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. 

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