Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 8/31/2012

(Sung to the tune of Mary Jane Girls "In My House")

Well you know just what you need's
To bring more good comics to your life
The Sixth Gun's so much fun, "Winter Wolves"
Oughta give you chills at night
Many worlds of make believe
And oodles of comics to love
Captain Marvel will sure please
With every spaceship that she beats up

Who'd have thought The Shade'd blow your mind? 'cause it's so damn fine
Read about it on this blog website
Donist World, Donist World

Hello Donist World readers. I just received a call that Obie's bags are packed and he's ready to go. For those of you who don't know, Obie is CFO of Donist World and he is also my friends' Boston terrier. Anyways, Obie is preparing to shack up with me here at the Donist World corporate offices on account of my friends, his owners, having a little thing called a baby. Now Obie has known something's been going on for a while now and he knows his life is about to become vastly different, but as long as he has his belongings ($17.32 taken from the Donist World petty cash box, a bag of kibble, his rubber chicken toy and a healthy supply of comic books) tied up in a hobo sack affixed to the end of a stick, the world is his oyster. So, while I hop into the Donist Mobile to run and pick up my main man, have a gander at this week's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Sixth Gun #24
The Sixth Gun #24 - Written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Brian Hurtt, published by Oni Press. Maybe there was a bit of a silver lining in getting my copy of issue number 23 three or four weeks after the release date. Even with a delay, it still seems like it's been a while between issues, but as the saying goes, "Good things come to those who wait." But does that apply here? Of course it does, it's the dang The Sixth Gun one of the best comics on the stand and even if the wait was only a week or two between issues it would still be too long.
After last issue's brief interlude following Kirby Hale, we are back with Drake and Becky and their pursuers, The Sword of Abraham. Brother Roberto reflects on some grim history as well as what the future holds, when he is told that General Hume, the twice (?) dead monster seeking the six guns, is beginning to stir. The dead man, trapped in a coffin on holy ground, mocks Brother Roberto and reveals that Missy Hume, the bad general's his wife, is not the one The Sword of Abraham needs to fear, but another family member all together. Gord Cantrell continues his hunt for his missing "friends" as Becky and Drake can't get a moment's rest and find themselves in an entirely different world of ice and cold and winter wolves. Bad times are a comin'.
I just read somewhere that The Sixth Gun is set for roughly 50 issues, which means that we are close to the midway point, but thankfully there's still plenty of story to go around with one of the best comics on the stand.  Brian Hurtt returns after a one issue break to provide his beautiful signature illustrations to this exciting and addictive supernatural Western that is preparing to launch into more hardship for Drake and Becky. Cullen Bunn spends most of this issue on world building and setting up the next obstacles for the protagonists, which is fine after the past arc saw Becky come into her own as a determined, clever opponent who should not be taken lightly. I'm looking forward to further insight into Drake, his past and his motivations and hope to get a more extensive glimpse into this man of mystery. As always, I must mention the beautiful colors of Bill Crabtree (great name btw) that consistently enhance the exact mood in which Hurtt and Bunn wish for the reader to become immersed. The Sixth Gun continues to be a unique, engaging tale that never fails to surprise. This is damn fine comics, folks, and is a series worthy of your attention. I hope the Syfy television mini-series is still in the works; it's been a while since I've heard anything, but as far as this comic goes it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Shade #11
The Shade #11 - Written by James Robinson and illustrated by Frazer Irving, published by DC Comics. I'm not sure what Diamond did to cause a delay on getting me the penultimate issue of The Shade, one of the best reworked DC characters of all time (thanks James Robinson), but hey, at least I got a copy. Let's not pretend that there's a question as to whether or not I liked the final issue featuring the phenomenal art of Frazer Irving, let's begin with whether I want to see the Shade continue to pop up in the New 52. That would be a hesitant "yes," but only if handled right and/or by Robinson, the man who put the character on the map.
When London is pummeled into submission by two angry otherworldly, Egyptian-appearing gods, what does London do? It throws the mightiest heroes it has at no avail. Watching the superpowered fail, it's up to the Shade to handle the raging gods, and who better to handle the murdering creatures than one who has few qualms over killing ne'er-do-wells himself. Unable to fight them directly, the Shade, with some magical help, comes up with a plan. Hopefully it works; saving a major world city is no easy task, and he still has work to do.
My goodness...what a beautiful looking book. I would love to see each step of how Irving created these pages. From pencil, to ink, to color it all just boggles the mind how the man created such striking images. On the merit of the art alone, the book is worth the $2.99 cover price, but with Robinson directing the character he has made his own you can't go wrong with this issue. The Shade has such a distinct voice and nonchalant outlook on most any situation, no matter how dire, that listening to the character's thoughts on a best-selling cookbook would be an interesting read. Robinson injects subtle, laugh-out-loud moments to this issue--see the Beaumont pages...ha--that make his perspective, or rather the Shade's perspective on the world fun to read. The main problem with this book has nothing to do with either creator, but with the highly-intrusive ads littering the book that completely pull the reader out of the experience and interrupt the flow of Irving's gorgeous pages; oh well, the trade should solve that problem. With the final issue slated to be a "Times Past" installment, I'm both excited and saddened to see this series go. Hopefully, the end of the series will not be the end of the character, but as I mentioned above, the Shade needs to be handled carefully or not at all, and hopefully he never reverts back to D-lister he was decades ago. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Captain Marvel #3
Captain Marvel #3 - Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and illustrated by Dexter Soy, published by Marvel Comics. The second book from Marvel that I'm currently buying (Book one being Daredevil, book three being Hawkeye...if I can get ahold of a copy) continues to be a great and engaging read. Carol Danvers has humbly accepted the name of Captain Marvel and with a stylish new costume and a relatable personality "Earth's Mightiest Hero" continues to be a joy to read.
Captain Marvel is stranded on an island off the coast of Peru, but as if that wasn't bad enough, she's also gone back in time to World War II and finds that something is terribly wrong. The Japanese forces have somehow gained control of Kree spaceships known as "Prowlers" and they are using them against a band of a US female fighting force who has no prayer of fighting the alien technology, at least not without the help of Captain Marvel. Marvel dispatches the enemy and allows the pilot to live on the condition that he returns with the best that his side has to offer for a decisive battle the following day. Carol soon realizes that as powerful as she is, she might just have overstretched her resources.
As much as I liked issue one and two, Captain Marvel is only getting better. DeConnick's interpretation of Captain Marvel provides a strong, confident, selfless hero who can garner the admiration of both male and female readers without having to stoop to using the crutches of excessively-revealing costumes or the lady-just-trying-to-get-a-date stereotype. Dexter Soy's art looks even better and cleaner than the previous installments with a beautiful double-page splash being the highlight of the action scenes. I rarely mention letterers--the hidden art form--but VC's Joe Caramagna lays down some fantastic sound effects that stand out, especially on the DPS, but not in an intrusive way; you actually feel the chaos of the battle. My main negative comment about this fine comic is that there are only 16 pages of actual main story and art. The remainder of the 20 pages are comprised of the title page, a two page side story, and a "1970s" single page comic strip. Although the extras are nice, I would have preferred to see the book deliver a week or two late and have the main story fill out the full 20 pages, but whatchagonnado? I'm happy to finally have a superhero whose merits go far beyond sex appeal and who is just plain cool. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Been Stressed the Hell Out - I'm not really sure why, but I have been stressed the hell out, irritable and not at my Donist best. It kind of sucks for my wife, Donist World Director of Human Resources Amy, and I need to snap out of it; no one likes a grump. In my defense, there has been a full moon...yeah, that doesn't cut it, but at least signing this document titled "Notice of Corrective Action" has brought me back to my senses.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 8/24/2012

