Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 12/27/2013

(Sung to the tune of The Sound of Music's "These Are a Few Of My Favorite Things")

Trips to the Quiet and Feist dishing knowledge
Where were these great books when I went to college?
Archie with zombies, frog-head glove glory sings
These are a few of my favorite things

The Sixth Gun and Chew books do seem to be ending
That is quite cool, man, to heights heaven they're sending
Groovy old toys slay and dance minus strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Archers get beat downs, dead TV star plots thicken
Death fights his siblings, the Lazarus has risen
Ginny and Rachel dead girls of my dreams
These are a few of my favorite things

Diamond misships
Then my beer spills
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

Ah...Donist World denizens, thank you for coming. No need to be shy, come on down to my mom's basement in to the Donist World corporate office "Room of Reflection"--yup, being a Fortune 320,000 company means we got one of those; we also got one of those nifty chocolate fountains in the kitchen, but we're not here to discuss that perk. So, please, do come in and take a seat on the chaise lounge, or pull up a Donist World beanbag, and don't think twice about helping yourself to some of our triple ginger brew (add a little rye to the mix if you are of more discerning tastes and of legal age...*wink, wink, nudge, nudge*). Or grab some spiced cider, or some of that eggnog crap Obie insists on drinking. Help yourself to a pumpkin scone if you like as well; Tulip made them this morning. Aren't they good? Cigars on the left, "bubble wonder" bubble-blowing pipes on the right. All we ask is that you make yourself comfortable and shake off the remnants of any kind of stress or negativity that tends to cling to the ever-expanding holiday season. Inhale. Exhale. There, don't you feel better already?
Great. Now that we're all comfortable in the "Room of Reflection," I would like to introduce Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and the lovely miss Tulip our marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/contemplating-admirer-of-all-things-heavenly (my dog, Obie's sister). Without even thinking all too hard about the awesome comics released this past year, it was easy to come up with 13 exemplary titles. In fact, the difficult part was limiting the list to just 13. So, this is how we are going to run this thing: the pups and I are going to list our 13 favorite comic series of 2013. These are the books we bought as regular ol' floppy issues, and then we'll let you in on 26 of the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink things that blew us away this year as well. For the list of 26 things, they can be graphic novels, movies, television shows, video games, food, beer, and who knows what else, because if it's heavenly, it's goin' on Donist World FSoH/SitW.
Oh...hold on a sec...that's the pizza delivery guy. Obie, be a dear and pay the boy. I'll take a couple slices when you're ready. Don't worry denizens, I saw Obie skim from the petty cash box. I'm willing to turn a blind eye for the next few days; heck, it's the holidays. Anyhow, what a year this was. Can you believe the impact Image Comics made this year? Criminy! Those guys were not just on fire, they were darn right explosive with the kickace titles they released, both new and current. Don't get me wrong, Marvel and DC had some fun offerings to say the least, but it was with the "indies" where I chose to park the Donistmobile most every new-release Wednesday. I even...well lookee there...we aint even got to the list and we're already reflecting in the "Room of Reflection." See? I told you this place works. Without further ado, let's get to reflecting with...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Probably NOT Spoilers Below***

If you have a moment, check out our past FSoH/SitW Year-End Roundups for 2012 and 2011 to see all things heavenly from the past. For the comic series listed below, I provide an image of the best way to experience the comic if you have not yet read it. Basically, I will try to show an omnibus, then a hardcover, then a trade, and finally, if no trade is yet available, the first issue of the series. We at Donist World, thank you for reading and hope you enjoy these comics as much as we do.

Donist World 13 Favorite Comic Series of 2013 (In no particular order)

Read More!


Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 12/20/2013

(Sung to the tune of Ronnie James Dio's "Rainbow In the Dark")

Comic book lightning
You know they never bring me down
Saga you see, golly gee, to me
It's one of the best comics around

Black Science, pure magic
East of West I now see the light
They're cool 'n no foolin'
Rex: Zombie Killer'll set you right

Bet you didn't see Pretty Deadly comin'
They're all books you must own
Double rainbows in the dark
Double rainbows in the dark

