Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 9/27/2013

(sung to the tune of Joe Esposito's "You're the Best")

Saga's the best
It's just a darn fine book
And a book you must read so buy it

Try to believe
Sex Criminals is great
East of West will elate so read it

Sex, The Wake awesome titles
Try and you will see
Never doubt we got your back
The comics of your dreams!

They're the best!
Nothing's gonna ever keep 'em down!

Good morning, Donist World denizens, or is it good afternoon, or good evening? Time shmime, who cares, you're here now and that's what matters. Although speaking of time, this Donist as well as Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and our marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/time management specialist Tulip (my dog and Obie's sister) have made great strides toward getting our groove back. This entire week I have gotten up and out of bed and been in front of the computer by 5:10 AM and I've been able to get in over two hours of work each day, which allowed me to finish another draft/rewrite on my kid's novel on Wednesday. While I've been doing the work that actually fulfills me, Obie and Tulip have also been working to improve the craft of their meditation techniques. Just glancing over my shoulder, I can see Obie in deep contemplation over improving our standing as a Fortune 320,000 company and the various directions we want to take the projects we've been working on. I'm proud that he and Tulip...wait a minute...Obie! You're snoring! What the heck? Tulip is...she's actually upstairs and in bed. I thought this was a united front to take back our time and work for what matters most to us. Criminy. While I go and stir my executive team, have a look at...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #14
Saga #14 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Fionna Staples, lettered by Fonografiks, and published by Image Comics. Denizens...please tell me you're reading this comic. If you are, good, you're off the hook. No harm, no foul, and good night you princes/princesses of comic book glory, you kings/queens  of all things heavenly. If you are not reading the best comic book on the stand...<sigh>...sit back for a second so I can learn ya somethin'. To start, the first trade for this tremendous sci-fi/fantasy Romeo and Juliet story set in space retails for $9.99 for six issues, but you can pick it up from my sponsor for a paltry $7.95; you can also get the second trade for $11.95 at the same time and you get 12 issues for just under two sawbucks! Then you can suffer in agony waiting forever for the next trade, or you can show just what a smartypants schoolboy/girl you are by picking up last month's issue and this one, to suffer in agony on a monthly basis waiting for the next issue. Seriously, just over $25 and you'll be all caught up. What's not to love? Plus, you would have done this Donist proud. Not to mention you're mommy will thank you, you're neighbors will be envious, your dog will love you again, and it's justification to have that extra guilt-free slice of pizza, denizens. Go on, do it! Also...stop hangin' out with that Donovan good'll ever come of it.
This issue continues to show what transpired before the events from issue #12 leading up to Prince Robot IV's meeting with A Nighttime Smoke author D. Oswald Heist. We meet Alana's somewhat oblivious step-mother, Even, who is tracked down by two amphibious, telepathic reporters looking for a scoop on the "abducted" woman. Marko, Alana, baby Hazel and group meet Heist, who pulls the gnarliest faux pas I have ever seen in a comic...seriously, I could never conceive of such a thing...MAN (I gotta step up my game). Gwendolyn, The Will and Slave Girl Sophie take out a sky shark. The Will crosses a line he should have tiptoed over, and Marko's mother confides in Heist. Sophie and Lying cat share one of the most touching scenes I have ever read in a comic. And finally, interested parties learn where Prince Robot IV is headed.
I have to admit that the previous issue was merely awesome. I know, denizens, after everything I said above, admittedly, it was only great. This issue, however, was one of the best of the best. It had everything: humor; moments I should not have laughed at, yet I lost myself to the giggles (I'm laughing as I type this...I'm a sick, sick man, denizens); schoolboy tension; touching scenes that thawed my cold heart; another scene that made me go awwww <sniffle>, and an ending that made me gasp even though it's leading to the moment of issue 12. In short, reading Saga is every bit as magical as the universe the story is set in.
Vaughan's dialogue flows so naturally from each character with not one moment to pull the reader out of the story. 22 pages flow by far too fast, but this is not to say the story is decompressed with little to tell, in fact it is a dense read; I just could not tear myself away. These characters and their plights are so well developed that they could exist in novel form and I would happily follow this story along to the end, but then we would miss out on the predominant magic of the comic book form as given to us by Fiona Staples.
Staples's character work is stunning before we even make it to page two. In one gorgeous image we see a butterfly-winged woman, clearly in shock, her bra straps showing under her tank top, and one arm bent as if to protect herself from what she is seeing and the other holds onto the door in case she needs to slam it shut. The word balloon tells us she knows Alana, but her build clearly tells us she is not a soldier like her. This new character, Even, also leaps off the page with the contrast of the orange butterfly wings with her blue clothing and the muted, uninked brown/grey flats of her home (which I have not seen done before to my knowledge). No offense to anyone, but my first reaction to this image was "housewife," and I was right. The next three beautiful pages tell us everything we need to know about the emotions of the scene and Even's general personality; the wonderful dialogue fills the remaining gaps. Then we have the faux pas scene that I'm deliberately not telling you about. Yes, it cracks me up, but it is the following silent panel that drives the scene home. The disgust and horror shown on the characters faces is so masterfully done that no matter how appalled you are by the previous panel, you will laugh. Staples's storytelling is flawless especially when she is playing to her strengths of body language and facial expressions. Her coloring abilities tell me, above all other things, that I need to see what type of prints she has available for sale; they're dang pretty.
I guess what I'm saying is that I adored this issue of what is my number one favorite series in publication. All aspects of this comic succeed, whether you are looking at the written word, the art, the style of colors, the world or the characters within. My only problem with Saga has nothing to do with the comic itself, but with the fact that I do not yet have a lovely hardcover to display on my best bookshelf of comic treasures. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Sex Criminals #1
Sex Criminals #1 - Created by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky, color flatted by Becka Kinzie, published by Image Comics. Dang it. I totally forgot to add this title to my pull, but when you have good LCS watchin' your back like I do, you ain't got nuthin' to worry about. Yessiree, Bob, they put a copy aside for me on account of knowing what I like. Thank you kindly, Metro Comics, for getting me a copy of yet another kick ace Image title.
Suzanne's always been kind of a loner. What with her father randomly killed in an office rampage, her mother turning to alcohol to cope, and the inability of her classmates to relate. Of course it doesn't help that she has the ability to literally stop time for a stretch after achieving an orgasm. The world's a lonely place, until she meets Jonathan, a man who shares her unique control over time. Oh the trouble they could get into...
Holy cow this was a fantastic first issue from Fraction and Zdarsky. I knew precious little about this title going in and I successfully avoided seeing anything aside from the cover, and I was thoroughly surprised with what I found. The creators have so much to give the reader that they start the story on the inside cover and proceed to introduce us to Suzanne all the way from a young age to the moment she meets Jonathan. Everything about Suzanne rings true, and I instantly sympathized with her and the shitty things that have happened in her life; this made the joyful moments all the more meaningful. There's a mixture of sex, humor (E.T. the Sex Movie?), crushing awkwardness, and that feeling of finally meeting someone who "gets" you.
I wasn't familiar with Zdarsky's art until cracking open this book, and I love what I see. Not one panel pulled me out of the story and the use of glows when Suzanne's time-stopping powers went into effect are stunning, enveloping. The acting is a huge component of this book as well, as seen when Suzanne "confronts" her mother over her drinking; Fractions words drive the emotion of the scene home.
So, yes, I liked Sex Criminals...a lot. Very well-written with great art and a brave look at sexuality (sorry, Puritans, it exists and you can't do anything about it) and how sex really doesn't have to be the big bad monster the nuttier fringes make it out to be. I can't wait to see what happens next...dang, Image, you cannot be stopped! Do I really need to say this isn't one for the kiddies? VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

