Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 5/31/2013

(Sung to the tune of Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go")

Snyder put some doom, doom into my heart
Underwater terror's how this comic book starts
Horrific monster's totes insane
Goes a chomp chomp chomp 'til you're feelin' the pain

But something worth loving, something done right
Marshal Law been readin', it's oh so out of sight
Then when sleepin' in my bed, I was dreaming
But I should have read Chew instead

The Wake's no joke, must-read so go go
Don't miss out on readin' it ya crazy dodo
The Wake's no joke, must-read so go go
You don't want to miss it I'm tellin' you guy

Hello there, Donist World denizens! Welcome back. I'm here with Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/money sorceress Tulip (my Boston terrier and Obie's sister). Today I found Obie and a shady-looking character in a three-piece suit--who I am certain I've seen rifling through the shredded Donist World documents out at the recycle bin--in a meeting discussing relocating Donist World profits offshore to Ireland in an effort to get us in on the oh-so-sweet tax deal that many of the bigger corporations "legally" enjoy thanks to rewritten tax laws in their favor. I have a few problems with this. Thus far, Donist World "profits" have consisted of some store credit earned at (nothing to sneeze at, and thank you, thank you, thank you, and that's about it. But being a Fortune 320,000 company we have to look to the future, denizens. We have to anticipate the influx of monthly sums like $20 and possibly up to $100 in the near future, but I can't see taking the money (it's comin', boyo, it's comin') out of country, even if it is a monstrous sum like a hundred buckaroonies. I'm cool with people I will never meet getting an education, or being able to eat, or having safe bridges to drive on or whatever as a result of our good fortune. In short, Obie and I need to talk. While I roll up a newspaper and relentlessly smack the bejesus out of Mister Shadysuitman, have a look at some really cool comic related material!

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Wake #1
The Wake #1 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Sean Murphy, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint. Right around the time I,  young Donist, ditched the Pampers, turned in my sippycup for a glass, and stopped referring to the dead woodchuck out back as my "friend," I discovered the glory that is comic books. in Ohio in the mid-'70s. Just slightly before picking up those Spider-Man, Batman and (more importantly) Swamp Thing comics, I learned to love the classic Hollywood monster movies, the Japanese rubber-suited monsters crushing model towns, and the thrill of being scared by the Hammer Horror offerings--for years I would sleep with a hand covering my neck in case Christopher Lee decided to pay me a visit. One monster I loved beyond all others, despite never having seen any of the films, was the Creature from the Black Lagoon, aka the Gill-Man. Remember, this was a dark, perilous time without the interwebs, without DVRs; it was very, very cold. I did, however, have a couple hardcover monster/horror movie books (from Octopus Books...still got 'em), and various issues of Monster Magazine to pore through, which I did daily. When I finally watched The Creature From the Black Lagoon, I will admit I was a tad disappointed by how little screen time was given to my beloved idol, but hey, I still had the stories I dreamed up, ones where the Gill-Man himself took the center stage. The Creature In the Land that Time Forgot, The Creature versus the Mummy, and the The Creature In Space were all unfilmed movies that played through my imagination each time I went to the pool.
Fast forward decades later and I have The Wake in my hands. Nowadays, the adult Donist understands and appreciates the need for story, for buildup, for non-monster character development, and for anticipation of what is to come. The young-at-heart (i.e. trapped in a perpetual state of adolescence) Donist has armored dolphins, massive underwater forts, and a sea creature that would kick the Gill-Man's ass from here to Lake Erie. Horror: check. Super science: check. Futuristic stuff: check. This shizzle has been goin' on for like...ever: check. Snyder and Murphy got me after just a few pages of this 10-issue series that serves to remind us Vertigo is still very much alive and kicking, and that I might just start sleeping with my hand covering my neck once again.
200 years in the future, we join an as-yet-unnamed woman as she hang glides through the husk of a flooded city. She and her armored dolphin friend are then chased out of the city by a tidal wave that appears out of nowhere. In the present, Dr. Lee Archer, an expert in cetological vocalization (whale and dolphin songs) is approached by the Department of Homeland Security for job that she really isn't allowed to refuse. Before she has time to think the matter through, Dr. Archer is at the Arctic Circle on a secret (and illegal) underwater oil rig where she and two other scientists are to research what is being held captive far below the ocean's surface.
I already compared this fantastic first issue to The Creature From the Black Lagoon, so why not push it even further with a comparison to The Abyss? Not all aspects of the James Cameron classic, mind you, but a similar feeling of intrigue, that thrilling fear of being so confined yet so very exposed at the same time as we experience the splash page of the underwater oil rig; you can't help but want to see more. Murphy's art is gorgeous in this issue with the highly detailed submarine interior and the aforementioned oil rig splash page, but his storytelling skills are of equal caliber carrying the reader from panel to panel as quickly as if we were watching a film. This includes all of Snyder's wonderful dialogue, which flows along with the art to drive the story and to provide everything the reader needs to know, while leaving plenty to bring us back, eager for the next issue. Being a Snyder story, I already fully expect to be a little hesitant the next time I set foot in the ocean or a lake by the time this 10-issue mini-series wraps...some interesting dreams are also sure to come out of this comic book to say the least.
All praise aside, I have two areas of confusion, as I'm not sure where a couple of decisions came from. The first is the choice for the cover, which mostly spoils the reveal of the monster and that it is held captive. Why do this, DC, when a minimalist cover such as the oil rig at the bottom of the sea with a trail of blood drifting upward would have worked beautifully to attract eyeballs to this title. This cover for issue one would have been more appropriate as a cover for issue two or three. I'm just sayin'. The second confusing point is beginning with the scene 200 years in the future--don't get me wrong, it's four intense pages--and then not coming back to that future scene later in the book. Sure we gain a glimpse of what is to come, but it almost seems like not having the bookends of future and past, but instead going with present, then future, then the single-page past would have done nicely. This was not that big a deal, but it was slightly jarring to not come back to that scene at some point in the book. At 25 pages for $2.99, you definitely receive your money's worth, but maybe adding a few more pages at a slightly higher price point was the way to go. Again, not that big a deal.
Snyder and Murphy got me hook, line and sinker with The Wake. I dove in head first and I'm more than happy to kick it in the deep end for free swim (stop it, Donist, stop it!) time on this perfect start to a chilling comic. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Chew #34
Chew #34 - Written by John Layman and illustrated by Rob Guillory, published by Image Comics. There's never been a bad issue of Chew. Seriously. Each issue has ranged from really good to out-of-control amazing. If you made it through the first issue without horking (or maybe you did hork) and came back for seconds, then you know you laughed out loud (aka LOL for you older folks out there) at least three times with each issue. The book is also quite a class act. Instead of creating three different covers (like a 10:1 incentive cover with a 100:1 stoopidly expensive ultra-rare incentive cover) Layman and Guillory give us three covers...and they're all in the same book. So hey, if you want to cut on the dotted lines and match up the faces, then by all means have at it and just buy another CGC 9.8 copy to time capsule until it's bringing in the big bucks and you still come out ahead. Chew is a win-win comic book no matter how you slice it.
Tony Chu is tracking down the wannabe vampire known as The Collector, the same monster who murdered Tony's sister. He finds him...after a fashion and receives an interesting proposition. Meanwhile, Caesar, Savoy and Colby decide that the there's no better gift than the gift that keeps on giving...namely having your very own senator in your back pocket, and one with a rather bizarre food-based ability.
Great story, great art and stunning colors are the name of the game with Chew. Yes it can be gross, disgusting actually, but if you aren't familiar with Chew and you want to read the most original comic on the stands then this is a must read book. Layman and Guillory will have you loving their characters and this insane world they live in by the time you finish the first or second issue, and with any luck we will all be watching episodes of Chew on television in the near future. You owe it to yourself to read this series. RECOMMENDED!

Indestructible Hulk #8
Indestructible Hulk #8 - Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Walter Simonson, published by Marvel Comics. Yup. I'm still as shocked as you, Donist World denizens, to find myself reading and enjoying a Hulk comic. Now I've always liked the character and I owned a bunch of Incredible Hulk comics in the '70s, but since that time other titles held my interest more and ol' Jade Jaws slipped to the back of my mind. Yes, I know there have been some great runs over the past couple of decades, and I am open to some suggestions for some TPBs to catch up on, but the whole green/grey, smart/dumb, purple pants/pinstriped suit iterations were a bit of an intimidating barrier to entry. Again, I'm open to suggestions on some classic Hulk stories I should read.
This latest run is what brought me back to the fold. Between my friends telling me to buy it, Mark Waid writing, and the idea of Banner accepting his curse, I gave the book a try and I'm glad I did. I love this version of Banner as he uses his mind to make the world a better place. He shows the reader that his intellect is as powerful as his alter-ego is strong, possibly more so. Still, seeing the Hulk lay the hurt on an army of frost giants will always put a smile on my face.
Stranded in Jotunheim, Bruce Banner, his scientific team and a Thor from the past try to find a way back home, but there is an impostor in their midst. It's giants versus gods, monsters and humans as Banner's true reason for bringing the team, especially one member, to Jotunheim is revealed and made me love Banner all the more.
Waid wrote it. Simonson drew it. You can't go wrong. RECOMMENDED!

