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?


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