Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 1/27/2012

(Sung to the tune of Iron Maiden's "Run to the Hills")

Laughing Ghost he sailed the sea
Stealing from Boogie Man with glee
He sunk some ships, the toys did bleed
Then Jester came, to right the deed.

There's Drake Sinclair, his life is hell
Becky Montcrief the Sixth Gun's belle
Evil weapons, possessed by three
Will Becks and Drake ever be set free?

Andrew Bennett loves Mary Queen of Blood
She's evil son, aint it a shame.
Even with Batman, beating some vamps
They can't stop her wicked game.

The Stuff of Legend, The Sixth Gun both rule
I, Vampire's the most, these comics are cool!

Run to your store - read all these books
Run to your store - read all these books

Alright folks, we're going to have to make this quick. Obie--my friends' Boston terrier and main Donist World reader after my mom--and I are back in our secret cave and working on a task of huge import. A task that demonstrates that there is a HUGE injustice in this world and as comic book readers and lovers, we are looking for a hero of super proportions to save us from the evil that has been wrought against us. Yes my friends, we are compiling the tax "return" information for the Donist. We keep gazing into the sky to see if a blue and red blur that is faster than a speeding bullet is on its way to stop the evil's of Rex Ruffor and his sub-15% tax rate and offshore accounts. There is nothing. Where is a Dusk Knight who will right the wrongs of a Donist tax rate that is double that of Rex's rat?  Hmmm, Obie...get back in the house, The Quick isn't gonna pull our bacon out of the fire, so we might as well just fill these forms out and hope for the best. At least there is some good in the world, at least we have...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Stuff of Legend Vol. III
A Jester's Tale #4
The Stuff of Legend Vol. III: A Jester's Tale #4 - Written by Mike Raicht & Brian Smith and illustrated by Charles Paul Wilson III, published by Th3rd World Studios. Who hasn't wished their toys came to life when they left the room? I'm certain Ironman and Batman teamed with Stretch Monster to take on the evil Baron Karza while I sat in class practicing my cursive. Epic adventures and great battles occurred during the time I was away at church (bored out of my gourd) or being made to shop for clothes (the horror) or stuck in solitary confinement until I ate all my peas (the trick is to just swallow the vile things like pills). I always felt I missed out on taking an active roll in my toys struggles. If Stuff of Legend was available to me back then, I might not have thought twice about joining the escapades of my, come to think of it, I would have wanted to help fight against the "The Dark," especially if Jester was there to protect me.
Artic, the Princess's abductor and one of the Indian Nation, lies dead as a result of his own actions against Jester, and Princess wants the clown off of her land. Unfortunately, Jester's lost brother appears at the gates of the Indian Nation and he is none other than the Laughing Ghost, pirate scourge of the sea.  Jester is not one to be taken lightly in any battle, but his dark brother is something different entirely. The Ghost is fueled by anger with a touch of insanity and instills terror in those who oppose him. Jester shares a touching moment with his traveling companion Filmore, as the boy and his friend are stowaways on a train headed straight into the chaos of battle. The Ghost takes sibling rivalry to an uncomfortable level and a traitor is revealed along with the discovery of a mysterious weapon.
Holy cow, this issue was intense. Beautiful and dramatic action scenes make up the majority of this issue, but there is still plenty of room to further the story and provide hints--and warnings--of what is to come. Raicht, Smith and Wilson III continue to provide a well-told and visually striking tale that only improves as the story progresses. I also need to draw attention to the design, coloring and production work done by Jon Conkling and Michael DeVito who give the book its unique and lovely look. With incredible battle scenes, emotional farewells and the fates of many characters who I have come to love in peril, I'm not really sure how I'm going to suffer the wait for volume IV in summer 2012...maybe a few repeat readings of the wonderful The Stuff of Legend Vol. III: A Jester's Tale chapter. This book is something that everyone should be reading and with the first two volumes already collected and this third volume being released at the end of February, getting caught up with this Donist World favorite is strongly advised.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Sixth Gun #18
The Sixth Gun #18 - Written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Brian Hurtt, published by Oni Press. The exceptional The Sixth Gun continues to come out on a regular basis despite the fact that Bunn is working on an ever growing list of Marvel titles and he and Hurtt have this book soon to be a Sci-Fi channel mini-series and another title, The Damned, set to appear on Showtime in the near future. These guys are busy beavers to say the least, but as stretched thin as they might be, it does not show in this great issue.
Flashback. We finally get to see what happened to Drake Sinclair the night he faced a giant mummy and fell from a moving train into the lake below. He is greeted on the shore by a man named Gabriel, an agent of the Knights of Solomon, and his cohorts, who whisk the exhausted man away with the aid of a disembodied hand that burns like a candle at the fingertips. There is some definite history between Drake and the group, and anticipating their desire for the guns, Drake enlists the help of Billjohn. Speaking of BillJohn, the poor guy never gets a moment--or an eternity's chance--to rest as he skulks away with four dire weapons. Becky arrives at a plague ridden town with a new-found bravado and finds herself dealing with the unsavory folks who run the place. Meanwhile, Drake might just have received a job offer from the Knights of Solomon.
As much I have enjoyed the past couple of issues, I will say it's nice to have Drake back in the picture along with all of the mystery and weirdness that follows him. Then there's Becky Montcrief, whose determination and newly acquired confidence make her much more interesting than she has been for most of the series. I'm not saying that I did not like her in the beginning, but seeing Becky finally come into her own by accepting the task of ridding the world of the evil guns made me care all the more. Bunn's storytelling is better than ever and Hurtt delivers some truly beautiful pages, especially the quick glimpse of the the Knights of Solomon's underworld, which has me very curious about this new group. Also worthy of mention is Bill Crabtree's striking colors that give this fantastic comic the distinct look and tone that sets it apart from other titles on the shelf. The Sixth Gun is another Donist World favorite that everyone should be reading. Three trades are readily available, so I reckon you should be a orderin' 'em. I can't wait to see what happens next. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

