Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 4/5/2013

(Sung to the tune of Iron Maiden's "Two Minutes to Midnight")

LCS, don't distress
I'm just as confused, son
Reveals spoil, make blood boil
What the heck's the reason?

I can read, why the deed?
Giveaway is treason
You got my dough, why ruin the show?
For Pete's sake already

Still, Green Arrow's cool, Swamp Things's no fool
Age of Ultron, the Hulk rock the brain
The Big Two ride, Donist tells you no lies
The creator-owned is worth a look

Gargoyle By Moonlight
A book to make you croon
Gargoyle By Moonlight
Monsters, magic to make you swoon

Inhale through the nose. Exhale through the mouth. Inhale through the nose. Exhale through the mouth. Breathe from the core. Now, bend forward and--oh. Hi there, Donist World denizens, you just so happened to catch us during our corporate mandated "Get Up and Stretch" hour. I'm joined as ever by Obie (my friends' Boston terrier and Donist World CFO) and Tulip (my dog, Obie's sister, Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/life coach) and we are just finishing up an enlightening yoga session to free ourselves from our bodies and minds so that Donist World can synergize our strategies and open up collaboration to levels unheard of...with the side benefit of being the best darn yoga-ers in the world. You see, I'm at a bit of a disadvantage here. Obie and Tulip have a leg up (poor choice of words when talking about dogs) on me as they are already pros at poses like "down dog" and "up dog," but I'm pulling myself up by my yoga mat surpass their serenity; you have to be barefoot to really perform some kickace yoga after all. Anyhow, I am now in shavasana, the corpse pose, as are my executives. My mind drifts as I let go of my worldly worries. I am opening and closing the drawers of my troubles and shutting the door on my...wait a minute. Dang it. Obie and Tulip raided the petty cash drawer again are out the door making a play for the food truck. As I prepare to "enlighten" my employees, have a look at...

Friday Slice of Heaven

*Possible Spoilers Below*

Gargoyle By
Moonlight #1
Gargoyle By Moonlight #1 - Written by Timothy Bach and illustrated by Brian Atkins, published by Moonrise Comics. With Donist World I've always been upfront that if I fail to enjoy a comic for whatever reason, then I will not feature it on the site, regardless of the creators involved. Disclaimer: I have known Tim for two years now through the amazing Comics Experience, where I've read some of the man's incredible scripts and received some much-needed help on my own. I read the first, finely polished script of this comic a while back and now holding the final work in my hands I am happy to see what was already a darn entertaining and well-crafted read has become even stronger in print.
Gary Doyle has an interesting pastime. You see, Gary is no longer completely human as a result of a terrible curse that transforms him each night into a monstrous stone gargoyle. Now, he prowls the darkest corners of the underworld beating the crud out of the supernatural monsters that terrorize the city's inhabitants all in the hopes of finding a cure for his condition. Thankfully, with the aid of a beautiful gypsy, he has a lead on a mystical tablet on display at a museum that can solve his problems. Unfortunately, an ancient golden mask is also on display, a mask that houses a vast evil set on bringing the world to its knees. Mix in a beautiful curator and an exceedingly unlucky custodian and the situation goes from bad to horrendous. Can the Gargoyle rescue the curator and the custodian, vanquish the evil, and finally remove the curse that has been afflicting him for the past few months?
Gargoyle By Moonlight is a darn fun read, pure and simple. Bach brings a modern touch to a story and character that could just as easily have graced the spinner rack alongside my favorite monster comics of the '70s. A touch of noir is added through Gary's narration and humorous moments pop up throughout, but then Bach takes moments to break from the nostalgia of the past to remind us that his damsel in distress can handle her own problems, thank you very much. One thing cleverly missing from the story is Gary's full origin. Instead of taking four or five issues to explain how Gary was cursed, and how he has dealt with the changes in his life, we are immediately thrust into the story. The reader learns everything he needs to know about the character within a few pages--what happened, what he wants, what drives him to action--with enough gaps left to keep the reader curious and interested to see the what happens next.
Before GBM, I was unfamiliar with Atkins art, but now I'm thankful to have him on my radar. Action scenes flow beautifully, and the storytelling tells the reader everything they need to know, clearly leading the eye from panel to panel. The emotions of each scene are clear, with great moments from the Gargoyle and from the Serpent King's mask which constantly changes while maintaining the appearance of being a static object. Juan Romera (shameless plug: who illustrated my story "Timber Tom" in Indie Comics Magazine #6) uses color to pull characters to the forefront and push the emotions of Atkin's panels ever futher.
Every aspect of Gargoyle By Moonlight is professional, well-thoughtout material. Compelling writing with fun characters, and striking art, inks, letters, and colors on this 36-page comic book make this an easy purchase. Give this creator-owned book a shot if you like the '70s monster comics, enjoy the supernatural, or want to read a dang fine comic by creators who love what they do. Available in both print and digital formats. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
*BONUS* - On the inside back cover is one of them QR code doohickeys that takes you to a double-page spread Gargoyle By Moonlight story that had me rolling with laughter. Love, love, love it and again brings me back to my childhood and the weirdest part of '70s comics. Nice!

