Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 8/23/2013

(Sung to the tune of "Under the Sea [From the Little Mermaid]")

The Sixth Gun only gets meaner
Becky's made a big mistake
Skinwalkers out to steal her soul
If only she could but wake
Have a look at Animal Man
Brother Blood's a complete fright
Then cheer up with Hulk and Daredevil
Mr. Waid will set you right

Comics to read
Comics to read
Darling their rocking
Good times a knocking
Take it from me

Hello there, denizens, and welcome to Donist World. This week I am under siege by my very own executive team as they have chained me to my desk and refuse to let me go until I snap out of the lackadaisical funk I have been in for the past month. Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/correctional officer Tulip (Obie's sister, my dog) state they will not release me until I agree to get back into the swing of things in regard to my writing. I've tried to explain to them that I just finished reading my wife's comments on my kid's book and actually completed another draft--I still have a couple areas to rewrite before a final polish--but they've noticed a drop in my productivity; so have I. Anyhow, Tulip is kind enough to bring me a fresh lemonade now and then, but Obie is threatening to make me "go out and shake that money maker for all it's worth." I'm unsure if he knows what he's talking about or not, but his comment is frightening no matter how I look at it. So, it's time to start jumping out of bed at 5:00 AM--not 5:30 or 6:00 like I have been--to get cracking on my projects and back to learning, lettering, coloring, etc. in the evenings so I can actually begin to release some of the stuff I've been working on these past few years. Crud...Obie just informed me that he swallowed the key to my cuffs. Okay, while I try to Houdini myself out of my predicament, take a little gander at this week's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Sixth Gun #33
The Sixth Gun # 34 - Written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Brian Hurtt, published by Oni Press. We've all done it before, denizens. We've all engaged in mental time travel, whether we were replaying something that happened in our past that could have gone better, or fretting/anticipating something that was yet to come. Sometimes we have those thoughts of, "I wonder what it would be like if..." which could be anything from winning the lottery ( can do better) or walking out of a meeting with twin middle fingers held proudly high for all to see (now we're talking) or running across your junior high nemeses once you've "made it" (sing it, denizens) or going to the darker side of things like what would it be like if you never annihilated five unholy creatures of darkness who would then run rampant to literally change the world to their whim? See, we've all been there, amiright?
Becky Montcrief is still stuck in the Spirit World after over-utilizing the sixth gun. To make matters worse, she is pursued by a ruthless band of "skinwalkers" who have murdered her spirit guide and now mean to assassinate her in her dreams. She continues not just her glimpses of the past, but now she sees a possible future, and it is not one that she likes. In this world, General Oliander Hume and his four riders all yet live and have remade the world in their own image through the power of the six cursed guns. One thing Hume and his band never counted on was Becky's sudden appearance or that of the terrifying murderers pursuing her. Death in dreams is final and if Becky hopes to survive, an agreement with those she loathes must be reached. Meanwhile, her friends in the Waking World track the skinwalkers to their camp.
Uh oh...we are now even closer to the end of this Donist World favorite as issue 50 comes into sight from off in the distance. The creative team of Bunn and Hurtt continue to construct a compelling and intense story with their enjoyable and unique characters who have thrilled us over the past three years. I have especially loved seeing Becky Montcrief morph from a scared, out-of-her-element tagalong, to someone who chooses her own path and who is capable of saving not just her own life, but that of her friends when need be. Back in the teens of this series, I often commented that I wanted to see Becky step up to the task before her, which she did, but now I'm hoping to see Drake pull himself together and rejoin his group as the force to be reckoned with he is meant to be; I'm sure that's coming.
Hurtt continues to deliver some dang fine illustrations throughout this mostly calm issue, but the creepy malevolence lurking in each panel of the hair brushing scene and throughout the entirety of the dinner scenes was enough to make my hair stand on end. This is not to say there is no action in this issue, just have a look at the crazy battle involving Kirby, Gord, and Asher, but it is mostly devoted to building the intensity of Becky's situation when confronted with five monsters she believed to be dead. Bill Crabtree's brilliant colors have always given this series its distinct look and are even more beautiful than ever. This is especially apparent in the dinner scenes where the fire light casts striking highlights and shadows enough to give any reader a case of the willies.
The Sixth Gun is everything I love about comics. With this tremendous series, you have a Western, supernatural creatures, magical weapons, and a rich ensemble of characters with a strong story to bring you back month to month. Not enough people are reading this fine book. If you have not been following The Sixth Gun and you want creator-owned comics at their best, then this series is for you. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Animal Man #23
Animal Man #23 - Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Steve Pugh and Francis Portela, published by DC Comics. And to think, a few short months ago I was considering letting this one go. I was thrilled with the idea of "Rot World" and the beginning of the event (brrrrrr...I hate that word) was fantastic, but then things just kind of fell into a sort of team-up book. Now, I did like "Rot World," denizens, it's just...I don't know...I was expecting more of the horror premise found in the first dozen or so issues. Then I read the second annual (creepy, yet touching) and I have really been enjoying this current arc, which has all the scares I was hoping for.