(Sung to the tune of Madonna's "Get Into the Groove")

Hey, take a chance
No perspiration, come on

Comics can be such a revelation
Rachel Rising's such an inspiration
Dead girl seeks blondie all through the night
Demons and witches'll give you a fright

Crossovers? A Donist World menace oh gee
Alright, I Vampire actually got it right you see
Andrew gets all the power for himself
Stormwatch best help out poor Mary or else

Get into the groove
Donist World approves
Great books you see

Howdy there all you shiny, happy people holding hands. I'm Donist and I am flying solo today and I am not joined by Donist World CFO, Obie, who is also my friends' Boston terrier. Just this past Wednesday, Obie and I fled the Donist World Corporate Office to visit the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Luckily for Obie, he weighs only 22 pounds and I was able to smuggle him in a backpack on the tram to the premises. You see, even dogs can have a healthy appreciation of art and since Obie loves comic books so much he decided to go to where it all started...fine art. With his miniature top hat and monocle in place, we first hit the Gustav Klimt: The Magic of Line exhibition, where, regrettably, he was caught trying to pinch Klimt's striking Fish Blood piece, and is now being detained by the museum police. I guess where he hates the piracy of comic books and stealing from creators in a struggling industry, the same thought does not apply to ganking works of art from long deceased masters. Oops...there's the doorbell. He must have been released. While I sign the nice policeman's release form, have a gander at...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

