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.


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