What Happened to Green Lantern #4? -  Well...I made a boo-boo and forgot to pick it up, which blows.  For some reason I forgot to add this title to my pull list and now I will be making a trip to the store this weekend to pick it up.  OH NO!  Go to the comic store and look around?!  *gasp*  Odds are high that I would go there anyways to take in the aroma of the new books and their crisp, freshly printed pages.  It's like free therapy to me to just walk into the place.  KnowWhatIMean?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods - 12/09/2011

(Sung to the tune of The Pixies "Here Comes Your Man")

Want great comics?  Don't sit waiting
You know what you got to do
Swamp Thing will get you breathing
Consume tasty pages in Chew
I know the Action Comics
Will rethrill on Superman
Great comics? Don't sit waiting
No Gus, I'm still a Sweet Tooth fan

A month can feel too long (too long, too long)
It really ain't that long
Here's Animal Man
Here's Animal Man
Here's Animal Man

It's cold my friends.  So very, very least by Santa Barbara standards.  Of course what is our coldest weather here in town is the warmest--if they're lucky--it will get for many of our East Coast friends, but that's beside the point.  I'm here with Space Cadet Obie, my friends' Boston Terrier and we have retreated once again to the warm, safe womb of our Fortress of Sympathy.  What is the Fortress of Sympathy?  Well, Amy, my wife, hates it--that's for sure--since it involves removing everything from the dining room table, strategically lining up all of the chairs and covering everything in blankets and stocking the cave with couch cushions.  It's all rather nice aside from the fact that we are hiding from Magneto and are forced to wear telepathy blocking (aluminum foil) hats to avoid detection.  Hold on a second, Obie's trying to tell me something.  Okay, apparently I have not read an issue of the X-Men in quite some time and it is rather early in the morning as I have just been reminded that Magneto is actually the Master of Magnetism and not the Titan of Telepathy.  Boy, do I have a headache all of a it me or is this hat getting tighter?  Oh well, on to...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Animal Man #4
Animal Man #4 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Travel Foreman, published by DC Comics.  This is getting ridiculous.  Yup, Animal Man #4 is great.  I love it, my favorite of the 52...blah, blah, blah.  I have been saying the same thing since the first issue and you know what?  I'm gonna say it again.  Animal Man (followed by Swamp Thing below) is my favorite comic of the 52.  Yes this book is disturbing and gross, but it has its charm which overshadows all of the disgusting imagery.  At the core this "superhero" tale is the story of a man struggling to protect his family when he does not have the necessary power or knowledge to do so.  I can't get enough of this book.
As Buddy Baker's wife and son are escorted by one of the Hunters Three posing as a police detective to a safe house in the country, Buddy is on his last legs as the other two agents of the Rot threaten to rend him limb from limb.  Maxine, Buddy's young daughter, the true wielder of the power of the Red, is the one with the power necessary to vanquish the invaders and to heal her father.  A brief history of the Hunters Three follows and a member of the Parliament of Limbs agrees to leave the protection of the Red to join Animal Man and Maxine on their quest.  Cliff, Buddy's son, discovers firsthand the danger he and his mother are in, as the enemy reveals itself and begins to feed in front of him.
Damn.  What a great series.  In addition to the slow build of the hidden terror endangering Buddy's wife and son, and the action of Buddy fighting two of the Hunters Three, Animal Man also shows the danger of a family beginning to unravel.  Buddy's wife, Ellen, and his son, Cliff, have no superpowers and Buddy's role as Animal Man--a role he has no choice but to partake in--puts them in danger.  Ellen's mother, vocally opposes her daughter's marriage to a superhero and further doubts are raised by the danger they find themselves in.  The repercussions of Buddy's destiny is part of what makes this book great.  I also loved how Travel Foreman included a double-page spread of Animal Man merging with the Red that was stylistically similar to what Yanick Paquette is doing in Swamp Thing.  My main criticism is the choice of the cover image, which is fine with me, but not something that will grab any new readers and quite possibly turn them off.  In fact, I am waiting for Amy to tell me to not have this issue on top of the mountainous stack of comics on the side of the bed, because it is, "Disturbing and gross."  That minor issue aside, you know you're reading a great comic when you get to the last panel of the last page and go, "No!  I have to wait until next month?  No!"  That is the feeling I've had with each issue that leaves me desperate for more, and worrying over what is going to happen next.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Swamp Thing #4
Swamp Thing #4 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Marco Rudy, published by DC Comics.  Yeah, here we go again.  "Two great tastes that taste great together."  If you're reading Animal Man and not Swamp Thing, you are doing yourself a great disservice.  The reverse is equally true.  This is one of my favorite books of the 52 and a worthy continuation of the much revered Alan Moore Swamp Thing issues.  If you enjoy horror comics then this and Animal Man are the books for you.
