Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 02/24/2012

(Sung to the tune of Beastie Boys's "Sabotage")

I can't stand it, you must must demand it
I'm tellin' you son it's The Sixth Gun
It's the comic you should be buyin'
Supernatural Western, I ain't lyin'

Becky Montcrief, sweet mademoiselle,
Gun totin' honey she sure found hell
Oh my god, DC's gone dire
I'm tellin' y'all, it's I, Vampire

So, so, so, so
Listen up 'cause Andrew's fully screwed
"Well shut up Donist, what's goin' on in Chew."
Sure, Young Olive knows the score
This comic's the tops, give us more and more

Hey Obie, hand me another c-c-c-cup of c-c-c-c-coffee. Oh yeah...that's the ticket. Here you go little puppy, an espresso to chase that cigar you love so much; everyone knows how much Boston terriers love their cigars and coffee. After the nirvana-like state of relaxation we were able to achieve last week, this week succeeded in decimating our calm. It harshed our mellow, folks. So, why fight the stress? Donist World is going to embrace it! Look at there, Obie is trembling like a leaf after all of the coffee and nicotine and this week's tension-filled comics aren't helping the situation at all. And you know what, by golly, we're cool with that.

So, set your nerves on end and check out...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Sixth Gun #19
The Sixth Gun #19 - Written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Brian Hurtt, published by Oni Press. The Sixth Gun continues to be one of my most anticipated monthly comics and with good reason. Great characters, bizarre and interesting villains, and a story of terrible weapons that threaten to unleash an even greater evil upon the world, there is little not to like. More people need to be reading this incredible comic book.
Becky Montcrief continues her quest to locate the missing Drake Sinclair. Unfortunately, the closer she gets to finding him, the more dangerous and menacing her situation becomes. Becky is disturbed to the core when she arrives at the diseased town of Penance, where its broken inhabitants trudge through their daily lives. Her hope rises when Sheriff Maze, a man seemingly unaffected by the town, drops hints of where she will find Drake. Speaking of Drake, he is being wooed by the Knights of Solomon to take up his old position among them, but he's not making any friends in the process; plus they suspect he's taking them for a ride. Becky finds she's been lied too by Maze as she stumbles upon the actual town of Penance with citizens even more damaged than the people living in what turns out to have been New Penance. She learns the secret of both towns' plight, neither of which holds her health and wellbeing in much regard.
Crimony! Bunn and Hurtt bring an extra helping of creepy to this month's release with the citizens of the dual towns of Penance and New that a nod to the film Dead Man at New Penance? The Knights of Solomon's hooded seers, who discover Drake's plan to mislead the Knights, are even more disturbing than the plagued victims of the towns. Bunn and Hurtt create a heavy sense of tension in their twisted tale of the weird West that builds until the cliffhanger ending that will make the wait for next month's issue all the more painful. Again, more people need to be reading this incredible comic book. If you like Westerns, the supernatural, beautiful art (with great coloring by Bill Crabtree), and a well-told story, then you can't go wrong with this series. Oh yes, skunk necklace...never mind, just buy this comic! Two TPBs are currently available with a third on the way. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Chew #24
Chew #24 - Written by John Layman and illustrated by Rob Guillory, published by Image Comics. Never let it be said that Layman and Guillory's Chew doesn't shock or surprise with every issue. This series leaves the reader not just questioning the sanity of its creators, but more so wondering what could possibly come next. Chew continues to astound in the best of ways and always leaves me hungry (see what I did there?) for more.
Say hello to Hershel Brown. He's a xocoscalpere, which in Layman's terms (see what I did there?) means he can sculpt anything in chocolate to such a degree that the item actually mimics its real-life counterpart. He's also a wanted man after he chopped up a bunch of people at a butter sculpting contest with a chocolate samurai sword. Tony Chu's teenage daughter, Olive, goes on her first real mission but when Mason Savoy has her drink a milkshake with the blood of a martial artist in it, she is less than thrilled. They find Brown attempting to sell a chocolate laser raygun to some Russians and Brown does not fare well in the ensuing carnage. Olive also learns that she is more than just an "ordinary" cibopath as she begins to understand the true nature of her gifts.
Death by frickin' chocolate...literally. Layman and Guillory continue to release the most unique comic to be found on the rack. At the very worst Chew delivers an entertaining and enjoyable read. At its best you get one of the most creative stories with fantastic characters who you learn to love and a desperate need to know what comes next. This, and honestly most issues of this series, fall clearly into the "best" category. There's a reason I smile every time I find this comic in my pull, and I am probably going to double dip this puppy by picking up the Chew: Omnivore Editions. If you are not reading this series you are definitely missing out. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

