Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 6/28/2013

(Sung to the tune of Styx's "Too Much Time On My Hands")

I'm sitting on this couch grinning like a damn fool
Got great comic books true
And I'm filled with such hope Lazarus is totes dope
I pour a pint of my home brew
Is it any wonder I'm comics crazy?
Is it any wonder I'm sane at all

Well I'm so dang content got nothing better to do
And all day to do it
I got Pizza Dog Hawkeye and Daredevil's a go
The Wake and Sex're up next
Is it any wonder I don't melt into the couch?
Is it any wonder I get up at all?

Is it any wonder I've got too many books to have read
They're all so dang good it's insanity
I've got too many books to have read

*Holy cow that Styx video rules* <ahem> Ho there, denizens. I'm Donist and I'm not actually at my mom's basement the Donist World corporate headquarters this fine Friday morning. I'm actually at home and I'm tired. So tired. So very, very tired. You see, it's been a crazy week of running around like mad in all aspects of my life plus I bought seven books this week, two of which I have not even had a chance to read. Oh the pain. Anyhow, right now I am running around the Home of the Donist to prepare for the late afternoon arrival of none other than Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) for a sleepover retreat. I'm doing everything I can to make his stay welcome: cleaning the dishes, vacuuming, placing his special pillow by the sliding glass door, making waffle batter for tomorrow morning, placing the water dish next to the rug to be mindful of Obie's fear of slick flooring. Chateau Donist also features turndown service on Obie's crate where I have left a couple wild bison dog biscuits and copy of Hawkeye #11 on his pillow for him to peruse. Tulip, Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/hospitality specialist (also my dog and Obie's sister), is manning the business as I make the preparations and she fails to understand the hullabaloo surrounding Obie's arrival. Come to think of it, why am I doing all of this cleaning for one of MY employees, not to mention a dog? Ah! I get it. Obie has been leaving copies of Better Homes around the office in place of the normal comic books we have scattered about. Man, that dang self-help book on subliminal influence Obie has been reading actually works? Crud. While I put this self-rising waffle batter in the fridge and call Obie to remind him to focus on maintaining our Fortune 320,000 company status instead of accommodation amenities, have a gander at...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Lazarus #1
Lazarus #1 - Written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by Michael Lark, published by Image Comics. Have you heard the good news, denizens? Lazarus is risen. When reading comics, there's really no better feeling than picking up the first issue of a book you know little about and being completely wowed. I'm actually lucky I was able to get a copy of this fantastic comic as for some reason my LCS had "misplaced" my pull sheet, so all of my books were sitting on the new release table for the non-pull-listers to sift through. Thankfully, I got the last copy available, as well as the rest of my items, but there was a moment of panic as I scrambled past images of capes, tights, and the normal Big Two fare. I wanted something that promised to be different, I wanted something special, and Lazarus over delivered.
The world is divided, but not along political, or racial, or sexual lines, rather by financial ones: those very few who have, and the masses who have not. Portions of the masses are serfs for the ruling families, but most people are considered Waste, the ignored. Of the handful of families, each has a "Lazarus," a person with the best training and enhancements, and for the Family Carlyle, Forever is their Lazarus. The problem is that after she is shot to death and resuscitated by her abilities, Forever annihilates three starving intruders who broke into a food storage facility, and she begins to question her role as Lazarus and the abundance her family holds. The rest of the Family Carlyle, do not like this new development.
All I knew about this title was that it was set in the future with a handful of ruling families and focused on the woman who is the guardian of one of those families; the brief introduction on the inside front cover told the rest of what I needed to completely suck me in. Rucka takes the world's biggest problem, greed, and gives us an utterly terrifying peek at the future, one I can see coming to pass if things do not change. Most of this issue was devoted to world building and introducing the reader to Lazarus, for whom there is not much there...yet. This issue, which is over much to quickly, left me with so many questions about the serfs, the Waste, the other families, and where they all live in this world that my second thought after reaching the final page was "No, I want more" (the first was "Wow" btw). Then I started thinking about Forever, and what is going to happen when this perfect conscious-free warrior, this perfectly subservient weapon, begins to falter and feel, and ultimately decide that she does not like what she sees. Holy cow, I cannot wait to see what comes next. Also worthy of mention is Rucka's insightful "Forever Yours" notes at the back of the comic that explains how the story began, his discussions with Lark and the inspiration for the story.
Lark's artwork is perfect for this series. The storytelling is phenomenal and the action of the first nine pages is so intense that panel to panel my eyes widened in nervous anticipation of what Forever was going to do to the intruders who had "killed" her. It's brutal. It's kinetic. It's disturbingly awesome. More so are the dramatic moments where we witness Forever's fortitude crack for just a moment as her chemically repressed conscious begins to push through.
This world Rucka and Lark have created is equally fascinating and terrifying as we follow Forever as her eyes begin to slowly open to injustices she has helped perpetrate to maintain the imbalance of wealth. Lazarus cold not be more timely with the direction our country is headed, but that is not what makes this first issue great. What does, is the compelling art, and the world building and the slow reveals of the key players. This is the book I wish I had written. The second issue cannot come soon enough. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Hawkeye #11
Hawkeye #11 - Written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by David Aja, published by Marvel Comics. I'm have a confession to make, denizens. If I had not been able to snag one of the final three copies of this issue (dreadfully under ordered if I must say so) as a result of my "lost" pull sheet, then there would have been a problem. I know I am a grown ass man, but if I had walked into the store only to find the last copy of my favorite Marvel comic in the hands of a toddler going, "I love the book about the doggie!" I would have yanked it clean out of that little brat's grimy hands. Shameful as it may be to steal from the hands of babes, I...yeah, I'd totally gank it from a child. "Back off, Pee-Wee, Donist rules this roost, I'm bigger than your punk ass." Hey, kids need to learn sometime that you can't always get what you want (thanks Rolling Stones), unless you're a much bigger man with a huge hankerin' for a healthy helpin' of Hawkeye. Thankfully, it didn't come to that. Was this issue worth my heartless attitude? Hells yes it was.
Hawkeye and Hawkeye are at it again. Their escalating argument is harshing Lucky the Pizza Dog's mellow, so he sneaks out. As he wanders the halls of the apartment building, he runs into another dog who leads him to the roof where the neighbor, Gil, had been shot and killed. From there, Lucky discovers the killer's identity, runs across his former cruel masters, and protects the home of his friend, Clint Barton. Even after such a hectic day, Lucky's tale ends with an all too difficult decision.
This comic keeps surprising me. I would buy it just for the writing. I would buy it just for the art. Whatever synergy (gawd...I hate that dang word) Fraction and Aja have, it comes across on each and every page of this wonderful comic. Part of me wants to do soft claps after every read of their Hawkeye as I fear Marvel and Disney might hear me and discover just how very, very good this book truly is and start to become more involved. I want this comic to glide under the radar for as long as possible lest some major shareholder insists on tying it more closely to some movie's version of the character; perish the thought, denizens.
The writing has hardly any legible words, yet what is there is brilliant. The art on this issue is stronger than ever before with the amazing airline emergency card-style look of many of the pages being simply jaw-dropping, and the nod to Anatomy of a Murder on the title page is wonderful. Matt Hollingsworth's flats are without compare and his palette on this issue takes into account the color limitations of a dog's vision, leaving out the reds and greens, giving a predominantly blue, yellow and grey muted tone to the entire book. Still it is lovely.
I love this book, I love this issue, and I will gladly double dip on the hardcover coming in November. Hawkeye is must-read, must-own material. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Daredevil #27
Daredevil #27 - Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Chris Samnee, published by Marvel Comics. It's okay. I'll wait while you rub your eyes. Come to think of it, I'll do the same. Yup, you're reading it right. Two Marvel titles on Donist World FSoH at the same time; I never thought such a thing to be possible. You see, right around the time Waid's Daredevil started coming out, I had thrown in the towel on ALL Marvel titles for almost a year. Now here I am with five or six comics on my pull and I'm considering some others that I have been hearing nice things about. That's great!*
*translation - corporate big wig types and day traders shareholders...your comic book characters are cool and all, but without good talent lofting these heroes to untold greatness, you really have nothing. Take care of your talent. Treat them like the heroes who they make so compelling. Kick down a percent or two when you adapt their storylines to film and television. You'll be surprised by the level of stories and art that you'll make a ton more bizzank.
This is it, Daredevil battles the Iron Cocktail Shaker (Bullseye), Ikari, and Lady Bullseye all at the same time and it's going to take every ounce of Daredevil's creativity and smarts to survive. Bullseye thinks he's thought of everything, but one thing he is not is a criminal mastermind. With the lives of his friends on the line, Matt Murdock has no choice but to somehow survive and take down those who have been tormenting him for the past two years.
Wow, this issue was a blast. Fantastic dialogue, intense action, and a great conclusion to a storyline that has been brewing since the first issue, all wrap in grand fashion. Daredevil by Waid and Samnee continues to be one of Marvel's best titles and something that all fans of superhero comics should be reading. Two questions I have for this issue: Who's Ikari? Why doesn't anyone take off his mask?HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Sex #4
Sex #4 - Written by Joe Casey and illustrated by Piotr Kowalski, published by Image Comics. You can go out on a limb with this title and say that it's not one for the kiddies. Just have a look at the dang title, cousin. Now that that's out of the way, we're four issues in and the book just keeps getting better. Yes, it has moments of dirty, awesome, filthy, whoa, disgusting, bring it, sinful sex, but doesn't that go along with the title?
As I've mentioned in the other reviews, the sex scenes that appear in each issue are not titillating or exciting--with the exception of possibly issue three...c'mon, you know it's true. Instead Sex focuses on Simon Cooke, the former Armored Saint, and his quest to find fulfillment in a life void of super heroics. Unfortunately, some of his old enemies are looking to return to the old ways of life in full and Simon's old lover, Shadow Lynx (now known as Annabelle Lagravenese) wants back the man she knew, not this hollow shell.
In this issue, Casey begins to bring Simon back to the land of the living and Kowalski carefully and delicately allows us to see each subtle change in the character's face and body language as he figures his life out. We see Keenan in action and we see Annabelle confront someone she dislikes and who continues to live in the past. The Old Man still creeps me the hell out.
I'm unsure whether Simon will return to being the Armored Saint, or if he will become the mentor to the next generation of hero (Keenan) that the city needs. Casey and Kowalski clearly have a plan, and after four intriguing issues, I'm still fully onboard for what's to come. RECOMMENDED!