I, Vampire #5
I, Vampire #5 - Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, published by DC Comics.  Before I read this issue, I was worried. The first three issues were great and then the fourth came along and there was already a guest appearance. Of course that guest was John Constantine, who fit rather well into the I, Vampire world that DC has repeatedly stated is part of the general DC Universe. Here we are at issue five and we're already on to the next guest appearance, by none other that Batman. Having been disappointed with crossovers in the past, I let out a sigh and read Fialkov's latest. You know what? I should have just trusted that this issue would still be great...after all, its in good hands.
Mary's horde of vampires have arrived in Gotham City, and the Batman is not pleased with the carnage that they bring. Andrew, accompanied by his companions John and Tig, head straight into the calamity, but this leads the vampire into direct conflict with Batman after a believable misunderstanding. The motley crew agree to work together, but soon find themselves face to face with more fledgling vampires than they can count. Then, of course, there's Mary Queen of Blood to contend with and the issue ends just as the excitement is about to begin.
Again, my fears were put to rest after reading yet another great installment in this horror-love story. I will say that that although I did enjoy this issue, there was something slightly off with the introduction of Batman. This was not a problem with the previous issue, which I can only attribute to John Constantine being a better and more obvious fit for this series than the superhero Caped Crusader and his special costume. This is only a minor quibble, as the story is still engaging and the threat of Mary Queen of Blood is an ever-building stress that makes this title so enjoyable to read. Andrea Sorrentino's art is as dark and beautiful as ever and Marcelo Maiolo's colors continue to embellish the look and emotion of the book. With the cliffhanger ending, I am left to wonder how these characters are going to make it out alive, I guess I have a month of fingernail biting in anticipation. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Stuff to Check Out - I just need to mention that I have been reading outside of my comfort zone and have been LOVING Darkwing Duck and Best of Archie. As a kid, Archie Comics were always something that held no interest to me primarily because there were no horrific monsters, cool super heroes or gigantic robots. Now as an adult and finally giving the company a chance, I know what I have been missing for the past 30+ years. This ultra-cheap $9.99 retail tome is a brilliant look into the history of the company and the characters who have held solid for decades; I honestly want to read more. The final story from The Life or Archie Magazine really drew me in to the point that I MUST read more and will be buying Archie: The Married Life Book in the near future. Heck, I might even buy a few of the collections out there as well. As for DarkWing Duck, I'm not yet done with the first BOOM trade, but I am loving it. This is a truly all-ages comic that would appeal to the young me (after you pried a Spider-Man book out of my hands) and more-so to the current me with the painfully relatable look at cubicle life. So very well-done and another title that I will be seeking out additional volumes in trade. I cannot recommend them enough.