Other Heavenly Items:
Age of Ultron #4
Age of Ultron #4 - Written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by Bryan Hitch, published by Marvel Comics. Yup, I'm still digging this Marvel "event." I know, I'm as shocked as you are. In case you haven't been following for long, ol' Donist is quite the cynic when it comes to money grab "event" comics as many of them have left me with a less than satisfied feeling (with the exception of The Infinity Gauntlet, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Age of Apocalypse). Now we have Age of Ultron. 
In a post apocalyptic world humanity is on the brink of extinction and the hero population suffers even worse losses as simulacrums of Ultron patrol the streets and the skies in search of any and all threats. Last issue we saw that The Vision, or rather what is left of him, is running an exchange program--favor in exchange for captured heroes. Luke Cage and She Hulk seek to infiltrate this program but their plan goes horribly wrong. Some heroes die as the survivors struggle to beat impossible odds, but thankfully the Black Widow and Moon Knight just might have a plan.
A lot more happens in this issue than in the past three, including a couple high-profile deaths and the reveal of who is pulling the strings; it's the latter part that ultimately lowers the score for this issue. Last week's conclusion (spoilers folks, I warned you) with The Vision appearing to run the show as opposed to Ultron left me with a shocking degree of "whoa!" factor. I was completely onboard for a book were an unexpected and once trusted hero was the one calling the shots. Unfortunately, this issue quickly tore down that notion, explaining that Ultron was running the show from the future. My reaction changed from "whoa!" to "oh." Still this was an exciting and fun issue with more than enough mystery and anticipation for what is to come next. Despite my reservations about the whole Angela thing, this issue and the series thus far are still RECOMMENDED!

Swamp Thing #19
Swamp Thing #19 - Written by Charles Soule and illustrated by Kano, published by DC Comics. New writer, new artist, that is what the latest issue of Swamp Thing brings this month and you know what, my friends? Gosh darn it if these guys did not bring one heck of a good comic book. I've made it quite clear that Swamp Thing is a book that solidified my love of comics as a child (Wein and Wrightson) and again as a teen (Moore, Totleben and Bissette) and yet again as a...slightly-older-than-a-teen adult (Snyder and Paquette). Now after 20 ("0" and annual included) issues into the New 52 version of our hero, Swamp Thing is right back to where he was in the '80s. This leaves me scratching my head as doubt creeps in as to what's going to happen to my favorite muck monster, but after reading Soule's first issue, those doubts are gone with one glaring exception.
The Swamp Thing is out investigating anomalies in the green: an oasis springs up in the desert, a village plagued by hunger finds food abound. Something known only as the "Seeder" is tampering with the balance of things and Alec Holland seeks to discover who is behind the acts and why. Faced with the decision of stopping the Seeder or allowing him to tip the balance of the world to save lives, Alec seeks out the Man of Steel and instead comes across one of the Dark Knight's stray rogues.
You see, I was with this story like you wouldn't believe. Right up until the bit about Superman. Don't get me wrong, I like Superman just fine, but I don't buy Swamp Thing to read about the capes and tights crowd. I buy it for the monsters, the darkness, the things that lurk deep in the mysterious woods. I buy this comic for the terrible power of nature. This month we have new creators with an intriguing story to tell and we don't even make it through one issue without the high-profile "guest appearance." Soule and Kano have the potential to create a heck of a great comic, if only they can get a reprieve from the DCU proper. What's next? A guest appearance by Batman, the JLA, Constantine (a given, but that character's first appearance was in Swamp Thing, so he gets a pass)? C'mon DC, give these guys a chance so Swamp Thing doesn't share the "guest appearanceitis" fate of I, Vampire...this book has potential. RECOMMENDED!