Flashback Friday:
Marshal Law
The Deluxe Edition HC
Marshal Law: The Deluxe Edition HC - Written by Pat Mills and illustrated by Kevin O'Neill, published by DC Comics (What the what?!). Ahhhh...the finer things in life: filet Mignon and mushroom enchiladas, a Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA, a run on the beach with Tulip, watching AMC's The Killing episodes with the wife. They're the things that matter. Add to the list spending the evening curled up on the couch with a cabernet and the Marshal Law: The Deluxe Edition HC and life couldn't get better. "Fear and Loathing," denizens,  and "Nuke Me Slowly" are the words that should be gracing your lips as you trace your fingers across the smooth surface of this impressive hardcover. Listen to the whisper of pages turning and enjoy that new book smell. Taste the...okay, never mind, if you're tasting your books then there is something seriously wrong with you and please do not sell them back to's just dag nasty. Anyhow, it's all about your eyeballs and the ridiculously violent story, the sensibility shattering foul language, the peepshow-like guilt/joy of reading something so critical of superhero comics as to be a well-placed kick to the unmentionables of the typical capes and tights crowd. Sound appealing? Then grab a glass of wine or perhaps a nice Belgian-inspired ale from Telegraph Brewery, dim the lights--Tulip will kindly fetch your slippers--and sit back to enjoy the--oh my dog! Marshal Law just used the spur on his boot to...--yes, sit back and enjoy one of the finer things in life.
In this Friday Flashback series covering my childhood love of Marshal Law and in celebration of getting a big chunk of Mills's and O'Neill's series in one beautiful book, I've been looking at each of the various storylines released throughout the years and contained within (starting here, or click on the "Marshal Law" label to see past entries). Today we are looking at Marshal Law: The Hateful Dead (published by Apocalypse Ltd., 1991) and Super Babylon (published Dark Horse Comics, 1992). I don't remember how I originally found out about The Hateful Dead, but a new Marshal Law book is a new Marshal Law book, even when the cover price is $5.95, a princely sum for a broke-ass college Donist. Thankfully, the book was considered a "graphic novel" and was double-sized. What I do remember is finishing this issue and enjoying it, but feeling something was missing that I could not quite put my finger on. Reading this story now, I still love it, but it just seems a bit rougher than what had come before. Maybe there was a rush to get the book to market to try to save Apocalypse Ltd, but who will ever know. Again, I still enjoyed the story and art and my love of the "hero" held strong.
The Hateful Dead also left off on one hell of a cliffhanger and I remember the wait for the follow up being just brutal. I think The Hateful Dead was released early in 1991 and the painfully late Marshal Law: Super Babylon seemed to appear late in 1992. Maybe the wait wasn't that long, but the cliffhanger made it seem to take forever and when I saw Super Babylon on the shelf I did a double-take to be sure my eyes weren't playing tricks on me. I also wasn't sure if there was a The Hateful Dead volume two out in the wild that I was missing because of the publisher change, but I bought Super Babylon anyways and was glad I did.
In The Hateful Dead, Marshal Law is investigating the death of what can only be considered a "John" as caused by a superhero named Razorhead. In San Futuro, normal everyday humans can pay to dress as a superhero and beat up on actual superheroes who have semi-invulnerability and more resistance to pain. Someone went too far with Razorhead and wound up dead, and now the Marshal has to bring him in. Meanwhile, some toxic chemicals were illegally dumped near a hero graveyard where the dead rise again as lead by the reanimated Black Scarab. We also meet the Marshal's father and see that the nut doesn't fall far from the tree. When someone unexpected reanimates, it's enough to push Marshal Law over the edge with a startling conclusion. The first half of the book is almost a noir tale with the second being a zombie film.
In Super Babylon, we see what happened and don't know whether to breath a sigh of relief or not. The Marshal continues the fight, gains a new partner, taking the battle to a hero museum that uses the actual bodies of dead heroes from the silver age for display. Of course the Black Beetle reanimates them and Marshal Law and his new partner have their work cut out for them. One zombie, however, might be too much for the Law to do the right thing.
Although each of these storylines were probably my least favorite of all the Marshal Law offerings, they are still a heck of a lot of fun to read and ones not to be missed. RECOMMENDED!
*Next time we'll have a look at the two issue Secret Tribunal. 

Slice Into the Woods

Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Rachel Rising Gone? - I ran out of time to rant (outside of the intro of course), but I still want my dagburned funny book. C'MON!!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 5/24/2013

(Sung to the tune of Eddie Rabbitt's "I Love a Rainy Night")

Well, I love the Sixth Gun, bro
I love the Sixth Gun, bro
I love scary Westerns
Magic weapons
Drake and Becky are tops
You know it makes me feel good

Well, I love some Marshal Law
The violence's kinda raw
I love to see Suicida get beat down
It totes stands the test of time
Fear and loathing rules the roost

