Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 1/25/2013

(Sung to the the tune of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Lookin' Out My Back Door")

Just got home from my LCS, bolt lock the front door, oh yes
Shut off the dang phone, no one best bother me
All week I've been waitin', but now I am a readin'
Chew, Chew, Chew is the book I adore

Ice giants get their asses beat, Diana's boots are kinda neat
Check out Orion's bucket head, maggot eyes is gross
Toni Chu I'll miss ya, spontaneous combustion
Chew, Chew, Chew is the book I adore

Good morning, dudes. Cowabunga, man. My name is Donist and I'm here at my mom's basement the Donist World corporate offices with Donist World CFO extraordinaire, Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) as well as Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/retro-soundscaper, Tulip (my Boston terrier and Obie's sister). Obie is back to work(ish) after his bad encounter with that escaped pit bull last month and in honor of the nostalgia review below, we are having '80s day here at the office. I am wearing my hammer pants along with a Metallica "Ride the Lightning" t-shirt and playing with a "Noid" doll. Tulip is wearing a very stylish fanny pack loaded with a walkman and listening to a mixtape of OMD, AC-DC and Kim Carnes, while chewing on some Bubble Yum bubblegum...hold on a sec. <give it to me, no, no, drop it, drop it.> Correction, while not chewing on Bubble Yum. Obie on the other hand is wearing some Terminator-style shades, sipping a wine cooler and wearing a Sid Viscious T-Shirt. Ugh...hold on again. <Obie, give me the wine cooler. Give it to me. Drop it, drop it. C'mon! Here, destroy this E.T. doll instead.> Anyhow, we'd all be totally stoked for sure, if you primed up some bitchin' Dire Straits or some Dokken and booked on over to...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Chew #31
Chew #31 - Written by John Layman and illustrated by Rob Guillory, published by Image Comics. Game over, man. Game over. This is it, folks. We just dipped our toes into the deep end of the pool that is the comic book series known as Chew. With the beginning of this new five-issue storyline, we are at the halfway point of this amazing series and can no longer say that there are more issues to come than have already passed. <sob> "Donist, be brave." <phew> "Here goes..." Anyhow, this is like that summer love from all those years back. You know, the one where you're scheduled to head off to become an Alaskan king crab fisherman in Utah and she/he is set to be indicted on multiple counts of counterfeiting one dollar bills (y'all). You know it's coming to an end, but you can't bail now. You just can't. You have to see this through, and maybe, just maybe, something will change and you will get more time together. You can't stop true love. There's always more Poyo stories to tell (read the letters column, yo), this universe is ripe for picking up side stories of other characters,'re right. We should just enjoy the time we have and live for the now...this day...this moment. "I love you, Chew."
Tony Chu's family wants blood and they want Tony to do the spillin'. After last issues horrifying and tragic death of Tony's sister Antonelle (Toni) at the hands of the psychopathic, cibopathic serial killer, the Chu family has more than enough justification for their anger. Unfortunately for Tony, this isn't the first death of someone near and dear he has suffered. Thank goodness for the kindness of friends as Tony's partner John Colby has pulled some strings (or is it g-strings...of the male kind) to have them reinstated to full FDA status. With righteous anger and the authority to do something about it, Tony and John take on their latest case in which the large-and-in-charge are spontaneously combusting; they're not going to be happy when they find out who is behind the heinous crime.
Leave it to Layman and Guillory to take a sad, somber toned beginning to a comic and twist it into a hilarious and bizarre new storyline, all while not diminishing the tragedy of the previous issue. This dual-covered book had me at first wondering who had died on the first cover and then stoked up all the shock and anger over Toni's death on the second cover to the point that I found myself right alongside the Chu family and their collective call for vengeance. Layman and his quirky odd book, the one that has left me completely engrossed and LOLing ( am speak english good in this digitamal ages) for the past few years, made me angry. Not for a story slight or some pacing affront, but because of what happened to a character who I adored. Toni's death was not a cheap shot. It made sense to Tony's story and changed him, serving as the catalyst to push him into the final half of the series. Then life goes on, only in Tony's case, with a renewed drive.
Guillory's art, which is crucial to all the LOL-worthy moments, also serves to bring the mood down, especially on the two covers. On the interior cover, the image of Tony, Colby and Olive standing above the grave is a sad reminder of last issue's tragedy, and the following ten-panel page drives home the anger of the Chu family and the sadness and guilt Tony feels. It's all very touching. A few pages later and Guillory has us laughing and disgusted all at the same time, with the ridiculous situations that make Chew so damn entertaining and special--just take a gander at the "Comic Convention Combustion" panel with Layman (pleased) and Guillory (shocked) and you'll see what I mean.
Although we have fewer issues ahead than behind for this Donist World champion of awesomenessnessness, we look to have quite a ride ahead of us. I cannot wait to see what comes next and remember...when it is all over, we will always have the fond memories, and if your memory sucks like mine, then at least you will have the Omnivore Editions to help you out. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Wonder Woman #16
Wonder Woman #16 - Written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Cliff Chiang, published by DC Comics. Last issue left off with double cliffhangers of epic proportions. First we have Orion (the New God) versus Wonder Woman (who recently discovered she's a goddess), then we have Heracles (not positive on who this guy is) versus a gang of ice giants. One battle is nasty and bloody and brutal, while the other is totally not those all. A newfound brother reveals the abductors of Zola's baby, but the child already has come into its power. Finally, a goddess appears and an ex-godly mentor seeks the death of the princess of power.
I was actually hoping to see the shizznit go down after the last issue, but alas it was not meant to be. If you've been reading Donist World for any length of time, you know I'll pick a good story over characters pummeling each other into goopy bits, but you know, every once in a while a feller wants to see some fightin'. Don't get me wrong, we get fightin', just not with the star of the show. Still, Azzarello delivers another great story with an ever expanding cast of fascinating characters. Chiang is equally to blame for the appeal of these gods and monsters with his great character designs, such as Demeter the plant goddess and the unique take on Ares of an eyeless, old man with bare feet covered in the blood of war victims. Even Orion gets a makeover that is a more modern improvement on his old look. Although this issue slowed the pace some, it was still highly enjoyable. We can also be thankful that no crossovers or events have come lurking to darken this title that has mysteriously been left to Azzarello to do with as he wants. Bring on the next issue! RECOMMENDED!

