Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 11/29/2013

(Sung to the tune of Thomas Dolby's "She Blinded Me With Science")

It's poetry in motion
Saga's here for your eyes to feast
Pretty Deadly brings a commotion
Long lost Bad Dog will appease
Mmm - but you have to read Black Science
It's awesome, see? Black Science
And Hawkeye's all right by me

Owww...uh huh

When I'm reading comic books
You have to read Black Science - Black Science
I take trips to other worlds
Have to read Black Science - Black Science
Black Science

Ugh...gonna keep it brief this week, denizens. I would usually say that I am joined as every by Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and by Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/turkey stuffing specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie's sister), but I'm not. Well, let me correct that. Obie is actually here at the Casa de Donist until Sunday, but both he and Tulip are stuffed to the gills on turkey that my mom, her husband, and my grandma our outside investors were sneaking to them from the Thanksgiving Day table. All the guests have since left and Obie and Tulip are both bloated lumps spralled across the couch who refuse to move or be bothered. So, without further ado, I'm going to physically move their butts so I can take my rightful place upon the couch, pour a Sierra Nevada Celebration ale and watch me as much Arrow as I can handle. If there is one thing my executive team and I are thankful for it is you, denizens, and we truly wish you all a peaceful, mellow holiday. Thank you so much for reading us. Now, I'm going to loosen my belt a notch and...crud...the remote is a monstrous ten feet away. "Donist World Intern Amy! Can you get the remote! We can't reach it! Please!" Cheers, denizens, and I hope you enjoy this week's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #16
Saga #16 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered by Fonografiks, published by Image Comics. As fans of comic books, we have much to be thankful for this fine year of 2013, and dagnabbit if Saga is not up there at the top of the list. Boy howdy if that ain't the truth, denizens. All it took was the very first issue and I knew I would lose my heart to this series. We have fantastic characters, an exciting twist on a familiar premise, and an expansive world that could honestly host a full stable of comics in addition to the one that started it all. Alas, though, we only have the one series in Vaughan and Staples's magically sci-fi universe, but the one we have is mighty, denizens, and this Donist is mighty thankful for that.
Our favorite news correspondents are back and digging in deeper to the Alana kidnapping case and they are quickly learning the story being widely circulated is complete bullpucky. Their inquiries don't look to be beneficial to their longevity either, as an associate of The Will known as The Brand gets a call. Klara and Heist plot how to provide direction to Marko and Alana's lives without the couple knowing, and Izabel happens to be the most adult of the adults. Finally, Gwendolyn and Lying Cat seek to rescue a dying The Will, and Price Robot IV cometh...but you've known that for some time now.
Okay, we all know that this book is beautiful. I mean, c'mon, just take a look at the cover. If you've been following FSoH/SitW for any length of time, then you also know I'm kind of a fan of the writing and characterization as well. With this issue, the creators start off with the two recently introduced reporters and their discussion with one of the winged elite, Gale--who definitely wishes to cover up the Alana and Marko situation. Gale summarily accuses the amphibians and their entire race of being homophobic. Unknown to Gale, one--possibly both--of the reporters are actually gay and might even be a couple. It's an interesting accusation coming from someone who thinks all "moonies" are child killing, barbaric monsters, and a great touch for the problems facing the Saga universe(s).
Velour, a literal unicorn from Gwendolyn's past (love the star, btw) had me go "oh" out loud, while Lying Cat's comment left me rolling. Staples, as always, shines when bringing the drama of the scene to life and these two pages were phenomenal in pacing and the oh-so-gorgeous colors. Speaking of gorgeous, I want the final splash page as a poster, because it would look dang fine on our wall.
I will admit that I'm a little uncertain of the decision to show Prince Robot IV's interrogation of Heist so many issues ago and THEN showing what led up to the events, but the journey spent catching up has been so very wonderful. That said, I'm ready to become just as lost and unsuspecting of the future as the characters who have grown so near and dear to my heart.
If you have not read Saga before, then do not just dive in with this issue. You need to start at the beginning where you can expect to hammer through the first two trades (a third will be out maybe in March 2014?), and then expect to go issue-to-issue as you will not be able to stand the long wait between trades. This comic is my most anticipated book each month(ish). VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Black Science #1
Black Science #1 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Matteo Scalera, painted by Dean White, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. No big surprise that Image has yet ANOTHER freaking awesome title in their ever-expanding list of amazing titles. Of course tacking the names Remender, Scalera and White onto a book about the strange, weird worlds of forbidden science and there's little that could go wrong.
Grant McKay and what is left of a few members of his team of Anarchistic Order of Scientists, as well as McKay's two young children are trapped. Trapped on a strange, horrifying world, and what they need is enough clean water to provide coolant for their travel pillar. Unfortunately, the inhabitants of the world, strange fishlike creatures as well as their amphibious enemies don't take kindly to strange humans popping up out of nowhere. A team member dead, the pillar engine damaged, and rampant mistrust among the group looks to cause havoc at the next stop.
Dang this book is a blast, and it reminded me of a grown up version of the old TV show Lost In Space, returning the old excitement I had as a kid every time I tuned in. Black Science also looks to fill the spooky sci-fi gap I've been craving since Warren Magazine's amazing Creepy and Eerie titles, the '70s and '80s era of Heavy Metal Magazine, and the painful void left after the phenomenal Fear Agent series ended. Remender gives us just enough story to pull us in, but it is the insane, unrelenting action that will keep you riveted throughout this over-much-too-quick comic. We immediately get a sense of the character's drive and need to not be bogged down by society's constraints as he runs and jumps and dives and encounters the inhabitants of the violent world where he finds himself stranded. We also learn that his loyalties lie in the following order: scientific pursuits, family, team members. Remender gives us just enough to hate McKay, but then as he runs for his life, we see him act honorably and do the right thing even though it endangers his own life. You get a TON of material in these 29 pages. He also came up with the idea of a man in a futuristic costume wearing a frog's head on his hand with an electrified whip of a tongue--the cover and the interior jive--as depicted by the does anyone come up with this stuff?!
For all of the action of this issue, Scalera is the one to blame for keeping the ol' ticker beating like a mad drum throughout the issue. Every single page keeps the eye whipping from panel to panel--the underwater scene is a prime example of his perfectly flowing sequentials. His character and costume designs are simply otherworldly, and I was left wondering how something like a humanoid frog-like creature could look so goofy one moment and utterly terrifying the next.
To round out this beautifully illustrated, exceptionally well-paced and well-told story is the gorgeous painted colors of Dean White. Man, this guy brings the electricity and that first double-page splash on pages four and five, leave me wishing this image was painted on black velvet and hanging under a black light so I can impress why buddies as we listen to some Blue Oyster Cult. Yes, I'm trying to be funny, but I'm also quite serious; the colors of this comic are stunning with their electric purples, jarring reds and electric-frog blues. White's contrasts and dark backdrops give this world perfect amounts of foreboding and intense excitement. For once, I might recommend digital over print since I would love to see this artwork when backlit on a computer or iPad. Nah...floppies are the way to go, but a digital double dip might be warranted.
I can't wait to see what happens next for McKay, his family and his team. I'm sure this comic is long sold out--and rightfully so--but you can pick it up digitally, or you can wait a month or two for the forthcoming 2nd, 3rd, 4th printings. This is must-read territory here, denizens. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Pretty Deadly #2
Pretty Deadly #2 - Written by Kelly Sue Deconnick, illustrated by Emma Rios, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered by Clayton Cowles, edited by Sigrid Ellis, published by Image Comics. What do you know...another awesome Image comic. Jeez Louise. Anyhow, I thoroughly enjoyed the first issue despite not having a complete grasp of what was going on. With the second issue...I thoroughly enjoyed reading it despite not having a complete grasp of what was going on. But I will tell you this much, I will sure as heck be back next month(ish).
Bunny and Butterfly continue their poetic conversation as we learn that wounded Johnny (as inflicted by Alice last issue) allowed the vulture girl to take the binder Alice seeks. We are briefly introduced to the Night Maid and the Day Maid, and Fox and Sissy ride for their lives as Alice is confronted by none other than Death's daughter, Ginny.
The creators give us a poetic and beautifully illustrated story with loads of action as Ginny and Alice fight to the death. Deconnick's dialogue is sparse yet powerful and Rios's imagery flows gracefully despite a couple panels where I was not exactly certain of what transpired. I especially love the end of the fight where Ginny knocks Alice's sword up into the sky. Bellaire's minimally rendered colors provide the perfect style for this gritty Western.
I know I said I'm not certain of what is going on, but that is totally fine; it is by design. Pretty Deadly is just getting started and the creators are laying out a lyrical journey of violence and deception that begs to be experienced as opposed to merely read. We're in for one heck of a ride and at only two issues in, jumping on should be no problem at all. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Bad Dog #5
Bad Dog #5 - Written by Joe Kelly, illustrated by Diego Greco, lettered by Thomas Mauer, published by Image Comics. Speaking of not knowing what is going on...I don't remember the last time I read Bad Dog. No, seriously, I have no recollection of the last time I read issue four, or the three issues prior, since there's been such a monstrous delay between issues. That's fine, though, catching up is fairly easy. All it takes is the page 2 and 3 double-page splash (sex toys and a Shetland pony who doesn't want to be recognized) to bring it all back.
Lou is a werewolf. Actually, make that a werewolf who likes to party more than living up to his full potential and who barely earns his keep as a bounty hunter; the main dog bounty hunter to be exact. Anyhow, he's trapped in Las Vegas, the worst place on Earth, and his diminutively deadly partner Wendell is lost to depravity along with their awakening-to-the-joys-of-sin accountant. Lou gets a job from a man he kind of hates.
Reading this issue, I realize just how much I forgot how much I love this comic. Not for kids--no way, no how--and probably not for some adults either, but if you're open to a substance-abusing werewolf and his wicked little sidekick, then there is no reason to not be reading this comic...outside of the delayed releases of course. Beautifully rendered with hilarious art from Greco, and a well-told, foul-mouthed story from Kelly makes this book a ton of fun. I would probably say it is best to wait for the trade that should follow after issue 6, since finding the individual issues after all these years might not be the easiest thing to do, but maybe digital is the way to go if you don't want to wait. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Hawkeye #14
Hawkeye #14 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Annie Wu, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Chris Eliopoulos, published by Image Comics Marvel Comics. Whoa...a non-Image title on FSoH/SitW this week?!?! Oh, but it's Hawkeye, that makes sense.
Kate Bishop is living the life: California dreaming, sun, a pizza dog, freedom. What more could a young superhero ask for? Yeah, she's flat broke. So she becomes a "Hero for Hire" and her first case is finding a gay couple's stolen orchids so they can finally have the wedding they've dreamt of for so long. Unfortunately, Kate is unknowingly digging herself into an even deeper hole with a recently made enemy.
I will say that I prefer to see Kate and Clint butting heads as Kate verbally eviscerates her mentor, while having her heart crushed by him. That's not to say I did not enjoy this issue, I definitely did, but a touch of what I love so much about the series is missing. Still, the writing is fantastic and Wu's art works well with this character. Next month looks to bounce back to Barton's story, with issue 16 taking us back to Kate Bishop and her nemesis becoming more involved. Hawkeye is always great fun. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Rain - This is more for Tulip and Obie, not me; I'm glad it's raining, we needed it. The problem for the puppies is that anything more than a light drizzle seems to just ruin their world. When I take them outside to do their business, they stare at me, backs arched and wincing with each rain drop that falls upon their heads; they flat out refuse to go potty. So we all get to stand outside, getting soaked, as we enter a standoff as the pups shoot hurtful looks blaming me for causing the rain. There is no winning for anyone here.