Daredevil and a helping of Sex
Right there's my perfect sunny day

Well, I love comics alright

Hi there, Donist World denizens. I'm Donist and I am NOT here today with anyone but me, myself, and I. You might be wondering where my CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and my marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/hide-and-go-seek recruiter Tulip (my Boston terrier and Obie's sister) are today and we would all be on the same page; I don't know where the heck they are either. Oh email I just sent to them came back with an out of office (OOO for those not in the business world) message saying that they have taken today as paid time off (PTO in case you are wondering) in celebration of their fourth birthdays. Okay. No one said anything to me about this, no  one requested the time off, and I thought we were celebrating their ACTUAL birthday, which is tomorrow. I'm also hurt because they left me to run our Fortune 320,000 company on my own and even more than that, I'm hurt that they didn't invite me to join in the fun with them. Waaaaaiiiittt a minute. I can see them from the window. They're at the little park out back. They're lying in the sun, there are comic books lying around them, and also what looks like bottles of beer. That tears it. I'm going to go crash this little soiree and have a bit of fun for once myself. Don't worry. You're all invited. Catch up on the books we loved this week and then meet us down at the park for a beer or two--IF you are of age to do so, otherwise it's coffee and Cheetos for you youngsters out there. Without further ado it's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Sixth Gun #31
The Sixth Gun #31 - Written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Brian Hurtt, published by Oni Press. That's right...jerkfaces! No, Donist World denizens, I am not talking about the creators of the fine piece of art that is hopefully sitting in your hands. No. Nor am I talking about the publisher of this Donist World Top Five title. No. I'm talking about the television network that opted to pass on the pilot for The Sixth Gun series. Instead we will be graced by a bunch of cop shows, some "reality" TV, situational comedies, a reboot or two of established properties, vampires, and Parks and Recreations (which rules and is the only diamond in the very rough landscape). <sigh> I guess I should be happy that the awesomeness that is The Sixth Gun DID NOT make it to network television. If it had, the show would run the risk of a bunch of rich, white-haired, old dudes more concerned with maximizing ad revenues, and sanitizing material to reach a broader demographic while caring little about quality programing with the potential to carry on for multiple seasons, could possibly have damaged the story beyond recognition. Oh well, maybe AMC? HBO? Showtime? Cable's where it's at, so maybe a little more time is in the best interest of the show appearing in a manner befitting the creators' vision of the work and one that doesn't have a goofy sidekick or something equally horrendous added to the script as dictated by those holding the purse strings. There's a reason why the Donist household cut the cable ties about five years ago. Furthermore, I can't--wait a minute. What the heck are we talking about again? Oh yeah, The Sixth Gun #31! It's really, really, really good and goofy sidekicks to be found anywhere in these pages; thank goodness for that.
Becky Montcrief ain't doing so well. Not only is she trapped in the spirit world, without a guide, and unable to return to the waking world, she is being hunted by three murderous "skinwalkers" as set upon her by the diabolical Missy Hume. Maybe Becky shouldn't have threatened her so publicly...paybacks a witch. Drake Sinclair is barely standing himself after the hell he has been put through and implores his Indian captors/protectors to do better in saving Becky. A plan is made to hunt the hunters. Becky whups on some skinwalkers, and finds the spirit world has its own breed of horrors. A new and familiar (?) spirit guide in possession of an all too familiar weapon makes an appearance followed by a quick disappearance and a startling (and dang cool) shift in location.
All my annoyance over the pilot not being picked up aside, this issue is a blast. Bunn has grown Becky from an uncertain, hesitant character to one who is confident and eager to make her own path. Gone are the times of indecisiveness and hiding behind her friends. Now, despite being hopelessly outmatched, Becky has no qualms about meeting her hunters head on and it is an exciting thing to see, especially when she ambushes her pursuers, punching one square in the nose; I couldn't help but cheer. Above the occasional moments of individual triumph, it's the group dynamic where Bunn focuses his attention. All of Becky's friends (friends being a loosely fitting term when you factor in the scoundrel Kirby Hale and the mummy Asher Cobb) are desperate to help her as the team splits off, for she would do the same for them...with the possible exception of Kirby, but such is the way of a heart betrayed; she'd probably still save his worthless carcass anyways. I'm still waiting for more background on Drake--we actually get a couple hints about him in this issue--but I'm sure more will come in time.
Hurtt's art only improves with this issue, which is a difficult thing to imagine as his sequentials and character acting have been nothing short of rock solid since day one (after this I'm going to check to see if he has pages for sale...dare to dream, Donist, dare to dream). His sequence of Becky attacking the skinwalkers is intense and left me cheering for her, only to be left stunned with the appearance of a "hungry one" on the following splash page. Speaking of splashes, how about that final double pager? Wow.
I always have to mention Bill Crabtree on this title as this is a spotlight issue for him as well. His storytelling and mood from the darkness of the evildoers, to the purple-hued anguish of Becky struggling to free herself from the spirit world, to the shocking (in a great way) light in the giant teepee that transitions from a rich bright yellow to a dreamlike blue instantaneously, all contribute to driving the story forward and giving the comic its signature look at the same time. Its all rather lovely.
So, I might not yet be getting the television show that I so desperately want to see (so long as it is done right), but the wonderful comic that is one of the best titles currently being published continues to fill me with gasps, chills and thrills and anxious for the next issue. The comic book is where it all started and the comic book is where all the excitement will happen first until we reach the concluding issue. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Daredevil #26
Daredevil # 26 - Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Chris Samnee, published by Marvel Comics. Reading Daredevil has been refreshing to say the least. This is the title that brought me back to Marvel after I had dropped every single one of their books, and it even took me until issue 8 and hearing over and over again how great this comic is that I took a newly received gift certificate and bought all 8 issues. I read one. I immediately read the next. I then contacted my LCS and told them to add Daredevil to my pull list and I then read the next six issues and began the painful monthly wait. Since then I have loved almost every issue, with the issues I was less thrilled about still being better than most of the normal Big Two fare. This installment was pretty damn incredible and man, was it nerve the best of ways of course.
The mysterious ninja version of Daredevil, the warrior known as Ikari, ruthlessly beat Matt Murdock and is determined to let the hero suffer before ending him. Bruised and bloody, Daredevil retreats to bandage himself up, but something is dreadfully wrong. The "man without fear" is terrified and with anyone on the street being a potential agent of Ikari, he has good reason to be scared. Meanwhile the man pulling Ikari's strings (the Cocktail Tumbler as I've called him) is revealed as is another accomplice and it is up to Daredevil to pull himself together and take this surprise villain down, before he or Foggy Nelson wind up dead.
Criminy that was a roller coaster of a ride. Waid takes our favorite hero, grinds him down and leaves both Daredevil and the reader nervous and dreading what's lurking on the coming page. Just read up until the guy in the elevator makes that one little comment to Matt Murdoch and tell me you didn't get the heebie -jeebies. Man! Then he does it again with the syringe and...ack...I'm reading the page and then looking over my shoulder. It's totally messed up. Then you have that final panel and...<brrrrr>. Samnee's art is gorgeous as always and Javier Rodriguez's minimally rendered colors set the tension and release of each scene to great effect. It's all beautifully done. Then, don't miss out like I almost did, after the final panel, turn a couple pages for a truly touching 8-page story of Foggy Nelson attempting to deal with his cancer while speaking to the children's cancer ward patients. *Note to Marvel...mind where you put the ads as I almost did not continue through to the back up story. I'm just sayin'*.
If you are a fan of the capes and tights, but have been feeling disillusioned with many of your once favorite titles, then do yourself a favor and start grabbing up Waid's Daredevil, I promise you will be glad you did. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Sex #3
Sex #3 - Written by Joe Casey and illustrated by Piotr Kowalski, published by Image Comics. In case you haven't noticed, I tend to joke around a bit. Usually on something with a title like Sex, I make a joke to lighten the mood, but I'm not going to do that today. There's too much sex negativity in the good ol' US of A, thanks to an overly vocal minority of knuckle-dragging whack job politicians. Thus we have Sex and I'm sure if the sex negative knew of its existence, many would be appalled, outraged, possibly incited to a good old fashioned book burning with talk of moral decay (most before the book has even been opened). Some would be so outraged as to keep a copy or two stashed away, remind themselves over and over and over again, in the privacy of their own home, of just how outraged they are by the very existence of this comic; they also can't wait for issue four.
Enough with theories concerning the nonsense of others. I absolutely love this cover. Gorgeous sexy lady aside, the use of a stark red gradient with a blue hued window cannot help but draw your eye, and the effect of the woman's dress melting into the simple background while having rendered purples in her skin and stockings bring all the elements of colorist Brad Simpson's design together. Discounting the lovely lady (thank you, Kowalski), the colors alone demanded mentioning.
Sex isn't just about the striking cover, there's also some stuff inside the comic book worth checking out. Casey still has Simon Cooke existing in the world under a cloud of deadening indifference. Whether Simon is sitting in the boardroom, being given the "gift" of a prostitute (last issue), or talking about the past with his friend Warren, Simon continues to be subdued. But there's a change from the previous two books. In this issue, Kowalski's art clues the reader in with subtle changes in Simon's facial expressions and body language that the lead character is figuring things out about himself and the world he has recently rejoined. We see a spark of life returning to this walking dead man. The evil groups (The Alpha Brothers, the Old Man) who have been up to no good after the absence of the Armored Saint (Simon's old alias...or is it the other way around?) are beginning to escalate their violent ways. With Simon back in town, Annabelle Lagravenese remembers the good times, the exciting times of being a villainess pursed through the night by the Armored Saint, but that hero is as yet no where to be found. Simon might have promised his dying mentor he would abandon super heroics, but he still wishes to save the city from devouring itself.
With the story in full swing after two introductory issues, I now know the players and see where our "hero" is coming from and what he is up against: primarily, himself. With a great story, beautiful art and colors, the only thing I am uncertain of is the lettering choice to highlight in changing colors, words that would otherwise be bolded, which is a tad distracting and not what you want with a comic's lettering; I'm sure there is a reason for this of which I am not yet aware. Sex sells--as it should--and this installment has moved an interesting comic to an intriguing one. I'm curious to see what Casey and Kowalski have in store for us next. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Flashback Friday:
Marshal Law:
The Deluxe Edition HC
Marshal Law: The Deluxe Edition HC - Written by Pat Mills and illustrated by Kevin O'Neill, published by DC Comics. Dagnabbit, you kids. I thought I told you to get off my dag burned lawn! Y'see, I got your numbers, I know all of you: Tommy, Sam, Mikey and especially you former President George W. I'm going to call all your parents and let 'em know what you all been up to. Heck, I might just make some stuff up while I'm at it. Yeah, that's right, how do you like them apples? Now if you don't want that, you best stand right there on the sidewalk and let me tell you a little somethin' about a hero hunter named Marshal Law and what happens to bad boys like yourselves. One boy in particular who thought he done hit the jackpot only to find himself dead at the hands of someone he thought was a hero. You understand what I'm sayin'? Georgie W, stop them dag burned waterworks--your a big boy--and listen up. Maybe you might just learn something.
The Private Eye, a dark vigilante of the night is stalking San Futuro's criminal element and "operating" on them until they see the errors of their ways and it's up to Marshal Law to stop the excessively violent menace. The problem is that the Marshal kind of doesn't see a problem with the "hero" or his methods. The Private Eye as it turns out is none other than billionaire Scott Brennan, who at one point in his youth witnessed his parents' murder...of course few know that young Scott was the one who hired the hit men. Now decades later, Scott Brennan seems to have not aged a day and is in tip top shape. He's also in the market for a young ward. Many boys want to be a boy of wonder, but one in particular has caught Brennan's eye, a boy named Tommy. Tommy is perfect for what the Private Eye needs: athletic, spry, bright-eyed and bushy tailed. The boy is just what the surgeon of the night is looking for, a veritable fountain of youth. The Marshal's partner investigates the matter, but things go...poorly...and an enraged Marshal sees the Private Eye for what he truly is: a mad dog needing to be put down. Unfortunately, the Private Eye won't go down easily and the psychopath might be more than even Marshal Law can handle.
All right you kids, hit the bricks. Go on. Scram! Stay off my lawn or I'll do worse than call your parents, I'll call the Private Eye and tell him y'all are new recruits! Okay. Now that their gone, let's get real-real on this book. Marshal Law: Kingdom of the Blind was originally released in 1990 under some publisher known as Apocalypse Ltd that I had never heard of before. I originally found this standalone issue at the third location of my childhood LCS, Andromeda Comics. I had no idea a new issue was out and never even knew that a follow up to my much-loved Marshal Law series (I talk about it here) and the equally adored Marshal Law Takes Manhattan (check it here) was on the horizon. Lucky day and an equally lucky night after I read the double-sized one shot. Kingdom of the Blind had everything I had come to love with the series: brutally violent, a brutal critical look at Big Two comics, with smatterings of social commentary. Take a guess as to which hero comic this one takes pot shots at. Let's see, this issue focuses on a billionaire "hero" whose parents were murdered, who loves having a sidekick in shorty-shorts, who beats the crud out of criminals, who has crazy gadgets, and has a running monologue in his head that never stops. Heck, there's even a tiny little panel of a lightning bolt bisecting the night sky as a silhouetted Marshal Law stands in the foreground--this panel appears after the Marshal beats the bejesus out of Suicida with a plus-sized personal massager (yeah, that kind). What's not to love. Mills and O'Neill also smack the reader with the death of an important side character that despite all the gratuitous violence and extreme parody, you can't help but feel remorse for. It's harsh and it's rough, but unlike many of the deaths in today's Big Two comics, this death made sense even if it bums you out.
If you enjoyed the stories that came before this one, I'd bet you a dozen beefilla burgers you'll be just fine snuggling up with this little gem. Just having the mini-series and the two one-shots that followed is more than enough to justify the purchase of this beautifully produced hardcover. Next time: Marshal Law: The Hateful Dead and Marshal Law" Super Babylon. Both this collection and the Marshal Law Kingdom of the Blind one-shot within are VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Still Missing my Rachel Rising Issue From Last Month - Poopies.  

Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 5/17/2013

(Sung to the tune of Bell Biv Devoe's "Poison")

Yeah spot a book of freedom it's a fact ash-aah uh-hum
Comics you ready Obie I'm ready
You ready Tulip I'm ready Donist are you
O yeah break it down

Bro I must warn you
I sense some great things at your store
Yeah yo situation is serious
Let's check 'em 'cause they're ones you'll adore
Mm mm read 'em Mills's Marshal Law's so beautiful
This hardcover's sweet, just check out this art
Yeah mm mm it's all so deadly
Have love this comic's near and dear to my heart
Mm mm check it out

It's driving me out of my mind
Rachel Rising should not be this hard to find
East of West is stuck in my head
Need it, read it, love it, knowledge for yo head

Okay, okay...thank you Bell Biv and Devoe for coming to Donist World this week and...please stop singing. We don't have that many comics this week, but we still have a lot to talk about, so thank you and... Obie, cut the mic, CUT THE MIC! Yes, thank you again for coming and you can claim your Donist World burrito on you way out the door just ask my mom the receptionist.
Hello there, Donist World denizens! Welcome back. That was Bell Biv Devoe and--Obie! just unplug the amp before they start singing "Do Me!"...geesh--anyhow, thank you BBD. As always I'm here with Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / booking agent Tulip (my dog and Obie's sister). Despite only buying two new books this week and only talking about one of those below, we thankfully have something old and something newish to look at so there's still plenty goin' on and-- Dang it, Biv, I told you. Maybe in a couple months we'll have another spot available and you can perform "Do Me!" then, but right now we have the rest of the show. There's a reason why we're a Fortune 320,000 company, okay? If there's a cancellation, then Tulip will call you first. Cool? Cool. Don't forget your Donist World burrito and grab a couple stickers if you like, too. Thank you. <phew> Okay, where were we? Oh yeah, let's take a peek at...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Friday Flashback:
Marshal Law
The Deluxe Edition HC
Marshal Law The Deluxe Edition HC - Written by Pat Mills and illustrated by Kevin O'Neill, published by DC Comics (yeah, weird, I know). Last week I talked about the first six issues of the glory that is Marshal Law as originally published by Epic Comics. You can read about those issues, my history with this title and what is and isn't contained within this beautiful hardcover here. Go on now, git. Go read it. Ohhhhh...quit your bellyachin', I know it's long but I had some words about this sexy beast that you ought to be learnin' yourself about. It's cool. I'll wait.
Alrighty then, the follow up to the first six-issue mini (published by Epic 1987 to 1989) was Marshal Law Takes Manhattan (published by Epic 1989). From what I remember of that time, I believe I wandered into my LCS (the dearly departed Andromeda Comics <sniff> I miss you good buddy) and happily saw this one sitting on the shelves. Oh surprise, surprise! I had read that a one-shot followup to my much loved Marshal Law #1-6 was in the works, but I had no idea when it would drop or if it would even drop at all. Then it became a reality. Remember, denizens, this was during the dark, terrible period of the world. It was a time of freedom, a time of no cell phones (unless you had one of those suitcase jobbers), a time of quarter operated video games, and most importantly it was a time of no internet. There was little to no information and oftentimes a trip to the LCS was one of hopes that your favorite title(s) had been released, dreams that something new and unexpected had arrived, and nightmares for the LCS workers forever badgered by my questions concerning when the final issue of The Crow was supposed to be released. Come to think of it...I really miss those days. Marshal Law Takes Manhattan also preceded such horrors as the holofoil covers, trading card inserts, polybags, stoopidly-limited covers and the onslaught of horribly written, terribly illustrated comics intended to help businessmen/speculators to retire early. Looking at what was to come in the '90s...I REALLY miss those early days.
The life of a super hero can be hard. With all the stress and expectations placed upon those with power enough to bring them to the very brink of godhood it can be too much. Thank goodness for the Institute! Or as it is known to most people, the insane asylum. The problem is that one Don Matrione, aka "The Persecutor" was arrested in New York and he is applying for admittance to the Institute, at which point he will be beyond the reach of justice for his multitude of hate/war crimes; this is where Marshal Law comes in. The good Marshal has a history with the sadistic Persecutor and witnessed first hand the cruelty coursing through what passes as the man's heart from the time of "The Zone" where Matrione taught squadrons how to inflict pain on others. Marshal Law is more than happy to make the trip from San Futuro to Manhattan in the event the Persecutor is denied admittance. Of course all plans go to hell. The superpowered heroes go on a murderous rampage, the Persecutor goes on a separate murderous rampage and it is up to Marshal Law to restore order. Fortunately, the Marshal realizes that many of these "heroes" are disturbed individuals who need to be understood and treated with care and sympathy...nah, not a chance.
Oh man! That was really violent. Holy moly. But hey, if you are a fan of this character, then you completely knew the ride you were in for with this book. Heck, if you were waiting for this release back in 1989 like I was, you would have been disappointed if things weren't crazy violent. Mills and O'Neill take the mockery of established super heroes to new levels of parody. Whereas the six-issue series had many loose ties to modern comics and characters, this one-shot made it painfully clear that they were taking the Manhattan based characters of Marvel Comics to task. The first two pages alone give the reader a look at completely insane versions of the Avengers, the Defenders, the Fantastic Four and more, with the Persecutor being none other than a clear analogue of the Punisher. Even back when I first read this issue, I was wondering how Marvel allowed Mills and O'Neill to get away with the brutal look at their most prized properties, and a couple decades later I'm left wondering the same thing.
Marshal Law is more than a "let's make fun of the Big 2 properties" comic. Hidden within the mocking of modern super heroes is also a commentary of the mental health industry, the justice system and war criminals as well. It's not a pretty picture. Each time I have read the Marshal Law series--and I have read it many times--I laugh out loud as I make my way through the clever and cruel words and the beautiful/disturbing imagery, but it's later, when the book is on the floor and the lights go out that the creators' actual criticism of the time creeps in; seeing as how little has changed since that time, I can only agree.
I've already told you that the Marshal Law the Deluxe Edition hardcover is a must own book, but just like the series that kicked it all off, this Marshal Law Takes Manhattan one-shot is phenomenal all on it's own. This story is comes VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
East of West #1
East of West #1 & 2 - Written by Jonathan Hickman and illustrated by Nick Dragotta, published by Image Comics. Sometimes you just have to admit that someone is smarter than you. After finally caving in and picking up the first two issues of East of West it's painfully clear that Hickman is the smarterest of them all. With this title I'm not completely sure what is going on, but usually when I read a comic or novel that I just fail to understand it's the fault of the writer desperately attempting to impress themselves with big tremendous words that most readers need to look up and ones that they themselves should look up so they actually use those words correctly; ugh...grad students, I tell you. This is not the case with Hickman. Hickman is very much a gardner, planting mysterious seeds that grow into a fully formed and recognizable plant at maturity. Translation: have patience, denizens. With East of West I almost grasp what is going on and with each dot I connect I'm left with a feeling of major accomplishment. I just did some jumping jacks, warmed up a bit, so let me try to explain this one.
The world we know has been devastated and we the people caused it all; it is forever broken. Three riders of the apocalypse are reborn as brutal, murderous children and they very much miss their brother who is not reborn along with them for he already walks the land. Death walks into a bar (NOT the beginning of a joke) and murders all but the barkeep who once hunted the ghostly gunman, but the creepy-eyed barkeep saves his skin by giving up the names of those who hired him to kill Death many years ago. Unfortunately for the rest of the bar's patrons, Death does not travel alone (the Wolf and the Crow), and they come seeking something lost, something the President might know of.
See? Just writing down what this book is about helped clarify some things for me, but I'm guessing if you have not read this comic and only read the brief description above that you are now scratching your head. Don't be. If you're familiar with Hickman's writing, you know you will be in for the long game and seemingly insignificant items in issue one and two will probably have a huge impact later in the story. Dragotta's art is pure beauty with emotion and a creeping sense of menace moving the story forward and leaving the reader hesitant to know what's about to come next, but unable to help themselves as they turn the page.
No one ever said enjoying comics had to necessarily be easy, and sometimes exercising those ol' brain muscles is just what you need to keep comics exciting and to remind yourself there are choices outside of the same familiar capes and tights beating the bejesus out of each other. Heck, read books like East of West and you just might learn yourself somethin' and become smarterer then your pals. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Age of Ultron #8
Age of Ultron #8 - Written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by Brandon Peterson, published by Marvel Comics. Face front, denizens! A new issue of Age of...errr...Voltron? Wait that's not it. Age of Thrones? Crud, that's not it either. What was that guy's name again? You know, the robot guy that's always smiling even though he's a big meany-pants? Skulltron? Oh! Oh! I got it. Ultron. Age of Ultron. I almost forgot this book was about that murderous Hank Pym creation, as Ultron kind of left the building along with artist Bryan Hitch. Since then, we've been to the Savage Land, heroes have died (off camera), heroes in the future have vanished completely, and we are now in a world of Tony Stark technology versus the mystical forces of Morgan Le Fey and her band of Doombots. If the book didn't clearly say "Bendis" on the cover I would have assumed that none other than Dr. Octagon (aka Kool Keith) had written this issue--if you're not familiar with the insanity that is Dr. Octagon, have a listen but be warned it is NOT appropriate for youngsters). I don't intend to sound mean about this, I'm actually enjoying this book even though Ultron ain't nowhere to be found.
In a world without Hank Pym, Tony Stark--or rather what is left of him--rules with tech heavy iron fist, but he must as Morgan Le Fey controls most of the the world and is keen on bringing Stark's forces under her spiked heel. The "real world" Wolverine and Invisible Woman escape Stark's captivity and find themselves in the middle of a war that is dire, but probably no where near as bad as the world that Bultron Ultron built.
$3.99 price point aside, I am still enjoying reading this book and I'm curious to see how it all wraps up in the next two issues (and inevitable 27 "epilogue" titles explaining what happened, but that's a separate matter). I will say that I like the post-apocalyptic world where Hawkeye rescued Spider-Man much more, but it is what it is. Brandon Peterson delivers some beautiful sequentials and Paul Mount's colors are stunning; their art is something to behold.
Next issue looks to bring got nothing. After this issue I can't even make a guess as to what is coming, and I'm still kind of all right with that. Time will tell. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Wait, Where's My Rachel Rising? - Good question. It came out a couple of weeks ago and I still don't have my copy. Ho hum...hopefully next week.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 5/10/2013

