Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 10/4/2013

(Sung to the tune of Stan Bush's "You Got the Touch")

You got good books, you got the Power!

After all is said and done, Lazarus rules
It's hella fun, it's a winner
Trillium grooves, it hits the beats
Time lost love, it's got heat, it's pretty darn cool

Don't stop to rest this here art's got the stuff
Pope done gives you his best, Haggard's death sure is rough

You got good books, you got the Power!

<PETWEEEEEEET> That, denizens--in case you could not tell by my awesome sound effect, is a party blower as trumpeted by Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/pancake tester Tulip (my dog and Obie's sister). The reason for the festivities, is that I am celebrating my 17th 26th birthday <PETWEEEEEEET>. Uh...thank you, Obie, now knock it off. Anyhow, my actual birthday is on the 5th, but why not start the festivities early and end them late, like on Wednesday or something? Gosh darn it, let's get this party started. Oh my, lookee there, Tulip gave me a bottle of Stone's Sublimely Self Righteous Ale and the second trade of Fury MAX. Awww...thank you, little puppy, you shouldn't have, but I'm glad you did. Oh! Obie, too! Okay, let's see, what do we have here...a monstrous bag of Acana Pacifica All-Fish Kibble, a rubber chicken squeakie toy, and a travel and expense report for reimbursement for his expenses...umm...thanks? While I figure out what to do with Obie's gifts that keep on giving--to Obie--have a <PETWEEEEET> look at this week's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

