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.

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