Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 12/28/2012

(Sung to the tune of The Sound of Music's "These Are a Few Of My Favorite Things")

Sexy-time robots and Rot creeps that sicken
Cool purple archers and plots that do thicken
Six guns that dangle the world's fate on thin strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Toys that get brutal and deer boy animals
Dark caped crusaders and FDA cannibals
Men with ram horns who love chicks with sweet wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Plant based avengers and Red Kingdom action
Horn headed blind guys and once dead who've risen
Haunted house keys that unlock nightmares and dreams
These are a few of my favorite things

Diamond misships
Then my beer spills
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

Howdy Donist World readers. I'm pretty sure no one else has done this before--heck, I might even be the first--but I've gone ahead and put together a list of some heavenly stuff for the 2012 year. Obie (my friends' Boston terrier and Donist World CFO) is sacked out on the couch from too much food and drink. I think he hit the eggnog pretty hard, which he denies, but since I really don't like that gross crap and there's an empty carton in the recycle bin...well, you do the math. Tulip (Obie's sister and Donist World Marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/christmas cookie judge) is sitting on her pillow and watching the leaves blow while we listen to some Vince Guaraldi. It's calm. It's nice. But we've got a lot to talk about. So here we go...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Probably NOT Spoilers Below***

Fare thee well, 2012. It's kinda hard to believe 2012 is just about done and over. Stick a dang fork in it. The crazy thing is that I feel as if I'm stuck in a weird time vortex. By no means does it feel as if Christmas just happened. Isn't Halloween next week? Don't we still have a month until Thanksgiving? Dang, I need to start coming up with Christmas travel plans and gift ideas and...never mind. Amy just reminded me that Christmas was indeed this past Tuesday and that I did indeed get her Adventure Time underwear (What time is it folks?! It's ADVEN--<owww> I've been informed to get on with it) and she gave me a beer making kit, which I am anxious to try out, but...time really does go by fast.

Regardless, we're here to talk about comics and a few other things that make Donist, Tulip and Obie all smile. Or cry. Or be filled with fury...if done properly. The things that bring our psychotically busy little lives and our myriad of problems to a halt for a moment, where we can become lost in superheroics, or lost in a house with a host of sinister magical keys, or to fight alongside your toys against that which lurks in the dark, or travel through space while eluding sexy-time robots in your living tree rocket and staying away from "Fard." Hell, we might just find ourselves riding across the wild west in the company of a mummy in search of six doomsday guns, or taking a terrifying glimpse into the Green, the Red, or the Rot.

These books, these "funny" books, can also dance the edges of reality to a point where we sympathize with characters experiencing losses all too relatable. How about Gus and Jepperd, or Earl and Jet? A loved character can be more hopelessly lost than we ever hope to be, but we can sympathize and be glad it is not us in their shoes: Rachel might be alive again, but things aren't necessarily hunky dory in her world by any means. We can walk a mile in Batman's shoes, but after what the Court put him through, he's welcome to those shoes by golly (what size is he anyways?...I do like those bat boots). Who wants to be Daredevil or  Hawkeye? Okay, well maybe just a little bit, but man do I ever want to follow these guys wherever they go. What about Wonder Woman? I guess goddesses have problems too; talk about the family ties that bind and gag. Just writing this little introduction and reflecting on the books that made 2012 so wonderful, I've managed to pull myself out of my post-holiday malaise, my back-to-life-back-to-reality haze in the wake of an obligation craze. Those were the daze (Intentional misspelling for dramatic purposes, because I'm a poet and didn't know it).

Enough navel-gazing, dammit, on with all kinds of lists and stuff, most of which centering around the number "12" for some reason.

Donist World 12 Favorite Comic Series of 2012 (In no particular order)


Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 12/21/2012

(Sung to the tune of Electric Light Orchestra's "Don't Bring Me Down")

So many comics at my fav LCS
Saga and Hawkeye are among the best

I can't feel down, no no no no no...ewww wooo hoo
There's sure a ton more
So best get to your store
I can't feel down

I can't feel down, Obie
I can't feel down, Obie
I can't feel down, Obie
I can't feel down