Slice Into the Woods

Still Fighting for My Writing Time - Not to moan about this too much, the jobby-job has been requiring much in the way of coming in early, which as all you Donist World Denizens (Hi Mom!) know is when I do my writing. But, not to be dissuaded I did a little writing from 5:45 AM to 6:45 AM and spent some additional time writing in the evening. Not my preferred method of working, since a couple of solid consecutive hours is more productive than splitting up the time, but at least I was able to continue working on my projects, which is always a good thing.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 1/20/2012

(Sung to the tune of David Bowie's "Starman")

Comics love
Better times, Daredevil's not feeling so low
Spidey has missed the train oh no no no
Black Cat's layin down some innuendo don't you know, she said
Wonder Woman's got tiny pants
An audience with froggy Poseidon brings the rants
Getting stabby is Morning Glory Zoe's vibe

There's a Batman lost in a big maze
The Court of Owls are meanies
He's been trapped in there for days
There's a Layman writing up the Chew
Cibopaths and cyber-lions
It sounds weird but yes its true
She told me:
Let the children buy it
Let the children read it
Let all the children boogie

Quick! Obie (my friends' Boston terrier and dedicated Donist World fan), grab that cell phone and silence it. Arghh the emails won't stop and the jobby is calling to get me to come in early...during my sacred writing time no less! How can we stop the onslaught? Oh the dogmanity! Everything is conspiring against us to prevent finishing this week's Donist World, but with Obie's help we are--pull the blinds, Obie, don't let anyone see that we're here--going to do this thing. We shall prevail. LIVE! Now the sink is dripping...put a towel in there and fetch me my Daredevil book by golly, we will not be halted. We will fight for the right to write. So, before the crazy person across the way knocks on the door to discuss the termite problems in the condo complex, we will tell you about...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Batman #5
Batman #5 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo, published by DC Comics. Okay, what the heck did I read? I'm dizzy, confused, and didn't sleep well last night, and you know what? I'm a happier reader for it.  Snyder's Batman--and his terrifying Detective Comics run before it--is phenomenal at leading the reader into the darkest corners of Gotham. The latest issue pushes the Dark Knight to the realm of madness, dragging the reader with him as his world crumbles all around.
Batman has been missing for days. Friends and colleagues alike search the city for any shred of evidence, but their efforts are futile. Commissioner Gordon is running the Bat Signal all night and still no word of Batman or his whereabouts. Unknown to all, the detective has been abducted from the world above, the known world, and trapped in the unknown realm of the Court of Owls. The mysterious group has placed Batman in a monstrous labyrinth without food and with his only source of water spilling from an owl fountain that is most likely filled with hallucinogens. The Owls are trying to tell the Dark Knight a story and try as he might to remain strong and resist, the odds are not in his favor. A startling ending assaults the reader as the search for Batman continues.
I was not expecting this issue in the slightest. Where less able hands would fail, Snyder and Capullo successfully pull the reader into Batman's disorientation, leaving the reader just as turned around and hesitant to turn the page. This is not to say that the sequentials were confusing as a result of poor storytelling, quite the opposite. The storytelling flowed perfectly, but required the active participation of the reader in a way that I have not seen in the comics medium before. Batman is the best superhero comic out on the stands and the next issue cannot come soon enough after the shocking second-to-last page. With the multitude of printings of this series, it is never too late to catch up with one of the best books the 52 has to offer (buy Animal Man and Swamp Thing while you're at it!) VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Daredevil #8
Daredevil #8 - Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Kano, published by Marvel Comics. I know you're thinking, "Alright, Donist, what gives?! What about issues 1-7?" Yeah, see...confession time. For Christmas, Amy's dad gave me a gift certificate to a comic store and I picked up the first seven issues of Daredevil all at cover price no less! Bonus, my friends, bonus. I fully intend to circle back and talk about how each of those issues are outstanding and there is a reason why Daredevil is the only Marvel superhero book that I am currently reading. I should also point out that this is part two of two of a storyline that began in Amazing Spider-Man #677. You don't have to read part one to understand what is happening, but since Mark Waid wrote it as well, I will be searching for that issue.
A high-end hologram device was used to frame the Black Cat for a crime and Spider-Man asks Daredevil to help prove the Cat's innocence. The only problem is she thinks Spidey tried to turn her over to the authorities. Looks like everyone's being framed, but at least the heroes...and Black Cat...are all finally on the same page.  As Spider-Man rushes to save a life, Daredevil and Black Cat set off to retrieve the hologram device. The well together and we learn the formula of Billy Club + Helicopter = Awesome. The fun times end when Horn Head discovers that someone has tampered with his father's grave in a most unusual way.
This series is a blast and I'm glad that I was able to pick up every issue in one fell swoop. Waid creates such an interesting dynamic between Daredevil, Spider-Man and the Black Cat that any combination of the three would make an excellent story, even better is having all three playing off one another. To put it simply, Daredevil is a ton of fun. The Bendis and Brubaker runs were each great in their own way, but it's been difficult to continue reading about the pure hell Matt Murdock has been forced to endure for the past decade. With the bad times behind him, it's good to see Daredevil catching a break for once as well as getting to spend some quality time with Black Cat; he deserves some upbeat adventures for a change. This is another title that all fans of superhero comics should be enjoying. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Chew #23
Chew #23 - Written by John Layman and illustrated by Rob Guillory, published by Image Comics. There's only three more issues to go until we are caught up with the from-the-future (add echo effect here) issue of Chew #27 that was released last year. That issue found a battered, comatose Tony Chu in a hospital room with no explanation of how he got there.  This issue looks to explain the terrible circumstances behind what happened to the cibopathic (ability to glean the history of anything he eats, including people...icky) detective-turned meter maid. That is unless Layman and Guillory aren't yet done with abusing our hero.
Tony Chu's former partner and pal, Colby, is not enjoying his time at the USDA. Nor is he enjoying his new partner, Buttercup, a cybernetic lion who Colby does not exactly jive with. Couple that with Director Peña, an elderly, hardass of a boss and Chu's former partner can't imagine a worse day. Of course he's not aware of the position Tony is in: tied to a chair, beaten and forced to eat the exhumed body parts of dead baseball stars. The abductor is Dan Franks, Tony's girlfriend's ex. He has the bright idea of revealing the sordid sex lives of baseball stars, but when those stars have all died, you need a cibopath to bite into the problem and unearth the really twisted secrets that they took with them to the grave. The situation goes from bad to worse and Colby falls back on a tried and true method of making his life easier.
Crimony. I love this series. It's almost a given that every time an issue hits the stands it will appear here at Donist World on "Friday Slice of Heaven" and I will be showering it with praise. Chew is also a difficult series to explain to someone who knows nothing about the comic, but reading the little synopsis above will tell you that there is nothing else like this book. Cybernetic lion partners for a USDA agent? Cibopaths? Eating dead baseball stars? Honestly, this is mild compared to events in past issues, but what matters most is that this series is well-written, expertly illustrated and tells a grand and mysterious story in a complex and intriguing world. Yes, Chew can be disgusting, but at the same time there is a charm within the pages that will keep me coming back until the bitter end.  There are two HC "Omnivore" editions available on the cheap with each containing ten issues...I just might have to buy them for the book shelf. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Books Worth Reading:  Wonder Woman #5 was a great read, although I found the change in art a tad jarring, but this is not a knock against the artist, the art style was just different from what I had grown used to in the first four issues. A possible sibling is introduced and the most unique and stunning interpretation of Poseidon is revealed as a composite of the beasts that live beneath the waves. Time for the action to begin! Morning Glories #20 is an example of how to sell comics. Spencer "holds the line at $2.99" and gives the reader 30 pages of material for their money. A common complaint I have with some of my favorite books, Animal Man,Swamp Thing, and Batwoman, is the rushed feeling brought by the constraints of adhering to 20 pages. Not the case with Morning Glories. Not much happens in the 30 pages of the book until the end, but from beginning to end the characters are fully fleshed out and their relationships allowed to breath with no sense of feeling rushed. All that I need is to figure out what "Woodrun" is.

