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.

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