Friday, December 26, 2014

Donist World Year-End Roundup - Part 1!

(Sung to the tune of The Sound of Music's "My Favorite Things")

Optimist hotties and school kid assassins
Walrus boy cuteness and Lazari badasses
Six guns and cowboys recall Lord of the Rings
These are a few of my favorite things

Cibopath agents and glow-in-the-dark thingees
Zombies in Riverdale and knife-wielding kiddies
Vanishing privacy and non-compliant voice sings
These are a few of my favorite things

Bad Southern coaches and dead ladies risen
Apocalypse horsemen and ghost cow head spacemen
So many good books that shine bright with bling
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

Friday Slice of Heaven

Happy Holidays, denizens! I would like to say that we at Donist World are tucked safely away in the comfort of the “Room of Reflection” located at the corporate headquarters (my mom’s basement), but unfortunately we are under a hostile takeover. No, no, no, not in the one evil corporate empire engulfing the smaller pie-in-the-sky, mom-’n’-pop, Fortune 320,000 company just trying to make its way in the world, but rather the holiday season itself has besieged us. You see, someone invited Aunt Bea and Uncle Billy Joe Jim Bob to the Donist World Holiday Celebration (thanks, Mom), which knowing their penchant for hitting ye ol’ eggnog extra hard, has historically made every holiday…well…extra hard, as in exceptionally difficult. Seriously, who attends a festive gathering with a set of body-fat-measuring calipers and takes the guests’ measurements for all to see? Anyways, it was especially weird this year, as Aunt Bea and Uncle Billy Joe Jim Bob split up…and by split up I mean they split up five minutes upon arrival to the party. Forget that noise.

So, CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier), and marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / party avoider (my dog, Obie’s sister), and I are on the run and literally heading into the hills. Obie knows of a tech dead zone — one, I suspect, he often utilizes to get out of doing work — so I packed a thermos of coffee, some tiny sandwiches, some kibble, some pumpkin cookies, and the gifts we are going to give each other. We also packed a tent and sleeping bags as we might be out here for a while as we wait for things to simmer down back at home base. Anyhow, we wish you all a happy, stress-free holiday season, and, hey, if you can find us hiding out in the backwoods, avoiding the holiday “joy,” then you are more than welcome to join us…just be sure to leave the calipers at home. If you can’t find us, then I hope you enjoy the first half of our year-end roundup.

***Probably NOT Spoilers Below***

If you have a moment, check out our past FSoH/SitW Year-End Roundups for 20132012, 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 14 Favorite Comic Series of 2014 (In no particular order)

Read More!


Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 12/19/2014

(Sung to the tune of Prince's “Controversy”)

I just can’t believe all the great books today…BooksYouMustRead
Lazarus all right. Makes me shout hooray…BooksYouMustRead
Swamp Thing and Wytches, bro, comics you surely need…BooksYouMustRead

Wow, I tell ya, man, that The Wicked + the Divine…BooksYouMustRead
Southern Bastards, yay. East of West: the World’s design is fine…BooksYouMustRead
So you wanna fly? Get soarin’ sky high…BooksYouMustRead

Holy cow, denizens, we got a lot of stuff to cover this week, so we are going to cut the introduction a bit short. I’m joined as ever by CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / eggnog connoisseur Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). The holidays are in full force and waging war on my health and mental stability. However, I vow to not get sick like I almost always do, and I will not get stressed over gifts, or guilt, or unrealistic expectations. I WILL NOT GET STRESSED! Oh…thank you, Tulip, for this eggnog that is…WOOO!…spiked how I like it. Anyhow, I am giving the gift of gingerbread pancakes here at the corporate office (my mom’s basement), so the puppies are on their best behavior. What’s also great is that Christmas came early with the awesome books we read this week! Yes, I realize that most of the books here arrived to my LCS late, but hey…they’re new to me, and it is never too late to recognize that which is heavenly. Without further ado, it’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Lazarus #13
Lazarus #13 - Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Michael Lark with Tyler Boss, colored by Santi Arcas, lettered by Jodi Wynne, design and additional content by Eric Trautmann, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics. Good things come to those who wait, especially those whose LCS had a box lost in transit by UPS and have to wait three additional weeks before they get ahold of yet another one of Image Comics’s stellar titles. But — as I always ask when this happens — was it worth the wait? Well, when you are considering a book about a world set in the not so distant future where 16 Families rule the planet, with a small population of serfs serving them, and an immense population of people deemed to be waste, then the answer is yes. Throw in the bonus of each Family having a Lazarus, a technologically / biologically enhanced protector, into the narrative, then the answer to whether the wait was worth it becomes a decided @#$% yeah, denizens!

The Families, most of them anyway, have come together at the neutral territory of Conclave at the isolated luxury resort known as Triton One, to discuss the matter of Jakob Hock’s (of the Family Hock) abduction, kidnapping, and ransoming of Jonah Carlyle (of the Family Carlyle). Malcolm Carlyle (the head of the Family Carlyle) suspects Jakob has taken biological secrets of longevity from Jonah's body, and Malcolm means to do something about it using his Lazarus and daughter, Forever Carlyle.

To sum up this issue: we have lots of talking and a covert operation. At first glance, it doesn’t sound very intriguing, but in the capable hands of Rucka and Lark, it is impossible to not turn the page after the first few panels. If you are a fan of Lazarus, and I hope you are, then you already know all of the characters, and after seeing Forever and Joacquim’s innocent, touching, and unfortunately most-likely-doomed budding romance blossom on the first page, you can’t help but root for these kind-hearted yet terrifying and deadly individuals. Rucka’s words and situations pair beautifully with Lark’s command of storytelling and character acting, making the many panels of people interacting utterly captivating. As a reader, we can’t help but feel Forever’s guilt over having danced with the head of their Family rival, or when Forever’s sister, Bethany, verbally thrashes her for enjoying a moment dancing with Joacquim. The degree of mortified embarrassment shown in the downturn of Forever’s eyes and the drop of her lips deliver the deep hurt and shame Bethany’s cruel words impart. On the other side, Bethany’s anger and disapproval are written across her face clearly for the world to see, but when Malcolm goes to Forever to console her, the five panel progression of Forever’s deep shame, to a relieved smile is a prime example of the magic one can expect in this series. Btw, we have only made it to page three of the issue, and my adoration is firmly cemented.

The Lazari poker game scenes are equally fantastic, and I absolutely LOVED the newly introduced Lazarus, Li Jiaolong, who shows that all Lazarus are not hulking murder machines, and that the power of the mind can be the ultimate engine of destruction. I will let you read the book to experience this new character who I hope we see a lot more of in the future. There are many Lazari in this seven page scene, but each has their own unique voice, and the phenomenal character acting and costuming of their formalwear as created by Lark is simply stunning.

The real payoff of this issue — for this Donist, at least — is the moment between Forever and Joacquim. Yes, the following mission sequence, and the crazy ending — not yet certain of what exactly happened here, which is by design — are exciting, but seeing two characters I adore falling in love, and the innocence and tragedy of their conversation really struck me. I have high hopes for these two, but the pessimist in me tells me not to get too attached…this is a cold, cruel world, and for the Lazari, Family comes before all else. Then again, who knows, with Lazarus Thomas things might be subtly changing.

