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!


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