Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 9/28/2012

(Sung to the tune of OMD's "Dreaming")
So you want to find heaven child
C'mon now, what the hell?
Have you read Rachel Rising, Cuz?
Moore does the scary well
Another kickass comic? 
You got it with The Sixth Gun
Its a bag of spooky awesomeness
By Hurtt and Cullen Bunn
No you are not dreaming
There's great comics to catch your eye
Morrison's got a sweet one called Happy!
Donist would never lie
If I had some party hats, I'd be putting one on me and one on Obie, my friends' Boston terrier and Donist World CFO. You see, it's that special time of year when pumpkin flavored everything comes out for a "seasonal" two to three month span of taste sensation--don't get me started on the institutional evil known as the seasonal pumpkin surge and don't you worry your pretty little face, if the bills Obie drafted up pass through Congress pumpkin will be evergreen soon enough. Anyways, we have pumpkin soup, pumpkin waffle and pancake mix and the most holiest of holy, pumpkin beer (thank you Brutal Circle chum, Bill Yurkas for the tip to put cinnamon on the rim of a frosted pint glass...mind blowing!). Obie and I have brought in an '80s bomb shelter's worth of the orange boxed products and he's right now manning (dogging?) the forklift to load it into the Donist World storage unit and...DAMMIT! Obie! Who taught you to drive a forklift? Okay, I did, but I told you that lever is for reverse...REVERSE! <sigh> While I fill out the insurance paperwork, have a look at the comics that rocked our Donist World world.
Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***
Rachel Rising #11
Rachel Rising #11 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. " good is going to come of this..." is what you will say after taking a gander at the first page of the new Rachel Rising. Turn the page and you'll be 100% correct in your statement. Now that you are adequately freaked out, or at the very least put ill at ease, you're ready for the rest of the book as it answers (maybe) many of the questions building since the beginning of the series. This issue has plenty to sink your teeth into..."Chomp! Chomp! Chomp!" Sorry. I couldn't resist. Brrrrrrrr.
Okay, that image is disturbing. Anyways, Lilith tells Rachel a little of Mason's rich and vibrant history. 300 years ago, the men of Mason dragged single women and girls from their homes on charges of witchcraft and put them all to death in horrifying ways. Rachel is shocked, stunned actually, but she begins to notice discrepancies in Lilith's story, but regardless of what is true and what is exaggerated, the witch's plans for Mason are all too real. Meanwhile, the newly-resurrected and newly-possessed Jet stands over the comatose Zoe when a social worker comes calling. Talk about your bad timing. A police detective begins to connect the dots...literally, and Rachel finds herself in some VERY bad company.
Why are more people not reading this exceptional horror book? Yes, I understand there are no capes, no tights, no nearly-exposed boobs, no overabundance of booty shots, no gore for the sake of gore, but come on. You have one of the best comic creators ever writing/drawing/inking/lettering his own book, amazing characters you can't help but but care about, and a mysterious story that builds upon itself, drawing the reader deeper into Moore's world. Oh yeah, it's also quite scary and you can't put the darn thing down. What more do you need to know other than this comic is in my top five books on the shelf? I will say that there is only 18 pages of actual content, and the book is priced at $3.99, but the content that you receive with each issue more than makes up for the missing pages. Plus, Rachel Rising is available on Comixology where you can eventually buy each issue for $1.99 each. There's also the tpb containing issues 1-6 so you can get partially up to speed. No matter how you read your comics (unless it's illegally, in which case you can suck it) Rachel Rising is a thoughtful, slow-build horror comic that will leave you desperate for the next issue and slightly hesitant to turn the light off at night. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
The Sixth Gun #25
The Sixth Gun #25 - Written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Brian Hurtt, published by Oni Press. Speaking of comics that do not sell as well as they should, the tremendous The Sixth Gun is another one all fans of comics should at least check out (the first issue is free at Comixology and the first trade is also available there for $8.99). I will admit to having a bit of a history with this series. When I finally read the first tpb, I scrambled to find all of the individual issues so I could follow month-to-month. After that, for whatever reason, my LCS has gotten the shaft on this title nearly every three issues, with Diamond invoicing the store, billing them, and not shipping the books until two weeks later. Annoying as hell, especially when this is one of my most anticipated books. My LCS's owner even said this week, "Wow...I can't believe you actually got this book on time." What the hell is that? Doesn't matter, what counts is that I got my copy of The Sixth Gun and thank goodness as this issue was wonderful.
As a snow simulacrum of BillJohn stands sentry, Becky and Drake are stuck freezing in a rickety cabin in the middle of an errant snowstorm that cannot possibly be natural. Everything around them is dead, and the two have no idea of how long they have been stranded there. Days, weeks...possibly only hours have passed, but the topic Drake seeks to avoid, aside from frostbite, is what they found back below Penance. During Drake's rescue, the pair saw an image of a man who looked suspiciously like Drake reshaping the world with the aid of the Six. Far from the frozen death realm, Gord Cantrell finds Kirby Hale exactly where his new and terrifying partner Asher Cobb (I'm not going to tell you what he is) said he would be. The three all wish to find Becky Montcrief, but their interest in her might not be for the betterment of her health. The winter wolves make a renewed attack and Drake determines that he and Becky are being hunted by a wendigo.