East of West #6
East of West #6 - Written Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics. I'm going to level with you, Donist World denizens, this was not at all what I was expecting to follow East of West's amazing first arc. Nowhere in this issue will you find Death, War, Famine, Conquest, Xiaolian or that eyeball thing that will haunt me for the remainder of my days. They're mentioned, sometimes only indirectly, but otherwise we get members of the Chosen and a new character known as the Ranger. Come to think of it, that's fine by me, 'cause this is some darn fine storytellin'.
The Chosen have never been all that trusting of one another, but when they believe a traitor exists among them, all hell breaks loose--or as close to hell as a "gift" from the Horsemen can bring them. We also see further evidence of what looks to be magic. Finally, the Ranger (and his groovy robo-dog thing) makes his appearance and he is none too fond of the supposed Chosen.
Although Hickman and Dragotta provide a change in direction for the characters we can expect to follow in this arc, the story continues to move forward as the secondary characters take the lead while introducing new players to the mix. This issue is more drama than action, but the creators give us a bit of insight into how distrustful the Chosen are of one another. We also get to see two monstrous beasts as well as a new weaponized dog companion for the Ranger, that is reminiscent of Death's horse beast, all of which have interesting designs and bridge the gap between magic and sci-fi. I will say that I was a little disappointed at first that Death and Xiaolian were not in this issue. I quickly got over it, though. Once things started moving and I realized I was still in Hickman and Dragotta's compelling post-apocalyptic world, all was good. With the recently released trade and this issue, you can quickly catch up on yet another Image Comics triumph. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

The Wake #4
The Wake #4 - Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Sean Murphy, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like it's been a while since issue #3 came out, but who's counting? As I said in my look at the first issue some time back, I'm a huge fan of The Creature From the Black Lagoon (mostly I'm a fan of the creature) and The Abyss is totally awesome (put that shit on blu-ray, yo), so in a way, The Wake was tailor made for this Donist.
In this issue, the threat (singular) has changed to threats (oh-my-gawd-we're-freakin'-doomed plural). The creatures are everywhere and Lee Archer's group is dropping in numbers fast. Their only respite from the onslaught is to jump into a vacant pipeline to carryout a plan that might be insane enough to work. People die, a beloved a-hole lives, and something more terrible than all of the creatures combined awakens.
Another solid issue, but I have to admit that there were a couple of pages at the beginning where I really could not figure out what the hell was going on, but once the remaining team members reach the pipeline, things start to make sense. The creatures remain scary, and Murphy's gorgeous art makes each moment stressful and nerve-wracking. I also must say that I love Hollingsworth's colors, which make the ocean depths seem so unbearably cold while each pink burst draws the eye to further calamity.
I'm still really enjoying this series, and I'm even more curious about the past and the future, now that the present looks so grim for our heroes. Next issue marks the halfway point and I honestly have no idea where the series is going, which is a great place to be for this suspenseful, underwater horror/thriller. RECOMMENDED!