Slice Into the Woods

Cold that Won't Quit - I know. What does this have to do with cool stuff and writing/creating. Nothing. It's been three and a half weeks of coughing, hacking grossness that is honestly fit for the pages of Chew, but I think I'm finally on the mend. Joy.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 1/13/2012

(Sung to the tune of Bee Gees's "Night Fever")

Listen to the sound:
Donist World what's goin' down?
There are comics all around
And I can feel it

With a warm heartfelt stare
I'll tell you what's out there.
It is somethin we can share,
You can feel it.

And that groovin' Batwoman
She sure likes to fight
Kidnapper ghosts with no soul.
You should also buy Shade
Yeah, Cooke's guest art's dynamite,

Got Demon Knight fever, Knight fever.
You know that you love it.
Love Demon Knight fever, Knight fever.
You know how to show it.

My oh my.  The first two weeks of the month keep turning out to be whopper comic book release days for me, which I am more than cool with, but taking the time to write up reviews for each of the ones that I love is becoming difficult to do.  So, with Obie's permission, I'm going to try something a little different going forward.  I'm going to do three of the usual mini-reviews with a section below that with a less-detailed shout out to all the other books that wowed me that week.  If it happens that more than three comics leave me in a stunned state of comic book heaven, then I will of course write something about each of the books regardless of how many there are.
Now, why am I doing this?  Well, I have a ton of projects that I'm working on, both comics and prose, and then not just writing, but lettering and coloring as well.  This will include different types of posts here at Donist World, AND continuing the Friday Slice of Heaven posts that my mom and Obie, my friends' Boston terrier, have come to love.  My hope is to have my work begin to show up throughout the year for others to see and enjoy.  I also want to be sure that everything is done right and without a rushed feel to it.
All of that said, let's get to it.  Obie...the curtain, please.  It's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