I, Vampire #6
I, Vampire #6 - Written by Joshua Hale Falkov and illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, published by DC Comics. I was worried for the the fate of this series since this is the second issue in the second cross-over event and we're only on issue six. Now we don't know good math here at Donist World, but by Obie's estimation that puts 50% of this series as part of some cross-over event if you include the John Constantine appearance in issue four. After reading the sixth installment, gone is the slight bit of awkwardness from last month, and we are left with an "Oh my god, that did not just happen" book in the best of ways.
Batman, John, Tig and Andrew fight for their lives against the hordes of recently converted vampires descending upon them. Thankfully Andrew has a plan to thin the herd by killing the vampire boy who sired the mob of young vampires. Unfortunately, Batman's not a fan of the "K" word, but he's not the only dissenter in the group as...Oh my god, that did not just happen! Wait, who the hell is that guy?! Oh...him...dang.
Holy cow! I was not expecting that at all. Fialkov succeeds in alleviating the awkward moments from the previous issue and deliver an exciting and tense issue that leaves the reader with one hell of a cliffhanger ending. Oh Sorrentino provides some of his best work to date and Marcelo Maiolo's colors bring amazing life to the undead and the two combined leave me wishing I had every page framed on my wall. It's difficult not to spoil the ending on this issue, so I will just urge people to pick up this great comic that despite being 50% cross-over is a mighty fine book...even though the "Rise of the Vampires" event picks up in Justice League Dark #7 for more cross-over fun. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Gaudi inspired Blue Iguana
Other Heavenly Things and Such - Last Friday, Amy, Tulip (Obie's sister and our dog) went on a mini vacation to Ojai for three nights, four days and had some much needed time to relax. We stayed at the wonderful and quirky Blue Iguana Inn, had some delicious food, wine and beer, and found a candy shop that had my favorite Atomic Fireball jawbreakers and Willy Wonka Bottlecaps. We will definitely return.
Black Summer TPB
Last week I mentioned that I was halfway finished reading Black Summer, written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Juan Jose Ryp, published by Avatar, and now that I have finished the book, I have to say that it was great. When superhero John Horus becomes upset at the way the country is being run by the current administration (written during the Bush years, so guess what was going on in Ellis's head at the time) and decides to take matters into his own hands by brutally killing him, his administration, backers and some security guards, following all of that with a public address. The world is thrown into chaos and his old teammates are left wondering if they should sanction the lapsed hero or join him. Unfortunately, a supposedly dead man rises from the ashes with a response of his own. A fantastic, dark cynical comment on the politics of the time and a look at what would happen when a superbeing decides enough is enough. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Now if only Ellis would release a Black Summer know, a prelude on each of the characters in the book in their early days and written and drawn by different...just kidding. :)
I try my best not to play many video games. I know me. I remember the dark days of "Age of Empires" where I can still hear the priest chanting as he healed my phalanx soldier, and a cold shiver drizzles down my spine, making me wince. But...I bought the Kingdom Rush app for $.99 on my iPad and the game rules. Think tower defense mashed with dungeons and dragons along with beautiful, cartoony art and characters, great sound effects, humorous little comments and loads of addictive fun. My personal favorite tower is the Ranger tower with the poison arrows and the strangling thorn vines, but there are plenty of other close contenders. I believe you can play the game for free online at the link above, but having it on the iPad while comfortable on the couch and with a nice beer or glass of know, classy all the way. So much fun that I want to stop writing and play a quick round over and over and over and over...
Finally, I almost forgot to mention that I picked up a bottle of rye whiskey called Old Overholt from the so-awesome-I-wish-it-was-in-town Ojai Beverage Company. The rye was as inexpensive as it was smooth and I couldn't be happier. The OBC had an immense selection of beer that I could have spent the day drooling over, but my wife kept me in reality and I ended up buying a 4-pack of Dubhe imperial black IPA, which was also very tasty. Black IPAs are a difficult type of beer to find in Santa Barbara, so I was glad to not leave empty handed.

Slice Into the Woods

Back from Relaxing and Into the Stress - C'mon now. After a much needed four-day break in Ojai, I jumped right back into some crazy stressful stuff on the jobby job front. Also went to the doctor's office and I have a couple more test to go through, but I am happy to say that I'm off of the blood thinners and hope to stay that way. The main thing is that all of the job commitments and doctor visits cut into my writing time this week--thus the late post--but hopefully everything stays calmed down for the near future...I've got some books and comics to write gosh darn it.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 2/17/2012

(Sung to the tune of Alan Parsons Project "Eye in the Sky")

Here's some books you're not gonna regret
Donist World knowledge straight to your head
You've heard of Wonder Woman before
Hera best not send centaurs no more
Believe me
Some treats for your eyes
Donist knows books you should be reading.

Bats has got a bloodshot eye
Looking at you
He's out of his mind.
The Court of Owls make the rules
They ain't no fools
Matt Murdock's still blind
But although he can't see anymore
We know that
He can "see" just fine, he can "see" just fine.

Oh. Hi there folks. Sorry, let me just peel these cucumber slices off of my eyes and do the same for Obie, my friends' Boston Terrier and my most ardent reader. Sit still Obie, you don't want to mess up your mud mask, you know how essential it is to revitalizing tired, stressed out skin--and in your case fur. Welcome to the Donist World Relaxation Spa where we calm your nerves and tell you about cool things, especially comic books. You see, we've had a fairly stressful work week and the following week looks to be even worse, but thankfully we have this four-day weekend and intend to calm ourselves and restore our sense of wa. So grab yourself a hibiscus cooler--or a cosmo if that's how you roll--lie back in a bubble bath, calm your mind and have a languid peek at--