Sex #7
Sex #7 - Written by Joe Casey, illustrated by Piotr Kowalski, colored by Brad Simpson, lettered by Rus Wooton, graphic design by Sonia Haris, and published by Image Comics. I say gosh darn! Image, for Pete's sake, your beatin' the bejesus outta my pocketbook, Son! Not that I'm going to stop buying any of these awesome titles you're releasing,,
Troubles brewing in Annabelle's business, and it has nothing to do with her deteriorating vision, but at least the secretive Saturnalia event is calling for some of her girls. Warren, who went through a bit of trouble to even be invited to the Saturnalia, convinces Simon to attend what is looking to become a monstrous Eyes Wide Shut event. The Old Man miscalculates the resolve of his severely abused captive to live. Keenan reflects on the good old days, and those Alpha Brothers...creepy
Sex continues its look into what happens when a former superhero gives up the cape and tights to go legit. Casey takes us through Simon's life that, minus the constant danger and excitement, is now a shadow of what it was, but at least our main character is beginning to recognize this. I will say that I'm ready for this "Saturnalia" to happen, as it was mentioned three or four issues ago, but we're on Casey's time schedule, which is 100% fine; I'm still very much enjoying the ride.
Kowalski's art continues to shine in both the attention to the characters emotions to ramp up the drama of a scene, and to the absolutely gorgeous design of the various locations both inside and outdoors. Who would have thought a messy office could look so stunning; it's kind of unbelievable. His women are pretty easy to look at, too. His art is only enhanced by Simpson's striking colors, especially when Simpson uses atypical, contrasting colors to draw the eye to certain panels and emotional beats. I still want a print of issue #3's cover.
Reading Sex is mostly an in depth character study, but there are moments that are like slowing down while driving on the freeway to see what all the commotion off to the side is about. You might see an unbelievably beautiful woman on the phone calling for a tow truck (Annabelle), or you might see something so terrible you wish you hadn't looked (anything involving the Old Man); still you will look and you can't turn away. This is another one that is not for the kiddies. Sex is at times a fascinating read, on occasion sexy, and you can periodically count on feeling uncomfortable, but this Donist will keep coming back for more. If you have not been picking this title up, a trade of the first eight issues is set to release in November. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Ran Out Of Time - No griping this week. TGIF.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 9/22/2013

(Sung to the tune of Irene Cara's "What a Feeling")

First, when there's nothing but a slow glowing dream
To read books, that kick ass, ones so good you'll gasp
Swamp Thing is scary stuff, of which I can't get enough
Comic books that sure rule, ones to own

Well, I crack the cover, wow my eyes, feel the glory
Great story, take ahold of my heart

What a feeling, readin's believin'
With The Sixth Gun, cool characters come to life
Thor's got passion, so make it happen
Daredevil's alive, all's good, great books for your life

Hey there, Donist Wold denizens, I'm Donist and I'm <yaaawwwnn> a little out of sorts this morning. I'm joined this week, well, by no one...the rest of the Donist World executive team is not yet in and probably sleeping somewhere. I should be joined, as ever, by our CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) as well as by Marketing Director/Administrative Assistant/Party Planner/Sleep Deprivation Specialist Tulip (my dog and Obie's sister). You see, we were up until a not unreasonably late hour last night discussing ways to move Donist World from a Fortune 320,000 company to a Fortune 310,000 company and I guess the puppies over did it on the kibble, dog water, and rereading this week's great comics. Anyhow, Obie snuck off with to an after-party with some shady Wall Streeters (who should probably be in jail...for something), but Tulip and I just went to bed. I don't know what the heck was going on, but Tulip snored up a storm fit for a thunder god for most of the night, and I kept having to shake her to make her stop. It didn't matter if she was on her back, side or front, the snoring persisted as did the loud "squeaking" sound she was making from what I assume was due to nightmares about this week's VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! title. So, <yaaaaawwwn> have a look at this week's heavenly titles, while I give Obie a call to see what kind of mischief he's gotten himself into. I'll do that...right after...I close my eyes...for a's this week's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Swamp Thing #23.1
Swamp Thing #23.1 - Written by Charles Soule, illustrated by Jesus Saiz, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Travis Lanham. Yes, denizens, I oftentimes gripe about "events"--especially a recent one from the other half of the Big Two that shall not be named--and "guest appearances" plaguing issues and interrupting what would otherwise be the story I want to read. Then there's the gimmick--I've mentioned these a bit over the past couple FSoH/SitW posts. The gimmick can be anything from glow-in-the-dark covers, chromium covers, "touch the blood" covers, a hole punched through the comic, etc. In fact, it was the focus on gimmicks as opposed to actual content that chased me away from ALL comics in the early-'90s; it took me almost a decade to return. Now, here we are more than a decade later and we have quadruple shipping titles, 3D covers commanding an additional $1.00 on the cover price, an "event" sprawling across almost all DC titles, and uncredited creators on the covers. In case you missed that last part, let me say that one again, uncredited creators on the if these books magically appeared out of nowhere. In fact, I vowed not to buy a single 3D issue, only the regular issue, and I also decided to only purchase one of the quadruple shipped titles. All of this said, denizens, I have a confession to make: I bought the 3D version of Swamp Thing since the regular was not on hand. I know, I know, "vote with your wallet" and they will stop doing this gimmick nonsense and bring the focus back to what's inside the package, not just the wrapping. All ranting about ridiculous business practices aside, this 3D cover is kinda pretty and the carpet matches the drapes in that the story is exactly what I've wanted to see in a Swamp Thing book.
Since the events of "Rot World," we have seen neither hide, nor hair (he's totally bald, folks, but you get my drift) of the sinister Anton Arcane. We have also seen little of Abigail Arcane, who is the current avatar of the Rot. We learn that after Arcane's gross indiscretions over the past two years both Abigail and the Parliament of Rot have condemned the horrendous monster to his own private hell. Supposedly defanged and declawed, Abigail confronts her uncle about the gaps in her memory concerning her mother and her childhood; Uncle Arcane is only too happy to talk...for a small price.
This right here, denizens, is the Swamp Thing book I've been wanting to read. The cover implies that this issue is part of DC's current "event," but I don't believe we'll see Arcane running around with Lex Luthor, or Sinestro or anything any time soon--man, I hope we don't see that. This is more of a side story that Soule and Saiz use to remind us that Arcane is still the main source of evil in Alec Holland's life, and that, although Arcane is temporarily gone, he will be back. After reading this tremendous issue and seeing that creepy-as-hell final panel, this notion scares the bejesus out of me. As I said before, I did not want to buy this issue on principle (gimmicks, pricing, unlisted creators, etc), but I saw the first page splash online and I was sold; that was all I needed.
Saiz's haunting image of an emaciated, shadowed, nearly-panicked Arcane grabbed me and reminded me of how much this character has scared me through the decades whether it was in the '70s with Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, in the '80s with my desert island must-have issues by Alan Moore and Steve Bissette/John Totleben, and recently with Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette. Then, once we turn the page, everything gets even better. It's those first few pages spent in Arcane's private hell that made me love this issue, as Saiz gives us both beauty and unspeakable horror that carried me through tension, nervousness, to a feeling of shock that I knew was coming, yet surprised me none the less. This was done without added sound effects, but the intensity of Saiz's imagery had me imagining the horror film sounds on my own as I flowed through each sequential panel. It was unnerving in the best of ways.
Soule directs the villain to fill the gaps of Abigail's missing history and it is everything I hoped it would be. There is no hero to rescue her from her uncle, at least none who survive the attempt; she has to rely on herself. But this is Arcane. He's not one for telling the truth, unless of course that truth hurts. The writing mixes with the art to create the perfect mood, especially when Soule's dialogue crawls under your skin with the aid of Lanham's wavering balloons and dripping caption boxes.
Another superstar of this issue is Matthew Wilson with some of the most striking colors on a comic I have seen for some time. Again, I have to return to those first few pages where Wilson gives us a gorgeous heaven of green and wood and life, but there's Arcane, sitting in the grass with the sun beating down on him. The shading on his skin, a flat purplish grey with touches of pink leading into the stark white where the sun actually touches him, makes this character all the more menacing. The explosive oranges and reds succeed in driving the feeling home. The pages are scary, yet beautiful and ones you must linger over.
Ignoring the gimmicks, this was a great issue where the absence of "events" (this is part of Villains Month in name only...I hope) and "guest appearances," the creators are allowed to shine and provide an issue of Swamp Thing that brings back the spirit once found when it was a Vertigo title. If this issue is any indication of where Swamp Thing is headed, then I am 100% onboard. Oh yeah, before I forget...hey DC, put the names of the dang creators on the cover, what the hell's wrong with you. This issue is VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:

Thor: God of
Thunder #13
Thor: God of Thunder #13 - Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated by Ron Garney, colored by Ive Svorcina, lettered by VC's Joe Sabino, published by Marvel Comics. Sometimes, after reading a particularly awesome storyline like the fantastic 11-issue run involving Gorr the God Butcher, you are left with a mixture of both anticipation that the followup is going to be great, but also a sense of dread that it won't stand up to what came before. Not only is the villain of this new storyline set to appear in Marvel's next Thor movie (uh-oh, possible movie tie-in), but this villain is also a huge part of The Mighty Thor #347 by Walt Simonson, which I read when I was a kid until it literally fell apart (Malekith first appeared in issue 344, but 347 is the one I got ahold of first for that great storyline). After reading this latest issue, I see that all worries were unfounded; this is a great start to something grand.
Malekith the Accursed has been trapped in the deepest pits of Niffleheim, the frozen land of Hel, for quite sometime. Gods rest easy because of this. Little do those gods know that Malekith's fanatical followers wish to change his imprisonment. Once free, Malekith goes on a murderous rampage against the dark elves--his own people--and it's up to Thor and his fellow gods to put the mad dark elf down.
I don't know what the Hel (ahhh...see what I did there?) I was so apprehensive about with this issue...Aaron's got it all under control. All you need to do is read the first page, which is only letters and gray clouds against a black background, to know what's in store. Aaron delivers the epic qualities we expect on a Thor book and crafts such an evil, cruel version of Malekith, that I have doubts as to whether the character's time in Hel has done anything but make him more diabolical since his first appearance almost three decades ago.
Another pointless worry I had was that Esad Ribic would not be illustrating this next story arc, but Ron Garney arrives without a single misstep, not a one. The character designs are tremendous (I really like Malekith's new armor)--have a look at that last page splash--and the graceful flow of the action never once brings you out of the story. I have a suspicion Garney was created in the Nidavellir by the dwarves specifically to draw this series.
One of the main bridges between the previous artist and the new is that of colorist Svorcina. I've commented before that the colors on this series are more than just something pretty to look at, but something you want to swim in and allow to envelop you. As an amateur colorist (Thank you to teacher and colorist extraordinaire Chris Sotomayor from Comics Experience), I really hope to see a "process" video from Svorcina, because I honestly can't figure out how such beauty is possible; one can hope a video pops up some day.
One gripe I do have is this trend of revealing the big reveal on the cover. How cool is that image on the cover, huh? Malekith charging into battle with the god of thunder while riding a bat-winged white liger (it's like a lion and a tiger mixed...bred for its skills in magic). It's a truly gorgeous cover...that should have been used on the NEXT issue. Why? Because--spoiler alert--this issue ends with a beautiful splash page of Malekith riding into battle atop a bat-winged white liger. This final page is supposed to be the "Ooooo...Ahhhhh..." moment that is there to stun us, surprise us, leave us desperate for issue 14, but that surprise has already been spoiled before we've even opened the book. C'mon, Marvel...this isn't WTF month, right?
That one gripe aside that has nothing to do with the fine creators who have constructed one hell of a well-told and visually arresting book, I'm excited by what I've just read, and even more so by what is to come. This issue is also a perfect jumping on point for Thor God of Thunder, with the previous 12 issues not being necessary to your ability to follow what is happening, but if you have not read those issues, I strongly encourage you to do so, as they were fantastic. Aaron, Garney and Svorcina have crafted a truly epic beginning to a promising storyline. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Sixth Gun #34
The Sixth Gun #34 - Written by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Brian Hurtt, colored by Bill Crabtree, lettered by Ed Brisson, and published by Oni Press. The "Ghost Dance" story arc is winding down and although I've enjoyed seeing the past and the possible futures via Becky's trip to the Spirit World, I am anxious to see the band back together again. With this issue Gord, Kirby, Asher, Nahuel and Nidawi--who possesses the powerful and sentient shrunken head of Screaming Crow (who but Bunn and Hurtt could think up such a thing?)--take the fight to the Skinwalkers to save Becky Montcrief from their evil. Becky and Drake Sinclair communicate across the planes just before Becky sees a parallel world that is everything she desires. Oh yes, I almost forgot, lizard men riding wolf-bats...BOOM!
In this issue, Bunn gives us a brief glimpse of the history between the newer characters Nahuel and Nidawi, which is interesting and a cool addition to the story. That said, I am still really curious to know more about Drake's history and hope we see some of his past come to light soon. The moment with Screaming Crow using his powers is a cool idea made awesome by Hurtt's always stunning imagery and panel flow. I also really dug his "talking dead" moments with the parallel world Drake. Crabtree's minimally rendered panels are a huge plus and crucial to the style of the book.
The Sixth Gun continues to be one of the best comics on the stand and one I look forward to reading month in and month out. I will admit I'm saddened we are past the halfway point, yet I can't wait to see what happens next. I also hope that with a bit of luck we'll someday see a The Sixth Gun television serious done right. If you haven't picked up this extraordinary series, there are five trades out and a hardcover on the way--which I am definitely double dipping on. RECOMMENDED!

