Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 1/31/2014

(Sung to the tune of Queen's "Killer Queen")

We keep comics in neat stacks
In our favorite cabinet
"What should we read?" you ask
"Some books that are heaven sent?"
Saga is tops you see
Lying Cats and tragedies
Oh Gwendolyn self devastation
This book is fine

Black Science and East of West
Comic books at their best
Extraordinarily nice

Books so killer, ya see
Soaring in a rocket tree
Dimension hopping thrillin' me
Guaranteed to blow your mind
Every time

<cough><sneeze><sniffle> I ain't gonna lie, denizens, I've been a tad sick the past few days, and I'm not yet back to full Donistness. So, please excuse any nonsensimicals that appear in today's as I'm trippin' balls off of this TheraFlu junk and don't know up from down. Anywhoooooo, hi there, denizens, I'm joined by Tulip the Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/personal physician (my Boston terrier) and by Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' dog, Tulip's brother). Obie is not being all that productive today, saying that he too is sick, which I do not fully believe, since humans colds cannot be transferred to dogs. Obie says I am wrong in this assumption, but I happen to know that he was out last night hitting the dog water pretty hard with those shady investors he met in Healdsburg last summer. Now, I understand that maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company means staying open to the possibility of expanding our operations through outside financing, but I don't think using those funds to buy a new firehose toy is the best use for that money; someday those investors will want to see a return on that 40 bucks they "invested" in Donist World. <sigh> Regardless of the truthiness of Obie's "illness," and while Tulip dutifully brings me a fresh blanket and a TheraFlu refill, have a squigmire delicious...farbleglargedy...whatever thingy...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #18
Saga #18 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered and designed by Fonographiks, published by Image Comics. Alright...enough clowning around. Where's my oversized (yet reasonably priced!!!) Saga hardcover collecting the first 12 or 18 issues? I'm not talking about an eventual omnibus that you can prop up the sagging side of your house with, or that requires you to have a spotter before you attempt to read the dang thing. Nope, just something along the lines of the aesthetically pleasing Chew Omnivore Editions. Saga is the best book on the stands--although there are a couple of VERY close contenders for that designation--so why not make me triple-dip this title? I have the individual issues, I have the trades, so why not seal the deal with a hardcover already? Hey Saga creators, while you're at it, why don't you get some more merch out there? I missed out on the Lying Cat t-shirt <sniffle>, but how about Lying Cat underwear (for him and for her) with the classic "Lying!" clearly printed on the... Anyhow, oh yeah, this issue concluding the current run...dang fine comic booking, denizens, if I do say so myself.
Last issue, Gwendolyn and Lying Cat appeared on the scene, Prince Robot IV was shut down, and Heist paid the ultimate price. Now, Lying Cat has an enraged Klara pinned to the floor, and Gwendolyn is in pursuit of her ex (Marko), and his wife and child. Prince Robot IV reboots and is not yet the "man" he once was, and it's up to the ghost girl, Izabel, to deal with him and stop Lying Cat from eviscerating Klara. With emotions running wild, and The Will's life slipping away, the hot-headed Gwendolyn will have to decide to forget (and not necessarily forgive) Marko, or kill those Marko loves to avenge her broken heart.
This is a beautiful issue and a nice conclusion for the third chapter. The story delivers all the emotional beats that have been building throughout this arc. Vaughan makes it almost impossible for the reader to fully support any one character in this issue, as each has a relatable issue: Lying Cat wants to save The Will; Klara has lost her husband and now Heist; Marko, Alana, and Hazel just want to be left alone; Gwendolyn wants to save The Will and to get answers from Marko; Prince Robot IV has the pressure of an empire upon him; Izabel wants to protect her new family. Each of the characters' wants are clearly defined, but each has made mistakes along the path to fulfilling those wants, of which the characters are fully aware. The only possible exception to this is Izabel, who is the voice of reason most of the time.
Staples's art is even better than ever, as seen in the opening splash with Lying Cat and Klara, and her sequentials glide you through the rest of the book, never once pulling you out of the story. This is reason enough to cheer her work, but it is the intense character acting--which I have praised on nearly every issue--that really drives the impact of this story. Just in the first few opening pages, we see Klara wrestling with her anger and her despair, Izabel and her annoyance at the entire situation, and Staples even manages to show the shame of a large, blue, hairless cat. But it is the scene atop the lighthouse when Gwendolyn confronts Marko, Alana, and Hazel where the power of Staples's character acting completely envelopes you. Those few panels of Gwendolyn continuing to make mistakes and finally falling apart...heavy, and so very sad, yet beautiful at the same time. I should also mention that the retractable lance thing is like liquified rebar, and I find it utterly terrifying.
It should really come as no surprise that Saga continues to be exquisitely told, gorgeously illustrated, and a satisfying read every single month(ish). With the conclusion of this third chapter, the creators are going on a sanity break for the next three months, but they promise a shakeup in the story when it returns in May 2014. I assume this will deal more with Hazel as she begins to walk and talk, but for all I care it could be about the girl learning her ABCs, and I would eagerly snatch up every issue. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