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Batman #6
Batman #6 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo, published by DC Comics. Issue five was a trip and a half of a comic, requiring the reader to experience some of Batman's delusions and madness through clever changes in page orientation. Mission accomplished in the best of ways. Then with everything whirling about in chaos, the issue came to a sudden halt with the Dark Knight being stabbed by the Talon. Enter issue six.
The story picks up with Batman being stabbed in the back by the Talon and we catch our first glimpse of the Court of Owls, although we see them through the eyes of a drugged, starved, exhausted Batman. The Talon then proceeds to beat the heck out of the Bat at the encouragement of the Court's youngest member, a little girl. On the verge of letting death consume him, the situation turns when Batman sees a picture of his great-great grandfather, Alan Wayne, and with renewed vigor turns the tables on the deadly Talon. Batman succeeds in escaping, but he might have put himself in a worse predicament while the court reveals their next move.
Creepy. If anyone knows how to dish out the most subtle forms of horror--the kind that comes to mind right before you close your eyes to go to sleep--it is Scott Snyder. Mix in the unexpected grand scare at just the right moment, like last issue's stabbing, and you have a terrifying read that never lets up. With a solid script and the scares firmly in place, Capullo comes in to develop the madness and fear and in this he shines. The frequent morphing of the Court of Owls's members from masked humans to demonic birdlike beings is unsettling, continuing last issue's trend of unsettling the reader as Batman fights for his life. As his world shifts and melts around him, it's interesting that the one constant in the issue is the Talon. Even the Dark Knight morphs into a different creature under the effect of the hallucinogens, yet the main threat to his life remains unchanged throughout the encounter. Capullo's art seems to improve with each issue and with colorist FCO adding the right emotion and impact to each scene Batman is a book that leaves me biting my nails in anticipation of the next issue. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Daredevil #9
Daredevil #9 - Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Paolo Rivera, published by Marvel Comics. One of the best comic purchases I made at the tail end of last year was to pick up issues one to seven of Daredevil in one big purchase at a comic store in San Jose. Matt Murdock's new life as a no-longer-suicidal superhero out to make the world safe is a nice change from the hero whose life was becoming the equivalent of an old-timey country song. Today, Daredevil is FUN! Yeah, I know, "Shut up, Donist, wipe the 'f-word' from your blog," but it's true. It's a welcome change for Hornhead to be out on adventures and living life as opposed to the past when anything from another bad guy killing another girlfriend, to a carton of milk going bad could push him to wanting to end it all.
Matt Murdock should have listened to his law partner, Foggy Nelson. It seems that someone has been doing something odd in the cemetery. Something that only grabs Daredevil's attention the day his father's body--coffin and all--is stolen...from underneath via an elaborate tunneling system. The Mole Man's lackeys, the moloids, have taken all of the coffins from the graveyard and are transporting them to the Mole Man for unknown reasons, leaving a less-than-happy Daredevil in hot pursuit. Meanwhile the Black Cat digs through Matt Murdock's apartment and comes across the data device that contains secrets that many criminal organizations would gladly kill to possess, or in Black Cat's case pay handsomely for. The question remains whether or not she will deliver the goods from her possible new love interest. Daredevil loses a fight with the Mole Man, who finds what who he is looking for, leaving the hero in the worst of situations.
Heck yeah! There's a reason why this is the only book I am buying from Marvel these days. Waid layers in a great story and has revived Daredevil as a hero the reader can once again care about and most importantly wish they could be. Gone is the sadsack--who had some great stories over the past decade, but they have not been the most uplifting of reads--and back is the hero I loved as a kid. Hopefully Black Cat is around for a while, along with love-triangle Spider-Man. Paolo Rivera's art is as amazing as ever and I am enjoying Javier Rodriguez's colors tremendously; check out the double-page splash! I'm off to proudly don my Daredevil mask and Underoos and to patrol the city of Santa Barbara while smiling happy at having my hero back...please bail me out of jail when I get arrested for being crazy. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Wonder Woman #6
Wonder Woman #6 - Written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Tony Akins, published by DC Comics. Wonder Woman is not a book to be taken as light reading. Wednesday evening I made an attempt to read the comic right before I fell asleep and essentially missed everything within the story. A good night's sleep, a cup of coffee and a fresh mind later, I reread this amazing comic and found it much more powerful and intriguing. For this title, I'll be happy even if no other spandex-pajamaed hero types step foot in this comic. Make mine myth!
The god of the sea and the god of the underworld make a play to claim their brother Zeus's vacant spot of the heavens with little regard for those caught in the middle. Wonder Woman faces off against her uncle, Poseidon, as her half-sister Zola is once again menaced by the centaurs from the first issue. Lennox the mysterious new sibling, convinces Hades to come to the surface for some bargaining that is sure to raise Hera's ire. Wonder Woman shows (off panel) one of the centaurs that she is not to be messed with in a most violent manner that leaves a lot to the imagination. With Hermes's aid and the unintentional help of Hades, Diana's gamble pays off as Hera is removed from the playing field, but Diana soon learns that the gods dislike being the pawns in the very games they play.
Talk about an intense issue that solidifies Diana as more than just mighty--the scenes of her bloody arms drive this home in the best of ways--but also a clever tactician. Azzarello brings action to the series after some well-developed character and story building from the previous issues. I love the non-standard depictions of the gods in Wonder Woman's world, whether it is the frog/whale/octopus/catfish Poseidon, Hades as the boy with the candles atop his head, or the bird-like Hermes, the reader is left wondering just what he and Cliff Chiang will come up with next. Speaking of Cliff Chiang, he is once again absent from the book, but Tony Akins is a great fill-in artist who, although differing in style from Chiang, is well-suited to the book. With the world created and the characters developed--except for Lennox, which is intentional--I am excited to see what comes next. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Things - Last weekend was the continuation of a close friend and Obie's owner's 40th birthday celebration where a group of us met up at the Figueroa Mountain Brewery where we ordered beer samplers and food from a nearby pizza place. Unfortunately, Figueroa Mountain is a half hour away so going there requires a bit of logistical planning as far as who will be safely driving there and back, but it is well worth the trip. If I had to pick a favorite, I would have to go with the Hoppy Poppy IPA, which is well worth tasting.
Continuing on the beer front, we went to the Hollister Brewing Co. last night, which is by far my favorite brewery and is only a five minute drive away. I went with the Hippie Kicker IPA (strong and slightly sweet), and the newer Canoa IPA (refreshing and crisp) which are fantastic. If you are ever in the Goleta/Santa Barbara area, Hollister Brewing Co. is well worth a visit and we go there often, so we might see you there.
Immediately following dinner, Amy and I went to see the fantastic movie Chronicle. Essentially a "found footage" film much in the style of Cloverfield and The Blair Witch Project. It is about three high school students who gain super powers and at first have fun with them, but soon find that having powers change things and doesn't just level the playing field, but can level cities as well. I absolutely loved every bit of it, from the footage of them flying through the sky to the devastating but unavoidable ending. Thankfully, I knew little about the movie and never once saw a single trailer, so happy surprise does not begin to cover it. Also what made the film great was the lack of any "movie stars" and apparently a complete lack of studio executive interference. The story was also created by a couple of mid-twenties guys, so massive congratulations on an amazing endeavor. I hope more films take their cues from Chronicle, which knows how to deliver an effective third act.
Finally, I received a shipment containing Drops of God, Vol. 2 and Black Summer. Black Summer is written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Juan Jose Ryp, published by Avatar. I am almost finished with it already. Essentially, a superhero, tired of the corrupt politics and of outside influence in Washington D.C., kills the president and demands new and legitimate (non-rigged) elections take place. Apparently Ellis had some issues with the previous administration when he wrote this book. More on this one next week after I finish reading it. I am also excited for the next Drops of God book, a manga about the world of wine...I know, trust me on this, it is excellent and will make you want to sip a nice wine while you read.