Hercules: Prince of
Power (1982) #1
Hercules: Prince of Power (1982) #1-4 - Written and illustrated by Bob Layton, published by Marvel Comics. The good ol' early days of the '80s. Some of us young fogies remember them fondly (here and here) for the deadly serious, dark themed comic books that changed the industry. Some of you youngsters probably weren't even born yet, but if you lend this old-man-baby your ear for a moment, you just might learn somethin'.
Not all books back then were about dark and stormy knights, or former heroes turned monsters, or grand plots to change the world, or heroes in half-shells. No. We still had our Marvel and DC funny books with much of the attention going to Claremont's Uncanny X-Men and Wolfman's The New Teen Titans, but there was somethin' else that also grabbed young Donist's attention back in those days. A little thing known as the limited series had become popular and was truly a thing to behold. Most of my allowance went to The Micronauts and Uncanny X-Men, but Momma Donist discovered the joy that these fully-contained stories brought to Donist and his brother...she also discovered that these limited series/mini-series/maxi-series also helped to keep their dagburned traps shut on long car rides. Thus Jeff and I would sit at the back of the Winnie pouring through our short bursts of comics heaven with Wolverine, Jack of Hearts, Kitty Pride and Wolverine, Sword of the Atom, Gargoyle, Jemm Son of Saturn, Hawkeye, Cloak and Dagger, and many others helping give Momma Donist the peace and quiet we so rarely allowed her. This is how I came across Hercules: Prince of Power.
Hercules returns to Olympus to visit his family, but fails to adhere to his father Zeus's day of "reflective silence" and finds himself banished to the stars to be humbled. With Apollo's gift of his mystical horse-drawn chariot, Hercules sets off and immediately finds trouble. He soon gains the company of a Rigellian Recorder to not just chronicle the god's exploits, but to get him off the alien race's ship to prevent further calamity. Throughout the series, Herc learns that being a god on Earth only means he is a slightly bigger speck when faced with the universe and he learns lesson after lesson as his trusty Recorder becomes more and more battle damaged. In the end he finds himself facing down the mighty Galactus in an effort to save a race of snail creatures with a rather unique skill set that Herc might be able to use to his advantage in dealing with the devourer of worlds.
Layton crafts a blast of story in a mythological and sci-fi mashup that is admittedly silly at times, but also serious, occasionally touching and more than anything exciting in a way only the '80s knew how to do so well. Visually, Layton's art is stunning. Expressions alone convey all the emotions without a single bit of dialogue needed, but it is the design of Hercules's body in motion, the bizarre aliens he comes across, and the beautiful women who grace the page that are something to truly Marvel (get it?) over. Whether words or art, Hercules is a beautifully told story.
To summarize, kids, this series was fun. Pure and simple. Maybe not what you consider to be fun these days. All the Playboxx's and Jolts in the world don't compare to a good ol' comic book. What? Don't believe me? Have a look and you'll see. Ol' Herc gets in fights, smashes things and--if I might be so bold--makes nice with the ladies, if you know what I mean. Uh, you don't know what I mean. Uh...forget about it. Anyhow, just know he punches stuff and it's pretty cool, and he has a robot pal. What more do ya need? Give thyself the gift, mortals. Give thyself a bit of light-hearted joy and a bit of history in the making. RECOMMENDED for mere mortals, but HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for nostalgia-craving old timers!

Surf Brewery Homebrew Basics - This past weekend, my buddy and I went to Surf Brewery for their excellent beginning homebrewing class. We basically learned that even going the route of beginning with extract (as opposed to grain) beer making is a difficult and complex matter, but with patience and perseverance can be highly rewarding. I especially found the reasoning for staggered hop additions to be the most interesting of topics. I also discovered that being allowed/encouraged to order a pint of beer to drink during class might have helped me out when I was a young college Donist all those years ago. Afterwards we hung out, ordered food from a fantastic food truck and had a six beer sampler with my favorites being the Black & Rye, Surf Black IPA and the County Line Rye Pale Ale. What a nice little Saturday.

Slice Into the Woods

Adventures With Homebrewing -Yeah, I'm new to this. Amy gave me a 1-gallon homebrewing kit for X-Mas and I cut into it a week later. My first foray almost three weeks ago into the whole mashing/boil part of the beer making process went...not all that well. My strainer was much too small, I needed a bigger pot, and I'm questioning my choice for water, but on the plus side, everything appeared to look right when all was said and done, and my disinfecting should have been top notch. Regardless, even if I produced something foul and revolting, I was going to see this through. Last Sunday, I went through the bottling process and...had more difficulty. You see, the whole siphoning thing is not as easy as it seems and I wished I had an auto-siphon to help out with the process, but the situation was what it was. In all, I probably wasted about two and a half bottles of "beer" in my attempt to transport from pot to bottle, but I did get seven and a half bottles out of my first attempt. Next week I will know if I truly have something tasty or I end up in the ER with strange and mysterious new powers. Time will tell, but I had a hell of a good time in the process. More beer kits and an auto-siphon should be delivering later today. Guess what I'm doing this weekend?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 1/18/2013

