Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 5/4/2012

(Sung to the tune of Kriss Kross's "Jump")

Jump, Jump, you know, you should read 'em
Obie is not having anything today
Didn't buy your comics? Be stressed out!
Donist World will make you

Jump, Jump
Kenji's bat will smack ya whump, whump
Swamp Thing is more than a stump, stump
DD's love makes his heart thump, thump

Rex, Zombie Killer, you best be buyin' son, 'cause it's rad
Abby and Alec's forbidden love, kept apart, so sad
Now get up bump, bump wiggle and shake your rump
Hit your comic store for books that'll make you wanna jump

I'm going to talk in a whisper today and keep the intro somewhat short, so gather close kids. You see Obie, my friends' Boston terrier and COO of Donist World, is consumed by one of the titles listed below. Wanna take a guess at which one that might be. Anyhow, he's in comic book La La Land and commands dead silence as he reads his books, but today he is even more intent on my keeping my yapper shut. The good news is that every single book I bought this week was damn incredible and I had a blast reading all of them. So let's get into it right away and have a look at...

Friday Slice of Heaven

Rex, Zombie Killer #1
Rex, Zombie Killer #1 - Written by Rob Anderson and illustrated by Dafu Yu, published by Big Dog Ink. Full disclosure here...I know Rob. He's General Manager at Comics Experience, a member of the Brutal Circle (yes, we need to post something soon), an immensely talented writer, and a friend who I have not yet met in person. That said, I would not put a book, even his, on Donist World unless I felt there was something special about it, and it was worth reading. Of course I would mention something about it somewhere, but not in the top spot. Now, with all of that out of the need to read this book.
The zompacalypse has hit, but instead of following a ragtag group of men and women struggling to survive the harsh conditions of the new world before them, we have a group of animals. They consist of the following:  Rex, a golden retriever with an intellect far beyond what is normal for the breed or most humans for that matter; Brutus, a previously abused pit bull whose challenges before the fall make him a formidable opponent; Buttercup, a small but brave corgi who lends much optimism to her new family; Snowball, a white cat with a disliking of everyone and everything...except for food; Kenji, a sign language-speaking gorilla with a baseball bat. Each character has their own personality and traits, some of which do not work to their own personal benefit, but together they form a tight team, a pack. Each animal is desperate to survive and with the aid of Rex's superior intellect they devise a plan to head toward "Nah-vah-da" in hopes of finding the scientist who raised Rex. Just as they begin their journey, Brutus is abducted by a gang of cruel bikers who have a horrible fate in store for the pit bull, but his pack sets out to rescue him from the terrible compound with a plan that rests primarily on the shoulders of one happy, little corgi named Buttercup.
This book was written for me. If you've read any of my posts in the past, you know that I'm a dog lover and an animal lover. Hell, the COO of Donist World is a Boston terrier for gosh sake, but what we have here are three dogs, a cat and a gorilla, all of whom have distinct, strong personalities that can easily be attributed to your own pets and to some degree people. Anderson gets you to identify with and care for each animal almost immediately. It is impossible to not sympathize with the sad, dire past lives of primarily Rex and Buttercup in this issue, and the flashbacks to their situations pull painfully at your heart. As with The Walking Dead the zombies are a fact of life in this world, and the true monsters are the humans, just as they unfortunately could be in the world before the dead combed the streets for the living...ask Brutus, he'll agree. Dafu Yu provides beautiful artwork that almost has a classic comics feel for the animals, while maintaining a more realistic look for humans and zombies to great effect that is enhanced by the striking colors of Kevin Volo. Rex, Zombie Killer is a stark look at the effects of a zombie outbreak on the world as seen from the eyes of not just our pets, but other animals...both loved and abused. At one moment action-packed and riveting, the other emotionally touching, Rex is everything a comic book lover, pet lover, horror lover could ask for and at 56 pages for $3.50 this is a must buy. I can't wait to see what comes next. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
*sidenote - Damn you, Rob for writing a comic that actually made me cry. Buttercup is the best.