Slice Into the Woods

Stress - We all have it and that does not make me special in any way, but it affects us all, and is annoying all the same. Thanks jobby-job.

Time to Pay the Piper - ...or rather the hospital. Some of you read about the nonsense I had to go through back in October already, but if not, here you go. Pretty nuts, huh? I just received my bill for my maximum out of pocket expense yesterday and although it was not unexpected it blows all the same. Universal Health Care should be free for all, and I would happily let some of my taxes move from giving tax breaks to the wealthy and big businesses to providing options to the less fortunate who work for those institutions, options that do not include complete and utter financial devastation for citizens of the United States.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 2/10/2012

(Sung to the Tune of TV on the Radio's "Wolf Like Me")

Say, say my good mates
Won't you come read with me?
Batwoman you must see
Kids gone a tragedy

Kate Kane and Chase pull a shift
Beatin' on gangland twits.
The hook hand is big and cruel
Gotta bust that jerk, gotta save some kids

You should really try Demon Knights
Exoristos gets in lots of fights
Etrigan is not really there
He still whups ass so I don't care

Obie maintains
Frankenstein again, that dog likes it
Monsters remain
Assault your brain, yeah dog we like it.

Obie waiting for his
puppy martini.
Hello there all you happy people. I just got back late from a business trip, thus the delay in this week's Donist World FSoH/SitW post, but better late than never. Ooops. Hold on a moment. Why lookie there. It' none other than my friends' Boston Terrier and my main reader Obie. Obie was also on a business trip as evidenced by his little power tie, the tiny suitcase filled with kibble, and his traveling fedora resting atop his head. The cool thing is that Obie will be staying over for the next few nights and keeping his sister, Tulip, company here at casa del Donist. Since we're already late, we're going to keep this short and get right down to it...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Batwoman #6
Batwoman #6 - Written by J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman and illustrated by Amy Reeder, published by DC Comics. We all knew this day was coming. A day where J.H. Williams III was not the one providing the illustrations for Batwoman. Enter Amy Reeder, the artist covering the latest storyline and a fitting addition to one of my favorite 52 relaunch books.
The story begins with Batwoman fighting in an underwater lair with the hook-handed freak who nearly cut Bette Kane in half.  From here the story jumps around revisiting everything that has happened from the previous five issues and reintroducing the reader to the main characters. We are also given a glimpse of those responsible from creating the Weeping Woman, the mysterious Falchion and the mystical Maro. After having her identity exposed by Cameron Chase, Batwoman is forced to work with the DEO agent as they battle the secretive Medusa group, leading back to the present battle where the story is about to begin.
This issue almost seemed as if it exists to bring new readers up to speed, but since this book is only on issue six, I'm not sure why such a move is necessary at this early stage. That said, there is still plenty to enjoy for new and current fans, with much of the "catch up" scenes containing new information such as the introduction of Maro and Falchion to spark the reader's interest. There are some great character moments between Kate Kane and Maggie Sawyer as well as Colonel Jacob Kane as he watches over the comatose Bette Kane. What will probably be the main topic of conversation concerning this issue is new artist Amy Reader, who does an exceptional job of filling in for J.H. Williams III for this storyline. She maintains the beautiful look and tone of the book--with the aid of colorist Guy Majors--while providing her own style to great effect. Despite not moving the story forward all that much, this issue is still highly enjoyable and although J.H. Williams III's masterful pages will be missed, Amy Reeder fills his shoes quite well.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Demon Knights #6
Demon Knights #6 - Written by Paul Cornell and illustrated by Diogenes Neves, published by DC Comics. Demon Knights is DC Comic's sole fantasy title and thankfully it's a good one at that. Filled with conflicting personalities, cruel betrayals and one hell of a complex threesome relationship this comic continues to be much fun despite taking place in the same little town for six straight issues.
Exoristos is overflowing with guilt over her decision that sent a young girl to a terrible fate, and the Amazon warrior means to atone by dying in battle. Of course killing an Amazon is no simple feat as a monstrous triceratops and its riders soon discover. The horse woman--does she even have a name at this point?--comes up with a plan to bring an army to the battlefield. Madame Xanadu weighs the choice of taking a life to restore her youthful vigor and she too comes up with plan that Etrigan is not going to appreciate. The final battle is upon the Demon Knights, but can four mighty warriors stand against an army?
Demon Knights seems to take a cue from Batwoman by having some fairly blatant moments of exposition to bring new readers up to speed, but again with only five issues before this one, catching up is not that big of a deal. Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing and should not pull current readers too far from the story. As I have said in most of the reviews of this series, Etrigan is still the least interesting of the group, but I'm sure that is something Cornell will remedy in later issues. For now, it's the cover model head-butting a dinosaur who shines as she single-handedly wrecks havoc on the invading army; hopefully her story will come soon. Neves provides some stunning battle scenes that keep the pages flying by, while also providing great scenes of emotion through the expressions on the character's faces. Combined, Neves's art and Cornell's story are a perfect match and Demon Knights continues to be a lot fun even though a certain yellow-skinned demon has been absent for much of the series. I would not count Etrigan to remain in the background forever and the next issue looks to be nuts. RECOMMENDED!