Month(ish) in and month(ish) out, The Sixth Gun continues to be in my top five three books on the stand. What's not to love about a unique, supernatural Western, with compelling characters on a multi tiered quest. With this issue, Bunn leads the reader into a false sense of calm as he sets plans in motion to bring Drake, Beck, Gord, Kirby and Asher all together for one heck of a meeting. Although most of the comic involves characters talking and planning, Hurtt's sequentials reveal the emotion of the characters beautifully and when the action scenes come they are tense and driving. Bill Crabtree continues to display lovely coloring, especially in scenes depicting the frozen dead and the chilled wasteland. The Sixth Gun has not missed a beat and when the worst issue in this series's current 25 issue run can be considered "very good" there's no way to lose with this fantastic comic book. Buy it. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Happy #1
Happy #1 - Written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Darick Robertson, published by Image Comics. It looks like Grant Morrison's pulling the plug on the whole Big 2 superhero scene--although the plug has a very long cord and might take some time to actually pop completely out of the wall. This looks to be great news for fans of the writer's amazing non-capes and tights books We3 and Joe the Barbarian. Unfortunately fans of his stellar All-Star Superman and New X-Men comics are going to be bummed out. But then if you take a gander at the earlier entries for this post, you'll notice an absence of Marvel and DC books. Creator-owned comics rule this week and the good news is that Grant is not leaving comics at all, only the ones that limit his storytelling. Heck, you get Happy, and who's not going to be happy about that?
Nick Sax is a no good, filthy word I can't write. At least that's what the Fratelli Brothers who were hired to kill Nick say. I mean, the guy used to be a cop for god's sake, and now he's some sort of hit-man. He's also a drunk with a skin problem that--just know that he sucks, okay. Anyways, when the hit goes bad, things get worse when Nick takes a bullet. To go another shade of terrible, someone named Mister Blue believes Nick is in possession of password that unlocks a lot of money. Barely alive and soon to be tortured, the only one capable of pulling his ass out of the fire is a miniature, blue, flying, Pegasus, unicorn named Happy.
I know, right? I had no idea what I was in for when I bought this book. When it was announced, I was successful in avoiding all of the spoiler articles about this title and was pleasantly a disturbing way. First you have the surly ex-cop, bizarre sex stuff featuring a serial killer with a claw hammer, a stash of cash, really bad guys seeking the cash, and your typical run-of-the-mill Happy the Horse. What comic doesn't have those things now a days? None, and there you have the first issue of Morrison's Happy. Robertson lays out some gorgeously harsh imagery that leaves the reader feeling like they are living in the polluted city alongside Nick and the rest of the corruption. Colorist Richard P. Clark provides a dull, muted palette for almost all of the scenes, but then brings a sharp snap of color with his lights and glows and especially when making Happy burst from the pages. The entire book is grotesquely beautiful and one that I am on board with until the series end. Welcome to the world of creator-owned books Mr. Morrison, we're more than happy to have you. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Mercury Lounge Beer School: Monk Brews - Oh my goodness gracious. This was my third beer school this year, so I think I'm about ready to head into my doctorate. Anyhow, beer school was presented by the ever-knowledgeable Zach Rosen on the monk brews. Here's the lineup:
  1. Reutberger - Export Hell - This one is actually made by nuns, but it was a great warm up
  2. Paulaner - Salvator (doppelbock) - This is what the monks drank during times of fasting. It is a meal in a bottle and mighty tasty.
  3. Westmalle - Trappist Ale Tripel - Strong taste, seemed carbonated. Amy's favorite.
  4. Chimay - Chimay Red Ales (dubbel bock) - served with honey sesame sticks and wasabi peas.
  5. Orval - Orval Trappist Ale - My favorite of the night. Served with liverwurst with French baguette and honey-sage walnuts.
  6. Rochefort - Trappistes Rochefort 8 (dubbel bock) - This brewery opened in 1595.
  7. Rochefort - Trappistes Rochefort 10 (quadrupel bock) - Served with Chimay grand cru cheese.
  8. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. - Ovila Abbey Dubbel - Another great one. Served with drunken goat cheese from Spain.
  9. St. Bernardus - St. Bernardus Abt 12 (quadrupel bock) - Fantastic taste and served with amazing figs, fennel & almonds in dark chocolate.
We were also treated to $2.00 off a pint of our choice--I went with the Orval--although I should have probably passed. Overall a heck of a fun evening.
Slice Into the Woods
Well, It's Been Exactly a Year Ago Today... - ...that I went in for a hernia surgery and really drove home what was the worst year of my life. I wrote all of the gory details in late October of 2011 at the post here, if you are brave enough to read about my misfortune. Basically, 2011 was food poisonings, illnesses, a shoulder injury that recurred four times, and then September and October. Brrrrrrrr...I get chills just thinking about that shit. I'll write a follow-up possibly on the anniversary of the post, I hope you're not squeamish, if so, skip it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 9/21/2012