(Sung to the tune of The Scorpions's "Rock You Like a Hurricane")

It's late on Wednesday, I start to shout
New books I've read 'em, they got some clout
Saga and Batman go in for the win
A month long wait now burns me within

The Will feels guilty he needs to kill
Dark thoughts of lately do plague him still
Cap Marvel, Hulk, I'm tellin' you, bro
Daredevil, Joker on with the show

Here they are
Comics that will rock your brain
Here they are
Comics that will rock your brain

Obie healed, but apparently
not enough to actually get
back to work. Lazy bum.
You know what, folks? I think Obie's workin' it. You know, playin' the system. If you're new to Donist World, Obie is not only my friends' Boston terrier, he is also CFO of Donist World with plenty of "ideas" on what direction to take the company operations, what cross-geo synergies to quantify, and which Federal governments to sue for the $10 micro-bailout we received a few years back that kept us afloat in carne asada burritos when we needed them most. He's got plans...lots of 'em, but he won't tell me a single one unless I approve his bonus plan, cushy retirement package, and life long premium pet insurance. You see, a few weeks ago he was attacked by an escaped pit bull and had to have some stitches put in his ass. He also had to wear a cone of shame and take some puppy meds to boot. He went through a bit of a rough patch.
Since Obie's been out of commission, Tulip (Obie's sister, my dog, Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/craft beer home brewer) and I have been pulling all the weight around my mom's basement the corporate offices. Thankfully, Obie returned to the office this week, but he says he's still recovering from his injuries (physical and mental) and that although he is physically here, he is to not be pressured with any undue stress. I have also been informed that the vet said not to disturb him while he's watching his "stories" (Supernatural and Lost Girl). Anyhow, have a look at this week's FSoH/SitW while I bring his royal highness another mimosa...HEY! is he supposed to even have alcohol while he's on these meds? Ugh...have a gander at...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #9
Saga #9 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples, published by Image Comics. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! There you go. No wondering, no questions (was there any doubt?), no "did Donist like, love or go bonkers over this issue?" Bell Biv you know. Saga is the Donist World darling of 2012 and one issue in for 2013 it already looks to retain that status without contest, although I suspect there will be some close contenders. As the cover shows, this issue is about The Will and--to a lesser extent--the deceased The Stalk. We also get Lying Cat, a new(ish) girl, and an old flame spurned. Want to know who we don't see? The main characters. No Marko, no Alana, no Hazel show up in this story at all, in fact they are barely mentioned. One might think the strategy of not using any of the protagonists in this issue would hurt the overall story, but one would be wrong. The enemies of our heroes take center stage and I could not be happier for it.
The Will ain't doin' so hot. In fact, "the deadliest freelancer money can buy" is plagued with nightmares over the loss of fellow freelancer, The Stalk, who was also his love. To complicate matters, he's also roughing it over being forced to leave a little girl (Slave Girl?) on the sex planet Sextillion. At least one of those regrets can be fixed. Gwendolyn, Marko's old fiancé, shows up with a proposition for The Will. If she helps him rescue Slave Girl, then he will pull his ass out of his moping misery and get back to his job of finding Marko and Alana. A ruse goes sour, a fight goes down, and Slave Girl might have the answer to tracking down the missing illicit lovers. *bonus - Lying cat represents!
All of the above said and the mini synopsis done, I will say that I found MANY problems with this issue. <LYING> Vaughan does an adequate job of helping us get an idea of who The Will is, but in no way do we sympathize with the character in the least. <LYING> Sure he lost his lady-spider love, and the whole thing of leaving a child on a sex planet to continue being sexually abused is bad, but try as he might, Vaughan just can't reel the reader in enough to feel for this cold-blooded killer. <LYING> Then there's the new character, Gwendolyn, who we have no idea of what she wants or why she's even bothering to get involved. <LYING> Again, we're faced with a crushing apathy toward Marko's jilted lover and halfway into the book the reader is scratching their head and hopelessly done with this horn head. <LYING> Even an appearance by Lying Cat is not enough to vault the latest installment above being merely mediocre. <LYING><LYING><LYING!!!>
Then there's Staples. Her art is a definite step in the wrong direction and with a lack of expressiveness in her characters' faces that only serves to disassociate the reader from The Will, The Stalk, Slave Girl, Gwendolyn and Lying Cat all together. <LYING> The problem is not just the faces, but in some of the character designs as well. <LYING> New character Gwendolyn is borderline interesting, but not at all attractive, driven, incredibly hot, or stylishly dressed...hell, her horns aren't even all that cool. <LYING!!!> She could also stand to eat a hamburger or something, but some people are naturally skinny, which makes this Donist a tad jealous <...>
All lying aside, I loved this issue completely. The gorgeous art and a story makes me want to just stay in this universe, orbiting each character--whether alive or dead--to see what they've seen and to experience life as it happens around them. If you are not reading Saga, you are missing out on one of the best comics to come along since my all-time favorite Preacher, but you can easily pick up the $9.99 trade of issues 1-6 and then scrounge up the individual issues for 7-9. I cannot praise this wonderful comic book enough. <TRUTHING!!!> VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batman #16
Batman #16 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo, backup written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV and illustrated by Jock, published by DC Comics. All righty, Scott Snyder doesn't have a scary bone in his body...<LYING!> Sorry...enough of that. Geez Louise, where does this guy come up with this stuff? Seriously. I enjoyed the "Court of Owls" storyline immensely, but something's changed now that Snyder's brought the Joker into the series. The Owls were terrifying as a group of faceless, aristocratic mad men (and women and children),  much like some of today's corporations and special interests groups (ouch). Joker, though...Joker dances to his own beat. He's an individual with his own agenda, one that only he understands and that is what makes him most frightening. The Joker is the face of what makes the citizens of Gotham--and Donist to be honest--quake in their boots, and what a horrific, fly-ridden face it is.
The Joker has pulled out all the stops for his party preparations for his beloved Batman. He's taken great pains to refurbish Arkham Asylum to tell the narrative he so desperately wants to tell. Guards dressed as Batman and Joker dance together in deathtrap cells, prisoners dressed as knights spar with the darkest knight of all, a grotesque human tapestry pays tribute to the pair's past, the Bat Family in peril, but that is not all. Batman's rogues stand in new false stations of grandeur, but this is the story of a king and his court jester. Whatever Joker ultimately has in store for Batman, it can't be good if Penguin and Two-Face are appalled by what they see coming. Next issue brings the nail-biting conclusion.
Man. The opening two pages say it all...this is some messed up stuff. Snyder loves not so much pushing, but shoving Batman from one impossible predicament into another, and what better character to utilize in breaking down the Bat than his main nemesis the Joker. Nightmare after nightmare appears to keep the reader just as off balance as our hero, and in the end it's Joker who runs the show and leads this issue. Sure Snyder throws in a good chunk of Gotham's most fearsome villains, but none of them can stand as tall as Joker when he is in his element. Just check Capullo's double-page spread and you literally see Joker standing with a foot on the step up to the throne; he's a step above the rest in all ways.
Speaking of Capullo, Snyder gave this giant among artists plenty to demonstrate his skills with a few silent action pages, a disturbing double page spread, and then those oh-so-terrifying images of the Joker's "face"--flies, discoloration and all. Each page is enough to make me want to check under my bed before going to sleep tonight. Colorist FCO Plascencia's brightly lit DPS and the intense flames and colors of the battle with the "knights" only enhance Capullo's phenomenal art.
The backup story is well-written by Snyder and Tynion IV and beautifully illustrated by Jock, but is honestly not what I would call a backup story. "Judgement" is actually more of a continuation from where Capullo's work ends, which is fine, but this segment might have served better with Capullo finishing off with Joker startling Two-Face and the Penguin. Past backup stories broke away completely from the narrative of what was happening with Batman by cutting to the Joker recruiting the other villains. Maybe with Batman and the Joker finally together, it was time for the story proper and the backup to become one. Maybe it was a deadline thing. Regardless, this story would not be complete without the "what's in the box?" or rather "what's on the platter?" moment, and it succeeds in continuing the chills. With the next issue concluding "Death of the Family," I cannot wait to see how it all ends. I'm certain it will be scary. I'm certain it will be stunning. I'm certain it will be everything I'm hoping it will be. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Captain Marvel #9
Captain Marvel #9 - Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and illustrated by Filipe Andrade, published by Marvel Comics. We're all busy nowadays, all these gadgets, gizmos and whatchamabobbers that are supposed to help make life "simpler" actually allow more complications into our lives. Heck, even superheroes are at risk of suffering from too-much-to-doitis. Then you add Tony Stark into the mix, and you can't help but have to adjust your schedule.
DeConnick continues to bring one of the mightiest women in comics down to street level. As Carol Danvers tries to cross all of her tasks off her list, you can't help but know exactly how she feels as life's complications get in her way. Right when you're ready to have a coffee with Carol, DeConnick reminds us she is also Captain Marvel, and she ends up in a brawl with a couple of stray T-Rexs. Shortly thereafter she's back to normal with an all too startling normal problem that makes your stomach drop.
Filipe Andrade is the stand in artist on this issue and his unique art style which is more likely to be found in an Image comic as opposed to a Marvel comic works wonderfully for this issue. I'm actually surprised that Marvel has been allowing such non-Marvel-stlye indie artists to illustrate Captain Marvel, but the different style is much appreciated. For a character who is close to being considered a goddess, you can't help but love Captain Marvel, and this Donist definitely wants to see more. RECOMMENDED!