William Arcane walks into a diner and demonstrates on the folks inside the power of a knight of the Rot in a horrific and gruesome manner.  Abigail Arcane, the boy's sister, explains to Alec Holland exactly how William's frightening power works.  Alec and Abigail take a moment to sleep in the safety of a grassy area, but Alec dreams a portent of the Rot's plans in the desert, and in an amazing two-page spread he sees the history of the fight between the Green and the Rot (aka the Other).  He also learns that the Parliament of Trees has more of a problem with Abigail Arcane who they say is an agent of the Rot and possibly more dangerous than William could ever be.  Alec awakens to a startling and disturbing verification of the Green's concerns and the issue closes on an image of what awaits the pair when they finally do find William.
The confrontation between the Green and the Other draws slightly closer and although it will probably be a few issues before this happens, I am totally fine with Snyder's deliberate pacing that brings the reader more in tune with Alec and Abigail, while providing more insight into the history of this ages-old struggle.  It also hints at an inevitable conflict to come once the menace of the Other has been suppressed, which makes the events of Animal Man all the more important to this tale.  Yanick Paquette is not featured in this issue, but Marco Rudy does an amazing job handling the art and David Baron's colors are vibrant and striking.  I could not be happier after reading this issue other than having the next installment already in my hand.  The slight--keyword being "slight"--problems that I had with the first issue are gone and the comic book only gets better and better.  Scary and gory at  times, Swamp Thing continues to slowly ratchet up the tension and urgency of the situation while hooking the reader in and not letting them go.  I cannot wait to see what happens next.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Chew #22
Chew #22 - Written by John Layman and illustrated by Rob Guillory, published by Image Comics.  It seems like it has been a while since I read the last issue, but I am glad to have the latest issue in my grubby mitts.  Chew never ceases to entertain me with its witty, crude, and oftentimes disgusting storylines and unique cast of characters.  In fact, it continues to be one of the best and most creative titles on the stands...if you can get past the gross bits.  But being the seasoned comic book readers that you are, this should not be a problem, especially with a book of this caliber.
Savoy and Caesar have kidnapped Tony Chu's sister, Olive, in the hopes that she shares her father's food based abilities so that she can help them with their secretive agenda.  Unfortunately, it's a "like father, like daughter" situation and the young woman is...less than cooperative.  Caesar and his anti-social partner discover an evil coffee shop barista corrupting people through the coffee.  Tony Chu finds himself in trouble after crossing paths with a rough bunch of golfers and Olive agrees to help Savoy and Caeser, but under certain conditions.
Such a fun, odd, exciting book that I never know what to expect and one that I eagerly anticipate every month(ish).  If there is anything that I take away from Chew #22, it's that I hope to never, ever have to suffer from "Amish Ice Cream Entombment."  Of course I am not Amish,, what a way to go...truly terrible.  This book cracks me up to no end and combined with a fantastic story that is out of this world you can't go wrong.  There are currently two Chew: Omnivore HC Editions out that can catch you to the insanity that is Chew.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Action Comics #4
Action Comics #4 - Written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Rags Morales, published by DC Comics.  This book is exactly what was needed to bring a lapsed Man of Steel fan like me back into the fold.  With a hero struggling to find his way in society and to gain acceptance while protecting the populace, some of whom don't even trust him, Action Comics grabbed me with the first issue the moment Superman confronted one of the world's worst enemies; a greedy and inhuman corporation.  Now in the fourth installment, a more foreign foe has stepped into the picture and the stakes have been raised.
Lex Luthor runs for his life as a possessed John Corben wearing the Metal-Zero armor scours the city in search of Superman, who is busy battling a formidable army of spare-part robots.  Lois and Jimmy attempt to talk some sense into Corben, but he is too far under the power of the invading alien entity, who--upon finding Superman--begins to overcome the hero until John Steel's arrival turns the tide.  We catch a glimpse of Brainiac, who looks to be truly bizarre and...well...alien.  Brainiac has also bottled and filed away a good chunk of Metropolis, including Lois, Jimmy and Lex, leaving Superman and Steel to determine their next step.  This issue also includes a separate and cool story about Steel's fight with John Corben as written by Sholly Fisch and illustrated by Brad Walker.
I am still immensely enjoying this comic and will continue to pick up the next few issues, but I am somewhat concerned that there will be a two issue "interlude" before the story picks up from where it left off.  I'm not sure if this is the wisest choice at this early stage in the game, but I am trusting that Morrison will have plenty of vital character development and story elements to introduce into the series that will make the conclusion to this story arc all the more satisfying.  The action was intense and fun with a sense of urgency that was contagious.  I especially liked the giant robot that plopped the tank on top of its shoulders for a head before promptly blasting Superman in the chops.  Action Comics continues to be a good time and the backup story was enjoyable as well, despite some slightly corny dialogue.  If you are a fan of the Man of Steel, or you love superhero comics that don't go to the "dark place" as Batman tends to do, then you should be reading this book.  RECOMMENDED!