(Sung to the tune of Bauhaus's "Bela Lugosi's Dead")

Films or beer, burritos, new shoes
Towels for the rack

Go buy comics instead
The new Sword of Sorcery calls
That shampoo just plain sucks
Hot action awaits your pull box

Go buy comics instead
Go buy comics instead
Instead instead instead
Instead instead instead

The Batwoman book rules I presume
Daredevil and Sweet Tooth
All wait within your room
Oh no! I almost forgot
The rent

Go buy comics instead

Obie! C'mon. For the love of...a watched pot never boils, you dope. Hi there friends. I'm here with Obie who is my friends' Boston terrier and Donist World CFO, and we are having a bit of a problem. Ever since May, Obie has been upset that our local movie theater would not allow a dog into the any screenings of The Avengers. Even though Obie had money clenched in his tiny little jaws--money he stole from the petty cash drawer and has never paid back I might add--the ticket taker would not let him in the theater. I, however, went of the perks of having opposable thumbs and being a human. Now with The Avengers coming out on Blu-Ray next Tuesday, Obie will not move from his spot in front of the television except to eat and take care of certain necessities. Still...he's got a bit of a wait and even when I do buy it, he'll have to take off the cardboard cover, remove the shrink-wrap, turn on the TV and the PS3 (these he can do as well as run Quickbooks, go figure) and load it up; damn those opposable thumbs. Anyways, since the wait for the release is going to be a long one, feast your peepers on...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Sweet Tooth #37
Sweet Tooth #37 - Everythinged by Jeff Lemire, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint. "Hey Donist, bro, you're like two weeks behind the times, or is this another one of those time travel things?" Thanks for the question, Mom. You see part of the problem of having a monopoly single comic book distribution system like Diamond is that they make mistakes (The Sixth Gun twice, Sweet Tooth twice, The Shade, and a couple others this year alone) and stores have no alternate sources to keep the company competitive or make them care. For instance this book was invoiced to my LCS, but they did not receive their order until two weeks after release. Awesome. As for the time travel, if I could, I would have bought this amazing series issue by issue instead of starting with the first few trades and frantically trying to scoop up all of the individual issues afterwards. Sweet Tooth, with but three issues yet to go, remains one of the best books on the stand and one of the most gut-wrenching, emotional comics you will ever read.
Gus, Jepperd and the gang have found not only Singh, who is now totally off his rocker, but also a strange cadre of animal children who, like Gus, were never actually born. Speaking of strange animal children, these don't talk...not a peep, and they've taken to Becky as if she were their mother hen. Abbot sends a harsh message that really gets under Jimmy's skin, but at the same time reunites an old friend with the group. This is the last stand and as Jepperd and Jimmy prepare for the coming fight, they say their goodbyes--the kind that suggest they have no hope of surviving--and Gus and his friends retreat to Fort Smith.
Dear Abbot, to quote Ron Swanson, "I want to punch you in the face so bad right now." I do. I really do. That's the magic of this book and Lemire's beautiful handling of these characters. As I have probably said with each of my reviews it's impossible not to care for every character in this book. Whether it's Gus, Jepperd, Lucy or the deplorable Abbot their actions evoke a real reaction in the reader. Just wait until you get to the final page of this issue. Read it, you'll see what I about going straight for the heart. And then there's Bobby. You DO NOT mess with Bobby, and that's exactly what Abbot does and the unfairness of this animal kid's treatment, and the unfairness of the world Lemire has created has kept me turning pages in anticipation and fear of what's to come next. You can't put this comic down. As the book comes closer to ending and the tension keeps ratcheting up, the final three issues look to be one hell of an emotional ride. It's never too late to pick up the trades and experience this fantastic comic book. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batwoman #0
Batwoman #0 - Written by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, illustrated by J.H. Williams III, published by DC Comics. In general I have enjoyed the DC "0" issues, but none of them have really been what I would call origin issues. Sure they have dealt with aspects of character's origins, but they have either been "to be continued" stories, or abbreviated introductions focusing on other elements of a storyline as opposed to the main character. That was until I read Batwoman #0. With the "To Drown the World" storyline, I was not a fan of the decision to jump around the timeline as much as it did, but this "0" issue gave me exactly what I wanted: a return to the flow and tone of the book and a wonderful look at Kate Kane's history that I have been unsure of since I fell in love with "Elegy" years ago.
Every night that Kate Kane leaves under the guise of Batwoman, she records a message for her father, the only person who has always been there for her, and leaves a message telling him the she loves him. It's a grim idea, but when your work leads you to the situations that Kate often finds herself in, taking a moment's insurance is a good idea. She's done this every night since becoming Batwoman, up until the night Beth, the twin sister she thought had died as a child, fell from the airplane. Kate reflects on her relationship with her father from when she and Beth were young, to Beth's death, to Kate's lost days spent in a bottle, to her training to become Batwoman while always considering the roll her father has played every step of the way.
Batwoman #0 is exactly the type of origin issue I have been hoping for with DC's monthlong experiment. In fact, where I questioned DC's decision to break the flow of all of their storylines, this issue succeeded in renewing my interest in a title I was inches away from dropping. Williams III and Blackman go for the emotional jugular with this issue. While not coming off as cheesy or forced, and instead staying true to the character they provide the backstory of how Kate Kane became not just Batwoman, but the person she is today. Sure there are plenty of questions new readers might have--those details can be found in the "Elegy" trade--but the purpose of this issue is to give a quick glimpse at the history of what led Kate to become Batwoman. There are no side stories, no extra characters relating their thoughts, only Kate Kane recording a message of apology to her father. The story is both touching and fulfilling to readers who have been following for a while and should bring new readers up to speed with an interest in checking out Batwoman's back catalog. Oh yeah, J.H. Williams III's art is beautiful, but do I really need to say that? VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Daredevil #18