Lazarus #4
Lazarus #4 - Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated and lettered by Michael Lark with assists by Brian Level, colored by Santi Arcas, published by Image Comics. Oh...what do you know...another tremendously amazing Image title...<yawn>...whatever happened to the collector's coverpocalypse of the '90s when titles were super late, deconstructed to the point of obnoxiousness, and loaded with T&A shots to conceal the fact that there was really no story? Just kidding, denizens, I am glad those days are gone--gosh darn that time sucked. Now, finding a well-told, visually stunning story is no longer like finding a needle in comic stack. Heck, if you threw a rock at an Image Comics spinner rack, you can't help but hit something that's at the worst decent, and at the best...well...Saga, Chew, East of West, Satellite Sam, Sex, Sex Criminals or this week's Lazarus (those are just my favorites, there's plenty of other really good offerings, too). As comic readers we should celebrate this Image Comics explosion of great creator-owned works of art. I win, you win, the creators win, Image wins, the industry shifts (huge win), and the only loser in this equation is your bruised and beaten wallet. I can live with that.
Dr. James Mann and Dr. Bethany Carlyle are concerned. Forever Carlyle, the nearly unstoppable Family Carlyle protector or Lazarus as she is called, has not moved for quite some time. Then her vitals go completely haywire, and the only logical conclusion the computer system's readout can confirm is that Forever has been attacked. She has. Thanks to Forever's duplicitous siblings, Jonah and Johanna, she and the Lazarus from the Family Morray, Joacquim, were almost destroyed. As far as Forever and Joacquim are concerned, some heads are going to roll.
For the majority of this issue, I was in a state of shock. Compared to a certain high-profile comic book television show that aired this past Tuesday, this is how action is done right. Rucka and Lark take a relatively calm moment and punch it into high gear. Through Lark's letters and Arcas's gorgeous color shift, the creators have the calm of a computer room visually change to a calamitous emergency of alarms and "code red" immediacy that immediately pulled me into the book and got my heart pumping. Then we cut to Forever. It's calm. The attack has already happened, at least the first wave has. But the tension builds. The enemy is coming, she's healing, but will she heal in time. When things look the most grim...we cut to a scene with Johanna and we calm again. This escalate, deescalate, escalate storytelling continues through to the end of the book in a The Pixies loud-quiet-loud sort of way that refuses to let you go. With the intensity of this issue and the tremendous stakes involved, there was nothing that was going to tear me away until I finished reading. When I did finish, I was still pumped and had to literally get up and walk around and proclaim to my wife (Amy, the Donist World intern) how awesome this issue was. She smiled and told me to water the plants...she hasn't read Lazarus yet. All of this said, writing an action scene is difficult, but the creators here know what they are doing. They know when to begin and when to cut a scene, which is what made the action scenes of this actual comic book so much more engaging than the action in the high-profile comic book show that steadily lost my interest.
Everything in this issue hit its mark dead on. The dialogue and story flowed seamlessly with each individual having their own voice and personality, even down to the serf scrub who saw his debut--and also his grisly demise--in this issue. Lark's art and storytelling is equally flawless. One moment we get intense action that leaves our heart racing and the next we relax a little until the drama and emotion involved in a scene continues to keep us on guard and off balance. Arcas also keeps us off balance as we jump from red (computer room) to purple (Forever and Joacquim's battle) to yellow (Johanna's decision) and finally to blue (Jonah watching his plan completely fail); his colors succeed in compounding, and also relaxing, the intensity of the story with each harsh cut to a new scene. The issue itself works on every level.
The thing about Rucka and Lark's Lazarus is that even when you finish the issue, you're still not off the hook. In the margin of the letters column, we have a timeline that bridges the gap of today's world and the world of Lazarus. These revelations are terrifying in their cold "history" lesson breakdown, to the point that when you actually think about it, the progression of events is not all that far-fetched and is well within the realm of possibility. <bbbrrrrrrr>. So, if you are fine reading an emotional roller coaster of a sci-fi comic book title that will get you thinking--and possibly worrying--about the future, then this is the book for you. It's also one hell of a damn fine read. A trade of the first four issues releases in the next week or two, but I am unsure if the timeline I mentioned will be included. If not, then scaring up the individual issues is definitely the way to go. I love this book. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Trillimu #3
Trillium #3 - Everythinged (almost) by Jeff Lemire, colored by José Villarubia, lettered by Carlos M Mangual, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint. I'm still enjoying Lemire's Trillium quite a bit. If you've read any of Lemire's creator-owned work (and you really, really should: Essex County, Sweet Tooth, Underwater Welder, etc.) you know you can expect a story that will resonate emotionally, one that rings true. It matters little whether you're reading about a kid in his back yard pretending to be a superhero, or a hybrid animal boy struggling to survive in a post apocalyptic world or experiencing a man's near magic realism struggle with the impending birth of his son, it'll probably end in tears...yours. Not quite at the halfway point, Trillium's story of time and star-crossed lovers looks to be more of the greatness I've come to expect from Lemire's stunning work.
Nika awakens upside down in a quantum bath and missing her hair, and we see a glimpse of her past when as a girl she was separated from her father as what's left of humanity flees the Earth (I think it's the Earth). Back in the past William meets the only other survivor of his recent expedition's slaughter. William wants to get Nika back after she disappeared into the temple. Nika wants to stop her people from raiding the alien culture in possession of the the trillium flower, which might be able to stop the Caul, an intergalactic, possibly-sentient virus set on destroying what is left of humanity. When events cause the temple (in both timelines) to reactivate, Nika and James are reunited, but unexpected results raise some problems.