I love this comic, yet still it terrifies me. Yes it is set in the future, but Rucka has gone to great lengths to extend current world issues along a line of progression that is not that far from believability. With the current disparity of wealth, many aspects of Lazarus might not be all that far around the corner, and this is not a world I want to see come about. Let’s face it, denizens, I would fall clearly into the waste category, and if you have been reading this series, then you know how well things go for those chaps. Rucka and Lark have created a fantastic and complicated world, that although scary, is something every sci-fi / dystopia / post-apocalyptic fan should jump on. You can easily do this with the recently released hardcover (issues 1–9, plus loads of extras) or the two trades (covering issues 1–10). VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Wicked + the Divine
The Wicked + the Divine - Written by Kieron Gillen, illustrated by Jamie McKelvie, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Clayton Cowles, designed by Hannah Donovan, edited by Chrissy Williams, flatted by Dee Cunniffe, guest colored on issue 4 by Nathan Fairbairn, published by Image Comics. I know it’s the holidays, and that many of you celebrate Christmas, a time of mass consumerism of gift giving and receiving, and that some of you might just have a copy of The Wicked + the Divine TPB waiting for you in that stocking hung by the chimney with care. Have you taken into account that Christmas is six days away? That’s six whole days without the glory of reading this frickin’ fantastic comic. Now that we have set the timeline, get in your dang denizen-mobile, go to your dang LCS, and buy yourself a dang copy today! Just be sure to conceal the fact that you are reading this book, and to feign surprise come Christmas morning when you discover you were indeed visited by Santa Claus and not Krampus. If you get a second copy, no big whoop, just spread the joy by giving it to a friend. Long story short: you absolutely need to read this.

Every 90 years, the gods return to Earth as beautiful young people possessing incredible powers and abilities. Unfortunately — or fortunately where some are concerned — these gods-made-mortal only possess a two-year lifespan before they are called back to the heavens or to the pit. Some love and adore them as if they were pop star celebrities. Some absolutely hate them. Some refuse to believe, but some, like Laura, desperately want to be one of them. Tensions mount when Lucy (aka Lucifer) kills a pair of would be assassins, and is placed on trial in the human court of law.

I didn’t really spoil anything here, as the premise was revealed ages ago, and the assassin thing happens in the first issue. That said, there is SO MUCH MORE going on in this book that you just need to experience for yourself. Gillen’s dialogue and thought captions flow beautifully giving insight into each of the characters; this includes the many gods who slowly make their entrance throughout the trade. McKelvie — an incredibly genuine and nice man whom Amy and I met back in 2008 and had sign a copy of Suburban Glamour — delivers his best line work to date, which given his stellar past work is saying something. Character acting carries all the right emotional beats in each scene, while the character design is stunning, providing some unique and interesting style to each of the gods; just take a glance at Lucy and Amaterasu.

Wilson’s coloring on the series lifts every character from flat, two-dimensional imagery, to realistic life while reminding the reader that they are indeed reading a comic book with the use of vibrant colors all without resorting to over-rendering. Even if the book was colored in flats, it would still be gorgeous, but Wilson’s minimal shading and carefully chosen color palette add volumes of life to the book. Speaking of flats, one cool thing Wilson does is apply flat colors to the results of the gods utilizing their powers, which completely took me aback and made me utter “Whoa…” many times throughout the reading.

Buy this book. You owe it to yourself, you know you do. You have been under a lot of pressure from the jobby, from the fam, from that neighbor who just won’t stop sifting through your dang trash, and the holiday season tends to bring loads of stress along with it. Enough already, dagnabbit, just do it! I blew through this book in no time, not because of a lack of substantial material — there’s plenty of meat on these here bones — but because I could not tear myself away from Image Comics’s latest must own title. The Wicked + the Divine is a dang near perfect comic, we are truly spoiled. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Swamp Thing #37
Swamp Thing #37 - Written by Charles Soule, illustrated by Jesus Saiz, lettered by Travis Lanham, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, published by DC Comics. The Lady Weeds is reborn this issue as she accepts the Machine Kingdom’s offer to become their avatar, and the Machine Queen is born. First order of business for the new royalty: shore up who is with you, and who is against you in your bid to destroy the Green.

This month’s Swamp Thing must have been in the same box as my lost issue of Lazarus, but no crying over delayed heavenly reading, since the flip side is that my wait for the next issue is that much shorter — unless that shipment gets launched into the void as well, which seems to be happening a lot lately. Ugh.

You already know I like this series, both story and art, but this issue is most striking in Saiz’s character designs as emboldened by Hollingsworth’s beautiful color palette. The pre-operation version of the A Calculus is creepy and worthy of joining your best nightmares, while the reverse can be said of the Machine Queen in her regal, metallic garb and her killer headdress of dangling cables. She’s hauntingly beautiful, even more so when the wings unfurl. Then we see the avatar of the Grey, as her own bioluminescence allows her to read various scrolls. We’ve seen her before, but she still looks impressive, doubly so after the Machine Queen’s “gift.” Visually, this issue is amazing, and the story only makes it stronger.

Unfortunately, to go along with the good news of finally receiving this comic, came the brutal disappointment that DC is canceling Swamp Thing come March(ish) when Soule leaves the series to begin his exclusive tenure at Marvel. This is a huge bummer, as I am even more excited about Swamp Thing than I usually am. Right now, a war is about to begin with the Grey, the Machine, and the Rot (via someone I am glad to see return…gross scene, btw) joining forces. I hope the next few issues form the story I wanted to read back when “Rot World” was first announced; time is limited, but my fingers are crossed. The crazy thing is that once this series concludes, I just realized I will not have any Big Two books on my pull list. Instead, I will continue opting for comics that try new things, that allow creative freedom, that don’t tie into any sort of marketing gimmickry to boost sales over providing fabulous stories. Swamp Thing, more often than not, gave me that sense of something different, but unfortunately it's coming to a close; I will be there to experience the end, all the while wishing the door would stay open. That said, I am available for a run if DC ever decides to change its mind and keep the title around. Just ask me for the details. Please please please! This issue is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Wytches #3
Wytches #3 - Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Jock, colors by Matt Hollingsworth, letters by Clem Robins, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics. A flashback reveals Sailor Rooks’s ability to disappear…she was always an odd little girl. But now she has not disappeared, but has been taken. Charlie, her father, knows this to be true after his bizarre confrontation with the bald, legless woman at the Rooks home, a confrontation the police say never occurred. Then again, crazy home intruders aren’t the only thing Charlie is seeing…

Finally, a book that arrived on time. Snyder gives us a small look into the Rooks family from three years ago, before cutting back to Charlie, Lucy, a police officer, and a lab assistant(?) as they survey the vast woods where Sailor and her uncle, Reg, have seemingly vanished from the face of the earth. After that is when the cold shivers will creep up your spine as Charlie flashes back to the legless woman (I thought she was a dude last issue, but certain panels…kinda spell things out for us), and unless I wrote three pages of solid text, I would not be able to express just how freakin’ disturbing this sequence is; you just need to see it for yourself. Same goes with what Charlie sees in the woods. These two sequences alone should be enough to mess up your sleep for the evening. <brrrrr>

The art and colors are as stunning as ever, with this issue incorporating Hollingsworth’s psychedelic effects onto every page. It is truly something magical to behold, which is my one minor criticism. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the effects, but maybe only having them show up during scenes involving the woods, or the wytches, or the freaky legless woman might make more sense than on every single page. This is just a minor thing, and I would gladly take the paint effects on every page versus no paint effects at all. One cool thing to note is that the creators share this issue’s process by taking us from inks, to flats, to paint, to textures, to letters, and finally to the paint effects added as layers. Gaining this insight into the process is reason enough to check out this awesome issue.