Daredevil #18 - Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Chris Samnee, published by Marvel Comics. The past two decades were rough for ol' hornhead. Daredevil's been to hell and back so many times he's got frequent flier (hell-goer?) miles up the ying yang, you know, unlimited upgrades to first class, free drinks, the whole shebang. Don't get me wrong, some tremendous comics work has been done by Miller, Bendis and Brubaker, but on a whole reading Daredevil has been a pretty grim affair. Enter the Waid. Mark Waid brought back a sense of fun and excitement to the character, but that does not mean that he had to cast aside past experiences and with this issue the past comes back to haunt Matt Murdoch.
Foggy Nelson sure doesn't waste any time running the business without Matt Murdoch, his now ex-business partner. No sooner is Matt out the door when a new client arrives with a case that unfortunately requires the help of Murdoch's other persona, Daredevil. Foggy's client is the brother of a personal nurse who found her patient, a drug lord, sucked dry of every ounce of his blood. Now the innocent woman is being charged as an accessory to murder. Unfortunately, Matt has problems of his own when he finds his blind ex-wife waiting in his bed and acting as if she was never committed to a mental hospital. The former law partners swap problems and as Daredevil "witnesses" the impossible, Foggy's worst fears about Matt are confirmed...again.
Just when I became comfortable with the tone of this comic, Waid changes it up and brings back a loose end from Matt's darkest times. The amazing thing is that Waid does this in a shocking way without falling back into the despair that used to be a staple of Daredevil for so many years. Samnee's art (aided by lovely colors from Javier Rodriguez) express the seriousness of the issue one moment and then burst into an action sequence all while avoiding the dreary look of the past. I have no idea what's going on with Matt Murdoch or what's going to happen next and you betcha I'll be here next month to find out. Daredevil is exactly the type of comic book to please old and new fans of superhero comics. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Sword of Sorcery #0
Sword of Sorcery #0 - Written by Christy Marx and illustrated by Aaron Lopresti, published by DC Comics. All right, we all know that if it's on Donist World then I liked it, but I've gotta nitpick here. The deal with the "0" issue origin stories is that they are supposed to take a break from the regularly scheduled programming to jump back to see what led up to the events of the first issue. Ummm...there is no first issue for SoS yet, so why not call this one issue number one? I don't know, it just struck me as odd, but whatever, I really enjoyed this issue that focused on Amethyst, whose maxi-series I enjoyed back in the '80s.
Amy Winston's at a new school...again, but a new school means same old problems as all of the other ones. Luckily Amy's mother, Gracie, has taught her some skills like studying hard, being respectful and fighting with a sword and shield, which comes in handy in dealing with some dumb jocks. Amy and her mother are in hiding on Earth and away from Amy's Aunt Mordiel who rules with cruelty and, up until now, without opposition. Looks like all those fighting lessons are going to payoff now that mother and daughter can return to Nilaa their home. Finally...a crossover? Already? For the love of Pete...
<sigh> At least the crossover was on the final page and only three panels, but couldn't this have waited until issue three? Dang, this is a "0" issue and the series hasn't even started yet. Deep breaths Donist, you're supposed to be positive, remember. Marx begins the series with a great introduction to Amy (Amethyst) that let's you know everything you need to know about the girl, her relationship with her mother, how she handles adversity and her willingness to step up to any challenge. Marx also offers a glimpse into the world of Nilaa and the possibilities of magic leaving me wanting more.  Lopresti's art is gorgeous with an attention to detail and expressions that had me flipping back through the comic immediately after reading. Add to that Hi-Fi's (that's a name?) spectacular colors and you have some stunning pages worthy of framing. Aside from the aforementioned crossover this was a great book with a lot of promise and (hopefully) a break from the superhero stable of characters. There is also a backup story titled "Beowolf" (written by Tony Bedard and illustrated by Javier Saiz) that is an interesting post apocalyptic retelling of the old tale. I enjoyed it thus far, but at only ten pages it will take a few issues to get into the story. Overall...HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Wonder Woman #0
Wonder Woman #0 - Written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Cliff Chiang, published by DC Comics. DC comics and their "0" origin issues. I tell you. This one is not so much an origin issue as a glimpse in to the year that "Clay" is mentored by War, who, unknown to Diana, is her uncle. With her final trial, Diana must decide whether to do what her uncle expects, or to make her own path, one of mercy.
Although this issue is not what I would classify as an "origin" it was a fun read and left me wondering what happened to War from this moment until now (Atkins diet?). Instead of keeping to the style and tone of the main book, Azzarello and Chiang embrace a more classic or silver age style of storytelling  and art complete with word balloons and some cheesy moments of dialogue that completely fits with time period they were going for.
Although I would like to have seen more of Wonder Woman's past as a child to becoming an adolescent to her years as a teen, there's no way it could all be crammed into one issue and would require five to six installments at the very least. Despite not being an origin issue, Wonder Woman was thoroughly enjoyable and one that fans of this fantastic series should read. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Quick Followup About the Teacher Strikes - I read some repugnant comments from the delusionally misinformed and ignorant denizens of the Fox New crowd this past week. The one that struck me as probably the stupidest cry of all was from people stating to just fire all the teachers and hire new ones. Uh huh. Like it's that easy. Teachers have to not just graduate from college, they have to also become credentialed, many have masters degrees, and they have to be tested and recertified on a regular basis. Then there's the matter of handling kids. Not one, but over thirty of them at the same time. Sure thing, piece of cake. Anyone can do it (for those who don't understand sarcasm, this is sarcasm). If those saying to "fire them all" think teaching is such an easy task, I would LOVE to see them handle one day of five classes and then report back how successful they were. Those students would eat them alive as an appetizer. If it's so easy, guys, please, please, please step up and show us what you got.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 9/14/2012