Black Friday - What the f_ is wrong with people? You want Best Buy's HUMONGULOUSLY BODACIOUS deals! You ready to fight and potentially witness bloodshed for a barely cheaper deal on something you could buy come January or February, if not sooner? Yeah, I'm not. Guess what people, much of this Black Friday B.S. can be bought days in advance on this little known thing called the internet. I bought a few Blu-Rays on Monday and didn't have to fight for the last copy of Pacific Rim or whatever. No punches, no lines, no camping out. Even if most of these big box stores were not offering their wares days in advance online, I still wouldn't venture into the stores today...a trip to the ER will erode any savings you could have ever hoped to receive. Plus, give the workers a break. If you are really that desperate for a break from the fam, then hit the bars later that evening like us normal folk do.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 11/22/2013

(Sung to the tune of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal")

Gaze through the LCS window
Many comics, what should you do
Donist can help you don't lament
Afterlife With Archie's good money spent
Rachel Rising on the table
Best scoop up if you are able
Animal Man hits with a loud boom
The Wake brings its awesome portent of doom

Annie, are you ok?
So, Annie are you ok?
(Ok...if there's anyone out there named Annie, please let us here at Donist World know that you are indeed "ok" as this part of the song goes on and on and on inquiring if you are "ok." If you are not "ok," then I'm willin' to bet a heapin' helpin' of my mama's diablo chili that you will be after reading the books below. Just know that your state of okayedness, Annie, is of vital importance to us here at Donist World.)
Are you ok, Annie?
You should def try
You should def buy
Sex Criminals

