Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 7/26/2013

(Sung to the tune of Vanity 6's "Nasty Girl")

That's right, pleased to meet you
Let me tell ya 'bout a cool book
Care for a little mystery?
Lazarus is off the hook

You lookin' for more good comics to read
Hawkeye's another for you to adore
You lookin' for bad men to give you a scare
The Sixth Gun's got chills, thrills and more 'cause

Tonight I'm livin' in a fantasy
My own little comic book world
Tonight don't you wanna read with me
Again, give Lazarus a whirl

"Don't skunk me, bro!"
Hello, Donist World denizens! I'm here with CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/wildlife expert Tulip (my dog, and Obie's sister). I just want to thank you all for attending the unofficial SDCC offsite event at the Donist World dumpsters open air venue, and for thinking of attending our various panels. Unfortunately, I have to announce that there was an incident after last Thursday's "Pancakes" panel at the Donist World after-party out at the greenbelt. As with any big event, you can expect to attract a few bad apples, you know, that certain unsavory element who have no problem diminishing other's enjoyment of the event. As it happens, Obie after hitting the kibble and dog water a little too hard, wandered over to a bush to...take care of business and was skunked right in the face. He even had his mouth open at the time, which is truly horrendous. Anyways, the skunk was ejected from the party, by my moving the party back inside, but the damage was done and my mom the attendees left soon after. Now, a week later, my CFO does not smell as heinous as he did, but every once in a while you catch a waft of a fetid stench that vanishes as quickly as it appeared. Obie's still not all that happy about the incident, but at least Tulip and I have plenty of comic books for him to read while he attempts to shake his malaise...just so long as he doesn't touch the books; I don't want any of that grossness clinging to my comics. Here's what we've been reading.

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Lazarus #2
Lazarus #2 - Written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by Michael Lark, published by Image Comics. Denizens, let's hold off for a minute on the second issue of the awesome Lazarus comics and try to understand what is going on at Image Comics. I'm not just talking about the recent Image Expo thing where they announced something like a gazillion new titles that I MUST read. I'm talking about all of the awesomeness that we already know about and have been reading prior to those announcements. Insane, right? On my side, I have SagaChew, Sex, Satellite Sam, East Of West, Jupiter's LegacyChin Music, Prophet, Revival (I'll talk about this gem soon), a host of trades I need to buy, and of course this very book, Lazarus. Who woulda thunk that a couple of creators left to their own devices could tell fresh, deep stories that leave the reader muttering, "I've never seen anything like this. I can't wait to see what happens next. I want pancakes." Who woulda thunk that the scales of the comics I consume have shifted from Big Two to Image and the rest of the publishers out there like Oni, Boom, Abstract, Dark Horse, etc. Don't get me wrong, I won't be dropping Hawkeye, Daredevil, or Batman anytime soon, but the indies are what give me that rush of excitement before the cover is even cracked open. With the indie comics, anything is possible within those pages. There is no shadowy shareholders/board of directors dictating the status quo so an IP can appeal to the broadest demographic possible while leading into multiple complementary titles that ultimately tie into the forthcoming film and corresponding toyline all to maximize shareholder return. With the creator-owned comics, the artist and the writer dictate every aspect of what happens within the pages of their story. There are no "events" to interrupt the flow. There are no mandates to include the Spider-Bat in the next two issues to boost sales. What we see is exactly what the creators want us to see, and we are better for it. Oh yeah,'s fantastic!
Forever Carlyle, the Lazarus of the Carlyle Family, is beginning to show resistance against taking the regimen of injections and pills that keep her subservient to her job. Unfortunately, her sister/doctor Beth is insistent on Forever's "treatments"; for the sake or her and her siblings' protection she should be. Last issue, Forever executed an old man who claimed to have let the Morray Family soldiers into the Carlyle seed storage facility. She knew the man was lying, but followed through with her orders anyways. Now, her father has called a meeting to discuss what to do about the Morray raid, but even among the ruling class the "family ties that bind and gag" exists. While her brothers and sister bicker and barely refrain from killing one another, Forever's father gives her a task that leads her into dangerous territory. Plus, the Carlyle Family have not been completely honest with the Lazerus.
The first issue of Lazarus grabbed hold of my negative feelings over the income disparity between the rich and everyone else, as well as the maddening rampant corporate interference in our lives and government, and shook them up into something I can actually see coming to pass. Before I managed to make it to even the first page, the inside cover had me shouting from the rafters, "See?! See?! This can happen!" Lark and Rucka gave us a world that melds legitimate possibilities with the science fiction of a Lazarus, a genetically engineered guardian who is nearly impossible to kill. Then in this latest issue, I read the back matter that might eventually shift a lot of the "sci-fi" into the "possible" category, leaving a cold shiver running down my spine. Now, I can't stop thinking about this book; the creators sure did their job well, by golly.
Although this issue had little action compared to the first, it is every bit as compelling. Lark and Rucka give us an incredibly dysfunctional family on the verge of erupting into violence not just with the rival families, but with themselves. Malcolm and each of his children reveal snippets of their personalities and wants in this issue, but even without Rucka's fantastic words, Lark's acting will tell you just how deeply the enmity lies amongst the children. Just seeing the physical violence unfold between Jonah and Beth tells us that this is not new behavior. This is confirmed by Steve's failure to care--he's seen this all before--but when the knife comes out we know a line has been crossed.
Not content to leave our nerves frazzled, Rucka teases some of Forever's actual origin, which is something that frightens her siblings immensely. We also have Malcolm's secret mission for Forever into the territory of the Morray Family and we are left with an intense cliffhanger. There is no way I will miss the next issue.
Lazarus is over way too fast and some people might be thinking they want to trade wait this one, but I advise against that, denizens. Rucka and Lark have some fascinating information at the back of issue one and offer a timeline of Malcolm's life prior to "Project: Lazarus" in issue two (the orange text is a slight pain to read, though), and those pages of extras might not make it to the collected edition; it's all must read material. This book is a pleasant surprise and a grimly awesome example of what comic books have to offer outside of the capes and tights. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Hawkeye Annual #1
Hawkeye Annual #1 - Written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Javier Pulido, published by Marvel Comics. I've mentioned it a couple of times before, but whenever I see the word annual, I get a little nervous. The sinking feeling that comes with the words "guest artist" and the "gotcha" of the inflated cover price almost always give me the feeling that I'm getting taken for a ride. Yes, they always come with extra pages, these annuals, but do eight extra pages of story justify a $2 bump to the price? Saga #1 was double-sized and cost only $2.99, so $4.99 for a 28-page annual does seem excessive. All my misgivings about Big Two annuals aside, this Kate Bishop centric story is still a heck of a lot of fun.
Kate Bishop (Hawkeye) has had it with her father and his barely older than her wife, and she's had enough of that sadsack Clint Barton (Hawkeye), too. She's outta there, and she's taking Lucky the Pizza Dog with her on a relaxing trip to Los Angeles. Things never turn out the way you plan. First her credit card gets declined, then the hotel kicks her out, then the next thing you know, an incog Madame Masque is inviting Kate to stay at her she can torture Kate to death. It just goes to show you, don't mess with Madame Masque...oh, and sometimes you have to solve your own problems.
Whether it's Hawkeye (guy) or Hawkeye (girl), Fraction knows these characters inside and out. Let's just call them his, shall we? The scenes flow between serious and funny, and from action-packed to dramatic with precision and the entire 28 pages are a joy to read. Pulido is back, and after loving his work on issues four and five, I am still loving his art, but I will say that the decision to use mostly silhouettes for the main characters on every page took me out of the story. Otherwise, his art is still a great fit for the title.
Yeah, $4.99 is a cheap shot at the readers--$3.99 would have fair(ish)--and there was a ton of black ink to be found on each page, but Hawkeye Annual #1 was still fun to read. If you miss it, I'm sure it will show up in the third trade. RECOMMENDED!