<PWEEEEET!!> Enough! Enough! Obie. Tulip. Stop the presses. That's it, we've done all we can do for this installment. Publish this week's FSoH/SitW. Oh...hello there Donist World denizens. I'm Donist and I'm joined by my very tired executive team of CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and Tulip our marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/deadline buster (my dog, Obie's sister). Criminy. This week was a doozy. I have a sneaking suspicion that the our favorite comic book publishers pushed all the books that they could into this week as the next two Wednesdays are holidays. Obie, Tulip and I bought eight comics this week: five are reviewed below, one...meh, two I have not even had a chance to read (Thor God of Thunder and Daredevil). So, realizing we just don't have time to read and talk about those other books, we're posting what we do have to keep our regularly scheduled programming running. Hey, we made a valiant effort, so whatchagonnado? Anyhow, we hope you all have a fabulous holiday season and we hope you enjoy this week's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #17
Saga #17 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Fiona Staples, letters and design by Fonografiks, published by Image Comics. Question: didn't issue 16 just come out like two weeks ago or something? This is by no means a complaint, heck keep 'em coming by golly, I'm just curious if I crossed a time suck (read the second trade) or something. Why look a gift horse in the mouth...hold on, I need to look up what that phrase actually means...oh, got itSaga is my comic book main man, my compadre, the best friend who holds my long flowing locks of gorgeous hair as I hoark in the commode after a night of hitting the wine coolers a little too hard. Saga's got my back, denizens, which is why I will always buy Saga an extra round of beers, or give it the last Pliny the Elder in the fridge, or even attend Saga's dang music recital--and we know how much I hate those. Once again, this series solidifies itself as the Donist World darling of the year, which is saying something as there were some really tough competition from the likes of Sex Criminals, Hawkeye, Lazarus, East of West, and a host of other amazing comics that everyone should be buying. Oh yeah, this issue is not only fantastic, it will make you laugh, it will stress you out, and will provide a couple <gasp> moments guaranteed to leave you off balance. I definitely did not see one of the scenes playing out like it
In this issue we learn the true extent of Upsher and Doff's relationship, as well as just how much trouble they have dug themselves into with the Alana and Marko investigation. New freelancer Peter Murphy from Bauhaus The Brand makes their appearance along with Sweet Boy, their Saint-Bernard-From-Hell (?), much to Upsher and Doff's dismay. The Will continues to bleed out after last issue's misunderstanding, but offers Slave Girl a bit of advice. The author Heist begins to make inroads with Prince Robot IV even after the android had shot him, as Marko, Alana, Hazel, Clara, Izabel, Gwendolyn, and Lying Cat all make their presence known. This ain't going to go well.
The one lone word balloon on the final splash page about sums up my reaction to this issue, but I'm not going to tell you what that balloon says. The majority of Saga's third chapter (13-16) has been a look back at other events and other characters that lead up to issue 12's conclusion where Prince Robot IV tortured the writer Heist in an effort to gain Marko, Alana and their child Hazel's location. Unbeknownst to IV, the fugitive family is in the house. This month's installment picks up from that point and the reader and the creators are once again moving ahead on the timeline where anything can happen, and something huge does. As the moment unfolds, Vaughan has Hazel's beautiful narration run along each shocking panel with the aftermath on the next page running practically silent in response. This showdown has been slowly building over the past four issues, and even though it was clear that something terrible was going to happen with each page turn, I could not help but plow ahead with a building sense of dread. Vaughan delivers. It's harsh. It's upsetting. Saga's huge cast of characters have been so thoroughly developed over the course of a mere 17 issues, that whenever something terrible--or good for that matter--happens to them the reader feels it. You love these characters, quirks, foibles and all; the same holds true for even the "bad guys."
In past reviews, I have mentioned that if Saga were written out as prose that I would still enjoy reading the book and that Vaughan could pull off such a venture, but without Staples's gorgeous and compelling art, much of the charm of this series would be missed. Her line work and painting are without compare, making each and every page--take your pick--worthy of framing and hanging in the home. For this issue, the page where Gwendolyn kicks in the door and the two pages that follow are some of her best work to date, both sequentiallly and dramatically. Each gesture, rhythm and flow of each panel glides the eye to the next, never once pulling the reader out of the moment. In fact, I found myself dreading what was coming next, and wanting to turn away, but this was impossible; You can't help but follow the action of that one ruthless panel. Then there's the drama of those pages: a scowl, a smile, resolve, terror, realization. It is all so real, which makes the whole chain of events that much more heart wrenching. Like Vaughan's words without art, Staples's art without words will convey everything you need to know, but combined you can't escape the perfectly orchestrated beauty of this book.
In case there's any doubt, I love this comic. I've given the first trade as a gift to my brother, to Amy the Donist World intern (my wife), to a couple of my closest friends, and I was considering giving it to my coworkers, but remembered that the book falls into the NSFW category. If you are a fan of sci-fi fantasy intergalactic romance tales with a fair amount of sex and violence that is also one of the best written and illustrated comics around, then this is the book for you. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Rex: Zombie Killer #2
Rex: Zombie Killer #2 - 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. Okay, a little clarification and housekeeping on this one to avoid confusion to be sure you get the whole story in the intended order. Rex: Zombie Killer started off with a "one-shot" issue, and has since branched out into a four-issue mini series with the second issue of the mini-series released this week. (of which I am an affiliate) seems to have gotten mixed up and lists the "one-shot" and this second issue of the mini as the only two books in the series; this is not the case. So, if you order issue #1 from, then I'm really not sure if you will get the "one-shot" or issue 1 of the mini. So, I have linked to (they have issue 1 and 2 of the mini) and which has both the "one-shot" (expensive) and issue 1 and 2 of the mini. So, after going through all of this trouble to point out some places where you can actually buy this wonderful adventure if your LCS is out of stock, you can probably guess that I like this comic quite a bit. You can read my thoughts on the "one-shot" and the first issue of the mini here and here.
When we last saw Rex, Kenji, Brutus, Buttercup, and Snowball, they were mixed-up in a battle with a group of primates as led by Chuma, a gorilla who sees the forest as part of his realm. The battle was short-lived as zombified animals arrived to devour them all, including a massive zombie bear. If they are to survive, the animals--the living ones--will have to band together and face the threat. There is strength and numbers, and Rex hopes to convince Chuma to join his group on their journey to Nah-Vah-Da where he hopes to find a "safe place" alongside his lost human friend. Unfortunately, Nah-Vah-Da is a long ways away and there are rotters aplenty to stop them.
Okay, at least Anderson spared me by not making me want to cry like he did in the first two installments. As I mentioned in the past, it is as if the writer dove into my brain and wrote a comic book specifically for me. We have horror. We have adventure. We have zombies. We have animals--lots of them--who take charge. Anderson juggles many characters throughout Rex: Zombie Killer, yet he manages to give each their own distinct personality, wants, and issues, including the squirrels (who have organized, which terrifies me to no end). They are also complex. Rex is intelligent, commanding, his pack listens to him, but we also see his manipulative side come into play as he convinces Chuma to join them, playing on the gorilla's ego to get what he wants: a better chance of reaching the "safe place." The interplay between all of the characters is handled terrifically.
Yu's art, which I thoroughly enjoyed in both the "one-shot" and the first issue, kicks into high gear with this chapter. I don't know what happened since last month, but there is a sense of urgency in the action and the flow of the "lines" from panel to panel had me whipping through the pages to see what was coming next, but wanting to take in all of the little details in the art at the same time. I can only guess that Yu was having a blast drawing this issue as evidenced in the beautiful splash pages and the brutally awesome double-page spread where...well, you'll just have to check it out yourself (trust me, it's insane).
Pushing Yu's beautiful imagery to the next level is Romera's stunning colors. His tones on the characters are true to their light sources, while giving the impression of three dimension and fur as well. He also drives the emotion of a scene with unnatural background hues to great effect when needed.
Rex: Zombie Killer delivers on its Incredible Journey meets The Walking Dead premise and then some. Expertly crafted, beautifully illustrated and colored, and one heck of a fun read, the creators thankfully shy away from the overly gross and adult areas zombie comics tend to traverse, giving us a horror comic that even kids can enjoy--provided they are okay with scary zombies. Now, you might have a bit of a search ahead of you to get ahold of this fine book, but at least I gave you a starting point up top. Rex: Zombie Killer is the comic I desperately wanted back when I was a kid, but I'm pleased as punch to be reading it now. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

