Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 2/8/2013

(Sung to the tune of Culture Club "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?")

It is time
Comic books are sublime
They're all too surreal
Within each a big surprise
Cold hearts melt for real

You should really have a look-see
You should really give these books a try

Rachel Rising really scares me
Green Arrow is the book to buy
Rot World ending has brains churnin'
To me Swamp Thing's still a star
Animal Man really thrills me
Anton Arcane's gone too far

You should really have a look-see
You should really give these books a try

Hello there, Donist World readers. Today we have nothing else to do we're taking a much deserved break from all of the mounds of paperwork we have piling up and have instead decided to marathon through Netflix's new phenomenal original series House of Cards. Tulip (my Boston terrier and Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/pastry advisor) has stolen a box of Toaster Strudels from my mom's cupboard arranged catering for the event and Obie (Tulip's brother, my friends' Boston terrier and Donist World CFO), after being inspired by House of Cards, is crunching the numbers to see about taking Donist World public so he can get his paws on some of that oh-so-sweet cash-money. Unfortunately, he missed the part where Kevin Spacey says how the quest for money is short-sighted, but the quest for power is something worthwhile. Obie's a bit disappointed as he's come to the conclusion that we would actually have to pay shareholders to own our stock, and that just doesn't help our initiative to become a $100 company. Come to think of it, I'm glad Obie didn't hear Spacey's bit about power...who knows what schemes might come up with then. Oh, got to go...Tulip scored some grape-flavored Kool-Aid from Mom's cupboard tasty beverages for our viewing extravaganza. While we get back to this great show, take a little peek at...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Green Arrow #17
Green Arrow #17 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, published by DC Comics. Which came first, the green or the purple? Well, that's a question a quick search on the interwebs/wikki-doohickey thingamajigger can answer (I know the answer), but honestly who cares? The last Green Arrow books I read were the Kevin Smith "Quiver" arc from back in 2001 (good), the Diggle and Jock's "Year One" from back in 2007 (really, really good), Mike Grell's "Longbow Hunters" from way back in 1987 during young Donist's comic book formative years (kinda great). That's it. Let's do the math. Three Green Arrow titles in 26 years...multiply by 52, carry the...okay, forget the math. The bottom line is I have not really been following Green Arrow at all over the years, but after reading Lemire and Sorrentino's first issue of the emerald archer, I'm more than ready to keep this book in my sights (ugh), take aim (groan), and shoot it straight toward my heart (enough already!).
Oliver Queen (a much younger Oliver per the New 52, word!) has lost it all: his company, his fortune, his standing as a hero. What happened to bring the renowned Green Arrow so low? A few things actually. Emerson, the man appointed by Oliver's father to be in charge of Queen Industries, has lost the company to rival Stellmoor International. When confronted about the take over, Emerson tells Oliver of legacies and "true birthrights," but before he can explain, Emerson is shot and gruesomely killed by an arrow. Then everything spirals out of control. Oliver is blamed for the death, his trusted friends are killed and he finds himself in a fight with Emerson's killer, an archer named Komodo with abilities rivaling Oliver's own skills.
This is how you start a new chapter in a comic! Page one had me hook, line and sinker. As I mentioned above, I have not read a Green Arrow book for years, yet page one tore most of the past down and gave the character a new starting point. The rest of the story is flashback as to what brought Oliver to that point, but Lemire focuses on a brief three-week period to bring a mystery (the "birthright," the rival archer, and why he is being set up), take care of the character's help (Oliver's friends), set everyone against him (falsely accused), and leave him completely alone. Green Arrow is reborn. Aside from a couple of references to past story points, this reboot within a reboot succeeds in making issue 17 an easy jumping on point for anyone not familiar with the events of the past year and a half (this is NOT a knock against the previous creators on the book, I just wasn't reading the series).
I am a HUGE fan of Sorrentino's art from the I, Vampire series which is sadly coming to a close in the next month or two, and he does not miss a beat in the transition to this series. Beautiful, dark, moody lines convey more emotion and thrills than I could have ever hoped to find in this title. Despite missing I,Vampire's colorist Marcelo Maiolo, Sorrentino's colors are still impressive and I love the two-color dramatic panels that draw extra attention to intense moments in the story.
I made the leap to this book solely on my love of the creators involved. Indeed, I chose wisely. Green Arrow #17 is the perfect jumping on point and you need little information on this hero to be brought fully up to speed. In fact all you really need to know is that Oliver Queen was rich, he was a superhero, and his world has been shattered; you get all of this on the first page. This is a great issue that looks to be a bullseye (again?!) and you should not hesitate to include Green Arrow #17 in your quiver (criminy, Donist). HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Animal Man #17