Sweet Tooth #28
Sweet Tooth #28 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Matt Kindt, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint.  "The Taxidermist" storyline featuring guest artist Kindt comes to a shocking conclusion that raises a far more questions than it does answers.  This is okay.  Take a deep breath and hope you're not inhaling the Alaskan plague, as this post-apocalyptic world has become all the richer.
James becomes terrified at the sight of Louis's baby boy, an antlered child that James sees as a harbinger of death.  Louis chases the confused white men from his land with the belief that Jasper and James are already carriers of the plague and that they will carry the sickness back to Europe with them as the gods have dictated.  James, on the verge of death, is found and restored to health where he and the remaining crew members wage a war on Louis and his people until only Louis and his antlered son remain.  The baby is dropped in the "cursed" cave and left to the elements, as James, Louis and the rest of the crew attempt to make their way back to Europe, but ultimately meet an expected end.
I don't want to say that this three-issue history lesson was not a well-written, beautifully painted chapter in the Sweet Tooth universe, but as a reader I am more heavily invested in Gus and Jepperd's story.  I've missed these tragic, flawed characters and their terrible struggle to survive.  "The Taxidermist" shed some small degree of clarity on what happened 100 years in the past, but there are many more questions raised: 1) So the baby was dropped in the cave, what happened to him?  2) Is the baby Gus?  Probably not since it had a belly button, 3) What are the odd animal totems found in the cave.  4) Did the plague die with James Thacker?  I expect there will be another interlude in the future, where a high-stakes cliffhanger is broken up to explain the next phase of the boy with antlers and the plague's story.  Although this break will hurt, it will be necessary and hopefully provide even more of a payoff.  I look forward to the next history lesson, but more so rejoining the characters that I have grown to love.  This is still an amazing book.  RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Oddly Enough, All's Well in the Donist World on Comics - If anything, not enough time in the day to read everything that I wish to be reading.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 12/02/2011

(Sung to the tune of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald’s version of “I Got Plenty of Nothing”)

This week...

I bought plenty of nothing
And nothing is plenty for me
I read a book
Read Clockwork
Oh boy yes siree

Folks with few of the indies
They might be looking for more
Than the capes and tights, cousin it's alright
It ain't at their store.

For sure

Hello there, Donist World patrons.  It was quiet at the LCS this week.  Well, maybe quiet is not the right word.  How about dead, decimated or non-existent.  An odd thing happened, I did not buy a single comic this week, nothing, zilch, nada.  Next Wednesday is looking to be a doozy though, and I fully expect my wallet to take one hell of a beating.  This should have been okay as we were set to have an appearance by special guest Darkseid, but unfortunately my friends' Boston Terrier, Obie, who is also my second reader after my mom, had to cancel his interview with the dark lord of Apokolips.  You see, he just learned that the Anti-Life Equation was not only discovered by a big pharmaceutical company, but it has already been set to go to a generic over-the-counter version called Deadheroitol, which should be fully covered by most HMO plans* (*please check with your provider for potential coverage).  So, in lieu of his appearance here today, Mister Darkseid is having to track down his legal team to cross some T's and dot some I's and quite possibly omega beam the bejesus out of some New Gods or something.  Despite having no special guests this week, and not buying anything at the LCS, I still have a comic that I have been meaning to talk about for quite some time.