The Wake #2
The Wake #2 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Sean Murphy, published by DC Comics. I loved the first issue of Snyder and Murphy's The Wake. It brought back all of the love I had for the Creature From the Black Lagoon, while at the same time giving me a glimpse of the mysterious prehistoric ages and the tragic future. Issue two does much of the same, only the urgency of the first issue is somewhat diminished. Most of what we get is highly relevant information to bring us fully up to speed, a brief glimpse at the creature's abilities, and its possible escape.
I am still enjoying this comic immensely and now that we have a better understanding of who the characters are and how the creature was captured, we are ready for the story to get moving fast. All throughout this issue, Snyder and Murphy drop hints to the creature's history and possible powers, while also showing how technologically advanced it must be as evidenced by the clothing it wore at the time of capture. The history lesson was highly creative and cool, considering that this sci-fi monster could have existed given the situation as presented. I will admit to being somewhat confused by the last page, but that was probably the point, so I'll leave it at that.
Just because this issue slowed the pace from the first does not mean that it was a bad issue; it was still a terrific read. If anything, I expect the story to pick up speed now that the creature is (supposedly) on the loose, and there's a high possibility it is not alone. I expect good things to come, as this story is only getting started. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Banks on High School Campuses - I guess credit unions have been doing this for a while now, but in 2011 Union Bank opened a branch on the Fresno Unified School District of McLane High School. Supposedly Union Bank is to open a branch at my old high school and will supposedly "provide students with real-world financial education, experience and events." I find this troubling. What's next? Pizza Hut and McDonalds on campus offering real-world experience in nutrition education, social engagement expansion and experience. Aside from the security risk of having additional non-school faculty and students roaming around on campus, doesn't this mean students will be introduced to the joys of (sub)minimum wage jobs? Here's a few ideas: 1) make education (not Wall Street) a priority in our country once again, 2) Fully fund our schools, 3) teach a mandatory Economics course on how to write a check, balance a checking account, never pay a credit card interest fee, never pay a bank account fee, the time value of money, how you really cannot make ends meet on a minimum wage job given the effects of inflation. This will allow only those who belong on campus, keep corporations out of our schools, and teach kids how NOT to become enslaved to the banking industry as many of us supposedly more-knowledgeable adults already are. Just a thought.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 6/21/2013

(Sung to the tune of Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy")

You come to Donist looking for suggestions    
I know some books, their good, no need for questions  
Stuff of Legend will set your heart to pounding     
Jester beat down? What's the Boogeyman thinking    

If you want good comics, ones that are quite sexy
The Sixth Gun rules, I tell you, bro     
If you really need more, how 'bout Hulk and A. Man
Come on, son, I'm tellin' you, bro. Tellin' you,