*Possible Spoilers Below*

Batwoman #5
Batwoman #5 - Written by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, illustrated by J.H. Williams III and published by DC Comics.  Quiero ver el hombre Pajarito.  ¿Donde está Pajarito?  Sorry, had to put in a little joke here.  I noticed countless webizens referring to the character with the hooked hand who eviscerated Flamebird in the previous issue as "Pajarito."  Now, my Spanish is very rusty, but "pajarito" translates to "little bird", which I take to refer to Flamebird and not the creepy-as-heck, unnamed Frankenstein guy.  I honestly can't see that horror show of a man being called "Little Bird."  Could you imagine, "Oh no!  Look out it's the vicious, serial killer Little Bird!  Don't let him gut you!"  It's kind of like if Darkseid had his name changed to "Good Friend" or "Cupcake" or "Blue Mini Skirt" or something along those lines.  Ahora la revisíon.
Annnnnyyywho, Batwoman is still a great book, but still rushed and I wish the creative team had the long-extinct 24 pages to allow this tale a bit of room to breathe.
Kate Kane meditates for bit and knows how to defeat the Weeping Woman, taking the fight back to the haunted boathouse where a couple of issues ago she nearly drowned.  The ghost appears to put Kate Kane through the ringer, once again using the memory of her deceased (?) twin sister Beth against her, but Kate is strong enough to resist and makes the Weeping Woman acknowledge her own worst fears.  With the ghost dispelled, but still no information on the missing children, Kate returns home to continue the search, but instead finds Agent Chase and Director Bones in her home and they are both fully aware of her superhero identity.  She makes a deal that she has no choice but to accept and later has to explain herself to Batman.  Nothing matters, just so long as Batwoman finds the missing children; the consequences of her decisions will have to wait.
This was another great issue for a series that I very much enjoy, but as I mentioned above, the story seemed like it was cramming too much into its twenty pages.  Of course the art is gorgeous, the story engaging and I am dying to see Batwoman put the smackdown on Hooky, which is why I anticipate this book so much each month.  It would have been nice to see a little more than one page of Kate meditating to discover how to defeat the ghost.  As it was, it seemed as if she sat down and figured it all out in a second and then walked across the street to the boat house.  This isn't the fault of the creators, but an unfortunate effect of the 20-page format and adhering the storyline to be in a trade.  Despite this small gripe, it all boils down to me wanting more, more, more of this great series with one of the coolest and toughest superhero female characters in print.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Shade #4
The Shade #4 - Written by James Robinson and illustrated by Darwyn Cooke, published by DC Comics.  Hold on a second there, pardner.  What the what?  Somehow the fact that Darwyn Cooke would be illustrating this issue escaped me, but dang if that was not a pleasant surprise when I opened this book.  I will have to look into it, but I believe Cooke is on for the next two installments and then a new artist will join for three issues and another for the final three.  Sounds like a plan, Stan.
The story opens with The Shade reminiscing the year 1944 when he learned of a plot against his great-grandson, Darnell Caldecott.  The Shade had made it a habit of keeping tabs on his heirs and with his newfound intel he put both plans and people in motion to protect Caldecott.  Vigilante (who I knew from the JLU cartoons) and Madam Fatal (who I'm still thrown for a loop over) are two such protectors who have to find Caldecott's missing wife and to rescue Caldecott himself from a hijacked plane.  The day is of course won and The Shade speaks with his great grandson for the first time, leaving the reader to wonder why Caldecott has put out a hit on The Shade's life in today's time.
The Shade continues to be a fun read and this issue provides a nice glimpse at the villain-turned-sort-of-hero and his machinations throughout history.  Even though this is a break in the cool story that we have been following, this relevant look into Dickie Swift's past is enjoyable and something I wouldn't mind seeing more of in future issues or once the maxi-series has ended.  I would love a "The Shade Through History" book, but for that to happen, sales need to be higher than I suspect that they are.  Cooke's art is a wonderful addition to the title, especially given the time period, and Robinson's noir-inspired story of betrayal kept me along for the ride.  My one point of confusion is Madam Fatal...did this person exist in comics before this issue?!  If so, the creator of Madam Fatal is ahead of the times.  If you enjoyed Robinson's Starman books, then there is no reason to not pick up this comic.  RECOMMENDED!

