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!

No comments:

Post a Comment