Swamp Thing #9
Swamp Thing #9 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Yanick Paquette and Marco Rudy, published by DC Comics. After animals, I'm a sucker for a good love story. Alan Moore's Swamp Thing run created one of the best with the love between Swamp Thing and Abigail, and its statement to the power of that emotion, its fluidity and what draws certain individuals together. Snyder has once again expertly expanded upon his predecessor's work and in turn made it his own as Alec and Abigail struggle to be together despite the insurmountable obstacles working against them.
Abigail has been transformed into the Queen of the Rot, a creature remotely resembling Sethe only with more of an insect quality about her. She is horrific, powerful and with Sethe's influence she is about to annihilate the Green's warrior, Alec Holland. But Alec thought ahead before engaging with the Rot and returns control to Abby, the woman he has very real memories of loving from a life he never actually lived. Abby breaks free and in turn uses the power of the rot to destroy Sethe and to heal the dying Alec. In the aftermath, the true evil rises once again, a foe from years past, one who fully intends to keep up the family link to the Rot.
Fantastic! Scott Snyder keeps upping the stakes on my favorite comic of the new 52 and he has successfully brought me back to one of my all-time favorite comic characters. In Moore's run the strain on Abby and Alec's relationship was that they were human and plant, but they worked around this. With Snyder's take we have an exceptionally powerful agent of the Rot and the strongest warrior of the Green and although they are together now, there are some foreseeable problems with the situation, but ones they will have to work through. This issue was almost as exceptional as the past few, but the mid-book change of artist from Paquette to Rudy was noticeable and jarring. This is not to say that Rudy's art was subpar, only that the change did take me out of the book for a moment, but not by much. Then there's the last panel reveal that will leave the fans of this series desperate for the next issue and happily terrified for what is to come. If you have not been reading Snyder's Swamp Thing, don't wait until August to buy the hardcover of this series, track down these issues and experience an engaging horror story and one of the best books DC is releasing. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Daredevil #12
Daredevil #12 - Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Chris Samnee, published by Marvel Comics. Before I talk about the actual book, how about this cover? Damn sexy, amiright? Reminds me of the time Obie and I were downtown and...never mind. Anyways...Daredevil. Growing up, my brother was always the Daredevil guy. I was more the Micronauts, Swamp Thing and more "gritty" comics guy, but after reading many of his Miller Hornhead comics, I can definitely say that I was a solid fan. Then some bad things happened in the '90s, not bad to the character, but bad for the character. Bendis and Brubaker came to the rescue and both of their runs were great in the heapings of misery that were unloaded on the blind hero, but I began to feel sorry for the guy--really sorry for the guy. Now, and for the past exceptional year, we get this cover which says plenty about DD's current life and although being a hero is never easy, Matt Murdoch is able to smile and enjoy life once again. But will it last?
Kristin McDuffie, the new Assistant District Attorney, is convinced that Matt Murdoch is actually Daredevil, but then again who doesn't suspect as much? The difference between Kristin and most other people is that she has Matt's attention as much as he has hers. The pair go on a date to the carnival, but not on an ordinary date, Kristin has agreed to let Matt blindfold her so that she can experience what it is like to be an ordinary blind person. Of course Matt is nowhere near ordinary, but anything to place doubt about his secret identity will work. The night goes perfectly as the pair's romance grows and Matt tells a story from school days with Foggy until a vengeful Black Spectre agent shows up to ruin the evening with a dire warning for Daredevil and Matt Murdoch.
Warning to fans of heroes punching villains or other heroes...this is not the issue for you. In fact, not a single punch is thrown and there's only one panel of heroes in costume. Again, only one panel of heroes in costume, and you know what? This is the best Marvel comic I've read in a year, and a tremendously well-written issue period. Where Swamp Thing was a story of an old love that refuses to die, Waid's Daredevil is a charming story of new love and the telling of a long-term friendship with his closest friend. I was hooked on the first page, and the second page splash revealed what was really happening and left me going, "ohhhhhh, I see." Then there's page five, which is laugh-out-loud funny with the playfulness between Krisitin and Matt and it was clear how much I would love this issue and wish for this romance to work. Chris Samnee. Man, oh man, this is a beautiful issue with great expressions telling everything you need to know about what is happening in the scene and I cannot wait to see what Samnee does next. Bravo, Waid and Samnee, this is the superhero comic I love to read. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Animal Man #9
Animal Man #9 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Steve Pugh, published by DC Comics. Buddy Baker is dead, not only that, his body is possessed by one of the Rot's Hunters Three and it is on a mission to destroy Buddy's daughter, Maxine. Buddy, the real Buddy, still exists and is stranded in the Red where he meets the shepherd of the realm. The pair, as well as a skeletal crow, begin their journey to see the Totems, but it seems the Rot has infected the Red with an increasing amount of pockets of decay that prevent the travelers from reaching their destination. Meanwhile, the living members of the Baker family meet a certain trench coat wearing, Englishman with a bad attitude and a smoking habit. Animal Man continues to be an exciting sister book to Snyder's Swamp Thing, and is one of the top three DC 52 books. If you read Swamp Thing or enjoy trippy horror comics, then this is the book for you. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Sweet Tooth #33
Sweet Tooth #33 - Everythinged by Jeff Lemire, published by Vertigo Comics a DC Comics imprint. The first week of the month is usually a double dose of Jeff Lemire comics and Sweet Tooth continues to be an enjoyable harsh but fascinating look at a world torn asunder by a mysterious disease that leaves only animal children to be born to replace the rapidly dwindling human population. This issue is formatted in a widescreen, horizontal storybook manner (much like issue 18) with the text doing most of the heavy lifting for the pictures on the page. A lot of ground is covered in this format and although there is less art than usual, this issue is no less striking in either story or imagery. In this issue, the survivors mourn Lucy's death and the group is forced to split up with some going to Alaska and other's staying at the dam. Haggarty is found frozen to death in the snow, which is awesome in that the book setup this villain in a sort of "I'll be back" scenario, and Lemire showed how ridiculously unrealistic those situations can be. Finally one of the groups has a run in with a bad man from the past and life is about to get bleak for them, which will have repercussions on the other group in the future. Another great chapter in this dark, yet beautiful series. Okay, it is enjoyable in a twisted way. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Dial H #1
Dial H #1 - Written by China Miéville and illustrated by Mateus Santolouco, published by DC Comics. The third round of additions to the DC 52 hits with the revival of the House of Mystery tale "Dial H for Hero" comic. Nelse doesn't have a whole lot going for him. Not even 30 and he just had his first heart attack. No job, no lady, terrible diet, smoking and to think he used to be an athlete. Even his only friend, Darren, is at wit's end with him, but Nelse's life changes when he stumbles into a phone booth after he spots Darren getting tuned up by some thugs. After dialing, he transforms into the "hero" Boy Chimney, a grotesque but powerful being who rescues Darren and defeats the bad guys. Too bad the thugs aren't done with Darren, but Nelse can still "talk" to them...after he uses the phone booth to turn into a new bizarre "hero" of course. Dial H is another nice surprise in the "Dark" line and for a first issue to a series I'm barely familiar with, I'm excited to see what happens next. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Took the Day Off From Work to See... - the AVENGERS! A day off of work is always great, but getting up early to write without a rush out the door, coupled with Amy's fresh strawberry and blueberry scones, followed by a run, a viewing of Iron Man, playtime with the dog, beers in the afternoon at Hollister Brewing Company, and then the Avengers movie?! I couldn't have a better day planned. I can't wait to see the movie that I've been waiting to see for most of my life.

