Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 4/12/2013

(Sung to the tune of Phil Collins's "Sussudio")

There's a book that has been on my mind
All the time, Sa-Sa-Saga bro, oh, oh
Now censorship is kind of lame
But this hoopla'll bring this book more fame, Sa-Sa-Saga bro, oh, oh

Ah, this book's still rockin' I must share
Sexy-time images? I don't care, it's all I need, all my life
I feel so good when I just give a read
Sa-Sa-Saga bro, just give a read, oh, Sa-Sa-Saga bro

Now there's more books that are so fun
Hawkeye and Batman are some, Sa-Sa-Saga bro, oh, oh
Ooh, Age of Ultron, Stuff of Legend,
and Thor all do transcend, Sa-Sa-Saga bro, oh, oh

Thank you! Thank you, Mr. Collins for not trying to escape from my mommy's basement visiting the Donist World corporate headquarters as part of your corporate outreach program to further the pursuit of the visual arts, namely comic books. Now, Obie (my friends' Boston terrier and Donist World CFO) and Tulip (my dog, Obie's sister, and Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/warden) have been helping Mr. Collins become acquainted with the joy that is comic books these past few months, with special attention being given to the Donist World favorite Saga. I must say, he's now quite the fan. Aren't you, Mr. Collins? Aren't you?! Yes, that's right you are. Anyhow, no Slice Into the Woods this week as I kind of included that in the Saga #12 review and the puppies and I have been slammed with Donist World cross-geo synergies. I will say there are couple books I have not yet mentioned (one old, one new) that I wish to write about, but those will have to wait for a lighter week. So, please have a look at all things heavenly while Mr. Collins has a look at the latest issue of The Stuff of Legend, after which he is allowed to go...and after he performs "Easy Lover" for us of course.