I, Vampire #12
I, Vampire #12 - Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, published by DC Comics. On occasion, I have to be a big boy and admit when I have been wrong. I, Vampire is a book that I loved after reading the first issue and I have enjoyed--for the most part--each installment as it was released, but there were a couple things that bugged me: the guest appearances and the crossovers. Hell, for a while the book was above 60% of the issues released involving characters from other books and it had only just started. The multitude of outside characters gracing the book was worrisome, suggesting that Fialkov was not being allowed to tell the story he originally set out to tell. One year later we are at 50% crossovers and when I saw the cover with members of Stormwatch (Apollo, Midnighter, and Jack Hawksmoor), I let out a long sigh and shook my head. Then I read the comic.
When an entire town goes missing, Jack Hawksmoor of Stormwatch notices. Deciding to investigate, he brings Midnighter and Apollo to Utah to find a chaotic war being waged among zombie vampire killers, vampires, zombie vampire vampire killers, and a couple humans. Stormwatch decides to wipe them all out, but after Apollo and Andrew have a little chat involving lasers and magic, the misunderstanding of who's good and who's bad gets straightened out. Something terrible happens, something good happens, someone gets very disappointed, and the situation becomes really bad. How's that for cryptic.
That was a damn fine crossover. There, I said it. Where past guest appearances felt disjointed and not organic to the story, Fialkov took the appearance of three Stormwatch members and fit them perfectly to the story. The funny thing is that this team up should not work, but it does. The dialogue of the Stormwatch characters was great, each having their own distinct voice, as was that of the main cast, and the reader is left wishing Fialkov and Sorrentino were working on Stormwatch in addition to I, Vampire. This issue also raises the stakes, then allows you to relax before sucker punching you in the face. Speaking of Sorrentino...he provides his best, most striking work to date; just wait until you reach the last splash page. Colorist Marcelo Maiolo provides some of my favorite colors of any comic book on the stands and it seems as if he was born to add the sun sphere and glows to Apollo. Art and colors combined, the effect is beautiful. Can you tell I loved this issue? This is how you do a crossover right. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Rachel Rising #10
Rachel Rising #10 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. Okay, "two dead chicks walk into a hospital..." sounds like the beginning to a joke you'd hear in grade school, but that's not the case with Moore's fantastic Rachel Rising. After ten issues of this slow-burn horror story this comic refuses to allow the reader an opportunity to jump off the series as Moore pulls you in deeper with each secret revealed.
Two dead chicks walk into a hospital to see their Aunt Johnny, who, despite being grumpy as hell about healthcare costs, is stuck there for the long haul after a terrible car accident. In fact, she's lucky to be alive, just like her friends, Rachel and Jet, only Rachel died weeks ago despite running around all of Manson, and Jet died in the same car accident that put Aunt Johnny in the hospital to begin with. Times are weird. Rachel and Jet--who is not completely herself--need to find the mysterious blonde woman, and to do that they have to scour the city to find the little girl linked to her. Or not, as the little girl is in the same hospital as AJ. Rachel learns where to find the blonde after she touches the comatose Zoe and more secrets are uncovered.
In case you can't tell, I'm a huge Terry Moore fan. Strangers In Paradise was unlike anything I had ever read (or like anything I usually read) and one of the best comic series period, Echo was addictive as hell and great sci-fi, and now Rachel Rising is covering the horror/mystery genre wonderfully. The key to Moore's methods lie in his characters who draw the reader in leaving them feeling as if they were close acquaintances. You want them to succeed. You want them to pull themselves together and not make the mistakes they're destined to make. You gasp when they are injured or die. Moore's gorgeous art only makes the connection with his characters that much deeper. This comic is one you must read to see what happens next, but not in a cliffhanger-at-the-end-of-every-issue sort of way, but in a nagging desire to know more, more, more after each released piece of information. My only complaint with this issue, as well as the last few, is that there's only 18 pages of material, but since Moore does everything on this book, that's understandable and as long as the story continues to be this engaging I'm along for the entire ride. Don't trade wait this one and support one of the best indie creators in the field. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Gustav Klimt Exhibition
I Actually Did Go to the Getty Museum - Every once in a while the day job pulls through. Every year we do a department outing, so this year we boarded a Santa Barbara Airbus Shuttle at 8:00 AM and headed down to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California. From 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM we had the freedom to explore the exhibition halls, gardens and the grounds as we saw fit. The Gustav Klimt: The Magic of Line was my personal favorite, with a glimpse into Klimt's processes leading up to his most famous paintings. Also of interest, especially to artists, was the eerily realistic sculpted heads of Franz Xaver me, do a Google image search and you'll see. The Herb Ritts photography exhibition was great as well. If you ever find yourself in Los Angeles and have never been to the Getty, then you owe it to yourself to get there by whatever means possible. Just be sure to give yourself plenty of time to experience it all and allow time to visit the garden and enjoy the architecture. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

TPB Backlog...I Can't Wait! - Man. I have four TPBs waiting to be read and I need to find the time. Prophet (by Brandon's only $9.99, you have to be nuts to pass this one up), Creepy Presents: Richard Corben (These stories are huge part of my disturbed childhood), Blacksad: A Silent Hell (The second HC. You MUST read the first book that I gushed over last week), and Drops of God V. 4 (who doesn't love Manga about wine?).

Slice Into the Woods

Hey...I'm Missing the Shade #11 From Last Week - Oh, man! Dang it!

Billionaire Koch Brother Builds Horsey Town Near Aspen - Article here. Far be it from me to say how a millionaire billionaire (let's write that out >$1,000,000,000) spends their money, but a private, 50-building frontier town located near said billionaire's private ranch seems to be a bit much. I have no problem with the rich being eccentric, but when the rich (Koch Brothers) lobby to change campaign laws (Citizen's United), and create and fund political parties (Tea Party) all to allow them to pay a much lower tax rate than I pay, there's a problem. For people claiming that they only want America to be great and free, they sure spend a lot of time and money on making themselves more wealthy (including illegal sales to Iran), while ensuring people like all of us pick up the slack for their tax breaks that allow them to buy a horsey town as opposed to actually making America great by...I don't know...supporting our schools or wiping out poverty or not sending our jobs overseas.
When I finally add those five extra $0s to my net worth, I look forward to constructing a miniature city so I can dress up as Godzilla or Gamera and crush it beneath my feet to my heart's content. Actually, let's make that miniature city a frontier town located in Aspen.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 8/17/2012

(Sung to the tune of Neon Indian's "Hex Girlfriend")

Friday Slice feeling chilled and thrilled
Books hot, from the spot of my LCS
Grinning face I am so chillaxed
Saga six it's simply the best

"They will make you, they will make you feel alright"
"These are ones that, these are ones I know you'll like"

Wonder Woman I do detect
Pregers chick from gods who she must protect
Captain Marvel is resurrecting
Good comic books for your inspecting

"They will make you, they will make you feel alright"
"These are ones that, these are ones I know you'll like?"

