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!"


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