The Sixth Gun:
Sons of the Gun #5
The Sixth Gun: Sons of the Gun #5 - Written by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt, illustrated by Brian Churilla, published by Oni Press. that's what last issue's ending was about. Now I get it. Sorry, denizens, if you read my thoughts on issue #4, then you would know that I was scratching my head over the ending as each issue has been done-in-one stories exploring a bit about each of General Hume's mystical gun-wielding riders. I "didn't get" that the ending to #4, continued into the final issue where all four gunmen are reunited to handle the menace of the town afflicted by evil.
I enjoyed this side mini-series. I originally thought Sons of the Gun was going to be about the early years of "Bloodthirsty" Bill Sumter, Will Arcene, "Filthy" Ben Kinney, and Silas "Bitter Ridge" Hedgepeth and the day that each met General Hume and was awarded a cursed gun. That is not what we got. Instead, this series has been a side adventure that occurred after the time of General Hume's first death and before the lieutenants decided to rescue the recently revived Hume from his captors.
Bunn and Hurtt give us tiny glimpses into each of these men's hearts--what there is of them--and that will have to be enough to satisfy our curiosity about these mysterious figures. Still... The supernatural aspects of The Sixth Gun play heavily in this tale and the addition of the Lieutenants' diabolical problem solving skills makes the book a fun read. Churilla's art is a perfect fit for The Sixth Gun: Sons of the Gun and his monsters are horrifyingly awesome, with character moments that round out the story.
If you are looking for a jumping on point for The Sixth Gun, this is not it. There really is no jumping on point that will do this Donist World favorite any justice outside of starting at the very beginning, but there are four trades out and a hardcover collecting the first two trades will be out towards the end of September. If you like what you see in the series proper, then picking up Sons of the Gun is a given. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Carlos Danger Rides Again! - Okay, trust me on this one, denizens, I'm no puritanical psychopath calling for an end to anything and everything that turns our cranks--I'm speaking in code for the sake of the children...the CHILDREN, I TELL YOU! In truth, I don't care what Anthony Weiner does in his spare time, or in his own (virtual?) bedroom, or what sort of arrangement the dude has with his wife--if any. The man's a politician, so "deviant" behavior should be expected to go hand-in-hand with the profession, and I would wager that many of his more outspoken holier-than-thou colleagues have not just skeletons, but graveyards, tucked away in their closets. My problem is that someone who was JUST publicly humiliated over his "sexting" was crazy enough to return to the scene of the crime as if a pseudonym would protect him. Ummmm...that ain't how the internet works, man, privacy goes out the window once it hits the web. Even having an awesome name like Carlos Danger won't protect you, especially if someone is trying to find you. Weiner should just own his freaky-deakyness. Take a picture of your junk and send it to that tattooed temptress. Proudly use your own name. Do your job better than all of the other guys and when you find evidence of their various compromising positions (bathtubs full of jello, men's stalls, merry-go-rounds, petting zoos) just kindly shake your head and chuckle to yourself; you've been there.
***side note***If you seen anything...odd...floating around the web attached to the name Andres's not me, I have no recollection of who that guy is. Nope. Not me. I'm just sayin'.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 7/19/2013

(Sung to the tune of Pat Benatar's "Love Is a Battlefield")

Oh how fun, comic books a waitin' on the stand
Donist promise, this dudes the man! Fury takes the battlefield
Woah, can't go wrong, few offerings yet they're strong
These books will push your nerves my man, less talk more showing
Fury takes the battlefield

I'm telling you bro, best heed what I say
Animal Man done scared me so bad.
It was awesome you know
But I also must say, Thor was intense my dear lad
Believe me, believe me, I can tell you why
Yeah, a slow comic book week, but what you get is a prize.

