Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 3/9/2012

(Sung to the tune of Missing Persons's "Words")

Do you read 'em
Donist cares
Do you read 'em
Donist cares

Swamp Thing is scary, those trees are kind of cruel
Alec must save Abbey from Sethe's rotten rule
But Green, Red, Rot they're messin' with plans
Animal Man is plagued by cats and dogs
It's kind of gross, but there's also rotten hogs
Moore's Rachel Rising counts Donist World as fans

Comic books can scare the pants off of you, man
Comic books can
Comic books can be so darn scary, you best keep the lights on tonight

Shhhhh, be very, very quiet. Obie, my friends' Boston terrier and my main Donist World reader after my mom, and I are not hunting rabbits. No. We are hiding under my piercing-blue Snuggy and shivering with fear after reading this week's comic book offerings. Oh man, there's some creepy stuff in there, but try as we might, we just can't look away. Brrrr. Did you feel that?! That cold breeze coursing through the house. Oh man, that does not bode well. Not at all. Could it be ghosts? Could it me animals infected with the Rot? Maybe it's a pack of wild invunche come to get us. Oh me, oh my maybe it's...Oh. Amy left the sliding door open again after watering the plants. We're still too scared to move, so let's stay right here and check out...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Swamp Thing #7
Swamp Thing #7 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Yanick Paquette, published by DC Comics. For a book titled Swamp Thing, the fact that the agent of the Green had not yet appeared could have signaled the doom of this series, but that is not the case. The past six issues have focused on Alec Holland, the human, and his reunion with Abigail as they attempt to thwart the efforts of the Rot. Six issues of no swamp thingees--not counting the Parliament of Trees's agent--and the series only becomes better and more intense with each passing issue. Issue seven changes the dynamic in a shocking, yet anticipated (or do I mean hoped for?) way.
Alec Holland is slowly dying in a most horrific manner, and the Parliament of Trees--especially Jesus Swamp Thing--are desperate to see that the man suffers for as long as possible while they burn in the jungles of South America. As they die, the Parliament tells Alec of what is in store for Abigail as she transforms into the Rot's queen, and despite his pleading the Parliament no longer has the power to transform Holland. All seems lost until the very item at the center of Alec's first transformation looks to provide the hope needed and the Green's champion is reborn and ready for war.
This issue is what I've been waiting for. Alec Holland sacrifices his recently returned humanity in a hope to rescue Abigail from the abomination Sethe. Snyder has successfully revitalized characters I had written off long ago,  and made them once again matter. As the main character dies, the reader feels for him and understands his disdain of the Green as something no better than the Rot or even the Red. Throughout Alec's ordeal Snyder continues to drop hints at what looks to be some interesting stories in the coming years. Yanick Paquette's art is more beautiful than ever, but there were a couple of pages that took me a few minutes to figure out the reading order of the panels; not a big deal. Still, the art was stunning, the story even more so and the skepticism I had at the announcement of this series is long gone. I cannot wait to experience what comes next, and I am filled with an anticipation that I have not felt since the end of Alan Moore's run from many years ago. This issue is by far the best of Snyder's run to date, hitting every character moment and suspenseful turn with exact precision; I will be reading this issue again this evening. The beginning of the month is a great time for the scary comics enthusiast. It doesn't get better than this! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Animal Man #7
Animal Man #7 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Steve Pugh & Travel Foreman, published by DC Comics. After last month's step back from the action to provide a well-written and fascinating look at Buddy Baker's earlier career as an actor, Lemire eases the reader back to the tension of the story. The situation looks to be about as bad as it can get, but with some clever bits of humor and some touching family moments to soften the transition, life for the Bakers is about to become even more terrifying. Bring it on.
Buddy Baker, aka Animal Man, is stuck in an RV with his wife, son, mother-in-law, and fated-to-be-the-savior-of-the-red daughter. They're not only lost on the road, but lost over how to deal with the threat of the Rot-infested animals pursuing them. Buddy heads into town with his son, who is jealous of his sister's abilities and all of the attention his father is giving her. Buddy helps his son impress a couple of local girls and repairs some of his bond that had been steadily cracking. A foreboding dream of the future features an adult Animal Woman (Maxine), Swamp Thing, an aged Constantine and Abigail (?) engaging in a losing battle against Sethe and the agents of the Rot. Upon waking, Buddy has little time to ponder the dream as the Rot beasts appear at his doorstep.