22-23-ugh-24-25-ahhhh sweet bejebus, the pain-26-27...28-Mommy-29-30! Boom, y'all! Take that, puppies! 30 sit-ups and I'm well on my way to Henry Cavill-style abs of steel. Donist is stronger than the Super Friends, and I'm here to tell you...oh, hi there, Donist World denizens. I'm Donist and I'm kinda sorta joined today by Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/party pooper (Obie's sister and my Boston terrier). The puppies My employees are still mad that I went to MAN OF STEEL without them last week, and now that I have seen the movie a second time, they are even more ticked off than before. Obie's sitting on the Donist World cushion™while staring silently out the window. Tulip is at the other side of my mom's basement the office on the Donist World couch™ and letting out progressively louder sighs of annoyance and is trembling with rage, seriously. It's not my fault that movie theaters have draconian rules about "no dogs allowed" even when those dogs are super superhero fans and executives of a Fortune 320,000 company. It's not right. It's not fair. It is what it is. At least Tulip and Obie have been making the best of their time, having written to Congress and a couple judges to change the rules, but unfortunately the $3 and a sampler pack of kibble they sent is not quite enough to get any laws changed...that takes some real money, I'm afraid. Anyhow, this keg of a stomach won't transform into a beautifully chiseled six-pack on its own. While I get to another brutal set of 30 crunches--Tulip, get off my dang cape!--have a look at this week's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

*Oh yeah...I love, love, LOVED the MAN OF STEEL movie. If I have time I will comment on it soon.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Stuff of Legend Vol IV:
The Toy Collector #5
The Stuff of Legend Volume IV: The Toy Collector #5 - Written by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith, drawn by C.P. Wilson III, published by Th3rd World Studios. Yes, I know. This issue released last week, but in my haste at the LCS I left the store without my copy. Because this book is an inch and half shorter than your average comic book (it's about an inch longer though), the kindly LCS worker missed it when grabbing my other books. There it sat. Alone. Scared. Trembling in the solitary darkness of a cold longbox until I returned to liberate what is one of my top five comic books currently seeing print. Was it worth the wait? Well, if it's on Donist World you can bet your sweet patootie it was, and this concluding issue of the Toy Collector storyline had some major turning points for the series to date.
Monty (toy monkey) and Scout (real life puppy) have successfully infiltrated the bricked-in town of Storyplace after Big Bad Wolf and his cohorts forced them to go inside and lower the draw bridge. The pair succeed on both fronts and calamity ensues. Meanwhile Jester (Jack in the box) and Rebecca (doll) stand watch over the corpse of the Colonel (toy soldier), who fell to the Boogeyman back in the first volume. Jester attempts to convince the Toy Collector (puppet?) into allowing them to leave with the body of his friend so the Boogeyman cannot revive him as a twisted replica of his former self. Then the Boogeyman arrives under the guise of a young boy, but Jester sees right through him and things go downhill from there. Betrayal, death, brutal defeat, new alliances forged and an even more shocking betrayal round out the rest of this fantastic chapter-concluding issue. 
Holy cow! This installment started intense and just never let up. I have to admit that until this issue, The Toy Collector has been my least favorite of the four available volumes to date. I should clarify the previous statement by saying that just because I enjoyed the first three volumes more than the first four issues of volume four, DOES NOT mean those issues were by any means bad; in fact, they are still better than most ongoing Big Two books seeing publication. This concluding installment, however, was such a thrill ride from beginning to end that I needed to pause for a moment after setting the book down and mutter, "Crap," under my breath. Between Jester (my favorite character btw) getting a vicious beat down, the Toy Collector revealing his true nature, Rebecca (LOVE her) riding to the rescue, Scout (love him, too) taking charge, and the Boogeyman doing the wicked deed I needed the respite. Hell, I felt like I needed a cigarette after this issue...I don't smoke, denizens. 
Raicht, Smith and Wilson III pulled me into each of the characters way back in the first volume. I love Max, Harmony, Quackers, Jester and all the rest dearly, even when a certain person secretly makes a pact with the story's devil and ultimately pays the price from his/her decision,  I still felt bad for them. This character who dies is not some mustache-twirling scoundrel, but a person carefully developed since the beginning with a pre-determined, inevitable fate that more than explains the character's actions throughout the book. In lesser hands, they would be reviled from the get go, but with these creators, that is not the case. Even this betrayer of the toys is someone we have grown to understand and love, which makes his/her expected fate still shocking and painful...both times (how's that for vague?). Then when we see Jester--who is admittedly in pretty bad shape to begin with--completely defeated, the reader has no choice but to gasp at the takedown of one of the story's main heroes. In fact, it's two days later and I'm still kind of upset by just how harsh Jester's defeat was. That's good storytelling.
Wilson III's art work is always beautiful, but something about this issue sees an uptick in the detail and the drama of each panel. We feel Jester's sadness and his respect for the Colonel. We see Rebecca's concern for Jester, and the Toy Collector's inner turmoil is all too apparent; it's all rather beautiful. The production of the book, as provided by Jon Conkling and Michael DeVito, only serves to elevate what can easily be called the most creatively designed books on the stands.
If you are not reading The Stuff of Legend, and you want something that is so much more than your everyday capes and tights fare, then this is the book for you. Be warned, this is one to read from the very beginning of the series, as much of the emotional impact of this comic comes with growing to love these wonderful characters and seeing just how scary the Dark can be. The next volume arrives winter's going to be a painful wait. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
The Sixth Gun #32
The Sixth Gun # 32 - Written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Brian Hurtt, published by Oni Press. Criminy. Things must be wrapping up as information and clues to the nature and history of the six guns is starting to flow. Therein lies the problem. I desperately want to discover all of the secrets this crazy world has to offer, but each revelation brings this Donist World favorite closer to the end of the series, and that is something to dread. Hopefully, by the time this series wraps, a network with an eye for quality programming will move forward on the television series that has been bouncing around for too long. 
As Drake recovers his strength and Asher, Kirby, Gord and Nidawi seek out the skinwalkers who are set on ending Becky Montcrief's life. Becky, who is still trapped in the spirit world, has no intention of going gently into that good night, and actually meets a medieval version of Drake, one who reset the world centuries prior with six magic swords. She witnesses the end of the past, and finds herself in an alternate present with some rather shocking and unwelcome company.
Bunn and Hurtt continue to thrill and shock with this supernatural Western comic that is one of my top five comics currently being published. A hardcover version looks to be arrive in late September that will contain the first two arcs and is one that I will certainly be double dipping on. The Sixth Gun is a fantastic series that is sure to appeal to those who demand more than capes and tights in their comics and will appeal to fans of horror and Westerns and anyone interested in damn fine stories with great art. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Indestructible Hulk #9
Indestructible Hulk #9 - Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Matteo Scalera, published by Marvel Comics. "Hulk smashes, Banner builds." There you have it, denizens. Four words that brought this decades-long lapsed Hulk reader back into the fold and I now actually find myself anxiously awaiting each issue of ol' Jade Jaws. Who woulda thunk it?
Every week, Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk, makes a call to a certain lawyer pal to inform this friend that he is still alive and not being mistreated. Every day, Maria Hill, director of SHIELD, questions her decision to work with Banner and the Hulk. After a brief demonstration on who is the biggest bastard, the Hulk is pointed at Agence Byzantine, terrorist smugglers of super weapons. Banner's lawyer friend, none other than Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, arrives to talk the Hulk down and to help retrieve a Thor-grade weapon that has hit the streets. Unfortunately, the seller has found a most nefarious buyer.
I have been loving Daredevil since Waid began writing ol' Hornhead just over two years ago and knowing he was on Indestructible Hulk is what made me take a chance on this Marvel NOW book--whoa Big Two really is the creators who attract readers. Now we have Waid bringing his two characters in to a crossover book (usually Kryptonite for me) that makes complete logistical sense and is a blast to read. Fun, exciting and uncompromising, this month's offering is exactly what makes me still love superhero comics. Oh yeah...Matteo Scalera's art is fantastic in this issue. Try it, you'll like it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Animal Man #21
Animal Man # 21 - Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Steve Pugh and Francis Portella, published by DC Comics. I have to admit that I was almost out the door on this title. I loved how the series began with Buddy's powers taking a turn for the weird, the introduction of the Rot and the threat it post to the Red. Then the "Rot World" event was announced and I was excited for it. It did not work for me. I wanted the story to go back to the horror element that the beginning of the series promised, and with this issue we get exactly that and it is disturbing in the best of ways. 
Buddy Baker (Animal Man) is falling apart after the death of his son and his surviving family members' rejection. To complicate matters further, his newfound movie stardom arrives at precisely the wrong time. He needs a distraction, which he finds when he investigates the numerous missing animals in the area. What he finds is truly horrific. Meanwhile, Maxine, Buddy's daughter, confronts the Red's Parliament of Limbs and demands they allow her to look into bringing her brother back from the dead. 
Although I would have preferred Buddy's son to live through "Rot World," and have Buddy's family still reject him for the danger he brings to their lives, Lemire made me sympathize for the character for the first time in many issues. The mood has shifted to the darker side of the spectrum, but also has some light to balance things out with Maxine's portion of the story; I do not trust the Red, which is what makes this new direction so compelling. As long as we can keep all crossover characters out of the equation (I'm talking to you, John Constantine), Animal Man can resume being one of the best of the New 52. RECOMMENDED!

