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.


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