Animal Man #17 - Written by Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder, illustrated by Steve Pugh and Timothy Green II, published by DC Comics. Alrighty, folks, it's here, the event that has been building for the past year and a half has delivered. It's the end of Rot World--or at least the first half of the end of Rot World--as we know it, and after reading this issue, you wanna know something? I feeeeeel fiiiiiine. Not only do I feel fine, but I'm actually pretty pumped for what's coming in the second half. Before we get into it, I will say that Animal Man was the book that after seeing the cover in the issue one solicits, I knew this was one title I had to try. 19 issues later (including a "0" issue and an annual), I'm still enjoying the comic that succeeded in pulling this lapsed DC reader back into the fold. Now, have a sip of bourbon, channel your inner animal (I'm a Boston terrier, thank you very much) and let's get into the this books guts (ewww).
The end game is in motion and Animal Man (Buddy Baker), Frankenstein, Black Orchid, Steel, Green Lantern (Medphyll) and Beast Boy are all that stand against the forces of The Rot's psychotic avatar, Anton Arcane. Unfortunately for our heroes, Arcane has converted the heavy hitters of the Justice League into mindless thralls of The Rot, and these super-powered monsters are tearing The Red's champions to shreds, literally. Unbeknownst to Buddy, the Swamp Thing and his  ragtag group of resistance fighters are engaging Arcane on the other side of the mad monster's citadel. As team Red receives reinforcements, they also suffer a tremendous loss, and one of their own experiences an unexpected change. Finally, The Green and The Red join forces to face Anton himself, and Buddy and Alec aren't going to like the surprise he has in store for them.
What a great bridge to to the concluding chapter. I was captivated for the entirety of Lemire and Snyder's story and oftentimes found myself gasping at the horrible moments while a cheering a few panels later with the acts of fantastic heroism. Then the writers pull the rug out from under the reader and leave them with an ending that although expected, was still shocking in the lengths they allow Arcane's evil to sink. Speaking of Arcane, his appearance was all to brief in this issue, but with Swamp Thing queued up as my next book to read in the stack, I have a hunch he will feature prominently.
Pugh continues to offer up some of the best revolting imagery to date on this book, with some of his interpretations of The Rot-infected JLA members giving me a severe case of the willies. Just take a moment to dig that Flash action, man. Those teeth alone will haunt my dreams this evening, and his Cyborg...yeah, Cyborg's just gross as a bunch of nondescript lumpy flesh shapes attached to machinery. Yuck in the best of ways. Pugh is a part of Animal Man I hope to see illustrating this title for some time to come. Green II is also stunning on this issue as he takes up the pages focusing primarily on the Swamp Thing and The Green's champions. His art is a stark contrast of crisp, clean line work to Pugh's thicker and darker toned imagery. Together, although the change in artist from page to page is noticeable, I found myself not minding the jump in points of view at all. This is one heck of a great looking comic book.
The worst part of reading Animal Man #17 is that I unfortunately only had enough time to read this one issue on my lunch break and I had to wait another four hours to read the second half. I should have spared myself the painful wait, but I've loved these books since the beginning, and I did have enough time to read one book. I can't wait to see what happens next. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Swamp Thing #17
Swamp Thing #17 Written by Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder, illustrated by Andrew Belanger, published by DC Comics. The finale of "Rot World" is here! I've been waiting for this moment for a year and a half and now that it has enough. This ending just wasn't what I was expecting, or rather it wasn't the ending I was anticipating.
For me, Swamp Thing has always been about the underlying horror of the series and the smart ways the main character, Alec, deals with each impossible situation. For the most part, this New 52 version, as well as Animal Man, have stuck to that tradition. The finale of "Rot World"however relied all too heavily on super heroics, fisticuffs and an expanded roster of other superheroes who make Alec and Buddy's "win" possible. Beast Boy sacrifices his life (not sure of this) as the new Green Lantern protects the fallen hero long enough to send him back into battle. Meanwhile, the Swamp Thing carries the "Batbot" into the sky because of Steel's sacrifice, and Alec utilizes the deceased, Rot-infected Batman's plan to drive off Arcane. Without the help of other well-known heroes, what would Alec and Buddy have done? I honestly don't know, and THAT is the story I was hoping for. Next issue (Snyder's last) will hopefully deliver on Alec and Buddy's final confrontation--without outside established superhero help--with Arcane. Then there was the art.
As I keep mentioning, this story has been building for a while. With this issue being the "Rot World" finale, I question the decision to bring in new artist, Andrew Belanger, an incredibly talented artist (not knocking the guy), who's style is vastly different from the dark, stylized art used throughout the series. I would like to see Belanger's art on a one-off Swamp Thing story, or a lighter-hearted arc, but for this year and a half long moment, the change was jarring. I'm also confused by Arcane's change in appearance from last month.
Okay, my confusion aside, there was plenty to like in this issue. The reveal of Abigail(s) and Maxine in Animal Man is shocking and Buddy's decision of how to deal with his daughter in this issue is tragic. The Swamp Thing carrying the biorestorative bomb into the atmosphere was also fantastic, but it is the Parliament of Rot and the revelation of what really has been going on that redeems "Rot World." There is also hope as the last page looks to make good on what I hoped to see in this issue, which was still fun to read. RECOMMENDED!