I like me a good horror story, one where you only catch a scant glimpse of what lies waiting for you around the corner. One that when you finally gather the courage to take that heart-stopping peek, you find nothing but a new clue, something that will fill you with a new level of dread right before you hear the creak of the floorboards behind you. That is exactly what reading this exceptional comic is like. Yes Wytches moves kind of slow, but this is at exactly the pace the creators intend, as they build their story upon a foundation of suspense and bone-chilling terror. If you enjoy a more cerebral form of horror comic, then this is definitely the right book for you. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Southern Bastards #6
Southern Bastards #6 - Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated by Jason Latour, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Coach Boss wasn’t always the mean-spirited, murderous, football coach who put Earl Tubb in the ground. He was once a high school kid with dreams of playing football, but his diminutive size, lack of muscle, and the inhuman humilities enacted upon him by the coach and team members alike refused to grant him his wish. Oh, and his home life kinda sucks, too. But just when things begin to look up, Craw County drags him back down.

As I mentioned last month, I don’t care about sports; I never have. But the creators of this title do the impossible and make me care. On top of that, they even succeed in making me feel bad for Euless Boss, a despicable character who I completely hated after the events of issue 4. Heck, after reading that issue, I went to bed mad at what the creators had this fictional character do. Dang, denizens, I was totally pissed. But like I said, the Jason’s have been shining such an informative light on Coach Boss these past two issues, that I can actually sympathize with him and now understand some of how he came to be.

I admit that I really wanted to jump back into the story with Tubb’s daughter, but now that I have seen some of Boss’s history, gosh darn if I don’t want to know more; I believe we will see two more issues focusing on the man.

So, yeah, I don’t like sports, but this comic drew me in despite my hesitance. It is so much more than a football comic: it is a look at the darkness buried beneath the pleasantries of the South, it is a crime comic, it is so much more. If you trust me, and I know you do, then you will pick up this title, which is an easy thing to do at the $9.99 retail price for the first trade. After that, you might as well just add this one to your pull list, ’cause I suspect you’ll be hooked after the first issue. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

East of West: The World
East of West: The World - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics. This comic is not essential to following the amazing story going down in the series proper of East of West. That said, if you are a fan of the series, and of course you are, then you simply need to have this.

East of West: The World consists of a bunch of things: a six-page story, an OHOTMU(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe)-style look at the different nations covering America, and a beautifully-designed timeline of this world’s history. Admittedly, there is a lot of white space in this book, but that in turn makes it exceptionally easy to admire on an aesthetic level, but when you actually begin to read what is on each page, and to study the maps and understand the timeline, those seeking a deeper understanding of East of West will get exactly that. You will learn the military strength of The Endless Nation, and the economic strength of The Kingdom, as well as the year of the death of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse Conquest, War, and Famine (2055) followed by the year of their rebirth. It's fascinating to see.

Again, you don’t have to pick this up to follow the awesome story happening in the three available trades, but this issue is definitely something for East of West completists and fans of clean design aesthetics. I just happened to fit into both categories. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

DC Canceling a Whole Mess of Titles - Yeah, yeah…I know. “You’re not buying any of these books, Donist, you just said so up above in your review of Swamp Thing.” This is true, but that does not mean I want to see any of them canceled. For all I know, some of the to-be-canceled titles — and many of the set-to-continue titles — are quite good and are ones I would greatly enjoy (if this is the case, let me know which ones). It’s just a bummer, especially with the Seasons greetings, Creators-Who-Are-Stoked-To-Be-Writing-a-Big-Two-Book-and-Earning-a-Steady-Paycheck, but your book is being cancelled. All the best in your future endeavors!!! type message the creators received about this. In all fairness, I’m sure the creators have known this for a while, and many will go onto other projects, but it cannot be happy news that something that has taken up such a major amount of time, energy, and brain power is set to end before the stories play out how those involved intended. I wish all the best to all those who steadily poured their hearts and their time into their work.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 12/12/2014

(Sung to the tune of Prince’s “Take Me With You”)

I can’t disguise my groovin’ on these books
They read so strong
Come feast your eyes, what can I say?
It’s goin’ on

Listen close, I’ll tell ya, bro
You know just what to do
Listen close, perhaps maybe
They’ll thrill you some, too

Sex Criminals? Bitch Planet? Please
They’re changing up the game
Rachel Rising and Afterlife
Greatness calling you by name

Listen close, I’ll tell ya, bro
You know just what to do
Listen close, perhaps maybe
They’ll thrill you some, too

Hello there, and welcome back to Donist World. I’m joined as ever by CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / rainmaker Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister) and we have weathered the storm…at least thus far. Late last night, my executive team and I rushed to the Donist World corporate offices (my mom’s basement) to be sure no rain had leaked in to damage our finalized five-year plan, or the roadmap to maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company…Tulip also wanted to be sure her bag of salmon kibble was safe from any water damage. Everything was fine, it was mostly a night of psychotic winds, but the three of us decided to enact an impromptu team building exercise by spending the night at the office in the dark, drinking coffee, chatting, and eating snacks. Obie went so far as to tell some scary stories, perhaps you’ve heard of a couple of them: The CFO Who Never Received an Adequate Bonus, or that timeless classic How Donist Failed His Business 101 Savings Throw, and Learned to Love Relinquishing Control to Obie. Needless to say, I’m questioning the validity of team building, at least in this team’s case. Anyhow, the sun has emerged momentarily, so we are outtie 5000 to get some tacos. In the meantime, pick up the hit ebook Kibbles ’N’ Bots, and then have a look at this week’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Sex Criminals #9
Sex Criminals #9 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Chip Zdarsky, edited by Thomas K, production by Drew Gill, published by Image Comics.
Sex Criminals is finally back in our grubby little mitts, and boy howdy is it as strong as ever. I know it, the dog knows it, I have a suspicion my grammie knows it, and the fellow brimpers know it. “What, pray tell is a ‘brimper’ you ask?” (Donist hangs his head low, but offers a sympathetic smile. There is yet hope.) To understand the “brimper” reference, you must be mature enough to have read the first issue of Sex Criminals, you should really be an adult, you need to have an open mind, you need to be sex positive, you should be receptive to laughing, you should have an appreciation for a beautifully written and illustrated comic. Oh yeah, did I mention you should be an adult, or mature enough to deal with the subject matter of this Donist World darling of a comic? Yeah? Well, alrighty then.

We begin with Ana. You’ve known of her since the very beginning of the story, but the truth: no one really knows Ana, but Ana. The world at large mostly knew of her as someone else; this includes Jon and Suze. But after Jon’s infiltration of the Sex Police leader’s home, they now know that Ana is much more than the former-porn-star of Jon’s dreams. In fact, she might just be key to keeping the Sex Police from interfering in everyone’s lives.

Yeah, there was a bit of a delay between issues, but you know what, denizens? I don’t care, and you shouldn’t either. Heck, the creators even apologize for the slight delay and promise to keep things on schedule for the third chapter. Whether a couple weeks or a month, it doesn’t matter to me as long as the Sex Crims keeps on a comin’.

What grabbed me with the first issue is exactly what grabs me with each and every issue of this series: the brutally honest look at life, relationships, adolescence, work, depression, and what have you. Jon and Suze resonated with me immediately, and because of that I have been cheering for them, not just for their plans, but for their relationship. Things have been a little rocky between the two leads, but isn’t that the case for all relationships at various points and times? With this issue, we finally see Jon and Suze communicating, and it doesn’t go well at first. They scream. They blame. They get mean. But they talk, and that is where the creators’ magic comes in. Every moment of the interaction between Jon and Suze felt so true that I could not, would not, tear myself away from what I was reading. Fraction’s dialogue and captions combined with Zdarsky’ storytelling and character acting capture the incredibly personal interaction of these two characters so thoroughly, so perfectly, that I could not help but breathe a sigh of relief that these two are back on track and working together. It’s almost like seeing two close friends who were experiencing some problems finally work things out.

