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.

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