(Sung to the tune of Hall and Oats "Private Eyes")

I tell you, 'bout books to read
Like Batman and Thor, books that'll make your heart sing
Oh bro, you've got to know these comics got hooks
Chin Music will give you a start
Marshal Law is a prize, Nuke me slowly then there's

Private Eye, I'm telling you
Vaughan's really got the groove
Private Eye, I'm telling you
Private Eye, it's something new
Got the groove, Got the groove, Got the groove

Whatever, denizens, whatever. You see the Donist World CFO and marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/party pooper, aka Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and Tulip (Obie's sister and my dog) are still not on speaking terms with me. It all stems from their failure to understand that dogs are not allowed in American theaters even when the dogs are executives for a Fortune 320,000 company and even when they are into cosplay and even when the movie is Iron Man 3. Sometimes the good ol' US of A ain't all that progressive. I know, I'm as shocked to hear that as you are. It doesn't matter that Obie spent a good three hours on his Iron Man costume and had to shred all the toilet paper to get the cardboard rolls that make up the legs of his armor, or that Tulip spent the past four months carefully casting her armor and gluing it all together (it's quite lovely actually). Dogs just aren't allowed in the theater. Period. Oh well fine, Tulip. Fine, Obie. Sit there with your backs to me as you stare outside at the beautiful sunny day before us. We have lots of work to do and if you two insist on--fine. I'll just have to go to Taco Friday by my little(ish) lonesome and-- Okay, looks like they're over their misgivings and are sitting patiently at the car. Dog + Food = Iron Man 3 forgiveness. Oh yeah, I'm not going to review Iron Man 3 (did you see the size of this post!!!), but I will say I had a blast watching the film and give it a healthy HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Heck, denizens, I look forward to seeing it again very soon, but <shhhhh> keep that on the down low, I don't want to upset my executives. While we head out for some apology tacos, have a look at...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Private Eye #2
The Private Eye #2 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Marcos Martin, published by...ummm...those two all by their lonesome. "Private eyes, hey, their watching you. They see you're every move," but just because this PI happens to see your every move, it doesn't mean they have a clue as to who you actually are or what you have been doing. After the futuristic grand failure of the "cloud," the world all but fell apart. What was once a time of posting every teeny tiny little detail of one's life has now made way for extreme privacy. The internet no longer exists, phones have cords, and everyone--at least once they are old enough to remove their youth bracelets--walks around with their true identities hidden, whether by paint, mask or holographic imagery. This is the world of The Private Eye and dang if parts of this world don't sound appealing to me...not counting the murder of course.
P.I. is on a case to look into the past of the beautiful Taj McGill, as hired by...Taj Mcgill. The situation is that Taj wants to see if P.I. has the ability to dig up any of the skeletons--and they are many--hidden in her closet before her potential employers can discover them. It's an odd job for P.I. and even his young cohort, Melanie, is inclined to agree. What's even more odd is that Taj has just been found murdered in her own home and her sister, Raveena suspects P.I. is behind it based off a clue written on Taj's hand. You see, Raveena was also a former client of P.I. and was the one to recommend Taj to the unlicensed investigator in the first place. Meanwhile, the murderous De Guerre, is posing as Taj and has tricked an old coworker into performing an as yet unknown deed. P.I. spends some time with Raveena and her angry baseball bat, but the two work things out just as two French goons make their deadly presence known.
More of this please and as soon as possible. Between The Private Eye and Saga, Vaughan has cornered the comics market on compelling stories, characters, dialogue, plot, the whole kit and kaboodle. Each character has their own distinct, clear voice and motivations that leaves the reader flipping page after page desperate to see what comes next. The mystery of Taj's murder and what it was she was attempting to hide left me frantic for the truth, and despite knowing that it is not going to be coming any time soon, I am consoled knowing that I am in the capable hands of P.I. and Melanie (who I really want to know more about).
Marcos Martin is the perfect artist for this digital series with a style that is both minimalist and at times cartoon-like. I don't mean this as an insult, but the highest praise. He has given The Private Eye a distinct look and a wonderful sense of motion with each panel, and his acting never fails to convey the emotion of the scene as it is needed. As far as backgrounds go, his abandoned subway car city in the middle of the desert is fantastic as are the homes built out of what I am guessing are abandoned oil pipelines. I wished I could physically explore each area. It is all quite beautiful.
The neat thing about The Private Eye is if you are legitimately hard up for cash--these be tough times after all--or if you are a shamefully cheap bastard without a soul, then you can download each of these issues for free. You also get to choose your format of cbz, cbr, or pdf. If you are human, have a heart and know that making comics is not cheap, then you have the option to throw these innovative creators some of your hard-earned cheddar. I gave them $4.00 for this issue. I wish I could do more, but that is the price for most comics these days, and if we all continue to chip in a few bucks for each comic book issue with this level of quality, then the creators will allow this fantastic series to run its course and receive the monumental ending it deserves. This is must read material, denizens. Support it! Did I not talk about the fantastic first "issue"??? Oh wait, I mentioned it here. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batman #20
Batman #20 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo, published by DC Comics. Okay, willful suspicion of disenchantment time, folks...wait, that's not right. Ugh...willing species some dysentery. No that's not it either. Oh, Tulip just clarified. It's willful suspension of disbelief time, Donist World denizens, but hey it's superhero funny books, who's really going to say, "That's just not realistic, bro"? Okay, plenty of people probably , but my point is that this issue has some...areas where you just need to go with the flow and accept that Clayface just ain't the sharpest tool in the shed. Do that and you're in for one heck of an entertaining Batman book, and the backup ain't nothin' to sneeze at either.
Clayface has Bruce Wayne right where he wants him: trapped, alone, no avenue for escape. They are at the Wayne Enterprises R&D Lab, surrounded by equipment, weapons and vehicles all designed for Batman. Heck, Wayne's even got voice-activated Bat Bots, but this newly evolved Clayface has the ability to mimic his victims down to their distinct voice, fingerprints and more. We'll ignore that Clayface can't put the square peg in the square hole and come to the conclusion that Bruce Wayne IS Batman. Don't feel too bad for ol' Mud-In-The-Eye, even the brilliant Lucius Fox--CEO of Wayne Enterprises--can't seem to make the connection without the use of the yet-to-be-developed "Bold and Striking Chin Analyzer"; that's still three years out. Bruce and Lucius are tossed out like trash to die, but luckily a discarded piece of tech (one that made me cheer) saves the day. Clayface runs amok posing as Bruce Wayne, and Batman meets the monster at Wayne Enterprises. Clayface then discovers the truth, Batman confuses matters, Gotham's finest have no idea what to think, Clayface touches a nerve.
Yes, I know, I've spent most of the review poking fun at the holes in the logic of the Batverse--a problem Snyder inherited, as opposed to created--but this issue was a blast. Snyder gives us the Batman book we've loved since we were kids. We have the impossible to beat bad guy, with the odds stacked against our hero up until the moment his quick thinking vanquishes his foe and reinforces the secrecy of his identity. But then Snyder jeopardizes everything. At the exact moment Batman is smug with his victory, Clayface brings up Bruce Wayne's dead son Damian Wayne. Everything was fine, the day was won, but the pain of losing Damian sends Batman into a rage. If anything, Jim Gordon now knows exactly who Batman really is, but I suspect he will not be telling anyone. It was a subtle and bold move by Snyder to allow the Bat to drop character and show his human side just for a moment. We also have an incredibly touching moment shared with Alfred as he offers to watch footage of the deceased Damian alongside Bruce. I'm getting choked up just thinking about it and I didn't even like the "In this issue a hero dies!!!" decision to kill off a character.
Capullo's art--surprise, surprise--is better than ever. The action sequences are tense thrill rides and the character designs, especially the continuously morphing Clayface, are without compare. The standout for this issue though are two little panels, the ones where Alfred extends his hand to Bruce as he asks to watch the video footage of Damian. Damn...there I go again...messing up my makeup. The scene has beautiful, emotional acting that is as far removed from fisticuffs as you can get, yet its impact is without question.
