Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 3/15/2013

(Sung to the tune of The Dead Kennedy's "Police Truck")

Today's the day that we're all in luck
New comic book day, gonna buy some up
Batman will thrive, I'm tellin' you dear
Great stuff to read so nuthin' to fear

Read, read how we read
Read, yeah read

It's comic time, the new Thor's a treat
He ain't in it, it's still kinda neat

Read, read how we read
Read, yeah read

Flashback Friday I'm tellin' you cuz
Gargoyle still rocks, I have to say

Just read, yeah read

Hello there, Donist World readers. I'm Donist and you are joining us live(ish) from beautiful, sunny Palm Springs, California for a special desert edition of Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods. I'm joined as ever by Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and our marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/destination advisor, Tulip (my dog and Obie's sister). My wife Amy, and two of our friends are currently preparing a presentation on "Google in the Classroom" (they're English teachers, and amazing ones at that). Seeing as how they are so high fallutin', fancy pants ladies with a room full of attendees, Obie, Tulip and I decided to hold our own Donist World 2013 1st annual conference where we will be discussing our plans the way something or another. The conference is currently being held in our room and we have one attendee thus far...the maid who would really like for us to leave so she can clean the dang room (this is not a dog-friendly hotel). Since we have a captive audience, we have handed her a stack of comics to read and have her poring through all of the Donist comic stories on our display (iPad generation one). Obie and Tulip have graciously agreed to fetch (sorry, that's a bad word in our offices, I meant to say "procure") some refreshments for our attendee, ones that do not come from the minibar at such ridonkulous prices. $5 for a bottle of water?!? Anyways, Doris is reading some of the comics yours truly has written and just asked me why I don't have any stories about "The X-Mans." I really don't know how to answer this. Wait a minute...I can see Obie and Tulip down by the dang pool sharing a tremendously sized Mai Tai that they probably charged to the room, which my wife strictly forbade us from doing. Okay, while Donist World 2013 takes a brief recess so Doris can actually clean the room and I can stop my employees from bankrupting us, take a gander at...

Friday Slice of Heaven

Batman #18
Batman #18 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Andy Kubert, published by DC Comics. Harper Row is back, my friends! She's back! Now, if you haven't been reading the New 52 Batman--and I'm willing to bet you have been since it's only one of the best selling monthlies coming out--then you probably said to yourself, "Self, what the heck is a Harper Row?" Well, Donist World Reader, join us by the pool for a beer and learn yourself a little somethin'.
Harper Row first found Batman through the power grids. She's actually a pro at monitoring that which gives Gotham City its literal life spark. She cares for her younger, gay brother and although they lack money, they are relatively happy. She also has a poor-excuse-of-a-father currently serving time in prison. The disappointment is mutual. The problem is Harper has a bit of an obsession with the Bat and she has noticed that something about him. Batman has been pushing himself too hard, with no sleep and he is starting to become sloppy. Unless Harper intervenes, she fears her hero is liable to get himself killed.
In case you missed the blatantly-spoiled death of Robin (Damian Wayne, aka Bruce Wayne's son) in the pages of Batman Incorporated, you should expect a bit of grieving from our favorite caped crusader. Leave it to Synder to NOT choose the easy way out. Instead of giving us the typical lengthy diatribe over images of Bruce Wayne reflecting over the past and generally moping about, we get something else. We see Batman's grief, but from the point of view of an unknowing, but sympathetic outsider. Harper cares for Batman, even after the emotionally distraught, sleep deprived, mourning father punches her in the face, breaking her nose (with a septum piercing that can't feel good). We feel for Batman and the great thing about this issue is it's Harper's tale, not Batman's, which allows every character their moment to shine.
Andy Kubert is guest artist for this issue, giving powerhouse Greg Capullo a moment to breathe. Kubert's art is the perfect stand-in, especially on the action sequentials and on the images of Batman himself, but I especially loved the look and expressions he gives to Harper's father during the prison scenes. Art on the second chapter is from Alex Maleev and although all of the imagery centers around verbal exchanges, the emotions conveyed are strong, especially on the exhausted Batman on the second to the last page.
Man...death is everywhere this month with DC Comics (Damian Wayne, Abigail Arcane, Alec Holland, Clifford Baker). It wouldn't surprise me if even more characters croak in some of the books I'm not reading, but now that the annual deathfest is over (hopefully), I'm ready for Batman--and all of the other characters--to get back to living. I actually wish the Robin death could have been pushed off for another year so we could see the repercussions of the fantastic "Death of the Family" storyline. This happened last month, folks. Now we might never see the breakdown of the Bat Family that Snyder and Capullo cleverly put together over the past year. Instead, Damian's death will take the spotlight as the heroes deal with that. Snyder can't be blamed for events outside of his book, and this issue makes the whole "In this issue a character DIES!!!" predictable cycle a bit easier to swallow. Because of that, this great atypical issue is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Thor God of Thunder #6
Thor God of Thunder #5 - Written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by Butch Guice, published by Marvel Comics. Thor! Thor! Thor! Oops...sorry, I meant to say "Gorr! Gorr! Gorr!" since the God of Thunder is no where to be found in this issue. Gorr, Butcher of Gods takes the spotlight this month as we delve into his past and tragic life.
Life on Gorr's planet blows...blistering sunlight scorches the ground and food and water are scarce. He and his wife and children make their way across the planet searching for a respite from the cruel hunger and thirst slowly killing them all. His pregnant wife is ever vigilant. She prays to the gods and has faith that life will be better once their gods finally take heed of their plight. The gods ignore them. Gorr loses everything except one of his children, and even their days are numbered until two gods fall from the sky. The gods have nearly killed one another, and are locked together in pain and suffering. When one pleads for Gorr's help, the other's sword transfers to its dark powers to Gorr, who then butchers the gods. Fast forward a few centuries and he has an unexpected prisoner and Gorr finally realizes what we've known all along.
Aaron deviates from the course of the story to provide some background on our villain. Some of what we learn is cool new information, some is information that we figured out on our own. Still, the result is interesting and with the added mystery of the stone-like artifact the story is enjoyable and keeps me wanting to see what comes next. Butch Guice fills in this month for Esad Ribic and Guice's vastly different, rougher style works well for the harsh look of Gorr's world. Thor God of Thunder continues to keep me on board for the next storyline and I hope to see more of my favorite thunder god (all three ages of him) next month. RECOMMENDED!