The above is just half of the issue. The moments with Ana, a character I was in no way expecting to become part of the cast, provided a fascinating look into how certain chains of events and certain immutable situations can lead a person down certain roads. Experiencing Ana’s life, and the all-too-understandable choices she makes is heartbreaking whether it is her unfortunate accident, her unhappy home life, working for an inadequate minimum wage, or falling into substance abuse. I became whole-heartedly invested in this new character by page two, and seeing her finally overcome the odds that were so thoroughly stacked against her, I was touched; I can’t wait to see how she, Jon, and Suze continue from the last page. I also have to call out the awesome addition of The Wicked and the Divine, as well as its creators (ha!) to Ana’s story as well…I ain’t spoilin’ the context, but I promise you’ll crack up once you read it.

You know I love this dang comic. I have the individual issues, I will buy the trades, and I will buy the super-duper hardcover thingy whenever it happens. Sex Criminals is such a smart, affecting read, but it is also one that will have you laughing as you hope for the best for your friends Jon and Suze. If you are not reading this fantastic comic, you can catch up with the $9.99 first trade collecting the first five issues, and see what all the fuss is about. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Bitch Planet #1
Bitch Planet #1 - Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, illustrated by Valentine De Landro, colored by Cris Peter, lettered by Clayton Cowles, designed by Rian Hughes, backmatter by Laurenn McCubbin, edited by Lauren Sankovitch, published by Image Comics. Fine. Fine. Image, I tell you…my pull list scales have greatly tilted towards this dang fine publisher, and with the release of Bitch Planet, that side of the dang scale is dang near touching the gosh dang ground. Dang. Okay, this is another “mature readers” book, so no kiddies on this one on account of subject matter, language, and nudity. Now, I can only half say the nudity part, because of all the comics I have read through the many, many years, I have never seen more accurate portrayals of the female form. That said, the violence and messed up situations in this amazing new comic definitely make the book for adults only, and I will gladly say that this here adult thoroughly loved it.

“Be a good girl. Get them silly notions out of your head. Aim to please.” Most of all “We get by when you comply.” One thing women in this futuristic world do not want to do is get marked as “NC,” or non-compliant, lest they get sentenced to the Auxiliary Compliance Outpost (ACO), or Bitch Planet, as the less eloquent refer to the off-Earth, all-women detention facility. Women of all sorts who have committed all manner of violations inhabit this planet, and this just in…the future will be televised.

Holy cow, denizens. I don’t know what is going on in the DeConnick / Fraction household, but the two are delivering some phenomenal comics of late. Bitch Planet is an extreme look at a world where women not stepping into line with the whims of the patriarchy end up being shipped off planet. Even more severe is that the happenings at the ACO look to be televised for the amusement of the Earthlings — not to mention a perpetual warning against women speaking up — as an extreme, reality show version of Orange Is the New Black.

DeConnick instantly solidifies character voice to some of the key players, while organically world building without resorting to any sort of exposition. As I read through each panel, I could not help but think about the messed up premise of this comic book, but then it occurred to me: there are plenty of psychos out there who would love to see this world come about. Just read some of the terrifyingly real comments from some of the weaker-minded politicians out there, you know, those in charge. But let’s not go down that road here. DeConnick has the characters and the world down, but just when you think you know where things are going in the story, she knocks the reader completely off balance — twice no less — and leaves them reeling on a particularly nasty cliffhanger.

The story and writing are enthralling enough on their own, but with De Landro’s gorgeous art, the book only gets better. This world is not one of superheroes where every woman is a hypersexualized fanboy’s dream. No. De Landro’s character designs offer glimpses of reality as there is no single cookie cutter mold for the women in this book. You have Penny Rolle, then Kamau Kogo (who might just be my new hero), then Marian Collins, and so on with no one looking the same, even to the degree that each of the characters has their own body language. It’s honestly kind of insane. The only characters that are similar are either the faceless male guards, or the instructional hologram “women” who are hypersexualized reminders of how the prisoners should look and act.

Adding to De Landro’s linework are Peter’s amazing colors. He utilizes a predominantly flat coloring scheme for the actual characters, while the backgrounds get halftone dot gradients that enhance the cult vibe of this comic. His knockouts on the hologram women make them leap from the page and the additional use of the halftone dots makes them even more otherworldly.

All of this said, I want the dang double-page spread title page as a poster.

I was kind of blown away by this book, denizens. If I have to point out any shortcomings, it’s that it is only 24 pages, and not the 100 pages I would have gladly read in one sitting. If you are a “mature audience” and can handle a callback to the cult / exploitation films of the ’70s, and you love beautifully written and illustrated sci-fi comics that leave you desperate to see what happens next, then this is book for you. On a completely different note, I would love to see this comic reprinted on the old non-glossy, lower-quality paper used back when I was a kid to really bring home the culty vibe…just a thought. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Afterlife With Archie #7
Afterlife With Archie #7 - Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, illustrated by Francesco Francavilla, lettered by Jack Morelli, published by Archie Comics, Inc. Archie and his surviving friends have left Riverdale after the zombie apocalypse had taken over. Unfortunately, the undead, as led by a zombified Jughead, are not content to stay put and have given chase as Archie and his pals run for their lives to get to the nearest CDC. During moments of rest, Betty (re)journals her youth, the gang holds a makeshift funeral, and someone has decided that enough is enough.

Okay, now that was a long wait for this issue. But as with all issues of Afterlife With Archie, the moment you start to read, to become immersed in this twisted take on the familiar Archie-verse, any delays are soon forgiven. Although Jughead and his zombie minions only show up briefly, this issue is all about the retooling and modernizing the past as seen with the flashbacks to Betty’s childhood and life with her older, troubled sister, Polly.

As I’ve mentioned before, Archie comic books were always around me at an early age, but I (erroneously) avoided them in favor of the superhero books. It wasn’t until my 30s that I finally decided to give the books a try and I was floored by the beauty and perseverance of this wonderful publisher. I breezed through the Best of Archie Comics and then read the phenomenal Archie: The Married Life and felt my heartstrings pulled taut (I really need to catch up on this series). I mention this, because Betty’s sister, Polly, is new to me, so I’m uncertain what their relationship has historically been like. With this issue, however, it looks like Polly has been nowhere near Riverdale and is poised to make a return in the near future, which will be interesting to see how things work out between the sisters in this new, messed-up world.

On the subject of Polly as told through Betty’s journal entries — expertly written by Aguirre-Sacasa — Francavilla employs a more stripped-down, cartoonish style that when combined with his beautiful coloring schemes sets the mood perfectly with the primarily blue and complementary yellow colors. The regular story is as stunning as ever with its fiery-hued dramatic sequences adding to Francavilla’s storytelling skills.

Then there’s the small matter of the last page. I’m not going to spoil what goes down in a “Blaze” of startling glory, denizens, just know that a character does something that would likely give Archie fans of the ’60s a coronary. Biting my tongue…biting my tongue…but I will say that the creators will give you a serious case of the willies with yet another flashback that both the unsettling dialogue and twisted visuals are sure to elicit. Ack…it’s givin’ me the chills, by golly.

