Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 3/22/2013

(Sung to the tune of Young MC's "Bust a Move")

These are the books let Donist tell ya
Kick ass Saga toats rocks the casbah
Good stuff leaves you singin' La La
Bad stuff plays like a punch to yo jaw
Here's a to-do, go check out Chew
Tortaespaderos for you
Marvel's got your back with Age of Ultron
Captain Marvel and Daredevil got it goin' on

If you want it
You got it (just go read Chew)
If you want it
Baby, you got it (and Saga, too)

Thank you, thank you, Young(ish) MC for visiting the Donist World corporate headquarters and performing for us here today. What's that? Why yes you can leave's not like we were holding you against your will or anything. We don't do that to our guests. No, no, no. It''ll be okay Young(ish) MC, don't be scared, just punch this code into the titanium lined digital keypad at the top of the stairs and let yourself out. Be sure to grab a bag of my mom's chocolate chip cookies on your way out the door. Visit again soon sometime, okay?! Bye-bye!
Hello Donist World readers. I'm here in my mom's basement the Donist World corporate headquarters where I am joined as ever by our CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and Tulip, our marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/home security specialist (my Boston terrier and Obie's sister). It was another big week this week and we only had time to talk about our top five choices, but I will say that you all should check out Brian K. Vaughan's new digital-only offering of Private Eye #1, that is available right now for whatever amount you choose to give him, which can also mean "free," but c'mon this is crazy stuff so give the creators a buck or two. Personally, I gave Vaughan and the artist Marco Martin $3 for the issue and it was well worth the price of a retail book; I hope to talk about this issue next week. The reason this is so crazy is that the book downloads to your computer as a .pdf, .cbr, or .cbz file and it is DRM free. The money goes straight to the creators, they retain the rights to their property and there is no third-party that could potentially go out of business, taking all your digital purchases with them (hello digital manga world...ouch). As a creator myself, this is an interesting model and one that I wish to keep a close eye on for my own work in the future. I will let you know that Private Eye falls firmly in the HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! category, so definitely check it out! Now, I...crud Obie's going for my wallet again, which means the food truck is here. While I roll up a newspaper to punish my CFO, have a look at...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #11
Saga #11 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples, published by Image Comics. Yup, there will be spoilers, so go read this issue first, it's well worth the cover price. Let's start with my reactions to this issue in order of appearance. <gasp>...hubba, hubba. "WHOA, what did (s)he say?!" <heh> "Oh no...Wait a minute. Oh please, please, please. YES!" <shock> "You can do it, you can...oh shoot, no. No. No. No." <sob>. This book, (wo)man...I tell ya. Each issue just puts you through the emotional ringer, but you can't help but come back for more. I love it. This is always the first book I read, and Wednesday I rushed to my LCS to buy it, opting to read it outside of my work in the car as Tulip waited patiently in the passenger seat for me to finish; I was late back to work. The best/worst thing about Saga is that it feels as if it is over just as soon as you began reading. It has just as many words--if not more--as the Big Two comics, and has a couple extra pages to boot. But it goes by so fast that I can't help but whip through the book a second time to really drive home the heartfelt victories and the sorrowful defeats. At only eleven issues thus far, Saga is right up there with the Donist World darling, Preacher, and rightfully so. I cannot wait for a hardcover collection.
A brief flashback reminds us that Marko and Alana are on the run and...uh...very much enjoying their time together despite the deeply engrained belief that they should be killing each other after years of taught enmity between their people. Those feelings will subside. Back in the present, Marko, Alana and their crew are about to be consumed by a newly-born time suck, but the determined family doesn't intend to become a monster's snack. The Will and his crew aren't faring all that well themselves. While in the midst of danger, The Will launches himself into the cold darkness of space to retrieve the unconscious Lying Cat. Marko uses some ingenuity to give their tree rocket ship the extra oomph it needs to escape, but the strain of the propulsion threatens to rip the ship to shreds; thank goodness for Barr and his magic. Unfortunately, holding a ship of that size together is itself a terrible strain on the sickly man.