Daredevil #22
Daredevil #22 - Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Chris Samnee, published by Marvel Comics. As I've mentioned in the past, Daredevil is the book that brought me back into the Marvel fold and I have been for the most part loving it since the first issue. The last arc, although not bad by any means, didn't really pull me in as much as previous issues, but with this Spider-Man (or rather Doc Ock in Spidey's meat suit...don't ask me, I just heard about this) crossover I'm back in 100%
"Thank God for Stilt-Man" is one of the best lines in this book to date, and the battle between this upgraded loser and Hornhead and Spidey is a blast. For me though, the best part of Waid's story is at the beginning where Matt (Daredevil in real life) explains how he handles money of different denominations and how he deals with d_bags who try to jilt him all in one fantastic 12-panel page beautifully illustrated by Samnee. In fact, it's the first and last three pages of this issue that affected me the most; what begins as fascinating, ends as possible tragedy. Man, were DeConnick and Waid talking about some heavy subject matter together, or were they just wanting to heap some all-too-real misery on our favorite heroes this week? This ending is tough, but I can tell you for sure that I can't wait for the next issue. RECOMMENDED!

Indestructible Hulk #3
Indestructible Hulk #3 - Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Leinil Yu, published by Marvel Comics. Before I say anything, I have to admit I was absent on the day that my Hulk History 101 class discussed whatever the hell a "Quintronic Man" was. That's okay. Waid's writing this comic, so you know it will be good and if you have half a brain in your head you'll be able to fill in the gaps. The odd thing, though, is that Bruce Banner is hardly in this issue except for the final two and a half pages. You do get a healthy dose of the Hulk doing that smash thing he does so well.
This issue finds the hunt for Banner's lab assistants in full swing, and SHIELD exercising their option to use the Hulk as their own personal WMD to bring down the Quintronic Man (yeah, I'm gonna have to Google this cat). Banner also meets the first version of his new BFF.
Waid continues to have me give a flyin' hoot about the Hulk and Yu's action scenes are tremendous. I rarely mention comics lettering, but Chris Eliopoulos gives us some great captions and sound effects that both standout while not pulling you out of the story, which is dang hard to do. Although I did not enjoy this issue as much as the first and second, this month's Indestructible Hulk was still a total kick in the pants. The cover for next month's Hulk has me anxious for what's to come. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Weird Goin' Ons Over at DC - I don't know enough to adequately comment on the matter--and probably never will--but it seems there have been a lot of people quitting, people being removed from titles, people being rehired to titles, comics being canceled, creative teams being announced, and creative teams being let go before a single issue even comes out. It's all kind of weird. I will say that I am bummed over the news that Joshua Hale Fialkov's I, Vampire has been canceled. Hopefully we will get to see Fialkov on some other projects in the near future.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 1/12/2013

(Sung to the tune of The Flirts "Jukebox (Don't Put Another Dime)")

So I saw it at my comic place
My resolve began to bend
I had a cry, it was such a disgrace
Sweet Tooth's coming to an end

Rot World creeps get pounded to goo
The Red, the Green oh what'll they do?

Now that we gotta go without Sweet Tooth
What's the next comic for us to score?
The world is better because of Sweet Tooth
That guy Lemire rocks for sure