Alright. So maybe you are like the Donist of old, the one who foolishly wrote off Archie Comics for decades without truly understanding the fun, artistry, and brilliance of this vital comic book universe. But surely you have a basic understanding of some of the characters, enough to know that they have all been historically goody-goody (NOT a bad thing, btw), and that should be enough to lead you into the wonderfully spine-tingling Afterlife With Archie, which you can and should do immediately with the first trade. Afterlife With Archie is a delightful-yet-creepy twist on the characters we grew up with, and is something everyone should be reading. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Rachel Rising #30
Rachel Rising #30 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. Rachel is on a vision quest of sorts, and not the type that involves Matthew Modine. Zoe discovers the inert Rachel, but Rachel is onto something as she gains a clue toward finding her killer. But where Rachel cannot wake up, someone else is not afflicted the same problem, as this awoken person will soon prove to Zoe that good help is so very hard to find.

I am still in love with this long-burn horror story. Moore continues to show the diversity of genres for which he is able to create compelling stories. Of course he is most famous for his wonderful real(ish) world depiction of relationships (Strangers In Paradise), but he also covered sci-fi (Echo), and he has worked in the superhero realm with Marvel on many occasions. Now with Rachel Rising, he brilliantly covers the Twin Peaks-style mystery / horror genre with a host of characters you will take to heart, and a story that leaves you desperate to know what happens next.

Moore is a fantastic writer, one of the best, but when you see his art, that is when you go “oh…wow.” Moore is a master of character design, character acting, and visual storytelling to such a degree that even without his witty and compelling dialogue, you can follow his story with little trouble. In this issue, one of the most stunning pages is a silent one that depicts a man in a parked car, outside of a hotel, staring at his wedding ring, a gun in hand. This is a new, minor / major character (you have to read the comic to understand what I mean), but in all of two panels, we know this guy, we feel his pain. The hopelessness, the defeat, it all comes across without a word — none are needed. The final panel of the page shows the man out of the car, a grey sky above, and you have an entire story about this guy as told silently, over five panels on a single page. THAT is what you get when you read a work by this writer-artist.

I mostly detailed one page out of this comic, but much of it is actually spent silently watching the wicked goings-on in the gorgeously-rendered forest as a character makes his return (it involves a bear, btw…yeah, just read it!) before kicking into the final revelation by the lead character. Rachel Rising is my favorite horror comic, and it is one that Amy (my wife) adores reading in trade format…we double dip to support this amazing creator. If you are looking for a beautiful, chilling, occasionally humorous horror title, then Rachel Rising is a book you simply must read. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

More Missed Dang Comics?!?! - Grrrrrrr! Okay, now I’m missing a bunch of books that have been “delayed in transit”:

  • Lazarus
  • Swamp Thing
  • Southern Bastards
  • East of West

It’s a revoltin’ development, denizens, but at least I know I’ll get them…some day.

Speaking of Shipments - You have got to be kidding me! Check out these images, and then read the following “Packaging Feedback” I left for
Smells Like Teen Spirit, or
actually wet cardboard
Sure you care, buckaroos,
sure you do
This is most likely USPS's fault, but I received my package in a clear trash bag on a Sunday afternoon. The box itself looked as if it had been dropped in a swimming pool, and stank of old wet cardboard. The tape had actually come undone and one of the box flaps had completely ripped open.
The Blu-ray was fine, and I don't care about the dog bags, but the collectible hardcover book, although shrink wrapped, had let some water (I hope it was water) in and added minor warping of the actual pages. 
The Post Office had tossed a "Sorry, chump" note in the trash bag, that basically said, "@#$% happens, bro. Sucks to be you."

I have never seen a package delivered in such a condition, and I have worked in shipping/receiving before. This would be comical if it wasn't my order.

I think I’m going to try to request a replacement for the Saga HC, yes damage is minimal(ish), but the thing is a dang collectors item, and I expect it to be in tip-top shape. No respect, I tell ya.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 12/5/2014

(Sung to the tune of Prince’s “When Doves Cry”)

Dig if you will a comic
Of animal magicians with a twist
This Autumnlands book’s thrillin’ me
Have you my darlings
Have you read through it?
Dream if you will a series
Of cibopath Tony Chu
Characters which creator disposes
The story’s neat
It’s neat and it’s titled Chew

We love books that are outstanding
Ones that will not leave you cold (so cold)
Maybe you jive with The Sixth Gun
Maybe you want liquid sci-fi, cool Low
Maybe you want something nutballs
God Hates Astronauts (He sure does hate them blind)
No need to scream for any others
Comic books so dang good
You will cry

Dang, Donist World denizens, there is not enough time in the day to do what needs to be done, but we all know that. Anyhow, welcome back to Donist World! I’m joined as ever by CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / time crisis management specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). You ever wonder why so many people get sick during the months of November and December? For the past 30 years, I would say I have been very ill for 22 of the holiday seasons. Most everyone I know is so stressed to the level that it has become expected, celebrated even, during these two months, which is mind boggling to me. This is not even taking into consideration all of the family wanting to spend time together for some reason. This definitely gets in the way of maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company. What gives? To top it off, the Donist World intern (Amy, my wife) also wants to do things like celebrate her birthday (November), to which Obie staunchly objects, going so far as to suggests replacing her with one of the throngs of people (actually, only the crazy person in the condo complex wants the job) clamoring for the sweet Donist World intern spot. Ugh…ha…ha…ha…just kidding, dear, oh…sorry, valued intern and celebrated member of the Donist World team. Obie was just making a joke. Right, Obie? Right?! Anyhow, I got to get back to work (or rather, digging myself out of the hole I just dug myself into), but before I do that, let me do the plug of reminding y’all to check out my all-ages novel Kibble ’N’ Bots, which is available exclusively for the Kindle and Kindle Apps (Smartphones, tablets, computers) for the low price of $2.99 (free for Kindle Unlimited and Lending Library)! If you want to read about the exploits of Tulip as a pink-cape-wearing puppy with superpowers battling robots with her know-it-all brother, Obie, by her side, then this book is for you! Think Grapes of Wrath, only with Boston terrier puppies, secret identities, scrounging, pink hooded capes, robots, a secretive villain, space battles, adventure, laughs, and plenty of fun. Now, on to…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Autumnlands #2
The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw #2 - Written by Kurt Busiek, illustrated by Benjamin Dewey, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered and designed by John Roshell and Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft, published by Image Comics. Wait, wait, what?! What the heck is The Autumnlands? At first I thought last month’s fantastic Tooth & Claw premiere issue was so popular that it has already spun off a prequel or side tale of some sort, but that is not the case. No siree Bob, denizens, this is indeed the followup to that dang-near flawless first issue, just with a change in title that Busiek vaguely attributes to a trademark issue. To me, the title Tooth & Claw screamed death metal band, and I did a brief look online to see what might be the problem, and I found a heavy metal band with a song called “Tooth and Claw,” a Doctor Who episode shared the name, and there is also a book of the same title. Dang, that sucks. Of the four contenders, the comic is the winner for me, but what do I know? Don’t be surprised if the next issue has a name change as well, given that Autumnlands also sounds like a death metal band — minus any umlauts, of course. This is part of the bane of creating a fantasy book…all 1.3 million death metal bands have already taken all of the good fantasy-based titles. Anyhow, next month, look for Not a Dang Death Metal Band: The Autumnlands: Tooth & Nail #3 (aka…Fred #3 at your LCS, because after reading this issue you will surely have the craving for more of this bold new series.

Magic is fading. Those-who-live-above, the upper class (literally in this case), attempted to bring back a champion of old to restore magic for generations to come, and they succeeded…only their efforts brought down their floating city, leaving the magicians vulnerable to the less-than-sympathetic-and-resentful-as-hell ground dwellers. As the magicians squabble over what animal represents the champion locked inside the opaque ball of magic, an attack on the fallen city awakens the champion of the past.