(Sung to the tune of The Romantics "What I Like About You")

What I like about Chew
It's got loads of bite
Poyo will kill everyone
Colby gonna set it right, yeah

Red Hood whispering in my ear
This dude's Joker? Ouch, it's time to fear
And that's true
Batman's origin's new

I told you I liked Chew?
Well Prophet will make you dance
John eats man meat, oh no, my gosh
Time for some glob romance, yeah

Oh man, it's hot. Obie, my friends' Boston terrier and Donist World CFO, has convinced me to expand my mind and to work through some of the sticking points of my writing by laying on his pillow by the window (I should really wash this thing) and lying in the sun. The brutal, harsh sun, without the wind's cooling breath to blow across my sweating frame and Obie's mad, panting 22-pound form. I try to figure out if I should omit a pair of secondary characters from my novel who don't exactly move the story forward, but all I can focus on is getting a drink of water. Obie gets up to lie on the linoleum and cool off, but tells me to stay in the sun a while longer as thoughts of water morph to floating above the Earth, to traveling to strange distant worlds, and finally to journey to the microcosm, a pocket universe of... Hey! Obie, what are you doing with that money from the petty cash drawer? I'm off to get a drink of water and to let my head stop spinning so I can get my money back from the dog. In the meantime, spec your peepers on...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Chew #28
Chew #28 - Written by John Layman and illustrated by Rob Guillory, published by Image Comics. Last month(ish) saw a break in the regular story with a "Special" or "One-Shot" or whatever-you-wanna-call-it with the Secret Agent Poyo issue that was totally bonkers and amazing (*Read FSoH/SitW 7/13/2012 here faithful readers for all the details and satisfy your soul!) and if you are a Chew fan was not to be missed. Month(ish) in and month(ish) out Chew is unlike anything else on the stands and consistently shocks, awes and blows the minds of everyone (Obie and I) at the Donist World corporate offices. Should you be reading Chew? Unless you hate America, yes, you should be reading Chew.
Food as fashion. Yes, it happens and it happens HARD during Milan Fashion Week, but when a porterhouse pantsuit explodes, annihilating the surly model and leaving the audience looking like the aftermath of a Gallagher show (look it up kids), its time to bring in the best the various government agencies can muster. Too bad the only cibopath on hand is still recovering from being nearly beaten to death, but that's not going to stop Agent Colby, Agent Poyo (hell yeah) or Agent Caeser, from trying to get Tony Chu to help out despite his being nearly comatose; nothing a little happy juice can't fix. Aside from one of their crew trippin' balls, the group searches to find the abducted Professor Angus Hinterwald who recently developed a method of causing cattle meat to explode at the first sign of decomposition, which led the professor to being abducted. The heroes are eventually led to an E.G.G. hideout and although hopelessly outnumbered, they have something the food terrorists do not...they got themselves a Poyo. Finally, poor cows.
Criminy, I love this comic. Layman continues to create the most outlandish situations and characters while at no time retreading old ground or leaving the story feeling forced. Although Tony Chu, the main character of the story, has taken a backseat to the impressive cast of secondary characters, the story remains strong as ever and the world becomes richer and more fascinating with each issue. Sure there are still plenty of unanswered storylines such as the chicken-tasting space fruits, the vampire guy, the mysterious letters in the sky, the chogs, and the bird flu that started it all, but those answers will come when the time is right; I have complete faith in the creators. Guillory continues to shine with his showcasing of the bizarre and the grotesque with the second panel of the first page causing me to laugh out loud (or LOL as the kids supposedly call it) at the sight of the pissed-off cake model. Then you have page two and all the rest of it...the look on Caesar's face when Poyo goes on the attack is a crack up. Guillory is also a brilliant colorist knowing just how to lock the reader's eye to a scene and when to push the emotion of a particular panel. Everything combined, makes Chew a damn-fine funny book. If you aren't familiar with the most unique comic on the stand, something is wrong with you and you should have yourself looked at. I pity the fool that don't read Chew. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Prophet Vol. 1:
Remission TPB
Prophet Vol. 1: Remission TPB - Written by Brandon Graham. Illustrated by Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple, Brandon Graham and Giannis Milogiannis, published by Image Comics. Okay, I'm going to admit that I don't necessarily know exactly what the hell is going on with this trade paperback comprised of six-issues, but at the price point of $9.99--you read that right, $9.99--and after all of the buzz about this comic there was no way I was going to pass this up. Despite the oftentimes high-level science fiction floating above my comprehension, Prophet is a fantastic read with completely mental situations, aliens and bizarre science fictiony (technically speaking) moments that leave you guessing as to what comes next.
John Prophet rises from the ground centuries after the complete takeover of the planet by a variety of alien lifeforms who have since made Earth their own. John must survive the harsh plains with its strange, new animals that seek to devour him. But surviving is what John does best as he struggles to reach his contact, also recently awakened, who will provide the information John needs for an unexpected (ewww!) price. John Prophet is the Earth's only hope if humanity is to return and retake its conquered home.
The above summarizes issue one and with five more issues in this fantastic tpb it becomes more interesting and weird, only in the best of ways. I will say that issues four through six go into some unexpected directions and one thing Graham does exceptionally well, aside from telling a compelling story, is keep the reader guessing as to what comes next and turning the pages to new shocks and surprises. The art, provided by four artists including Graham, is not your typical comic book fare and seems more likely to be found in the pages of the late '70s, early '80s issues of Heavy Metal magazine, which is a definite plus and another reason to love this book. If you never read the original Prophet from back in the comicpocalypse of the '90s, no fear Donist World readers, neither did I; you don't need to in order to fully enjoy this mad science fiction comic. At $9.99 you'd be insane not to check this out. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batman #0
Batman #0 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo, published by DC Comics. Just to set something stupid straight that I read a few weeks ago, I do not buy Batman because it's Batman. I buy Batman because of the the talented creators making the book so amazing month in and month out. I am sold on the exceptional job that Snyder and Capullo are doing on this title and if not for these creators, I would be gone in an instant as would be thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of other readers. Hell, it's because of these two that I'm actually buying a "0" issue to begin with, but was this "origin" story worth picking up? It wouldn't be on this page if it wasn't.
Every hero has a learning period, a time when they have to discover--sometimes the hard way--how best to proceed in a given situation. Before Batman emerges to torment the underworld of Gotham, Bruce Wayne had to learn how to become a hero, which was the case six years ago. After a miscalculation in his infiltration of the Red Hood gang causes the death of some bank patrons, Bruce Wayne barely manages to escape with his skin intact. Bruce's recent actions also draw the attention of Lieutenant Jim Gordon who questions the decision of the billionaire to setup shop 40 feet away from the very spot his parents were murdered in a horrible part of town. Not to mention a vigilante has started beating up various criminal elements in that very same neighborhood. If Gordon's watching Bruce Wayne, who else might have taken an interest?
Snyder provides a clever, brief and to-be-continued-in-2013 (???) introduction to the character who most likely will become the Joker in issue# 13. Although this is only a partial story with a long wait for the remainder to be told, it is of course well-written and expertly crafted with subtle hints into story points from past continuities. Greg Capullo lays out some beautiful pages as he always does, especially the second-page splash. The crazy thing about this issue is that I actually enjoyed the backup story--written by James Tynion IV and illustrated by Andy Clarke--the most with it's revised look at the calling of the bat family; very cool. This issue was a good read, although it was odd as it is more of an introduction into Bruce Wayne and (possibly) the Joker, but the payoff for the rest of the story is going to take a backseat for at least five or six months. Regardless, if you have been enjoying Snyder and Capullo's Batman (it really is the creators who make this book, RL), then this "0" issue is not one to miss. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