East of West #8
East of West #8 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics. Although I loved the first couple issues of this series, I have admitted in previous reviews to not fully knowing what the heck was going on. Now, eight issues in, the story and the characters make more sense as this fascinating post-apocalyptic world continues to push through the fog of confusion and it is a grim world indeed. I love it.
The President was put in power by three of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and she has to keep the order and do their bidding no matter how terrible their whims may be; she did not bat an eye at the offer. Meanwhile, Death, Crow, and Wolf travel deeper and deeper into the prison that is of Death's own making, and we discover who it is he keeps there. In the end we learn just how far The President will go to keep the populace in line and subservient.
If anything, you can count on Hickman and Dragotta's excellent East of West to be intense and oftentimes disturbing, but you can also count on it to be intelligent and beautifully illustrated. The characters are interesting, but unlike Saga you won't find yourself loving any of them. This is not a bad thing. Rather, the bleak world contains hints of our own and the intricacies of the story are so compelling you will have to return to see what messed up catastrophe happens next. East of West is another Donist World favorite and if you missed it the first go around, then the trade--at $9.99 retail, cheaper at catch you up on the first five issues of this amazing series. Oh yeah, this issue also features a guest appearance by the horse afraid denizens, be very afraid. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Black Science #2
Black Science #2 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Matteo Scalera, colored by Dean White, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. The cool thing is that it's only been three weeks since the tremendous first issue of Black Science was released. You might also remember that ol' Donist was blown away by the pulpy, Warren Magazine-style tone of the book. In that issue we even got to see a guy tear a frog-man's head off, wear it like a glove, and proceed to weaponize its electric tongue--how awesomely sick is that?!
The first issue dropped us right in the middle of some insane--and boy-howdy do I mean insane--action with fish creatures riding giant land eels, mountainous turtle cities, and frog-men with electrified tongues. This issue slows the pace down considerably to introduce us to more of the cast and to show their relationship to our title character, Grant McKay. We also pick up on a strange new world where a German soldier bayonets McKay in the side. If that wasn't enough, McKay's crew discover who the severely outmatched Germans are fighting.
Never in a million years would I have imagined who the sci-fi enemies of this issue would be, but if you read Remender's phenomenal Fear Agent series (I need to reread this), then you already know the writer is beyond well-versed in telling bizarre, but beautiful sci-fi tales. At two issues in, he looks to deliver another solid book.
Although, this issue is predominantly built around establishing the characters with a brief glimpse of this harsh, new dimension that they have to survive before jumping to the next random, parallel world, Scalera's art keeps each panel flowing from one to the next. His dynamic character acting shows us all of the emotions and defines the relationships between the large cast of characters with ease, even if Remender's great dialogue was to be removed. Dean White's colors, although not as gloriously trippy as the first issue, is still stunning, especially when it comes to scenes involving the tech of this world at war.
Although we are only two issues in, Black Science looks to join the parade of amazing comics Image keeps adding to their roster. I may not completely sympathize with the characters yet, but it is safe to say that I am in love with the Lost In Space style premise and I'm excited to see how McKay and his group survive jumping from one creepy location to the next. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Pretty Deadly #3
Pretty Deadly #3 - 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. Looks like what we got here is a fourfer of an Image Comics comic book bonanza this week, with yet another dang-fine offerin'. Like East of West, Pretty Deadly is one of those books that you have to be ready to read: no distractions, be well rested, be sure to have eaten. We are three issues in and I'm not completely certain of what is going on, but that is fine by me given the poetic beauty of the writing and art.
Bunny and butterfly continue their tale, picking up with Johnny Coyote who is lost in a fever dream from his gunshot wound. Missy, the daughter of Death, prepares to hunt down Fox (her dead mother's husband...confusing, I know), and Ginny, the vulture girl (see issue one...again, confusing), learns a bit more than she bargained for. Then comes the flood.
Pretty Deadly's story is like a large, mysterious jigsaw puzzle to which we do not yet have all of the pieces. But with each issue we receive additional pieces of the puzzle and the main picture begins to take shape. DeConnick's narration glides in and out of each scene with the dialogue rolling in with ease. Rios's imagery gives the reader a reason to linger on each panel as the story unfolds. Her design of Death is startling, creepy yet majestic; he is a thing worthy of fearing.
Pretty Deadly is still in the early stages of the story, and even though I'm a tad lost as to what is going on, I am certain it is by design. The creators give us a fantastic fairytale of the old West that is dark, bleak, yet beautiful none the less; it's like nothing else on the stand. If you want a lyrical tale that unfolds at the creators' deliberate pace, a tale of dark beauty, then Pretty Deadly might just be the comic for you. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

So Busy. So Very, Very Busy - I'm sure something got my goat, but for the life of me I can't think of what that might have been.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 12/13/2013

(Sung to the tune of Dean Martin's version of "Let It Snow")

Oh the new Wednesday comics are delightful
With Batman villains who are so frightful
The Sixth Gun would make a great TV show
Way to go! Don't you know! Make it so!