Ahhhh...this is the life. I'm sitting outside of Donist World Corporate Headquarters with my CFO, (my friends' Boston terrier), Obie. We're currently at the quiet little park out back with a couple beach chairs, blanket, a collapsable picnic table, bread, cheese and a pitcher of tinto de verano (for you non-Spanish speakers out there, that translates to "red wine of summer" and is: ice, half red wine, half Sprite, slice of lemon...BOOM...tinto de verano). We are also joined by my wife, Amy, and by Obie's sister, Tulip, who is my darling doggie. The ladies are becoming a bit peeved with Obie and I as we argue in the hot summer sun over issues of the missing $13.87 from the petty cash fund and also over the fact that so very few cool pets or animals appear in today's comic books. Obie insists that Saga's Lying Cat doesn't count as a "cool animal" based solely on the fact that it's a cat, but thankfully Tulip, who is trade waiting on Saga, agrees with me that Lying Cat is an interesting idea that she looks forward to reading about with the TPB release in October; no one is taking Obie's side on the missing petty cash. Anyhow, cut yourself a piece of the horseradish cheddar and pour yourself a healthy-sized tinto de verano. Salud! It's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #6
Saga #6 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples, published by Image Comics. You knew the time was coming that I would have something negative to say about my number one favorite comic on the stand. Don't get me wrong, issue six was absolutely phenomenal. What I mean to say is that Saga is going on a two month hiatus to give Fiona Staples--artist and colorist extraordinaire--a chance to catch her breath and to get cracking on the next installment. This is only negative because we have a painful wait for the next issue, but that also means that what comes next will be all the more lovely. By golly, it's worth it.
Marko, Alana and baby Hazel have reached the Rocketship Forrest but the slashed and burned plains that greet them leave their hopes dashed. Thankfully, they have the ghost girl Isabel to show them the real way to that which they seek, but it's going to cost them. Prince Robot IV has really screwed the pooch by killing The Stalk, and informing The Will of what has happened...let's just say that no life insurance provider will ever cover the Prince now. Finally, what do you do when you your in-laws drop by for the first time while you're wearing only a towel and they want to see you dead?
Do I really need to keep going into this? Saga #6 is fantastic. Great writing, gorgeous art and colors--just have a look at the Rocketship--and characters who dig their hooks in deep leaving you worried for their wellbeing. Saga is not just a comic book you read and file away, it's one you immerse yourself in by cheering the victories and gasping at the surprises. Vaughan leaves the reader no choice but to experience it all as some characters achieve their goals, others fail while gaining insight to the next course of action, and the rest are left to find their motivation through tragedy and sorrow. Personally, I can't wait to see The Will don the mask and tear into some Robot IV. The best thing about Saga is that this book is only getting started; we are so lucky. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Wonder Woman #12
Wonder Woman #12 - Written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Cliff Chiang, published by DC Comics. A full year has passed for the DC's New 52 and Wonder Woman has received one of the most unique and divisive takes on her origin in some time. This comic has been thankfully spared from any and all crossovers and events and hoopla that only ever interrupts and detracts from the main story at hand. This might be changing as evidenced by the final page of this issue, and you know what? I'm kind of okay with the implications and I'm curious to see how the reveal will play out.
Diana and Hermes face off against Apollo, Artemis and Hera in an effort to save Zola and her unborn child, a child prophesized to slay a god and claim hold of the throne of Olympus. Still, where is Zeus as Apollo makes his play for the throne, ushering in a new kingdom. Wonder Woman strips off her bracelets and with a newfound power--that I regrettably don't quite get--trounces Artemis with little trouble. Diana strikes a bargain, Hera falls from grace, and an unexpected betrayal leads into a shocking conclusion that leaves me desperately wanting to spoil what happened and work through the implications. Not gonna do it.
Some people have taken great offense to Azzarello's interpretation of the Princess of Power and the changes made to the Amazonians, but I have not been one of them. I love the myth-heavy story, and that the harsh natures of the characters remains true to how the gods were actually believed to be: their desires, their jealousies, their vindictiveness, their cruelties. Even our hero is fallible and guilty of overconfidence, but she is learning and adjusting to the terrible realities of her true family. As I've hinted throughout this review, Azzarello ushers Wonder Woman into the DC Universe proper with the final page reveal. I admit that this is a moment I've been dreading, but with the introduction of this "new" player all kinds of questions are raised and I'm excited for Azzarello and Chiang to provide the answers. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Captain Marvel #2
Captain Marvel #2 - Written by Kelly Sue Deconnick and illustrated by Dexter Soy, published by Marvel Comics. Huh, fancy that. Marvel succeeded in getting me to pick up a second comic title and I'm looking forward to reading the next issue. What's going on? Here we have a strong--make that very strong--female protagonist who no longer needs to flash lots of leg, booty or boobs to garner attention. Instead she pulls in readers by being an interesting character, in a realistic-yet-cool costume, with a life and problems as well as a hell of a lot of power. Sign me up.
Carol Danvers seems to have it all as super hero Captain Marvel, but more than anything she wants to be the best pilot of her generation, but only if she can do so without the aid of her abilities. While visiting the hanger of her deceased friend, Helen Cobbs, Carol tells a dying friend about Cobbs's purported achievements and how she intends to break those records. Unfortunately while attempting to replicate Cobbs's highest altitude flight, Carol finds herself transported back in time to 1943 where a squad of women fighters is confronted with a piece of non-World War II tech called a Prowler.
The second issue of Captain Marvel continues to be an interesting look at a character I have known little about over the past couple of decades. Deconnick succeeds in giving Carol Danvers her own personality that makes me care and want to know more about not just the hero but the person. In this issue we have the Captain very much out of her element and knowing that every punch, kick or laserblast can forever alter the course of history, but despite having a problem outside of her pay grade, she makes a decision to do what she does best: be a hero. Soy's painted art is not what I would expect for a superhero book, but two issues in I can say that I like his different style and that it fits perfectly with the tone of the book; it's lovely. If Marvel wants lapsed readers like myself to return to their comics, they should follow Deconnick's example by providing more character driven stories as opposed to heroes repeatedly punching each other throughout crossover events like Secret Fearful Civil Invasion Wars spanning multiple titles and issues. Call me naive and I know the numbers don't support what I'm about to say, but the best money grab is a consistently good comic book, and hopefully Deconnick's Captain Marvel is around long enough to prove this. RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items: 
Staycation - Sometimes you need to take a break, especially when work is stressing you out and countless personal commitments are pulling you this way and that. I decided enough was enough and  took a week off with no plans whatsoever. It's been nice. Since Amy is an English teacher and has a two and a half month long "summer break" (this translates into an actual three weeks off because of mandatory meetings, preparation for the coming year and other school obligations/requirements) she was able to spend most of this past week with me. Instead of wasting two days of my vacation stuck in a car driving or stranded in a United Airlines terminal, we stayed in town. We've had a great time going to the beach, going to nice lunches and dinners, long walks with the dog, and kicking back in folding chairs in the park out back while we read, drank tinto de verano and played with Tulip. We've also watched almost all of season three of the excellent show Damages. Unfortunately, Amy has her school commitments that occupied her time yesterday and today, so instead of sleeping in for those days, I've tested the waters of my routine for when I'm writing for a living. Up at 5:30 AM, writing from 6:00 to 10:00, exercise, dog walk, writing from noon until 2:30, grocery store and then a couple hours of reading. Hopefully this becomes the reality someday soon.