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #12
Saga #12 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples, published by Image Comics. Tallywacker. Pud. Donger. Pee-pee. We all know it by many different names and the news burning up the comic book interwebs were not so much about the previously mentioned little (uh...did I say "little?"...I meant average, slightly bigger than average actually) cuss, but more about what it goes into and which censoring company considered taking it out of the equation completely on Apple devices. Mark Waid posted a great breakdown on what happened here. Yeah, I got caught up in the mess and jumped to lay the blame at Apple for censoring a work of art when it was actually Comixology anticipating Apple's rejection of this issue of Saga for two postage-stamp-sized images depicting gay sex. Not to go too far into it, I'd like to say I'm sorry to Apple for jumping on the blame bandwagon. BUT, in the end Apple does have strict rules of censorship (you cannot buy the fantastic Image Comic Sex by Joe Casey through the iPad Comixology App for example), they take a 30% cut of every comic that is purchased through their apps, and they're a financial behemoth among many other things that can lead me off topic for hours (full disclosure, folks: I'm writing on my iMac, with an iPhone in my pocket, an iPod Nano charging off the iMac, and an iPad charging on the chair, all as Amy works on her MacBook Pro). So, kerfuffle aside, purchase your Comixology comics through the Comixology website. Apple doesn't get their cut, but the indie creators who sell through Comixology get a higher percentage of the sale, and I'm more interested in supporting the creators of what I love, as opposed to helping so old, white-haired, white guy extend the infinity pool of his fourth home. <phew> What were we talking about? Oh yeah, Saga still rules roost, my little chickadees. Teenie weenie penie HOOOOO!
We have not seen much of Prince Robot IV for the past few issues, but he is back and closer to finding Marko, Alana, Hazel and their group as ever. We begin with a flashback--and two much ballyhooed images--of a time when Prince Robot IV was shot and dying on the field of battle. If not for a kindly medic he would have perished, unfortunately, an illegal Wreath spell annihilates the medic moments later. Although haunted, IV has a job to perform and Landfall Secret Intelligence damn well wants to see it accomplished, but IV has a hunch the escaped parents are on their way to see D. Oswald Heist. Heist is author of A Nighttime Smoke, the book that brought the unlikely pairing of Marko and Alana together in the first place. Unfortunately for Heist, IV is in no mood for pacifism.
After all of the excitement of the past few days, was this issue worth it? Oh my goodness, yes. The opening splash is shocking in not just a fellatio kind of way. The use of a sexual image on Prince Robot IV's monitor as he lies dying amidst a war compounded with the vibrant colors of the soldier's peacock-like feathers and the blue blood painting the dull landscape only make the image more striking. The second page relaxes the tension of the first as many little deaths forebode IV's actual death, and fewer contrasting colors draw the eye as IV's life drains out of him. It's all rather powerful and fairly fancy-pants creativity, which is exactly what I expect in my favorite comic on the stands. Vaughan also knows when to fully utilize the silent panel(s) to bring home the emotion of a scene, and when to let the characters do the talking as he does when Heist and IV's discussion escalates the tension much in the vein of the incredible Inglorious Basterds opening.
With all the drama of the beginning and ending of this issue, the reader is given a brief reprieve with an adorable seal child in fisherman's overalls and boots, leading a walrus/hippo/manatee pack animal thing merrily across the shores near Heist's home. It's cute, calming even. Which serves as a perfect lead-in to the tense events that follow. Sex, violence, calm, or dread, the entirety of the book is beautiful.
Amidst the fanboy chaos, I read a few statements that the whole censorship thing was a ploy by Image, Vaughan and Comixology to spark sales, but c'mon...seriously? If you read comics, then you know about Saga, and if you know about Saga, then you know it does not shy away from being shocking...just ask Fard from his private flat on Sextillion <shiver>. One good thing to come of this is our sadly-small comic book community, although often quick to jump the gun--including myself--might have succeeded in bringing in a few new Saga readers through the discussion of censorship, whether it was true or not--looks like not. Regardless, I love this book and censorship, whether corporate policy or not, sucks rocks. Make mine Saga! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Hawkeye #9
Hawkeye #9 - Written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by David Aja, published by Marvel Comics. I've said it throughout the run of this book, "Clint Barton is a cool guy. Someone you want to hang with...y'know, someone you'd share a beer with. Someone you'd invite to the barbecue." Clint would make a good buddy. Of course he's the type of friend who has more money than you, has a much cooler job than you, and you'd probably hate his darn guts if he wasn't so down to earth. He's not afraid to stand up to the monstrous chump pushing you around for no good reason, he always brings something good to eat when he comes over, and he's down with watching Fast and the Furious for the umpteenth time. He's low maintenance. Crud, I think I have a man crush on the guy, but then you meet the girls in his life. Yeah, yeah, he gets ALL the fine Betty's and half of them are superheroes no less, but then you see how thoughtlessly he treats these women. That's not cool. Katie's crushing on him. Bobbi's really sweet. Natasha is...Natasha is scary and messing with her makes you dumb as a sack of bricks; let's just leave it at that. Jessica is fun, thoughtful and a knockout. Who in their right mind screws that up? I don't care how attractive...okay, the mysterious redhead is hot, but c'mon, Clint. Duh, man! I appreciate that you brought a case of Pliny the Elder over (really, really, really appreciate it), but I'm sorry, man. That was kind of a dick move and you know it. ... ... ... So now that you and Spider Woman are no longer a thing, do you think I could have her number? You know, to check on how she's doin'?
