Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 4/6/2012

(Sung to the tune of Weezer's "Buddy Holly")

What's with these homies beatin' on Chu?
Why they gotta go be jerks?
What did he ever do to these guys?
Who profit on food based quirks?

Hoo, hoo
Rot animals drool
Hoo, hoo
Buddy Baker rules
Hoo, hoo
The Red makes him their tool

Oh, wee-ooh, Swamps is no longer Alec Holland
Oh, oh, Abby's not that hot no more
Who the hell does Sethe think he is anyways
Why'd he go do that?

Beep, Beep! Whoa now, mind that forklift as you bring those comics and graphic novels into the house. We're on a deadline to get all of these new additions to my collection into the house and concealed as if they have always been here before my wife, Amy, gets home. Hi there Donist World readers (Mom). I'm here with our shipping/receiving manager, Obie, my friends' Boston terrier and my main Donist World enabler. We bought a lot of comics and graphic novels this week that we'd like to tell you about, as well as let you know about some exciting news, so stay out of Obie's path unless you want to be run over by a piece of heavy machinery--who gives a dog a forklift operator's license anyway? It time for...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Swamp Thing #8
Swamp Thing #8 - Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Yanick Paquette and Marco Rudy, published by DC Comics. This month's installment of Swamp Thing makes writing a review all the easier and reminds me of why I hold comic books in such high regard. The Swamp Thing of the '70s were captivating to young Donist because, well, it had a cool looking plant monster who fought grotesque monsters like Anton Arcane and his Un-Men. Then a decade later the Swamp Thing was revived and became cooler than ever when Alan Moore took over, giving me an even more incredible character tormented by a dark, terrible burden. I was hooked. I was in love. Unfortunately, with the departure of Moore, my interest waned and I dropped my favorite muck man comic. Another decade later, I made a few half-hearted attempts to get back into the comic, but the stories did not grab me. Another decade passed and everything changed again and I am reunited with the series I have been missing all these years.
The Rot has set up a kingdom of pestilence under the rule of Sethe and his influence is growing, but he does not stand unopposed. As the Green died last issue, Alec Holland found a workaround past their faltering power and took on the Green's might to become the Swamp Thing once again. Now, armored and ready for battle Alec flies into the heart of the Rot demanding the release of Abigail Arcane, who Sethe has taken to be his queen. After easily thwarting Sethe's legions, Alec gets a twisted version his wish as Abby is reborn as the queen of the Rot and the woman he sought to protect might be forever gone.
This is how an action comic is written. This is how horror and tragedy is written. This is also how a writer like Snyder leaves his readers writhing in eager, agonizing anticipation for next month's issue. Criminy! I loved every panel of this book and cannot wait to reread Swamp Thing from the beginning. Snyder and Paquette do a wonderful job of bringing the hope that Alec Holland has a chance to rescue the woman who he remembers loving once upon a time, and they push the hope further by having a brutal and warlike Swamp Thing smash the opposition, but then in two pages they take that hope and crush it underfoot. Marco Rudy does a brilliant job illustrating the first half of the issue with colorist Nathan Fairbairn providing a harmonic color bridge to the absolutely gorgeous (or is that GOREgeous...sorry, couldn't resist) artwork for the remainder of the book. I was stunned in the best of ways by Swamp Thing's new look as an angel warrior of the Green. The sword, shield, armor, greaves and the face mask/helm give him the look of a truly terrifying warrior who is not to be opposed. I hope to see Alec Holland in many different versions of his plant armor depending on the location and plant life of the region, which should give Paquette plenty of space for innovation when it comes to the look of this ever-changing character. After this issue I need a cigarette...and I have never even tried smoking. The month of May cannot come soon enough. Bravo. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Animal Man #8
Animal Man #8 - Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Steve Pugh and Travel Foreman, published by DC Comics. How better a way to follow up the amazing Swamp Thing than with its excellent sister book. This New 52 comic is one of my top three favorites of the reboot and has renewed my curiosity of the old Animal Man issues from the '80s and '90s. But I have to remember that the Animal Man from back then focused on the odd and weird, whereas now it is very much steeped in the realm of horror and very much Jeff Lemire's own creation. I may very well pick up the old books for nostalgia's sake, but THIS is the Animal Man I want to know about and follow.
The Rot is at Buddy Baker and his family's doorstep...literally. As Buddy decides to take the fight outside, Maxine darts past him to attempt to talk to the twisted creatures that wait to destroy them. She fails, leaving Buddy and Ellen to watch in horror as the dead animals descend upon their only daughter. In a fit of rage, Animal Man tears into the monsters, but all is not as it seems as Maxine exhibits one of her new powers, a power that is every bit as disturbing as the Rot's army. Relieved to find that his daughter is yet among the living, Buddy sends his family fleeing in the opposite direction as he flies to town to protect the people under siege by the Rot. Unfortunately, Buddy might have miscalculated as the fight goes awry and something terrible and unexpected happens.