Yeah...ha ha ha. Very funny,
Obie. You creep.
<uh> 10...11...12...<gd, ack>13...14...<gasp>Obie! Spot me, puppy! I can't...lift...all these...comics...that got...released this week. <ack> Tulip...TULIP! <Phew>
Thanks, Tulip. Where the heck is Obie? Oh. Hi Donist World readers. I didn't see you there, as I was about to be crushed by the mountain of comic books released the past Wednesday. You see, Obie, who is my friends' Boston terrier and CFO of Donist World was supposed to be spotting my while I attempted to lift the pulchritude of mass that was this Wednesday's new comic book releases. Apparently, ol' Donist is not stronger than the Super Friends and could have really used a helping paw as a spot from my trusted little buddy, who willingly volunteered to help me out. Fortunately, Tulip (Obie's sister, my dog, and marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/personal trainer for Donist World) was there to pull my bacon out of the fryer.
Tulip, what was that text message you just received? Was it from Obie? C'mere. Drop it. Drop it. Drop the iPhone. MmmmHmmmm, yup. Just as I thought. It's a picture of Obie out on the Donist World greenbelt and he sent her the following message, "LOL Tulip, meet me out at the greenbelt when he's distracted. btw, There's no chance I'm going to review all those comics!!! Bring some kibble!!! LOL." Man's best friend(s) my ace. Anyhow, I'm out to scold my CFO and leave you to it, as there are a ton of releases worth mentioning...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #8
Saga #8 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples, published by Image Comics. Yeah, big surprise here, folks. Saga is one of the top two titles for this comic book bonanza release week. How could it not be?Trashy romance novels, hexopus-brains, love at first beating, the kindness of father-in-laws, a giant with scrotus-wartus-maximus, and old flames that continue to burn with anger can all be found in the latest release of the series that is the top Donist World pick of the year. If you haven't yet given this book a try, then you're either in jail or trapped in some sort of cave on the moon...or something.
For good or bad, a little ol' book can have the power to set grand schemes into motion. A Night Time Smoke is one of those books. Who would have ever thought the fictional love between a rock monster and a mortal woman could bring two all-too-real mortal enemies to one anthers embrace. Of course there were some rough times here and there. Marko's father, Barr, and Alana become better acquainted and Alana learns he's actually a pretty decent guy; it's a shame about the secret he carries with him. Marko and his mother also catch up in their quest to find the missing ghost girl, Izabel, but neither their alone time is not going all that well. Couple the monstrous scrutiny of a parent with a monstrous and revolting giant about to squash them, and you can say they are getting along a bit less famously than Barr and Alana...just a bit. Fard, el gran gigante supremo, provides an unexpected complication in locating Izabel, and a new player wishes to have a chat with Marko that probably won't go all that well once she get her hands on his lying ass.
I can't get enough of this book. As I've mentioned before--countless times, I'm sure--I love these characters. The first sparks of Alana and Marko's relationship as made conceivable by a romance novel, is ridiculous, but that is not to say it is unbelievable. What better way than to insert an idea, the impossibility of love between two warring races, the inconceivable, than to present such things in something as harmless as a book. Vaughan does not let Alana's revelation happen immediately, which is great in showing just how tough and resistant to change she is. As a result, the sappy part of me wants to see more of her and Marko's beginnings and to know if she originally took the book from her "enemy." If so, where did Marko get the book? We've seen what the man can do when he's pushed too far. I want to see the point when a great warrior becomes an emissary for peace. Maybe Barr passed the book down to his son. Speaking of Barr, I immediately liked his character with the reveal from last issue. His acceptance of Alana and the kindness he shows her, a woman who should be his mortal enemy, is touching. Although the secret he carries might have helped him come to terms with loving his son's wife, I'm guessing there is more to see of his past relationship with Marko. Marko's mother is another story on the opposite end of Barr, but she too is fascinating and unique in her judgment of her son. I'm guessing she didn't read the book.
Fiona Staples's art is stunning, especially when it comes to the expressiveness of each character. The emotions are clear as day and even if all of the word balloons vanished, you could easily understand what is happening panel to panel. Her giant also gives me the squirmies something fierce. Man, oh man. A bonus for those buying this series issue to issue, is a brief look at Staples's processes from roughs, to inks, to colors, to lettering Hazel's narration, all of which I was curious to understand. It wasn't what I expected and I am thankful for the insight into how she creates such gorgeous pages.
This is it, folks. The book I can't wait to read month in and month out. My brother got a trade for his birthday, others are getting the trade for Christmas, and I will be gifting myself with the hard cover when it eventually releases next year. I love the characters. I love the worlds Vaughan created. I love the beautiful art. It's books like Saga that make being a comic reader so very rewarding. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Hawkeye #6
Hawkeye #6 - Written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by David Aja, published by Marvel Comics. I think I've bought four issues of Hawkeye in the past month and a half. Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining, just pointing out an observation. Hey, if one of the Big Two is going to double or possibly even triple ship in a month, you bet your sweet patootie Hawkeye is the book you want to see peeking out from your pull. Heck, I love this book so much that after I filed away a mountain of comics steadily growing on my desk, I went back into the cold, dark recesses of the closet to take all of my issues of Hawkeye back out so I could reread them. The comic book closet is a scary place, Donist World readers, but I'll gladly suffer the stubbed toes, my head smacking on the sloped ceiling, and the brutal isolation fraught with despair just to get at my favorite superhero comic on the stands.
Hooking up an antiquated audio/video system is a pain in the you-know-what and having Tony Stark around to see the sad display is not exactly a morale booster either. At least Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye) was able to get a few days off from Avengers duty after taking a few too many lumps. Thank goodness for kindly neighbors willing to loan out their DVR loaded with a full season of a hit television series, but then again, it was a neighbor that first put Clint and a bunch of tracksuit Draculas on one another's radars. The confrontation goes bad and the goons threaten Clint's neighbors' lives. There's a moment of weakness, followed by a scolding and then our hero holds true to what he stands for.
