Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 10/25/2013

(Sung to the tune of Bonnie Tyler's "I Need a Hero")

What are some of the good books, cuz?
What are the ones you need?"
Ones that thrill and are oh so chill
Help fight through what to read

Suzie and Jon, another dose of Sex Criminals please
Pretty Deadly give it a spin
Books of my dreams just what I need

I need a comic, I'm holding out for comics
That are out of sight
Fury MAX is strong
Satellite Sam is a gas
And Daredevil will set you right

Good morning, afternoon and evening, denizens, and welcome to the ever-spooky, spine-tingling experience that is Donist World. Okay, maybe not as scary as last week's post (here) where I talked about the amazing The Upturned Stone, which has still been at the top of my mind for the past two weeks (do yourself a favor and buy a copy if you want to read a gorgeously illustrated and hauntingly told story that more than stands up to the test of time and one that is perfect for Halloween). Back to business...I would like to say that I am joined by Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/mistress of the dark (she made me say that) Tulip (my dog, Obie's sister), but the puppies have been a tad overly excited about Halloween and have been in costume--and character--for the past week. Obie, or rather "The Bat" as he wishes to be called, has been dressed as the Dark Knight and has taken to frequently turning off and on mom's basement the office lights and sitting in front of a flashlight so that it casts a shadow on the wall that makes him look like, well, Batman. He also has taken up the habit of flinging his cape about him anytime I tell him to do something and saying "The Bat does not do cost analysis projections" and speeds away. Tulip, on the other hand, is dressed as a dragon and insists on thrashing the office while shouting "Gojira!" I honestly don't know how I can take another week of "The Bat" and "Gojira" or how we can maintain our status as a Fortune 320,000 company; I will just have to look at this nonsense as a "challenge" worthy of my time. Anyhow, while I give "The Bat" and "Gojira" a stern talking to, have a look at this week's not all that scary, but no less amazing...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Sex Criminals
Sex Criminals #2 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Chip Zdarsky, color flatting by Christopher Sebela, published by Image Comics. Fraction and Zdarsky had me after the first page of the first issue (see review here). I absolutely loved the first Sex Criminals, and when I saw the newest issue was coming out this week, I knew what I would be reading first when I got home from work. I did have a slight worry, though. Could the follow-up be just as fun with the all-too-relatable experiences (E.T. the Sex Movie...amirite, denizens? C'mon, right?...Uh...never mind) and cleverly placed jokes that only enhance the interesting characters? Let's just say I had absolutely nothing to worry about with this new Donist World favorite.
Last month we learned how Suzanne discovered her bizarre ability to briefly stop time after having an orgasm. The problem is that when she stops time, she literally stops time...for everyone else but her. It's a lonely life, until the day she meets Jonathan who she discovers shares her ability when they first come together. This issue, we follow Jonathan as he first discovers his ability during his early teens. So, after doing the math you would expect the following: young teen boy + ability to stop time after masturbating = said boy's parents would see their son transform into a 20+ year-old man overnight. Not necessarily; that's not how Jonathan's powers work. Let's just say that Jonathan spends quite a bit of halted time at an adult store called "Cum World" and that he manages to get himself into all sorts of trouble. It was, however, an awkward and lonely life until the night he met Suzanne. Now, as adults, there's no end to the trouble the pair can get into, but unfortunately it looks like some rather odd individuals are not affected by Jon and Suzie's ability to freeze the world around them. Things are about to get really interesting.
Dang, denizens...I love this comic. As I mentioned at the beginning, I kind of had my doubts as to how Fraction and Zdarsky would be able to keep this series going for an extended run, but page three answered that question with the glimpse of a trio in white--especially that dude in the zipper-crotched latex bodysuit...whoa nelly. This issue is filled with all the humor from the first as well as the ridiculously awkward teen moments that even as a grown ass man left me blushing with recognition. Throughout Jonathan's touchingly-cute frank discussion with Suzanne about his early years, I could not help but think "This is exactly what I would have done if I had those power." With great power comes great responsibility, but if those powers involved freezing time and the one responsible was a teenaged boy, then no good would ever come of it; Fraction and Zdarsky know this. To be honest, If I had had Jonathan's powers, I fully expect I would have run across both creators "time-freeze-style" over at the Adult Store on State St...a quick nod of acknowledgement, a brief "Sup" and we'd be about our business. It's refreshing to actually see what drives youth and no amount of abstinence only education (I use the term "education" loosely) will ever erase or conceal that.
Every moment of Fraction's dialogue rings true. The time spent with Jon and Suzie's heartfelt conversation in the bedroom is so tender, so fascinating I noticed I was smiling a warm, knowing smile. Then we get to "Cum World," both the adult store and what Jonathan calls his frozen time, and I don't know whether it is Fraction or Zdarsky or both, but I was cracking up over every aspect of the adult store's posters and movie titles. The ridiculous thing is that many of the awesome bits in the background are not that far from the truth seeing as how I worked at a music store with an impressive amount of adult videos--Edward Penishands...I kid you not, denizens. Also..."porn in the woods???" How did Fraction know???
Zdarsky's art continues to slay me with this issue and I hope, hope, hope he posts either a video or reveals some of his process in the letters column as I would love to see how he comes up with these final pages. They are gorgeous. The character designs are amazing and he perfectly captures the terrible, bone-crushing awkwardness that is adolescence (I'm looking at Jonathan as a teen and as an adult and comparing him to myself here...<brrrrrr> so cold, so very, very cold) and shows how adulthood kind of smooths out the rough edges. The artwork stands on its own, but when Zdarsky adds his colors, especially the magical glows of "Cum World/The Quiet" it is something beautiful to behold.
No nitpicks from this Donist. Fraction and Zdarsky have something special here and I simply love this funny, risqué-yet-charming comic. Definitely not a book for kids (duh!), but definitely a book for us adult comic lovers. I cannot wait for what happens next! Oh, one more thought...get the issues for this one, as the letters column is looking to have some nutty and wild comments going on that will most likely not make it to the trade. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Fury Max: My War
Gone By Vol. 2