Happy Friday, Donist World Denizens! I'm here with our CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and our marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/stress management supervisor Tulip (my dog, and Obie's sister) and we're kind of running around my mom's basement the corporate office like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off. You see, denizens, the dreaded holidays are upon us: a time for stress; a time for rampant flu viruses; a time for ridiculous travel; a time of unrealistic expectations; a time for inevitable, bitter, crushing disappointment (What? Still no freakin' pony?!?!). Anyhow, in addition to all of that, it was a big comic book week this week, and we also read a bunch of really cool stuff that we just don't have time to get to today. Poor Obie has been pacing back and forth on the rug, chugging coffee, and cursing up a storm as if he was a Tourette's Syndrome victim trapped in a monestary. Tulip says he's just acting up so he doesn't have to write any reviews, or research cross-geo synergized strategies to maintain our Fortune 320,000 company status; I'm inclined to agree. I also think, he's waiting for me to get wrapped up into a project so he can sneak off and continue playing the freaking fantastic The Last Of Us PS3 game, which kind of seems like something I might be into starting up again, seeing as how I already finished my first play through. Yup, doin' it. While I get a refresher on my coffee and startup the ol' machine, take a look at this week's awesomeness on...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Sex Criminals #3
Sex Criminals #3 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Chip Zdarsky, flats by Becka Kinzie, published by Image Comics. *Sorry, denizens, if you're a young 'un (a real young 'un), then this book might not be for you; not yet anyways. But that's cool, that's normal. You'll get there. Have a look at the next few heavenly items below and you should be good to go. Cool? Cool.*
The tooth fairy hasn't come to visit me for quite some time. Yeah, sad, I know. It's been over two and a half decades since the last visit. Maybe she (or he, it's 2013 and equal opportunity and all) fell on hard times, or was laid off, or maybe she updated her computer system and my name was misspelled (wow, college all over again) and there are a treasure trove of quarters piled up somewhere just waiting for me. Or maybe it's just because I haven't lost any dang teeth for a while. So what happens when you stop loosing teeth and the tooth fairy bids you adieu? You get a new fairy to guide you through the world. You get...the porn fairy, of course.
What does the porn fairy have to do with this issue? Nothing really, I'm just jawin' here, but bear with me a sec. From what I've read upon the Donist World tea leaves, Sex Criminals sold out the initial print run and I believe the second printing is kind of hard to come by as well. You're going to have to do some digging to get ahold of the actual floppy of the first two issues until a third printing arrives. At this point, people might trade wait the series, and I'm afraid I must insist you do not do this. You need the floppies, plain and simple. Not only do you get what is one of my favorite comics on the stand--I'm enjoying this as much as Saga--you also get the hilarious back matter and letters pages, that left me rolling with laughter. I suspect the trade will not include these letters, which is kind of a bummer. Now, because this book has glowing dinguses (dingi?), boobies, sexy time thingies, you cannot buy Sex Criminals through the Comixology iPad app on account of Apple's concern over having sex/nudity of any sort coming across their iTunes store. This is in spite of the fact that this is an incredibly sex positive comic made for adults who could enable parental controls to keep youngsters from seeing something they don't want them to see. Heck, it's also art, but depict some boobies, and puritanical interest curtail its distribution, while other forms of art depicting grisly acts of violence skate by with no problem. There's a few ways around this if you wish to buy digitally: buy from the website (not the app) and like magic, it will appear in the app for your viewing pleasure (Hey! Click the link and you can get the first issue for free!); or can buy from where the first issue is also FREE! I'm not certain if the aforementioned letters column is included in the digital versions (for your sake I hope so), but if you have not read the first issue, then you cannot beat the price.
Anyways, the porn fairy. Okay, I thought my brother, cousins and I were the only ones to be visited by the porn fairy, but according to the Sex Criminals letters column this is simply not the case. Who/what is the porn fairy? Well, denizens, the porn fairy is simply a magical, invisible fairy who distributes porno mags throughout the woods, on roof tops, placed above towering hay bale stacks, or for the more lazy porn fairies in manure piles. You see, about the time the tooth fairy was making her exit, the porn fairy began leaving porn hidden in the woods for us to find. The findings were rare and it was never expected, porn just happened to be there when I jumped over a rock, or investigated the root system of a fallen tree or wondered what was in the box sitting by the babbling brook. Now, the reason I've gone on and on about this is that I always assumed this "porn in the woods" thing was specific to me, the letters column confirms this is simply not the case and has happened to most everyone. Unfortunately, I believe the porn fairy has been added to the endangered species list with the coming of the digital age. I don't expect to find any laptops or thumb drives stashed away under a log anytime soon; you're more likely to find a leprechaun's pot o' gold. Oh yeah, I ramble, the Sex Criminals comic itself...fantastic.
Suzie and John were all set to rob a bank. They had the perfect plan: enter the Quiet (what Suzie calls the time-stopped world), steal as much money from the bank (where John is employed) as possible, get even with the lame bank job, take the stolen money to save Suzie's beloved library from the very same bank seeking to close it, have fun along the way. The problem is that three freaky individuals dressed all in white are able to enter the Quiet and they do not approve of Suzie and John's meddling with time. Also in this issue, we learn about John's first few encounters and we see a cute musical number set to Suzie's favorite song, only minus the rights to print the actual lyrics, which makes the scene even better (stupid, dinosaur, white-haired, stupidly-rich, white, corporate muckety mucks stuck on antiquated business models...this issue could have been free advertising and could reinvigorate music sales. Might happen in the trade). And finally, a startling third-to-the-last-panel image!
If I had to limit my description of Sex Criminals to one word, that word would be "charming." If I could throw some more words in there, then I would say "A charming, well-told, beautifully-illustrated comic that does not shy away from the terribly awkward days of growing up, or the wonderful moment when you first meet someone who finally 'gets' you. Pure fun from beginning to end." Fraction's writing is so honest, and rings so true that I can readily relate to this book minus the Quiet portion of course. His commentary as to what went wrong with the licensing during the musical scene is fantastic and an unplanned interesting look at the state of the music industry who is increasingly running out of their own feet to shoot. This is also a reason to not trade wait, for if the creators do receive permission to reprint the song lyrics (I'm not going to state the band's name, why help out-dated and potentially abusive business practices?) the awesome commentary pasted over the lyrics might not be included. I hope the creators opt to NOT pay any sort of licensing fee and keep the commentary in place, it works well with the style and tone of the book.
Zdarsky's art continues to floor me. Simply gorgeous imagery and character acting and I kind of sort of have a crush on Suzie. The coloring succeeds in turning stunning art work into something otherworldly when taking a trip through the Quiet, or during a certain musical also tells me I have a ways to go with my own coloring.
Okay, I'm off to take Tulip out for a quick walk. I think we'll cut over from the parking lot, at the laundry facility and take the path to the railroad tracks. You know, through the woods. Who knows what we might find. While we're gone, check out Sex Criminals, you should be pleasantly surprised. Hey...what's that over there by that stump? VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Afterlife With Archie #2
Afterlife With Archie #2 - Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, illustrated by Francesco Francavilla, lettered by Jack Morelli, published by Archie Comic Publications. I said it last month with the incredible first issue of Afterlife With Archie, I said it when I was completely blown away by the first Archie The Married Life TPB (I need the three followups), then yet again with The Best of Archie Comics TPBand I will say it a fourth time with this week's issue...I have been missing out on a whole segment of comic book awesomeness for much of my life.
We open with Cheryl and Jason Blossom arriving late to the Halloween dance and things inside are not going well. A jump in time later, Veronica is telling her father, the mayor, about what happened at the dance and about the zombified Jughead. She also told her father what her mortal enemy (still Jughead, for all you non-Archie versed denizens) did to poor Ethel Mugs in her cute Snow White outfit. Pop Tate's gets a visitor, Archie gets heroic, and the gang--the ones who are still alive--come up with a plan.
My goodness gracious, I love this comic. Aguire-Sacassa has each character's voice down completely. Each piece of dialogue fits each character despite the grave (see what I did there?) nature of this comic. The funny thing with this issue is that it actually is kind of scary and horrific, but there are lighthearted, humorous moments as well as touching scenes such as the one between Nancy and Ginger, which showcases just how progressive this comic book can be.
Francavilla...yeah, I just love the man's illustrations and colors on everything he does. As much as I would be the first to admit that I never imagined Francavilla working on an Archie book, his style is dang perfect for this zombified mini; I wonder if there will be prints of these covers for sale...
This book is a prime example of why Archie has held steadfast for so many decades. The company is not afraid to take risks with their properties whether gay characters are getting married, long-single ones get married only to find adulthood tough, members of KISS come to visit, or a lesbian couple disagrees about coming out. Now we have zombies in Riverdale and some of our most beloved characters don't survive the ordeal, and I wouldn't have it any other way. If things get too intense, you have six decades worth of material to pick you back up and make you laugh. Don't trade wait this one, denizens, because you also get a bonus, recently-discovered spooky story from Gray Morrow. I eagerly await the next issue of this must-own series. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Rachel Rising #21
Rachel Rising #21 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Astract Studio. I'm going to be honest here and let you know that although the cover is really cool, there are no giant vine snakes tracking a trail of blood in this issue. Whatever, man, I'm still feelin' this amazing comic, ya dig?
After the plague of rats afflicting the town of Manson, a killer frost has set in that is chilling the inhabitants to the bone. This is a minor problem for Rachel. The bigger issue is that Rachel's Aunt Johnny was recently poisoned, died, had her soul transferred into her dog, and the dog has run off. In comes Dr. Siemen who knows a thing or two about death and attempting to cure it. Meanwhile, Zoe has taken up shelter from the cold in a gas station bathroom--along with her special knife "Jack"--but when a station dog discovers her as does the station owner, Zoe will be forced to make an interesting choice.
The scene with the dog had me worried and nervous for what the homicidal Zoe would do, and Moore completely had me unsure of how the scene would play out. I love how he handled the situation. I don't recall him ever really drawing a dog to this degree, but the panels here were shocking, brutal, wonderful. Of course all of the acting and sequentials are without compare and although the story takes a pause from progressing forward, this issue is still fascinating. Even if there are only 20 pages per issue, Moore consistently gives the reader more bang for their buck than you would expect. If you are not reading Rachel Rising, then you are missing out, but you can quickly catch up with the three trades that are out. This is another title that I don't trade wait, as I cannot imagine going for so long without my monthly(ish) dose of one of comic's most important creators. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Wake #5
The Wake #5 - 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. Okay, another confession: I was totally wondering what the heck this title was going to do for the next five issues, and a seed of doubt popped into the back of my mind as to whether the creators could actually pull this series off. You know what, denizens? Take a deep breath, everything looks like it's going to be okay.
Lee, the murderous Meeks, and two other humans are the only ones left alive down at the deep sea rig. They're totally screwed. Not only are there thousands of the vicious sea creatures waiting to annihilate them, there's also the one monstrous merman who can easily flatten the rig, which it does to a lesser degree. The people survive, but Lee knows what it is the monsters intend to do and it won't be good for any land dwellers. Thankfully, Meeks has a plan and a little secret he has kept stashed away. The final two pages tell us exactly where the final half of the series is headed.
That was intense! Amirite? Man...Snyder and Murphy completely setup a change of protagonist for the series in a way that reminds me of the ultra-amazing The Passage (I'm still reading it...just need more hours in my day so I can finish). The opening sequence of the first issue--that always felt a bit out of place to me--finally comes back into play and the future world makes sense now that we can deduce what brought about the water dominated world of the future. The dialogue in this issue is great, and the science and animal information is fascinating. Meeks still rules.
Murphy's art, especially on the terrifying creatures, is hyper-charged, stressful action, that when complemented by Hollingsworth's otherworldly pinks melting into blues left me madly wanting to see what happens next, while wanting to absorb every detail of these deadly creatures. The backgrounds and ship designs are also incredible.
Sooooooo...this is what the first five issues were leading up to. I thoroughly enjoyed what I have read thus far of The Wake, but that last page has me positively thrilled for what is to follow. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Animal Man #25
Animal Man #25 - Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Rafael Albuquerque, Colored by Dave McCaig, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, published by DC Comics. I'm certain I've mentioned before--like, last month--that I was a hop, skip and a jump away from dropping Animal Man after the "Rot World" event left me a little less than happy and more than wishing both this title and Swamp Thing were still Vertigo books. Don't get me wrong, "Rot World" was fine for a superheroy sort of thing, but I fell in love with the darker side of these characters back in the '70s and '80s and that is kind of what I want to read; there are 50 other superhero titles after all. Anyhow, an issue or two past the end of the event, plus a great annual, and I'm excited again for one of the best of New 52 original launch titles.
A bunch of (red) skull-faced fanatics have taken over a Hollywood award show (I wonder how their Theta levels fare) to challenge Buddy Baker (Animal Man) to stop them. On the first page splash the leader then says something so horrendously harsh that Buddy is more than eager to hand out some beat downs, but he's not going anywhere without his wife Ellen who demands to go with him. The fanatics are actually under the thumb of their mostly-silent leader, Brother Blood, who has forcefully taken the role of the Red's avatar along with the help of a rogue member of the Parliament of Limbs (I understand that some of you will have ZERO idea what the heck this all means, and you should probably start with the excellent first trade found here). Meanwhile, Maxine, Buddy's daughter, is trapped in the Red and on the run from Brother Blood who seeks to end her life. Fanatics get smacked around and something out of the blue happens.
Yup, still enjoying this series. Lemire continues to play up the family dynamic of this book to such a degree that after that first page even I wanted to go beat up that DB cultist who was serving up all too many dick waffles. Ugh...I'm still pissed at that character; that's what I call good writin'. One criticism of this book arc is that Baron Blood, the so called evil of evils, has said all of a handful of words. I never (regrettably...I intend to remedy this) read The New Teen Titans where Brother Blood was a huge menace, so I fail to see how this guy is a threat since we haven't seen him do anything villainous or say much of anything...he kinda just stands around, when he shows up at all. The end of this issue also left me scratching my head, but I'm curious to see where the story goes.
Albuquerque is great at delivering both the drama and the action of a scene, never pulling the reader out of the experience as the eye flows from panel to panel. I especially loved the look of the few pages of Maxine and socks in the Red.
If you aren't reading Animal Man and you want a book that skirts the line between horror and superheroes, then this is definitely the book to check out. Yes, you can jump in after the "Rot World" event and you'll be fine (the trade is not yet out yet, though), but you should really start off with the first and second trades and even pick up the "Rot World" portion which is still worth checking out. This issue is RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