Oh, Lazarus shows no signs of stopping
I'm scared of Family Carlyle plotting
Chew's Tony needs to stop feeling low
Way to go! Don't you know! Make it so!

When its time to say goodnight
Snuggle up with a comic to keep you warm
Satellite Sam is a book to make things right
It shines and it ain't superhero norm

<brrrrrr> Why h-h-hello there, Donist World denizens. I'm here, as ever, with Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/coldness-playa-hater Tulip (my Boston terrier, Obie's sister) and we are chillin'...literally. But don't worry about us here at my mom's basement the Donist World corporate offices in California. My notion of what is cold these days is nothing compared to what many of you are currently dealing with, but just know that the puppies are miserable. You see, Boston terriers apparently need the following conditions to prosper: a temperature that stays in the realm of 68 degrees and 73 degrees, a steady supply of comic books to read, extended nap times, a choice of many fine and delectable kibbles, and a pitcher of mojitos at their beck and call. All we got going right now is the comic book requirement until this dang space heater warms up (c'mon you stupid To make matters worse, Donist World intern Amy (my wife) has decreed that we are not allowed to have mojitos before 5:00 PM anymore, and that hot coffee will go a long way to defrosting the executive team. That's fine. For now, the puppies and I will drink coffee and read comics while wrapped in my shocking-blue Snuggie...we're a close team after all. Ahhhhh, hold on a second while we do some market research on upgrading to a Slanket or going full on high class with a Donist World emblazoned Forever Lazy for each of us. So, grab somethin' warm to drink and have a look at this week's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Sixth Gun #36
The Sixth Gun #36 - Written by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Brian Hurtt, colored by Bill Crabtree, lettered by Crank!, designed by Keith Wood, edited by Charlie Chu, published by Oni Press. Well, pardner...I done been with The Sixth Gun since the beginnin'. Okay, maybe not since the beginnin' but thereabouts. Are you callin' me a liar! No? Well, okay then. Anyhow, The Sixth Gun done been one of my favorite funny books for a good while now. With the comin' of its inevitable end (14 issues more?) I might just shed a tear on that day, but the thing that haunts me is I can't wait for each issue to come along, which brings the end all the sooner. It's what folks 'round here refer to as a bit of a conundrum. Yup, best not to suffer the matter none. Hit me with another sarsaparilla with a dash of cherry, wouldja denizen? Gather round for the latest of the ol' timey West and don't say I didn't warn ya that it's a tad spooky.
Drake, Becky and crew are tired of being on the defense and look to take the fight to the evil Missy Hume where they will rain vengeance down upon her; they also want her mystical gun so they can set their own destiny. What they don't know is that Griselda the Grey Witch has taken her daughter-in-law's life and handed her gun to Drakes old nemesis, Jesup. As the group tracks down Missy Hume, some members start to get along, while others begin to feel neglected. What Becky and crew do not realize is that someone has come to visit them, and they bring a whole host of darkness in their wake.
After the tremendous action sequences of the previous issue, this new chapter does not feature a single unholstered gun and therein lies its strength. Bunn's character moments, narration, and dialogue are beyond fantastic in this issue as the pacing settles briefly to allow the characters to reconnect...or in the case of Nidawi, Nahuel, and Asher drift further apart. I especially love the exchange between Kirby and Becky as she begins--seemingly--to trust him enough to speak with him. Even better is the seven-panel page of Drake telling Becky what he will do to Kirby if the charismatic cowboy wrongs her again. The dialogue flows perfectly and inline with each character as they admit to how much they have changed over the course of series. Drake's protectiveness of Becky reassures their friendship, while also showing that a man and a woman can be friends without having to dance around any sort of Hollywoodesque romance; I hope their relationship remains platonic.
Pushing Bunn's stellar dialogue and character moments is Hurtt's wonderful character acting. With just one silent panel on the page where Becky and Kirby are walking through town, you clearly see in Kirby's eyes that he believes he is winning Becky over, while Becky's stare and slight smirk suggests that she is the one controlling the situation and she loves that feeling. In that one panel, you know exactly the type of relationship these two share. I also love the additional detail Hurtt gives to the character design in this issue now that they have all had a moment to clean up and make themselves presentable. Drake's double-breasted vest with the band around the chest and his trademark bowler hat are nifty defining details, and the newer character Nidawi's coat, tall boots and hat give her a very distinct and stylish look for someone who wears the shrunken head of a cognizant long-dead shamen around her neck. Add Crabtree's distinct colors and you have a book that's as gorgeous as it is well-told.
The Sixth Gun continues to be one of the best comic book series on the stand. I love it. To put things in perspective, I have even asked Santa Claus for the hardcover deluxe edition a couple of times--translation: I have been to most of the malls in Southern California to make it clear to all of Jolly Ol' Saint Nick's representatives that this 215-pound, 6' 2" tall man-child has indeed been a good boy by golly. If you or a loved one is interested in this amazing supernatural Western, then by all means start at the beginning, which you can do via trade paperbacks, through the Comixology digital offerings, or with the crown jewel that is the hardcover deluxe edition that just recently came out...and that I want oh-so badly! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Lazarus #5