Fury MAX: My War Gone By Vol. 2 TPB - Written by Garth Ennis, illustrated by Goran Parlov, colored by Lee Loughridge, lettered by Rob Steen, published by Marvel Comics. Alrighty, if you haven't read the first trade, but intend to read it, then by all that is holy in guacamole, skip this mini-review, see what I have to say on the first trade here, and then get yourself a copy. Heck, you might as well buy both volumes denizens, trust me, they are worth the purchase and the read. Now that that is settled, did I like the second--and regrettably final--collection of the Fury MAX: My War Gone By series? Let's see: Garth Ennis, author of my favorite comic books series ever (Preacher...I wrote about it when I was but a wee Donist back in 2010 here) writes it; Goran Parlov continues as artist; the story centers on Nick Fury; the story itself is expertly told and is based around actual events. Well, if it's here on Donist World, then, yeah, I guess you could say I liked it.
Nick Fury has many wants: the girl, victory, the war. Guess what he chose. His decision has definitely not made him a happy man, but he only feels truly alive when willingly thrown into the midst of war; sometimes this realization sickens him, hence sitting alone in a hotel room with nothing but a bottle of bourbon, a gun and a recorder to keep him company. With such a devotion to war, you would expect Fury's longevity to err on the shorter side, but the man is a force of nature, a survivor, and will outlast everyone who has had the misfortune of loving him. In this volume, Fury's thirst for war will take him to Vietnam--with an assignment alongside  a man named Frank Castle--and finally to Nicaragua where he meets the horror show of a man named Barracuda.
As I said with the first trade, I have never really been a war comic guy. Yes, as a kid I loved the DC Weird War Tales books, but mostly because of the monsters and supernatural elements. Fury MAX is the book changed that. Now, I have Ennis's Complete Battlefields high on my want list and a hope to see the creators return to the character of Fury some day in the future.
Ennis gives each character their own distinct voice and personality to the point if you read a passage of dialogue on a blank page you would know who was speaking. He also predominantly focuses on dialogue to tell this story with the rarely seen caption boxes being the portions where Fury explains various situations into his recorder, but never once does any portion of the writing come across as exposition. Ennis also takes the guest-appearance/crossover--something I usually dislike--of a young Frank Castle and fits the character perfectly into Fury's world while making his appearance organic and crucial to the story being told.
Again, Parlov has some fantastic and intense action scenes, but it is the character moments where he shines. A look on a character's face tells you everything you need to know about what the character is experiencing emotionally, even when the character is attempting to conceal their feelings. Shirley, for instance, acts tough around Fury, but when his back is turned, or he has left the room, you see her pain and feel her heart breaking. Frank Castle is another matter. Parlov shows no emotion with him at all. Nothing. Zip. As tough a customer as the artist depicts Fury to be, the cold, calm Castle is unnerving in his devotion to the mission, the task at hand. Also of note is the amount of slight aging Parlov gives the characters with each chapter: lines appear on faces, bodies begin to sag, hair recedes.
So, yes, another war-themed comic centering on Nick Fury and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Actually, that's not completely true. Rather I could not put the book down. Fury MAX is harsh, and difficult to watch certain events unfold, and definitely some character interactions are cringeworthy, but not because they are poorly developed, but because they are done so damn well. This is a great comic that is oftentimes uncomfortable to read, yet is oftentimes eye-opening to the motivations and factors behind war. Ennis and Parlov have given us something great. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Pretty Deadly #1
Pretty Deadly #1 - Written by Kelly Sue Deconnick, illustrated by Emma Rios, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered by Clayton Cowles (hey, I know that guy!) , published by Image Comics. I had no idea what to expect from this title, but all it took was knowing the creators involved and this damn fine cover to bring me on board. I'm glad I took the plunge on what is the second supernatural Western on my pull list.
A blind gunman named Fox and a girl possessing differently colored eyes and dressed as a buzzard roll into a sleepy town to put on a show. They tell of a woman who caught Death's eye and of the child named Ginny born to them. It's a tragedy, but the town folk like it, including the lecherous sheriff who touches the buzzard girl, Sissy, in an improper manner. She in turn steals a small binder from him, that puts the sheriff at odds with a deadly woman named Alice, who in turn focuses her attention toward Sissy and Fox.
I'm not completely certain I understand what's happening in Pretty Deadly, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Reading Deconnick's words is like reading a grand fable where the moral is yet to come. It's poetry, really good poetry and I am eager to see what comes next when Ginny, Death's daughter, comes to right the wrongs of the world. Rios's art is stunning even before Bellaire's colors (I love the pinks and blues) take the gorgeous lines and bring the images to life. The character designs of Death, Fox, Sissy the vulture girl, and of course Ginny each caught my eye and gave me pause in my reading to fully absorb what i was seeing.
That's it. I'm in. Image Comics has done it again. The world and the mysterious characters who live there are all fascinating and leave me curious to know more about each person. Deconnick and Rios have created something magical that looks to hold both beauty and a cold malevolence. If what we see in this issue is any indication of what's to come, then I definitely cannot wait to see what follows. Buy this one, denizens. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Satellite Sam #4
Satellite Sam #4 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Howard Chaykin, lettered by Ken Bruzenak, published by Image Comics. Huh, well would you lookie there...three killer Image titles, three comics from the Fraction/Deconnick household, and four comics that are not for the kiddies (there is a Marvel book referenced somewhere in this post, remember?), and I'll be darned if they aren't all amazing.
As Michael White and the lovely Kara Kelly continue to search for the women pictured in Michael's deceased father's impressive photo collection, the dealings both on and off the set of the popular television show Satellite Sam become increasingly dysfunctional. We have directors chasing skirts, studio execs battling the FCC, a wife of the studio exec sleeping with the FCC, and plenty of alcoholic urges, but the show must go on!--it just happens to be quite popular.
Fraction and Chaykin continue to bring this period piece to life at a slow pace, yet the story remains compelling. Fraction's dialogue is absolutely outstanding with each character having their own unique voice. Chaykin's storytelling and drama are cause to linger on each panel as there is just so much to take in and see. I'm still enjoying this series quite a bit, but I can see the creators are playing a long game, so I'm interested in rereading the first five or six issues again back-to-back. If you are looking for yet another great comic that has nothing to do with capes and tights, and would be fine with a well-written, beautifully illustrated '50s drama--like I am--then this is the book for you. RECOMMENDED!