I can't begin to tell you, denizens, how much I wish that jazz dancing and chest shimmying with a group of strangers could solve all my problems (just watch the above video link, 'cause that's what the video is tellin' me). You know what I'm talking about. Right? "Hey bro, I ordered a super-sized pop and all I got was this tiny little sippy cup nonsense"...cue a synchronized chest shimmy with some lady who didn't want pickles on her burger and some hobo with no tokens for the restroom. Then again, maybe there's something to it. On Wednesday, I jazz danced and shimmied for about three hours at the day job until they finally told me to take the rest of the week off and pull myself together.
Anywho...that's neither here nor there.
Today, Donist World CFO extraordinaire Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/lead anti-bribery official (my dog and Obie's sister) and I are hosting a panel out by the dumpster with a foldup table at our state-of-the-art outdoor venue for the (un)official SDCC Donist World Summit 2013! Yes, yes, thank you. Thank you very much. Please hold your applause until...oh, that's the neighbor clapping to shoo us on our way. Respect the Donist World, fool! Thank you, Tulip for chest shimming our neighbor on her way. Now, where were we? Oh yes, we just completed our "Pancakes" panel where Obie announced that he likes all-grain pancakes despite the fact that he usually barfs after eating one. Next up is our panel on Obie's announced-yet-not-even-started biography From Kibble to Gold Nuggets: The Rise of Obedicus "Obie" Woods. Later, Tulip will announce that she wants a new squeaky toy and I will announce that I hope to announce another comic story of mine appearing in a fantastic anthology in the near future. While we wait for the next panel to begin, here's some required reading to help get you through the three hour wait...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Fury MAX TPB #1
Fury MAX TPB #1 - Written by Garth Ennis and illustrated by Goran Parlov, published by Marvel Comics. Alrighty, denizens, I'm not what you would generally call a "war comics" kind of guy. Sure, I've owned some Sgt. Rock comics back in the day, but my interests have always leaned more toward the superhero and monster fare--although I remember having some sweet Weird War Tales books that I read until they disintegrated. Regular war comics though...just not on my radar.  Don't get me wrong, there have been titles dealing with war that I have enjoyed (Jason Aaron's phenomenal The Other Side comes to mind), but it usually takes a couple of outside factors to pull my attention to the genre. You know, something like putting super spy extraordinaire Nick Fury in the comic, or maybe adding a little somethin' somethin' like writer Garth Ennis, author of my favorite comic book of all time, Preacher, into the mix. Yup, that's how you get the attention of this ol' Donist. Come to think of it, Ennis's Preacher issues involving Jesse's dad in Vietnam are shining examples of some darn fine comic booking. Fury MAX is spectacularly written and illustrated and something worthy of positioning prominently on your best bookshelf. Be warned that this title wears its "Explicit Content" banner proudly, with much potty mouth, <whispered> s-e-x, and gobs upon gobs of horrific violence, but if you are a fan of Ennis, and you darn well should be, then you're used to the man's storytelling by now.
This is a story of a nearly ageless man who has seen and done terrible things for his country that still haunt him to this day, but he would do it all again if it meant keeping his country safe. In 1954 French Indochina, Fury meets a new agent named Hatherly and they are tasked with observing the French attempt to retain hold of the area. He also meets the lovely Shirley Defabio, secretary to a congressman with his eyes on the stars. When Fury and Hatherly visit the French troops, they find betrayal, former-Nazi war criminals, and are caught in the most terrifying battle of their lives. Years later in 1961, it's the Bay of Pigs Invasion and Fury, Hatherly and a tough-as-nails sniper are to sneak into Cuba and assassinate Fidel Castro. Needless to say, things go terribly wrong, but that's fine with Fury, so long as he is on the front lines, he's exactly where he wants to be.
I listened to and read far too many positive reviews about this comic when it was being serialized, but by the time I had decided to cave to the hype and pick it up, it was already coming to an end. Yay for trade paperbacks. Not only was this volume recently released, but the next, and sadly final, volume of this fantastic series is set to come out near the beginning of September and I am already eagerly awaiting its arrival to my strong-yet-gentle loving arms.
Ennis is a master storyteller. Preacher is the most addictive serialized comic I have ever had the pleasure to read, as I suffered the terribly painful waits between each of the issues in the 66 issue series (not counting specials). Although Fury MAX does not have the loved/relatable/reviled characters of Preacher, Ennis still makes this decades-old character shine with mystique and wonder. We have to remember that Nick Fury is not Ennis's creation, but rather that of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee with Jim Steranko (by all you hold dear, follow Steranko on Twitter. Trust me on this, denizens, he's an amazing man) being the character's defining creator into the famous spy we see today as owned by Marvel/Disney--btw, you can find Fury loitering around the Star Tours ride (just kidding). In Ennis's hands, we have more of the grizzled war vet than the enigmatic super spy, and if you had no idea who Nick Fury was going into the comic, you will by the end of page one. Those six sentences are all the writer needs to let you know that you are in for one hell of a rough ride. By the end of this book, you will not love Nick Fury, you might not even like him, but you will respect the character as you eagerly await the unveiling of a few more skeleton's tucked away in his vast closet.
Goran Parlov's art excels at the acting and the emotional drama of each scene. Without a single word balloon, you know exactly what a character is feeling and although Fury has a predominant scowl, you know Hatherly is a fairly upbeat person with his go-with-the-flow attitude. When Hatherly looses his charming smile, you know the situation has turned dire. Parlov's Defabio is pure confidence and sexuality with a smile on the page that can make you blush. But, his action scenes are equally something to behold. During the French Indochina battle scenes--some of the most graphic imagery I have seen coming from a Marvel comic--were nerve-wracking, but I could not turn away as page after page flew by.
So, I guess you could say I liked this book even though it was a war comic. After reading this fantastic trade, I'm now eyeing Garth Ennis's Complete Battlefields TPB Volume 1 for some mind bending heavy reading that I'm certain will mess me up and freak me the heck out. All will be in preparation for the second volume of Fury MAX. I can't wait. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

