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.

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