Lazarus #5 - Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated and lettered by Michael Lark with assists by Brian Level, colored by Santi Arcas, published by Image Comics. Man, it sure has been a long wait for this issue, hasn't it? Come to think of it, no it hasn't been all that long, probably only two months as the creators took a well-deserved break before heading into the second arc. It only seemed like an eternity, because Lazarus is yet another incredible series from Image Comics. Heck, if I had my way this book would be released least.
We flashback to young Forever Carlyle, the Lazarus, in training and trying to garner her "father's" approval; the exhibition does not go well. In the present, Forever's surfacing feelings take her on a detour from her routine duties to apologize to the daughter of the innocent man she had to kill. Leaving even more conflicted, Forever continues her mission of trying to track down her traitorous brother which leads her into a sticky situation with two more of the ruling families: Bittner and Hock. Meanwhile, in Montana, we are introduced to three people who are considered Waste and we experience what life is like under Family rule. Finally, Forever receives a mysterious message.
Yup, that was a painful wait. Lazarus continues to be one of the best comics being published, as well as one of the most terrifying. Rucka has tapped into a world that could quite possibly come to pass given the current environment of corporate manipulation of politics and laws, spying in the name of security, and science that trails closely behind science fiction. This world scares me, yet I dare not look away. Rucka takes us back to Forever's younger days to show us the level of emotional manipulation that has been exacted upon her for most of her life, and her father Malcolm's coldness is perfectly captured in the harsh speech he gives her; it's all rather disturbing. We then turn completely around as we meet our first Waste family, and Rucka has me sympathetic to their plight by the fourth panel, but let's face it, denizens, if ol' Donist existed in this world I would most likely be heading for higher ground right alongside Bobbi and Michael.
Lark's art continues to be grim yet beautiful with the beginning pages of the flashback clearly leaving no doubt that the child we are seeing is Forever; she even has that determined stare down perfect. Malcolm's callous nature comes out even if the word balloons were to be omitted, but combined with the stellar speech I just praised, makes for a powerful sequence of events. The scene with Bobbie and Michael is also phenomenal, especially with the details of the soon-to-be-devasted house, and Arcas's colors succeed in pushing the already moody atmosphere even further.
Lazarus is also not a book you can just pick up in the middle, but if you are not reading this Donist World favorite, then you are in luck. You can pick up the trade for $9.99 (or less!) which has the first four issues, then pick up this issue, and you'll be all caught up with the rest of us...waiting patiently for the next dose of a world that could come to be. Lazarus is a must-read book for comic book fans who want an intelligent story with striking art while providing a break from the world of capes and tights. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Chew #38
Chew #38 - Written and lettered by Jonathan Layman, illustrated and colored by Rob Guillory, color assists by Taylor Wells, published by Image Comics. 22 issues left and counting. I know, I know. I need to stop being fatalistic about this. 22 comic books is still quite a few. Who knows, that's probably like another three years of Chew, which is awesome! I mean, Chew--after The Walking Dead, of course--is what started the whole Image Comics as a force to be reckoned with movement and it has consistently been a fun, disgusting, emotional, angering, hilarious, sad comic that I eagerly await each month(ish).'s ending all too soon.
Tony down in the dumps. Colby and Cesar plan a jailbreak. Savoy develops a taste for answers. Amelia and Olive got a little somethin' somethin' cookin' up for Tony.
C'mon! Now that's a mean way for the creators to leave us hanging. Man...ugh. Layman and Guillory let us know that their characters are figuring out what caused the bird flu, and what the space fruit is, but us lowly readers gotta suffer for a while longer until those characters are darn ready to divulge. You know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. This series continues to be a just one heck of a good time, and is one that I look forward to rereading--in the form of my three prized hardcovers--over the next month or two. My Christmas wish is that we someday soon get the Chew television show, animated or not, that we deserve. Books like Chew make me proud to be a comics fan. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batman #26
Batman #26 - Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Greg Capullo, inked by Danny Miki, colored by FCO Plascencia, lettered by Steve Wands, published by DC Comics. Okay, this boner boney Doctor Teeth Karl guy is all kinds of shades of horrific. I mean Capullo's Joker was one scary SOB, what with the tie-on face that was his actual face and all, as were the faceless owls who were forever watching...always watching. I thought I would have trouble sleeping for a few years or so, but this freakazoid in the stylish hoodie is enough to keep me up for a decade. <brrrrrrr> That said, I would love to read Snyder's first script description of this character and see how that compares to what Capullo gives us in this book. Anyhow...where were we? Oh yeah, Batman.
Doctor Death, or Karl as he used to be known, is about to kill Lucius, but not if Bruce Wayne has anything to say about it. After barely surviving the encounter, Bruce has a confrontation with Jim Gordon that sheds some light on Gordon's shady past. Finally, while tracking down Doctor Death, the Batman has a run-in with the law.