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Clockwork Volume 1
Clockwork Volume 1 – Written by Paul Allor and illustrated by various artists, published by Gov’t Comics.  I first have to lead with a disclaimer that I have known Paul Allor for over a year now through Andy Schmidt’s excellent Comics Experience Introduction to Comic Book Writing class and also through the Creators Workshop.  He is also a member of The Brutal Circle (we will get another post up soon…promise) and one of the most talented and driven individuals I have met.  That said I would not go easy on the guy.  Hells no.  But here’s the thing, if I didn’t honestly like Clockwork Volume. 1 it wouldn’t be here on Donist World.  What you hold in your hands—or rather should be holding in your hands—is an impressive anthology of 12 five-page stories consisting of multiple genres and subject matter.  All stories were written by Allor and illustrated by 12 different artists, with most of the production work for the entire graphic novel done by Allor.  Let’s have a look:
  1. “Another Life” – Illustrated by Ben Dewey.  A gorilla first mate tells the story of the feared and renowned space pirate, The Butcher.  Dewey’s wonderful art brings back memories of “weird tales” style stories from the ‘70s for which I have a soft spot.  Great story and wonderfully suited artwork.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
  2. “The Hottest Part of Winter” – Illustrated by Carl Peterson.  A western tale of a person’s decision to change the path their life has taken.  Peterson is a Comics Experience member and his particular lighthearted artistic style is refreshing and perfectly suited to this story.  Don't be surprised to see his lovely art popping up in the near future.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
  3. "Reach the Sun" - Illustrated by Juan Romera.  A thoughtful and all too realistic slice of life look at a young man reflecting on the perceived joys of childhood in relation to the reality of his current teen years.  I'm a huge fan of Romera's art and you cannot help but feel for the main character and the sad conditions of his life as seamlessly evoked through each panel.  Expect to see more from this talented artist in the future.  RECOMMENDED!
  4. "The Things I See" - Illustrated by Nikki Cook - A blind and deaf woman, who "sees" more than she should be able to, walks into a corner store and multiple lives are changed.  Haunting, beautiful artwork with heavy black inks that only enhance the images.  RECOMMENDED! 
  5. "Cage Around My Heart" - Illustrated by Jesse Hamm.  A robot escapes from its creators and innocently causes havoc on the streets.  Whimsical yet heartbreaking, Hamm's art is perfectly suited to this particular story and I can almost hear the music of Yann Tiersen (Amelie soundtrack playing) as BART discovers the world around him.  RECOMMENDED!
  6. "The Day I Go Home" - Illustrated by Leandro Panganiban.  A man attempts to return home after being stranded alone on a planet with only the computerized A.I. SAMM for company.  Unfortunately, SAMM does not wish to lose its only friend.  This story was my first exposure to Allor's writing and was actually his first written script for this anthology.  Brilliant right out the gate and the sci-fi nature was exactly my type of story.  Panganiban's art was crucial to making this story a success and his ability to shift subtle details made that possible.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
  7. "The End of This Story" - Illustrated by Silvio dB.  A fantasy tale of a war started thousands of years ago, follows a warrior as she hunts her enemy.  Silvio dB's art blows me away and is another one that fits perfectly for both old horror stories of '70s and modern tales as well.  Crimony!  Keep an eye on this artist.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! 
  8. "Skull Buzz" - Illustrated by Ken Frederick.  A man changes a tire on a quiet street, but underneath the calm setting stirs something dark.  What this story taught me is to be very, very, very nice to Paul Allor and also that he can go to the dark place and tell a cool yet disturbing story.  Frederick is also a member of the Creator's Workshop and his art drips with a tense menace that delivers with shocking precision.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
  9. "Mercy Kill"- Illustrated by Brett Weldele.  On the day a woman discovers that she does not have long to live, she is involved in an accident that resonates with her and her new situation.  A grim story, but one that left me wondering what I would think were I to find myself in the same situation.  Weldele provides ethereal imagery with striking effect primarily in the panels involving light sources cutting through the night.  RECOMMENDED!
  10. "Plutoville" - Illustrated by Borch Penya.  A space station amusement park falls victim to an unknown menace that kills its inhabitants one at a time.  Another disturbing story, that perfectly utilizes tension and the menace of the unknown to great effect.  Penya's art expertly brings across the subtle horror of this short, never once giving the reader a moment of reprieve until the unexpected ending.  With any luck we will see another collaboration with Penya and Allor in the near future.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
  11. "Warlord" - Illustrated by JM Ken Nimura.  A five-page short of five related one-page stories about the people whose lives are influenced by a warlord's campaign to stay in power.  Nimura, the artist behind the gorgeous I Kill Giants, provides the emotion and drive needed to make this difficult-to-pull-off story work.  "Warlord" is an epic boiled down to the base ingredients.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
  12. "X-Row" - Illustrated by Aaron Houston.  A self-described experiment in non-sequential storytelling through flashbacks.  The captions guide the reader through the story that works in the end.  "X-Row" looks at the life of an unrepentant man who is about to be put to death for some of the terrible crimes he has committed.  Houston provides a great look at the various stages of the man's life from childhood all the way to his death in quick, chaotic glimpses and reflections.  RECOMMENDED!
There you have it.  Overall, I enjoyed each story in this ambitious undertaking with my favorites clearly indicated above.  Allor obviously has placed much thought and time not only in the production of this beautifully constructed book, but in pairing the right story with the right artist.  This is also the most professional-looking self-published book I have ever held in my hands and one whose content reflects the exterior.  What you see is what you get, a beautiful book of well-crafted stories.  
You can read the entirety of the Clockwork Volume 1 online for free hereor better yet, support this creator by buying a physical copy of the book directly here.  Expect to see much more from Paul Allor in the future.  Now...where's my Clockwork Volume 2?

Slice Into the Woods

No New Comics At the Store This Week - Alright, this is not necessarily a bad thing as I was able to finally buy Seven Samurai on Blu-Ray, but it would have been nice to break up next week's books some, but whatcha gonna do.  I will however head down to comb through the comic store anyways as I am addicted to going there and my week would not feel right if I did not visit at all.  I can't shake it, man.  I can't shake it and thank goodness for that.