Buddy Baker (Animal Man) is having a rough go of it. Not only did his son recently die, but his recent battle with one of the grotesque splinterfolk is burning up the social media sites. Buddy sneaks past the paparazzi to track down and get some answers from the leader of the splinterfolk; he'd also like to know why they took his blood. He finds out the hard way that the villain known as Brother Blood seeks to become one with the Red. Meanwhile, Maxine ventures back into the Red in search of her dead brother's soul, but with Brother Blood upsetting the realm, staying alive becomes a new priority.
Holy cow, I was not expecting that ending at all. Animal Man once again earns its place among DC's more "dark" titles, and with the absence of any "guest stars" to detract from the story, Lemire's take on this hero stands strong. We see a D-list villain, who may as well have been tailor-made for this series, rise to power in an unnerving fashion that will cement Brother Blood as power worthy of respect. We also witness Buddy's personal life continue to unravel in a manner any fan of Jeff Lemire's work fears to see their favorite character suffer through; it ain't pretty.
The Brother Blood scenes are handled with stunning intensity by Pugh, who also illustrates some great character moments with Buddy as he interrogates one of the jailed splinterfolk. Portela illustrates the scenes with Maxine and brings an almost whimsical style befitting her upbeat attitude, all the while showing just how gruesome the Red can be. I usually do not like split art duties, but in this case it works.
I'm not sure what changed with Animal Man, but the fresh surge of blood flowing through this series's veins came at just the right time. If you are looking for a superhero book that skates the boundaries of the supernatural and the horrific, then this is not a book to be missed. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Daredevil #30
Daredevil #30 - Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Chris Samnee, published by Marvel Comics. After the slight case of heebie jeebies I received after traversing the darker side of the comic book spectrum, it's kind of nice to read something a bit lighter before heading off to bed. The past two decades have seen "The Man Without Fear" put through some pretty terrible situations, and although life is never easy for Matt Murdoch, at least he has learned to appreciate the finer things in taking a ride on the Silver Surfer's cosmic-powered board. I couldn't be happier for the guy.
If Matt Murdoch had a moment to think about it, he'd probably be a little more upset at the sight of his ex-girlfriend, D.A. Kirsten McDuffie, showing up at the office to help out in Foggy Nelson's (Matt's law partner and best friend) absence. Currently occupying his attention is the strange alien in his office seeking asylum. To make matters worse, this potential new client is being pursued by none other than the Silver Surfer, who means to capture the duplicitous alien.
Everyone who mentions Daredevil usually talks about how much "fun" the book is, and I can't argue the point. It is fun. Waid doesn't leave you feeling like your kitty, Mister Mittens, got mugged whenever you finish reading an issue, heavens no. Nor do you ever feel like you need a shower after making it through one of Waid's fantastic storylines. Instead, you have awkward character moments between Matt and Kirsten, a convincing discussion with a deceitful alien, a chase through the city, and a moment with Daredevil riding on the Silver Surfer's surfboard that makes you wish with all your heart that you could be Matt for just a few minutes.
Samnee is back after a two-issue break with some of his best art on the book to date. The aforementioned surfboard scene is the standout sequence of the book and I could not help but smile as Daredevil flowed gracefully from panel to panel.
As I always mention, Daredevil is the book that brought me back to Marvel Comics and with good reason. Strong stories and incredible art with striking minimalist colors provide a refreshing break from the darker more dismal comics I tend to gravitate toward. If you yearn for the days when superhero comics were more light-hearted, then this book is definitely for you. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Indestructible Hulk #12
Indestructible Hulk #12 - Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Matteo Scalera, published by Marvel Comics. Alrighty, dagnabbit. After the mood I have been in for the past couple weeks, I could sure use a pint or two of whatever happy juice Waid has been drinking. To be honest, between Indestructible Hulk and Daredevil I felt an odd sensation that I have heard is called a "smile" come across my face. It looks like we are back to the "F-word" again, and by "F-word" I mean "Fun."
If one good thing came from the recent "event" book that shall not be named, it's Waid and Scalera's time traveling Hulk and his volleyball-sized robot companion that happens to be imbued with Bruce Banner's consciousness. In this issue, Banner-Bot and the Hulk come across three heroic cowboys, angry dinosaurs, and a would-be futuristic conqueror set on exploiting the broken timeline. Things are about to get interesting as our heroes crash through time.
Scalera's double-page splash of the Hulk socking the T-Rex is simply amazing as are each and every action scene in this issue. Horses charge, cowboys go flying, and the Hulk smashes and I could not help but be torn over staying on a page to absorb the imagery, or plowing ahead to see what insanity was to come next.
I loved the Hulk growing up, but somewhere I dropped off of ol' Jade Jaws's books. Now, because of Waid, I'm back to reading a Hulk book and having a grand old time of it. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

The Gravity of the Situation - Let's ignore my moody nonsense for a moment and take a look at something else that was confounding me this past week. As I've mentioned before, I'm not only a beer lover, I'm a beer brewer. I'm still fairly new to the whole process and my 8th batch (a 5-gallon batch of black IPA) ran into a speed bump this past Sunday when I took the final gravity reading. Minimizing the maths and the scientificationables I was trying to determine the alcohol content of the beer and ended up with a 2.7% alcohol content, when I should have had around 6%. Uhhh...what? Anyways, I consulted the mighty interwebs, and was instructed to give the carboy (a 6.5 gallon glass container) a swirl, which reactivated the yeast and restarted fermentation. Soon I will take three gravity readings to be sure fermentation has completed and hope that I am closer to the target alcohol content. As always, I will also hope that the beer does not become infected. Time will tell.


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