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. 


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