East of West #9
East of West #9 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics. So, what do you know? Another fantastic comic book and it's from that little-known company Image Comics. To quote Gomer Pyle - USMC "Surprise Surprise Surprise"(whoa, that one dates me...sorry, denizens). Anyhow, we all know that Image is publishing some all around amazing comic books, and East of West continues to be a compelling tale that leaves me never knowing what to expect, but loving every twist and turn.
We join new(ish) character Prince John Freeman--one of the Chosen--and the Union has asked him for financial help; the Union wants to know if they can count on him for said help. Meanwhile, Death continues to question the Oracle, who he has kept locked away for countless years, as to the whereabouts of his son. She agrees to help...for a startling price. John Freeman contends with an upstart younger brother, and consults with his father, the king of the Kingdom, as to how best to handle the Union.
I'm going to tell it to you straight, denizens, there is no horrific horse-beast in this issue to haunt your ever-loving days. That said, Dragotta and Hickman instead give you two pages to fill your sleep with a new type of nightmare. Let's just call it...eye stuff. Okay, <shiver> where were we? Hickman's cast of characters expands further with the introduction of John Freeman, and we take a slow step ahead with Death's quest. To read East of West, you need to be on board for the long haul. You will not get immediate answers to the many questions and mysteries that arise throughout this series, but with Hickman you can rest assured that you will not be strewn along unfulfilled like on an episode of Lost. The answers will come eventually, but the immersive story will pull you in and leave you wanting more as you become increasingly accustomed to the world and the many characters you meet. In fact, the "slow burn" of this series is one of my favorite things about it.
Dragotta...even if he someday illustrates an issue of My Little Pony, or Archie, or whatever, he will forever be known as the horse-beast and eye guy to me. My goodness gracious, those two pages I mentioned above are the epitome of horror. The writhing tendrils emanating from the Oracle's eye sockets, and Death leaning in for what looks to be a kiss on the previous page to...well, you will just have to screwup your own sleep for the next couple months yourself and have a look. <brrrrrr> The rest of the issue showcases Dragotta's storytelling and his character acting, primarily with John Freeman's barely-concealed disdain for his father; the resounding tension in those "talk" scenes is wonderfully unsettling.
East of West is fantastic. If you enjoy longer form storytelling, and post-apocalyptic worlds with a large yet not overwhelming cast of characters, then this is the book you should be reading. You can get the first five issues in trade paperback for $7.95 at, and don't be surprised when you go to monthly floppies with yet another of Image's impressive offerings. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Black Science #3
Black Science #3 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Matteo Scalera, colored by Dean White, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Finally, a non-Image...just kidding. Clean sweep from Image Comics this week here on Donist World, and that is definitely not a complaint. This publisher offers up some amazing creator-owned titles that look good, are fun to read, are not bogged down by decades of continuity, and can go anywhere...such as other dimensions.
We begin with a flashback of the events leading up to Grant McKay's activation of the "Pillar," a device that allows travel to wild other-worldly dimensions. Kadir, Grant's boss, is looking to have Grant fired for his inability to toe the company line, and the fact that Kadir has caught Grant cheating on his wife in the lab looks to make this possible. Three hours in the future on another world, Grant is bleeding to death from the injury he sustained last issue, and his only hope is a techno-shaman who possesses the ability to heal; too bad the shaman would rather scalp Grant and his crew than help them. If the "Dimensionauts" are to survive the jump to the next world, Kadir, Security Chief Ward, and Shawn (Grant's assistant) will need to put their vast differences aside and work together to save their anarchistic scientist's life.
At only three issues in, Black Science continues to be a blast. As I've mentioned in past reviews, this series is a mix of Lost in Space, Indiana Jones, and the classic sci-fi stories I've loved for most of my life. Remender gives us lead character Grant McKay--this might change as I believe this is set to be a "team" book, which is great--who is the man responsible for making the "Pillar," which is set to lead the reader on countless adventures. Grant is not a likable man. He's actually kind of an egotistical jerk: he cheats on his wife, he refuses to adhere to anyone's rules but his own, and he's the one responsible for putting his own children's lives in danger. But Remender makes you interested in both his history and what he intends to do next.
Scalera's art is beautiful in both action and emotion--check out that opening cityscape splash! Two pages later, the nine-panel grid of Grant and Rebecca talking is heavy, slow, and kind of messed up, but then you jump to the very next page to see a techno-tribe warrior scalping a guy; a massive change in tone that Scalera pulls off seamlessly. Speaking of the techno-tribe, the character designs, although not as heavily on display as last issue, are striking and just plain cool.
Another of the main draws of this book is seeing White's phenomenal color palette at work--again, see the first-page splash of this issue. Although we don't get to see the gorgeous complementary or analogous color schemes found in the first issue, the dusty plains of the techno-tribe's world is still beautiful to behold, and White pushes emotional beats through his use of color in various panels throughout.
Black Science is a blast and a book any sci-fi fan can easily get behind. I will admit that I am anxious for the "Dimensionauts" to move on to other, more-fantastic worlds (see the first frog people with electrified tongues, by golly), yet I am still so very on board for this tremendous book. You might have some difficulty finding the first two issues, but doing so is well worth the effort. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