Slice Into the Woods

Argentina Supports Its Writers - You have to read this piece at the New York Times to know what I'm talking about. According to the article, Argentina is actually paying literary pensions to published authors of fiction and poetry in recognition of their great works. There are currently more than 80 recipients thus far and the program provides a high level of dignity and respect to the creators in an effort to strengthen the "vertebral column of society." It's difficult to imagine an environment that treasures its bookstores and celebrates those that keep them filled when on the other side of the equator tax loopholes for the rich and the funding of wars supersedes anything of a literary nature or that which encourages any sort of learning period. I hope the program lasts. 


Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 8/10/2012

(Sung to the tune of George Thorogood's "Bad to the Bone")

Since the day I was born
I've loved most comics around
With Snyder its no wonder
Batman's rockin' the town
Let Donist hook you up
With books to leave your mind blown
Want crime comic hotness?
Listen, cuz, Blacksad you should own

Blacksad you should own
Blacksad you should own
B-B-B-B Blacksad
B-B-B-B Blacksad
B-B-B-B Blacksad
Blacksad you should own

"Oh what a beautiful mornin', oh what a beautiful day! I got a..." *ssscripppp* Stop the record. That is not the song to be playing at 5:30 AM. Hello, folks, I'm Donist and I'm here with Obie, my friends' Boston terrier and Donist World CFO, and we are up and at 'em this fine morning to bring you the latest Donist World. Although we are happy to be writing as the sun rises and birds chirp, we are not about to have any of that upbeat positivity, especially not in the form of any dang musicals playing in the background; that's just plain nuts. No sireebob. Today, Obie and I awakened to Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique" (you might remember it from a little movie called The Shining). Now as we sit in front of the computer, grinning wide with an occasional giggle, we begin to type, "All kibble and no toys makes Obie a dull boy." Now cue up the Oklahoma for a musical/Berliz mashup and let's get this party started! "Oh what a beautiful mornin'" Dun dun dun dun...Donnie doesn't live here anymore, Mrs. Torrance, it's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Blacksad HC
Blacksad HC - Written by Juan Díaz Canales and illustrated by Juanjo Guarnido, published by Dark Horse Comics. I first heard Blacksad mentioned on some long since imploded comics podcast and it sounded like something I should be reading. I didn't pull the trigger. Then I heard about it again months later, probably on an iFanboy podcast and also a couple of times on the 11 O'Clock Comics podcast when I finally decided enough was enough and ordered it. Verdict: one of the best comics I have ever read.
Blacksad was created by Spanish creators Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido in 2000 for publication in France and then Spain and eventually arrived in the US in 2010 as a compilation of three stories: "Somewhere in the Shadows," "Arctic Nation," and "Red Soul." This beautifully constructed, oversized hardcover is alone striking and worthy of displaying prominently on your best shelf even before the book is cracked open; although it could have used a ribbon marker to make it perfect. But inside is where the true beauty rests.
John Blacksad is a hardboiled private investigator operating in the 1950s and an anthropomorphic black cat who wears a dark suit, trench coat and likes his cigarettes--what PI doesn't. He's head-turning attractive, a real hit with the ladies, but he unfortunately has a habit of also getting under the skins of those he's looking into to the detriment of his own health. He is very much the smooth, sly black cat you would imagine him to be, while other characters' nature reflects their animal appearance. A German shepherd runs the police department, gorillas are boxers, reptiles are assassins, and thugs are bears and can guess where weasels and foxes fall.
"Somewhere in the Shadows" is the first chapter (first book in France and Spain) and follows Blacksad as he investigates the murder of an actress and former flame. Unfortunately for John's health and wellbeing, this high-profile murder is not cut and dry and his investigations lead him to confronting toughies and hit men who nearly kill him. When he eventually find the murderer, John will have to make a tough decision, one with dire consequences...or maybe not.
Chapter two is "Arctic Nation," a story of segregation and inter-racial violence and hatred presented in a clever way. At the site of a hanged black vulture, Blacksad meets his new sidekick, Weekly, a newspaper reporting weasel. Hate crimes are on the rise and at the center is a group calling themselves the Arctic Nation, a group of white-colored animals (foxes, bears, pigs, owls, etc) an analogue of the Ku Klux Klan, which does not bode well for a black cat. John is called to visit the economically-depressed suburb known as "The Line" to investigate a kidnapped bear girl and to inquire as to why her mother never reported her missing. Blacksad's search finds him mixed up in an intricate tale of deception, hatred and revenge.
"Red Soul" occurs just before the Red Scare and and finds Blacksad as a bodyguard for an old tortoise in Las Vegas. He happens to come across a lecture on nuclear energy given by his one-time school teacher, and dear friend, an owl by the name of Otto Liebber. From there you have riots, jerks who don't know when to keep quiet, McCarthyism, assassins, and true love in the form of the sexiest catwoman ever to grace the comic page, writer Alma Mayer.