This issue is fantastic. Fraction digs a little deeper into Clint Barton the man. In fact, there are only two pages of costumes in the entire issue. Even then, Aja--returning after a two issue break--gives those pages the look of an old arcade game, as if the A.I.M. confrontation was all make believe; in regard to the rest of the story, it kind of is. You feel for Clint as he tries to make his way through the real world, but no matter what he does, trouble comes looking for him. As I said a week or so ago, Clint is a guy you want to have a beer with, but then again, there's that whole hero thing that might just get you pounded on for hanging out with him. Which brings me to one little (very little) gripe...let's see Clint whoop some ass every once in a while instead of the other way around. He's an Avenger dammit!
David Aja. That's all you have to say to get me on board. Great character moments, great action, crazy panel counts that work tremendously well on every page, and a beautifully muted color palette from Matt Hollingsworth provide the Hawkeye style that is vital to this book. I'm actually writing this review while listening to Freddie Hubbard's song "Red Clay," which I think Aja would approve of given his Spotify playlists. Everything about this comic is pure cool and loads of fun. You are missing out if you are not reading this book. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Animal Man #15
Animal Man #15 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Steve Pugh with Timothy Green II, published by DC Comics. Delivering one of my favorite DC New 52 books late is one thing, but dang, man, couldn't they have delivered last week, or next week? I know, I know "quit your whinin' Donist and get on with it, fool!" Anyways...Animal Man and his entourage are set on hitting Arcane, Avatar of the Rot, where it hurts. They slaughter the heck out of some gorillas, and Frankenstein joins the party with some buddies. An unexpected ally is found in Metropolis.
Talk about worth the wait. Great action, creepy as heck imagery, and guest appearances that make sense and that don't raise my hackles, make this issue an exciting installment in the Rot World crossover event (I can't believe I said those words). Lemire delivers some great Buddy Baker moments as well as eerie flashbacks to what happened to the rest of the Baker family. Pugh's art is more beautiful--and at times disturbing--than ever. Green II's fantastic illustrations are stylistically different enough to let you know you're reading a flashback, while keeping with the overall tone of the book that is only enhanced with Lovern Kindzierski's great colors. Make mine Rot World! Go team Red! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Happy #3
Happy #3 - Written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Darick Robertson, published by Image Comics. Ahhh...I remember the '80s, a time of of four-issue mini-series covering any and all manner of known and unknown characters. It was a time of little commitment--and much lower prices, but whatchagonnado--to complete a given story. Remember those days, my older Donist World readers? It was a grab bag as far as what you got with those four issues, but with Morrison driving Happy, you get what you expected...a darn fine story.
Sax is on the run from the sadistic Mr. Blue and the fact that he is stuck on a miserable train with Happy, a goofy, blue pegacorn that only he can see, won't make life any easier. We see what got Sax to where he is today, and we learn why he can actually see the little horse intent on saving a missing little girl.
Robertson gives us lovely grim and gritty artwork that has all the timely pressures of the holidays gift wrapped into one nice package. Sax is by no means a likeable character, but dammit I can't wait to see how all of this ends. A strong story and the good news is that Morrison will soon be free to pursue all the creator-owned projects he wishes, which is great for all of us funny book fans. Which makes me very Happy indeed. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Indestructible Hulk #2
Indestructible Hulk #2 - Written by Mark Waid and Illustrated by Leinil Yu, published by Marvel Comics. <sigh> gets so tricksy, my Precious! I don't want to love this comic...but I do. I can't remember the last time I thought, "You know what, Donist? What you need is a Hulk comic...that and a beer." Waid and Yu continue to make the Hulk all green rage and awe inspiring in a terrifying way. But, Bruce Banner is the main star of this book. Gone are the days of glasses, whining and hiding in deep dark pits (such as my comic book closet) and in are the times of a man driven to give back to society more than his alter ego has destroyed. Banner has also grown a backbone as seen in the fizrickingly fantastic* (*translation-really good) last two pages. Granted the last two pages are just Bruce and Tony talking in a restaurant, but those pages show just how confident Bruce has become. He also tells Tony "what time it is" and it is great.
Yu has some great action moments and I like the design of the new armor--or whatever it is--the Hulk is now wearing. There's so much potential with this book and I can't wait to see what comes next. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Rachel Rising #13
Rachel Rising #13 - Everythinged by Tony Moore, published by Abstract Studio. Man, this comic is good. Everything from the pacing, to the overall mystery of the story, to the beautiful characterization, to the lovely character designs make this one of best series being released.
In this issue, Rachel has dug herself out of her second grave and the hole in her abdomen can't be a good thing. Jet is, well, dead again, but luckily she has Earl the coroner to look over her. A much older than he appears character--he looks good for a 350-year-old man--tells a screwed up version of Sleeping Beauty that is definitely not the best of bedtime stories. Three brunettes with the same haunted, blood-red eyes as Rachel ruin a man's life as they put something (key word "thing") in the water supply and Rachel gets a new house guest.
Two trades are available thus far for this wonderfully chilling tale that I hope to be reading for years to come. It's also available digitally for you tree huggers (of which I count myself) out there. Rachel Rising is a prime example of just how important it is to support creator-owned comics. Simply fantastic. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Sixth Gun #27
The Sixth Gun #27 - Written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Brian Hurtt, published by Oni Press. I first heard about The Sixth Gun somewhere around the release of issue eight. After all the praise I kept reading about the series, I caved in and bought the first trade. After reading the first issue, I was online and trying to track down everything that followed so I could catch up and follow the book as it was released.
Kirby, Asher and Gord seek to find the missing Drake and Becky, but not out of any obligation for either's wellbeing. Nope. They want the five of six mystical doomsday guns the pair have in their possession, but all for different reasons. Drake confronts the Wendigo as Becky waits for her friend to return, which he eventually does...neither are going to like what comes next.