"Get a Life!" - Ah! There ain't no feeling quite like parking on the street by the beach, changing your shoes, removing your sweater, and getting out of the car to take your dog for a lovely walk on a lovely day. You look up at the cloudless sky and smile, basking in the just-warm-enough sunlight, and you shut the car door. You're happy, your dog is happy, and you're both raring to go. Then you see the car parked 30 feet in front of you back up and make an illegal U-turn across four lanes. You pause for a moment, curious as to what is happening and the woman in the car--now on the other side of the street, facing the opposite direction--yells through her open window, "GET A LIFE!" She speeds off. You are shocked, stunned actually, and calmly look to your right, then to your left, and then perform a circular view of your surroundings--difficult to do with a dog on a leash. You find no one near you. The woman's comment was indeed directed at you. You will forevermore wonder what the hell it was you actually did, and why walking your dog is a cry for getting "a life."


Monday, January 27, 2014

Micronauts Monday, 1/27/2014

Hey there, Donist World denizens. Welcome back to Micronauts Monday, where I talk about my longtime favorite comic book series The Micronauts. You'll get a summary of the issue, my remembered reaction/experience with the comic book as a kid, and my thoughts as an adult after rereading the issues over the past week. The Micronauts is the book that introduced me to the wonderful world of comic book addiction. The sad thing about this amazing series is--as I explained in the first post here--is that if you haven't read the comics, doing so is going to be a bit of a hunt since reprinting rights are firmly wedged into a Prometheus Pit of a printing-rights purgatory. But don't despair, it can be done, you can find them. has most of the main series for a fairly inexpensive price. If you want to dip your toe into the glory that is the Microverse before committing to a hunt for individual issues, then you could also check out the five "Special Editions," which I believe had two or three issues included in each. Or, better yet, if you have an opportunity to do some longbox diving into the $.50-$1.00 bins at your LCS, then I'm sure you can find many issues there. My only caution here is that the story has a tremendous narrative that builds over the course of the series, one that deserves to be read in order, but that said, any Micronauts is good Micronauts! Anyhow, without further ado...