Obie Convalesces 
Sorry...let me just finish these stretches. Ahhh...okay, good. This intro is going to be a bit short as I have been just slammed for the past couple weeks, but I've been slammed with mostly good things; hopefully you will get to see most of these things in the coming year. Anyhow, I'm here at my mom's basement Donist World corporate headquarters with Tulip (my Boston terrier pal and Donist World marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / hot pocket...huh?) and we are keeping the engines running while Obie (Tulip's brother, my friends' dog, and Donist World CFO) is out recovering from his pit bull attack. As you can see from his picture, he is getting along quite well, and has plenty of reading materials with a mountain of comics (not pictured) to keep him occupied over by his bed. Thankfully, from this angle you can't see his shaved butt, which was at his insistence; Obie is all about appearances after all. Also not pictured is the squeaky chew toy Tulip and I sent over in a care package to help him in his recovery. How many CFOs do you know that play with squeaky chew toys? Not counting the CFOs from Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and AIG of course. Too bad Obie didn't run those companies, I'm sure he could have done a better job. Anyhow, let's get on with...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Sweet Tooth #40
Sweet Tooth #40 - Everythinged by Jeff Lemire, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint. The comics world can be a difficult and frustrating place for reader. I can't tell you how many times a loved titled has been canceled and given a hasty ending, or even worse, no ending at all. If you're a longtime comic fan, then you've assuredly experienced a shoddy ending of some sort. What's bad for the reader must be exponentially so for the creator(s) involved. Thankfully, this is not the case with Lemire's fantastic post-apocalyptic tale of humans struggling to survive a disease ravaged world and the hybrid animal children set to replace them. Lemire takes this jewel of a series and gives it the ending he wanted, at his pace, and on his terms. We could not be more fortunate.
With the events of the penultimate issue, Gus has lost dear friends and mortal enemies and now it is up to the antlered boy to take charge and protect those who yet live. It's not an easy task. The world of man is on the brink of extinction and with each vehicle that runs out of fuel, with each gun without ammunition, man's fate is all be certain. This is the story of what happens after the events in Alaska. Very unexpected developments happen along Gus's family's journey from the cold of the north to their new home. We don't so much see the coming of new generations and the death of no longer relevant and unnecessary  ways, but we, as readers, experience them. Some desperately grasp to retain the old ways, but even that fades as a new world comes to exist. We are there for it all, thank goodness for that.
Huh. I want to cut the lights, play some mellow jazz--Bill Evans, perhaps--light some candles, pour a bourbon and soda, and just think about this book for a while. Maybe I'll give it an hour or so before rereading this issue. I want to really appreciate every subtle clue and explicit glimpse into the events of the decades that follow Gus and his family's journey after Jepperd's death. Gus's sons, Becky, Singh, Bobby the man (hells yeah!), relationship issues, Buddy; there's so much packed into this issue, yet Lemire let's the stories unfold and nothing seems rushed or overlooked. In truth, even though this is a double-sized issue with a $4.99 price, it seems like you get so very much more.
Essex County, Underwater Welder and now Sweet Tooth are all now complete and are an ever-growing crown of achievements for Lemire with more to come. On the Vertigo side of things Sweet Tooth is right up there for me with Preacher, Y the Last Man and The Sandman all of which have maintained a long run and closed with a tremendous finish. If you have not yet read this remarkable series, then I can say that I don't feel sorry for you. Rather I am envious that you get to experience what has been one of my favorite comics on the stand for the past few years with fresh eyes and not knowing what is to come. One thing you should know is that when Sweet Tooth ends, it ends spectacularly. This is a riveting story, a harsh story, a touching story. It is a story that comes VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Swamp Thing #16
Swamp Thing #16 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Yanick Paquette, published by DC Comics. This was the first comic I read this week. In fact, I didn't want to wait until I got home later that evening, I drove back to work and read it in my car before heading back inside to the grind. Doing this made me late, but hey, it's Swamp Thing; TPS reports can wait, dammit. After finishing this issue, I knew I had made the right call, but I will say that as much as I liked this issue, certain events came to a head leaving me so mad I could spit. Spit I tell you!
The closer Alec Holland, better known as the Swamp Thing, gets to Anton Arcane, the avatar of the Rot, the weaker he becomes. If he is to save his love, Abigail, and restore the Green to the world, then he has no choice but to push onward. Thankfully, he has friends in Gotham City. Barbara Gordon is one of those friends, and she has plans for Alec that Batman put into place before he too succumbed to the Rot. With a small army and his strength restored, Alec Holland stands at the edge of Arcane's castle. All he needs is for Abigail to hold on just a while longer.
Alright, Snyder, you didn't have to go there. I...arghh, I'm not going to spoil this, folks, just know that I'm disturbed and upset over what happens in this issue. You're just gonna have to go and read it to see why I'm so dismayed, but you can bet your bottom dollar--or rather hold the line at $2.99--that when issue 17 comes out, it will be the first book I read that week. Snyder brings his all in this book. The horror, excitement, conflict, defeat, hope, despair, it's all here in droves. In usual Donist style, I was apprehensive about additional guest appearances showing up, but the way Snyder handles Barbara Gordon and the reveal of what Batman was working on in preparation for Alec's arrival made complete sense. I cheered when I saw the...mechanical thingy (I don't want to spoil this one) and then cheered again on the next page with the use of the...other mechanical thingy (yup...ditto) that answered my question regarding Alec's weakening state. I didn't see it coming. I didn't see something else coming, either, but we're not going to talk about that, dammit.