The Sixth Gun:
Sons of the Gun #4
The Sixth Gun: Sons of the Gun #4 - Written by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt, illustrated by Brian Churilla, published by Oni Press. Probably the only thing about the tremendous The Sixth Gun series that caused me any level of dismay was the fact that General Hume's henchmen were dispatched within the first six issues. Here we had four "men" in possession of four of the six mystical guns and they were a sight to behold. One wore a bag on his head, one was skeletal, one a scarred man covered in metal plating and the other looking like a mortician gone wrong. Pestilence, Famine, War and Death rode the plains and they were mighty...until they crossed Drake Sinclair. I always wanted a little more of these creepy characters' story, and although we have not yet learned how they came into possession of four of the six, we at least get a glimpse of what each "man" did after General Hume's first death. This issue focuses on Silas "Bitter Ridge" Hedgepeth, previous owner of the fourth gun, which can call up the spirits of the men and women it has shot down. 
On his own and without purpose for the first time in many years, Silas Hedgepeth sets out to end his life. This isn't the first time he has taken extreme measures, and it won't be the last as his attempted self-hanging is thwarted by an all-too-weak tree branch. A child witnesses the act and tells Silas of how his town is plagued with a terrible illness, which offers Silas, who was once a doctor, a chance at redemption, a chance for fulfillment. Silas attempts to cure the town folk, but something sinister has taken hold of them, and Silas knows a thing or two about darkness. His gun might just hold the very cure the town needs. 
Okay, that was twisted as all heck. Another interesting look at the men behind the monster, and this fourth installment was definitely worth the price of admission. I will be honest with you...I didn't quite "get" the final page. Probably just me, but this book is enjoyable despite my confusion. Churilla is a perfect guest artist for this series as his pencils perfectly fit the tone of a The Sixth Gun book, but his style remains his own. Bill Crabtree's wonderful colors also serve to tie the book back to the series proper. 
This is a comic for fans of The Sixth Gun and is not a place to start for new readers. Start with the main series and if you enjoy that--and you darn well should--then this series is a no brainer. With two issues remaining, I am very interested to see what comes next. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Rachel Rising #16 - Echo...echo...echo...echo...Still don't have my dang gosh darn it criminy fiddlefaddling copy of Rachel Rising #16. Grrrr. Maybe I will have to just buy it digitally until it arrives since I already have issue 17 sitting by my bed. I guess I could also read the fantastic Echo...echo...echo...echo.

Age of Dulltron #10 - I know, I know. Sorry. I meant to say Age of UpSell #10. Yes, denizens, I am aware that the Donist World mission statement--after the section on the defeat of the evil Koch Dynasty and saving the world--has a section about focusing on the positive. You know, the things that I love, the things I am excited about. I don't want to be yet another site tearing down works of art or other creators...buuuuuuuut...I kind of feel that this Age of Moneytraintron "event" book was created as a means to solely push readers into even more long, drawn-out events. Okay, maybe that is a bit harsh. I believe the first half of the story was exactly what the creators wanted the story to be, but by the time the executives and the daytraders shareholders caught scent of some cash, the story was nudged in a different direction. Remember how cool it was to see Nick Fury, Iron Man, Cap, Thor, Red Hulk and the rest arrive at the future intent on taking down Ultron? Remember what happened after they arrived? Of course you don't, that story was completely abandoned and never resolved. Now we get three or four new storylines and a character named Angela and what is sure to be a host of books and products featuring her (Angela fruit pies? Angela toothpaste?). 
Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinity Gauntlet worked. Why has it been so hard to tell a decent story (one with an ending) and to let the creators' talent continue to make the corporation (unfortunately not the creators) gobs and gobs of money down the line. 
Again, I suspected this "event" would fall apart, and I took the bait. Hook. Line. Sinker. 
No more events for this Donist. VERY HIGHLY MEH.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Friday Slice Into the Woods 6/14/2014

(Sung to the tune of Juice Newton "Queen of Hearts")

and I've been shafted on Stuff of Legend
Hoping it's a floating with my missing copy of Rachel Rising

There's plenty in my pull
Gods of Thunder pummel killers
As ol' Bats gets a journey back in time

Black Beetle's near'n dear to my heart
This masked man is pretty smart
The Joker ain't the only fool
Labyrinto's darn cool, it's true    

Donist won't tell you a lie,
Pick up this book about crime
Ryan Browne's book is mental, too
Best buy it if it's the last thing you do