 So Many Books So Little Time! - Man, where does the time go? I have tons of trades and Kickstarter items to read (many from my talented friends) that I am sure will be popping up on FSoH/SitW some time soon. I also have stacks of stuff that I have read, but have been unable to squeeze in with the weekly releases as a result of so much awesomeness. It really bums me out that I can't talk about them all without sacrificing time spent on my own projects. I'll get them on here with more detail, but in the meantime here are some freakin' amazing titles you should check out: Battling Boy (just finished this...awesome Paul Pope work), Revival (must-buy material for horror fans), The Strange Tale of Panorama Island (gorgeous, trippy, not for kids), Creepy Presents...Steve Ditko, The Walking Dead, The Bunker (a digital comic from Joshua Hale Fialkov), Heathentown (oh man is this creepy), Kinski (interesting story around a dog and the man obsessed with it), Monster on the Hill (I bought on a digital sale and think this is one I need as a hard copy on my favorite bookshelf).


Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 11/15/2013

(Sung to the tune of Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It")

You should read great comics
Yes, you must read great comics
You should read great comics you adore

Strange Nation's great to choose and
Sasquatch, cult, alien confusion
That Rocket Girl's got it goin' on
Batman is way scary, cuz
Doc Death is quite horrendous
Thor God of Thunder, we'll sing your song

You should read great comics
Yes, you must read great comics
You should read great comics you adore

Smiles everyone, smiles and welcome to Fantasy...errrr...welcome to Donist World. I'm joined as ever by Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/post-apocalyptic preparation specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie's sister). We're kind of laying low today and we've taken to skulking about the house silently, so no one knows we're here. When we do actually have to go outside, we stick to the shadows and hide behind trees and bushes all while gathering vital supplies. Why are we doing this? Well, we've been playing The Last of Us video game--I allow myself one or two console games per year--and the puppies my executive team has been watching me. Needless to say, we are totally freaked the heck out now. We're not yet finished with the game--currently at 89%--and I can say it is one of the best written, best voiced, best acted, visually amazing, and possibly my all-time-favorite game. Thus we crouch and creep around the house, ever mindful to keep clear of any and all mushrooms that...oh, our sausage, olive and mushroom pizza is here for our 11:00 AM meeting on maintaining our Fortune 320,000 status. While we sneak out the back and around the front to be sure the pizza boy is not a clicker, have a gander at this week's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Rocket Girl #2
Rocket Girl #2 - Written by Brandon Montclare, illustrated by Amy Reeder and published by Image Comics. You know what, denizens? I'm starting to think it's me. Remember last week how I was talking about how smart Image's titles were, especially with East of West? Well, ol' Donist possibly thunked a wee too hard on the brain thingamajiggies, as I'm not completely certain what happened with the final panel of this fantastic issue of Rocket Girl. So, in an effort to curtail adding additional deposits into the fortune that has amassed in my embarrassment bank, let's call it "foreshadowing of things to come." Anyhow, possible confusion aside, I am very much enjoying Rocket Girl, both the present (1986) and the past (2013). Plus, Donist World fully supports the act of creating, the act of presenting, and the act of consuming pancakes, as seen in the first third of this issue as well as on the dedicated "Pancake" page, here.
Annie and Ryder, two prominent physicists, need to figure out what to do with their new house guest, the "Rocket Girl" DaYoung. In her very brief jaunt to 1986, DaYoung has destroyed a lab--somewhat intentional as it housed the problematic Q-Engine, a time travel enabling machine--caught a bad guy, assaulted a couple of police officers, and has been spotted flying around New York while utilizing technology that should not exist. Oh yeah...she also rescued some construction workers. Back in the past of 2013, we see DaYoung and her fellow detective Leshawn O'Patrick nearly getting caught eavesdropping on an evil large corporation (are there any other types?), the future version of Quintum Mechanics. Back in the present of 1986, trouble finds Annie, Ryder and DaYoung right before we catch a bit of foreshadowing back in the past of 2013.
Okay, now that I have reread the issue...yes, that last panel is foreshadowing. That said, Montclare and Reeder's Rocket Girl is an exceptional read suitable for all-ages. DaYoung is an intelligent, confident, and tough teenage hero who is very much the one in charge, although her "can do" attitude looks to put her at odds with those in authority in both time lines. Montclare has both captions and dialogue fine-tuned with each character having their own distinct voice, especially DaYoung. He also delivers some funny, light-hearted moments that made me laugh before returning to the serious side of the story.
Speaking of comical moments, Reeder's art had me cracking up at times, especially at the beginning of this issue as a grumpy Annie crams pancakes (ahh...pancakes) in her mouth as she pours her coffee; the shower panel was also pretty funny. Then we get to the action of both the past and the future and it's pure beauty. The scenes of DaYoung and Leshawn rocketing about the stunning city are impressive as are the cool costume designs, which are all pushed forward by the gorgeous colors. I simply love how Reeder handles something so mundane as the reflective glass on of the front DaYoung's helmet to the eggshell-like surface on the back; two very different materials handled perfectly. I also dig Annie's hair and the '70s-style logo on the cover that still has me wowing over the warm light reflections and the harsh shadows dancing across DaYoung (check out the cover)...again, this book is beautiful.
I really enjoyed the first issue, which I got through the creators' Kickstarter before the book was picked up by Image, and this follow up succeeded in pulling me in even more. Montclare and Reeder will leave you loving the title character and wanting to linger in the world they have created, both in the present of 1986 and the past of 2013. The next issue cannot come soon enough. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Strange Nation #1
Strange Nation #1 - Written and lettered by Paul Allor, art by Juan Romera, edited by Rob Anderson, published by Monkeybrain Comics. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago with my review of Rex Zombie Killer #1, I know these guys. Allor and Anderson are each members of The Comics Experience and are moderators for their forums and teach an online class. They are also posters for our long-dormant The Brutal Circle site. Juan Romera is the freaking amazing artist who illustrated my story "Timber Tom," which appeared in Indie Comics Magazine #6, which I hope you check out. So, yeah, I know them, but as I said before, if I don't like something, it ain't showing up on Donist World...except maybe in the "Slice Into the Woods" section where I will talk about how Allor stole my dog, done busted up my automobile, and insulted my family's honor many moons ago. Anyhow, Strange Nation #1...
So what does a recently out of work journalist do when she loses her prestigious job at a reputable newspaper? Why, turn to the tabloids and investigate doomsday cults, aliens, and possibly a Sasquatch or two, of course. The problem for Norma Park is that all these things are very much real and are somehow connected. The weirdness doesn't stop there. She also has a partner wrapped up in his own conspiracy theories, and she's investigating a most bizarre individual named Joe. In fact, the only normal thing in Norma's life is the disappoint of her parents, but even they look to have something to hide.
Criminy! This comic's a heck of a lot of fun. Allor begins with the most absurd beginning for a book imaginable--cultists duking it out with a bunch (or is it gaggle or a pod?) of Sasquatch in the woods as lit by eerie visitors from outer space. Now, with a setup like this you would expect the book to be a comedy, and although moments are funny, the book leans heavily on the darker side of humor and remains mostly serious despite what you are actually seeing on the page; just have a look at the final two pages of this issue and you'll know exactly the tone of this series. <brrrrrr> The dialogue and captions all flow perfectly, melding into Romera's artwork, never once taking you out of the moment yet keeping you eagerly flipping pages.
Romera has a knack for handling the bizarre characters in this comic (check out the first image of Joe), and he is fantastic with his sequentials, which gave me the feeling I was watching a film as I went from panel to panel. He can also handle background details as seen on the double-page spread in the lab with its varied creatures, ships and gear. His coloring, of which I am a huge fan, pushes all characters to the forefront of the panel and draw the eye to where he wants you to look. I also must point out that he draws one heck of a sexy, battling, ladybug lady...but let's keep that between
Strange Nation #1 is a fantastic start to this recent offering from Monkeybrain Comics, but don't go poking around your LCS trying to find a copy as you won't find one. Monkeybrain Comics is digital only and is offered only through Comixology. I'm guessing that you will one day be able to buy an actual trade of the series once it finishes, but why would you do that? Comixology has this first issue for a measly $.99. That's $.99, denizens! All you have to do is give up one double espresso, pumpkin chai, half-caff, non-fat, whipped cream with sprinkles latte and you will be able to buy the entire series. Trust me, it's worth it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Batman #25
Batman #25 Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Greg Capullo, inked by Danny Miki, colored by FCO Plascencia, lettered by Nick Napolitano, published by DC Comics. Shenanigans! I call shenanigans! Last month I suffered from sticker shock from the $6.99 price tag on the issue. BUT issue 24 had 54 pages of material--more than double the normal page count--with a jump of $3 to the price. I call that worth it. This issue, however, is $4.99 for 24 pages of the main story and a side five-page story, bringing the page count to 29 pages, which is $1 extra for only a couple bonus pages. What the what?! We do however get a heavy card stock, grey-on-black cover! For one of DC's best-selling titles, this is kind of a low blow given the book is already at $3.99, not to mention the tons of "Villains Month" issues recently tossed our way. <sigh> I hate to say it, but I'm out and going to trade if next month's issue isn't back to the normal $3.99 price point. All monetary griping aside, this issue was a heck of a creepy good time.
After the Riddler put Gotham City in the dark, the Batman has had a spot of trouble getting around Gotham's finest; thank goodness he has a Batmobile and they don't. What the Batman was investigating was the grisly death of a man whose bones snapped and broke and grew in a chaotic pattern to which the pain must have been unbearable. Now, Bruce Wayne has Lieutenant Gordon snooping around the Wayne Manor grounds, and a trip to an old friend becomes a pain in the neck as Doctor Death makes his appearance.
Holy bat terror, denizens, he did it again. That ending splash page from Capullo will give me nightmares for the rest of my days! FCO Plascencia's colors--although gorgeous on ever page, especially the final splash, only make Doctor Death's visage all the more terrifying. Aghh! Plus, Capullo's bone-growth victims are almost as bad as Doctor Death, but beautiful none the less. One cool thing I liked about this issue was the Wayne and Gordon exchange where there was little to no background aside from a muted brown haze, which succeeded in putting all the focus on the two men and their discussion.
Where Synder is concerned, I would love to see the script for this issue and read how much direction, if any, he provided Capullo on this new horrific villain. I'm also curious to know where he comes up with all of these twisted ideas. I've "met" Snyder before on a web chat once to go over a comic script I wrote, and he is one of the nicest most helpful people I've ever met, which is interesting given that for someone so generous and kind, he can sure write some truly disturbing material. You know, total creepoutville stuff that is sure to stick with you for some time. Besides giving us frights, you also have the wonderful dialogue and captions this book is famous for.
To summarize: I'm a little messed up after some of the things I saw in this issue, and I cannot thank these creators enough for adequately giving me the heebie jeebies. Batman continues to be a fantastic superhero comic and if the powers that be would stop messing around with unnecessarily inflated pricing, cover gimmicks, and costly "events," and allow the creators to continue making damn-fine comic books, then readers like myself will be thankful for it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Thor: God of Thunder #15
Thor: God of Thunder #15 - Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated by Ron Garney, colored by Ive Svorcina, lettered by VC's Joe Sabino, published by Marvel Comics. After catching Thor 2: The Dark World last week, it's safe to say that I am even more jazzed for Thor: God of Thunder than I was before. Let me tell you, denizens, I was already pretty jazzed.
The League of Realms travels to Alfheim to a shantytown deep in the Sugar Woods, where they find fairies and joy and candies aplenty. This is nice...unless, of course, you are in pursuit of the homicidal dark elf Malekith and his murderous followers or if you are a troll obsessed with cleaving said dark elf in twain. Thor discovers a couple of creative ways to get the League to work together, but his efforts are halted when Malekith attacks and a member falls. Things go from bad to worse when the dark elf fugitive reveals his new allies.
Aaron takes a more humorous approach after exploring much darker topics over the previous 14 issues and to great effect. Moments of this issue were simply ludicrous (a dwarf murdering a dark elf with a candy cane), but I smiled the whole way through. The humor also brought me around to many of these new characters, but I was a bit dismayed that the Leaguer killed in this issue was one I was hoping to see more of...the character did however have his/her moment to shine as brief as that moment was.
Garney's art is beautiful as ever, although there are a handful of panels that seemed a bit rushed and not as detailed as in the previous issues, but this is minor point. The action in the sequentials and the character drama are incredible. Svorcina's colors are gorgeous and he makes a point of pushing the brightness and the saturation of Alfheim to the limit, which is a marked departure in what we saw in the "God Butcher" arc's deep blues of the cosmos, but no less effective.
With a huge battle set for next issue and the stakes increased, I can't wait to see what comes next. If you enjoyed the recent Thor movie as much as I did, then picking up this title (and the two issues before it) is an easy decision to make, verily easy. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