Daredevil #32
Daredevil #32 - Written by Mark Waid, illustrated by Chris Samnee, colored by Javier Rodriguez, lettered by VC's Joe Caramagna, published by Marvel Comics. Oh...a superhero funny book somehow got mixed in with my smutty more-adult-oriented comic books this week. Whatchagonna do? When it's Daredevil by Waid and Samnee, the answer is that you're not gonna do a dang thing except enjoy the ride; it'll be a fun one. Don't believe me? Just take a gander at that cover.
Someone (the Jester) is trying to mess with Matt Murdcock (Daredevil) as he investigates just how deep the racist organization known as the Sons of the Serpent has engrained itself into New York's justice system. However, a criminal mastermind the Jester ain't. Foggy helps Matt find a clue as to the Sons' origins that leads him to a mystically inclined friend's house and finally to terror of a land known as...Stone Hills, Kentucky.
Okay, I'm a bit behind on things, but are the monsters on the cover an actual group called the "Legion of Monsters" or something? I kind of remember that being a series at one point, but it's not one I ever read. That's okay, the grouping of a zombie, mummy, werewolf (yay, Jack Russell), a Frankenstein monster and a vampiress/demoness in a revealing getup had my interests right away. Even more so was Daredevil's interaction with Dr. Strange, which tells me two things: Waid needs to write a Dr. Strange series/mini, because it's apparent he would excel at it; Samnee needs to illustrate a Dr. Strange comic with Javier Rodriguez coloring, as these two have the look of the character and his environment down. As you're reading this particular issue, you might be thinking that the whole premise of Daredevil meeting with the Legion of Monsters is a bit hokey, but if that is the case, then just remember that you are reading a comic book about a blind lawyer who goes around beating the bejesus out of elaborately costumed criminals and the leap isn't really all that far. Daredevil continues to be one of Marvel's best offerings and one you should be's a link to the first four trades...get to it! RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

I'm Still Upset About the Opposition to Health Care For All (ACA) - Just this week a very kind coworker--as well as a few others--was fired, and I won't be seeing her around any more, which is kind of a bummer as she was always a pleasure to talk to and Tulip simply adored her. She never outright told me, but I had heard her husband is not doing well--you know, cancer. The thing is, being employed she had access to insurance which I'm assuming is what she used to cover her spouse since he is unable to work, but now that she has lost her job (companies are definitely NOT people, my friends), without the ACA and once COBRA ran out, she and her husband would be shit out of luck. Thankfully, with the ACA, she will have a chance of helping the one she loves without being completely financially ruined by the screwed up insurance/medical industry. This is good, but the ACA could have been so much more. I am glad, however, that the ACA looks to be able to help people with job mobility as they will not necessarily have to stay working at jobs they hate...maybe that's where some of the opposition came from. I will miss working with her, and wish her and her husband well.


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