You already know what we're doing here in my mom's basement at Donist World corporate headquarters. Knowing what day it is, you can only guess the mood around the office. Yes, denizens, it is Man of Steel day. The emotional sound stylings of Hans Zimmer's gorgeous soundtrack is coursing through the halls as CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier),  marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/motivational speaker Tulip (my dog and Obie's sister), and I walk with purpose and determination across the shag carpet covered floor and <arrrgh> <ouch> <ouch> <ouch> who left the dang laundry basket in the middle of dang floor?! We were doing our Man of Steel walk through of the office for cripe's sale. We even have red sheets tied around our necks--okay, the dogs have red pillow cases tied around their necks, but whatever, and NO, they are not the "good" sheets. How many Fortune 320,000 companies have to deal with a dang laundry basket sitting in the middle of the dang floor?! Dagnabbit, I almost broke a dang toe! <grrrr> Anyhow, I already know I'm going to have to break it to the Donist World upper management team that they are NOT going to be allowed in the theater, just like they have never been allowed in ANY of the movies that have ever come to town. But for a couple of comic book loving Boston terriers, the S does stand for hope. I'm guessing that the orangish mess that is dyed onto Obie's white furry chest is exactly that symbol of hope that he and Tulip need. A hope that they will rise above their stations to become more than just business dogs. To become more than superfans. To ultimately be granted equal rights to attend a movie that means so very much to them. A hope that...yeah, not a chance in hell. I'm still going though. At least they have this great soundtrack to keep them busy until the blu-ray release. So denizens, since we have some time before the movie starts, take a little gander at...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Black Beetle:
No Way Out #4
The Black Beetle: No Way Out #4 - Everythinged by Francesco Francavilla, published by Dark Horse Comics. Darn the daily grind. DARN IT, I say. This past Tuesday,  had a The Black Beetle poster by Francesco Francavilla set to become available at a random time, with availability starting at the mere send of a Twitter message. This is one poster I had to have: 1) because it's a poster created by one of my favorite artists, and 2) because it concerned one of the coolest new characters to come out of comics for quite some time. Needless to say...I didn't get it. The little puppies sold out in less than five minutes and the most discouraging part is I might have had a chance if my day job didn't have lead shielding, or whatever it is, preventing me from receiving phone calls and text messages. I expected this, so I had the MondoTees site on my work computer, up and raring to go...but then someone came by who expected me to actually help them with something or other and next thing you know...poof...gone in 300 seconds. So I would like to take this moment to say, "Thanks, Karl in accounting. Glad I could help point out the bleedin' obvious, that the PO# was indeed printed clearly on the invoice. Also, thank you so very much for regaling me with tales about the your son--your 'little guy'--and thanks for the discussion about bacon-maple bars--of which you did not share any. It was one of those discussions that most likely sunk my chances at getting a copy of this poster. So, let me raise my coffee mug to you, Karl in accounting, and here's a lovely picture of the blank wall where I can forever imagine my missing The Black Beetle poster. Yes, Karl in accounting, yes. I am speaking with sarcasm. Much sarcasm." <sigh> Well, I might not have this oh-so-sweet poster, but what I do have is the final chapter in the actual mini-series that made me so excited about the poster to begin with. Let me tell you, denizens, it's a doozie.
The mysterious Black Beetle has it figured out. He knows it was Labyrinto who murdered all of the members of Colt City's most notorious crime families and he now knows the secret identity of the maze man after last issue's trip to the morgue. He also knows Labyrinto was not working alone and that both men are out at the Fierro Estate--Camp Creek. The Black Beetle conducts a little chin music on the local thug talent pool, and comes face to corpse to face with the men behind the mobster murders. With one man dead and Labyrinto and Black Beetle the only ones left standing besides the dead man's bodyguards, only one person will be leaving Camp Creek alive, at least that is what our hero believes.
Hot dang, denizens, this was one heck of fun noir/mystery book. Francavilla went for a very specific look and tone for his story, and he achieved both with flying colors--or rather dark and moody flying colors. After a "0" issue and these past four issues, we still do not know the identity of the Black Beetle or what pushed a man to become a costumed vigilante. This is fine. We don't need to know more about him yet, and the truth is we might never know; it's all part of the intrigue of the character. Francavilla gives us a man who wants to set things right by any means, and who also is driven to uncover the truth of the crimes he investigates. It's almost a one man, adult version of Scooby Doo--which was a play on the noir/mystery thrillers of old anyways. You have our sleuth staying one step ahead of both the reader and the antagonist, and after he finds that one telltale clue, he solves the mystery. Our hero explains what the villain was doing, and where they went wrong. The villain then describes what pushed him to such ends, before he succumbs to his own machinations. It's not a storytelling style we're used to seeing in hero comics nowadays, but it's one that Francavilla succeeds in making work.
The art is of course beyond compare as Francavilla's use of color pulls the reader's eye through each of the panels. Page five and six are a perfect example with the Black Beetle's red lenses and insignia jumping off the page against the contrasting blue of the night sky. The same holds true for Labyrinto as his yellow costume stands against the blue darkness and the red curtains of the room as he confronts our hero. Even without Francavilla's striking colors, his line work and storytelling are without compare as you are gracefully led from panel to panel. Each component of this book is masterfully done, with the end product being something amazing to behold.
The Black Beetle is a must-own book, denizens, doubly so if you are a fan of old noir books and film, or if you are a fan of the vintage heroes. If you have not bought any of the issues for this series thus far, and you are a completist like me, then you might want to hold on until late September when a $19.99 cover price hardcover collection is released. The reason is if you don't already own the "0" issue, then I'm afraid you're in for one heck of a challenge to get ahold of it since it sold out almost immediately (like the dang poster)...unless you got the cheddar to spare of course. Yes, there is digital for the "0" issue, but c'mon...this is one series where owning the actual paper version is well worth the effort. To be honest, I'm probably going to double dip on this one and pick up the hardcover while I eagerly await the arrival of the next chapter, The Black Beetle: Necrologue. I'm still salty about missing out on the poster, and even more so after seeing multiple listings on ebay for ~$150, but this issue and the series as a whole come HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