Green Arrow #19
Green Arrow #19 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, published by DC Comics. Isn't this DC's WTF month? You know, the one they decided to drop? Maybe that's what the whole foldout cover (not "wraparound" cover, because of video game ad space on the back) that spoils the key reveal in both this issue as it did in Swamp Thing above. Yeah...WTF?Hopefully this is not a plan to reduce the already sparse 20-page comics down to a foldout poster with the rest of the book being ad space (the last three lefthand pages were ads). Anyhow, the book itself...
Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) finally arrives at Black Mesa where Magus has laid out a bow and arrows for him, and that's all we get of that. Flashback to Green Arrow plummeting to his death only to grab a ledge at the last second and the battle with Komodo and his creepy little murderous daughter begins. During the fight we learn that Komodo shot down Oliver's father's helicopter and then brutally murdered him (actually we learn that reveal on the cover, but whatever). Finally, Oliver is used as a human pincushion and decides to pull an arrow out of his leg the wrong way before passing out.
Not that I've been shot by arrows before, and I hope to never suffer the experience, but with a massive arrowhead like the one in Green Arrow's thigh, isn't it best to remove the fletchings and pull the shaft through that way? Anyhow, terrible cover choice, and arrow in the thigh choice aside, Green Arrow was an action packed thrill ride. I especially loved Sorrentino's page of Arrow and Komodo falling from the building as they fought the whole way down. Then again, Sorrentino is one of my favorite new artists with Marcelo Maiolo's colors only making each image more hauntingly beautiful. Lemire's story is still intriguing and one I want to see unfold at the pace he wishes to tell, but I do want to see what the deal is with Black Mesa and the creepy Magus. Hopefully next month the reveal of the issue is not spoiled on the dang cover. RECOMMENDED!

Indestructible Hulk #6
Indestructible Hulk # 6 - Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Walter Simonson, published by Marvel comics. Huh...this is kind of a reveal as to what happens in this book as well, but you know what, folks? It ain't that bad, I actually like this one. Thank goodness it doesn't sit you down a shout it's message at you. The big "WTF" aspect of Indestructible Hulk is that Waid has managed to convince this here Donist to buy, read, and really enjoy a Hulk book. Seriously, WTF! Best not to question it though, and just go with the flow, baby, go with the flow.
Bruce Banner has a pretty good deal going, or at least as good as one can have when they can turn into a rage-filled, green-skinned, engine of destruction. SHIELD pays him (handsomely) to use his abilities as the smartest man in the world to make that world a better place. In return, he lends them his alter-ego, the Hulk, to use as a weapon. This issue Banner and his team use a shard of the mystical metal uru from Thor's hammer to travel to Jotunheim, land of frost giants, to find a mystical liquid metal. They are greeted by a jovial Thor, but not the one Banner knows so well. Then the giants come to deal with the trespassers.
Alright, that was fun. This book satisfies both 10-year-old me with all the Hulk smashing bits and...ummm...the much older me with the interesting character bits surrounding Bruce Banner as the Jekyll and Hyde aspects of his personality threaten to tear down all of his triumphs. Simonson's art, which slayed me on his epic Thor run, does not disappoint on this issue (dig that first page splash of Hulk dropping like a rock, man!). Part of me wishes this was printed on the old newspaper stock with the old four-color (is that what they used on Simonson's books back then?) coloring scheme. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Tax Season - Although my tax bill was not as bad as I thought it would be, it was still a bloodbath. I knew my fleeting hope of a pleasant surprise was, well, fleeting. Man, I really need to get on that 1%er tax rate plan.

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