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>

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