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!!!

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