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.


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