More Heavenly Items:
Animal Man #22
Animal Man # 22 - Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Steve Pugh and Francis Portela, published by DC Comics. Okay, I am sooooo glad I did not drop this book. THIS is exactly what I have wanted to see in the pages of Animal Man. What we have with last issue and more so in this one is the horror comic we thought we were going to get from the get go. I'm not saying that the early issues were a superhero capes and tights battlefest, they did trace along the edges of a horror book, but now Lemire and Pugh have gone all in. You know what, denizens? I like it. I like it a lot.
While investigating some missing animals, Buddy Baker, aka Animal Man, comes across Clinton Hogue, a monstrosity who is a patchwork of various animal pieces parts. Buddy pursues the thing, but finds that the man-of-animals did not come alone. Our hero is horribly wounded, and the monster men have taken his blood to a villain who knows all too well of the Red and the power it holds. Meanwhile, Maxine, Buddy's young daughter, tries to resurrect her dead brother to disastrous results.
Are you still reading Animal Man? If not, you could pick up issue 21 and also this one and be good to go. Lemire's writing is strong, frightening even, and parts of this story are down right chilling. Pugh delivers some devilishly nightmarish imagery during the Buddy parts of the story, with some of the more gruesome scenes being a whirl of chaotic intensity. Portela handles the Maxine storyline in a more visually cheery manner than Buddy's portion of the book, but therein lies the twisted part of the work when you actually take a moment to acknowledge what it is you are looking at. Next month can't come soon enough. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Thor God of
Thunder #10
Thor God of Thunder #10 - Written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by Esad Ribic, published by Marvel Comics. Alright, dag burn it, get me the next issue. PLEASE! Criminy, denizens, I must be in a messed up mood this week or something...just have a look at the three books I'm jawin' on about. There's some messed up stuff going on in this penultimate issue to the "God Bomb" storyline, and anything I said in regard to having sympathy for the god serial killer known as Gorr last month goes right out the window with this issue.
With King Thor, Thor the Avenger, and Young Thor all defeated after their battle with Gorr the God Butcher, we see the monster has become what he hates most: a god. A pity that Gorr's wife had to say such a thing out loud. An even bigger pity that Gorr's son had to find her. Burning with rage, Gorr's son rescues Thor the Avenger, which in turn frees King Thor as well as each of their hammers. Young Thor, meanwhile, gives Gorr some payback (CRUD! That is harsh!) and the granddaughters of Thor find some abandoned weapons, but even with all the key players free it might be too late to stop the God Bomb.
Heck yeah! This comic makes me want my own Mjolnir. Geez louise! Great writing and gorgeous art, with a story of escalating tension that made me say "no" out loud for two reasons: 1) I couldn't believe what I was seeing; 2) I was bummed that I have to wait a painfully long month for the final chapter of one of Marvel's finer titles. Ribic's atmospheric imagery is unlike anything seen in modern comics today, and Ive Svorcina's gorgeous colors only intensify Ribic's art while immersing you within each scene to a chilling degree; it is something to behold. If you're not reading Thor God of Thunder, then seriously...c'mon, get with the program. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

I'm Not at SDCC -
What else do I need to say? I tried to get tickets the second time around, but it just didn't pan out. The last time I attended SDCC was in 2008 and although it was a blast, I was overwhelmed by all of the non-comic book (a lot of it not even comic book related) material that took up much of the programming and showroom floor. The throngs of people did not help much either, but the experience is still one I miss dearly. Not only that, many of my comic book friends from Comics Experience are currently there, and I would love to meet them in person. Curses! <sigh>

Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 7/12/2013

(Sung to the tune of Rick Springfield's "I've Done Everything For You")

This East of West's a cool book just look
A damn fine book you must read
It is all high stakes, make no mistake
and Hawkeye's a book that you need
Well, that Batman book kicks ass all right
And Daredevil's flame ignites the night

Have you read the latest Chew?
Dang it's somethin' to see
Have you read the latest Chew?
Dang it's somethin' to see

Hello, denizens. Would you mind helping me move this stupidly large folding table to the Donist World storage unit? I already killed the two black widows hiding on the underside, so don't sweat it, you're safe. <phew> Thanks. What's that? Oh, Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) is inside the office of our Fortune 320,000 company along with Tulip, the Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/event coordinator (my dog and Obie's sister), preparing our SDCC (San Diego Comic Con for those of you playing the Donist World home game) panel schedule for next week., ummm, no our signing table will actually be part of the...uhhh...unofficial remote SDCC being held in lovely Santa Barbara. Obie, Tulip and I will have a table out by the Donist World dumpster in an open air venue with such insightful panels as:

  • Television Shows That Kick Ace
  • Movies We Wish "They" Would Make
  • Michael _____ - The Guy Who Had a One-Second Scene On Doctor Who
  • Video Games I Liked When I Was a Teenager
  • Pancakes
  • Ring Around the Obie - Making the Most of Petty Cash
  • Oh Yeah...Some Stuff About Actual Comic Books

Obie wanted me to also say that he will be signing a sheet of paper with the title of his as-yet-unwritten book From Kibble to Gold Nuggets: The Rise of Obedicus "Obie" Woods. $5 gets you a ticket to wait in line, another $5 gets you a signed sheet of scrap paper, another $20 allows you to have your picture taken with Obie, another $5 will buy you some kind of food that will be cheaper and better than anything you will find at the San Diego convention center, and another $5 allows you to take something from our neighbors unlocked storage unit. Be sure to get here early. While you wait for the excitement to begin, have a look at...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