Bunn tells a fantastic supernatural western story with intriguing characters on a perilous quest where not everything is as it seems. Hurtt's illustrations are dynamic, tense and riveting with Bill Crabtree's colors setting the mood of the series. The Sixth Gun is one of my top three non-Big Two comics. Please give it a try and catch up before the television show airs in the (hopefully) near future. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Sword of Sorcery
Featuring: Amethyst
Sword of Sorcery Featuring: Amethyst #3 - Written by Christy Marx and illustrated by Aaron Lopresti with Claude St. Aubin, published by DC Comics. SoS: Amethyst is exactly the type of fantasy comic I was hoping it would be. We have a strange new magical world, a girl ripped from her old reality into a new one, strange beasts, family feuds, and grand betrayals. We also have one heck of a strong protagonist who looks to be adjusting to her new surroundings. Bravo, DC, for taking a chance on this title that I hope is around for some time to come. I am a little worried about the pending "guest appearance," though.
Amaya begins training to learn to control her newly gained magical powers at the behest of her mother. The trainer, the mountain of a man called Elzere, will not go easy on her, but then again he's never had a student like Amaya. An enemy seeks revenge. Magical creatures transport Amaya and her mother for a meeting destined to go bad with none other than Amaya's Aunt, Mordiel.
Thus far, the series has been more drama and world building than battles involving swords or sorcery, but that will come soon enough and this is quite a world that Marx has developed. Lopresti's art continues to leave me awestruck (for the 15 of the 20 pages he illustrates). Definitely a book worth checking out if you are a fan of dramatic fantasy...just be sure to pick up the "0" issue as well as these three. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Where Is Jake Ellis? #2
Where Is Jake Ellis? - Written by Nathan Edmondson and illustrated by Tonci Zonjic, published by Image Comics. The follow up to the much-loved Who Is Jake Ellis? (sorry, you kinda have to read the first series to get what is happening in this one...which you really owe it to yourself to do!) continues the non-stop roller coaster ride that is Jon Moore's life.
Jon is on the run with a woman who is now in the crosshairs of those those attempting to capture him. This time, however, he has dreadfully limited access to the knowing-more-than-Jon-does Jake's help. In fact, Jake is very much not comatose, but is being held by some bad men. Who is trying to bring Jon and Jake together again and how is the man with his eyes sewn shut able to "see" them?
Man, Edmondson knows how to structure a story of intrigue that leaves the reader ripping from one page to the next. This issue actually got my heart rate up from all the excitement. Zonjic, of course, delivers the tense action sequences I've come to expect from this fantastic spy/mystery thriller, and his color palette continues to be stunning. If you are looking for a Christmas gift--in addition to the Saga trade, of course--Who Is Jake Ellis? is a fantastic choice for your friends and family and for yourself. While you're at it, pick up the first two issues of Where Is Jake Ellis?, you can't go wrong. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Thor: God of Thunder #3
Thor: God of Thunder #3 - Written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by Esad Ribic, published by Marvel Comics. Is Aaron making this stuff up? All this hullabaloo about "Lords of the Dawn" and "Gods of the Cosmic Seasons" and what not. I mean, what ever mead that guy is drinking, give me a double because I want see what he's seein'. Although, what Aaron is seein' actually ain't all that pretty. Honestly, it's a bit terrifying.
Modern Thor seeks to discover if gods have truly gone missing by visiting Omnipotence City, which is probably responsible for the biggest invasion of godly privacy in the realms. He finds that where a god has gone quiet, it is more often a result of death at the hands of Gorr the God Butcher. Young Thor is about to experience something very unpleasant. Modern Thor is told something shocking and King Thor falls?
Alright...that was beyond cool. Aaron tells three tales of Thor at different points in his life, each with a different voice fitting that Thor's age. The grandness of this story of a god serial killer that spans both the stars and the ages is compelling and a reason I'm sticking around for a good long while. Ribic's art is perfect for this comic that delivers an epic fantasy feel. His gods, primarily Falligar the Behemoth, are jaw dropping. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Wonder Woman #15
Wonder Woman #15 - Written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Cliff Chiang, published by DC Comics. I have to be honest here. I've been a little less than enthused with the past couple issues of Wonder Woman, but I've held on because of the strength of everything that has come before. Thank goodness I have.
New gods and old "new" gods ( know, ones we haven't been introduced to us before) appear along with wishes and plans. Diana (Wonder Woman) and her half-brother Lennox are babysitting Zola and a powerless Hera who do not get along. Another brother is sought (dang, son, Zeus sure gets around. KnowwhatImean?). An armorer tinkers with his creation for Wonder Woman's benefit. A battle looms, and the first son (and head muncher) labours to find his weapons.
That's what I'm talkin' about! This issue left me going "Awww, I have to wait a whole month to see what happens next." The moments between Zola and Hera are humorous and Orion's appearance only helps the story, leaving the reader to wonder what role he plays in the games these old gods love so much. Plus, Wonder Woman looks fit to get her smash on. Definitely a read for fans of the princess of power and fans of Greek mythology alike. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Christmas and the Holidays - I have to admit to being a bit of a humbug around the holidays. There's so much pressure on not just me, but everyone. Jobs, expectations, obligations, money, an f_ed economy all contribute to how difficult a time it can be. People are driving around like maniacs, stressed out as to what gifts to buy for Uncle Billy Joe Jim Bob, who is always so difficult to buy for, know what? Let's just stop right there. Let's not focus on the mayhem that Christmas has become (Black Friday riots? Please...) and instead focus on the good. I have Amy, Tulip, family, friends, my writing and a dark closet full of comics. I have what I need, what really matters. I even have a ton of people reading my silly blog and many friends orbiting with me around the walled world that is the comic book industry, a world that has been so important to me for most of my life. I sincerely wish everyone a happy holidays and to not let the pressures that tend to focus around this time get you down. Take some time for yourself, look at the good around you, look at the potential of what is to come and work towards what matters to you most. I cannot thank you all enough for reading my blog and you can expect to have some of my work in your hands in 2013. With much love and sincere gratitude, Donist. Enough of this sappy crap, now go read some comics, ya no good lousy bums.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 12/14/2012