Flashback Friday:
The Gargoyle #1
Gargoyle (1985) #1 - 4 - Written by J.M DeMatteis and illustrated by Mark Badger, published by Marvel Comics. "If you promise to be a good boy, and not tattoo your brother again on the car ride north, I will buy you The Gargoyle mini-series to read on the drive. Remember how bad you felt about that Fantastic Four tattoo you gave him." We've all heard some form of this, right? Anyhow, the miracles of modern science and laser removal.
You know I'm a fan of Etrigan, DC Comics yellow-skinned, rhyming demon created in the 60s. Imagine my surprise when decades later, Marvel comics came up with The Gargoyle, an orange-skinned demon who didn't bust rhymes, but had wings and could fly. I had to pick this book up.
Isaac Christians goes to a funeral home to gaze upon the recently deceased body of Elaine, the woman he loved from a distance for most of his life. Unfortunately, his appearance causes a disturbance and he is forced to flee. Who wouldn't be disturbed at the sight of a orange-skinned, monstrous gargoyle lurking about the dead. Christians was once an elderly man who made a pact with a demon known as the Six-Fingered Hand to save his struggling home town. He was also a member of the Defenders, but now he is merely a monster causing havoc. As Christians flees into the night, it becomes apparent that strange forces are at work as he is compelled to visit a church where he is confronted by memories of lost love, misdirected affections and poor choices. He also meets himself, Isaac Christians. The Six-Fingered Hand did not merely transform Christians into a Gargoyle, they exchanged Christians's body with that of a living gargoyle, a gargoyle who very much wants his body--and his powers--back. Christians knows better than to give the creature what it wants, but the creature knows what Christians wants most in the world...his beloved Elaine young and back among the living. The reversal is made just as an ancient, mystical druid arrives on the scene and the Gargoyle is unleashed upon the world. Christians realizes he has made a mistake, and that the woman in his company is NOT actually Elaine. Now once again elderly and frail, Christians and the mystical stranger head out to stop the Gargoyle before it can lay siege to the world.
Here you have Donist, age 14 or 15, reading a comic about the Gargoyle and although I liked the comic enough as a youth, I will admit to being a bit disappointed. This is because of a few things: Isaac Christians was an old dude, it was about love and lost love, it was about betrayal, it involved a mean girl, there was little to do with punching colorful enemies in the face. There you have it, the folly of youth. I had no experience with girls (I know Donist World readers, I'm as shocked as you), and couldn't fathom being twenty, let alone seventy like the character Isaac Christians. Still, the Gargoyle looked cool and the story was sound, strong even, so although it did not deliver exactly what I expected, I did enjoyed the comic. Fast forward a whole mess of years later to a month ago, imagine my surprise when I found this comic series in a $1.00 bin at the fantastic Hypno Comics. Let's just say, now that I am slightly older than way back then, I fully understand and relate to the story and can sympathize with the character of Christians and I enjoyed this mini-series so much more.
DeMatteis has crafted a great story of love never realized, sacrifice and regret. It is also one of mistakes. Yes, there is little fighting, but we gain a look into what motivates this tragic character and we see most of his history as the Gargoyle all in the first issue. You don't need to read the old issues of The Defenders in order to understand comic, but if you find them in a $.50 bin, then hey...knock yourself out.
Badger's art was also something that young Donist was not prepared to see. It is a more stylized art and something I would be accustomed to seeing in today's comics. I did, however, like it then and I love it now. Badger's fantastic storytelling is readily apparent in the action scenes and Bob Sharen's colors perfectly complement Badger's style with their eye-catching, near-flat qualities.
Overall, I'm glad to have this book back in my collection and although I still think Etrigan (I wrote about The Demon mini here) would win in a fight with the Gargoyle, the human side of Isaac Christians is the one to which this old man can more readily relate. If you are nostalgic for the '80s comics or just want a well-told story, pick this one up. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Next Week Looks Like Another Big 'Un - Yup, tons of books next week, plus I won't be surprised if my missing Black Beetle #2, Age of Ultron #2, or other books I've requested come in. Hey Marvel. Hey DC. This is Donist of Donist World here. Give me a call and we can hammer out a distribution schedule that is more conducive to my FSoH/SitW posts. I have a readership of...well, my mom and now supposedly Doris from housekeeping at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel in Palm Springs. So pay us heed, Big Two, we're comin' on up. Face front true believers.

Age of Donist - Shocking. That's all I can say. Our friends took a group picture yesterday and it turned out to be a great picture--I am usually fantastically unphotogenic--but then I saw something I never fully realized. My hair is almost completely silver. Criminy. I never suspected. Then again there probably is a reason why Amy calls me "Michael McDonald" after going so long without a haircut, or when she calls me "Kenny Rogers" when I desperately need to trim my goatee. This is shocking as I am so youthfully immature at heart. Plus, can't she call me something else like "Silver Fox" or "Silver Ghost" or something cooler than Michael McDonald or Kenny Rogers?

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