Daredevil #31
Daredevil #31 - Written by Mark Waid, illustrated by Chris Samnee, colored by Javier Rodriguez, lettered by VC's Joe Caramagna, and published by Marvel Comics. Sometimes, using the emotional one-two punch of a terrible situation comes across as fake, it rings false; this is not the case with Waid and Samnee's Daredevil. Yes, Foggy Nelson has cancer and it's a horrible thing, but Waid has done a fine job getting the reader to sympathize with this character. Through Waid's words and Samnee's ability to deliver the perfect emotions for a scene, you can't help but love Foggy and Matt; their relationship is wholly believable.
In this issue, we see Foggy's strength first hand, as well as a bit of his mischievous side with his decision to call Matt's recent ex, Kirsten, to help out at the office. A trial that clearly is a response to the Trayvon Martin case goes bad and Daredevil suspects his old nemesis The Jester might be the one stoking the fires of discord. Finally, Matt is about to receive a shock that I really hope is not what it seems.
The word of the day when Marvel Now's Daredevil is concerned has generally been "fun." Almost all the issues in this series have had some moment that made me smile and even laugh. Prior to Waid rebooting this title, I would have not thought such a thing possible over the past decade. It was all doom and gloom. This, however, might be the first issue of the series I did not grin really at all. There were a couple feel-good-for-a-moment-in-the-face-of-tragedy sequences, but on a whole this issue was kind of grim. This is not to say that it was not exceptionally written or that the sequentials were not beautiful in layout or color, just that the subject matter of cancer and injustice don't exactly bring the warm fuzzies. That's okay. Daredevil continues to be one of Marvel's best offerings, and I'm certain the fun will return, but, like life, every moment can't be fun and games. This is still a fantastic read with a cliffhanger that left me desperate to see what's going to happen next. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

At Least One of Us Can Sleep
Sleeping - Of the things I am sort of okay, or at least semi-competant, at doing, sleep has never been one of them. I don't know what the problem is, but I'm a light sleeper and things like coyotes howling, or the house settling, or the college students coming home at the ungodly hour of 10:30 PM, just makes it difficult for me to catch any Zs. Imagine my surprise this week when I managed to make it through three solid evenings with only waking once in the night. As much as I was loving the roll I was on, then came Tulip - The Mighty Snorer. I still got up at 5:00 AM this morning, but I dread the state I will be in come this afternoon. Man, if I could give up sleep, I would in a heartbe--<snore>.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 9/13/2013

(Sung to the tune of Pet Shop Boy's "It's a Sin")

When I look back upon this week
Not many comics caught my eye
But what I read set me right
Rachel Rising I'm tellin' you
A dang fine horror book it's true
The last page will stun you, too

It's a, it's a, it's a, it's a win
It's a win
Have you read the latest Hulk?
How 'bout one that's fun for you?
Aw Yeah Comics's such a gem
Books you should be readin', too
It's a win