Blacksad is now on my shelf of most prized books. This treasure has everything worthy of being proudly displayed: gorgeous exterior of quality construction, a beautiful and complex story worthy of multiple readings, and artwork that is absolutely stunning. There is very little, almost nothing, negative that I can say about this book other than "Arctic Circle" possibly had an unclear resolution or two, but then again that could be just me. I am stunned that a book of this quality took a full ten years to find its way into the United States and I can only hope that more foreign accomplishments of this level make it past all of the capes and tights and crossovers and events. If you want to give a non-comics reader a comic to enjoy, especially someone who loves '50s detective stories, look no further than Blacksad; you can't go wrong. ***Warning*** Juanjo Guarnido's animal women are attractive to the maximum. Just wait until you get a load of that Alma Mayer, the writer dame in the "Red Soul" chapter with those glasses, that smile, that laugh, the way she holds a cigarette. Don't get me started on them gams. I'm telling you, Jackson, I... Cripes! I think I have a thing for anthropomorphic cat ladies now. Oh well. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batman #12
Batman #12 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Becky Cloonan, published by DC Comics. Question: How do you followup the riveting "Court of Owls" storyline that had insidious, secret societies with a small army of nearly indestructible assassins doing their bidding? Answer: By following up with a book about a young, female power grid worker, the same one who saved Batman's life a few issues back, and focus the book on a moment in her life when she first met Batman, who is the guest star in his own book. After reading this issue, I am so onboard with this decision.
Harper Row is a Gotham City power grid worker who has also found herself in possession of a ticket to a Wayne Gala event. Unimpressed by the upper crust of society, she meets the kind Alfred Pennyworth who stocks her with desserts before makes an early departure. She arrives home to find her brother badly beaten, an escalation in the gay bashing he is receiving from the other high school students. When Harper and her brother finally stand up for themselves, it goes bad, but an intervention by the Bat solves their problems and starts a star-struck Harper on a path to knowing more about Batman and how he operates. Probably not the best thing for a teenage girl to do.
This was not what I pictured as a followup to the "Court of Owls"storyline, but it was a fantastic bridge issue before the Joker makes his appearance and next month's "0" issue. Snyder expertly leads the reader into understanding and caring for Harper Row and her brother, setting up the former to hopefully have a permanent place in the Bat canon of secondary characters. This is a very different book from the previous issue. From the brooding, analytical Bruce Wayne to the young, impressionable and intelligent Harper, Snyder gracefully transitions between the two issues, successfully giving this new character a distinct voice unlike anything I have read from this writer before. Becky Cloonan also provides a drastic change from Capullo's exceptional action sequentials, but her ease with showing the Row siblings, their joy and pain, was striking and emotional; a perfect pairing with Snyder for this particular issue. James Tynion IV and Andy Clarke provide the backup story that continues immediately from where Snyder and Cloonan leave off, providing some action and a nice wrap-up to this standalone issue. This is a great jumping on point and a great issue period. Not all Batverse stories need to center on the Batman as some of the best follow the more ancillary characters such as Jim Gordan, Dick Grayson and now Harper Row. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Technology in the Classroom - Hello and welcome to High School and Middle School in the United States of America. As you can see--that is if you can see past the other 32+ students crammed into this classroom and in violation of possible fire zoning ordinances--our classroom has the latest technology: monitors, projectors, computers tied to an intricate network (with only one underpaid person to maintain it for the district), and even iPads! Unfortunately, we don't have funding for things like pens, pencils, or notebooks, but never fear! Your teacher will be able to buy those non-digital-era-yet-vital-to-the-learning-process materials out of their own pockets...they even get a $300 tax credit to take a chip out of what they will actually end up paying for all those supplies. Heck, they can even pick up the items on one of their mandated furlough days or during a break for one of their many mandatory policy meetings during their "cushy" summer vacation. But, got cable in the classroom! Too bad you don't have anything to to take notes with or on. Oh, the server is down, well, the tech person should be back in a couple weeks. Keep studying though, and pull yourself up by your bootstraps youngster, you might be able to someday work for a great company in a great field like oil, where they don't pay their fair share of taxes that could give you those much needed study materials, smaller classrooms, a non-overworked and under appreciated teacher, some actual techies to get this shiny newly donated technology working, music and art programs, healthy food programs, and many of the things our schools used to have when eduction in our country was a priority.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 8/3/2012