God of Thunder #9
Thor God of Thunder #9 - Written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by Esad Ribic, published by Marvel Comics. Okay, since the previous review started with something other than book itself, let's continue the trend. After reading this issue of Thor God of Thunder, I wish to Asgard that my dogs had not eaten my old '70s Mego Thor doll when I was a kid. On top of that, I wish my dogs had not eaten my replacement doll, too--they also ate a Lizard Man, a Thing, and two Iron Man dolls; man, my dogs were a couple of dumb jackfaces. If my dogs--Charlie and Rusty if you wish to know--had not eaten my Thor Mego doll, I would be pulling the figure from storage and putting him on display, much to my wife's chagrin, for all to know my renewed love of the God of Thunder. Aye, denizens, this issue was that good. Verily so.
We open with Gorr the God Butcher, the diabolical killer who skulks onto the page to...briefly show his gentler side. However, the scene is short lived as the three Thors appear above the Black World and Gorr rushes to meet them. A fierce battle erupts. Three Thors are better than one, as they pummel the killer of gods almost to his knees, but the victory is stalled when Gorr commands his minions of darkness to slay his godling slaves, giving him enough power to vanquish his foes. Darkness falls on the three Asgardians who are one.
Fisticuffs. A jolly good donnybrook. One heck of an ass whuppin'. Whatever you want to call it, this issue was predominantly one long fight scene, but is this a bad thing? I say thee nay, denizens! Fight scenes are a pain to pull off, but Aaron does so with ease. We've all seen movies and comics where a fight is just plain too ridiculous and over the top, but what makes this one actually work? You know, like the six minute fight scene in They Live (I wrote something weird about it back in 2010 here)...I'm only partially kidding here. Aaron has taken eight solid issues to build the stakes and deliver three fully developed versions of our hero that are so clearly different from one another, yet you can still tell they are the same person only at different levels of maturity. We've seen what they are up against and the odds are bad, but when the three attack Gorr, we are given a glimmer of hope. I had my moments of "Ooooo" and "Aaaahh" as All-Father Thor blasted the bejesus out of the serial killer of gods and young Thor rode a space shark (no, I am not joking) into battle. Then Aaron pulls the rug out from under us and things get bad. Then they get worse. On the final page, after a roller-coaster battle, we are stunned and defeated and more than anything desperate to know how our heroes are going to pull themselves out of this one.
Ribic's art has never been stronger. His sequentials during this fight scene had me burning through each panel and whipping through page after page. He also has brilliant character moments, such as the look on modern Thor's face after Gorr has impaled his side. There is such anger and determination in that single panel that we understand why Thor is such a heroic force of nature in the Marvel Universe, and when he actually falls, we are shocked. Ive Svorcina's coloring is stunning, especially when depicting the cooler tones of space and in the moments he allows Ribic's pencils to partially show through when Gorr uses his creepy powers. Never was there a book more suited to these two than Thor...with the exception of a Conan book or two.
I have been enjoying Thor God of Thunder since the first issue, and although this was predominantly one long fight, it was one of the strongest issues to date. If you have not been reading Thor, then get thee to thy LCS so you can experience one of Marvel Now's best titles. July can't come soon enough. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items: 
God Hates Astronauts HC
God Hates Astronauts - Everythinged by Ryan Browne, published by Ryan Browne. I'm only putting the triumphant glory that is the God Hates Astronauts HC (click on the image to buy directly from Mr. Browne) in the "Other Heavenly Items" section because I really do not know how to explain this book to you. I don't. I can't. If I tried to explain what this book is about, I would only end up writing a page by page synopsis that would only be a poor substitute for the actual beautiful artwork and psychotic story. Need an example? Okay, I just randomly flipped to page 58, where we see the Hall of Justice and judge Buffalo William (a buffalo-headed judge) is singing Ah-Ha's "Take On Me" before being announced by the creepy Mummy Bailiff. You get it now? Me either, but every single page in this exceptionally produced book is right along those lines. Describing GHA is like trying to explain how last summer I saw a Sasquatch playing squash at an uppity resort on an island in Lake Erie. Unless I take about thirty pages to properly explain that one 30-second moment, you aren't going to get it; you had to be there. The same holds true for God Hates Astronauts.
I strongly urge all denizens unfamiliar with this book to go to the God Hates Astronauts site where you can read the entire story online for free. Start at the beginning and you will see just why this is such a highly revered comic. Now that you hammered through the entire story, go buy the actual book and support the creator. The physical book contains a bunch of one-page origin stories and loads of other bonus material not found on the website.
The reason you can actually purchase this book at all is because of the highly successful Kickstarter campaign where Browne asked for $15,000 and secured $75,000 by the time all was said and done. That there is some serious cheddar! I had faith in this book and 1767 other backers had faith in this book, so please check out the free webcomic and then buy a copy so we hopefully get our grubby mitts on a volume two someday. Aight?! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batman #21
Batman # 21 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo, published by DC Comics. Oh embossed cover. You know what that means...holofoil, glow-in-the-dark, polybags, and their ilk can't be far behind...<cough> Villain Month <cough> extra buck per issue <cough>. Now with the New 52 going on its second year, we receive an origin issue for Batman. Now, now, settle down. I know there've been a bunch of origin tales for the ol' Caped Crusader, but this one just so happens to be held in Snyder and Capullo's loving arms. It's going to be okay, and dare I say it's pretty darn good.
We start with a look six years in the past and some mysterious foe has "killed the city," but Batman is still alive and eager to settle the score. Five months earlier, a disguised Bruce Wayne tangles with the deadly Red Hood while attempting to keep up the rumor that Bruce Wayne is no longer among the living. Alfred expresses his concerns, Bruce blows him off, and a long lost uncle spots Bruce on the street. Unknown to Bruce, Uncle Philip is spending time with an interesting business partner, one who wishes to see our favorite bazillionaire dead. There's also a short, co-written with James Tynion IV, where teenager Bruce learns to really drive a car.
Another solid story. Snyder leaves me very curious to learn what happened to Gotham city, and Capullo (of course) brings the comic alive, especially on the gorgeous first four pages. We all know Batman's story, but Snyder and Capullo look to give us an interesting look at the Bat in his younger years, and with creators of this caliber, you know it's going to be good. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

<Sniffle> I Just Want My Rachel Rising #16 and My Stuff Legend The Toy Collector #5 - <sigh> Oh the pain...the PAIN!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 6/7/2013

(Sung to the tune of Pet Shop Boys "West End Girls")

Sometimes you're better off dead
Creepy ass alien wants to gobble up your head
Marshal Law's mad, gonna kick some tail
Bustin' up punks and shootin' epic fails

How 'bout that Swamp Thing, he's wearin' a frown
Capucine? Seeder? They're gettin' him down
Green Arrow, it rocks yo, stuff gets real when
Death comes to town

Death comes to town in a dead end world
The East of West comic book, bro

Death comes to town in a dead end world
The East of West comic book, bro. Comic book, bro.