What a blast! An action-packed, gorgeously-illustrated blast. The premiere issue was lengthy, a dense read focusing on introducing the main characters and more so on building this complex and expansive world; 44 pages for the ridiculously low price of $2.99, in fact. The first issue was not something you could casually sit down and read over the course of five minutes. You needed time to take in the creators’ world and to appreciate every single beautiful panel presented to you. There were tons of words, yet there was tons you absolutely needed to know. You needed to be prepared to take in the book, and who’s going to gripe about 20 free pages of material, especially when larger publishers would have easily charged twice as much for the book? (Okay, I’m sure plenty of folks complained about all the words, that’s what they do <sigh>, but not this Donist!)

With this issue — still longer than your average Big Two offering at 24 pages and a $2.99 price — we now know the world and we know most of the characters, and we get action as the champion makes his presence known, unleashing his fury upon the enraged buffalomen. Dewey previously wowed us with his uncanny ability to provide drama and emotion through the expressions of the multitudes of animal people, and by multitudes, I mean a good chunk of the animal kingdom is represented in this series, and Dewey captures each of them brilliantly. This month we get more of the beautiful character designs, but we also see Dewey’s intense choreography and storytelling through the wicked battle that spans many pages. Bellaire’s colors heighten the experience of reading this series, but when magic appears, the visuals become…well…magical, for lack of a better word.

I love this issue and I love this series, but I do have one complaint. It was completely unnecessary to show the champion in the mural last issue with all but his face obscured. Doing this essentially gave away what the champion ends up being. Yes, I guessed the nature of the champion before seeing that page, but that mural, although wonderfully rendered, took some of the steam out of the reveal. I would have preferred to have seen many murals depicting a different-looking champion, depending on where the mural was displayed. Or, maybe have Dunstun and his pals compare different versions of a story/book, only with differing depictions of the champion. This is minor quibble.

If you enjoy fantasy tales, especially ones of this calibre, then you need to hunt down the first issue and pick this one up as well. This comic has started off strong and looks to be headed in some crazy directions, and regardless of what the name of the series ends up being, I will be eagerly wait to see what happens next. So very cool. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Low #5
Low #5 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Greg Tocchini, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Oh my goodness, denizens, I’m crushing hard on Stel Caine. For those of you not reading Remender and Tocchini’s fantastic, post-apocalyptic, years-in-the-future, sci-fi, underwater epic — heavens to Murgatroyd, what’s wrong with you, btw — then you need to know that Stel is the stalwart hero of this series. She is a brilliant scientist, she is driven, resourceful, a fighter, but more importantly she is an eternal optimist despite having seen her husband murdered, her two daughters abducted, and her son fallen to corruption and depravity. She is also unbelievably beautiful (thank you, Tocchini) and I am not afraid to admit that I would be cool allowing her to protect me if the need ever arose…I would actually kind of dig that. She is definitely tougher and smarter than this ol’ Donist, but we’re not here to discuss my many issues.

Four months have passed since Stel and her son, Marik, were betrayed by Tajo, the daughter / sister abducted by the pirate Roln so many years ago. Now, Stel is imprisoned by Roln, ever at his side, and is frequently tormented by her brainwashed daughter. Marik, on the other hand, has done well for himself in the arena, but that looks to be exactly what Roln planned.

Last issue, there were a few sequences that I could not make hide nor hair of, but that is not the case here. Everything stands clear as day, even during some of the heavier scenes that left me wanting to cover my eyes because of the intense situations. But when admiring Tocchini’s stunningly beautiful art (See what I mean about Stel?) covering your eyes is the last thing you want to do.

At five issues in, I am still impressed with the amazing character designs. Roln, a red-headed, samurai-looking pirate with barbed swords, appears graceful and gentlemanly despite the evil seething within him. Then there is Roln’s brother, Grolm, a character we have seen looming nearby, but this is the first time we have gotten close to see this heavily-armored, skull-faced creature who has obviously been through some rough times. Such cool and unique looks, but when combined with Remender’s dialogue, my hatred of these two gives way to the vast curiosity to know more about them. With this issue, we also get glorious and gigantic monsters worthy of your awe. The colors command your attention throughout (just look at the primary colors of the cover) and add to the ease of immersing yourself in this book.

Low continues to be my favorite of Remender’s recent creator-owned books, which is not a knock against the awesome Deadly Class and Black Science (each of which I whole-heartedly recommend), but Low just has more of my favorite things: a strong central character, fascinating secondary characters, mystery, a flawed and self-destructive world, monsters, undersea adventure, and the stalwart hope for a better world. I already can’t wait to see what happens next! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Chew #45
Chew #45 - Written and lettered by Jonathan Layman, illustrated and colored by Rob Guillory, color assists by Taylor Wells, published by Image Comics. We haven’t seen much of Paneer since The Collector murdered his wife, Toni Chu, sister to the FDA cibopath Tony Chu. With Toni’s dying words, she asked Paneer to watch out for her brother…unfortunately, she neglected to mention which one. Paneer has been busy. He has also been looking for ways to get revenge on The Collector, and he has all the tools of NASA at his disposal. Also, Tony and Colby have it out.

What?! WHAT?! Are these creators out of their minds?! What are they trying to do to us?! Criminy! Okay…deep breaths, Donist, deep breaths. I’m not going to spoil the conclusion of the “Chicken Tenders” storyline, but just know that it is a whopper. Boy howdy, is it ever. After the carnage of the previous issue, I thought things might chill for a moment, y’know, get back to the funny. Not the case. Sure, Layman and Guillory have some of their hilarious and bizarre moments (“NASA’s got space suits” is the bee’s knees), but that final full-page splash?! Ack. Not expected and I am all sorts of messed up after reading this issue, denizens, no lie. It wasn’t until I started thinking about what happened that it occurred to me that things might not be that bad. Maybe these creators are every bit as clever as they have consistently been with the previous 44 issues (and each of the must-read Poyo one-shots here and here). Maybe, a hint at the why of what happened is staring us right in the face…hmmmmmm…then rereading Colby’s dialogue 36 times offered even more insight into why this happened. Again…hmmmmmm…those crazy, sexy beasts. I think I get it. Even so, the events in this book are freakin’ rough to see play out

Anyhow, any book capable of upsetting me as much as Chew just did — actually, it’s kind of been pummeling my emotions on a regular basis over the past year and a half — is something worthy of mentioning. I love the many characters of this series. It took a few issues for me to fully get into the whole Chewiverse, but once I did, once I got to know the characters, I was thoroughly invested in them all. That is why the past two issues have been so brutal for me, and I would wager for other fans as well. Regardless of how terrible things get for these characters, there is no way we’ll miss next issue to see if our hopes are raised — which does happen this issue, there is that — or if we feel like we were just punched in the stomach 47 times…again.

I don’t think Chew gets all the props it deserves. I check some of the other more popular review sites every once in a while, and oftentimes it is simply not mentioned. The same goes for the comic podcasts I listen to. I don’t really get it, to be honest. Who cares which superhero wears their underwear outside of their clothes and who doesn’t? Who cares what superhero’s life will be shockingly extinguished until their next movie comes out? Chew has real stakes, a compelling story in addition to the wackiness, and characters to hold near and dear to your heart. If you want to catch up on the book before the cartoon eventually comes out, then I would recommend the slightly oversized, and beautifully designed “Omnivore Editions.” Chew is not only the most unique comic book on the stands, it is consistently one of the best. Love it. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Sixth Gun #45
The Sixth Gun #45 - 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 Image Comics. Becky and Drake have found the blood-soaked seal that harkens to the destruction of the world as we know it. Thankfully, with the help of Screaming Crow and the ferocity of the Thunderbirds, the ritual to open the seal was interrupted, but Girselda the Grey Witch knows how to tip the scales back in her favor. Also, a companion thought lost returns.