East of West #4
East of West #4 - Written by Jonathan Hickman and illustrated by Nick Dragotta, published by Image Comics. We've all felt it before. We've all experienced the disappointment of when a story's building conflict just does not pay off. HBO's third season of the television show Deadwood comes to mind with a season-long showdown that built only to have everyone quietly part ways. Or, take a recent Big Two ten-issue commercial/advertisement for a multitude of other titles "event" comic that was like shotgun pellets fired into an open field to ultimately only strike dirt as gravity took its course on each story fragment. When you have so much build up and so much hype and story tension around the possibility of the dog-doo hitting the fan, when the payoff doesn't happen, or there is no tremendous twist, then the reader/viewer is left with nothing more than memories of time and money lost. The anti-climax has its place, but unfortunately action comics or after 10+ episodes of built-up tension on a television show is not it. All of that said, what about Hickman and Dragotta's East of West? doesn't do any of that stuff. In fact, it does not disappoint in the slightest.
In the future, or so it seems, Death no longer rides a pale horse, but rather a headless, ebony, nano-tech beast of destruction. He also rides in the company of a pair of terrifying witches as they prepare to take on the House of Mao's forces to retrieve Death's wife, Xiaolian. Hordes upon hordes of men and women against four? The house of Mao does not have a prayer of surviving the encounter. Meanwhile the other three horsemen of the apocalypse, the ones who betrayed Death in the first place, meet with one of "the Chosen" to discuss both that which they fear and that which they should fear: Death and she who conquered him.
For East of West, I have had the following reactions: Issue #1 - I may not know art, but I know what I like! Ummm...what the hell's going on? That eye is gross; Issue #2 - Oh. I think I get it now...sorta. Message and Chosen, got it. Death has a wife?!; Issue #3 - Holy crud! That's what happened with Xiaolian? But wait, I don't get why... Okay, that eyeball thing will haunt me for the rest of my days. Whoa...I can't wait for issue #4.  With the latest issue, Death has arrived at the House of Mao's very walls, and there is no talking things out or coming to some sort of agreement; Hickman makes sure that does not happen. We learn the consequences of wronging Death and it is not pretty.
This is not to say that all your questions will be answered with this issue. Far from it. We still need to know what caused Death to turn from black to white, or what happened to the previous incarnations of the horsemen, or the history--or even the names...did they say the names?--of Death's companions. Those reveals are coming, I trust Hickman to provide that information eventually, but it will be at the pace of his choosing, which is fine. He succeeds in leaving the reader desperate to know how Death met and was eventually tamed by Xiaolian. We want to know more about the witches and how War, Famine and Conquest came to the conclusion that the Apocalypse did not necessarily need a Death. With the world built, the players introduced and the stakes presented, Hickman's mystery behind this tremendous story is one that I will have to patiently wait to see unfold.
Dragotta's action scenes are simply breathtaking and I found myself torn between absorbing each and every beautiful panel to plowing through page after page to see just what the crow witch would do, or how Xiaolian would deal with her sister. There are also the scenes where Xiaolian speaks with her father and sister, and the emotions they show--the fear, the disdain, the ultimate acceptance of defeat--speaks loud and clear where word balloons alone cannot do the moment justice. Every image flowed from one to the next with not one panel taking the reader out of the story.
I knew I would like this issue, but I vastly underestimated just how much fun I would have reading this month's release. East of West is the comic that completely wowed me this week; heck, I read it again the following morning. We are only four issues in on this compelling series, and yes it is true that there are a lot of questions as to what is happening, what has happened, and what will come to pass, but you know what, denizens? That is fine. I am so very much along for this ride. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Chew #35
Chew #35 Written by John Layman and illustrated by Rob Guillory, published by Image Comics. Image Comics just needs to stop it. <no, please don't stop> Cut it out already. <nope, full steam ahead, captain> Criminy, you guys! <hells yes, Image!> C'mon! I can't take much more of this. <not true, I will take as much as you can give me and I am an insatiable comic-books-are-my-food monster> Chew rules!<preach it, Donist!> We all know this. Amiright? Just look at the first page splash. You know, the one that says, "You all saw this one coming, right?" Well, no I didn't, and that is probably why I shot the beer that I was drinking out of my nose. One page. One page is all it took for Layman and Guillory to done stun me all good and proper. Page two and three succeeded in taking my shock and turning it into cold shivers traveling down my spine. Lucky for me, I still had 19 pages left to go.
In this issue: Colby's life becomes more...complicated; members of the Divinity of the Immaculate Ova take a food-powered hostage; Tony learns that the DIO might be onto something; Savoy is captured; Olive and Tony bond.
If you've been reading Donist World for some time, then you will have read 34 entries concerning this series over the past couple of years. Translation: I have loved every issue of this comic book series that is the most unique on the stands. Yes, some issues are merely "good," but most are great or better, and no comic makes me laugh out loud as much Guillory and Layman's Chew. If you are not reading this great comic...well....I pray that Poyo does not come for you in your sleep. Buy it, denizens. It's weird. It's fun. It's compelling. It's Chew! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Hawkeye #12
Hawkeye # 12 - Written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Francesco Francavilla, published by Marvel Comics. Wait a minute...didn't I just buy Pizza Dog...errrrrr...rather, didn't I buy issue 11 two weeks ago? Hold on, doesn't that second trade paperback that was released alongside this very issue contain issue 11?! What the what?! Marvel...SHENANIGANS! Double shipping and releasing an issue barely two-weeks old in trade paperback is kind of a low thing to do, but I'm going to level with you, denizens...if it's Hawkeye then whatever Poppa Disney/Marvel has to do to keep this title coming works for me.
Clint Barton's older brother, Barney, is down on his luck and will suffer almost anything to put a buck or two in his pocket. Barney's got time to kill before he meets up with Clint and some tracksuit Draculas seem to have an opening in their busy schedule. We also catch a glimpse of the Barton boys in their younger years, which I wouldn't necessarily go calling their glory days.