My Fellow Theater Patrons -Okay, yup, I saw Thor 2: The Dark World and I absolutely loved it. I will even go so far as to say I liked it more than the first movie. I will admit, though, that it took me about 20 minutes to get into the groove, but once there I loved the film. Maybe some of my surly attitude came from two of my fellow theater goers.
Take for instance the guy who came in, sat at the top middle of the aisles and proceeded to unpack and pack things from his plastic grocery bags. During this idiot's continuous shuffling, I caught the scent of lasagna and maybe fried chicken, but the dude went to town on his lunch right there in the theater for the entire movie. Why couldn't he eat at home? Or unpack his troughload of food before the movie started? Criminy, it's not like we are all sitting in this fool's living room.
Then there was the other guy who came into the movie late, and was lumbering about the theater trying to find the perfect seat--it was the 1:30 PM screening, there were PLENTY of empty seats--and then he started heading my way. Granted, my corner was dark, quite dark, but right as I was about to say, "Someone is sitting here," he took out his iPhone, turned on the piercing LED light, and trained it squarely on the retina of my left eye. He apologized and I would like to think that he gave a sigh of relief that he didn't see any cataracts or anything, but, man, how hard is it to take an empty seat among a sea of empty seats or to eat your nine-course meal prior to the screening of Thor 2?


Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 11/8/2013

(Sung to the tune of Men Without Hats's "Safety Dance")

C-c-c-c O-o-o-o M-m-m-m I-i-i-i C-c-c-c S-s-s-s
Comic Books!
We can read if we want to
We can leave your friends behind
Because if they don't read comics,
I'm gonna be honest, well they're
No friends of mine
I say, Swamp Thing is the shizzle
East of West is so divine
Trillium is literally out of this world
Let's leave reality far behind
We can read

Odin's beard, denizens, it's Donist World time! Verily I am joined by Donist World CFO extraordinaire Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and by Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/lead valkyrie associate Tulip the mighty (my Boston terrier, Obie's sister). Sorry, correction...Obie wishes for me to call him Fenrir for the remainder of this week, so Fenrir it is; Tulip is going under the name of Garmr (it's cool, I had to look it up, too). As you might have guessed, it is somewhat of a special occasion around my mom's basement the corporate offices as we are all pretty pumped for the Thor: The Dark World movie. In fact, I have taken a half day from the day job--let's call it Niflheim--and I have a nice little day planned out. Yes, I have escaped Niflheim for the day and will be working the first half from my throne of the All-Father at my domicile located in Midgard (the suburbs actually) and after that I will hook up my chariot to my two trusty goats, Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder (Honda Civic) and make my way to the halls of Valhalla (Camino Real Shopping Center) where this worthy warrior shall feast on the finest sweet meats (probably the Vietnamese pork sandwich at the Hollister Brewing Company) and sup the finest mead (I'm definitely getting a pint of the pumpkin saison and maybe a Pope IPA) as attended by a comely Valkyrie (unless Artie is working the afternoon shift). Then I will go to the darker end of the hall (Camino Real Cinema) to watch the exploits of the greatest hero that ever was (Uhh...Thor 2). Following, I will battle my way back to Midgard (5:00 traffic) to meet my maiden fair (Donist World intern wife) to travel to the dark, evil realm of Muspelheim (Isla Vista, near the college) for steal (buy) another pint of mead (beer again) and a treasure worthy of the gods (a Mediterranean pizza from Woodstock's). To finish the evening, we shall be regaled by more exploits of myn great heroes (probably the blu-ray of Serenity, as we just finished watching Firefly again...WOOT!). BUT...before any of this happens, I must travel (virtually) to Niflheim (work) to perform the labors of the gods (they wish).
Oh...yeah, I'll stop right there as Tulip and Obie--sorry, Garmr and Fenrir--are practically foaming at the mouth with excitement about the day, but I don't have the heart to tell them that dogs, even if they work for a Fortune 320,000 company, are still not allowed in the theater. Crud, Tulip has even fashioned an aluminum foil helmet for herself and Obie is carrying around his owners' baby's toy hammer. Dang. Okay, while I break the news to the puppies, and queue up Thor and The Avengers on blu-ray to tide them over, have a look at this week's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