Crud. This series really is drawing to a close, isn’t it. <sigh> Yeah, of course I do not want to see it end, but if the creators get to finish the story they wish to tell in the time and manner of their choosing, then I have to support the coming of the end. I also know the creators have no intention of making the conclusion easy for the characters as evidenced by some of the events of this issue. And land sakes alive, do things get nuts. One favorite character returns (ack…not going to spoil, nope) and it ain’t pretty. Then another character goes out, and that looks to make things even worse…for everyone involved, both for our heroes and the villains. But one of my many favorite moments in this issue comes through three simple panels where bullets rip through a building at a snakeman, Drake pulls the trigger to an empty clk, followed by his realizing the inconvenience of having to reload a gun after having relied for so long on the might of four mystic guns he once possessed. Right then is where I realized man, Drake and Becky are screwed. Things only get worse for them from there.

Story, illustrations, and color are everything fans of the series have grown accustomed to seeing, which means they are as stunning and thrilling as ever.

If you love The Sixth Gun, as I obviously do, then you will not be disappointed in the slightest with this issue, and I reckon you will be clamoring for the next as well. If you have not yet read the series that fellow creators, industry pros, and comic shop owners have been raving about for the past five (?) years, then you have a lot of catching up to do via the seven available trades, but I don’t think having such an exciting and grand series as The Sixth Gun as reading homework is all that bad of a thing. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

God Hates Astronauts #4
God Hates Astronauts #4 - Most-everythinged by Ryan Browne, although colored by Jordan Boyd, lettered by Crank! and Ryan Browne, edited by Jordan Browne, designed by Thomas Quinn, published by Image Comics. Oh boy, here we go. The gist of the story in this issue…ummmmm, okay. We begin with a flashback of the deceased Admiral Tiger Eating a Cheeseburger (then a prince) and see the origin of Croad. Dr. Professor is in critical condition after a brutal mugging, but thankfully Detective Charles Lebronson is on the case. Star Grass gets an upgrade and an attitude adjustment. A deformed cowboy and a cyborg-armed man become closer. Sir Hippothesis springs into action.

Does any of the above make sense to you? It kind of doesn’t to me, either, but I guess that’s the point. So, if you want another truly unique comic on top of your required Chew reading, then look no further than God Hates Astronauts. Summing up the characters and trying to explain what this comic is about would require writing a War and Peace-sized tome accompanied by some heavy therapy sessions. You just have to go with it, denizens. Just know that this comic is beautifully illustrated with scores of psychotic characters all beautifully designed, and with laugh-out-loud moments and hilarious sound effects. As for the story, it is safe to say there is nothing else like it, and that is an awesome thing for us readers.

Is fun your thing? How about a host of truly bizarre, yet expertly rendered, characters? Do you like to read hilarious dialogue from potty-mouthed, star-powered, ghost-cow-headed, cybernetic superheroes? Did that previous sentence confuse the bejesus out of you? If so, then God Hates Astronauts is totally for you. Just know that there is a “prequel” to this fantastic comic series that you absolutely must check out. Then, once you are all up to date on this positively nuts series, you can spend the holiday season attempting to explain it to your friends, your loved ones, and even your creepy uncle. This comic defies description, and that is half the fun. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

No Time, Arrrrrgh - Okay, the semester is ending for my graphic design classes, and I just finished one final Digital Imaging assignment and aced a Graphic Design final, but I still have to create an interactive brochure. Not only that, Snoop Donnie Don needs to be getting a jobby job soonish, but I need to create a better resumé than the unappealing and dense-with-black-ink one I have used in the past. On top of that, it’s high time I actually began marketing Kibbles ’N’ Bots and seeking both reviews and Amazon reviews. Oh, and the holidays are practically here, which means even more chaos. Breath in, breath out, we can do this…after I go for a run, of course.

I also need to talk about a couple trades I just read (The Wicked and the Divine and Nailbiter) and also an AWESOME new comic titled Creature Cops: Special Varmint Unit from my ridiculously talented friend (and Kibbles ’N’ Bots editor) Rob Anderson, with the book looking to land in early 2015. I will post an advance look in the very near future, but just know you should preorder now with Diamond code NOV140526. Exciting times, denizens!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 11/28/2014

(Sung to the tune of Prince’s “1999”)

I was travelin’ when I read these
Forgive me if I go astray
But when I finished ’em this morning
These books made me sit up, what the hey!

This Trees gets all gnarly
And Sabrina’s filled with tons of scares
To your store run and buy Nowhere Men
I tell you ’cause I really care

Donist says you gotta read these books
Game over, good, they’re sublime
So tonight we gonna read good books, and have us a swell time

Happy Thanksgiving, denizens, and welcome back to Donist World! I'm here with marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / lead turkey taster Tulip (my Boston terrier). CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier, Tulip’s brother) is nowhere to be found today, and I suspect that his absense has something to do with my missing chair, iPad, keyboard, phone, Miracleman statue, and I am guessing a whole host of other items I do not yet know are missing. I tried to ask Tulip where Obie and my stuff are, but — HEY! Where’s my framed Adventure Time poster?! — but she is too frustrated in her inability to get ahold of a “Black Friday” copy of The Lego Movie on Blu-ray for $3.99 to care, which kind of ticks me off as well. Anyways…Hey! Wait a minute! There’s Obie and he’s got my stuff. He’s out on the sidewalk in front of the corporate office (my mom’s basement) with a sign saying “Donist World Black Friday Door Busters!” Ugh.

I need to put a stop to this, but before I do, check out the Official Donist World Black Friday Special, which is actually a “Black & White” Friday special. Well…actually…it’s not a special at all, but it is black and white, because it concerns Boston terriers, namely Tulip and Obie. I am of course talking about my all-ages ebook, Kibbles ’N’ Bots, available exclusively at for the Kindle platform (Kindle readers, Smartphones, tablets, computers). Please help support this site, and my writing by picking up my book about a superpowered puppy (Tulip) and her know-it-all brother (Obie) as they battle robots and try to thwart the mysterious Bad Boss’s nefarious secret plan. It’s a lot of fun for the ridiculously low price of $2.99 (free for Kindle Unlimited and Lending Library programs. If you like the book, please rate it, and tell a friend, or better yet, gift it to someone. Have a great Thanksgiving weekend. As for now, look, denizens, it’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Trees #7
Trees #1 - Written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Jason Howard, lettered by Fonografiks, published by Image Comics. An artist awakens, as does a scientist in a more literal sense. A president gets exactly what he wanted, a woman and an old man plot. In the wake of the Trees’ arrival, the world was stunned into a unified silence. After years of apparent inactivity, humanity is pretty much back to normal. Only the Trees have not been inactive, and Dr. Marsh has an idea of what they have been up to.

Trees continues to be a fascinating look at humanity with all its promise as well as its tendency toward destruction, intentional or otherwise. Ellis has taken his time in telling us what the Trees have been doing, but for those patient enough to get to know the main characters over the course of the past seven issues and to understand the fragile nature of this world, the answer as to what the aliens and their mysterious flowers hold in store is finally being revealed. Like everything in this series, this revelation is considered an emergency by some, and an event worthy of seeing unfold to others. I would have to say that I am in the “extremely worried” camp — although my curiosity is beginning to get the better of me.