(Sung to the tune of The Jets "Crush On You")

How did he know? Where Bat Family goes
Bats found out, Joke's got a crush on him
Such games he plays, Alfred might get flayed
Bats found out, Joke's got a crush on him

Joker must have heard it while in the cave
Bruce has got family friends who he must go to save
This comic makes me very tense alright?
Time to read Amulet which is out of sight

Batten down the hatches puppies! We're preparing for a tidal wave of titles next week! This week was nothin' but the calm before the storm. Let's put our backs into it. Oh... Hello there, Donist World readers. Only one book was in the pull this past Wednesday, but next week looks to be the big kahuna tuna, you know, the Dickey Moe of new comic books being released all at once. I'm lookin' at 12 to 14 titles, and that's not counting Animal Man if it happens to make it to the party. To prepare, Obie, my friends' Boston terrier and Donist World CFO, and I are cleaning up the corporate offices to put it in tip top shape. We must have no distractions next week if we are to have any hope of being able to not only read all of the books, but comment on them for the next FSoH. Heck, even Tulip, who is Obie's sister, as well as my dog, and Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/fisherman is somewhere preparing to soundproof the area around the computer for when the books surge in. There will be no distractions! Nothing will steer us off the Donist World course! <owww, my back hurts from scrubbing the floor> Now Obie... Obie? Tulip? Where are you two? I've been cleaning and straightening up for hours, where are... Oh c'mon! How long have you two been laying in the sun? And don't tell me you're meditating for the task at hand. Ugh. While I take a break and tie a mop and a brush to each of the dog's stomachs so they can start earning their kibble for once, take a gander at...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Amulet GN #5:
Prince of the Elves