Obie is pretending to be strong after reading this issue. In fact he won't even look at me as  he gazes out the window, but I'm pretty sure I heard a whimper come from his direction, a few minutes after I heard a joyful yip of relief. Saga will do that to you. It seems that every issue I talk about the importance of character with this book, and this issue is one of the strongest examples of this. The main characters are great, but they took a bit to grow on me. The supporting cast, however, immediately grabbed my attention. Izabel the sassy ghost girl is a crackup and pretty bad ass. The Will's pain is all too realistic and you can't help but really feel for the guy, especially after the near death of the awesome Lying Cat in the last issue. Then there is Barr. This guy...a warrior, a killer, a creator, a father, a husband, a friend, it took only two issues for me to love him. I wanted to hang out at his house, help him with the garden, share a beer. Vaughan made Barr more real than most characters I've ever read. This issue was painful in the best of ways and the fact that Vaughan dragged me through the emotions he did is indicative of his skills as a writer. But we all know this guy's got the stuff, don't we?
Fiona Staples's art only makes the triumphs within the pages more sweet and the losses the more bitter. Of course it's her ability to illustrate compelling facial expressions, but it's the action scenes in this issue that provoke the oohs and ahhhs. Just have a look at the scenes of The Will rescuing Lying Cat and you will see what I mean; I was literally in the car going "oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh". Then there are the gorgeous colors that will have me revisiting the letters column from a few issues ago where Staples explains her coloring process that I am curious to try out. For colors, though, it is the cover that showcases Staples's skills as a painter as well as an illustrator.
I cannot say anything bad about this issue. Not even a quibble. Next month Prince Robot returns as the second arc concludes. April cannot come soon enough. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Chew #32
Chew #32 - Written by John Layman and illustrated by Rob Guillory, published by Image Comics. Is there a term for when you fully expect to be surprised, but the only unknown factor is the exact nature of the surprise, or rather what it is that will surprise you? I want to ponder this, but it's making my head hurt in a "if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" sort of way. With every issue of Chew you know something weird/tragic/crazy is going to happen, you just never know what that might be. It could be a main character's death, it could be the person with whom Colby hops into bed, or it could be a guy with chocolate carving powers. This issue has a guy who is a tortaespadero (one who carves tortillas into deadly bladed objects). Now that's a surprise!
Director Peñya of the USDA is having a rough go of life now that John Colby has left to join Tony Chu over at the FDA. Thus her team is faring poorly as well since they know Colby is the cause of their director's woes. But they will have to mend their ways if they are to free the hostages being held at a chicken joint by members of the Immaculate Ova Cult, a group of militant anti-chicken consuming extremists. The group even has a tortaespadero in their ranks, but what they don't have is a pissed off Tony Chu, who would rather spend his time bringing his sister's killer to justice. Meanwhile, Colby discovers that their pal, Caeser, still has an alliance with fugitive Mason Savoy, and boy does Colby still harbor ill will towards Savoy. Colby and Caesar discuss the matter with their fists, but come to a tenuous agreement.
See? If anyone out there predicted this comic would have a guy who carves deadly shurikens out of tortillas, then they should tweet me with this weekend's Mega Lotto numbers. No, seriously, tweet me. Anyhow, at anytime through the course of this comic, Layman could fall into the trap of just dropping joke after joke without developing character or progressing the story. This is not the case. Every joke-hilarious as it may be--serves a purpose. The tortaespadero is killed within a few pages, but we later learn that Tony's daughter has absorbed the goofy ability to add to her own arsenal so she can utilize that skill while in the employ of Savoy; a man Tony believes to be his enemy. As random as some moments might seem, they're in Chew for reasons we are not yet aware, but after 32 issues of this fantastic series, I trust Layman to tie everything together by the end of issue 60.
Speaking of surprises, I didn't "get" Guillory's art style the first time I laid eyes on this comic. By the end of the first issue I was a believer. Now I hope we never have a fill-in artist on this series, we haven't thus far. Guillory's exaggerated facial expressions and fantastic action sequences tell the reader everything they need to know issue to issue with Layman's lettering delivering the laughs and/or the drama of the scen. Without Guillory's illustrations, Chew would not be Chew.
So, yeah, I like this book. I loved this issue. If you have not been reading Chew then you better have been fishing for chogs in the Arctic Circle, which if that's the case, I couldn't really recommend a jumping on point other than the very beginning. The first trade (5 issues) is $9.99 retail, and there is a beautiful hardcover of issues 1-10 that can start you on the road to one of the most unique and addictive series to grace the spinner rack. Have a look, I guarantee you'll be surprised. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:

Age of Ultron #2
Age of Ultron #2 - Written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by Bryan Hitch, published by Marvel Comics. "Dang you, event comics. Why can't I quit you?" I know I said I was forever done with Big Two event comics, but the first issue to this out-of-continuity (at least I believe it is) comic has a post-apocalyptic world, most of the Earth's heroes are dead, Ultron reigns supreme and Hawkeye is a bad ass. I enjoyed that issue immensely, and was bummed to discover AoU #2 was out at my LCS last week, but they pulled through for me and got me a copy this week. Thank goodness they did.
We get a look at the West Coast and follow a physically and emotionally scarred Black Widow and Moon Knight as they attempt to survive and understand their new world. Back East, Spider-Man recounts to the few surviving super heroes what happened to him before he was freed by Hawkeye. As the heroes try to understand Ultron's methodologies, Captain America pulls out of his malaise to rejoin the fight and to announce he has a plan.
Another solid issue that leaves me anxious for the next, with no signs of the story unraveling at the seams like almost all of these event books inevitably do. Again, not much happens in this issue other than what I stated above, but the pacing and the beats kept me turning pages and interested. I love Hitch's art and Paul Mount's colors are phenomenal, although I'm still confused by what Black Widow is doing on page five, panel one, but that's okay. After the Brightest Infinite Secret Wars of Invasion Crisis books of the past that left my wallet angry and my hopes for a well-told, non-money grab story dashed, Age of Ultron is thus far a fulfilling jaunt back into the world of "events." If it keeps it up, my faith might just get renewed. RECOMMENDED!

Daredevil #24
Daredevil #24 - Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Chris Samnee, published by Marvel Comics. Reeling from the terrible news that his best friend and Law Partner, Foggy Nelson, is afflicted with a rare form of cancer, Matt Murdock seeks the advice of some of his Avengers pals, but even the brilliance of Hank Pym is not enough to cure Foggy. Matt gets rejected by someone who totally knew what she was getting into, making him fall for her all the more, and we catch our first glimpse of the latest player attempting to ruin Daredevil's life...a giant, creepy-as-all-getout cocktail shaker.
I wasn't kidding about Cocktail Shaker Man (possibly NOT his real name). Anyhow, Waid continues to drive the emotional attachment to his characters with these all-too-real situations. Foggy's fright is tangible, but you see the man's strength as he sits in the cancer ward more focused on helping fix Matt's personal problems as opposed to dealing with his own. I also loved the scene between Matt and Kristen--his old "girlfriend" and A.D.A.--as Matt tries to reconcile with her, but we also see that Kristen didn't exactly think the situation all the way through herself. Samnee's art remains strong as ever, with the previously mentioned Matt and Kristen meeting being a fantastic four-page standout of storytelling. This month's offering is mostly the calm before the storm, but is still a great read. RECOMMENDED!

Captain Marvel #11
Captain Marvel # 11 - Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Chistopher Sebela, illustrated by Filipe Andrade, published by Marvel Comics. In issue #9 we learned that Carol Danvers is suffering from a brain lesion that can cause some blackouts and memory loss if Carol's superhero persona, Captain Marvel, uses her powers to take flight. She also came into conflict with Death Bird, but this DB is not the same one who used to plague the X-Men. Thankfully, Carol has plenty of friends attempting to convince her not to use her flight powers, but those friends are the very people the mysterious person pulling DB's strings seeks to use against the hero.
DeConnick continues to develop Captain Marvel as the headstrong, hero who will cast aside her own well-being if it means keeping people safe. Lucky for Marvel, we also have the supporting cast of regular folks who care about this character and refuse to allow her to get herself killed for their benefit. DeConnick also gives the hero a unique sense of humor like when she uses a pair of DB cronies as ballasts, as the grounded Captain Marvel tests the limits of her jumping abilities. Andrade continues to bring a unique and compelling style to the title that is a refreshing break from the usual look we are used to seeing in most Big Two books nowadays. Captain Marvel continues to be a fun title with serious overtones and I'm happy to see what comes next.

Slice Into the Woods

WTF! DC Comics - WTF is right. This week both Andy Diggle and Joshua Hale Fialkov split from very high profile DC Comics titles (Action Comics, Green Lantern Corps, Red Lanterns) siting creative differences with editorial. You can read about this with a quick Google search, but I will say that I stand by the creators and would love to have each tell the story they wish to tell. Heck, I was actually going to buy Fialkov's take on the Lanterns, but it looks like DC saved me the $5.98. It was stated that one reason Fialkov left DC is over the rumor that DC wants to kill off the much-loved John Stewart character, which would be a bad move indeed. Whole lotta shakin' goin' on over at DC these days, which is a bummer.

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