The Teacher's Strike In Chicago - You're probably wondering what this has to do with comics, books, games or movies. Everything actually. Today's children are going to be responsible for tomorrow's amazing creations. "That's right, Donist, those damn teachers need to get back in the classroom and start fostering those young minds!" I agree, but you can't foster young minds if all they do is learn about taking standardized tests, practice taking those standardized tests, and spend tons of time on the actual standardized tests themselves. Not only that, how is a teacher (who does not start out making $70K per year--that's bullshit--can have closing on 40 or more students in a class allowing just over a minute of individualized attention per student in a 50 minute class) supposed to instruct, again only on the standardized tests script, to impoverished, hungry, possibly abused children with less than optimal living conditions? "Well it's the damn unions tearing our country apart and hurting our kids." Maybe to some degree. Tenure is a slippery slope and I am sure a small percentage of "bad" teachers do have that protection as do the teachers who are feeling burnt out over years of disrespect from children, the children's parents, administrators and now politicians and their corporate backers who wish to privatize education so they can make a buck or two. Unfortunately, without tenure good and great teachers, who are actually effective from their years of experience, would be the first ones to go. The $36K per year fresh-out-of-college teachers who will probably only make it through a few years before quitting will be the ones to replace those teachers who otherwise would be the ones mentoring the newbies. Without union protection, whether good or bad, the most expensive teachers would be let go know, those few who actually do make above $70K. "But they have three months off at summer, a week at Thanksgiving, two weeks at Christmas, a week at spring and a ton of holidays off as well. Talk about your fat cats." Yeah, but if you're an English teacher with 150+ students (that's five classes of 30 students each...good luck finding an English class that small btw) you are talking essays and written sheets of paper. After a full workday can you grade 150 single-page tests (the shortest thing an English teacher will grade) and if so, how long will that take you? How about a three page essay? Multiply that by 150+ students. Doing the oversimplified math of a minute a page and that equates to a ton of time, oftentimes spent during those "cushy" vacations and always on evenings and weekends throughout the school year. "But that summer vacation..." Nope. Summer vacation can be around two and half months, most of which will be spent sitting in not-mandatory-but-you-are-expected-to-go standardized testing meetings, meetings with business-types who have never taught a class in their life and are trying to sell you on a "program" to aid test scores, and then there is the planning for the coming year. Honestly, teachers end up with about a month to dial back their impending nervous breakdown or heart attack and wonder what happened to the days when education was actually valued in this country and teachers were respected and allowed to actually teach something to kids. Judging a teacher's worth based off a test mostly developed by a corporation with little input from actual teachers and administering that test to kids more worried about whether or not they will eat tonight, or if they are going to be beaten up by their peers, or beaten up when they get home, or just not giving crap by the dreadfully dry test in the first place is not fair. The teachers have every right to be upset by the unjust work environment being thrown at them.