Amulet GN #5: Prince of the Elves - Everythinged by Kazu Kibuishi, published by Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic. Amulet is a graphic novel that does not receive enough attention in the comic book world. Oh it does plenty fine in the real world, what, with it being a New York Times bestseller, having a current Amazon rating of 2326 and all. It's safe to say that it's doing A-okay, but why do I rarely hear about this title on the comic book sites or have to find it hidden away in comic shops, if they carry it all. There are no known super heroes flying around, or punching each other in the face, and right there is small reason to give this gorgeous and compelling graphic novel a try. Not enough? How about relatable characters, fantasy worlds of magic, steampunkesque flying machines, little robots, giant robot, terrifying monsters, a hidden evil, racial tensions, the bond of friends and family, a warrior fox, and the list goes on and on. One thing though...start at the beginning with the first book.
We begin with a glimpse into Max's past, when the tragedy of war pushed him to the employ of the Elf King and to the freeing of a terrible, demonic, arachnid-limbed Mountain Giant. Emily and the rogue elf prince Trellis are stonekeepers, possessors of gems of great power. But within those gems lurks a dark entity that communicates to its holder when they are at their weakest. The heroes mean to take the fight to Max and the Elf King, and they've got a Colossus robot or two at their disposal to even the score. But they have to get the robots to the battlegrounds first. During the transport of the Colossi, Emily and Trellis's group is attacked by Chronus, the mountain giant and all hope of beating the Elf King falls apart. The heroes are lucky enough to survive. Trellis learns the dangerous skill of visiting memories of the past and traversing "The Void," the realms within the stones where he and Emily confirm the sinister evil of the voice lurking within.
There is so much to love here for both young readers and not-as-young readers. I hammered through the first book, gave it to my best friend's incredibly smart son (I bought a replacement copy for myself of course) and he probably read this installment before I did (I anticipate working for my friend's son in the next decade, but that is separate matter). Amulet is book can be admired for the written word that develops each of the characters through strong dialogue and a gripping story of twists and turns, and increasing stakes with grand wins and crushing failures. It can also be loved for its lush artwork with unique character designs (both light-hearted and dastardly), gorgeous spreads worthy of framing (are there prints available? If no, why not?!) and intense sequentials that draw the reader into the action as if they were there. Together, you have something magical.
Amulet takes inspiration from Hayao Miyazaki's manga masterpiece Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (MUST READ material), but Kibuishi has made this series very much his own with the similarities ending at his shared fascination with flying machines and war robots. I'm happy I stumbled across this series by accident a couple years ago and I have been a fan ever since, but as I said before, I'm confused as to why this non-Big Two treasure has not garnered more praise in the comic book world it so obviously loves and holds dear. You owe it to yourself to read one of the most beautiful fantasy comics on the shelves. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batman #15
Batman #15 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo, with backup by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, and illustrated by Jock, published by DC Comics. You know you have something special when the very first image you see upon cracking open a comic is something that will haunt your dreams for a couple of weeks afterwards. Of course Capullo had to go and make said page a splash as well, so there's no room for misinterpretation, everything is clear as day. The pinprick eyes, the taut "mask," the marred hairline, that yellowed grin, all of which will be there after you shut your eyes. Then you have Snyder's captions to mold the nightmarish image into something fluid and flowing and everlasting. Scary times. All of that on page one with 19 more pages and a backup installment to go. Brrrr...
The Joker has Batman right where he wants him, restrained on the middle of a bridge. They are alone. Just the two of them with time to catch up and shoot the breeze. Then the cops appear to ruin the moment. That's when the chaos starts but only for a moment as Joker just as quickly ends it and makes his escape. Batman, or rather Bruce, awakens from a horrific nightmare to find himself confronted by the entire Bat Family (Nightwing, Batgirl, Robin, Red Robin, Red Hood) who are worried that the Joker knows their identities. Bruce insists that the Joker is bluffing and pushes them out of the loop so he can rush to Arkham to uncover what it is the Joker has planned for his "celebration." As he ascends the stairs to the madhouse, it occurs to Batman what is driving the Joker and the revelation is unsettling. The backup story centers on the Joker enlisting the Riddler to his cause!
It's safe to say you can expect a great--and usually disturbing in the best of ways--Batman book month in and month out from Snyder and Capullo. When dealing with the Batverse, you have to juggle a host of characters, giving each one their moment with their own voice, which Snyder does to great effect, but the main appeal of this storyline is something else. Snyder beautifully hooked the reader a couple of issues ago with the overall mystery of what the Joker actually wants and what twisted methods he is willing to employ to get his desires. It's all quite eerie and chilling, but that is what makes this comic so difficult to put down.
In addition to the previously mentioned--wonderfully terrifying--opening image for this issue, Capullo of course delivers some beautiful art with some shocking imagery mixed in. Take for example Bruce's nightmare and the state of Alfred for example. Or the grotesquely humorous moment after Batman punches the Joker in the "face" and what it does to his "mask." As I said previously...Brrrr.
The backup story is a fantastic addition to the regular story with a glimpse--or rather a peek between the fingers--into Joker's behind the scenes machinations as illustrated by Jock. Tynion IV and Snyder give the Riddler some great character moments and after this brief seven-page short, I hope to see more of the Riddler in the main book. Another bonus is the Dr. Octagon moment of "...oh shit, there's a horse in the hospital."(Sorry, I couldn't resist...I'm referring to the "General Hospital" vocal track). Each of these  backup stories serves the purpose of reintroducing Batman's rogue's gallery and to make the question of "What is Joker up to?" that much more engrossing. Even if I had 20 new books to read this week, Batman #14 would still be HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Two More Shootings This Week - What the F_ is going on? Two more shootings this week. First Portland, OR and now Newtown, an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL! This needs to stop. Guns need to be regulated up the wazoo. There is no reason anyone should own a gun that holds more than six rounds let alone semi-automatic or fully-automatic weapons. No NRA, arming the little kids would not help matters, nor would arming the teachers or administrators. The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution grants the right to keep and bear arms, but remember that in 1791 citizens owned muskets and NOT AR-16s. Despicable.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 12/7/2012

(Sung to the tune of some guy I don't know singing outside of BevMo "O Christmas Tree")

O comic books, o comic books
Swamp Thing's left me reeling
Poor Abigail, poor Abigail
Arcane's so gross it's hard dealing