Hello there, Donist World denizens. Welcome back. I'm here with CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and my marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/lead pancake consultant Tulip (my dog and Obie's sister). For all of our hoopla over the past two postings about getting back into a strict regiment of getting stuff done (creating) not just between the hours of 6:00 AM and 8:00 AM, but in the evenings as well (learnin' and studyin' stuff, y'know), we have not yet fully started. We also resolved to get back to working on our health, since we have relaxed our corporately mandated exercise program. The problem is that the Donist World executive team (Obie, Tulip, and myself) were invited to a wedding up in Sonoma that required a seven-hour drive over last Friday and Saturday and a seven-hour drive back down on Monday. We suffered through incredible heat, having to wear a suit, being rerouted around a scary brushfire, and the absence of time to get much writing done. Talk about hectic. It wasn't all crazy though. We did manage to read the third volume of the phenomenal-yet-freaky Attack on Titan Vol. 3 manga, we shared a pint of liquid gold Pliny the Elder at a great place called Hop Monk Tavern, and we had a couple moments to take a dip in the pool despite the chaos. Now that we're back in town and all of our obligations are out of the way, it's time to get down to brass tacks and pull ourselves up by our bootstraps to secure Donist World's status as a Fortune 320,000 company. Obie has retreated to the closet which he calls his "Fortress of Success" (his words, not mine) to work on some sort of business plan, Tulip is focusing on making my mom's basement the Donist World corporate office more feng shui and conducive to positive energy (I don't know what that means either, but it can't hurt). I, on the other hand, have done some jumping jacks, cracked my knuckles and I'm ready to finally put this novel I'm revising to bed. All righty, denizens, I'm pumped! I'm raring to go! I'm...crap...there's the doorbell. While I welcome yet another distraction into my processes, have a gander at...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Rachel Rising #19
Rachel Rising #19 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. If you've been reading Rachel Rising, then you know exactly why I was so bent out of shape for the past few months that I was missing issue 16; it's a tremendous series. Up until about a month ago, I had issue 17 and 18, and due to a Diamond error, my copy of 16 never delivered to my LCS. I waited, waited some more, got sick of waiting, checked with a comic shop in Ventura, then stopped at two comic shops up north to a resounding "no dice, Donist." Now, being a comic lover means that like so many of you, denizens, I suffer from ACCGBEA disease (Accute Comic Collectors Gotta Buy 'Em All disease). It's a terrible condition where I can't just read a series out of order, I can't, dagnabbit. I also can't let something like a missing issue get the better of me and I will obsess to the point of madness. Yes, there is digital, but that's not the same since I own and love all the actual floppies. This week, I'm glad I was able to read the latest issue of the best horror comic currently seeing print on the actual day of release.
We begin sometime in the 1600s to 1700s when Lilith, a powerful witch, has been stirring up problems. Lilith sees a potent power in a young, blonde girl named Bryn Erin and wishes to help develop those powers. The girl's mother and father do not approve of Lilith's interest in Bryn Erin or the fact that the woman is a witch. Lilith's meddling and disregard for the superstitious townsfolk spurs a witch hunt that places Bryn Erin at the top of the list. A true love, magic sap from the first tree, a wrongful death--the first of many, eternal life, and a eye-opening trip back to the present with this issue's revelations will leave you desperate for more.
I'm stunned, denizens. I was not expecting, nor was I ready for that final page. Moore continues to expand on the creepiest, most mysterious elements of his story while delivering his ever-gorgeous art and phenomenal characterization (keep in mind that Moore's final volume of Strangers in Paradise left this Donist desperately trying not to cry on a train ride home from SDCC a few years ago).  With Rachel Rising, we have the same compelling uncertainty and unease as the best moments of Twin Peaks and Lost, only minus the nonsensical and never explained moments. Moore gives us answers in this issue. These answers come so fast and end so abruptly that after the smooth, deliberate pacing of the past few issues, they are like a splash of cold water. After the final panel, I flipped through the last couple pages of ads, hoping for an additional page to be hidden within, but I knew there wouldn't be; such a powerful revelation deserves to be the issue's cliffhanger.
Moore's storytelling is as flawless as ever as your eye is carefully led from panel to panel. The addition of the word balloons only make the journey all the more seamless with not one interruption of the story's flow. As much as I love Moore's fine details with the woods, the homes and the horse, it is the characters' expressions that command your attention. Mary McKenna's icy stare, Lilith's calculating confidence mixed with disdain for the non-witches, and the final panel with Jet speak the volumes that written words can not.
I love Rachel Rising. The truth is that I love all of Moore's creator-owned material, but if you want a horror book that is intelligent yet still manages to be scary, while occasionally adding some moments of charm here and there, you cannot go wrong picking this up. Three trades are currently available as are the individual issues, but I could never fathom tradewaiting this series, especially after this issue. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Aw Yeah Comics #1
Aw Yeah Comics #1-3 - Created by Art Baltazar and Franco with a host of other creators contributing, published by Aw Yeah Comics! Publishing. In a grim, gritty world where darkness darkly covers the dark-hearted inhabitants of a shadowed, desolate city held under the thumb of a darkly evil corporation, creators struggle to have their vision penetrate the darkness. Aw Yeah Comics...yeah, you won't find this book anywhere near that place I just mentioned.
When contributing to a Kickstarter campaign, you oftentimes really don't know what it is that you'll end up getting. Sometimes what you receive, sadly, disappoints. Aw Yeah Comics decidedly doesn't; It's a blast from start to finish. Each of the three issues I received (I also received issue #4, which I will read this week) is bright, cheerful, whimsical as well as a little bonkers. You have Action Cat and Adventure Bug who work at a comic book store, and secretly right wrongs such as when Evil Cat brings to life a giant pancake. Then there's the pink Goojie-Nana, a supposedly imaginary pink horse thing that shows up on occasion, or a living phone that creates magical apps which create mischief in the city. With each story the creators are free to be as wacky as they want, and it's easy to see that they are enjoying themselves, but I will say I appreciated the loud, bombastic lettering sound effects that drive home the actions on the page and leave you cheering not just for the lead characters, but the bad guys as well.
Aw Yeah Comics is for anyone looking for a break from the "darkness," whether that "darkness" is in comics or in life. Five-year olds to 120-year olds can find something to enjoy in each of these issues--even this bah humbug <garble-garble>-year old Donist found himself smiling and forgetting his toils for a while, which is not an easy thing to do. You can order all four available floppies directly from the creators at the link above, or if you prefer digital you can go to Comixology. Well worth a read if you are a fan of happiness and other non-dark stuff. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Indestructible Hulk #13
Indestructible Hulk #13 - Written by Mark Waid, art by Matteo Scalera and Kim Jacinto, colors by Val Staples, letters by Chris Eliopoulos, published by Marvel Comics. Until I had read that Mark Waid was writing a Hulk book, I had no intention of picking up the first issue, let alone staying with it through issue 13. I loved the Hulk back in the '70s, especially the issues with Adam Warlock, or with crazy beastly adversaries. Now over three decades later, I'm once again enjoying the series. What's even more shocking is that the past couple issues are loosely tied to the "event that shall not be named," and the series is still a hoot.
The Hulk's time traveling adventures continue as he and the BannerBot travel to Camelot where King Arthur, Merlin and the Black Knight await. A Chonarchist (I didn't know there were more than one of these guys) is messing with the timeline and it is up the Hulk to set things right with a little magical help from his friends.
Another solid, fun story from Waid that ends with a twist that has been done before, but one that I did not expect and that will have me eager to read the conclusion to the "Aftermath of the event that shall not be named." As much as I have enjoyed these past three issues, it will be nice to move back to Waid's non-event tie-in stories.
Scalera delivers a few great action scenes and I especially like his take on the Black Knight, who I am not overly familiar with. However, midway through this issue Jacinto takes over the remaining illustrations and although the shift in style is jarring at first, Jacinto's art works with intense action scenes that flow well and kept me flipping madly through the book. Hopefully, we see Jacinto tackle a full issue some point in the future. The unifying force on this book is colorist Staples, who keeps the tone consistent despite the sudden art change; I especially love the pink magic energy bursts.
Well, denizens, if you aren't reading Indestructible Hulk and you are a lapsed fan of the emerald one, or a fan of Mark Waid, or both, at only 13 issues in, it's easy to get caught up. That said, the character I love the most in this series is not the smashy one, but the brainy one who's finally decided to take control of his life and not just accept his "disease" but exploit it for all it's worth. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Let's Go Positive This Week - A couple creators were shafted again (surprise-surprise) this week, but we all know about that. I've also been fighting a dark mood for sometime and wish to be rid of it. So, let's focus on the comics we loved this week, the coming weekend, the friends and family we get to see, and the food and amazing craft beers that we can enjoy. So, take a step outside, denizens, and whether it's sunny/rainy/cold/scorching close your eyes, take a breath of fresh air, and think WWACaABD?*