Even without the Batman Beyond nod that made me gasp with joy, or the willful suspension of disbelief, this issue of Batman was a victory and cemented this title as my favorite New 52 book by a long shot. Also needing mention is the great conclusion to the backup story by James Tynion IV and Alex Maleev with its phenomenal last page moments between Batman and Superman...or rather Bruce and Clark. This issue as whole is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
God of Thunder #8
Thor God of Thunder - Written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by Esad Ribic, published by Marvel Comics. This book is doing it right. I have been a fan of Thor since I was but a wee Donist trying to untangle the mess of matted hair gracing my Mego doll. I read my Marvel Treasury Edition #10 of The Mighty Thor, with my favorite villain being the unstoppable Mangog. The Walter Simonson stuff is beyond compare, but after that run I had long since given up on the character and all of his books. Nothing grabbed me until now.
The Thor of the present and the past are making their way to confront Gorr the God Butcher, not knowing that a younger version of themselves is held captive as a slave and being forced to construct a device called the God Bomb. Young Thor then meets three beautiful women set on destroying the God Bomb themselves, women who we learn are Thor's grandchildren. The situation is awkward. Young Thor makes a heroic play to destroy the bomb, and modern Thor gets smacked in the face with a space shark. The battle is about to begin.
Aaron's take on Thor is working on every level. The story spans many millennia, concerns three Thor age groups, now includes granddaughters, focuses on a god murdering being, and jumps from time period to time period and by all means should be a complete mess of a story. But not on Aaron's watch. All aspects of the story flow well together and the fantastic dialogue adds the drama, the intensity and many laugh out loud moments as well. Ribic's art is stunning on its own, but combined with Ive Svorcina's colors becomes something as epic as Aaron's storytelling.
With two more issues in this arc, I can't wait to see what's to come next, but I have no doubt it will be worthy of the finest songs of Valhalla. Having read these past eight issues, I can't believe I was reluctant to pick this title up. Marvel NOW! VERILY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Chin Music #1
Chin Music #1 - Written by Steve Niles and illustrated by Tony Harris, published by Image Comics. Ahhh...this beer I'm drinking is so refreshing. It has it all: a nice citrus hop aroma, clean, slight bitter taste, complex. It's just like the debut issue of Chin Music that I timed reading with this Firestone Pale 31 Ale. It's nice to have something new, something unexpected, something finely crafted with a noticeable pride added by the creators; I ain't talking about the beer.
The book opens with a man with glowing orange eyes, meticulously carving magic runes into a a bullet which he then fires out the window. We cut to a scene in Egypt from years (?) prior where a merchant with glowing orange eyes is pursued by shrouded demons who very much know who the merchant is. The demons annihilate--there is really no better word--the flesh of the "man," stating that "he" was one of them but no longer. The bloody mess that remains yet lives and somehow shifts from Egypt to New York (?) where it is struck by the car of none other than blank (sorry, you'll have to read it). With a touch, the thing's power is transferred to the prominent historical figure (at least I think that is what happened). Back in the present, we see a criminal, another prominent historical figure (ditto, denizens), just as the shot fired from all the way across town takes him down.
As you can tell in the little synopsis above, I'm not completely certain what is going on. Some of the conclusions I have about the Egypt to New York part or what happened to the shambling, skeletal horror might be wrong, but like the beer (not the beer again!) I may not understand everything going on behind the scenes, but I do know I like what's in front of me and I am more than happy to try another next time. Niles and Harris have the making a a frightening little gem, and this issue is a great way to kick everything off. There are few words in this issue, but that is fine as the visuals more than carry us through to the end of the issue leaving us eager for more. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Flashback Friday:
Marshal Law:
The Deluxe Edition HC
Marshal Law: The Deluxe Edition HC - Written by Pat Mills and illustrated by Kevin O'Neill, published (this time) by DC Comics. Ahhh...Welcome to fantasy island! Smiles everyone, smiles! That gentleman gently pulverizing that hero's face is one Joe Gilmore, a superpowered law enforcement officer who has taken up the job of reining in out of control "heroes" with extreme prejudice. Mr. Gilmore also goes by the nom de guerre Marshal Law. The Marshal hails from the city of San Futuro, what used to be known as San Francisco before the "big one" hit, and he is visiting our island in hopes of satisfying his deepest fantasy, which is...oh dear-- You see, the good Marshall currently lives his fantasy and is here to arrest the heroes partaking of their own warped powertrip perversions on the island. According to the Marshall, he makes his living hunting heroes, of which he hasn't found one; at least none that hold up to his definition of the word. Please everyone, maintain your smiles, there is no cause for alarm. The Marshal will kindly ask Ocean King, American Warrior and the Wombat to come along nicely...Oh! Hitting a patron in the unmentionables is very ungentlemanly, Marshal and--no need to use a "Mace To the Top" bullet on American Warrior, once he pulled up his pants I'm sure he was going to--Marshal!!! Dismemberment of the guests of Fantasy Island is strictly forbidden and--
I remember seeing an ad mention the new Epic Comics book titled Marshal Law back in the late '80s and my interest was peaked. My life had already been forever changed by such books as Batman The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, Miracleman, The Saga of the Swamp Thing, and a host of other tremendous works and Marshal Law looked to be right up my alley. I found a copy of the first issue while visiting my dad and my step-mom in Ohio at a comic store that was somewhere in Akron. I had somehow missed the issue back home in Santa Barbara, California, but I found it in all its "Fear and Loathing" glory. There I was, sixteen-year-old Donist with no clue the Marshal Law character looked like a leather-clad sex worker, which I quickly learned about within the pages of the actual comic as the sexually perverse "heroes" openly mocked the Marshal on his fashion choices right before they were beaten and maimed. That's alright, though, he still looks cool. The book also offered a constant satirical look at both modern and traditional super hero comics. Who in their right mind would dress in a brightly-colored costume, give public speeches while holding so much power in their hands? Many of these "heroes" were also developed by the government as living weapons of warfare which they used freely for many despicable war crimes. The "heroes" Marshal Law hunts have almost all proven to be highly damaged goods, with copious amounts of PTSD, extremely perverse predilections, and a general sense of being above the law...which sounds surprisingly like today's politicians; who woulda thunk it? This book immediately sunk its teeth into me with its filthy language, frequent nudity, and more importantly it opened my eyes to how many of the comics I had loved as a kid were still telling the same story over and over again; I learned about cliches. Yet again, I began to look at comics differently.
The journey involved in being a Marshal Law fan since day one was an arduous one. Again, I didn't have the internet available to me for most of the time, and knowing what was coming out and when was something fit for a Dan Brown character, cryptograms and all. Here is the release schedule with the dates and publishers involved as well as my reactions at the time:

  1. Marshal Law #1-6, published by Epic Comics, 1987-88 <--Cool. Ads in other comics. Donist achieves awareness.
  2. Marshal Law Takes Manhattan (one-shot), published by Epic Comics 1989 <--No prob, baby. I got this.
  3. Marshal Law - Kingdom of the Blind (one-shot), published by Apocalypse Comics, 1990 <--Who's Apocalypse Comics? Whatever, Marshal Law forever!
  4. Marshal Law - The Hateful Dead (part one), published by Apocalypse Comics, 1991 <--Sweet! I didn't even know about this!
  5. Marshal Law - Super Babylon (part two of The Hateful Dead), Dark Horse Comics, 1992 <--Wait, who's Dark Horse and what about the cliff hanger from The Hateful Dead? Oh this continues that story...bonus!
  6. Marshal Law Vs Pinhead: Law In Hell #1&2 - published by Epic Comics, 1993 <--I totally missed this on the first go around, possibly to the suckitude that was the '90s comic book scene. Back to Epic Comics? Aren't they toast?
  7. Marshal Law - Secret Tribunal #1&2 - published by Dark Horse Comics, 1994 <--Finally! More Marshal Law comics. Ohhhhh, Dark Horse does stuff with Matt Wagner and Paul Chadwick. 
  8. Marshal Law/Savage Dragon #1&2 - published by Image Comics, 1997 <--Whoa, totally missed this as comics became about holofoil, scratch-n-sniff, limited edition, trading card, polybagged, micro-investments that could buy you a house! Yeah, I bailed during that nonsense, and had to pick this up a while later. Thank you interwebs! 
  9. Marshal Law/The Mask #1-2 - published by Dark Horse Comics, 1998 <--Missed this too the first time around, but bought about five years ago. Still waiting for more Marshal f-ing Law!