Frankenstein Agent
of S.H.A.D.E. #6
Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #6 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Alberto Ponticelli, published by DC Comics. Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. is one of those books that manages to surprise and entertain on a monthly basis. This is not a shock since Jeff Lemire is the writer, and--discounting the recent crossover with Omac--the comic has managed to remain outside of the DC superhero universe. Because of this Lemire is able to create in his own sandbox without the constraints of continuity or crossover events--again minus the Omac issue. It'll be interesting to see the direction the book takes when Lemire steps down to be replaced by Matt Kindt later this year.
As Nina and Ray Palmer discount the humanid drone project, one of the beings with the 24-hour lifespan becomes sentient and runs from imminent recycling. Meanwhile, Frankenstein and the other Creature Commandos find themselves in Vietnam on the hunt for Colonel Quantum, an immensely powerful and insane red-skinned agent who harkens back to a certain blue-skinned super doctor hailing from Manhattan. When Quantum is found in an unexpected physical and emotional state, Frankenstein releases his old friend from his pain, but unfortunately a Commando's work is never done. The rogue humanid has gathered fellow sympathizers and with their aid they free the deadly inhabitants of a micro prison, leaving only Lady Frankenstein and Nina to square off against the original Creature Commandos.
Using the "F" word to describe comics is becoming annoying. Frankenstein is an enjoyable, gladdening, rip-roaring...awwww, forget it. Frankenstein is a fun book that consistently entertains and while reminiscent of the old days of Vampirella, Eerie and Creepy, manages to provide something new at the same time. I was sad to learn that Lemire is set to leave the book in order to work on Justice League Dark, but I am more than willing to stick around to see what his collaborator Matt Kindt comes up with. My main hope is to get some insight into the other Commandos before he leaves, as there's a wealth of story waiting to be told. A cool book that monster fans should love. RECOMMENDED!

Isotope Comics While on a Business Trip and Other Groovy Things - This week I had to be out of town for the better part of three days for a business seminar...but let's not talk about that. One of the key points that made the trip tolerable was that I was able to briefly see a close friend, see my brother, buy some Blue Bottle Coffee and visit Donist World favorite comic book store Isotope Comics. Isotope is one of those comic book shops that you just want to move into. I don't mean park down on one of the stylish leather couches, but bring a suitcase, toothbrush, sleeping bag or inflatable bed and actually move into the place. They have lovely art displayed on the wall--including the toilet seat art--the most recent comic book releases and many trades. They oftentimes host crazy after-hours parties--that I have sadly not been to--with cocktails, DJs and fabulous creators. Most important to the experience is store owner James Sime, who stands out in a crowd with tall hair, an impressive mustache that I have no hope of ever growing and amazing stylish suits. The thing about Sime is the clear joy that comics bring him. He's a blast to talk to and I would have gladly stayed much longer had I not had a measly hour and a half to walk to catch the muni, ride it across town, walk to the store, walk back to the muni, and walk back to the seminar. Not enough time at all. So, Mr. Sime, I agree, you should not have told your friends about Daredevil when you were a kid, causing an increased demand in your neighborhood, but hey, you were a kid and we all make mistakes as kids. Now with his own tremendous store, he never has to go without his favorite comics and neither should you. If you are in San Francisco, Isotope is a must see store.
Speaking of Isotope and good comics, I need to mention that I picked up Supergod written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Garrie Gastonny, published by Avatar Press and as recommended by Mr. Sime. Essentially, this is a story of what would happen if the nuclear arms race was actually a race to create super humans and the repercussions of doing so. Haunting and crazy in a way that only Ellis can effectively pull off. Also recommended was Ellis's other book Black Summer but I will definitely be buying that once I have a bit more cash money. Written when Ellis was angered by American politics during the Bush administration, the comic is about a super hero who takes matters into his own hands to right the world. I can't wait to read this one.
I will briefly mention Severed #7 which Donist World will give a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! designation for the issue and the series as a whole. This is another title that I could devote an entire post to praising, but I will have to do that at a later time. Just know that this horror comic from Scott Snyder, Scott Tuft and Attila Futaki is a slow-building, tension-filled roller coaster of a ride that expertly shows the power of the comic storytelling format. Well worth finding the individual issues or pick up the hardcover in April...but seriously, why wait.
Finally, while in San Francisco, I went to another place that I would like to move into, Smuggler's Cove. Smugglers Cove is a hidden gem that a friend took me to and is a rum bar with amazing drinks (I had something with all-spice syrup in it that was amazing). The place is small and looks like an adult Pirates of the Caribbean ride, with three levels, incredibly complex drinks that take a while to make, and lounge music that I simply adore. Be ready to drop some serious coin at this amazing bar, but be ready for an experience you will never forget. Plus, the place is in walking distance from Isotope...YOU CANNOT FAIL! Now to try to make some all-spice simple syrup and recreate that drink...not a chance.

Slice Into the Woods

Losing Out on Morning Writing Time - Yeah, the business trip wiped me out and the stupid alarm clock (probably user error) did not work to get me up to write one morning. I did get to briefly work on a short, personal, dark fantasy script that is pretty much hammered out on paper and I should be able to type up on Saturday, so at least I did that. Then, to really put me behind, I was a total wreck on Thursday due to lack of sleep that I was not able to start this blog...hence the delay. Not cool, Work, not cool.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Donist World Top Eleven Comic Titles for 2011

Every other blog and their cousin has done a top whatever list and lacking in creativity I thought, "Hey Donist, wouldn't it be swell if you put out a Top Eleven for 2011 list like everyone else did weeks ago?"  Sure, why not.