Where Animal Man's sister book Swamp Thing saw stressful, horrific action and a startling transformation leading toward the grand battle, Buddy's story is just beginning to ramp up again. This is fine. My first reaction to finishing this issue was "let's get this thing started already," but then it occurred to me that Animal Man is more about the relationship between Buddy and his family. The Rot needs to be dealt with, but to the protagonist his family is what comes first and Lemire holds true to his character and the book is better for it. I am sad to see Foreman leave the book as he has done an amazing job, but Steve Pugh stepped into the series without missing a beat. The one constant I hope to always see is Lovern Kindzierski on the title as colorist, which helped ease the transition between artist and keep the feel of the book the same. Animal Man continues to be a fantastic read that prepares to take off in the coming issues. I can't wait. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Rachel Rising #6
Rachel Rising #6 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. A dark, mysterious story steeped in horror, Rachel Rising has been a fascinating book since the first issue. At times a mishmash of Twin Peaks and Lost, Moore instills the wonderful characterization and beautiful art he is known for and adds a deliberately paced story that lets the reader stay ahead of the protagonist, Rachel, but just barely. For his first creator-owned foray into the realm of horror, this comic provides just the right amount of chills and thrills to keep me desperate to read the next issue.
Dr. Wesley Siemen is a rather peculiar friend of Rachel's Aunt Johnny, but then again, who isn't odd in Rachel's life, or is it actually her death? Dr. Siemen seems to know a bit more about what is happening than he is letting on, plus he has a few secrets of his own. Another person who should be dead, stumbles out of the woods to deal with a "kindly" pervert, revealing the disturbing force that animates her. Rachel, Jet and Aunt Johnny visit the site of Rachel's second death and discover the murderous little girl from earlier in the series. Rachel also sees her "sister"and has a less-than-revealing conversation with the woman who has been following her since the beginning. Oddly enough, only Rachel and the little girl can see the woman who portends a tragedy that will affect everyone. Finally, someone else rises from the dead.
Dammit! Every issue of this series leaves dying for the next installment despite--or perhaps because of--not knowing what is going on. As with all of his books, Moore does a masterful job of keeping the reader engaged while leading them into loving the characters of his world. It broke my heart when a character is injured in an accident to the point that I actually muttered "No" before the tragic page turn. Then there's the death of another character and I was actually upset at what happened, but with the final four panel reveal I gave a sigh of relief and then a feeling of dread settled in my stomach. It's the moments like this that make reading comics such a joy even though the creator has managed to make you so agitated and worried for the well-being of these characters who they tricked you into caring about. Issue seven cannot come soon enough. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Tid Bits - If I had the time to write a full review of a fourth title, Sweet Tooth #31 - Everythinged by Jeff Lemire, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint, would have been right up there with the rest. Gus abducted by Singh, Jepperd captured by a mysterious man who is convinced he knows him from somewhere, Haggarty becomes even more creepy and cruel, and Gus might be the only one who can save the day. Always a great read and this issue was actually--dare I say it?--slightly uplifting. RECOMMENDED! 
Tale of Sand HC
Last week I mentioned that I bought Tale of Sand and I went on to describe how wonderfully constructed the book was and how nice it would look prominently featured on the book shelf. Then I read it. I honestly have no way of adequately describing what this book is about other than it is one man's journey from here to there and it is a gorgeously rendered one at that. What I can say is that this is one of the most visually stunning books in my collection. Tale of Sand has an ever-morphing style of art and color unlike anything I have ever read. Each page is worthy of being framed and mounted to the wall of a house that would need to be much bigger than my own. This work of art is one that needs to be experienced repeatedly as you tag along with Mac on each read, spotting something new each time. You may not know where you're going, or understand what exactly happened by the end, but it won't matter as it is the journey and the lush uncertainty that makes it all worth it. You will finish reading Tale of Sand in an evening, there is little in the way of dialogue, but as I mentioned above, you will return to the story time and time again. This book is available digitally, but buying a physical copy is a must for this graphic novel that every comic lover should have in their collection. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Game of Thrones on Blu-Ray - Okay, simmer down you fantasy lovers, simmer down. The ONLY reason I am putting this in SItW is because I am dying to watch it, but I have to finish the killer book before I can allow myself to power through it. Trust me, I'm tossing around the idea of calling in sick just to finish the first novel. Between working on my own novel, writing this blog, lettering some of my own recently illustrated comic stories, scary doctor's visits and life have been preventing me from doing the reading that needs to be done. This weekend dammit...this weekend I'm going to hammer into the book and finish it so I can watch this show that I know I will love.

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