Obie! Look out! That giant rolling boulder could crush you! Tulip, beware! That stone on the floor triggers a volley of poisoned darts and <phew> you dodged them! I--hello there Donist World denizens, I'm here with my CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/lead archaeologist Tulip (my dog and Obie's sister) and we are heading into the comic book storage closet. It is a dark, scary place where sounds of tittering creatures can be heard and offending odors languish in its dank recesses. Nothing will prevent us from excavating the great Comics-That-Donist-Forgot, and no trap or beast will waylay our efforts. There are treasures of Marshal Law long rumored to be stashed in there as well as treasures created by Ennis, Ellis, and Moore, but we must survive our journey through the closet first. Hold...what is that my trusty Zippo lighter reveals? <eeeeeek> A spider bigger than any I have ever seen before sits atop the dust and cobweb covered Longbox of the Chosen. Quick, Obie, use the whip! That's right...I...crap. Obie is sporting the archaeologist hat with style, but how could I think a 1-foot-tall Boston terrier would ever be able to effectively use a 9-foot-long whip? He's trying, bless his little heart, but yeah, that's not gonna cut it. Drat, c'mon puppies, let's call it a day and we'll try again tomorrow when the spider has hopefully gone off to eat the neighbors or something. In the meantime, let's have a look at this week's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

East of West #3
East of West #3 - Written by Jonathan Hickman and illustrated by Nick Dragotta, published by Image Comics. To almost quote someone I don't want to take the time to look up, "I may not understand East of West, but I know what I like." You see, denizens, there ain't one cape in this comic, or tights boasting an impenetrably trademarked symbol. There ain't even any underwear over any tights...although to be fair you won't be finding many tighty-whities (or bluesies or redies for that matter) over at the Big 2 these days. What we do have is sibling rivalry to the maximum, a case of poor parenting, "Horsemen" of the Apocalypse, ebony and ivory murder machines who whupass off camera, a talking eyeball (?), and Death himself on a steel horse he rides (I'm pretty sure he's wanted--WANTED--dead or alive...heh!). This stuff I get. All the other stuff not so much, but that Hickman fella's smart...real smart...and I have a feeling additional pieces will fall in place with each release. We are in for one heck of a ride. No one said reading comics had to be easy, denizens, which is why the creator-owned offerings can be such rich and rewarding joy to read.
Xiaolian (aka Death's wife) has been held captive by her sister Hu for the past decade. Hu originally captured Xiaolian with the aid of the previous incarnations of Death's apocalyptic siblings. Death has long since believed his wife dead, but now he knows he was lied to, and nothing will stop him from retrieving her. Meanwhile, Death's old partners have found Tracker, a man with a sentient (parasitic?) eyeball that reveals Tracker knows more than he is saying. The Horsemen also conclude that Death is after three things: his wife, the lives of "the Chosen," and something that the Horseman stole from him years ago. A terrible battle is about to begin.
<phew> Okay. Just writing the little summary above while rereading the book, and taking a closer look at the art, clarified much of what's going on and what is to come. Hickman indeed requires his readers to connect many of the cleverly concealed clues as to what is happening and what has happened themselves, but he still has much hidden up his sleeves for later revelations. Many of these reveals will not come easy...good.
Dragotta's art is consistent with his tremendous storytelling from the first two issues, but it is his character acting that excels with this installment. The pages with Xiaolian and Hu standing before their father, shows the intense rivalry between the two sisters even without the word balloons; the coldness of their father is equally chilling. Also worthy of mention is the slight variation of the "children" versions of War, Famine and Pestilence (or is it Conquest?) from issue to issue as they mature into their proper forms. He also draws a mean crawling eyeball.
East of West is so much more than your average America-after-the-apocalypse tale. Hickman and Dragotta know where this story is going, but do not expect them to handhold the reader down every path along the way. These creators expect more of us, and with those expectations come the promise of an exciting and immersive experience unlike anything you have read before. After seeing the final splash page, issue four cannot come soon enough. I know I will be rereading these issues this weekend. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Swamp Thing #21
Swamp Thing # 21 - Written by Charles Soule and illustrated by Jesus Saiz, published by DC Comics. Finally, an issue without a crossover guest star and the story shines because of this. Soule was put in the difficult position of continuing the story of the Swamp Thing after the somewhat disappointing "Rot World" event. Immediately forcing a guest star of a certain character--whose movie I am dying to see--didn't make life easier for Soule. Left to his own devices on this issue, he's off to a pretty good start.
Alec Holland, the Swamp Thing, meets the enigmatic, immortalish, warrior woman Capucine who is seeking protection. But who does a woman of 800+ years need protection from and why? The Swamp Things decides to enter the Green and consult with one of his predecessors on the matter. Unfortunately, while he is there, the former guardian of the Green's power is sucked dry by the mysterious being known only as the Seeder, who also tries to take Alec's power but fails. The last thing you want to do is anger a force of nature, and Alec is plenty mad.
With any luck we will be seeing more of the horror side of this series and less of the DC Universe proper moving forward, but already a couple issues involving Constantine loom on the horizon. Yes, I am fully aware that Constantine first appeared in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing issues (some of my favorite comic books ever), but with the New 52, the character now exists with the capes and cowls crowd and his appearance makes me worry. Soule is doing a fine job on the title and will hopefully be given enough breathing room to shine without too much interference from the other titles and characters. Saiz draws an intense protector of the swamp and I'm interested to see what the two have in store with the Seeder and Capucine. RECOMMENDED!