East of West #7
East of West #7 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics. It has returned, denizens, it has risen. I am not talking about the actual physical comic itself--I'm glad it is back, though--but what is contained inside. Yes, it is exactly what chills each of us to the marrow. It is...THE HORSE BEAST. <gasp> I know, I know. I will wait for you to collect yourselves. You back with me again? Are you okay? Cool, let's do this thing. Not only does Death not ride a pale horse, but rather he comes seated atop a mechanized nightmarish horror what ain't got no face! There, there, wipe the tears away, if the horse beast had the infinite crimson of its visageless void trained upon you, then you would know the end times were upon you. But I beseech you to know one thing, denizens, there is not a lone horse beast in this issue...there are four! Oh whoa is me...the horror... Despite that, this is one heck of a fascinating read.
Back in the olden days, the young incarnations of War, Famine and Conquest stood watch over Armistice, the location that stands as testament to The Message, and where Conquest's son, Ezra Orion, attempts to fulfill his role and become an agent of the end times. The monument found there was in fact built under Ezra's dutiful eye. In fact, to ensure no hand of man corrupted Armistice, the four horsemen had taken up obliterating any pilgrim that made their way to the valley in hopes of becoming closer to God; for the past few decades, the role of guardian has fallen to Ezra. Now, with three of the horsemen reincarnated as younger, gender-swapped versions of their former selves, they come across Ezra who has become fused with a dark creature as inflicted upon him by the traitor Bel Solomon. It ain't pretty. Meanwhile, Death and his witches go to visit...The Lady.
Okay, to be honest, I'm back to not knowing exactly what in tarnation is going on, but that's okay. Hickman is smarter than me--oh boy howdy is that the truth--but I know some additional pieces will fall in place in the issues to come. That's fine, I'm used to it with this book, and I'm thankful to have a comic that doesn't spoon feed its readers with answers as to what is happening. We're going to have to work for answers with this one, but rest assured the answers will eventually come--this aint Lost after all. Hickman leaves us with many questions in this issue: why does Ezra need "the hand of the Beast?" Why did the three horsemen change gender? Why did Death turn from onyx hue to alabaster? What is the Old Man? Is it the old man in the sea? Who is the Lady? Horse beasts...plural...why is he doing this to us?
All kidding aside, Dragotta's design of the horse beasts is incredibly freaky, but an incredibly cool addition to the ravaged wasteland that is the setting of East of West. I love that each of the horse beasts are slightly different--why a tarp on Conquest's steed?--except for Famine's recliner model that looks to even have laserified special bits. Just the image of the horsemen riding these things is enough to let us know they are not to be trifled with. Seeing Death leap into the exceptionally one-sided battle shows his particular horse beast's build and anatomy and it is easy to imagine how this thing would actually move, which makes it even creepier. The world and the people and creatures dwelling in it continue to be stunning.
Martin's colors continue to impress. I love the choice of providing the abyss creature a highly-rendered color scheme comparative to the actual characters and backgrounds. The creature is something from another dimension and it stands out enough to give that impression without us having to be told. I also love the decision to put a low opacity white screen over top of the flashback pages, including the blacks, which are also subdued to great effect.
East of West continues to be a fantastic comic that is beautifully paced and illustrated and one that anyone who is a fan of post-apocalyptic, coming of the actual apocalyptic, sci-fi, Western tales--of which there are...well, this one--should be reading. If you haven't given this book a shot yet, then know that you can catch up with the first trade (issues 1-5) for a measly $9.99 if not cheaper! I'm loving this book and it is definitely one for those looking for something different. Read it, lest the horse beasts get you. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Swamp Thing #25
Swamp Thing #25 - Written by Charles Soule, illustrated by Jesus Saiz, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Travis Lanham, published by DC Comics. seems like only yesterday, or rather, last week that I was happily reading a Swamp Thing issue, which is the gosh honest truth. Wanna know why? Well, last week saw the release of the annual, which was pricey, but was double sized and one heck of a good read. This week's release continues the Swamp Thing goodness and ups the stakes as the Swamp Thing defends his position as the Green's avatar against the challenger Jason Woodrue, aka the Seeder.
Alec will have to make due with the knowledge gained after his discussion with the Wolf and the Lady Weeds. Now is the time for action. The battle with the Seeder awaits, and it should be a cake walk, but Woodrue is ruthless and cunning and not one to be underestimated. Whoever wins will be the avatar of the Green.
That was groovy. I'm telling you, denizens, I've been waiting for a Swamp Thing book to come along and sweep me off my feet, and Soule, when free of crossovers and events, has given me that book. We have great dialogue and character moments, and the battle and locales are tremendous. I will admit being a little confused by the stated rule of no items allowable in the arena and why the Seeder was still able to bring a former avatar in as a walking stick as well as a ton of seeds. Maybe it was no other items; oh well, a minor nitpick on an excellently written story.
Saiz's art on this issue is gorgeous and he continues the inventive character designs for the different avatars and although I love the Floronic Man's old look, this makeover is quite terrifying. The action flows wonderfully and I love Saiz's choice to have leaves in place of one of the Seeder's eyes...again, terrifying. The walking stick avatar/thrall thing is also a really nifty touch.
Wilson's colors atop Saiz's art give the comic a vibrant look perfect for the sun-drenched arena where these characters spend most of the pages. His color choices for the Swamp Thing and for the Floronic Man perfectly show the difference between these two beings, giving one the look of a lush plant and the other a more wooden look. Each might be an avatar, but they are both very different in the plant life comprising their bodies and the colors bring this across beautifully.
Next issue is titled "The Spoils" and after reading last week's annual and this week's regular issue, I really wish the followup was set for next week. With comic book material (writing, illustrations, and colors) as good as this, I would have no problems with DC triple shipping. Alas, it is not so, and I will eagerly wait to see what happens next month. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Trillium #4
Trillium #4 - Everythinged by Jeff Lemire with some colors by Jose Villarrubia and lettered by Carlos M. Mangual, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint. Trillium continues to be an enjoyable and mysterious read of a man and a woman brought together across time and space where neither the past or the future look to hold any hope for their survival. William and Nika are together again, but for how long? Clayton, William's brother, has taken Nika's place in the future and Nika's people are none too thrilled by his appearance. Fear and unkindly temperament cause a desperate act that looks to unravel it all.
Okay, what we got here is another title that leaves me a tad vague on the details as to what exactly is going one, but again this is by design. Lemire continues to craft an interesting story and we see the first signs of affection between our two lovers, but with an ending like this, I have no idea of how things are going to go. This is exactly where I want to be with this title; I look forward to the surprises yet to come. The art is beautiful, exactly what I expect from a Lemire book, and I like that the telling difference between the past and the future is whether Lemire or Villarubia color the pages (I believe Lemire handles the future).
Now that we've reached the halfway point, and our star-crossed lovers have been incinerated (?), who knows what's in store for the second half, but you know what, denizens? I'm definitely along for the ride. RECOMMENDED!

Beer Matinee At the Mercury Lounge - Last Saturday, Donist World Intern Amy (my wife) and two of our friends attended our first Beer Matinee and it was a blast. The Beer Matinee is where our favorite wine and beer bar had a ticketed event from 5 PM to 7 PM where they screened Steve Martin's The Jerk. It's been a while since I've seen The Jerk, probably about 18 years, so it was about time for a viewing anyhow, but add beer to the equation and it's a no brainer. Better yet, not just any beer, the beer was picked by certified cicerone Zach Rosen and specific beers were served at certain moments during the movie. We sampled the following seven beers in 6oz servings: Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA, Napa Smith Lost Dog, Golden Road Get Up Offa That Brown, Clown Shoes Tramp Stamp, Delirium Nocturnum, Miller High Life ("The Champagne of Beers," yo!), Gavroche (a French Red Ale). Of the seven, I would say my favorite was the Delirium Nocturnum, followed by the Tramp Stamp. Overall, a hilarious, chill evening, with good friends, and great beer. Whatever is screening at the next Beer Matinee, I know I'll be there. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Firefly Blu-Ray
Firefly On Blu-Ray - Just a plug for what is one of my all time favorite shows ever. Amy and I watched the entire--and sadly all-too short--series over the past week and I never get tired of watching this show. I'm guessing this is my fourth time viewing and it gets better each time. Never has a television show made me want to be right alongside the characters as much as Firefly. What I would give to be sitting at that supper table, laughing and carrying on, while making sure to sit far enough away from Jayne to avoid any unnecessary unpleasantness. If Donist World had a training video for its denizens it would be the entirety of this wonderful series. Next up: SerenityVERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Lack of Time -
Argh. I need more time to do the reading I want to do. I have a ton of digital stuff, The Leaning Tower of Trade Paperbacks and Hardcovers sitting next to the bed, The Passage on my kickace Kindle Paperwhite all waiting for me to read them. Not to mention I bought The Last of Us for the PS3 (one of the one or two console games I allow myself per year), which is phenomenal even though I have not been able to really play--what I have played scared the bejesus out me, I kinda wish I could stop time and kick back for a week and just read everything I have. You know, kind of like that Twilight Zone episode, only without as much apocalypse. I also have a few gems to talk about on Donist World FSoH/SitW, so I have to find some time to do that as well. Okay, California your thing!


Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 11/1/2013

(Sung to the tune of Michael Jackson's "Thriller")

It's close to Wednesday
Comic books are lurkin' at your store
Saga I must say
Is a book that I truly do adore
You want a scream?
Try Afterlife with Archie I know you'll dig it
Another to please?
Sandman's Corinthian commands your eyes
you're paralyzed

'Cause Rex Zombie Killer!
Is a thriller, alright.
And no one's gonna save you
From Swamp Thing before his fight
Oh Rex Zombie Killer!
Is a thriller tonight.

<TWEET!> That right there, denizens, is the sound of Donist World hitting 40,000 views. Woooo! Okay, actually, it is the sound of Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) blowing on a party blower. Wait, what? Oh, sorry, Obie is still in his "The Bat" costume and wishes to still be called "The Bat" for the remainder of the weekend despite Halloween being over. <sigh> Very well, I am joined by "The Bat" and also Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/hostess-with-the-mostess <sigh...again> Tulip (my dog, Obie's sister). It is cause to celebrate as we have been working away at Donist World for three and a half years now and of those 40K views, about 30K of them have happened over the past year alone, which is something. Honestly, maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company ain't easy, but we have the desire, the tenacity, the hunger to...oh man, I'm hungry. You see, denizens, the ol' day job is having a wellness day today and I will be having my cholesterol and whatnot tested, which means I can only have water until my test at 10:42 AM this morning. Brutal. Obie's coffee--argh, I mean "The Bat," "The Bat's" coffee--smells amazing and when Tulip's eggs hit that frying pan...drool. Okay, while I guzzle water in a futile attempt to feel full, have a look at this week's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #15
Saga #15 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered by Fonografiks, published by Image Comics. You would think at some point I would get sick of talking about how much I love Saga, but it hasn't happened yet. Month(ish) in and month(ish) out Staples and Vaughan's phenomenal sci-fi, fantasy, Romeo & Juliet in space story continues to be my handsdown favorite title. I can't get enough. With this comic, you have what makes being a comic book reader so equally fulfilling yet frustrating as all heck: finishing that amazing issue, and suffering as you lie in wait for the next release. Saga gives me that same feeling I had when Preacher (Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon) was coming out. I loved to linger on each panel and take in all the accompanying range of emotions depicted, but as I turned each page a building dread filled me as I was that much closer to the end of the issue, the story arc, the series; yet I could not help but see what happened next. Saga gives me exactly those feelings, even as I reread an issue for the tenth time. Without the need for cross-overs (ugh), events (double ugh), guest appearances of other popular characters from other books (sigh), and no one dictating that a certain scene is too objectionable to fully pull in any target demographic and might jeopardize the Saga footie pajamas merchandising deal, Vaughan and Staples are free to run wild with their wonderful story, and we are all the better for it.
Upsher and Doff, amphibian reporters extraordinaire, are looking into the Alana abduction theory and have set down to interview Alana's old commanding officer, Countess Robot X. The interview is going well--quite informative, actually--until Upsher is shot by a sniper whose bullet was meant for Countess Robot X; this might just be the break the reporters were looking for. At D. Oswald Heist's lighthouse: Alana settles in, Marko snaps out of his funk, Nun Tuj Nun breaks the ice. Marko and Alana also have a conversation that strikes a bit too close to home for this reader ("office drones?") Meanwhile, The Will, Gwendolyn, Lying Cat, and Sophie--and also The Will's imaginary deceased-ex-girlfriend The Stalk--prepare to take off, but something odd is going down that looks to be a major pain in the neck going forward.
There's not much more I can say about this amazing book that I haven't said in any of the previous 14 reviews. I like it. I like it quite a bit. Staples's art is gorgeous, Vaughan's writing (dialogue and characterization) is so compelling that I occasionally wonder why I bother writing my own stuff (I ain't quitin' though, dagnabbit.) Staples has a command of both action and drama that guides the eye from panel to panel, and the true emotions at play are clear regardless of the words coming out of the characters' mouths. Vaughan's dialogue rings so painfully true, especially during the family game time (Oh the family ties that bind and gag), that most any reader can relate to what is being said to some moment in their own's occasionally too spot on (Vaughan needs to stop peeping in on my personal life, gosh darn it). Art and words combined, you have no choice but to become personally involved and completely immersed in this extraordinary comic.
Every time I read a new issue, or even think about this book, I can' help but tell Amy the Donist World intern (aka my wife) how great it is. She's read the first issue and loved it, but says she wants to read it in a trade as she does not like to read the individual issues...they're too much of a pain. I kind of get this, but I would rather have smaller installments with shorter waits as opposed to larger chunks with painfully long waits; I'm addicted. I would gladly double dip on the trades, so my issues can stay safely bagged and boarded in their cozy long box, but I'm holding out for some sort of pretty hardcover, which has yet to be announced. Crud, I love this series so much and want everyone to read it so badly that I might actually have to triple dip here. Ahhhh...So it goes with love, true love. What I'm getting at is if you aren't reading Saga, you're doing this thing called "comics" all wrong. Buy it. Read it. Love it. Okay, now that this is done, Obie, Tulip and I are off to play a few rounds of Nun Tuj Nun! the book, denizens, you'll know once you read the book. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Rex Zombie Killer #1
Rex Zombie Killer #1 - Written by Rob Anderson, illustrated by Dafu Yu, colored by Juan Romera, lettered by E.T. Dollman, edited by Paul Allor, published by Big Dog Ink. As I mentioned last time with Anderson's amazing Rex Zombie Killer #1 One-Shot (review here), I know this guy. In fact, I know all these guys. Allor, Yu and Dollman, as well as Anderson, are all involved with the Comics Experience group, to which I belong (and absolutely love), and Romera has beautifully illustrated one of my own stories (found here...the issue also has a story by Anderson and other Comics Experience members), so, full disclosure. That said, it doesn't matter that I know these incredibly talented people, Rex Zombie Killer is a dang fine comic that is simply a joy to read and something that animal lovers, zombie lovers, or just plain comic book fans will enjoy.
We pick up where the one-shot left off with Rex and his crew (for those of you keeping count: 3 dogs, 1 cat, 1 gorilla with a baseball bat) heading to Nevada in hopes of finding Rex's human who is at a military base in Nevada. They hope to find safety and caring people there, but they are still a long ways away. Little does Rex's group know that they are being tracked by a group of gorillas and other primates as well as a mob of squirrels (Come to think of it, what the heck do you call a group of squirrels? A pod? A flock? A cluster? The end of the world?) When all three groups' paths finally cross their problems with each other are nothing compared to what awaits them just past the forest.
Holy cow this issue is a blast. It has everything both a young Donist and an old a more mature Donist could ever want. In fact, after reading the one-shot and this fantastic new issue, it's as if Anderson and Yu had created this book with me in mind. As a kid, if I wasn't reading a comic book, I was reading animal or movie monster encyclopedias almost exclusively--if the creators decide to throw in a giant mutated gila monster into the mix at some point then I can effectively just retire from the world, since I will finally be whole. In the meantime, we'll just make do with what we got, which is a fun, scary, and at times touching story that is exceptionally written and beautifully illustrated. The book's tagline of "Homeward Bound meets The Walking Dead," tells you everything you need to know about this title, which, even if I did not know these guys, would pull me in. Every creature has his/her own distinct voice and temperament and you cannot help but latch on to each; you immediately care about them. Yu delivers some great illustrations which jump freely from cute to horrific to emotional, all while easily gliding the reader through each panel.
To be clear, you don't have to read the amazing 56-page one-shot that serves as an introduction to this four-issue mini, but you really should try to get ahold of a copy (it was one of Donist World's top 24 things of 2012, which you can read about here). The one-shot has great character moments that will have you loving Buttercup, Kenji, Rex, Brutus and Snowball and will leave you hungry for this mini (looks like, of which I'm an affiliate, has some copies). That said, this issue is still a jumping on point and you can quickly get into the scheme of things as Anderson makes the process painless, but seriously, get the one-shot, you won't be disappointed (that Buttercup song still pulls my heartstrings). Speaking of, they don't yet have the mini listed on their site, but I expect them to remedy that soon, but I was able to locate some for sale here. This is the real deal, denizens. Expect thrills, chills and a heck of a good time. Even without a giant mutated gila monster this comic is VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Afterlife With Archie #1