(Sung to the tune of Tears for Fears "Everybody Wants to Rule the World")

Welcome to your site
Donist World's got your back
Want some books to read?
Best go find you
Sweet Tooth's a book you should savor
Super science resets nature
Read about it here on Donist World

Swamp Thing's so divine
Animal Man's the source
Of trouble for Arcane
Alec and Buddy go
Pound on Rot goons for your pleasure
Seal up Rotworld for good measure
Read about it here on Donist World

¡Viva la Fiesta! It's Fiesta time again here in lovely...errr...foggy Santa Barbara, which means that Obie, my friends' Boston terrier and Donist World CFO, has once again raided the petty cash box and is hiding down at De La Guerra plaza until the food booths open for tri-tip tacos, chicken burritos, sopes and churros. Tomorrow, he'll be at the children's parade where he will literally be stealing candy from babies as the people in the parade toss candy to the viewers. He'll probably also buy some of those confetti eggs to smash on my head throughout the weekend as I toil away here at the Donist World secret lair working on comics and books and all manner of other projects. So, before you head downtown for margaritas and tequila shots, have a look at the comics we loved this week (and also the comic we unfortunately missed). It's like my good friend used to always say, "Tu perro es una piscina en mi estómago," which translates to "Your dog is a pool in my stomach," never mind, he was never any good at Spanish anyways. ¡Viva la Fiesta! On to...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Animal Man #12
Animal Man #12 - Written by Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder, illustrated by Steve Pugh, published by DC Comics. The moment hinted at since the beginning of the series a year ago is finally here. Animal Man and Swamp Thing--the Red and the Green--finally join forces to take on the menace of Arcane, the Avatar of the Rot, but was the year-long setup worth bringing us to this prologue? Hells yes. If you've been following Donist World for any length of time, you already knew the answer to that question.
Buddy's son, Cliff, is infected with the Rot and if Buddy is to cure him, he's going to have to tackle the disease at the source by confronting the Rot itself. Unfortunately, he needs the help of the Swamp Thing. The Baker clan, minus Cliff but including Socks, succeed in finding the Green's champion, Swamp thing, as well as Abigail Arcane, a woman with the power of the Rot flowing through her who is sympathetic to the cause of the Red and the Green. A history lesson follows and Alec (Swamp Thing) and Buddy head into Rotworld, while Maxine, Ellen, Abby, and socks are left to guard the portal and fight a host of Rotworld's inhabitants as they attempt to claw their way into our world.
As much as I have thoroughly enjoyed Animal Man for the past year, I will say that I am amped for this crossover event, and the fact that I am excited for a crossover is not something I usually say...ever. Sure there is a bring-everyone-up-to-speed moment, but it feels organic and does not come across as too expositiony, which makes this issue somewhat of a jumping on point, but why do that when you can catch up easily enough. Both Lemire and Snyder are credited as writers on this issue, but it flows as if it were a natural continuation of the Animal Man comic. I will admit to being a little confused as to whether or not Buddy Baker is now, like his daughter Maxine, considered an Avatar of the Red since his rebirth, as that has not been made clear, but this does not overly detract from the story. Steve Pugh (art) and Lovern Kinderzierski's (colors) work is more beutiful than ever and I love the look of Pugh's regal yet menacing Swamp Thing. This issue is part one of the prologue to "Rotworld" with part two found in this month's Swamp Thing. We are finally at the beginning of the much-anticipated "Rotworld" storyline and even after a year of setup on one of my three favorite New 52 titles I could not be happier and I'm more excited than ever. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Swamp Thing #12
Swamp Thing #12 - Written by Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Marco Rudy, published by DC comics. This is the second part of the "Rotworld" prologue begun in the excellent Animal Man #12, but does this followup continue the excitingly tense story or does it fall flat? The answer should be clear, since if it's on Donist World that means I definitely loved it and this highly anticipated crossover event running through my favorite New 52 title is exactly the intro to the Rotworld I was hoping for.
Alec and Buddy have just touched down at the entryway into the Rot, but before they can devise their next move, they are attacked by un-men. Abby, Ellen, Maxine and Socks guard both the portal to the Rot and Alec's lifeline root tether, but they too are assaulted by revolting monsters seeking to enter our world. As the two heroes make their way down a bone ladder, Arcane--in an incredibly creepy page--confronts Swamp Thing and the powerless Animal Man, severing Alec's tether to leave them trapped in the Rot with no connection to the real world, the Green or the Red. Finally, Arcane reveals that Animal Man and Swamp Thing have been gone for much longer than they thought and the world has moved on without them in the worst of ways.