Snyder and Capullo's consistently excellent Batman is one that has not yet steered readers astray in regard to a well-crafted story with what is the best superhero art coming out of the Big Two--let's not count the "Villains Month" money grab or some of the recent unnecessary price jumps, okay? For this issue, I must point out the spectacular colors from FCO Plascencia, especially on the opening sequence with the lush cool blues/purples bursting from the page against the striking red/magenta backgrounds. The colors on these pages took Capullo's already creepy imagery and completely pushed the atmosphere of the pages to new and exciting depths. If not for the fact that these colored pages scare the pants off of me, I would love to see them hanging on the wall.
Unlike the previous three books this week, if you haven't been reading Batman you could safely jump on board with issue number 25 and then read this issue; you can always go back for the first part of "Year Zero," or "Death of the Family," or "The Court of the Owls," or better yet pick up my personal favorite the pre-New 52 "The Black Mirror,"or even better than that...all of the above! Scott Snyder is the man who brought me back to DC super hero books, and he's the one who keeps me coming back. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Satellite Sam #5
Satellite Sam # 5 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Howard Chaykin, lettered by Ken Bruzenak, production by Jed Dougherty, cover colors by Jesus Aburtov, published by Image Comics. *Huh...I'm not sure what is up, but (where you can support my site by clicking on the link and buying awesome comics from them, which allows me to buy even more books to review!) does not have this book posted up on the site yet, but click the picture to the left to go straight to to pick this up if you missed it in the store and can't wait.*
The password for this isssue is "BJ...BJ."Michael White (son of the recently deceased Carlyle White who was star of the Satellite Sam television show) and Kara Kelly (another star of the show and former private pin-up girl for Carlyle) are still on the hunt for the women who posed for Michael's father. LeMonde Network president Dr. Joseph Ginsberg is in on--or is it "into?"--his wife's dalliances with Reb Karnes. Guy Roth, writer for the Satellite Sam show gets caught with his pants down...make that caught on film, while Eugene Ford (Techie for the show) finds a potential new starlet...provided he doesn't go to jail for assaulting a nightclub bouncer. Finally, Michael receives a job from someone who knows some potentially frightening details about his father's death.
Satellite Sam continues to be a fascinating character study and period piece as well as a slow-burn crime drama. Fraction's dialogue all rings true to each of the different characters, perfectly capturing the feel of the time. Chaykin is king of the facial expression and that carries through on this title with the character acting that speaks volumes on a couple of nearly silent pages. He also draws a hell of an attractive woman.
I think I am correct in this next statement, but I believe that Dougherty is the equivalent of "colorist" on this title. Since the issue is black and white, he is given the credit of "digital production," which to me means that he is the one providing all of the fine black dots for shading, the unique patterns on each individuals clothing, and the patterns on the backgrounds. This all makes the book absolutely stunning in its final presentation, making it unique in look and style from so many of the other books on the stand. It's gorgeous.
I love this book, but it is not for everyone. Satellite Sam is an adult drama, emphasis on the "adult," and a perfect transition for fans of AMC's television show Mad Men into the wonderful world of comic books. I will say that this story is going for the long form and although I am enjoying reading it in serialized issues, I can see the book reading very well in trades, where you can tackle the book in large chunks at a time. There are many moving pieces on this well-woven tale, and reading on a monthly(ish) basis requires this old Donist brain to warm up a bit to remember what happened in the previous issue. Don't let that discourage you though, who said reading comics had to be easy? Especially when the series is as fantastic as Satellite Sam. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Technology In the Classroom - Before anyone decides to pummel me with "What's wrong with technology in the classroom, Donist? Kids need to keep up with the rest of the world!" True, true, but the problem isn't that there are tons of schools/corporations/private donors (don't get me started on corporations in the classroom, though) pushing this cause, and that's great. The problem is that most public schools have had their budgets so severely slashed that there is no one to maintain gear such as laptops, thin clients, or the current holy grail of buzzwords, the iPad. Not only do schools not have enough knowledgeable people on hand to prevent the more devious students from intentionally bricking an iPad, or to prevent those kids from messing with an Apple TV all from the comfort of their own iPhone, there are more immediate concerns beyond tech. How about supporting not only the tech side (proper cabling, secure networks, training of staff, having a techie on staff, etc), but supporting the actual infrastructure of the school itself? There's no excuse for a California teacher having to wear a snow parka in the classroom, not to mention the shivering kids, because the heat is "broken" or rather too costly to turn on. Or in the summer having everyone stewing in their own juices. Then there are the ancient student desks that spontaneously decide to call it quits and collapse during class...nothing damages school budgets quite like a lawsuit. If kids are loosing sensitivity in their fingers because of the cold, how well will an iPad in the classroom serve them? Let's fix the infrastructure, support that infrastructure, THEN take a deeper look at technology in the classroom.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 12/6/2013