Sorry for the rant.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 9/7/2012

(Sung to the tune of Midnight Star's "Freak-A-Zoid")

Fugitoid, Hawkeye
Please pick up at your comic store

Have you read Fugitoid
It really winds me up
You must read Fugitoid
Yes it'll wind you up

Hawkeye's my bow, baby, Kate's my arrow
You gotta check it you see
'Cuz Swamp Thing's rockin' and Animal Man's cool
Sate that Donist World need

C'mon, Obie, get more fuel on that fire! Get them flames up, by golly! We need power, more power! I...crud, here let me do it. Oh, hi everybody. Happy Friday. I'm here with Donist World CFO, Obie, who's also my friends' Boston terrier.  We have been hella busy for I don't even know how long, and running on fumes. So we need more power not just to keep ourselves running like the slick, shiny, pristine machines we are, but we also need to keep the electricity going so we can get all the power we need to our computers, iTablets and doohickey gadget thingies that provide us the means to tell my mom all about the coolest comics around...oh, and you might find something of interest too. So as Obie drops more coal in the fire--man, his tongue is turning black...sick!--let me tell you about some shreddin' books that came out this week. Boy-howdie, it's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Hawkeye #1

Hawkeye #1 and #2 - Written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by David Aja, published by Marvel Comics. I can't begin to tell you how bummed I was to not get a copy of the first printing of Hawkeye #1. I was a huge Immortal Iron Fist fan and rank Fraction, Brubaker and Aja's run as one of my stranded-on-a-desert-island books, it's that good (read a very old Donist World about it here...). So, what better news than finding out that 66.67% of the writers and artist involved in making Danny Rand awesome again are reunited to tell the story of Hawkeye and are now responsible for bringing the total number of Marvel books that I read up to three. My main concern was whether Fraction and Aja could make me care as much about Clint Barton as they did with Danny Rand. After reading two pages of the first issue, I knew there's nothing to worry about.
Clint Barton is an Avengers known as Hawkeye and is one of the world's best marksmen, which is great, but unfortunately being able to shoot a target with a tremendous degree of accuracy doesn't provide him the same protections as say his more armored, magically endowed and super-powered team members. He tends to get injured...often. This is mostly a result of non-Avenger time spent righting the wrongs that tend to get overlooked when cosmically powered madmen come to conquer the world. Take, for example, the problem of the residents in his apartment complex being evicted by some tracksuit draculas. Outnumbered and outgunned, Clint just doesn't give a damn and he aims to set things right. Hey! Did that guy just kick a dog?!
Hawkeye #2
Issue two has young Kate Bishop, a member of the Young Avengers and expert bowman, teaming up with Clint to attend a fancy shindig and performance that finds in attendance practically every scumbag from the Owl to Tombstone to the Kingpin himself. The problem is that the evening's performers are not on the up and up themselves, with a fellow student of Clint's teacher, the man who taught him everything he knows, on the scene and ready to cause trouble. Can Clint and Kate find out what the villains have in store for the other villains and will the two heroes be able to escape the Cirque du Nuit with their skins in tact? Will Pizza Dog (Lucky) have to come to their rescue? Read and see, Bro.
What a fantastic ride! Even though I had to wait to buy this book, the wait was worth it just to read these issues back to back. Fraction immediately pulls the reader into Hawkeye's character, leaving you feeling as if you've known the purple archer for years and that he's someone you'd actually want to hang out with. Barton is both relatable and admirable as he spends his time helping those with the smaller scale problems, the kind of unjust toils that only a hero willing to take a few lumps can set right. Fraction knows his hero and puts his heart and soul in his development and it shows. Then there's the art. David Aja blew me away on The Immortal Iron Fist with his unique style and he continues to layout gorgeous sequentials with an incredible eye for design; 24-panel page anyone? Then there's the Matt Hollingsworth's colors, which are essentially flats that succeed in making Aja's art really stand out. Not only that, if you use Spotify, visit Aja's blog to listen to a soundtrack that he put together for the first issue; Dizzie Gillespie's "Fire Dance" fits the tone of the book perfectly. All of this together make one hell of an amazing package. I always thought Hawkeye was kind of cool, but after reading these issues, he is up there with that Iron Fist character this team elevated to greatness a few years ago. I can't wait to see what comes next. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