Fraction takes the story in a new, somewhat darker direction as we see the sad yet touching story of Clint and his brother living with a highly-abusive and alcoholic father. The state Barney the adult is in, by the time he reaches Clint's door, is not uplifting, but rather sad. This story is different from all the issues that came before, but it is exceptionally well-told.
Francavilla, one of my favorite artists working in comics, is back with another issue that is equally as striking as issue #10, with the color palette that I love so much in all of his work (also, read The Black Beetle...seriously). Francavilla's scenes with the Barton boys growing up are truly tough to see as we experience the makings of another bad night, but he then brings us down with a heartwarming scene depicting the brothers coping with their plight. It's all rather beautiful.
At this point, I don't know what to expect with my favorite Marvel book. One moment we have a Hawkeye story, the next we have Hurricane Katrina, guests artists, Pizza Dog centric issues, bad guy introductions, and now an intimate look at the family life of a character I love. Double ship? Triple ship? Quadruple ship for all I care--I'd be cool with this, btw--just keep this Hawkey a comin'. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batman #22
Batman #22 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo, published by DC Comics. Young Bruce Wayne is losing the fight against the Red Hood and his gang. The crimson-domed maniac has branched out from recruiting random law-abiding citizens to actual criminals and rival gang members all to grow their numbers in the pursuit of causing fear and unrest throughout Gotham City. Bruce and Alfred have a difference of opinions, and Bruce's headstrong attitude causes a rift between them. A groovily-sideburned Edward Nygma meets Bruce for the first and possible last time as the Red Hood strikes.
I'm now down to three New 52 DC titles. It's not how I wanted things to go, but I will say that Batman by Snyder and Capullo remains DC's strongest title and not one that I anticipate dropping any time soon. Snyder gives us a look at the man who would become the Batman and the events leading up to his rise. His version of Bruce Wayne is stubborn, arrogant even, and we see that Bruce is in for some difficult lessons, making this reimagining of Batman's history--which we pretty much see on a semi-annual basis--so very interesting and worth the read.
Capullo's art is fantastic as ever. I always mention his gorgeous character designs and exciting action sequences--how could you not?--but also worthy of mention is how each of his panels lead the eye from one to the next. Just have a look on the first page where we follow Bruce's gadget down the hole then glide to the next panel with the partial note that leads us to the third panel along the rope to the page turn. On the next page is where the action and chaos begins, yet Capullo still leads the readers eye through each panel as you cruise along the gunfire, down the blimp from tail to nose, from Red Hood up a line on the floor, and through the final panels. These masterful designs might be painstakingly laid out, or, as I suspect, Mr. Capullo just sees this stuff naturally these days. I should also mention letterer Nick Napolitano whose invisible art plays off Capullo's imagery to gently guide the reader through each completed page.
The only thing missing in this issue is a look at Bruce in the Batsuit and trying to put Gotham back together as we saw from the previous issue, but if you are familiar with Snyder's work, then you know he plays the long game; we'll get there. Month-in and month-out, Batman continues to be a great looking book with an engaging story that vaults the caped crusader's to the top of DC's stable of superhero titles. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Daredevil #28
Daredevil #28 - Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Javier Rodriguez, published by Marvel Comics. Speaking of double shipments..."Bullies." That's all Waid had to say to bring me doubly onboard for a book I already can't help but buy. Make of that statement what you will, denizens, just know that the subject is something I hold near and dear o my heart and we'll leave it at that.
When Matt Murdock's childhood nemesis shows up at his law office, he is filled with many mixed emotions, but most prominent is a still burning anger. Decades have passed since Matt has seen Nate Hackett, but it's safe to say he has not forgotten the man or rather the kid who used to torment him. Nate is not in Matt's office to apologize, or to tease. He is there seeking help on a false arrest charge stemming from a poor decision he had made years prior but for a crime he could not possibly have committed. Matt sees Nate is telling the truth and reluctantly agrees to help the person who had made his life a living hell. What follows next is completely unexpected.
Waid can do no wrong on this title. Sure some issues were not as stellar as others, but all that means is those issues were merely great. I'm guessing Waid has had some personal experience with the subject matter of this book--haven't most of us, denizens?--and he handles it not just with a complete understanding of what it feels like to be bullied, but by also giving us the bully's perspective. This is not something you see all that often. Then Waid does the impossible...he gains a shred of our sympathy for the bully Nate. He gets us to not necessarily give the man a pass on his actions, but he allows us to take a moment and see where Nate was coming from and why he treated Matt the way he did. By the time the issue ends, we hope to see Nate succeed in turning his downtrodden life around. Darn you, Mr. Waid...making me care for a bully...
Rodriguez steps in for Chris Samnee on this issue and his style of art is perfect for the book. He maintains a color palette that is not overly rendered, similar to what has been used in the past, and the acting and action of each panel is fantastic. I especially loved the page six aging regression of Nate as an adult and Nate as a kid, with all of the similarities and differences a few decades make in a person's appearance. His final page is shocking to say the least.
I usually get annoyed by the whole double shipping thing, but if Marvel wants to get me the next part of this bully story in the next couple of weeks, then I promise I will not complain. Daredevil is the comic that brought me back to Marvel and it remains a book that will keep me coming back for more. If you are lapsed Daredevil reader like I was, Waid's take on the character should more than bring you back around to what is one of their strongest titles. At only 28 issues in, a few trades should set you right. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Still No Rachel Rising #16 - Forget it. I'm just going to order it online. Crud. I have issue 17 and 18 now.