Green Arrow #21
Green Arrow #21 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, published by DC Comics. In issues 17, 18 and 19, Oliver Queen, Green Arrow, can be seen walking through the desert and flashbacking to earlier events and his battle with Komodo. Issue 20 found Oliver walking through the desert and finally finding Magus in a teepee and flashbacking on stuff. This issue finds Oliver walking through the desert, meeting Magus (with a page three that almost copies word-for-word all of the dialogue from issue 20's page two), slipping himself a Mickey, and tripping balls on a vision quest that does not involve Matthew Modine or Linda Fiorentino with a perm.
Anyhow, Magus tells Oliver about seven houses (arrow, spear, fist, shield, sword, and axe) and that each of the houses has an ancient totem weapon that offers true enlightenment and allows the holder to become one of the Outsiders' inner circle (not my words here). Oliver also sees three dragons with one of them being Komodo. As Oliver's drug trip ends he vows to find the three dragons and he also meets John Butcher who holds the totem of the axe.
Okay, that was weird, but I will say that this issue brought back some of my interest in the title, which had been waning a bit. Lemire is a fantastic writer, but I do feel this storyline could have been condensed from five issues to three to really keep things moving and possibly even offer a glimpse at the "island" everyone keeps mentioning (Green Arrow Year One? Something from earlier in the series? Gilligan?). Sorrentino's art is beautiful as ever and he makes the prospect of sipping the "special water" equally appealing and terrifying.
Lemire has grand plans for the emerald archer and with the character's past now out of the way, we are free to see where Lemire really intends to take us. It looks to be pretty exciting. 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 (yup...I'm still as shocked as you are). Ahhh...this fine Telegraph Obscura Cacao I'm sipping is the perfect beer to finish off the final arc of the Marshal Law comic series contained in this beautiful hardcover that now sits on my favorite bookshelf. Bask in its glory, denizens! You see, like this particular beer, this comic is not for everyone. Marshal Law has much to offend those of delicate sensibilities: violence, foul language, sexuality, actual sex, young adults getting skinned alive by horrid alien beasts, and stuff that gets you thinkin'. I, however, love it, and if you are a fan of the types of books I usually talk about, then I think you might dig it too.
As I mentioned, Marshal Law: The Secret Tribunal, is the final story in this fantastic collection (although there are the Hellraiser, Savage Dragon, Mask crossovers that can be found at will get to those sometime soon), and after the good-but-not-as-great-as-what-came-before Hateful Dead and Super Babylon two parters, The Secret Tribunal is a breath of fresh air. These two issues were originally published by Dark Horse Comics in 1993 and 1994 and went totally outer limits, by sending the good Marshal to outer space. I don't quite remember where I found these particular issues and I quite possibly bought them at my dearly departed Andromeda Comics back in the day. Although I did not realize it, this would be the last time I would see Marshal Law in a book all his own. Shuttered LCS? No more solo Marshal Law stories? I'm bumming myself out. Let's have a quick look under the hood.
The "League of Heroes"--a flagrant jab at the Legion of Super heroes--is auditioning for new members and decides to send two candidates to an abandoned space ship once used by none other than the Public Spirit (from the 6-issue original series). Needless to say, things go very bad when Luminous Lad gets skinned alive by a horrific alien and Growing Boy barely makes it out alive. Unfortunately, he unknowingly brings the creature back with him. On Earth, a group known as the "Secret Tribunal" (a jab at the X-Men) is tasked with hunting down the alien, and Marshal Law is tasked with leading the so called heroes against the monster. The relationships involved are...strained to say the least. When Marshal Law and the Secret Tribunal arrive on the League of Heroes's ship, they discover that they don't just have an alien problem, they have and ALIENS--plural--problem. Things get nasty, people die, and the Marshal tries not to throttle the Public Spirit Jr. "In space, no one can hear you ream."
Last week's main complaint with Hateful Dead and Super Babylon was that they seemed a tad disjointed and possibly rushed, which is why I gave those stories only a RECOMMENDED! This is by no means bad, they just weren't as good as what came before. I'm happy to see that The Secret Tribunal was a great leap back to form and reminded me of why I fell in love with this book in the first place. This chapter takes most of its stabs at the much loved "teen" teams of the Big 2 books and honestly goes a little easy on them in comparison to past installments. Instead, we have the Marshal trying his hardest to protect those who he feels will eventually grow up into what he most loathes...heroes. Mills and O'Neill deliver a quite scary story of terrible monsters preying on those whose powers are not enough save them, and we move from parody to thrills with no break in momentum.
There you have it. Two decades after first reading Marshal Law: The Secret Tribunal, it more than stands up to my fond memories and was a blast to read. I give this story a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! You can read each of my reviews for the Marshal Law six issue mini-series, Marshal Law Takes Manhattan, Marshal Law: Kingdom of the Blind, and the Marshal Law: The Hateful Dead/Marshal Law: Super Babylon two parter from each of the past four Friday Slice Of Heaven entries. On a whole, Marshal Law: The Deluxe Edition HC is a must-own book if you can handle all that darn fear and loathing and is VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Age of Ultron #9
Age of Ultron #9 - Written by Brian Michael Bendis, illustrated by Brandon Peterson and Carlos Pacheco, published by Marvel Comics. <sigh> Okay, I know my mission statement has always been to focus on the positive side of comics, to not be a typical troll living in his mommy's basement--hold on a second (thanks for the cookies, Mom, I--yes, YES, I will fold the laundry. C'mon! I'm writing my funny book stuff, Mom! Geesh). Where was I...Oh yeah. I'm going to break my mission statement slightly here. Anyhow, the penultimate issue to the Age of Ultron event reminds me why I swore off events from the Big 2. Very few of them have ever satisfactorily paid off. Sure there are some neat moments--what's left of Iron Man, and the double page splash for instance--but the rest of the book is spent resetting the reset that happened at the halfway point ensuring that Ultron will indeed be born. We have time travel, more time travel, memory wipes, and the off panel deaths of our favorite heroes for limited to no impact.
I completely bought into the premise of the first couple of issues, with Hawkeye risking life and limb to rescue Spider-Man when no one else would do so. Luke Cage finding the Vision in control of the Ultron drones, and Luke Cage with She Hulk attempting to stop Ultron were all fantastic moments despite the decompressed storytelling; as I said, I was in. Then the story went off the rails with time travel, and Morgan LeFay, and Luke Cage dying alone off panel in a hut. It's all very...odd. Now with one issue left and the spoiled return of Neil Gaiman's Angela character from the Image Comics Todd McFarlane Spawn Universe set to happen, I'm going to throw out a crazytown prediction.
I read that there is a new series called Mighty (or something along those line) is coming and it will have the Blue Marvel, a character more powerful than any other hero on the team. Wasn't that the Sentry at one time? But the Sentry was killed off on account of most people hating him, and with the return of Angela, does this mean the return of Marvelman? Marvelman--aka Miracleman--was redefined by Alan Moore and then handed off to Gaiman before Eclipse Comics went bust and Todd McFarlane ended up buying the rights to the stories at what was the equivalent of a yard sale. Legal battles ensued and Marvel now supposedly has the rights to Marvelman and Gaiman is working with Marvel. Hmmmmm. I predict Age of Ultron brings Marvelman to the Marvel Universe and the only one who can combat him is the Blue Marvel. I really hope I am wrong about this.
Anyhow, this issue made me groan, but than again I fully expected to be less than thrilled; again, I was hoping to be wrong. Who knows, issue 10 might just blow me away, but mostly I expect it to introduce at least one character who probably should not be introduced into the Marvel Universe proper at all. Only time will tell if Donist pulls a Wanda Maximoff, "No. New. Events." WORRIED.

Rachel Rising #16...Bueller...Bueller - Dag Nabbit. I just want my damn Rachel Rising #16! Criminy, and true to form I received issue #17 right on time. I tell ya. I get no respect. Geesh. Hopefully next week.

Two More Creators Express Grievances With Editorial At DC Comics - Uh...DC Comics...Uh...what the hell is going on over there? You are hemorrhaging tremendous creative talent. If your shareholders are that concerned over such short term fluctuations in business, then aren't those shareholders actually gambling day traders? Who cares what they think? Those guys are going to just bail anyways. Yes the comics market is a small portion of your corporate overlords's portfolio, but you would not have the movies, toys, bed sets and pajamas without the creators who made the properties matter in the first place. Let the creators work their magic and create. You might just have the makings of the next billion dollar grossing film and toy line if you foster an environment where people actually want to work for you. Sharing some of the upside from things like movies and television shows with contributing creators wouldn't hurt either.