Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 3/16/2012

(Sung to the tune of Nine Inch Nails's "Bite the Hand that Feeds")

You read Frankenstein, it's dang fine
Dude's wrecking havoc on humanid spine
Kate Kane is getting bold
As Batwoman, son, she's so hot and she's deadly and she's cold

Donist needs you to believe
Saga sure as hell did please
Great characters are bees knees
Taboo love, baby makes three
Whoa! Robot on her knees?
You just have to read it

Space Cadet Obie, my friends' Boston terrier and my main Donist World reader outside of my mom, and I are in a sci-fi kind of mood this week. Not only did I spend some time lettering a comic short I wrote a while back that was recently illustrated by the immensely talented artist Sara Calzada, Space Cadet Obie and I also read the fantastic new comic from Brian K. Vaughan, Saga. So, while Obie tries to figure out how to eat his kibble through the makeshift fishbowl he is wearing as a helmet, I'm going to watch some Firefly and eat a healthy heaping stack of churros. Then...crud...I too am wearing a fishbowl for a helmet and I just got cinnamon and sugar all over the damn...anyhow, here's this weeks...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #1
Saga #1 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples, published by Image Comics. It's been three or four years since Brian K. Vaughan released his last comic book, the excellent Ex Machinabut has his absence from the field for so long dulled his senses as to what makes a great comic book? If you've read any of his other works, you already know the answer to that question. Of course it has not. I will say that this comic deserves a couple of reads through as it starts off great and only gets better with each read.
The story begins with the past. Alana, a native of the planet Landfall, gives birth to Saga's narrator, a horned and winged baby named Hazel. The problem is that the father, Marko, is from the satellite moon of Wreath and Landfall and Wreath have been at war for generations. The fact that Alana and Marko are in love and have married is not the most popular of notions anywhere in the galaxy, but the birth of the baby Hazel is a crime that could have ramifications to the wars being waged. Almost immediately after the baby's birth, Alana's more technologically advanced people show up with a television-headed robot leader that threatens to kill the couple and their child, but Marko's people also arrive with magic blaring that leaves everyone dead...everyone except, Marko, Alana and Hazel. Elsewhere, a couple of television-headed robot lovebirds attempt to get busy, but are interrupted with news of the dead Landfallians. But unfortunately, Wreath has also set plans in motion to capture the new family whose main goal is to find a rocket that will allow them to escape the distant planet of Cleave and raise their child away from constant war.
Wow. Only one issue in and I am completely signed up for the ride. Saga introduces wonderful characters who you quickly understand and whose plight you sympathize with. Yes Romeo and Juliet has been done many times before, but the story and characters revitalize the tale and add many a new twist. Fiona Staples's art fits the book beautifully, providing expressive emotion to the characters and costumes that separate the people just as well as their differing physical attributes. The first issue is priced at $2.99 with forty-four pages of content, so giving this new, creator-owned series a try should be an easy decision. Saga looks to be something amazing with its blend of sci-fi and sorcery, and a grand tale of interplanetary forbidden love that I hope to be reading for years to come. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batwoman #7
Batwoman #7 - Written by J. H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman and illustrated by Amy Reeder, published by DC Comics. Last issue was a bit jarring between the jumps from one character's story to another and the moving backwards and forwards in time with each character. Couple the new storytelling decision with new artist Amy Reeder and Batwoman is a changed book, but not in a bad way. In this issue Reeder's art looks even better than last issue and the chaotic progression of the story flowed more easily than last issue as Kate's life becomes even more bizarre. Batwoman continues to be one of the best of DC's new 52 even absent J. H. Williams III's much-loved art.
Kate Kane, Batwoman, is beating the snot out of the hooked horror who nearly eviscerated her cousin, Bette, a few issues ago, but Kate learns a spooky lesson over who is controlling the man with the hooked hand. But Hooky is not the only enemy standing between Kate and the missing children. The Weeping Woman, Killer Croc, newcomer (?) Bloody Mary and their leader Falchion await to sacrifice her to "the mother." Jacob Kane stands watch over his comatose niece, Bette, while Kate--from two weeks earlier--confronts an old "colleague" to learn that Medusa is muscling it's way into Gotham, starting with the more supernatural threats. Maro, Falchion's second-in-command, summons Bloody Mary and makes good on her promise to help Killer Croc to change his turning him into something far worse. Finally Maro's sister is caught by the police and Cameron Chase wants Kate to extract her.
Despite jumping back and forth within the story like the previous issue, this month's installment flowed better, providing an easier, more engaging read. It also did not feel like a 22-page comic book (or rather a 24-page one) forced into the confines of a 20-page comic book. Each of the characters received additional time and the dialogue seemed more natural. Whatever the kinks were before, they were diminished with this issue to the reader's benefit. As for the art, if there has to be a stand-in artist for J. H. Williams III, Amy Reeder is a fantastic choice for the duty and her illustrations are even better than last issue, which was impressive in its own right. I have read that she will be leaving the book after only three or four issues, which is disappointing, but hopefully we'll see more of her soon. Batwoman jumps into the deep end of the supernatural pool with a new cast of villains who are heavy in the realm of myth and urban legend and I like it. The sequences with Bloody Mary are beyond disturbing not just visually, but also because I semi-remember the old tales from when I was a kid. I also really want to know more about the creepy-as-all-get-out hook...brrrrrrrr. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Frankenstein Agent
of S.H.A.D.E.
Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #7 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Alberto Ponticelli. I imagine that Jeff Lemire is having a blast with this series and that the anything-goes structure of the book is a nice break from his more serious Animal Man and Sweet Tooth comics that I also love. Now that he will be departing the book to tackle Justice League Dark, I have to admit that I will be sad to see him go, but I am hopeful that his replacement, Matt Kindt, will continue to let the weirdness run rampant and that the creepiness will continue to thrill and chill.
Things are not looking good for Nina and Lady Frankenstein as the pair face down the original and certifiably insane Creature Commandos, and unfortunately for them Frankenstein and the rest of the current team are smack in the middle of a Humanid revolt. Velcoro and Griffith break off from the battle to grab some extra weapons from the secret armory, choosing the coolest weapons known to man. Ray Palmer and Father get in on the Humanid ass-kicking action while Khalis, the mummy, suffers a temporary setback. The good guys think they've saved the day until Father tells them the identity of the most dangerous of the prisoners, the one who managed to escape.
Dang, this series is just a kick in the pants. It has everything that young Donist and not-as-young-Donist could ever want in a comic: Frankenstein's monster, vampires, werewolves, mummies, sea creatures and other classic monsters mixed with more modern, sci-fi elements all in the confines of one book. Frankenstein continues to bring a retro-horror-mag-from-the-'70s vibe while providing plenty of Weird Science in the same comic. One thing that struck me as particularly odd was the change in Alberto Ponticelli's art style from last issue to this one. Where his line work had a particularly rough style to it, this issue saw more distinct and deliberate shapes and characters. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but the shift was readily apparent. Still, Frankenstein is a fun as hell (there's that "f-word" again) comic book and one the I hope to be reading for some time to come. RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly items - Also this week, I picked up Demon Knights #7 - Written by Paul Cornell and illustrated by Diogenes Neves & Robson Rocha, published by DC Comics. Lots of blood and guts, and fighting with Etrigan and the gang. Shining Knight is injured, Xanadu restored, Savage returned and what looks like the heroes departing the camp in the next issue. I am still enjoying this series and I'm anxious to see where it goes to next. RECOMMENDED!
The Shade #6 - Written by James Robinson and illustrated by Javier Pulido, published by DC Comics. This issue continues the story of the Barcelona, Spain-based vampire "La Sangre"--the Shade's self-adopted daughter--and her fight with the apparently immortal Inquisitor. Richard Swift takes a more background roll in this latest chapter, but as the final caption hints, this will not continue to be the case next month. I can't wait. RECOMMENDED!
I Received a Script Critique from Scott Snyder - It's no secret that I love Scott Snyder's work from Swamp Thing to Detective Comics to Severed to Batman and this past Tuesday was amazing. Last month I had submitted a short 5-page script titled "Down by the Pond" to the Comics Experience Creators Workshop forum and it was chosen to be live critiqued by Mr. Snyder, who was kind enough to stay up very late to work through my script with me. The critique was even better than I anticipated as Snyder recommended not just looking at my script as it was, but in the context of fleshing it out into a full 22-page comic. What followed was two hours and fifteen minutes of some of the most valuable advice and encouragement I have received in my short writing career. I will be reviewing the recording this weekend to jot down notes and prepare to expand out the story and give it the space it deserves. I cannot begin to express how kind and helpful Mr. Snyder was and the advice that I received was amazing, but I dread seeing myself on the recording as I was pretty shell-shocked by all of the information and feedback I received. Hopefully I didn't sound to obnoxious, but I'm excited to get to revising. The even more startling thing is that Mr. Snyder agreed to revisit my script once it I expand it out to the full 22 page length; his willingness to help goes beyond anything I had hoped to receive that night. There are MANY amazing opportunities like this in the Comics Experience Creators Workshop, so if you are interested in making comics, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