Slice Into the Woods

Blue Cross Blue Shield - As some of you have read in my "One Heck of a Bad Month" post from October 2011, I went through some shit. Actually, I went through a lot of shit in 2011, but October was the worst. Anyhow, I'm thankful that I have health insurance and it made the surgery (and the unnecessary following events) not devastating from a financial standing, but that's the point of health insurance. Over the past six months I have received so many bills and explanation of benefits that make zero sense, that when I received a check from Blue Cross Blue Shield for $34.50 for an overpayment, I just shrugged my shoulders, cashed it and bought some extra comics. Why not? Then I received a letter this week that stated the following:

Dear Donald McMillan

We sent payment to you on January 11, 2012, in error for the patient listed above. We must request that you refund $34.50 for the reason(s) stated below.


If we have not heard from you within 30 days, we will deduct this amount from future payments to you and/or send this information to our collections agency. Please send this amount and blah, blah, blah.

So, what they are telling me is that they screwed up with a drop-in-the-bucket amount and they will send me to collections if I don't pay them back. Nice. All they needed to add was "Hey Asshole" instead of my name to really drive home their thoughts about those who contribute (and/or their employers who cover this as employee compensation) the premiums that enable the CEO to take in just above $4.5 million in compensation for the 2010 year (as provided by a two minute google search...research man, research). Hey CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield, enjoy my contribution to the remodel of your third vacation home's swimming pool. Thanks a lot, smooches, Donist.


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