Swamp Thing continues to be the book I was hoping for and is my favorite book of the New 52. I fully intend to continue reading the series when Snyder leaves the title after issue 18, but I will admit to being a little worried for what comes next. Then there's Paguette, who has equally made this comic so great and visually stunning. With scenes like Abby fighting the revolting Arcane--Paquette really delivers the gross and the beautiful at the same time--and Alec getting his groove back, I can only hope the artist who follows on issue 19 fits the style and tone this title requires. For now, we'll just have to focus on biting our nails in anticipation of the creepy conclusion to Rot World next month. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Animal Man #16
Animal Man #16 - Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Steve Pugh and Timothy Green II, published by DC Comics. First Snyder and Paquette announce they are leaving Swamp Thing after issue 18, Sweet Tooth ended (spectacularly as you've already read) and next issue sees the end of Rot World in Animal Man. As far as I know, Lemire and Pugh will continue to work on Animal Man--thank goodness for that--but with 18 issues mostly devoted to the world of the Rot, I'm curious as to where one of the best of the New 52 is headed. All I know for this issue...stars, baby, stars.
Buddy Baker (Animal Man) and his team have found Anton Arcane's imprisoned super weapon and that prisoner is none other than a Green Lantern. This Green Lantern is not one most people are familiar with, rather it is Medphyll, the alien sentient plant from galaxies away. With Medphyll's connection to the Green, Buddy's connection to the Red, and Frankenstein's connection to...actually, his inability to be affected by Rot, Green or Red, the heroes prepare to take the fight to Arcane. One problem. Blackbriar Thorn, a highly magical druid, has gone over to the Rot and wants his prisoner back. We also get a glimpse of before Rot World, when Buddy's daughter, Maxine, is faced with a terrible choice which she accepts, taking her to the side of evil. Finally, Animal Man's group stands against Arcane's gatekeepers, but they definitely did not expect what comes at them through the those dark twisted gates.
Now that is what I call an action packed comic. Pugh delivers probably his best issue to date, and the issues before were all stunning to begin with. Medphyll's release is dramatic, and the creepy Blackbriar Thorn (please bring this guy back later...more wood god = good) is fearsome with such attention to each detail of his beard I was reminded of Richard Corben at times. As revolting as this issue is, Pugh's illustrations are beautiful. Then Green II steps in for the Maxine flashback scenes and his pages shine during the confrontation with the hideous Hunters Three Two. Both artists' art has been great thus far, but I think someone has been slipping these guys bio-restorative formula or something, because this is a standout issue.
As for the story...this and the previous installment of FSoH/SitW have focused on Jeff Lemire (that's how the dice landed, folks) with good reason. Although I prefer Lemire's work on his own stories (Essex County, Underwater Welder, Sweet Tooth) as opposed to those of established superheroes, his mainstream work is still damn entertaining and worthy of many rereads. We have tension, extreme stakes, characters we care about, nods to many older underutilized characters, horror, and tragedy (someone bites it big time...maybe) to make this one hell of an exciting issue. I cannot wait to see how Rot World ends from the perspective of the Red. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items: 
Thor God of Thunder #4
Thor God of Thunder #4 - Written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by Esad Ribic, published by Marvel Comics. I think Thor God of Thunder is the first Marvel NOW! book that I bought (assuming that Daredevil, Captain Marvel and Hawkeye really don't fall under the change ups of NOW!). It was the right decision to give this title a try. Aaron has taken the established character of Thor and not only created three stories around him (young, present and furture), he has tied them into on overarching story while at the same time broadening the role of "gods" to other worlds and galaxies. He's even fabricated fascinating new mythologies (many of which I would love to see more of) while making them all dependent upon Thor. Not an easy feat.
With this issue we gain slight insight into Gorr the God Butcher's motivations and possibly a clue as to his relationship to Shadrak, god of wine and waterfalls, a now mad god Gorr has tormented for countless ages. The ending finds present Thor arriving to deliver future Thor from his torment by the God Butcher's minions. Another great issue that is mostly lead up for what comes next, but one that should not be missed for the clues hidden within. Spot on storytelling as can be expected from Aaron and Ribic's art continues to be nothing short of astounding. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Working Myself to the Bone! - Okay, this is not necessarily a bad thing as all the work I have been doing has been on the things I love. In the past two weeks I have sent in my novel submission (discovered an error after the fact, DOH!), submitted the script for a pitch, made adjustments to the pitch script after acceptance, received gorgeous artwork from the exceptionally talented Brian Gilman on another comic script, secured Brian to work on the previously mentioned pitch script, scored some new fonts, wrote a 22-page fantasy comic script, posted two FSoH/SitW posts, and I'm preparing to do some lettering next week. All this and tons of comics to read! to get paid to do these things...hmmm. Gonna have to think about this.

