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.

No comments:

Post a Comment