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!

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