Have a fantastic weekend all!


Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 1/4/2013

(Sung to the tune of Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now")

Obie behave
Get your paws off the petty cash box
There's not much to pay
Again shorted books now?

And so we're
Tryin' to come up with a tight plan
Missed I Vampire is bummin' me out, man
Plenty of stuff to read this winter's night

And I see the tall stack of comics
Springing forth from the cold ground
And then I read, Jack Joseph's alone now
Underwater Welder's a great book I've found

Hello Donist Worldists and Happy New Year. Today it's just Tulip (my Boston terrier and Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/homebrewer) and I manning the ship as Obie (Tulip's brother, my friends' Boston terrier and Donist World CFO) is out to recover from a dog attack, but I'll get to that in Slice Into the Woods. For now, Tulip and I are left with a light week after being shorted on I, Vampire at the LCS. Seeing as how this happens all too often, Tulip put on her Holmes hat, put a pipe in her mouth and grabbed a magnifying glass to get to the bottom why we were shorted this one book that we were looking forward to reading. Our preliminary investigation and eye witness interviews mentioned that I, Vampire did indeed arrive at the LCS, yet mysteriously, a copy never made it into the Pull of the Donist. Iiiiinnnnnterresssssstttting. Anyhow, Tulip's on the case and...hey! What are you doing? Where did all those damn ants come from? Crap! Tulip's investigation has actually found a trail of ants going from the front door of the Donist World secret headquarters, across the living room floor conference room floor and into Mom's the kitchen to climb the trashcan to get at some discarded salmon skin. Yeah, gross. Tulip's actually trying to burn the ants with her puppy sleuth magnifying glass, but there are some factors working against her: it's 6:00 AM, the sun hasn't yet risen, we're indoors. Oh well, I'll leave her to it and she can get back to the mystery of our comics being given to other customers later. For now, let's crack into one of the books in the recently constructed holiday bounty of comics looming in the corner. It's ADVENTURE TIME!...sorry, I've been watching too much of that groovy show. Let's try that again. It's time for...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Underwater Welder GN
Underwater Welder GN - Everythinged by Jeff Lemire, published by Top Cow. I suspect that when many people hear the name Jeff Lemire nowadays, they think of Animal Man with the Red and the Rot, Justice League Dark with Constantine and that groovy purple lady, or possibly even Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. There were even those Superboy books from before the New 52 (or is it the Current 52? The post-graduate 52? Semi-retired 52?). Far fewer people know of his tremendous Sweet Tooth that featured Lemire as writer/artist. From there, however, after shaving off a few more readers you have those who read Nobody or the must-read Essex County
It's actually Essex County that best describes my feelings on Lemire as a comic book writer. The second story ("Ghost Stories") follows the lives of a pair of brothers who love hockey. They live, eat and breath the stuff. In fact, the sport of hockey is key to this story. I don't like all. This of course includes hockey, yet here I was reading a story about something I could give a flying fig less about, and it was engrossing. I couldn't put it down. The story--and the other two as well, let's be honest--brought this thick-skinned Donist to tears. It was beautiful. From that point, I knew I was going to follow this Lemire and his work, which lead me to the recently released triumph of The Underwater Welder.
Jack Joseph is a Canadian underwater welder who works far below the surface repairing oil rigs. Within the embrace of the cold and the dark, he has solitude, quiet. The world is his own. Back home, his real home, his wife and his unborn son await his return. Impending fatherhood has pushed Jack further and further away from his family, but then one evening below the waves something mystical happens that will bring back the past and uncover hidden memories and lost treasures.
<sigh> <sniffle> Okay, Donist, you can do brave. Lemire has created an emotionally charged mystery of sorts that at first reveals bits of the past already known by Jack Joseph, but as the story progresses, the reader and the Jack begin to experience his discoveries together. You start by observing Jack, but over the course of reading you and Jack are one and the same. It's easy to put yourself in Jack's shoes, even if you don't have a wife or impending fatherhood, it's the feeling of being overwhelmed with life that makes this story so applicable to the reader, no matter what their situation might be. Who hasn't felt lost and wanted to escape to better times, or at least times perceived as being better. Lemire makes it all too easy to sympathize with Jack, which is not an easy thing to do, but getting readers to love his characters is this creator's strength. The unique style of Lemire's illustrations only cement an attachment to the story. He knows when to throw in an abundance of panels with plenty of word balloons such as when Jack is talking with his wife--the times when Jack is feeling overwhelmed--and when to be economical with panels, such as when Jack is underwater or remembering his father. Just look at the beautiful splash pages toward the beginning that show Jack at peace. By the end, the artwork alone dictates the state of Jack's mind in a brilliant way. Art and story combine beautifully and let you know just where this man stands.
No superheroes. No Rot monsters. No robots. None of that. Haunting, relatable, and compelling, Underwater Welder is a look at one man's life, and the things weighing heavily on his soul. Much like Essex County this is a real world story only with some fantastic elements that are sure to go straight for your heart. Damn you, Jeff Lemire. See what you done? You gone made me mess up my makeup again...thank you for that. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Golly Gee Willikers! How
Will we ever get to these?
Binders Full of Women - Just kidding.* How about a monumental stack of comics and graphic novels instead? Well, Donist World readers, that's what I got. Some are from Amy, many are from the 20 comics I sold back for credit to Anyhow, here is what awaits to be read beside my bed, on weeks that are short, I'll read 'em instead (poet and didn't know it).
  • Berserk# 36 - Been reading this for a while. Will talk about soon. Love the Anime, love the manga, love the recent OVA.
  • Blacksad: A Silent Hell HC - The first one was amazing. I expect more of the same.
  • Chew Omnivore Edition V. 1 HC - I've been threatening to get this for a while. I love this series and it deserves to be on my shelf as a HC. Now to get volume two.
  • Cloak and Dagger (1983) #1-4 - I read this as a young Donist. I wonder if it holds up to the test of time. Originally lost in the great "Must-sell-comic-collection-so-I-can-eat" days of college.
  • Daisy Cutter - A Kazu Kibuishi (The Amulet) Kickstarter that I helped fund. Can't wait to read this early work now back in print.
  • Dancer TPB - Nathan Edmondson is a fantastic writer. The Light and the Who is Jake Ellis? minis were great and I know this will be as well.
  • Dr. Strange: The Oath #1-5 - Been wanting to read this again for a long time. I remember this as being a touching look at a doctor with mystical abilities and the friendship he has with his manservant. Huh?
  • Finding Gossamyr #2 - A great first issue--I need to talk about it soon--and this one has much promise.
  • Hercules (1982) #1-4 - I read this as a young Donist. I wonder if it holds up to the test of time. Originally lost in the great "Must-sell-comic-collection-so-I-can-eat" days of college.
  • Hercules (1984) #1-4 - I read this as a young Donist. I wonder if it holds up to the test of time. Originally lost in the great "Must-sell-comic-collection-so-I-can-eat" days of college.
  • Infinite Horizon - A retelling of the Odyssey in "modern times."
  • Jimmy Olsen One Shot (not pictured) - Loved this when I first gave it a read. Nick Spencer wrote a great story here.
  • Metabarons Ultimate Collection HC - I know very little about the Metabarons, but until now the series has seemed a tad impenetrable. Really looking forward to reading this one.
  • Neonomicon TPB - Alan Moore and adult-oriented Lovecraftian horror. Sure, sign me up.
  • Pride and Joy #1-4 - An early Garth Ennis story that I had forgotten about and I'm anxious to be reacquainted.
  • Richard Stark's Parker "The Score" HC - Darwyn Cooke...what else do I need to say? This is the third book in a beautiful series. Must own material.
  • Skullkickers V.1 Treasure Trove Edition HC - Jim Zub rules. He was great for showing up at Comics Experience a while back, and his gut-checking blog posts on the reality of the comic book world is enlightening (and occasionally depressing). Skullkickers is a blast as well. Support this guy!
  • Superman #712 - For dog lovers who feel like mugging themselves emotionally. Brilliantly written, but so sad I could barely tell my wife about it without sobbing...seriously.
  • Underwater Welder - See above.
  • Who Is Jake Ellis? - Again with Nathan Edmondson. Great spy series. I'm currently reading the followup Where is Jake Ellis? and loving that. This one was fantastic the first time around.
  • Wolverine: Debt of Death (not pictured) - I just read this and it was good, but the David Aja art is phenomenal and showcases his earlier style. Worth seeking out.