(Sung to the tune of Dead Milkmen "Punk Rock Girl")

This last Wednesday I went to my LCS
I found some books there that made shout out "Yes!"
Punk Rock Jesus it's sure to please, hey I wouldn't tease
With Battling Boy your fun increases, just be sure to read Punk Rock Jesus

On the topic of new weekly floppies things were rather slow
But the ones I bought and read were quite good, don't you know?
Punk Rock Jesus is what you need, Swamp Thing you should also read
Trillium is sure to please us, just you must scope Punk Rock Jesus

Okay, Obie...drumroll please...What? C'mon, man. What the what? I...forget it, just forget it. Hello there Donist World denizens, I'm here with my CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and my marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/blog post counter and we have yet another cause for celebration. Now, granted, 2:00 PM is enough cause for the Donist World offices to pop the Champagne, but today is extra special. You see, Obie was sitting in front of the uber-sweet drum set we stole from my mom's neighbors' son Billie who really needs to knock off that racket past sundown procured, but in our excitement we all kind of forgot that dogs don't have thumbs and just can't provide a proper drumroll; Boston terriers are also too short to reach the bass pedal. Anyhow, what we are celebrating here is the 300th blog post on Donist World. <woo-hoo> Most of the posts are of the FSoH/SitW variety, but my earlier posts were initially my writing about anything and everything that came to mind. I wrote about the weirdos I met while working in retail (both employees and customers), odd and cool things that happened to me at a couple comic conventions and gyms, live concerts I've been to on "To All The Concerts I Loved Before", or on the "Still Thinking About Up In the Air" I talked about the past jobs I've held and what went down at each of them. But for the past I-don't-know-how-long I've mostly focused on "Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods." I'm thinking its high time I started adding a little variety to my posts on occasion, and we'll see where that goes in the near future. In the meantime, I want to again thank you all for joining Obie, Tulip and I for some of these 300 posts. So, grab some cake, help yourself to a mojito (you have my permission) and have a look at this week's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Punk Rock Jesus TPB
Punk Rock Jesus TPB - Everythinged by Sean Murphy, lettered by Todd Klein, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint. Well, denizens, sometimes ol' Donist is a little late to the fish fry. Or, I'm just a little strapped for cash and have to hold off on some of the many books I want to buy...but I inevitably get around to some of the awesomeness I initially missed at some point. Enter Punk Rock Jesus.
Last week, I decided to approach the Tower O' Comics erected near the bed, the one that makes Tulip nervous and that has possibly evolved a lesser form of sentience that leaves it watching...always watching. Anyhow, I liberated the Punk Rock Jesus TPB from the angered Tower O' Comics and after applying an ice pack to my blackened eye and a liberal amount of Mercurachrome to my cuts, I somehow knew my wounds were fitting with the book I was about to read. What I didn't know when picking up this book was that I was about to experience one of those comics that makes you sit back and say, "That was great. This is a career defining work. This should be included in the list of most important graphic novels of all time." So, yeah, it was pretty good.
"Money can't buy you everything" is generally a true adage, but when an insanely rich television network, Ophis, strikes a deal with the Catholic Church to supposedly obtain DNA from Jesus Christ so they can clone him and run a reality show called J2, money does indeed talk. The series follows J2 star Chris and his bodyguard, ex-IRA member Thomas McKael, as well as Chris's ever-troubled mother. Chris grows up under the always-open public eye, and J2 is in fact the most-watched show of all time, although it is not without its detractors, and they are many. As Chris's mother becomes more unhinged over their "imprisonment" on J2 Island, Chris begins to butt heads with Slate, head executive of Ophis. After sneaking glimpses into the real world, the world Ophis wishes to keep hidden from him--poverty, war, consumerism, fanaticism--Chris comes across some of Thomas's old punk rock albums and his eyes finally open. Now he knows his true purpose and the best way to deliver his message.
I'm fairly certain this book has ticked some people off, including many who will never bother to even read the story. In fact, it's likely to jump to the top of their "Burn at the next bonfire" list. That's okay...hey, free promotion for Murphy. Knowwhatimean? In the back matter for this trade (I'm unsure if it is included in any of the six individual issues), Murphy briefly explains how he was Chrisitian and his turn toward Atheism, which is what spawned the very book you hopefully hold, or will soon hold, in your hands. Usually with a deeply personal book like Punk Rock Jesus, you would expect moments to be quite heavy-handed, but this is not the case. Chris's evolution into the young man he will become occurs organically within the story, as does Thomas's outlook on what is right and wrong. With the brief summary above, it might not be clear that Thomas is every bit the protagonist for this story--at times more so--as Chris, and Murphy expertly reveals the man's history as well as his issues with the difficult decisions he has to make. Storywise, Murphy also has many other well-developed characters such as Dr. Sarah Epstein, and Chris's mother Gwen who shine throughout the book and have profound impacts on both Chris and Thomas and keep the story moving as a whole. However, my one story/characterization complaint is that I would have liked to have doubted my hatred of Slate at least once or twice before his "act he cannot come back from," but he retains his DB-ery throughout, or rather he sinks further and further into corporate evilness.
Before proving his substantial writing talent with Punk Rock Jesus, Murphy was primarily known as only an artist...scratch only an exceptional, highly-influential, masterful artist. He is responsible for the visuals on the likes of Joe the Barbarian, American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest (I need to read this), most recently The Wake, and a host of other books. This is Murphy's baby and his art clearly reflects this with the fine line work, detailed backgrounds, insane character acting and sequentials that flow gracefully from panel to panel. Every page is simply beautiful. My one complaint with the art is that although I love to see the unaltered imagery, I would still like to see a minimally colored version of this story--Matt Hollingsworth?--similar to what we get with the phenomenal The Wake. A colored version would only help push forward, drop back, and develop characters that extra little bit.
Punk Rock Jesus is an important work. After finally reading this remarkable and compelling story, I would even go so far as to put it up there with the likes of The Watchmen, V For Vendetta, Batman - The Dark Knight Returns, Essex County, Daytripper, and Asterios Polyp, and with longer form works such as Planetary, Saga of the Swamp Thing, The Sandman, Strangers in Paradise and of course the ever-amazing Preacher (another contender for the "Burn at the bonfire" club which I wrote about three and a half years ago here...ugh, we all have to start somewhere). Murphy has created a masterpiece that is readily, and inexpensively, available for your pleasure, and is one that is going on my favorite shelf until a colored hardcover (dare to dream, denizens) comes along. I really hope Murphy is beginning to chip away at his next big personal project, because I can't wait to see what he comes up with next. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Battling Boy OGN
Battling Boy OGN - Everythinged by Paul Pope, colored by Hilary Sycamore, published by First Second. Okay, as much as I adored this booked we're starting with a couple negatives here, denizens. You might remember that around the time of my 17th 26th birthday, I read and talked about Paul Pope's freakin' amazin' The Invincible Haggard West right here. I really dug it. I talked about how it was an awesome prequel to the not yet released Battling Boy OGN. I was pumped to get the main book, and imagine my surprise when I turned to the first page to find that it was exactly the same as the first page of The Invincible Haggard West; the same was true for the first twenty-some pages of the book. What the what?! The Invincible Haggard West is not a prelude, it is a sampler. Not only that, it is a sampler that charges you $2.99 to hook you, only to represent the same exact material from the comic in the OGN. I did not need to buy this, but I had no way of knowing this at the time of purchase. The only plus the 22-page comic has over the 208-page OGN is that it is standard comic size where OGN is a smaller form factor meant to be placed in the kids section of brick and mortar book stores. The size differential isn't even all that big a deal as many of the comic pages have rather large white borders at the bottom/top of the page so First Second could trim without affecting Pope's pages. <sigh> I'm not really digging this blatant money grab, but pushing all of that aside, the OGN is drop dead gorgeous despite being a bit petite in size. Enough complaining, on with the show.