The majority of this comic is Clint Barton epic failing with the four women currently mixed up in his life. The Black Widow discovers he's been marked for death for his interference with the tracksuit Draculas. Mockingbird finalizes her divorce papers with him. Spider Woman ends their relationship after she discovers Clint cheated on her with a gorgeous redheaded stripper with a dangerous past, a redhead so terrified of the chaos coming for Clint that she is leaving town. Then there's the young sidekick, who finally acknowledges the disappointment she is currently feeling for the man she thinks she loves. Hawkguy's had a pretty darn bad day, but unfortunately he doesn't even realize how bad things are going to get, when a true pal pays the price for Clint's meddling.
That sucks! I was not expecting this ending at all. You know what? THIS is how you handle a character death. Not spoiled months in advance and not as a mandate from up on high to kill a high-profile character in an effort to spike sales. This was a minor supporting character, but one Fraction carefully lured the reader into caring about. This character was just an average Joe, but Clint liked him and through their interactions this reader liked him as well. The death makes sense and will of course snap the hero out of his funk, and man if I don't want this new(?) villain to pay. Dammit, Fraction. That was a low blow, but it was not a cheap shot and I thank you for that. Just leave Pizza Dog out of the crossfire and we should be okay. Capish?
David Aja's art in this issue is as spectacular as ever and I keep wishing Marvel would make prints of some of these pages available for purchase as I would buy a couple in a heartbeat. The action scenes of Black Widow chasing the redhead, Darlene, through the train station are riveting and the talking scenes between each of the women and Clint carry the emotion of each scene beautifully even without the fantastic word balloons. This is especially true of the pages with Jessica Drew where you feel her pain at the lack of consideration Clint has given her. Matt Hollingsworth's flats completely round out this already great book, with the colors of Jessica's dress and tall socks being a perfect choice for a hero in her civvies.
Every issue of Hawkeye has been fantastic thus far and with the events at the end of this book, I can't wait to see what happens next. To summarize: I'm upset. I'm disappointed in Clint's behavior and I'm pissed about what happened to a certain character, but I mean this in the best of ways. A Big 2 book moved me emotionally, which is something I didn't expect to happen from them and it's something I hope happens--organically--again in the near future. I suspect Hawkeye will again be the book to do so. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
The Stuff of Legend:
The Toy Collector #4
The Stuff of Legend: The Toy Collector #4 - Written by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith, illustrated by Charles Paul Wilson III, and published by Th3rd World Studios. I love this series. The ending splash on the penultimate issue of this chapter made me gasp. I wondered about this in the back of my mind when we first met the Toy Maker and although I love all of the characters currently in this book, there is certainly room for one more.
The dark toys have Monty (musical monkey) and Scout (a living puppy) right where they want them. If they want to see Max (teddybear) alive, and unharmed then the unlikely duo will gain the dark toys access to the bricked in Story Place. The Boogeyman gives Homer a promotion and reveals his plans, while pulling Percy (piggybank) into his schemes with the lure of immortality. We learn  a secret about the doll toys, such as Rebecca (queen of hearts doll), and an injured Jester (Jack in the box) sees something at the Toy Maker's (toy robot) shop that...nope, not gonna spoil this one.
Another fantastic issue that has me eager to see how this chapter wraps up in the next issue. Raicht, Smith and Wilson III have created a slew of characters who they expertly juggle, giving each time to tell their story. I care for both toys and living alike in this Donist World top five favorite series currently hitting store shelves and with the implications of the last page, I have no idea how this situation is going to be handled. This makes me happy indeed. I will say that I am confused by the "Toy Collector" portion of the title as the Toy Collector character has only made brief appearances in each issue, but maybe the rationale will become apparent in the next month or two. If you are not reading this tremendous book, then I must warn you NOT to start here. Start with the Omnibus and I guarantee you will be hooked on one of the most under-appreciated and highly-inventive comic books seeing print. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Age of Ultron #5
Age of Ultron #5 - Written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by Bryan Hitch, published by Marvel Comics. We're at the halfway point, folks, and Age of Ultron still manages to keep me interested and on board for what's to come next. I still think that issue 4's reveal that the Vision is NOT actually the one in command of an army of deadly robots, but is actually a tool of an Ultron operating from the safety of the future...future...future (that's a mysterious echo effect right there) was a bit of an easy out. Again, I'm still enjoying an "event" book, which is saying something, and I mean to see it through to the end, despite the leaked news that a legally won character once at a rival publisher will see their Marvel debut at the end of the series...series...series...
Again not a whole lot happens in this issue. Tony reflects on the Vision. Nick Fury is found in the Savage Land (Secret Invasion tie in...blarg). Talking. Half of the group goes to the future to fight Ultron, the other half decides to go to the past and end the life of Ultron's creator, Hank Pym.
Can anyone tell me what the deal is with Tony Stark's glowing weird outfit? I'm guessing it's some sort of minimal, unhackable gear, but I must have missed its significance somewhere. Anyhow, again not much happens, but as a weekly book this isn't that bad and as I've said, I'm interested in what happened and how this problem is going to be fixed. If AoU was a Monthly, I would probably be out. Five issues in and I'm hopeful this "event" will pay off with more decent story than corporate mandate to boost profits through a team-up that "the kids want, y'know?" RECOMMENDED!