Demon Knights #5
Demon Knights #5 - Written by Paul Cornell and illustrated by Diogenes Neves, published by DC Comics.  I'm still enjoying this series despite the fact that Etrigan and Jason Blood have had precious little face time in a series that I thought was supposed to center around them.  This is fine since each of the characters appearing in this book are fascinating in their own right and at times eclipse the supposed star of the series.  Last issue left off on a cruel cliffhanger with the horse woman (does she have a name?) firing an arrow into Exoristos without warning.
The Demon Knights fall into fighting amongst themselves in the face of the certain doom of the Queen's horde who are waiting to strike.  The archer explains that she is enraged with Exoristos, who turns out to be an Amazonian, for causing the death of the young girl a couple of issues ago.  Vandal Savage begins to loose heart.  Mordru "visits" most of the Demon Knights to tempt them into abandoning the fight so the Wandering Queen can kill the Shining Knight and claim the grail that will allow her to rule New Camelot.  Mordru is outwitted by Jabr, who learns from the magician of a way to possibly stop the Queen.  The archer proves to be as dangerous as ever and one of the Knights commits an atrocity that pulls them away from the group and back to the fold of the enemy.
Still not a whole lot has happened in the past couple of issues, but gaining further insight into Cornell's characters make me love them even more.  And speaking of character development, I did not suspect the traitor of the group at all.  Crimony.  That was harsh and its taking everything I have to not give away the secret, but I'm going to resist the urge.  I will say that I am anxious to see the party started again and learn how the Demon Knights get themselves and the villagers out of the predicament they have been in since issue one.  This series continues to be good, dark fun and next issue looks to deliver on the action.  Now that I have grown attached to these characters, I hope that they all make it out alive.  RECOMMENDED!

Other Books Worth Mentioning - Also this week I picked up Green Lantern #5, which was a fun look at Sinestro as he fixed the Korugar problem and Hal Jordan prioritized his life.  Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. was a crossover with Omac--a book that I don't follow, but will get the trade--which had some cool fight scenes and loads of sci-horror weirdness...he got his darn arm torn off!  Secret Avengers was another enjoyable Warren Ellis done-in-one adventure involving an undercover Shadow Council agent.  Finally, there was Severed, a book by the amazing Scott Snyder that I have not yet talked about on Donist World, but I will do so when the final issue arrives next month.  Severed easily falls in the HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! realm and is a shining example of how to do a horror book right.
I should also mention that Scott Snyder was kind enough to spend an evening with the Comics Experience Creators Workshop group for an online meeting talking about his other amazing book (aren't they all?) American Vampire.  Mr. Snyder was very open about his writing process, how he became started in the business, the process of pitching American Vampire and some of his collaborative process of creating comics.  A great evening and The Comics Experience continues to push and inspire me in all of my creative endeavors.  Check it out if you can.

Slice Into the Woods

Not Enough Time On My Hands - Far too many things going on right now that are stressing me out of my gourd, but I'm pushing back by getting up early to write and chipping away on important projects in the evening. It sometimes seems like I need a force field to deflect everything including stray worries from sidetracking me.  That is why I am staging an "Occupy My Mind" rally in my own head against everything attempting to derail me from my work.  Donist World stands firm...OCCUPY MY MIND!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 01/06/2012

(Sung to the tune of Siouxsie & the Banshees' "Peek-a-Boo")

Big kick to your backside
Scary comics for you all
Swamp Thing, Sweet Tooth I won't lie
Read Fatale and have a ball
Rachel Rising's mental
Animal Man's dang freaky too
Dead chicks, animal kids whoa now
Demons, monster piggies...ewww
Have-a-look Peek-a-boo
At-good-books Peek-a-boo

Golly jeepers
These books are the creepers
Peepshow creepshow
Best comics for your eyes