*translation - What would Action Cat and Adventure Bug do?


Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 9/6/2013

(Sung to the tune of Bauhaus's version of the song "Telegram Sam")

Satellite Sam
You're a groove program

Chew for the win
Toni, Toni protects kin
Trillium heat
Sci-fi love story
Time travel that can't be beat, beat

Tellin' you, man
Comics to fix your jam

Tellin' you, man
Comics to fix your jam

Why good day there, denizens! Or is it morning? Or possibly evening? With the internet, as long as you are connected to the magic of mysterious ones and zeroes and hang a garland of blueberries above your desk you can time travel back to any posting I've ever made. You can use your LCD screen--unless you are traveling to this post from the far future, in which case you're probably using you're iMind cerebral display or something--to see what comics we liked and to possibly get a little insight into my mood at the time of writing. Then again, maybe my backup hard drive was found, after the great cloud collapse, among the possessions of a mutant boss under the control of the diabolical One Koch, One Corp corporation who rules the wastelands and...
Ohhh, sorry, I started to do the big thinkings and got confused. I'm here with Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and our director of marketing/administrative assistant/party planner/ridiculous gimmick specialist Tulip. We just finished a highly productive meeting (with kibble, waffles, beer, and plenty of dog water) to discuss the Donist World business cards. Obie has been in contact with some business men from times past who wish to be referred to as "creatives," who gave us loads of samples for our new Donist World cards to maintain our standing as a Fortune 320,000 company. We have Donist World cards with holofoil, chromium, glow-in-the-dark, die-cut, and more than anything the "creatives" offered us 3D business cards that had "Donist World" practically LEAP off the paper. Granted, these cards are all way more expensive than the average business card, but according to the "creatives" you have to make an impression and promote the brand. The emphasis on promoting the brand is so strong that Obie's name, Tulip's name, nor my name appear anywhere on the cards at all. How's THAT for brand promotion. Yeah, despite Obie's insistence on going with the "touch-the-gravy" business card, which he ate, we just went with cards from another company that focused on the essentials of a non-gimcky price we're accustomed to, and the names of the founders of the company listed alongside the brand they represent.
Wait a minute? What are we talking about?! While I try to rein in my ramblings, have a look at this week's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Trillium #2
Trillium #2 - Everythinged by Jeff Lemire, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint. It's a classic case of boy meets girl, denizens. He: a man searching for a rumored temple, lost in the jungle, his exploration party brutally murdered by the locals. She: a botanist attempting to convince an alien populace to grant her access to a flower called "trillium" that might just hold the answers to stopping the alien virus known as the "Caul" from snuffing what remains of the human race. All it takes is one weird temple and a taste of the hallucinogenic flower to bridge the gap of nearly two millennia to bring them together. Awwww...happens all the time, y'know? It reminds me of how Amy, the Donist World intern (aka my wife), and I first met. Me: a poorly-dressed assistant manager with exceptionally bad hair of the downtown location of a failing overly-corporate music store. She: a young college student quickly regretting her decision to seek employment at the downtown location of a failing overly-corporate music store with a weirdo boss who can barely dress himself. See, denizens, it was meant to be. This book speaks to US, and it'll speak to you, too.
It is the year 1921 and William's life has not been going well. Over the past couple of hours, he has witnessed his exploration troupe murdered by an indigenous tribe before his eyes. Not only that, his brother quite possibly shared their fate, and he is lost in the Amazon jungle, but at least he found his pyramid. He also found an oddly dressed woman with white hair who cannot speak his language. The woman's name is Nika, and she cannot understand a word the panicked William is saying to her. What they do know is that the mysterious pyramid before them has something to do with their predicament; it is also surrounded by fields of unattended trillium that might hold the answers they seek.
When Lemire's incredible Sweet Tooth ended with issue 40, a large hole was left in my monthly(ish) comic book reading. It seemed like DC was opting to focus solely on its superhero properties. This coupled with the odd goings-on at Vertigo (Karen Berger leaving, Hellblazer ending with Constantine going mainstream to appear in 90%+ of the "dark" titles, etc.), I feared for the survival (not really, they have a few other titles of note, but you get what I'm sayin') of the imprint that brought me Preacher, Saga of the Swamp Thing, The Sandman, Y the Last Man, and a whole host of other titles. Despite some of the business decisions being made with Vertigo, the fact that they have Lemire (and Scott Snyder, can't forget him) continuing to produce series gives me hope for the imprint.
Lemire's storytelling, both art and writing, is as strong and compelling as ever, which is saying something, as there are no action or fight scenes anywhere in this issue. Almost every single page consists of William and Nika attempting to communicate, but it is the acting and the drama of how the two "talk" that is so fascinating. Lemire drops hints throughout their interactions that they get what is being said, just look at Nika's terrible stick figuredrawing that makes them both smile; the looks on their faces say it all. I was also thankful that the universal language that provides the first bit of understanding as to their situation is not love, as Hollywood would like for us to believe, but rather numbers, time, and math; love comes later for Nika and William. Lemire hints at some sort of history between the two on page five, panel six, which shows a link that we have yet to fully understand, but one I care so very much to see play out.