Now that is some crazy bouncing around amiright?! I'm not even going to try to touch the maelstrom that is the trade paperback release schedule. All I will say is that I was excited when news broke of an omnibus to be published by Top Cow Comics ("this is getting ridiculous"), but then that vanished to the Bermuda Triangle until this glorious edition arrived at my doorstep as published by DC Comics. "Game over, man, game over. Publisher, smublisher, I'm just thankful I finally have this book." Be warned though, this is NOT a definitive collection as it is missing all three crossover issues (Pinhead, Savage Dragon, Mask), but at this point I will take what I can get. And hey, you can still get the missing issues on the cheap, which I am sure you will after you read this big ol' book.
<phew> Now that the history is done, how to tackle this beast. The best way to lick this filly (not sure why you would lick a horse, but whatever) is to break it up by release across future FSoH posts. Let's look at the first six issues from Epic Comics, the ones that started it all.
A serial killer known only as the Sleepman is murdering women dressed as the hypersexualized superhero Celeste, and San Futuro hero hunter Marshal Law is going to bring the monster down. To the Marshal, most heroes are self-serving, damaged, perversions with no qualms against taking what they want. No one with powers is above suspicion where the Marshal is concerned, especially the revered Public Spirit, a Superman analog who is very much in the public eye. As much as Marshal Law hates the Public Spirit, he just can't prove that the colorful hero has been dressing in black, donning bladed gloves and placing a brown sack over his head before committing his gruesome crimes. As the hero hunter investigates the Public Spirit, he doesn't find any links to the Sleepman murders, but what he digs up proves to be every bit as disturbing and he finds he's been played.
The length of this post alone should tell you that I kinda like this book. Whether it is Pat Mills's brutal critique of the superhero genre and the politics of the time (and the past and future as well) or Kevin O'Neill's beautifully stark imagery, this comic was unlike anything I had read before; it was also just what I needed as an evolving comic book reader. In summary, yes, I loved this comic back then and it more than stands up to the test of time now. Both the Epic issues and this collection as a whole come VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Ray Harryhausen Passes - So sad that Harryhausen has died, but no one can argue that the man led a full life. Boy howdy! Look at the man's body of work. Comic books, the movie monsters (Dracula, Wolfman, etc) and Harryhausen all factored greatly in my love of the fantastic, the impossible, and the terrifying. Harryhausen especially. I remember at a very young age seeing The 7th Voyage of Sinbad in the theaters and at the Drive-In theater as well. My mom shared her love of the movie with me and I could not get enough of the gorgeous monsters parading about the screen. Sinbad Shminbad, give me the cyclops, give me the dragon! I'm not sure how I saw the movies in the theater since the movie was released in the late '50s (I'm not THAT old denizens), but there must have been a period of rescreenings as I clearly remember the experience of seeing this amazing movie from the comfort of our blue station wagon. I also got to see Jason and the Argonauts in the theater as well with my friend Dirk and Clash of the Titan...oh man, don't get me going on my love of that one (I still have the Charon action figure for Pete's sake).
Rest in peace Mr. Harryhausen. You were directly responsible for my love of the fantastic, the magical, the impossible. Because of you, I craft my own worlds now, forever hoping to give a glimmer of the spark of life to my stories that you gave to each of your glorious creatures. You are missed.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 5/3/2013

(sung to the tune of Lita Ford's "Kiss Me Deadly")

Went to my shop last Wednesday night
I bought many books, that set the world right uh-huh
It is a huge thing    
Hawkeye's rockin and Black Beetle is rad
Before these comics I was feelin' sad uh-huh
It is a huge thing

I Went to my shop last Wednesday night
I told you that story so listen up, aiight? uh-huh
It is a huge thing

But I know what I like
Hulk's a book worth readin', too
And I know what you should like
Green Arrow's kinda bitchin' you see

Read 'em once
Read 'em twice
Come on pretty baby read 'em deadly

Yeah...I'm not really certain what the heck "read 'em deadly" means, but I'll be darned if that doesn't sound pretty (Obie came up with that one). Hello there, Donist World deadly readers, I'm Donist and I'm joined by Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and Tulip (Obie's sister and my dog) who is Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/costume designer. It a special day for us today, as it is for many of you, as we put on our Friday best and prepare to leave my mom's basement close up the corporate offices early. You see, it's Iron Man 3 day, denizens, and we should all look our best. I've combed my hair, washed behind my ears and fully embraced the itchy goodness of an ill-fitting red sweater vest overtop of a yellow long-sleeved shirt. We got to do things right. Even the puppies have gotten into the swing of things. Obie spent the past couple days making an Iron Dog outfit out of a shoe box and some extra toilet paper rolls that he painted and Tulip spent the past six months creating her Rescue Dog outfit with 3D modeling software, foam, paint, led lights and plenty of hot glue. With this level of excitement from all three of us, I am confident that we will be able to have our pre-movie libations at the Hollister Brewing Co, but I don't have the heart to tell my executives that they probably won't be allowed in the theater...they are dogs after all, even though they are part of a Fortune 230,000 company. Oh well, we'll see what happens when we get there. In the meantime we got some books for you to check out this week, boy howdy do we, so read 'em deadly, Donist World denizens, read 'em deadly.