Obie, my friends' Boston Terrier and my most loyal follower, and I are again hiding in my mom's basement, but this time it's not because we are still trying to escape the horror that is the holidays, but because we are hiding from horror in general.  I don't know what it is about this week, or the state of my mental health for that matter, but ALL of the books that blew my little Donist World mind this week were steeped in thrills, chills and all things scary.  I'm telling you, Mac, the five books I'm gonna to tell you all about below fall well into the "spine-tingling" range of the tranquility meter.  Seriously, the tranquility meter in my mom's basement is reading a clear 254 parsnips...any higher and we're heading into full-blown The Shining, Blair Witch Project, and Eyes of Fire territory.  We're talking scare-the-pants-off-of-you material that...whoa now...wait a minute... Obie?  Where are your pants?  Come to think of it where are my...never mind that right now, I just found a pair of "Lazy Forever"suits for a full-grown man and one for a dog so we should be fine.  In the meantime, tighten your belts and have a gander at...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Swamp Thing #5
Swamp Thing #5 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Yanick Paquette, published by DC Comics.  From a comic book standpoint, I am loving the first week of the month since I get to read a trio of DC horror comics that have been creeping me out in the best of ways.  I never thought I would ever (I know...I sound like the beginning of a Penthouse Forums letter) eagerly await a Swamp Thing comic since the Alan Moore days, but I do, and with good reason.
An agent of the rot shows up in Brazil to meet (meat?) with the Terena tribe, who are the guardians of a certain grove of trees.  Alec and Abigail share some downtime in a convenience store that is all too brief as William appears with a host of monstrosities that he has "built" from the nearby slaughterhouse.  Alec embraces the green that has haunted him his entire life, but when he thinks the day has been won, William rejoices that an agent of the Rot has taken control of the Parliament of Trees and is intent on burning them to the ground.
Man, I do not want to wait until next month for the next issue!  Now that the world has been cemented after the first two issues, Snyder is free to tell his story at his own deliberate, slow-reveal pace to great effect.  Alec and Abigail's (re)blossoming relationship is great to see--I loved Moore's decision to bring them together years ago--even though they are essentially trapped in a never-meant-to-be Romeo and Juliet style romance.  Paquette does an amazing job of adding little character moments such as Abigail smiling when Alec finally taps into the Green revealing a hint of the power within, and also the loosening up of the characters when they interact, like Abigail's tiny smile when leaving the convenience store.  It's the subtle moments that make the relationship real and that turns their powerful "first" kiss to tragedy as the specters of their true natures looms above them.  The invunche creep me the hell out and I can still imagine the horrid "crack, crack" of the tribesmen as the rot takes them.  Brrrrrrr.  This issue had everything that I look for in a comic: exceptional writing, characters I want to know more about, seamless sequential art, love, monsters, a reluctant hero and a logical continuation of one of my favorite comic book runs.  If you can handle the scary and the grotesque, then you should be buying this exceptional series.  One month to go to next issue....VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Animal Man #5
Animal Man #5 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Travel Foreman & Steve Pugh, published by DC Comics.  Another one of the three amazing books that I pickup during the first week of every month, Animal Man is also the first comic that I read.  I know I should save what I think to be the best for last, but for this book and Swamp Thing I can't manage to make myself wait.  I didn't know what to expect from this comic when it was released and I cannot express enough what a great surprise this title is.
Buddy (Animal Man), Maxine and an involuntary "Socks" (a talking cat and former Totem of the Red) rush to save Ellen and Cliff from the horrific third Hunter who is intent on eating them.  Buddy drops off Maxine at her Grandmother's house despite Socks's protests and he ineffectively fights the monster who can take far more abuse than Animal Man is capable of dishing out.  The fight goes bad and the third Hunter gives Buddy visions of what the Rot hopes his daughter will become, but Maxine, desperate to help her father, unleashes her power in such a manner as to make the problem infinitely worse, leaving Socks to suggest enlisting the aid of a certain other DC horror comic character.
You know you've read a great comic when you have an emotional response and the latest issue of Animal Man had me wanting to shout, "No!  Bad Idea!" and then shortly afterwards cheering with the very last splash page--to my sleeping wife's chagrin (sorry Amy).  Lemire and Foreman provide an exceptional fight scene that shows just how powerless Buddy is in the face of this new and terrible force.  The tense, frantic nature of the situation is infectious and had me flipping pages despite feeling scared to see what comes next.  But the main driving force of the book, the sense of family, is made very clear as all of the family members do what they can to keep each other safe, even if their plan backfires and therein lies the hidden charm of this oftentimes disgusting book.  Cliff and Ellen don't abandon the other when faced with death, Maxine won't let her father die and Buddy does everything he can to protect his loved ones despite being hopelessly outmatched.  The one odd point of the book is the use of Steve Pugh for the final four pages, but his artwork manages to fit the style of the story, especially with much of the look, tone and feel of the book belonging to the exceptional coloring of Lovern Kindzierski.  Animal Man is still a fantastic title that seems to be getting better with each installment.  It will be a long month's wait for the next issue.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Rachel Rising #4
Rachel Rising #4 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio.  I'm beginning to notice a theme with all of the books being reviewed here on Donist World...might it be that I am a fan of the horror comics?  True enough, but not just any horror books, rather deliberately paced tales that focus on developing characters who I come to care about and a story that leaves me wanting more.  Thus my love of Rachel Rising.