This Hawkeye guy's so awesome dear
His arrow true so never fear
O comic books, o comic books
Madame Masque scares the ever-loving bejusus out of me with her cigarette dialogue and what she's gonna do to Kate...dang, son

O burning tie, o burning tie
Blast Furnace is so mental
O thieving guy, o thieving guy
Did he get that 'stache on rental

Obie? C'mon, man. It's not my fault Animal Man #15 didn't ship to our LCS. You need's not my fault!
Oh. Hi there Donist World readers. You've probably guessed that I'm attempting to talk Donist World CFO and my friends' Boston Terrier, Obie, back from the ledge of anger and blame, which he is so cruelly venting on me. You see, Obie is a fan of comics like all us (all three of us) here at the Donist World offices. First and foremost he's an Animal Man fan. Obie even went so far as to dye all of the white parts of his fur crimson in his anticipation of this week's release and to show his support of the animal kingdom known as the Red. All that I can say is it's kind of like when you see those crazy, shirtless, portly fellas all painted up at football games in snowy weather. Nuts, right? Only in Obie's case, he's in a warm home, sipping a dog-sized Irish coffee with a bowl of kibble nearby so he can enjoy the proper atmosphere for reading one's comics. He's also a bit surly over the fact that Tulip (his sister, my dog, and Donist World marketing director/party planner/administrative assistant/Adventure Timer) got her favorite book Swamp Thing with no problems. In fact, he's about as green with envy as she is green with the dye coloring the white parts of her fur. I think they look ridiculous and that they're a tad overly enthusiastic in their love of comic books. Plus they look more like Christmas tree ornaments than fans of the Red and Green, but since when has what I thought mattered to them? Anyhow, I'm going to ignore my not-really-gainfully-employed pets and help myself to some Irish coffee before this purple Hawkeye paint sweats off my shirtless and hairy chest. Criminy, it's hot in here.