Friday Slice of Heaven

Hawkeye #10
Hawkeye #10 - Written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Francesco Francavilla, published by Marvel Comics. Whoa there partner. What the heck? A filler issue and a guest artist on the first Marvel Comic I've loved in like a bazillion years?! C'mon, man! Not cool, bro, not cool. We all know the first stand in artist, Javier Pulido, on issues 4 and 5 was...well...okay, he was pretty darn good and fit the style of the series perfectly and the story rocked the socks. Anyways, how about with that filler issue dealing with Hurricane Sandy, you know the one, issue 7. Yeah that one had not one, but two stand in artists (Steve Lieber and Jesse Hamm) and...well, that book was absolutely fantastic with two great stories and the proceeds going to Sandy relief. Dang. Okay, anyways, I'm pissed because this is pretty much a filler issue with a stand in artist who--oh. Oh! Francesco Francavilla! You know, the Black Beetle guythe Detective Comics guy, the amazing issue of Swamp Thing guy (issue 10), and tons of other comics. He's one of my favorite artists, drawing one of my favorite superhero books, and on a story that introduces a messed up new villain with ties to Hawkgal? Heck, son, give me Hawkguy filler issues and guest artist all you want if they keep up this level of great storytelling and gorgeous art.
Kate Bishop (Hawkgal) is taking a much needed break from her "boss," Clint Barton (Hawkguy). Unfortunately, spending the evening at her wealthy father's party, surrounded by his old rich friends--did I mention they're old?--is barely better than dealing with a self-destructive, sad sack like Barton. Her night kind of sucks, until she sees...him. "Him" is Kazimierz Kazimierczak, a handsome, intelligent foreigner, who instantly catches Kate's eye and the two spend the evening chatting and not bothering to hide their attraction to one another. Too bad "Kazi" was hired by the tracksuit Draculas to put Clint Barton down once and for all. The issue ends where issue 9 also ended, the death of a barely-known, but much-loved character. Yeah, I'm still pissed about that one, Mr. Fraction!
Fraction gives us an interesting glimpse into the man who is about to become a major player in Hawkeye's world. We gain a look into a person whose life is marred by tragedy and turns to revenge to right the wrongs perpetrated against him and those he cared for. We also see the point where "Kazi" fulfills his need for revenge, but is so dead inside that he has no problem becoming a killer for hire. He's kind of another form of the Punisher if Frank Castle had lost his commitment to his "mission"...that and if he wore greasepaint on his face. Fraction gives us just enough insight to initially feel bad for this character, but then we quickly revile Kazi for messing with Kate and for killing a certain character. The little shred of history we get in this issue is enough to make me more interested in this new villain, while at the same time making me hate him all the more. Still...Mr. Fraction is a mean, mean man.
Francavilla...yeah, if you've followed Donist World for any length of time, you know what I think of this guy. I mentioned above the Swamp Thing guest artist spot, but I need to clarify just how stunned and overjoyed I was to find his art in that book. It was a complete surprise--come to think of it, I need to go in the Closet of Doom and excavate that issue this weekend. Just last week I learned that he was guest artist on Hawkeye this month, and although I was expecting to see his art and his oh-so-gorgeous colors in the book, I still had plenty of "WOW" factor going on when I cracked this book open. Let's hope Marvel has Francavilla on speed dial for whenever a "special" or "annual" comes around.
So, yes, all the grumbling at the beginning of this review was 100% made up. Through the course of these past 10 issues I've learned that a filler issue or a guest artist on the best book currently being published by Marvel is not something to fear. Hell, Donist World denizens, it can be something to look forward to. Fraction's driving. He's got this. Just sit back and enjoy the ride, whatever road you might travel. Bring on the Pizza Dog! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Black Beetle #3
The Black Beetle #3 - Evertythinged by Francesco Francavilla, published by Dark Horse Comics. Hey you cool cats. Pull up seat. Get yourself a Manhattan. Go on, put it on my tab; I'm good for it. Just tell the barkeep Donist sent you. I'm just going to enjoy this cigarette, while you get set up. <bzzzzt> What the what? Dude, I've never smoked a cigarette in my life. No lie. I'll tell you something, though. This book makes we want to take up the habit that looked so cool all those decades ago. It's the same feeling I get when listening to certain jazz songs (currently I'm listening to Lee Morgan's "All At Once You Love Her" from his album Candy...a truly beautiful song, so get it!) and I'm at ease, calm. Read the beginning of this issue and you'll see what I mean. If you are a fan of the pulp heroes or crime books, then The Black Beetle is a must own comic, and the best thing about receiving my copy two or three weeks late, is that next Wednesday I should have the final issue in this mini. I really hope there's more The Black Beetle to come. Make mine noir!
The Black Beetle is incognito, dressed as a civilian to investigate the murders of two crime families (blown up in issue one) and starts his search at one the mobster's entertainment establishments, the Coco Club. While there the Black Beetle, posing as business man Ray Steves, is enchanted by the club's beautiful singer. Unfortunately the moment is ruined when BB spots Fierro, a man who by all means should be dead. Leaving the songstress behind, he rushes off to chase the man down, but instead is greeted by the very-much-living criminal's thugs. The man gets away. BB makes a quick trip to the morgue to confirm the corpse on file is not Fierro and begins his hunt for the man.
Criminy this issue was a blast. Every single moment of it. The scenes in the club very much set the cigarette smoking mood I mentioned above and although I still have no clue who the Black Beetle actually is, I would have been fine just having the mysterious character hang out at the Coco Club partially flirting, partially digging for information from Ava Sheridan. The whole scene provides a touch of humanity to BB to pull the reader in, while the fantastic use of colors makes key characters pop panel to panel. As I said, I could stay there and be perfectly content, but then we get to the tremendous fight scenes where Francavilla really outdoes himself. The art would be striking as black and white, but it is the colors in these seven pages that blow me away. Images shift from contrasting color schemes, to monochromatic, to silhouette and it all works to ratchet up the intensity of the fight, reminding me of the near psychedelic imagery of the old Ralph Bakshi Spider-Man cartoons from the late '60s--I would love to know the soundtrack Francavilla has for these pages, but that's something else entirely.
The story is strong, the art is phenomenal, I love this book. With one issue remaining, if you are just now learning of The Black Beetle, then I would probably wait until the hardcover collection lands near the end of August, as you might have some difficulty finding some of these issues including the #0 issue. Or you can grab the digital version from (I believe the first issue is free, but I'm not sure if that is still the case, I did buy the #0 issue there and still need to post a review for it...yes, it ruled). If you're sensing a "I love the work of Francesco Francavilla" vibe from these two reviews, then you are completely correct. Next week can't come soon enough. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Indestructible Hulk #7
Indestructible Hulk #7 - Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Walter Simonson, published by Marvel Comics. Last month's issue was pretty cool. It was a solid issue with a lot of good things going, primarily the return of Simonson to the world of Thor. I liked issue six, it was fun. This issue however, blew the previous one away. It was pure excitement and fun through and through.
The Hulk now wields the power of Thor's mighty hammer, Mjolnir. Or does he? We see the smiling, jovial thunder god of days long past (don't get me wrong, I still love Aaron's moody take on Thor, too), but things take a turn for the worse when the portal to Earth is destroyed, stranding Banner and his scientist friends in Jotunheim. Thor and Hulk unleash hell on scores of frost giants and it is brutal. A weird ice cricket/cow/thing makes single panel appearance (man, I love Simonson), a deception gets put in play, and Banner's biologist, Patty, makes a disturbing confession.
Holy cricket cow. This book is nuts. Waid of course gives us a highly entertaining read and delivers a startling twist to a new character (Patty) that I will not spoil. Simonson is a very welcome addition to this Asgard-based tale and seeing that fifth page panel of Thor laughing brought back all of my fond memories of his run on Thor from back in the day. Together they made this issue a heck of a good read. Grab a goblet, pour yourself some mead and get ready for some Asgardian excitement. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Green Arrow #20
Green Arrow #20 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, published by DC Comics. I will start this by saying I still like Lemire and Sorrentino's Green Arrow. These creators  have made me care about this character in a way I have not felt since the days of Mike Grell's excellent Green Arrow The Longbow Hunters (hmmm...future Friday Flashback?). Last issue kind of bummed me out on certain decisions, but hey, let's not dwell on the past.
Oliver Queen continues his trek across the desert (started in issue 17) and he arrives at a tent housing none other than Magus, who promises to provide answers to the bewildered archer...but not in this issue. We flashback to a week earlier where Komodo has been ordered to back off of Queen by another mysterious and malevolent warrior. Komodo should work on his listening skills. Instead he uses Queen's friend, Naomi, as bait at the Queen family mausoleum. A fierce and one sided battle occurs, but Green Arrow wins the day with some luck. It's off to Black Mesa, Arizona.
I'm not sure exactly what the heck is going on or why, but this confusion is all part of the plan. The reader has barely more insight into what is happening than the protagonist and that is where Lemire wants us to be. We also get a possible allusion to the aforementioned Longbow Hunters book as Lemire removes a villain (for now), introduces another, and hints at more to come. I'm excited to see more of this Magus character and what he knows. The art is stunning as usual and a joy to see, with Marcelo Maiolo's fantastically moody colors. A good book and I'm just glad that the cover (SPOILER here, folks) didn't say, "In this issue a fight is fought, a damsel saved and an enemy stuck in the frickin' eye with an arrow!!!" I know, get over the WTF cover from last month, Donist. Just go with the flow. RECOMMENDED!

Age of Ultron #7
Age of Ultron #7 - Written by Brian Michael Bendis, illustrated by Brandon Peterson and Carlos Pacheco, published by Marvel Comics. <Beep><beep><beep> "I'm losing altitude, folks! This bird is leaking fuel and the gauges are going haywire. There's nowhere for me to land, except--there! A clearing!" That's kind of how I'm feeling on this "event" book right now. I know I say that I try not to focus on the negative and if I don't like a book it won't be on Donist World (isn't there enough negativity in the world?), but I have to bring this one up, good and bad. I still like this book just fine, but I was honestly enjoying the whole "most of the heroes are dead, and we are forced to live and hide in fear from the forces of the mad robot...Ultron" story from issues 1-5 more, even though little was happening. With this time traveling reset, none of the first half of this story matters and those events could have been summarized in a couple pages. Now we're in the alternate present where The Defenders run the show with some interesting team members (the Wasp is Captain Marvel, Scott Summers is Cable, Captain America is part Nick Fury and Starlord is nowhere near the stars) and Tony Stark has set himself up as a possible overlord. Okay, cool idea, but I guess I was hoping for an "ElseWorlds" type story and wanting to see the heroes pull themselves out of the mess they were in without the time travel cure.
I still enjoyed this issue and I'm curious to see how the next 3 issues tie things up while introducing Angela to the Marvel Universe, but the whole "event" worry is sneaking in something fierce. We'll see. For now, RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Did I Imagine This? - I was going to just let this week's SitW go, as I read some of my Marshal Law Omnibus, watched another great episode of Mad Men, sampled a great Black IPA that I brewed, tried the tasty Bear Republic "Black Racer IPA," and received some new home brewing gear. I am also very close to finishing the coloring on a story I wrote and lettered as well (hope to be able to promote soon). What wasn't to love about this week? Then I found a post on Twitter (I can't remember who posted) that had a side by side image of a DC Kirby comic and a recent (?) DC rerelease that had redrawn art. Is this a real thing? Did it just happen? I have no idea, but I hope this is a old--make that very old--instance of a company making a bad decision. You don't redraw the "Mona Lisa" and solicit it as the original deal, and you don't do that to Jack Kirby. If someone knows more about this then let me know on twitter, or maybe I really did dream it all.