Rachel Rising #14
Rachel Rising #14 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. If you've been reading Donist World for any length of time, then you know I love me some Rachel Rising. What you have with this series is some good ol' well-paced horror with a dash of Twin Peaks-style weirdness, only you get the occasional answers that actually make sense.
Moore is fantastic at creating characters the reader quickly learns to love and the story surrounding these characters pulls you right into the thick of things. All of that said, this was my least favorite issue of the series thus far. Now, before y'all go running to grab your pitchforks to drive the devil outta me, realize that just because I enjoyed the previous 13 issues more, does not mean this is a "meh" issue. Now, you all know if I don't like a comic, it doesn't get a mention...well, this issue is merely pretty darn good. It's mostly a calm before the storm situation and I'm certain what's to come will be a total kick in the pants.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, if you're willing to step outside of the capes and tights funny books and you aren't reading Rachel Rising, then something is seriously wrong with you. If you ARE reading this series, know exactly how fantastic this thoughtfully scary book really is. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Quest For the Elusive Dogfish Head 120-Minute IPA - To be fair, I have't really begun my quest, but I'm pretty sure I've tapped out most places in Goleta that could have the Dogfish Head 120-Minute IPA in stock. I LOVE this brewery, as do many people, but it wasn't until I chatted with my good friend, Bill Yurkas (a talented writer and comedian), that I learned of this beer's existence. The 120-Minute IPA is a $9.99 per 12oz bottle of a limited release beer that should be served in a brandy snifter at red wine temperature. It also has a 18% abv and is suggested to be split with a friend (Obie?), which I plan to do if I can find one. Tomorrow I will head downtown in hopes of finding this little treasure. Hopefully, I will not need to hire Indiana Jones to get a bottle or two in hand. Fingers crossed.

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