Lemire is an excellent storyteller. His art and the situations he creates immediately pull you into his story and characters. For example, take page one, panel one of this issue, which tells a story in and of itself. The angry mob, the spaceships flying through the sky, the desperate terror on young Nika's mother and father's faces all tell you what you need to know. Lemire utilizes cool colors to drop the mob back and warm colors to pull the family forward to the desired effect of having the reader share this horrible moment, whatever it may be, along with Nika. You immediately both empathize with the character(s) and have a burning curiosity to know what the problem is. So it goes with a Lemire book, and again, this is page one, panel one of book three.
My one dislike of this issue is the fact that when the story jumps from Nika to William, you have turn the book around to read William's story, BUT from there you have to read the page and then flip the page to the left as opposed to the right, then turn the book back around when you jump back to Nina and proceed as normal. I honestly had no idea whether or not I was supposed to read William's portion from back to front (like a manga) and right to left, or if I had to start from the back/front and...criminy, I have no idea what I'm trying to describe, which should convey my initial confusion. I figured it out after a minute or two, but I did have a fear of accidentally reading the pages out of order (yes, denizens, I'm one of those types). I'm all for playing with format, as Snyder/Capullo did to fantastic effect with Batman #5it just didn't work as intended here. Confusing layout aside, Trillium continues to be a fascinating read with two characters I care about and desperately want to see come out of this story intact...this is a Lemire book though, so I fully expect to have my heart broken as I thank Lemire for doing so. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Invincible
Haggard West #101
The Invincible Haggard West #101 - Everythinged by Paul Pope, published by First Second. I hate to admit this, but my first experience with Mr. Pope's work happened quite recently and it was through Big Two superhero properties: Strange Tales, Batman Year 100. My initial reaction to reading those books was that I loved his style of art, which is a mixture of modern and classic (I know, that makes little sense), and that I felt like I was back in the '70s, reading my favorite Swamp Thing and Micronauts books. Then I started to see his work mentioned everywhere. Heavy Liquid, 100%, One Trick Rip-Off / Deep Cuts, and finally the soon to be released Battling Boy TPB; I got some stuff to buy.
The Invincible Haggard West is the first and last issue of a series that never existed (although I really, really, really wish it did), and is actually a one-shot comic book that serves as a prelude to next week's release of the Battling Boy TPB. In this exciting, spectacular issue, a gang of hooded mummy/monster men and their leader Sadisto attack a group of children playing in the street and attempt to spirit them away for their diabolical ends. In comes Haggard West to the rescue. He saves the boys and chases Sadisto, but little does he know it's all a clever trap to which he falls victim (not spoiling anything, have a look at the word thingies on the cover). At the funeral, Haggard's daughter receives the hero's prized ring, which holds an incredible secret.
Gorgeous art and a fast-paced story do the job of grabbing my attention and leaving me wanting more. I have no idea what Battling Boy has in store for us, but this weird semi-futuristic world is one I am eager to revisit. Whether we flashback to Haggard or move forward with his son (?...I think that is who Battling Boy is...we'll find out soon enough), I liked the Rocketeer/Buck Rogers-styled hero, the evil monsters, and the implied history of this now deceased hero. Pope's art is its own living thing and each panel flows fast yet gracefully from one to the next. Even his sound effects are a vital part of the scenery and action, with his predominantly flat coloring lending to the classic look and feel of the book.  The Invincible Haggard West is a exciting ride from beginning to end that reminds me of why I love comics.
If you are not familiar Pope's work, then this is one heck of a place to become acquainted with him. After this issue I will definitely be picking up Battling Boy as well as his other past titles. With the little exposure I have had, it looks like I have a lot of catching up to do; thank goodness for that. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Breaking Bad Has Ruined Television For Me - Don't worry, denizens, I'm not going to spoil anything here. This Monday we watched the series finale to Breaking Bad, and it was everything we hoped it would be. If you've been reading Donist World for any length of time, you will know I like a good story, world building, strong characters who make decisions, and that I want to exist in a world where creators can tell the story they wish to tell in the manner in which they wish to tell it. It doesn't matter if we are talking about novels, comic books, television, video games, or movies, we've all had that "WOW!" moment after finishing a good story; Breaking Bad is one of those "WOW!" moments.
"If that's the case, Donist, then what the hell are you griping about?!"
I'll tell you. Since completing Breaking Bad, we have watched three other television shows, all of which were good, but nothing even came close to that amazing series. I am an optimist, I'm sure another show/book that rides a high note for the entirety of its run will come along some day, and I will be eagerly awaiting that day. For now, though, nothing currently holds a candle to Breaking Bad. 

Federal Shut Down - What complete and utter T-Bags, sorry, D-Bags. Can't these assholes--who are still being paid, mind you--be investigated for some sort of conflict of interest in regard to shutting down the government? I'm sure there are at least hefty contributions to various members' campaigns for enacting the shut down in opposition to the ACA. I am 100% for the ACA and I am 100% fine having my taxes fund the program. I currently have no plans to use it, someday maybe, but not currently. I have health insurance through the day job, and I'm actually double insured through my wife's work; gawd knows my insurance saved my ass almost two years ago to the day. I am mostly thinking of the millions of Americans who are one medical catastrophe away becoming impoverished. It shouldn't be this way. With the ACA, many of the people I talk about and love so much here on Donist World now have access to health insurance, where they might not have before. I am talking about the majority of the comic book creators we all hold so dear. Almost all of them are self-employed under their own steam, or they are work-for-hire under the bigger comic companies, which allows the companies to not pay for health insurance. Before, if such creators were not on a spouse's health plan, then chances are they were totally boned. Now, they have a chance. Too bad a bunch of six-figure-making, tremendous-insurance-having, dick-waffle-serving takers wish to continue profiting off our collective inevitable health problems. It's all rather shameful.


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