Top Eleven Comics of 2011
Below are my favorite series that were released in 2011.  There is no particular order other than alphabetical.  

  1. Animal Man - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Travel Foreman, published by DC Comics. Back in the day I was a fan of Morrison's run, but after reading the first issue, it was clear that Lemire was going to bring something different. Equal parts family drama and horror, Buddy and Maxine's journeys into "The Red"to stop "The Rot" immediately grabbed my attention. This is one of my most anticipated reads on a monthly basis and my favorite of DC's 52. Coupled with the complementary Swamp Thing, the beginning of each month brings an amazing and scary good time.
  2. Batman - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo, published by DC Comics. After reading Snyder's chilling run on Detective Comics there was no way I was going to pass on this new series. Bruce Wayne is once again the Dark Knight, and on the trail of a secret society that could not possibly exist. At times an informative history lesson of Gotham and others a frightening thriller, there's a reason why this is currently one of the best selling comics on the stand.
  3. Batwoman - Written by J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman and illustrated by J.H. Williams III, published by DC Comics. Greg Rucka originally chronicled Batwoman's story in one of my favorite storylines in Detective Comics a few years ago. Now, Williams III has taken up co-writing with Blackman and they do not miss a beat. Batwoman (Kate Kane) is one of the strongest and most complex female characters in comics today and one of my favorite characters period. A cool and creepy murder mystery, Batwoman always leaves me wanting more.
  4. Chew - Written by John Layman and illustrated by Rob Guillory, published by Image comics.  Chew is one of the oddest and most disgusting books I have ever read, yet it is a great joy to read every month(ish). I love the idea of food based powers and the intricate tale that Layman and Guillory have created and kept flowing since the beginning is addictive. Cibopaths, saboscrivners, bird flu pandemics, alien plants that taste like chicken, conspiracies, family drama and the list goes on and on, but everything works together and to further the story as a whole. I hope to be reading this book for some time.
  5. Detective Comics - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Jock and Francesco Francavilla, published by DC Comics.  I had not read any of the Dark Knight's books in quite some time, but after getting a hold of a second printing of the first issue, I was scrambling to gather up the other back issues I was missing.  As much Commissioner Gordon's Story as Dick Grayson's, the pair confront threats both internal and external in one of the best BatBook runs I have ever read.  A great and honestly terrifying run that left me peeking through my fingers as I read each issue, while afraid to turn to the next page.  
  6. I, Vampire Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, published by DC Comics.  As a kid, I only caught bits and pieces of the '80s I...Vampire stories and the relaunch of the title caught my attention primarily because Fialkov was writing and because of my interest in a character I knew little about.  Now having read the first five issues, it's easy to say that I was blown away.  A centuries old love story, Andrew Bennett's true love, Mary, finally embraces the evil within her and betrays the "man" she loves to rule the world as "The Queen of Blood." Filled with dark, lovely art and strong, emotion-filled coloring and an intriguing story, this is one of DC's best titles.
  7. Rachel Rising - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio.  Following Moore's ultra-cool sci-fi drama Echo comes a horror story with a deliberate, slow-burn pace that is well-written, scary and beautifully illustrated. Why was Rachel killed? Who killed her? Why is she back from the dead? All are questions at the forefront of this murder mystery that finds the murder victim attempting to find her own killer, while a simulacrum wanders the streets inciting others to commit horrible acts.  Weird, creepy and everything I want to see in a comic book.
  8. The Sixth Gun - Written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Brian Hurtt, published by Oni Press. What's not to love in this Western, supernatural mashup complete with cowboys and strong characters in possession of an evil set of guns. You have dead generals roaming the countryside in search of the mystical weapons, mummies, secretive religious sects, ghosts, train heists, and so much more. Becky, Drake and Gord have each pulled me into this great tale and I am not surprised that the first trade will be a mini-series appearing on the Sci-Fi channel in the future. 
  9. The Stuff of Legend - Written by Mike Raicht & Brian Smith and illustrated by Charles Paul Wilson III, published thy Th3rd World Productions. As a kid, and long before the days of Toy Story, I believed that my toys would come to life and go on fantastic adventures while I was away at school. I wished that I could join them. The Stuff of Legend team puts a twist on this scenario, when the Boogeyman kidnaps a young boy and drags him to the dark, leaving only his toys and his puppy to enter the spooky closet and retrieve their abducted friend. Charming, scary, nail-biting suspense make this one of my favorite books on the shelf. Currently on volume three: "A Jester's Tale."
  10. Swamp Thing - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Yanick Paquette, published by DC Comics. Don't get me wrong, Moore's Swamp Thing is one of my most treasured runs of all time, but Snyder's reboot/relaunch/rewhatever is an excellent continuation and expansion of the Swamp Thing character. Alec Holland is again human, but with a link to "The Green" he does not want. Along with Abigail Arcane they seek to stop "The Other" also known as "The Rot" from enacting its horrendous plan. An excellent companion book to Lemire's Animal Man, I cannot imagine reading one without the other. So very creepy, so very good and a book that I rush out to buy each month! 
  11. Sweet Tooth - Everythinged by Jeff Lemire, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics Imprint. Sweet Tooth is one that I foolishly passed on buying during its initial release in 2009. After absorbing the first two trade paperbacks and scrambling to find the uncollected individual issues, I switched to buying the floppies as they release. I did this with good reason. Although Sweet Tooth is not the most uplifting of comics on the stands, it is one of the best. A post-apocalyptic tale of a world where humans are dying and animal/child hybrids are the norm. Lemire leaves the reader loving the characters and fearful for their safety with every page turn. A powerful and addictive series.
There you have it, but there are a few other titles that have me thoroughly impressed that I have to mention. Wonder Woman by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang is incredible with heavy doses of myth and the strongest female protagonist of them all. Mark Waid's Daredevil is a shot in the arm for the "Man Without Fear" as Waid brings a sense of wonder back to the character who has been mired with a depressing and terrible life over the years (don't get me wrong, I loved Bendis's run and Brubaker's followup). Warren Ellis's done-in-one issues of Secret Avengers have been tons of fun and is currently the second Marvel title I am reading (I know, I know...I will read Uncanny X-Force soon).  Nate Simpson's Image title, Nonplayer, was incredible and would have made it on the list if another issue had come out, but this is not a slight to the creator as excellence takes time and issue two should see release in 2012. Also worth checking out: Demon Knights, Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Who is Jake Ellis, Witch Doctor, The Shade, Morning Glories, Severed.  Overall a DC heavy list which I find surprising since before the relaunch Sweet Tooth was the only DC title that I was buying. I am excited for the coming year and for comics in general, it's a great time to be a comic book reader folks, so get out there and support the work of the creators you truly love.