*sidenote - who has "binders full of women" nowadays? Be honest. A computer file folder named "Sports Statistics" full of women, sure, but binders? So very '80s.

Homebrewing - I'm totally new to this. There I said it. You see, the Wife-o'-the-Donist (kind of like a Will-O'-the-Wisp only way better) gave me a Brooklyn Brewshop Everyday IPA home brew kit. How cool is that?! Anyways, this past Tuesday I went at it over the course of 3-4 hours of stirring and temperature taking and measuring and applying hops, all in the hopes that this lil' alchemist-at-heart could create pure liquid gold. Some things I learned: an 8" strainer is too small, three large pots work better than two large and a medium, a nylon grain bag would be immensely helpful, I should have probably put a lid on the pot after "mashing in." Tomorrow I will install the air-lock and probably bring the 1-gallon fermenter into the house for a slightly warmer environment of continual darkness where it will sit for two weeks. Then I will bottle and let sit for an additional two weeks. Then I will enjoy (hopefully). In the end, even if I create a new life form (at the worst), or some truly icky tasting stuff (bad case scenario), or something wonderful, it was a great learning experience and one that I will attempt again very soon. Looks like I found a hobby for in between writing comics, novels and blogs.

Slice Into the Woods

Obie Was Attacked By a Pit Bull - No, I wish I was kidding. My friend was out walking Obie the other night and a young pit bull on the loose charged up to him. Obie is not exactly keen on other dogs and snapped at the pit bull, but before things could get ugly, my friend yanked Obie up into his arms. Not to be deterred, the pit jumped up and bit Obie's ass. A few stitches later, a cone, some meds and Obie was back home. Unfortunately, he then ripped a stitch and will now have a battle scar. I feel terrible for the poor little guy and for my friend who had to go through this crap and pay the emergency vet bills.
"Where was the owner?" you might ask. Inside his house. You see, this is the second time this has happened. I am not one of those "Pit bulls are evil" people. They, like all other dogs, can be lovely gentle animals. The failure is with the moron who owns the dog. "He keeps getting out" is not an excuse for poor pet ownership. He needs to exercise his dog, secure it inside and out as opposed to letting it run loose on a busy street (again, moron) and decide if pet ownership is something he is ready to handle. I'm certain there are other incidents, how could there not be? Poor Obie though. A back leg that dislocates if he runs too hard and now a dog-bitten's hoping for a speedy recovery.