Oh my goodness gracious, what a fantastic issue and what a painful wait for the story to continue as next month brings the "0" issues with the full return to Rotworld in October; with any luck the Swamp Thing Annual #1 will be in there as well. Whereas the Animal Man first part of the prologue essentially brought the reader up to speed with what happened as well as introduced the champions of the Green and Red to one another, this issue was all about the descent into the Rot, the hope and determination of the heroes both below and topside, and the crushing realization of failure. In short, I loved this issue. Snyder and Lemire create a believable quick camaraderie between Alec and Buddy and the stakes escalate the further they progress down the bone ladder until the horrifying image of Arcane climbing down head-first and shredding Alec's tether with his gruesome, orthodontist-nightmare teeth gives the reader a shocking jab to the gut. Marco Rudy's art is an improvement over some of the muddy imagery found in the last issue and despite having three different inkers on this book he was a fantastic fill-in for Yanick Paquette. Val Staples provided some beautiful colors that fit well with the theme of the book, and combined with Rudy they delivered a hell of a good looking issue. Aside from wondering what happened to Buddy's boots from the first part to the second, the prologue did it's job making this event one of my most anticipated comics for October. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Sweet Tooth #36
Sweet Tooth #36 - Everythinged by Jeff Lemire, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint. Criminy...only four more issues to go of one of Vertigo's best comics on the stand and I already know I'm going to be sad to see it go. But does this issue leave you with hope that the book will finish up satisfactorily? It did for me.
Gus is dreaming again. He dreams of the past and possibly of what is yet to come as he rides with his friends on a course for Alaska where everyone hopes to find answers as to what happened to the world. Meanwhile, Bobby runs for his life from Abbot's pack of dog boys and is forced to say where Gus, Jepperd and the rest have gone. Jepperd finds Singh, who is not in the best state of mind but in possession of a dire revelation, and Gus finds other animal children who are very much like him.
I'm pretty hopeful we can rule out a Lost-style ending that leaves far more questions than answers as Lemire reveals what caused the plague a century ago and how humanity inadvertently renewed the plague to bring about its own demise. Lemire's art, especially the dream sequence, continues to be beautiful and unique as he drives emotion in not just his characters, but in his readers; have a look at Bobby's forced betrayal scene (no one should mess with poor little Bobby). Although the first 34 issues flowed at a slower pace than the rapidly approaching end of this series, I expected the story to haphazardly attempt to wrap up all of the loose ends, but with this issue, I was able to give a sigh of relief; Lemire has everything under control. Even with four issues left, it's still not too late to catch up to this wonderfully tragic story. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Daredevil #16
Daredevil #16 - Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Chris Samnee, published by Marvel Comics. Is it any surprise that the latest issue of Daredevil is another great example of how a superhero comic book is done? In this issue we have guest stars Giant-Man, Tony Stark and Dr. Strange working together and trying to help restore Matt Murdoch to his senses--literally--but it's no easy feat to counter Doom's nanodroids. But even the help of the Avengers won't be enough to save Matt from the fallout of Foggy Nelson and the discovery of what he found in Matt's desk. Mark Waid consistently delivers fantastic issues of Daredevil each month--three times in one month back in April or May--and after this issue I would gladly buy an issue of Giant-Man if he were writing it as well. Samnee's art continues to be the perfect fit for Waid's HornHead and "The Man Without Fear" continues to be one of two or possibly three Marvel titles that I am following and with good reason. RECOMMENDED!

Indie Comics Magazine #6
Indie Comics Magazine #6 - Written by a bunch of folks--one of which is me--and illustrated by a bunch of folks as well, published by Aazurn Publishing. Indie Comics Magazine is a 64-page, black and white, comic-sized magazine consisting of eight stories of eight pages by eight different writers and artists. For this issue, I'm joined by four of my immensely talented Comics Experience friends (Rob Anderson, Frederick Kim, Glenn Moane, and Joe Sergi) and three other exceptional writers. My story is titled "Timber Tom" and is the second comic script (of many... more coming soon) that I have written and one that I am immensely proud of seeing come to life through the lovely art of the wonderfully gifted Juan Romera who provided the illustrations for my story. This is also my first published work (I have a self-published story called "Pools of Flame" in the Out of Our Minds: Tales from the Comics Experience anthology). I cannot begin to express how nice it is to have a box full of comics arrive containing something that I have written and lettered. I hope you give it a try. Of course I'm going to say VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Dang...I Should Have Put Hawkeye on My Pull List - Grrrrrr...this would have been my third Marvel title after Daredevil and Captain Marvel. Oh well, I have it on order and will hopefully have it in the next week or two. Matt Fraction back with David Aja?!? I was an idiot to not plan ahead.