Batman #19
Batman #19 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo, published by DC Comics. It's still WTF month as a foldout cover reveals a major plot point of the contents within! Okay, granted...this one is not as horrible as the Green Arrow cover depicting and flat out stating who killed Green Arrow's father. This cover is actually reminiscent of that magical period known as the '70s when word balloons frequented comic covers enticing passersby to pick up the $.15 each back then why wouldn't you? Now, an additional $3.84 later, DC attempts the attention grabbing, headline style "WTF" on Batman and honestly this cover works in raising a Donist eyebrow and having me think, "Hey, a new Batman book that I was going to buy anyways because Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo totally rock the socks. Huh...Bruce Wayne with a gun pulled on Jim Gordon? Yup, still buying it."
Bruce Wayne is acting very un-Bruce-Wayney. Jim Gordon has him at gunpoint as the billionaire robs a bank, kills some bank guards and threatens to blow up a girl. Gordon also sees that the Gothamite is wearing a Batman shirt underneath his expensive suit. Meanwhile, the real Bruce Wayne, Batman, reflects on the life of his son Damian (aka Robin), but with something amiss at Wayne Enterprises, Bruce throws himself into his work. Clearly someone is impersonating Gotham's most noticeable citizen down to the last detail. Who else could it be but a powered up Clayface. Secondly there's a backup story by James Tynion IV with Batman and Superman joining forces to tackle a threat of the supernatural kind.
The look of this issue is different from all the rest. Not that it is bad, Capullo's art remains outstanding (could this ever be an issue with this guy?...I think not!), but a new inker gives Capullo's art a slightly different look than we are used to seeing. The story was fun and filled with thrills, a perfect break between extended storylines as the next arc prepares to begin with issue 21. I will say that I loved Tynion IV's short two-part story with a non-traditional threat and a team-up with Superman...another thing I loved from the '70s. This New 52 title's still got it. RECOMMENDED!

Thor God of Thunder
Thor God of Thunder - Written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by Esad Ribic, published by Marvel Comics.  Although "Godbomb" sounds like a cocktail involving an energy drink mixed with Goldschlager, this issue is definitely NOT a hangover waiting to happen. We catch up with a young, traumatized, sexy-time Thor, as he struggles to deal with the horror he experienced at the hands of Gorr the God Butcher. Unfortunately, this is something he will be dealing with for the next few millennia. Present day Thor has traveled to the future and met up with his much older future self to bring down the slayer of gods. Lastly, we learn of what Gorr has been building in the future.
Man, there's a lot of jumping around through time in this book, and left in the hands of a less-skilled writer, the odds are pretty high that this story would be one jumbled and confused mess. Not so with Jason Aaron. Aaron has the reader move fluidly from one version of Thor to another, even to the point of bringing two of the three together (with the three destined to come together in coming issues) as they prepare to take the fight to Gorr himself. This book is tense, dark, enjoyable and despite ever thinking I would never love a Thor book post-Walter Simonson, Aaron and Ribic have given me pause to reconsider that notion. I'm off to do a 7:00 AM "Godbomb." Verily! RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods


No comments:

Post a Comment