All Work and No Play Means Donist Will Not Be at SDCC - The last time I was there was 2008 and it's been over two years since I have been to any comic book convention. This is something I need to remedy.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 7/5/2013

(Sung to the tune of Neil Diamond's "America")

Download Panel Syndicate files
Be sure to pay
Private Eye's really got style

Other books you should read
Donist'll tell you, bro
Comics you really need

Satellite Sam and Green Arrow
You'll find them at your LCS
Swamp Thing's great you need to know
You'll find it at your LCS


Happy day after the Fourth of July, denizens. I'm Donist and I'm here with a couple of disgruntled employees: Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier), and Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/true patriot Tulip (my dog and Obie's sister). "Why are the puppies disgruntled?" you ask. Well, running a Fortune 320,000 company is not the easy-peasy task you might think. Here at Donist World I have squeeze every single drop of efficiency out of my staff so I can reap untold fortunes from their hard work. ...Okay, yes, there are as yet no fortunes to be had, but they are coming denizens, my self-help business books say so. Hey, if Tulip and Obie have time to lean, they have time to clean and...what am I doing?! Donist World would not exist with out the hard work of my employees, so why don't you dogs... Tulip? Obie? Where did you go? Okay, it looks like my staff decided to take the day off before I actually told them they could take the day off. I was paying them double the kibble for working today though, at least I remembered to do that. Geesh. Anyhow, while I remind myself that Donist World exists because of my loyal(ish) employees, have a gander at....

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Private Eye #3 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Marcos Martin, published by I'd be lying if I said there isn't some appeal to the world Vaughan and Martin have created in their phenomenal The Private Eye. You see, denizens, I remember the days of anonymity and the lack of pervasive (invasive, even) information. Back in those brighter times, all it took was a move across country to start life anew after your archnemesis just happened to catch you skinny-dipping (I use the term "skinny" loosely) out at McGillicuddy's pond and that same archnemesis just happened to have a Polaroid camera on them. Nope. Nowadays, that one dang photo and more likely video would be on a smartphone and immediately uploaded on Instasham, Twitface, or whatever popular whatchamawhosit kids use these days. Gone are the times of finding a bargain at a yard sale when sellers know the going rate for their items using, or on the other side where you have hoards of nerds...sorry, collectors...with their smartphone apps barcode scanning every good at some old guy's house. Hold on a sec, someone just tagged me in a photo on my FaceSpace account titled...crud...McGillicuddy's Pond - Creature of Nature 1984. The past comes back to haunt me. <sigh> So, yeah, The Private Eye world ain't lookin' all that bad.
Last issue, P.I. and Raveena stood looking down the barrels of twin guns directed at them by two gas mask-wearing French assailants. Our heroes escaped the encounter alive, but not unscathed. P.I. is now missing one of his favorite digits (not that one, dirty birds), and Raveena might just be a little more hearing impaired. We also catch a glimpse into P.I.'s past, his mother, and what pushed the lead character into the world of private investigation; maybe total privacy isn't the best idea in every situation. As P.I. and Raveena head back out to uncover who wants them dead, the bad guy shines some light on his plans.
I am loving this comic. Not only is the unfolding mystery compelling and the futuristic take on the issue of privacy and security fascinating, but the bold move to self-publish with a pay-what-you-want model is a breath of fresh air for those of us who want to experience the story as the creators meant for us to. As a writer, this is particularly promising for the future of not only digital comics, but any artistic endeavor. Regardless of what and works like The Private Eye mean to the future of comic books and how they reach the consumer, the digital-only decision would mean nothing without the fact that this comic is one heck of a fantastic read.
Vaughan predominantly sticks with P.I. and Raveena in this issue as he gives the reader glimpses into P.I.'s past and leaves us wanting more. He also reveals tiny bits on the man posing as Taj, his plans, and the hired a pair of French assassins, but we are left with a need for more, more, more. Hopefully, the next issue or two will give us more of Raveena's past and more of P.I.'s exposure-deficient grandfather, who is incredibly compelling as an artifact from this world's past, and someone who's hay day was our modern time.
Martin's art, accentuated by Muntsa Vicente's gorgeously sparse colors, drives the action especially on page six through twelve when we flashback to our heroes meeting their would-be killers and how they survived that encounter. Page seven especially directs the eye from panel to panel as we follow the bullets' trajectories as evidenced by the blood (panel one), back down Raveena's body and down her leg (panel one), along the blood trail of the pointing finger (panel two), that points to P.I.'s missing middle finger (panel three), where we follow the path of P.I.'s other fingers into panel four where the colors push the character to the foreground. It's all beautifully choreographed as is the majority of this issue.
You don't have to pay a cent for any of Vaughan and Martin's wonderful The Private Eye, but without ample monetary support--the artist has to be paid, the colorist has to be paid, Vaughan would like to get a little somethin'-somethin', they have to pay a company to host the files and the site, Paypal takes a cut, etc.--we won't continue to receive this great comic. There are no grey-haired, old, unartistic, white businessmen/shareholders dictating what happens in The Private Eye. There are no outside forces telling Vaughan and Martin to make the book more accessible and less-offensive to a broader demographic that wouldn't read the comic anyways. This is the story presented as the creators intended, and it is stunning. I paid $4 for this issue and I'll pay $4 for the next. Check it out for free, then kick down a little cash for an exciting futuristic mystery. You know you want to. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items: 
Satellite Sam #1
Satellite Sam #1 Written by Matt Fraction and Illustrated by Howard Chaykin, published by Image Comics. I honestly knew almost nothing about Satellite Sam, but given the new series is by Fraction and Chaykin, I had to give it a whirl and I'm glad I did. I will admit to being confused by what was inside the book as opposed to what is depicted on the cover, but a page or two in on this black and white '50s era story about a popular live-television show and I was hooked. So what if the series doesn't take place on a flying saucer with murderous femme fatales in fetching undergarments. I'm more than happy to reduce the science fiction to the just plain ol' fiction of a murder that looks to have plenty of fetching undergarments as drawn by Chaykin.
'50s live-action, science fiction show Satellite Sam is incredibly popular and one who's existence provides many actors and behind-the-scenes people their very livelihood. Too bad everyone involved has to rely on Carlyle White, Satellite Sam's leading star, to actually bother to show up. Desperate, Carlyle's son, Michael, stands in on the show with a last minute plot update that saves everyone's bacon and their jobs. Unfortunately, it turns out there's been an accident. When Michael goes to his father's secret apartment, he discovers some of his father's more interesting keepsakes that look to complicate matters tremendously.
This is why I love comic books. They do not have to be solely delegated to the realm of capes and tights. You can have romance, sci-fi, horror, comedy, and everything in between, and so long as you have a strong story and gorgeous art, you are in for a heck of a good time even minus punches, claws or laser breath. Fraction and Chaykin bring a '50s crime comic centered around a live-action weekly show that predominately occurs on the Satellite Sam set. It's riveting. We have a large cast of characters, yet we catch a glimpse into each of their personalities, enough to tell us much of what we need to know with only a couple panels. The story can head any number of directions at this early stage, but regardless of where the creators choose to take us next, I know I am definitely on board for the ride. If you are a fan of Mad Men or crime comics, then this one will definitely be for you. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Swamp Thing #22
Swamp Thing #22 - Written by Charles Soule and illustrated by Kano, published by DC Comics. Alright. This is more inline for what I want to read in a Swamp Thing book. Swamp Thing should exist outside of your average superhero fare. I don't want Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman or the rest of them showing up willy-nilly in the pages of a book that has been steeped in the world of horror and the supernatural since it's inception. It was a Vertigo comic before Vertigo even existed, and it is also where John Constantine first made his appearance. Now that both Swamp Thing and Constantine have transitioned from Vertigo into the DC Universe proper, it seems everyone is being "super heroized" with Constantine losing much of his enigmatic, cigarette-smoking self in favor of a character that has incredible magical powers and the ability to show up in two monthly comics with countless "guest appearances" across other titles. I preferred the Constantine who was a complete and utter a-hole, who looked remarkably like Sting, and whose rare appearance meant things were about to get very, very, very bad.
All my gripes about the post-Snyder "guest appearances" aside--three out of four thus far--I liked this issue quite a bit. Soule delivers much intrigue with this supposedly benevolent Seeder character who brings more harm than good with the gift of a whisky tree to a dying Scottish village. What follows is a weird insanity that is different than anything I have seen in past issues of Swamp Thing, yet the story fits so very well with the tone of my favorite Wein, Pasko and Moore issues. My one gripe--as should be evidenced by the above paragraph--is the inclusion of Constantine, who did not need to be in this issue short of delivering a possible cryptic warning; the strength of Soule's Swamp Thing character is enough to carry the story.
Kano's art is a perfect match for this title, especially his more down-to-earth (get it?) style for the Swamp Thing and his depiction of Seeder, a pock-marked traveler who is possibly infected by the Green. His character moments before and after the introduction of the Whiskey Tree are dramatic and eerie in the best of ways.
I can't wait to see how this story resolves and I hope to see more of Alec (the Swamp Thing) attempting to fix the chaos that Seeder brings before their inevitable confrontation. With any luck, Soule and Kano can tell the tale they wish to tell without having to include as many "guest appearances." RECOMMENDED!