Howard’s art has been stunning over the course of the series and remains so. This issue focuses primarily on the character acting, and Howard’s storytelling prowess, but when the action does arrive, those handful of panels come as a tremendous shock, playing expertly into the flow of the story. He also uses colors to add drama to a scene, tending toward a complementary yellow to leap past the blues, emphasizing a key moment. Howard then uses the red of wine as an eye-catching moment to pause, but later uses a more saturated flash of blood in what can only be considered the opposite of a “cliffhanger” (sorry, you’ll just have to read the final page).

If you are looking for crazy, action-packed visuals of humans battling monstrous aliens, with spaceships, guns, and what have you, then you should probably look elsewhere. Trees has many sci-fi elements (aliens, robots, murder, war, the unknown, etc.), but it is geared more toward readers interested in Ellis’s message, and unraveling the answers as to why the Trees came to Earth to begin with. If that sounds interesting — it is for me, denizens! — then you should pick up the first trade when it releases in February of 2015 and allow yourself to get wrapped up in the mystery of this fascinating comic. Trees is a great, slow-burn, sci-fi look at the nature of humanity when faced with the unknown. RECOMMENDED!

Nowhere Men TPB
Nowhere Men TPB - Written by Eric Stephenson, illustrated by Nate Bellegarde, Colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, published by Image Comics. Forget musicians. Forget radio personalities and overly-vocal actors. Forget rich celebrity a_holes. No. The true rock stars are scientists like Dade, Emerson, Simon, and Thomas, all scientists who furthered the world with with scientific advancements through their research company World Corp. Unfortunately, there were also some setbacks…substantial ones. Then the group fragmented: one vanished, one became ill, and the other two rarely speak. What about the mysterious, and highly illegal, space station secretly orbiting the planet with a crew of super scientists who have slowly begun to change?

Right off the bat…I freaking loved this series! Stephenson (Publisher at Image Comics) and Bellegarde beautifully intertwine comic book storytelling with realistic media pieces (magazine articles, newspaper articles, interviews, novels, films, websites) while maintaining the look of each media piece relative to the decade in question. They also strategically add clean-yet-striking design elements throughout — have a look at the cover — delivering on heck of a smartly-written, beautifully illustrated, vibrantly colored, and fascinating read. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is also the matter of the secret, quarantined space station, but I will not give away the whys or whats involved with that. Nope. You will just have to read this book and find out the same way I did: page after page.

Bellegarde’s illlustrations are amazing throughout, with most of the impact coming from the intense character acting, but that said, there are some visually stunning space station shots, not to mention some impressive designs involved during the more…fantastical…moments of the series in the latter half. Complementing Bellegarde’s cartooning is Bellaire’s vibrant coloring, that steers clear of the drab and dreary look seen in many of today’s comics. Instead environments and characters come to life through her cool blues, fiery reds, and everything in between. Combined, the two artists create a look representative of the hope and wonderment to be found in a world where scientific advancement and the superstars that brought it all about are celebrated. This stands true for the more sinister moments of the book as well.

Again, I loved this series. Dang, denizens, I liked it so much that I am actually going to reread it all right now, just to see if I missed anything important — not to mention enjoy it all over again. I do have to let you know that this is not the end of the series, though. You indeed get a great story in this trade, but there are quite a few plot points left open for the second act, which has been delayed for an unspecified length of time. This bums me out, as I would have immediately picked up the next trade/issues, but if we have to wait a while to get the rest of this story, delivered as the creators see fit, then I will gladly wait. Now, the other negative that may or may not be true: this trade might be out of print. I’m not sure about this, but both and are out of stock, so check your LCS to see if this $9.99 bundle of sci-fi goodness is there waiting for you to experience and say “Science is the new rock ’n’ roll” followed by a decisive “More please!” VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Sabrina #1
Sabrina #1 - Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, art by Robert Hack, Lettered by Jack Morelli, published by Archie Comics Productions, Inc. Good things come to those who wait, denizens. This is still true when you had no intention of waiting, and a monopolistic distributor decided for you and your LCS that you had no say in the matter. Anyhow, Sabrina, came out a while ago — six weeks ago? — and for some reason my store did not get their copies. Given my intense love for the amazing Afterlife With Archie series, I desperately wanted to read this revamp of everyone’s favorite teenage witch into a world of horror. Thankfully, my store finally received their order, and I was there to grab a copy…now I need issue two to come out.

Edward Theodore Spellman promised his firstborn, Sabrina, to his sisters, true witches in every sense of the word. His wife, Diana, was not yet ready to let her daughter go, and pays a terrible price for going back on her promise. Then, years later, Edward, too, pays a terrible price, and Sabrina is left in the care of her aunts. Sabrina grows to be a powerful, young witch, gains a familiar, meets her cousin, and discovers boys upon entering high school. For such an abnormal childhood, life looks to become partially normal, but not for long given what has risen from the woods.

If you like/love Afterlife With Archie like I do, then you need to buy this book. Not only do you get 28 pages of story, some bonus materials (sketches, letters page, pin-ups), a cool die-cut cover, but you get a great horror story as well. Aguirre-Sacasa quickly ties this book to the world of Afterlife With Archie, only Sabrina is set years before the zombie apocalypse. This is a history lesson of how Sabrina came to be with her Aunts, and the awful — and self-inflicted — fates of her parents. Aguirre-Sacasa pulls in elements fans of the teenage witch are already familiar: her cat Salem, and her cousin Ambrose. The similarities pretty much end there. The mischief, the high-jinks, the comedy are all pretty much gone, barring a couple of funny moments, as the tale shifts to become a more chilling and dark-toned comic. The writer sends a steady supply of the creeps our way: Sabrina’s parents’ fates are pretty unsettling, her creepy aunts choose to raise her in a funeral home and are thankful for the “…endless supply of food,” and what comes out of the woods at the end of the issue is the stuff of nightmares. This is not your typical Archie comic, yet Aguirre-Sacasa has a keen sense of when to keep connections to what is known, and when to change things altogether.

Hack’s art leans toward the dark with a muted color palette, but his depiction of Sabrina — whether a child or a teenager — always brings a light to the mix, so much so that even the character’s hair changes from blonde to white. There is little action in this issue, but the strength of Hack’s art comes from his grasp of character facial expressions and body language. Sabrina, Ambrose, and the other teens in the book are all cute, but Hack also shows his skill in showing his grasp of depicting the truly horrifying by the end of the issue.

Sabrina is great with or without its ties to Afterlife With Archie. For $3.99 you get your money’s worth with this issue and it is safe to say that it did its job and got its hooks into me. One good thing about getting this book so late is that my wait for the next issue is that much shorter. If you are a fan of horror comics, yet know little about Sabrina the Teenage Witch, there is still plenty here for you to enjoy. If you already know the character and loved seeing Sabrina’s dabblings with Cthulu in the pages of Afterlife With Archie, then this comic is definitely for you. The second issue can’t come soon enough…let’s hope it arrives to my LCS on time. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Stay Positive, Stay Thankful - I am incredibly thankful to all of you for reading my goofy blog, which I have been writing since March of 2010. I am also thankful to those who have clicked one of my links to and bought something(s), which in turn gives me store credit that I use to buy more great comics to tell you about here on Donist World. I am ridiculously thankful for everyone who has bought my ebook Kibbles ’N’ Bots, and spread the word about my little labor of love.

I’m also thankful to the awesome Hypno Comics in Ventura, CA for having my missing copies of God Hates Astronauts #1 (VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!…I’m still cracking up over this comic) and Lazarus #10 (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!). Not to mention for selling me — at a 10% discount no less! — copies of the first trades for Deadly Class, Nailbiter, and The Wicked and the Divine. If you are ever in the area, stop by and check out this fantastic store.

I wish you all the best, and I am off to begin thinking about my yearend roundup, and to begin Tulip’s second adventure. Cheers, my friends.