The Swamp Thing / Animal Man one-two punch is a great way to start the month. If you enjoy being terrified and disgusted by an incredibly well-written character piece that is also exciting and touching, then this title and Swamp Thing are for you. Lemire provides a fantastic look at a man struggling to protect his family and fighting against a foe that is far more powerful than he is. He also shows Buddy Baker's ever-evolving daughter as a fascinating character with interesting powers, but he manages to seed the more disturbing components of those powers into the story to hint at possible problems to come down the road. Travel Foreman and Steve Pugh provide beautiful art, but I will say that for this book I would like to see one or the other provide the illustrations for the entirety of the book as the jump is slightly jarring. Lovern Kinderzierski's coloring is as striking as ever.  With two of my favorite books released at the same time, the beginning of each month is a treasure. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Chew #25
Chew #25 - Written by John Layman and illustrated by Rob Guillory, published by Image Comics. This series never gets old or tired. Not one issue has left me feeling that I had been down a certain road before. Anything is liable happen and it's fair to say that every issue of Chew is going to have approximately 3.54 (trust me, Obie crunched the numbers) "What the hell?" moments--see the very first page of this installment--and that is definitely a good thing.
Everyone wants to find the missing Tony Chu, who has been abducted by the sadistic and twisted Dan Franks who has forced the cibopath to provide the dirt for his novel, "Superstar Sluggers Untold Sex Tales." Tony's old partner John Colby wants to find Tony, but he's in a bit of a touchy situation with his boss, that requires his complete attention. Then there's Amelia Mintz, Tony's girlfriend, who thankfully decides enough is enough and puts on her thinking cap to find her missing love. She succeeds in finding him, but it's a bad scene and after the abuse Tony has suffered, saving his girlfriend might very well be his final feat. Finally, Colby gets a new partner, but when he learns who that partner is...let's just say he might have had a safer situation going before.
Hell's bells, this book is a hoot. As I mentioned above, Layman and Guillory's tale can go anywhere and never fails to shock, captivate or thrill. This is not to say that events happen out of the blue for no reason, Layman ties everything back into the main story and he succeeds in pushing the story along at a pace that is perfect to give all of the main characters ample amounts of face time. Guillory's unique and wonderful art continues to define Chew, as does his color palette; even void of word balloons, his sequentials tell the story just fine. You never know what to expect next from Chew, but you can count on this great series to be gross and entertaining to the maximum. Do yourself a favor and buy the first Omnivore HC book to catch up with one of comics' most unique and fun series. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items: 
Sweet Tooth #32
Sweet Tooth #32 - Everythinged by Jeff Lemire, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint. If I had more time, I would have popped this title up above for sure. Gus, Bobby and Wendy make their move on Haggerty, but the wicked man is not going down easily. Meanwhile Jepperd meets an unexpected friend from back before the catastrophe, and a death rocks the group to the core. Another great issue, for one of the best non-capes-and-tights comics on the rack that all fans of post-apocalyptic futures will enjoy. Lemire's strong sense of characters and their relationships to one another make this series an excellent read that I eagerly anticipate each month. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Daredevil #10.1 - Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Khoi Pham, published by Marvel comics. I believe the whole "x.1" comics from Marvel are to be jumping on points for new readers. These issues were made to bring people up to speed, provide a bit of background and let them know what's been going on all in one issue. Waid accomplishes this with ease. Matt Murdoch is hired to defend the criminal "Pyromania," who might be a closeted Def Leppard fan, but that storyline is probably reserved for a future issue. The problem is that Pyromania tried to assassinate Murdoch, hence the jail sentence in a prison that is designed to destroy the criminal's ability to concentrate enough to start fires with his mind. Waid expertly jumps between the present and the incident that got Pyromania arrested with great dialogue between the two. Finally Daredevil decides that he doesn't want to wait around for the members of Megacrime to kill him and instead takes the fight to the evildoers and shows just how ruthless Daredevil can be. Another great issue and the perfect jumping on point, but honestly...just buy the hardcover and pick up the other three most recent issues along with this one and you cannot go wrong. RECOMMENDED!