Green Arrow #22
Green Arrow #22 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, published by DC Comics. After seeing Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) have his ass handed to him by Komodo for much of Lemire and Sorrentino's run, I have to say it's kind of refreshing to see the Emerald Archer finally whup some ace...just have a look at the first five pages (ignore the part where Ollie is wearing his quiver overtop of a brown hooded cape and then tears off the cape to reveal he is Green Arrow and his quiver is still on his back...huh?) Lemire and Sorrentino ramp up the action as Ollie attempts find one of the "dragons" from last issue's vision quest, which he does, but he first has to get through Count Vertigo who holds the "dragon" captive. Ollie also gets by with a little help with his friends, and he gains a sibling and a killer step-momma, too.
I have to admit that I was wavering on this title a little, but this issue was a fun read and sets up some nice storylines for the future that keep me interested in seeing what's going to happen next. Green Arrow is another title that is different than what I thought I was going to be reading. For some reason, I believed Green Arrow was going to center on our hero stalking the underworld and the real-life monsters hiding in the city. Instead, we have an almost supernatural tale that now spans the globe, and has a longstanding secret history slowly unfolding before our eyes. This is not what I expected, but with Lemire and Sorrentino continuing to bring odd twists and turns to this superhero comic I am happy to continue checking it out. RECOMMENDED!

Image Expo - No, denizens, I was not in attendance. I wish I was, but sadly, no. However, awesome news that is going to beat the bejesus out of my wallet once all of these potentially awesome comics start seeing release. Exciting times! Also, the idea of being able to buy digital versions of Image titles that I will OWN, not RENT, is a tremendous win for all of us comic book folks. I'm certain I will be quite busy as all of these new Image titles start to release and I'm forced to jaw on about all the awesomeness y'all need to read about. Again, exciting times!

Slice Into the Woods

Let's Not Gripe About America's Problems This Week - Heck, denizens, let's read some great comics, have some fantastic craft beer, and check out some fun movies. When you're done, go outside for a run or a walk in nature, call a friend or loved one, and be glad we live where we live. Look at me getting all sentimental. Y'all are gonna make me mess up my make up. USA!