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.


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