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.

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