*I hope to next do a look back at the Graphic Novel releases of 2011, that are worth checking out. If you feel there is something that I am missing, please let me know; I'm always looking for more great comics.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 2/3/2012

(Sung to the tune of Psychedelic Fur's "Pretty in Pink")

Swamp Thing's a blast and frightening to boot
Alec and Abby are so screwed
The Rot's burning trees and chainsawing homies
The Green says that Alec's too late

Rachel Rising's creepy, Mister Moore says
"You're Ma Malai...the angel of death!"
Aunt Johnny is cool, Zoe's friend oh so cruel
Sweet Tooth's Gus and Jepperd are hating life

Comics are great, aren't they?
Comics are great, aren't they?

Obie, my friends' Boston terrier and my main Donist World reader after my mom, is not doing so hot after taking a spill down a dirt hillside. It turns out that dog + dirt hill + leaping after a missed tennis ball = one nasty wipeout of a spill. The poor little guy has a fat lip and dual scraped carpal pads and a whole heaping helping of the bummers. You see, that's when Doctor Donist pays a house call to read him this week's comics, which after looking at the list of titles might not be the best of things for a hurtin' puppy. This week is all about horror and misery, but that's okay, he can take it. I'm more worried about my own fragile world getting rocked, but then again amazing comic books are always just what the doctor ordered. Amiright?

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Swamp Thing #6
Swamp Thing # 6  - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Marco Rudy, published by DC Comics. As I have said with each new installment of Swamp Thing and its sibling book Animal Man there is a reason why these two books--and Snyder's other excellent 52 book, Batman--are my three favorites. With last issue's cliffhanger ending of the Green about to be torched by an agent of the rot, upping the ante so soon and in a believable way seemed unlikely. Sometimes it's good to be wrong.
Alec Holland just felt something course through his body, something terrible. The Parliament of Trees is dying and according to the Rot, Alec's refusal to take in the power of the Green is why the battle is now about to be lost. Then there is Abigail Arcane, who is revealed to be the chosen champion of the Rot, not her brother William Arcane as previously believed. As the Green reels and Alec is left powerless, the Rot seizes Abigail and begins to transform her into its most powerful agent. Alec runs, but no matter how desperate his pleas for the Green to take him, the power is not there and things only get worse.
Oh man, oh man, oh man. That has got to sting something fierce! How do you walk away from that? Sorry, folks, you're just going to have to read this issue to find out what happened. Leave it to Scott Snyder to take an already tense, stressful read and push the story further than expected. This issue was uncomfortable and disgusting with terrible things befalling the lead characters, but the events do not alienate the reader or make them want to stop reading. The opposite is true. You desperately want Alec and Abby to pull through, to conquer the evil before them, but you're not going to get what you want and that is why this comic is so great. I don't see how anyone could resist wanting to know what happens next issue after such a chilling defeat, a thrilling chase and a brutal cliffhanger. Yanick Paquette's is again absent, but Macro Rudy does a great job of filling in, at times reminding the reader of Totleben, Bissette and even Paquette, although some panels felt a tad rushed; he was a great fill-in artist. All of that said, it should be obvious that I LOVED this installment and as scared as I am to read what happens next, you can bet the farm that Swamp Thing #7 will be the first book I read the day it comes out. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Rachel Rising #5
Rachel Rising #5 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. For someone who is doing everything on a book (pencils, inks, layouts, lettering, scripting, possibly production, and who knows what else) Moore still manages to release his latest horror book on a regular basis; thank goodness for that.
Rachel awakens from her second death at her Aunt Johnny's house. Confused, but glad to be in the company of a loved one, Rachel receives an odd welcome from Aunt Johnny's dog, Priscilla. Another friend, Jet, stops by and Rachel recounts what it was like to wake up in a make-shift grave. Later that evening, a new dinner guest makes the evening awkward when he tells Rachel that she is Ma Malai, the Angel of Death. Zoe, the little girl forced to commit murder by Rachel's doppelganger, finds herself in foster care and her soon-to-be foster parents are not people any child should be forced to endure. Fortunately, Zoe's dark guardian angel is watching out for her and a child abuser/molester gets what's coming to him in a big way.
Although Moore is taking his time in telling the story, the mood and the fascinating mystery that he has created along with the unique and interesting characters make the tale worthwhile. It's refreshing to experience the events in this world at much the same pace as the characters, without all of the ZIP, BOP, POW fury prevalent in many mainstream superhero books. Like Strangers in Paradise (read it!) and Echo (read it, too!), each person Moore introduces is given their own persona and quirks, whether beneficial or self-destructive for that person. As much as I like and sympathize with the undead/resurrected/immortal Rachel, I am particularly loving her Aunt Johnny. A mortician by trade, Aunt Johnny is a bit off from years of working alone with dead bodies, and frequently passes the time talking to imaginary people. Or maybe, she has always been a bit off and working as a mortician was the perfect job for her, but regardless here she is forced to deal with actual living (and unliving in Rachel's case) human beings. Rachel Rising would translate well to the world of television, but even if it remains firmly in the realm of comics, I will be there eagerly anticipating every issue. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Sweet Tooth #30
Sweet Tooth #30 - Everythinged by Jeff Lemire, published by Vertigo Comics, an imprint of DC Comics. When you crack open the latest issue of Sweet Tooth, you need to be ready for what you are about to read. It's almost a given that the subject matter is going to be harsh, you might be appalled, or you might cry; more than likely you're in store for a combination of all three. If you're like me you know you love it and will be back for more.
Last issue Jepperd came across the Project Evergreen survivors--the real Project Evergreen survivors--and he learns that the man claiming to be Walter Fish is actually Haggarty. He, Gus and Singh then learn of the atrocities that Haggarty committed in order to claim the dam and several of the women for himself. Jepperd rushes off to rescue his friends, but suffers an unfortunate accident, Gus is taken, and Bobby gets real on Haggarty. In the end it's Haggarty who looks to be in control as all of the Sweet Tooth gang fall before dire circumstances.
Another great issue of Sweet Tooth has come and gone, leaving everyone the worse for wear; this includes the bad guy, Haggarty. I loved this issue, but I have to say that the scene with Jepperd's military jeep skidding on the ice is a bit much in the bad luck category. Does he or Gus ever catch a break? Hopefully someday they find a frozen locker filled with chocolate cakes or something that gives them just a moment of joy. Man, do they have a right to sing the blues. Also, when reading this issue it looked slightly different than usual and I cannot quite put my finger on whether it was the art or the colors, it was just different. This is not to say that it was not enjoyable, possibly just rushed to meet a deadline. There was also a grammatical error at a key scene and the caption lettering was missing quotes in the panel where Jepperd was driving. Again, nothing big, but those things did pull me out of the story for a moment, but the story is so great it really was not that big of a deal. Between Animal Man and now Justice League Dark, Lemire is going to be stretched a bit thin, and I hope that Sweet Tooth, one of my favorite comics on the stand, continues to be around for a long time to come. RECOMMENDED!