If you've been reading Donist World for any length of time, you know that I am a fan of Lemire's work. Whether you're reading the harsh yet amazing Sweet Tooth, the brilliant gut punch that is Essex County, the fantastic The Nobody, or the powerfully emotional journey that is The Underwater Welder it's safe to say you cannot go wrong with his creator-owned and Vertigo work. We're only two issues in thus far and Trillium looks to continue Lemire's streak of thought-provoking and exciting comics. Buy this time-traveling, sci-fi, love story! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Chew #36
Chew # 36 - Written by John Layman and illustrated by Rob Guillory, published by Image Comics. that explains the toe Tony Chu found in his freezer last issue. <ahem> If you've never read an issue of Chew before, then the previous sentence will not make all that much sense. That said, what the hell is wrong with you for not reading one of the most imaginative and entertaining comic books of the past decade?! If that is the case, better late than never, and glad you're here with us now. Anyways, this issue is what the creators have called issue 29 1/2 as it fills in some of the questions after the incredibly harsh issue 30, that still kind of bums me out now that I think about it. This is not a bad thing, but rather a good one since Layman and Guillory made me care so much about a character, that when that character died, I was stunned and upset by the death; it mattered.
In this issue we meet Tony and Toni's sister Sage--she has food based powers like her siblings--who is in a bit of a bind with the mob. With Tony hospitalized (see the "Baseball, Hotdogs, and Apple Pie" storyline), sister Toni rushes to the rescue. We get a kickace Poyo double-page spread, Paneer in a spacesuit, assassins who kill with kitchen utensils, and an eye-opening yet sad look at how a person who knows exactly when they are going to die spends their last few days.
There. That's all I'm going to give you on the story. Despite being a sad issue of Chew--I never thought I would say such a thing--it was still funny in all the right parts and a blast to read. Layman and Guillory are sharp as ever on this tremendously fun and at times disgusting series. If you've already read Chew, then you know it's fantastic. If you haven't and you can handle some decidedly gross moments that are quickly surpassed by a compellingly bizarre but hilarious story with gorgeously unique art, then this is the must read comic for you. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Satellite Sam #3
Satellite Sam #3 - Written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Howard Chaykin, published by Image Comics. Satellite Sam is a story surrounding a cast of characters for a '50s sci-fi show, where the lead, Carlyle White has died. As the cast and crew try to position themselves for what's next, Carlyle's alcoholic son, Mike, discovers his father's hidden photo stash of over a hundred beautiful women in various compromising positions. When Mike recognizes a women in one of the photographs as his father's co-star from Satellite Sam, he has some questions for her. The answers are more than Mike expected. Meanwhile, the assistant director, Libby Meyers, receives reel upon reel of "special" film slated for the deceased Carlyle himself.
I love the mood and pacing of this series. Fraction crafts a beautifully told period piece that reminds me why I enjoy the television show Mad Men while luring me deeper into the mystery of what happened to Carlyle White. It's true there is not much in the way of action, but Fraction can take all the time he wants to tell this tale, so long as he stays true to the fascinating characters and setting he has created. His page one character roster is wonderfully concise and gives you everything you need to know about the stars of this series.
Chaykin's art is stunning in both acting and panel progression, with the first two panels of the jazz club scene being two of my favorites from the issue. He also draws some knockout pinup girls.
Three issues in and I am enjoying Satellite Sam quite a bit and look forward to seeing what the creators have in store for us. As I mentioned in the review of the first issue, this series was not at all what I expected, but what I got just so happens to be so much better. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Attack on Titan V. 1
Attack on Titan Manga and Anime - I'm going to keep this one brief, folks. Back when Tulip, Obie and I were on the Donist World corporate retreat, we read in the newspaper that some manga called Attack on Titan had multiple volumes on the best-sellers list and was up there with Saga and the Walking Dead. I'd never heard of it, so I made a note to look into the book when I got home. Before I could do this, however, I saw on my Playstation Store that there was an anime sale going on and that the first episode of the Attack on Titan anime was available for free. Holy crud cakes, I loved it! I immediately ordered the first volume of the manga and began to research the anime in earnest. What I found was that the PSN has the anime series available for download for a price, but has the subtitled series available for free (in crappy SD with ads, but you can view on your computer or iPad) or for a small subscription you can have HD, no ads and watch on your TV through your Playstation. Thus far, I'm 19 episodes in on the anime and I've read up to the second volume with volumes three and four waiting on my leaning tower of yet-to-be-read comics.
In short, the world as we know it ended a few centuries ago with the arrival of the nearly unstoppable titans. The titans have one purpose: to consume the human race. Human in appearance, but of varying monstrous sizes, the titans seem to be unintelligent, including the occasional, random "aberrant" which behaves in odd and unpredictable ways. The thousand remaining humans constructed three enormous circular walls to keep the titans out, but humanity must stay caged within. All remains calm until the day an intelligent 50-feet-tall titan appears out of nowhere to destroy the first wall and unleash the mindless smaller titans upon humanity once again. The only chance of survival rests with the brave men and women trained in the use of complex 3D movement gear and the secret weapon that might be the human race's last hope.
Man, this series is unnerving and scary. I will hopefully do a proper write up some day of both the anime and the manga, but trust me when I say that this gross, but addictive, horror/post-apocalyptic story is VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

I Think I Said It All In the Intro Above - Continuing my little rant from last week, you can also read between the clearly drawn lines of my "business card" nuttiness above. This kind of gimmickry nearly crushed the comics industry in the '90s and I hope it does not become a "thing" going forward.