Slice Into the Woods

Ender's Game is Pr0n - Speaking of sci-fi...oh my goodness gracious. Oh my stars and garters. A parent in Aiken, SC has succeeded in getting their son's teacher put on academic suspension as a result of the teacher reading the Orson Scott Card novel Ender's Game to the class. This lascivious piece of clearly filthy reading material is a book just oozing with sex and foul language...wait a minute. No it is not. It is the story of boy who is chosen to save the planet, while attempting to keep himself alive from threats of the human kind. I have read this book four or five times in my life and I would have had my mind blown to have been taught this book in junior high school. Come to think of it, if my class had read any books remotely like Ender's Game I would have probably taken up writing decades sooner. So, now some asshole parent is not only attempting to ban this book and two others (one of which is an Agatha Christie novel) from the school, this parent called the police on the teacher in addition to complaining to the school, who did not stand behind their instructor and instead let a psycho parent dictate what books the school will carry and as a result let that parent have say over the curriculum. Now, maybe this teacher was not the best and perhaps the school was looking to get rid of them, but being placed on administrative leave because of a book that is routinely taught in MANY schools across the country is unacceptable. Shame on the cowards at the school and shame on the parent for being a hobbyless nut job. My only word of advice to the student, who now has a big "kick me" sign on their back for the rest of their secondary school career, is to study hard, read the rest of the Ender's Game series (Ender's Shadow is good too) and do what you can to go away to college and get out from under the insanity of their parent. C'mon South Carolina, get out of the stone age and support your educators. Stop the assault on literature. What's next, a good ol' timey book burning? How about that Harry Potter? It's evil. How about Catcher in the Rye? It has a whole couple of swear words in it. LANDS SAKE ALIVE!

Here's an article.  And here's the news coverage


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