Archie the Married Life: Volume 1 - Written by Micael Uslan and Paul Kupperberg, illustrated by Norm Breyfogle, Andrew Pepoy and Joe Rubenstein, published by Archie Comics. I finally finished reading this amazing and stark look into the lives of Riverdale's favorite teens who are now adults with real responsibilities and real problems that are entirely relatable. This is heavy stuff folks, but there are enough light and cheerful moments to remind you that these are still the characters that so many grew up loving, and there is always hope in Riverdale for all, regardless of whether Archie marries Veronica or Betty.  That said, I was nearly moved to tears by some of the events toward the end, and I am still kind of sad this morning, but sad in the best of ways that only master creators can hope to evoke. Archie The Married Life: Volume 1 is incredibly moving and a joy to read. Although it took 40 years for me to read my first Archie comic, I can proudly say that I am now a fan and despite the vast amount of time that has passed, I feel warmly welcome in Riverdale and I'm happy to have these new friends. On to the next volume! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Graphic Novel Bonanza: This week I received Daredevil: Born Again TPB (written by Frank Miller, illustrated by David Mazzucchelli, published by Marvel Comics), King City (Everythinged by Brandon Graham, published by Image Comics) and Drops of God: Volume 3 (Written by Tadashi Aqi, illustrated by Shu Okimoto, published by Vertical) all in one very welcome box left on my doorstep. Then at my LCS, while picking up my week's comics, I spied on their 50% off table a copy of Thor Visionaries Walt Simonson #1 TPB. There was no way I was passing this little puppy up, as I have always regretted the day many years ago, when I was a starving college kid, and I ended up selling a huge chunk of my comic collection. Crud. I probably bought beer with the money back then, which is beyond foolish. The problem was that my much loved Simonson Thor with the introduction of Beta Ray Bill was in one of the long boxes that I sold. There were also some other gems that I regret not holding on to, but my shame is such that I won't even say what those were. If someone would like to comment on one of their biggest comic mistakes (sold or otherwise) let me know and I might divulge more of my shame.

I'm Going to Have One of My Comic Stories Appear in an Awesome Magazine! - No matter how I do this, it's going to sound like bragging, but goes. One of my eight-page comic stories is going to be appearing in the summer edition of Indie Comics Magazine and you can read my bio piece through the link, which links back to Donist World at a click. My story will be appearing alongside those of four of my favorite comic creators and friends from the Comics Experience Creators Workshop so this will be an issue not to be missed. I will post Diamond codes and all the details as they become available. In the meantime, some of the previous issues can be found here for order. This is my first published (non-selfpublished) work and I cannot be more excited to be in such a great publication.

Slice Into the Woods

Staying Quiet this Week - Trust me, I have plenty to gripe about in regard to the fact that good-tasting-yet-calorie-free beers do not exist, and on a more serious note, I can go on and on about the war on education (abysmal drops in funding, overcrowded class rooms, rampant disrespect of the teaching profession, etc.) and literature (Ender's Game as pr0n? Stupid idiots, get real) being waged on our public schools, but I'm pretty happy with the week thus far (no whammies, no whammies) so we'll come back to that in another post.

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