Other Comics and Comic Related Items I Have Been Enjoying - Animal Man #6 was of course a great read as Lemire takes a moment to pull back from the story of the Rot to focus on Buddy's earlier days as an actor. It provided a nice interlude before some really icky stuff comes along next month.
The final newly released comic I read this week was Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillip's second issue of Fatale, which is still an interesting and tense look at a noir-style world with a building supernatural bend that looks to soon become more Lovecraftian than Criminal. A great read and a book that is dripping with menace. Fatale is only on the second issue and is well worth seeking out.
A friend recommended that I try a manga series about the world of wine called The Drops of God, and I have to say that not only was I pleasantly surprised by this book, I'm addicted and will be collecting the entire series. This manga is occasionally snooty, but more than that it is informative, dramatic, the characters are interesting and more than anything it makes me want to read it while drinking a glass of wine. I will be reassessing my decanting skills later this week and will write a proper review at some time in the future. This is a must read if you like a blend (see what I did there) of wine, an intriguing story, cool characters and manga; now if someone will create a comic centered around bourbon, I will be a happy camper.
I also watched the visually intense and structurally odd Speed Racer Blu-Ray a few days ago and aside from being too long at just over two hours, I was mesmerized and highly entertained. I will admit to being a little confused by the exact demographic target for this movie. Was it for hyperactive children, old men (like me) who were nostalgic for the old days of the cartoon, or raver kids on guess is that it was for hyperactive old men on ecstasy, which is why it didn't do that well commercially. It was a blast though. "Here he comes, here comes Speed Racer, he's a demon on wheels. Go Speed Racer. Go Speed Racer. Go Speed Racer. Goooooooooooooo." Maybe I should have watched Speed Racer while drinking a glass of wine inspired by The Drops of God.
The Brutal Circle member and good friend Robert Anderson's new comic mini-series, Rex Zombie Killer was announced in the Diamond Catalog (Code# FEB12 0806) and I have already put it on my pull list. I have read a couple of the scripts and have to say that this book is going to be great. Three dogs, a cat and a gorilla with a baseball bat fend off hordes of zombies and other terrible situations as they search for a safe place to call home. Rob also had a commercial for the comic on the latest episode of the We're Alive podcast on iTunes. Check it out and follow him on Twitter at @RobertEAnderson.
Finally, another good writing friend, a person I have not yet met in person--oh the internet--announced yesterday that he has a publishing deal for a comic, which is beyond amazing and well-deserved. A victory for one of our group is a victory for all. Congratulations J.D.! Follow J.D. on twitter at @JD_Oliva to stay up to date on new projects from another talented creator.

Slice Into the Woods

Job Trip - It seems I have to go on job-related trip for a training seminar for a couple days, which is less than thrilling since my writing will have to go further into the backseat during that time. I will still be rising early to actually get some scripting hammered out and some revising done, but nothing beats sitting in front of my own computer, in a chair that makes too much noise every time I move. Thankfully, I will get to see a friend, who I have not seen in a long while and hopefully my brother is free to go to dinner the next night...dang, speaking of which I better call him. Plus, I hate being away from Amy and Tulip. Oh well...