After taking a 5-story plunge off a building and onto a car, requiring emergency crews to pry her dead body from the wreckage, Rachel sits up in the morgue scaring her friends, Jet and Aunt Johnny.  The body of the dead woman who knocked Rachel from the rooftop is missing from the scene as the man who killed her, her husband, takes her body to bury it in the same location that Rachel was murdered.  Many odd events follow involving snakes, a murderous child chooses to bury her sister in the same woods, and she then follows up by killing the man and burying him in the same spot.  Rachel's doppelganger makes an ominous, but brief appearance.
What the hell is going on?!  No, don't tell me.  I don't want to know.  I trust Moore to bring clarity to what is happening in some future issue and I am more than fine knowing just a tad more than Rachel knows.  I am loving how Rachel is bringing more of her friends into the fold, creating a team of interesting and unique people who Moore expertly gives their own voices and quirks.  Whatever is happening in the woods is 100% creepsville and I desperately want the reveals to come, but whatever the situation is, the wait is all part of the fun of this excellent new book from one of my favorite creators.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Sweet Tooth #29
Sweet Tooth # 29 - Everythinged by Jeff Lemire, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint.  After a three issue hiatus during which Lemire looked at the history of the apocalyptic plague that spread across the world and revealed that an antlered boy existed in 1911, we return to Gus and Jepperd's story.  The past three issues were fascinating and answered some questions concerning the collapse of society, but with each revelation, new questions were raised and by the end I was missing all of Lemire's characters who I have grown attached to.  It's great to have them back although I predict that times are about to get tough...again.
After being asked to leave the safety of the dam, Jepperd has been living out in the wilderness on his own for the past month.  During that time Gus has been healing from the gunshot wound that he received, but being well enough to travel, he and Singh agree to continue with "the big man" to Alaska where they hope to find answers to what has happened to the world.  Becky finds Lucy in an terrible, unexpected state, while the truth about Walter Fish becomes clear at the worst possible time.
I honestly enjoyed the recent interlude, but damn if I'm not thrilled to be following the main cast once again.  Another slow-build, horror title, Sweet Tooth relies heavily on its powerful and flawed characters who struggle to survive in a terrible world of violence, disease and uncertainty.  The humans and animals' rolls have reversed with people being the wild, the savage, while the animal hybrids are the innocents and oftentimes the prey.  This is a stressful comic book to read.  Before every page turn I find myself fearful over what waits for Gus and Jepperd, or wondering if Walter will finally stand revealed.  I just can't look away and even when I know something terrible is going to happen, I am still hoping and praying for the safety of the fictitious characters whose luck always seems to be dwindling.  An outstanding book that just keeps getting better and better and one that I hope is around for years to come.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Fatale #1
Fatale #1 - Written by Ed Brubaker and illustrated by Sean Philips, published by Image Comics.  Last year's Criminal: The Last of the Innocent was the best installment in a series of stellar stories to date, so when I read that Brubaker and Phillips were releasing a creator-owned crime comic with a Lovcraftian bend I knew I had to buy this book.  I'm glad that I did.
When Nicolas Lash meets the mysterious and stunningly alluring Jo at a funeral for his godfather, Dominic Raines, a psychotic chain of events follows that leaves Lash a broken man.  Later Hank Raines, a reporter looking into a crooked cop case, meets Jo, or rather Josephine, at a bar to discuss bringing forth the truth about Walt Booker--who is involved with Josephine--and his corrupt partner.  Unfortunately Hank isn't thinking straight, but then how can he after having met Josephine's gaze?  Men can't help but fall under Josephine's spell and it seems she has been alluring men for quite a few years, but as she stays young, Booker is slowly dying and he looks to be preparing to make a deal with the devil.
Fatale seems to be headed in the best of directions.  This introduction mostly covers familiar territory for Brubaker and Phillips, but the seeds of something we have not seen from the creators before are there and the next issue looks to bring in more of the horror and the supernatural lurking beneath this noir tale.  Jo, Walt, Hank and Nicolas are all interesting, but with only 24 pages--an epic undertaking for the usual "holding the line at a mere 20 pages" mindset...sorry, had to take the dig--there is more to be learned before I cling to any of them just yet.  That said, the pages are packed with information and intrigue in this new mystical world and I will definitely be picking up issue two.  A lot of fun that promises thrills to come.  RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Been Illin' and In the Slumps - Despite--or because of, if you believe in jinxing yourself--my claims that I would not get ill this holiday season, as I have done for the past 26 out of 30 years, I managed to catch the Kris Kringle Flu during the last week of December and I'm still leveled by it.  I have also been feeling run down in other areas, and it has been difficult to make myself work on my writing projects.  But in the end, I drag my whiny posterior to my desk and I write anyways.  I write and have a great sense of fulfillment and see that much of my effort is going to be fruitful this year.  I finished the first draft of my kid's/all-ages book in 2011, I have one more draft/polish of my sci-fantasy novel to hammer out, and I am moving forward on having all of my comic book stories illustrated.  I also have a pitch to put together tomorrow morning for an amazing and informative, learning opportunity.  So no more down in the dumps for ol' Donist, time to make the magic happen.
Now if I could only shake this stupid cold that has been lingering for the past week and a half.