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Hawkeye #5
Hawkeye #5 - Written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Javier Pulido, published by Marvel Comics. Know what, bro? I love this series. Every panel of every page of every issue. Sure we're only a mere five issues into the tales of "Hawkguy," but each one has been a stellar, fun-filled, non-stop barrage of action, fantastic dialogue and character development, and pizza dogs. It almost seems as if this series was written with me in mind with the exception of pizza dog being some sort of a labrador instead of a Boston terrier. Oh well, you can't win 'em all. In summary, to clarify, to get down to the nitty gritty, and werd to the mother...yes, I love Hawkeye.
You know you're really living the highlife when your five-star hotel room includes "tied to a chair" and "beaten senseless" vacation packages, but when they throw in a "ninja attack and turndown" service (this ain't cheap, folks) you know you've got something special. Actually, Clint Barton (Hawkeye) doesn't know this, but falling to your inevitable death can take the enjoyment out of such ritzy amenities. Thank goodness he's got friends in fast places. Kate Bishop (Hawkeye...Hawkeye II? Lady Hawkeye? Hawkgal?) gets caught posing as Madame Masque, with the real deal NOT being happy about being tied up at all. Masque gives one of the scariest "this is what I'm going to do to you" moments I have ever read in a comic book. Hawkeye and Hawkeye seek to retrieve the video that has the damning evidence on it, but first have to beat the bejesus out of some evil pajama-wearing henchmen. Follow all of this with some gnarly downplayed scenes of ouchness that makes me wince with each bloodstained step, and the videotape is explained. <whew>
When the first panel of a comic has the hero tied to a chair and plummeting to his death after jumping through a hotel window, you know you can expect some action, and action is what you get. Fraction has transitioned Hawkeye, or rather Clint Barton the man, from a superhero character that I have always thought was cool, to a fully-developed character I actually care about. I'm invested in Hawkeye who is at one moment relatable, another has him gaining my sympathy and another shows me why Clint Barton is a hero in the first place. To a slightly lesser degree is Kate Bishop, who only needs a little more time to shine..."Special" issue of Hawkeye focused on Kate and written by Fraction? Huh, huh? C'mon...
Javier Pulido again does a wonderful job of stepping in for David Aja, especially in the silhouette scenes against the Madripoor night sky and with his telling facial expressions. But the key transitioning element between the two artists is Matt Hollingsworth, whose colors tie all the issues together with their "Hawkguy" look. Hollingsworth's colors are crucial to the tone of the series and the minimalist-yet-tense coloring of the Madame Masque I'm-going-to-kill-you-both scenes stand out as both striking and cool. I do miss Aja on this book and I also miss his Spotify Hawkeye playlists and hope that he continues posting the links to those on his blog; he returns next month.
My main disappointment with this series is that there will not be a TPB available in time for Christmas; I really wanted to give it to my brother as a gift. Other than that slight problem, there is no such thing as "enough" of Fraction's Hawkeye, a comic every superhero fan should be reading. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Blast Furnace V.1:
Recreational Thief
Blast Furnace Volume 1: Recreational Thief - Everythinged by Ryan Browne and published by Ryan Browne. You bet your sweet patootie if there ain't no better feelin' than gettin' a successfully funded Kickstarter comic sent right to your doorstep. Not only did I receive a nearly-manga-sized book of the first year (hopefully more are coming), but my copy had a sketch in the interior, a post card with unique art, and a sticker of the front cover. As insane and funny--and oftentimes bewildering in the best of ways--as this comic is, it's also one hell of a beautiful book with professional production through and through. Now to explain what it's about...
Okay, here goes nothing. Blast Furnace is a guy who loves to steal. If it's not bolted to the floor, you might as well call what-ever-it-was gone. With his trademark mustache, shades and flaming tie, Blast Furnace will rob you blind.
BF begins the tale by busting into the non-descript warehouse known as "Non-Descript Warehouse"where he kills a guard for no reason, stumbles upon some talking ostrich workers, and has to unleash his electro-stache on a terminator-style business man. Then there's a flashback with a talking bear cub, a kindly owl who murders some rabbits,  a cursing dragon bartender, and a tribal warrior named "He Who Looks Exactly Like a Horse But Is Actually Just a Hideously Deformed Man" This is impossible. You can read this mind-boggling awesomeness for free on Browne's website, and then get back to me with your thoughts of what this book is about. Don't forget to buy a copy of the book, though.
From the website: "1 full year ÷ 5 pages a week + 0 planning = 1 sweet ass story." Browne is completely correct. The chaos that is Blast Furnace was a "blast" to read. For something that he put no planning into, I found myself lingering on some pages wondering if I actually just saw Owlice behead a Rabbit police officer or not, while marveling at some of the insane sound effects. Trust your ol' pal, Donist, on this one. Please give it at least 10 pages and if you have a good sense of humor, or you're insane, or you're completely messed up, or (d) all of the above, then I think you just might dig this experiment-gone-right. Like what you see? If so, then support this creator-owned project and buy a copy. Treat yo' self! If you want even more awesome craziness, then you must check out Browne's other comic God Hates Astronauts, which I absolutely love and will be on Kickstarter in January 2013. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Swamp Thing #15
Swamp Thing #15 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Marco Rudy, published by DC Comics. Groove on this month's homage to the Swamp Thing (original series) #7 cover, peoples. Go on, groove on it. Pretty cool, and a reminder that the current run of my decades-long love of Swamp Thing contains the best elements of the Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson run and the treasured Alan Moore, John Totleben and Steven Bissette issues. "Rotworld: The Green Kingdom" continues to be exactly the horrific tale starring one of my all time favorite comic book characters I was hoping to read.
William Arcane, the young warrior of the Rot, has been promoted to the position of "King of the Dead Seas." Swamp Thing and Deadman don't stand a chance of fighting against one who controls the carcasses of all the creatures beneath the waves. Luckily, Deadman has a plan, although it is a bit final in regard to what he calls life. Abigail is in her Uncle/Father's clutches and learns a horrific secret of what he has been up to in his castle fortress. She's not happy with what she learns and luckily good ol' Uncle/Father Anton is there to listen to her complaints before she sets off to find the Parliament of Rot. Finally, Alec finds Batman, who's not entirely himself, and an unexpected ally makes their presence known.
Snyder excels at moments of creeping horror such as when Arcane lurks before Abigail or when a sea teeming with dead sea creatures prepares to break upon Swamp Thing and Deadman. He also provides each character with their own voice and personality, with most of the emotional impact of this issue carried by Abby, who is far more than a mere damsel in distress or a love interest. Hell, Snyder's Abigail is such a strong character I would love to see a mini-series focused entirely on her life growing up in the shadow of her twisted Uncle/Father while having to cope with her power over the Rot. Of course his depiction of the title character ain't half bad, either.
Marco Rudy fills in again on art for Yanick Paquette, delivering a few great closeup shots, but I found some of the pages confusing as all get out, especially pages two and three, where I had to stare at the images and attempt to figure out what was actually happening. Same with the critical action panels occurring on pages 14 and 15; I'm still not exactly certain what happened. Rudy is definitely a talented artist, but trying to match Paquette's style made reading sections of this comic difficult and some of the coloring did not help matters. All confusion aside, this issue of Swamp Thing was Rottenly beautiful in its look and "Rotworld: The Green Kingdom" has me biting my nails for what comes next. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Dave Brubeck Passes - I know, I know...what the heck does this have to do with comics, Donist? Not much, but anytime an artistic, influential creator dies, regardless of the delivery system used for their passion, the world is left with a void. Thankfully, Brubeck lives on through his vast body of work. Have a listen to the must own Time Out and see what this great Jazz performer was all about.

My Missing Animal Man -'s safe to say that every two to three weeks, Diamond invoices my LCS for comics they neglect to actually ship on time, causing me to wait about two weeks for the missed books to actually arrive. Usually, I'm missing The Sixth Gun, Sweet Tooth or an Image book, but this week they decided to mess up with Animal Man, which I always love to read immediately after Swamp Thing. Nope, not this week. Yes, I could go digital, but I love print and will never pay full cover price for access (not ownership) to something that I paid for. Oh well, I guess this is what happens when monopolies exist.