TMNT Micro Series #8
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro Series #8: Fugitoid - Written by Paul Allor and illustrated by Paul McCaffrey, published by IDW. I honestly haven't thought about TMNT for years, decades actually. As a kid I scrambled to get ahold of the magazine-sized original issues and loved the grittiness of the series, both story and art. Then came the movies (*sigh*"...go ninja, go ninja, go" seriously?) and the cartoon show which I enjoyed despite the sharp change in tone. Now, here I am buying a TMNT comic book as an adult and loving every minute of the return to the more serious side--if such a thing can be said--of the characters that I loved growing up.
Professor Honeycutt, an alien from a distant world is working on technology that allows him to project his mind into the body of a robot, allowing him to conduct tests in the most extreme environments. One such test involves developing an alloy for General Krang, a pink invertebrate alien housed in a humanoid exoskeleton, who Honeycutt eventually learns has less than admirable intentions for the alloy. The Professor decides that science in the name of evil is not a life that he wishes to live and he and his family flee to join a resistance movement, but their freedom is short lived. After a terrible attack by Krang, Honeycutt finds himself trapped in the body of his robot and he is transported to the planet Earth where he is on the run from Krang and his forces. If the Fugitoid hopes to take down the evil general, he's going to need help.
This is the exact return to the TMNT world that I used to know and love. No cowabungas. No pizzas. No eye-sore turtle vans. I bought this issue not because of the character or the turtles, but because of the creator, Comics Experience alum, Paul Allor, who is also a contributor of the Brutal Circle and a friend; it's also a damn good comic book. Allor does an excellent job developing Professor Honeycutt as a conflicted character whose forced decision ultimately makes his life worse. A story of good and evil, living with the loss of one's family, and doing what's right provides everything that makes a compelling story and keeps the reader anxiously turning to the next page. McCaffrey provides beautiful sequentials and is especially adept at capturing a character's emotions with each panel; you feel the doubt, stress and fear. Colorist John-Paul Bove's striking colors only heighten McCaffrey's already lovely art, especially with respect to glows and lighting. Reading this single issue after so long a break from everything Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I'm left wanting not only to pick up IDW's recent reprints of the books I used to love, but also wanting to catch up with what's happening now. For more of Paul's amazing work, be sure to check out his Clockwork page and definitely give this book a read. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Swamp Thing #0
Swamp Thing #0 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Kano, published by DC Comics. I'm not all that keen on a place holder comic appearing to interrupt the anxiously awaited "Rot World" crossover with Animal Man. It kind of rings like the annual or a "special issue" that has nothing to do with the series as a whole, but instead of bringing in a fill-in writer or a pulled-from-the-vault story, we get an origin tale (of sorts) that both satisfies and torments the reader as they wait for the main show to begin.
The Green has had many avatars throughout history, but there is a reason why there have been so many. Swamp Things have been created and dispatched by the Rot's champion, Anton Arcane, for some time and the putrid monstrosity loves nothing more than laying siege to the Green and the Red in new and perverse ways. As one Swamp Thing is murdered, we jump forward to Alec and Linda Holland for a new, revised origin tale that is both sinister and enigmatic as Alec is somehow resurrected by the Parliament of Trees despite Arcane's attempt to stop the creation of what will be the Green's greatest warrior. On to "Rot World."
 I didn't know what to expect from my first "0" issue from the New 52 besides an origin story of sorts, which is what we got. However, this is not only a brief origin of Alec Holland, but also a glimpse into Anton Arcane's war on both the Red and the Green. Snyder's first few pages are a fantastic misdirection as to what this story will actually be and I was left wanting to see more of Arcane stomping through the Green as well as wanting more insight into Snyder's version of this evil creature's story. Kano, fill-in artist for Yannick Paguette, delivers some horrifying imagery and some great moments of Arcane's cruelty, while maintaining the look and style of my favorite New 52 release. This book ultimately reveals more questions than it provides answers, but with Snyder helming the series I trust those answers will eventually come. With this being the first "0" issue I have read, I'm hopeful for the others being released this month before we jump into year two. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Animal Man #0
Animal Man #0 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Steve Pugh, published by DC Comics. My second "0" New 52 issue was a good read and provides further evidence that Anton Arcane, the Avatar of the Rot is a total dick. In this issue we learn of how Arcane has murdered an Animal Man from five years ago and although the Red already has a replacement, Maxine Baker, she first needs to be born. The Red's HR department determines there's an immediate need to bring in an outside contractor to hold the fort until the true Avatar is ready. Thus the Totems of the Red devise a crazy plan to to turn Buddy Baker into the next Animal Man, but will he be able to deal with Arcane when the monster finally makes his move? Another great issue of Animal Man that fills a couple of holes in Buddy's backstory and that leads well into the much-anticipated "Rot World." RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Wait, Where's My Sweet Tooth? - Dang it. My LCS told me that they did not get Sweet Tooth this week despite being invoiced by Diamond for the books. Now it looks like I will get my copy a week to two weeks later. Booooo Diamond, this seems to happen all too often.

Dirtbag Cyberstalkers - Before I ever read any of the comic news websites and before I even understood what a Twitter was, I never really knew that there was such a thing as cyberstalkers for comic book creators and journalists. Of course I knew about cyberstalking and cyberbullying from the news, but those were generally students tormenting each other or psychotic ex-spouses being...well...psychotic. Until the last year or two, I was unaware that there were lowest-common-demnominator "humans" who were threatening the women who share in the love of comics whether they were rabid fans or were actually involved in the industry of making the very art form that has been a huge part of my life since I was a child. This weekend I was appalled to learn through Mark Millar's Twitter that some a-hole had been threatening and actively intimidating women (creators, bloggers, fans) for quite some time in a pattern of escalating menace to not just the women but also to their family members and friends. Millar, incensed by what he was discovering, launched a campaign meant to expose, humiliate and hopefully deliver actual penalties (jail time and/or fines) to the deranged jerk causing the problems. Whether you like his work or not--I love his original Ultimates run--it was refreshing to see Millar and the community rally against a possibly violent individual whose only goal was to scare and intimidate others because they love comic books and had opinions about them. Millar requested legal advice, pushed the matter and according to a posting had police visit the 50+ year-old man living in San Diego, and Millar also also offered to cover the legal expenses to prosecute the guy. This is fantastic and hopefully shows that free speech only goes so far when you're threatening to rape someone online. As great as it was to see this misogynist taken down, it is sad that it took someone with money to actually get law enforcement to take the matter seriously.