Afterlife With Archie #1 - Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, illustrated by Francesco Francavilla, lettered by Jack Morelli, published by Archie Comics Publications. A year and a half ago I did something I never thought I would do...I read an Archie comic. Rather, I read a monstrous digest-sized Archie book that retailed for $9.99 and I was enthralled. I also felt--like I have so very, very many times in my life--that I had mad a huge mistake. As a kid, I was all about the monsters, the aliens and the super heroes. I wrote off the Archie books as something for girls. Thankfully we can learn from our mistakes, which I did when I read the brutally honest, yet immensely beautiful Archie The Married Life, which hit me like a sack full of unread Archie comics (you can read what I thought about that book here.) Now, I'm back with Archie, zombies, and one of my favorite artists Francesco Francavilla and I am again kicking myself for not being more involved with this mainstay of the comic book world. Also, whatever material the cover is made from is very nice: thick, not glossy, and different in a cool way.
Something bad has happened in Riverdale. It was an accident, sure, but bad things happen to good people as Jughead finds out when Hot Dog is hit and killed by a car. Unsure of what to do, Jughead makes a desperate plea for help to Sabrina the teenage witch. She at first refuses, but Jughead's pain touches her soul. She caves in and brings Hot Dog back from the dead. Unfortunately, the lovable pup comes back bad and it's all downhill from there for Jughead and his friends.
Buying this book wasn't that big of a stretch. As I mentioned above, there's no way I could pass this one up, but after reading this issue, I can safely say that my high expectations where surpassed beyond anything I could have hoped for. You already know how much I love Francavilla's work, no matter which comic company it happens to land, but with Afterlife With Archie, you can clearly tell which character is which, yet Francavilla's style--including his coloring, which I adore--still shines through. It's a mix I never thought I would see and I hope to see more of this experimentation in the future (David Aja? J.H. Williams III? Fiona Staples? Please?) Then there's the story.
My goodness...Aguirre-Sacasa had me at page two with Jughead distraught over his dog's death. I struggled not to cry as I sat there reading this comic and petting Tulip. I could only imagine Jughead's desperation, but then again, did he never see Pet Cemetery? I also felt for Sabrina and her initial decision of not bringing Hot Dog back to life, and imagined how difficult that must have been for her and seeing her friend in pain. You see, denizens, I'm only on page two and I've almost cried, I'm sad for Jughead and I completely sympathize with Sabrina's dilemma. Again, we are only on page two! From here, Aguirre-Sacasa could have had the rest of the issue happen at an insurance seminar and I would have be eagerly flipping pages.
So, yes, Archie Comics is awesome, and I need to get ahold of some more material, both old and recent. Here you have two talented creators who seamlessly mesh two genres that should never mix and they effortlessly (at least to our eyes) pull it off with no problems, leaving you with something special. I really, really enjoyed this and cannot wait for the next issue. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Swamp Thing
Annual #2
Swamp Thing Annual #2 - Written by Charles Soule, illustrated by Javier Pina and Kano, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Taylor Esposito, published by DC Comics. Wow, it's time for another confession. Okay, up until the last couple of issues, I was almost out the door on Swamp Thing. Nothing against Soule, but the continuous "guest appearances" were totally chapping my hide. Then we had the awesome "Villains Month" issue with Arcane that succeeded in creeping me out on such a level that I kept seeing that image of the evil menace sitting against that tree; the story itself was great, too. Now, we cross into the usually dreaded <expletive> annual, which traditionally has been a throwaway story that usually didn't work. Thankfully, that is not the case this year.
The Green has struggled since even before the coming of The Red and the dawn of man. Now, The Green struggles amongst itself as the current avatar (the Swamp Thing, Alec Holland) finds his roll challenged by Jason Woodrue, who is supported by various factions of the Parliament of Trees. Alec is going to need help, which he finds with two past avatars and one completely unexpected guest star.
Okay, this issue's "guest appearance" is one I can get behind. It makes total sense. Pina gives us so many crazy character designs for past avatars in this issue that I honestly wish I had a one-shot devoted to each and every one of them. This is especially true of the two main avatars aiding Alec Holland in this issue. Not only are the designs cool, but the action is also outstanding, especially where The Lady Weeds is concerned.
Soule, once left to his own devices, gives us not the horror that I loved so much in the Arcane issue, but a tale that pulls directly from the strife occurring within our own political system, and the situation is almost too close for comfort. The new characters have their own voices, especially The Lady Weeds who even manages to be a bit frightening in her resolve; hopefully we get to see more of her in the future.
This issue was great and I don't see myself jumping off this title any time soon. If you were a little thrown by the "guest appearance" issues that kicked off the beginning of Soule's run, just know that things now seem to be back on track. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Sandman
Overture #1
The Sandman Overture #1 - Written by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by J.H. Williams III, colored by Dave Stewart, lettered by Todd Klein, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint. I clearly remember the first time I came across The Sandman at the long departed Andromeda Bookstore in Goleta, CA. That first issue was sitting there, with the as yet unknown and haunting Morpheus gazing at me through the mist. The cover was unlike anything I had ever seen before. I picked it up and began a seven-year-long love of what would become one of my favorite comics. Imagine my joy when I heard the news that Gaiman would be returning to DC to write and eight-issue prelude with no less than the J.H. Williams III illustrating. I couldn't believe it. Unfortunately, that feeling began to give way to the pessimism and mistrust that had invaded this older Donist's heart over the past 18 years spent working for a living and dealing with the wonderful world of corporations.
Were my misgivings misplaced? Well, denizens, yes and no. You see, I really liked Dead Boy Detectives, the old The Sandman, Promethea, Hinterkind, Coffin Hill, Black Orchid, The Unwritten. Wait a minute...what book was I reading again? Sorry, there were so many highly intrusive, brilliantly white, attention demanding, double-page spread adds that I forgot what book I was actually reading. No disrespect to the wonderful books advertised, but nothing takes you out of the moment quite like turning the page and having an ad scream in your face. Amy the Donist World intern (my wife) read the book and proclaimed, "This is all one big ad! What the hell?" Then I read the comic and sadly I had to agree. I am thankful that the ads were at least comic related and not for Geico, or some hideous shoes, or Subway, or whatever, but man-oh-man did they interrupt the flow of things.
We also have the $4.99 price tag for 26 pages of content. I believe the 1989 first issue of The Sandman was $2 for 52 pages. By comparison, this month's Swamp Thing annual (see above) has 38 pages of material and the same $4.99 price tag with only single page ads near the front. Granted, Gaiman and Williams III command higher page rates--justifiably so--and the book has a gorgeous foldout four-page spread, which is pricey to include, but c''s The Sandman, you still see people dressed as these characters, and I'm not just talking about at the conventions either. It's going to sell, and it's going to sell well. Why not keep the $3.99 price and banish all the adds to the back of the book?
Anyhow, what comic were we reading again? Oh yeah, The Sandman Overture...aside from the above corporate nonsense (nothing to do with the creators at all), I liked it. We all know Gaiman can write and that his words, whether they are captions or dialogue or a perfectly placed moment of silence, will be lyrical, lovely. We also love all of these characters. Or rather if you have read The Sandman through to the end, and I really hope you have, THEN you love these characters. If you haven't, then I'm not sure this book is the right introduction to this world. I would strongly suggest starting with all of the trades of the original series and by the time you finish, The Sandman Overture should be gathered into its own hardcover or trade and minus the onslaught of advertisements. This series is for the dedicated fans, like me, who love the original series.
Having Williams III illustrate this series only helped make me look past the $4.99 price tag. (Yes, I know, the only way to stop bad business practice is to not support it, but it's the mutha fudruckin' Sandman gosh darnit.) He was kind of tailor-made to illustrate a comic about dreams and the bizarre and occasionally terrifying things that dwell there. Just have a look at the Corinthian page where each panel is one of the monster's teeth and you will see what I mean. Stewart's colors continue to complement Williams III's amazing imagery and make this issue stunning to behold.
I liked the story and the art on this continuation of what is one of my all-time-favorite comic book series, but the previously mentioned missteps have me considering trade waiting so I can read the book how I want to read it...namely uninterrupted. Again though, as a fan and given the gorgeous material I do have to say that this book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Let's Let The Sandman Overture Problems Stand For This Week - 'Nuff said.