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'.

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