With Arcopolis's hero, Haggard West, recently murdered by the evil Sadisto and his gang of hooded and bandages monstrosities, what man will rise up to protect the city plagued by monsters? There is no man who can stand up to the challenge, but there is a 12-year-old godling who has come to our world as a right of heroic passage. Armed with a collection of magical T-shirts that grant him the powers of the animal depicted on the front, Battling Boy arrives to help...too bad he has to rely on a secret helping hand from both his father and from a girl dressed and armed in the manner of the deceased Haggard West. Battling Boy better learn the ropes soon, as Sadisto does not plan on waiting for the child to fully come into his power.
This book is beautiful in both visuals and in the highly engaging story, and discounting my frustration with First Second's "marketing decision" this book is something that not only Paul Pope fans should seek out, but fans of fun stories reminiscent of some of the best comics from the '70s should own--I fall into both categories. Pope has given us his all with this book. We have exquisite character designs from the pulpy sci-fi goodness of Haggard West, to the over-the-top creepiness of Sadisto and his thugs, to the regal gods, and the car-devouring, bright-red monster. Drop all the word balloons, rearrange all of the pages in random order and I would probably still recommend you buy this book; the artwork is stunning. Sycamore's nearly-flat style of coloring polishes up Pope's art giving it an added '70s vibe that works well with the tone of the book.
The allure of Battling Boy is not just in Pope's visuals, but also the story; it's a fun-filled blast. The characters are all appealing--even the bad guys like Sadisto and the monster are worthy of following--and although many of the situations are ridiculous, they are equally captivating...I didn't want put the book down. Everyone has their own distinct voice and motivations with the words and art at no point battling for space on the page.
Although I am still kind of miffed about the comic money grab, if I push that quibble aside, then there really is no fault I can find with this beautiful work. Battling Boy will appeal to comic fans both young and old--I would have loved this just as much as a kid as I do as an all-growed-up adult--and is something worthy of displaying on your favorite book shelf so you can repeatedly read it between the long wait for volume two. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Swamp Thing #26
Swamp Thing #26 - Written by Charles Soule, illustrated by Jesus Saiz, colored by Mattew Wilson, lettered by Dezy Sienty, published by DC Comics. Oh how the mighty have fallen, and they have fallen to Jason Woodrue, the Floronic Man, the new avatar of the Green. Woodrue wastes no time in his new role as he seeks to further win the Green's favor by harrassing Cappuccino Capucine at Alec's old manor, picking a fight with Animal Man, and stomping on some big corporate climate ruiners. But what of Alec Holland? All he can do is watch from his new place among the Parliament of Trees.
Soule's decision to not show Alec Holland, the former Swamp Thing, but have him narrate as we watch Woodrue tear things up, works well for this issue. I liked getting a glimpse into Woodrue's past as his once noble cause twists into obsessive selfishness. There are some inconstancies between the narration and what occurs on the page, but the story is so fascinating that I had no problem looking past the conflicting parts of the Green's relationship with the avatar. I am also unsure of the decision to have this Capucine woman appear in the book so many issues ago, only to have her sit alone, on a swing, at a mansion, for months on end, but I can look past that as well.
Saiz's art, specifically on the Woodrue character design, is creepy and a worthy update to the emaciated Floronic Man I loved so much during Moore's incredible seminal run. The character acting continues to be strong and Wilson's colors breathe life into both the backdrops and the cool-as-heck look of Woodrue as the Avatar.
As I've mentioned in past reviews, I dropped anything dealing with The Swamp Thing shortly after Moore's treasured run. But when Scott Snyder was announced as writing the New 52 take on the character, I was in, and now that the book is in Soule's capable hands, it looks like I'm going to be sticking around for some time to come. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Trillium #5
Trillium #5 - Everythinged by Jeff Lemire, colored (half of it anyway) by Jose Villarrubia, lettered by Carlos M. Mangual, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint. "She walked in, he woke up. He'd never seen a pretty spaceman look so tough. Baby..." Sorry about that. No this is not another musical guest on Donist World this week, it was just something that went through my mind when I was thinking about this series.
Trillium is basically about a man in the past trying to escape his present and find a long lost temple that seems to be calling to him. In the future a woman seeks to save the human race from extinction at the flagella of a alien space virus and she believes the plant trillium holds the answer to humanity's plight. When the woman enters a strange temple, she transports to the past and comes across the man who awakens to life at the sight of her. See...a Prince song. This issue sees William and Nika with their roles reversed and something seriously wrong with the time stream after last issue's destruction of the temple.
The story seems to have slowed down after issue two, but I am still very much enjoying this inventive take on the time-crossed romance...although there has been little romance in this book thus far. The writing and art are very much in line with what you would expect from Lemire, meaning that both are exceptionally-developed. My only concern is that the actual story wraps up properly in the next three issues--I believe this is an 8-issue series--as this sci-fi, time-traveling, romance hasn't quite gotten to showing these two are destined to be together. Then again, maybe I'm wrong about the notion that this comic is a love story at its core. Regardless, we have interesting characters, an legitimate threat to the future, mysterious aliens, and something weird between the two timelines that I want to see get resolved.
Although I get the whole "two completely different worlds come together" idea and playing with the format of the books layout is part of that, a couple of the issues were difficult to read while trying to determine the correct panel flow. Now, I'm all for experimenting with story format, but at this point in the book the reader should be aware of the two worlds idea, but that said, the book is still a brave undertaking and a refreshing break from the capes and tights drama. If you are looking to check this series out, then please do not attempt to just dive in. Big mistake. You have to start with issue one and work your way through or at this stage in the game trade waiting might be the way to go...which makes me wonder how all the liberties taken with the format will play out when all eight issues appear in a single trade. Still, Trillium has me along for the ride until the very end. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Watched Arrow Season One on Netflix -  Don't read this the wrong way, denizens. I'm sad because Donist World intern Amy (my wife) and I powered through the entire first season of Arrow over the course of two and a half weeks. The show is FANTASTIC! I was hooked within the first ten minutes of the first episode and after much begging and pleading I convinced Amy to watch it with me; she was hooked, too. Great writing, overall awesome characters and character growth, with action scenes that were long enough to keep me happy, while short enough to keep my wife's attention. The negative side of this is that only season one is on Netflix with the second season currently airing. I want to buy the episodes as they release, but that looks to cost around $50 to get the whole season. Arrrghhh! I just might have to pull the financial trigger on this one so I can keep up with this amazing show about one of my lifelong favorite superheroes.