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.

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