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts #11
The Micronauts #11 - Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Michael Golden, inked and edited by Al Milgrom, lettered by Joe Rosen, colored by Carl Gafford, published by Marvel Comics. This is it, folks. As the cover states, we are at "Saga's End" and the situation is dire. The tyrannical Baron Karza has returned to the Microverse and holds both Commander Rann and Princess Mari captive with only Force Commander (Prince Argon, Mari's brother) left standing to lead the rebellion against the man-monster. The rest of the Micronauts are scattered across the Microverse with Acroyear, Biotron, and Microtron restoring order to the Acroyear world of Spartak, and Bug is presumed to be dead. Argon and Karza clash, but even the Force Commander himself cannot stand up against Karza's evil might. With no other alternative, the embodiment of the Enigma Force, the Time Traveler, steps forth to take up the battle for the fate of the Microverse.
Young Donist - Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god! I was frantic get a hold of this comic so I could see what happened after last issue's insane cliffhanger. I'm also fairly certain I pushed my mother and father into a new realm of madness with my incessant begging to go to the Rolling Acres Mall newsstand and to the Quaker Square Mall in downtown Akron, OH in an effort to find this issue. I don't recall where I actually found it, but I remember that once I did, I bolted into the living room to get down to completely absorbing this comic into every cell of my being. Thankfully, I was joined by all of my Micronauts toys and we began to read. When I got to the Force Commander fight against Baron Karza, I dropped the comic and ran through the house, up the stairs, into my room and back again, just to let off the extra steam  threatening to cause this Donist to explode. The book only became more intense as I progressed and the page 16 splash of the Time Traveler appearing on the scene halted me in my tracks. I was desperate to glance at the next spectacular page, but I made myself focus on that one panel and to not turn away, prolonging the torture of seeing what happened next. What followed was the best comic book fight scene I had ever seen. The ending of this issue brought victory, the promise of Karza's return, and the destruction of my first copy of this comic book as I literally read the thing into pieces. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - No lie, I was practically biting my nails in anticipation of getting to once again read issue 11 of this amazing series. The first page splash of Karza's ship steadily descending from the sky with the promise of pain and death and suffering brought back all of those feelings I had as a kid, mesmerized by what I was seeing unfold. The stakes in this issue are so high they're nerve rattling, and Mantlo puts the reader on a roller coaster of despair, to hope, back to despair, to hope again. The story alone is worth the price of admission. Even if Young Donist had illustrated this issue, the story holds together, but, thankfully, that is not the case. Golden gives us some of his best work on the series in both the character moments and the brilliant action scenes. The Time Traveler versus Baron Karza pages are still one of my favorite comic book battles of all time, and I had to fight the urge to run through my house as a 43-year-old man and frightening Amy and Tulip as I yelled "Aggghhhhh...I can't take it, I can't take it, I can't take it!" The color knockouts during the final battle stand tall with today's exceptional coloring technologies and that ending "VASHTOOM" sound effect proves how the silent art of lettering can kick the damn door in and command attention when it needs to.
I can gush about this issue for days on end, but I'll stop for now. I have a strong suspicion that if you have already read The Micronauts--whether now or back in the day--then you are nodding your head in agreement to my experience. If you have not read this issue, then please do yourself a favor and read numbers 1 to 11 in order so you learn and love the characters of the Microverse and see just how thoroughly well-crafted the story is. This issue alone is why I love comic books. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #12
The Micronauts #12 Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Michael Golden, inked and edited by Al Milgrom, lettered by Diana Albers, colored by Carl Gafford, published by Marvel Comics. Baron Karza is vanquished! With Homeworld finally free of the scourge of Karza, it is time to lick wounds and allow a world to heal. Unfortunately for Acroyear, there is no time to celebrate as his traitorous brother, Shaitan, has challenged him to mortal combat or "Blood-Feud" as it is known to the Acroyear people. Plus...a hint that Bug lives!
Young Donist - I was pumped to see what happens in the aftermath of last issue's wondrous glory, and the page two splash left me smiling and feeling as if I, too, had been subjugated by Baron Karza's evil and was finally free. I probably sat in the living room, drinking a monstrous glass of green Hi-C, and turned the page to see the Micronauts talking. Then more talking. Then even more talking. I would have been greatly disappointed if not for the beautiful Golden art and the intense battle between Acroyear and Shaitan. That final page teasing that Bug--my favorite character--was still alive, raised my opinion of this issue considerably. RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Okay, I totally get the need to bring new readers on board and to let them all know what has happened in the story thus far; it is crucial to the longevity of many titles. That said, three-quarters of this issue was a recap and reintroduction to the characters. I did not find this as off-putting as I did as a kid, and I accepted it as a "bring 'em up to speed, Commander" issue that I enjoyed very much; having Golden's beautiful art doesn't hurt none, either. The fight scene between Acroyear and Shaitan gives this issue a nice jumpstart, and leaves me wondering how many movies have...borrowed...from the battle-overtop-of-molten-lava bit found in these very pages. Knowing Bug yet lives still makes me happy. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #13
The Micronauts #13 Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Howard Chaykin, inked and edited by Al Milgrom, lettered by Joe Rosen, colored by Bob Sharen, published by Marvel Comics. Bug lives!!! Our favorite, green-skinned, fun-loving Bug has managed to survive the exploding Phobos unit (a space-faring battle robot) and as luck would have it, he has crash landed on his native, red-leafed planet of Kaliklak. Now that he is home, it's time to regain his crew, find his lady love, and repay the treacherous father who sent him to Karza's "Pleasure Pits" so long ago.
Young Donist - "Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! Bug is back! This cover is awesome." Then I cracked open the first page. "Huh?! What happened to the art? What's going on?" I failed to understand that the artist had changed on this issue and the change in colorist was also noticeable. I didn't like it. What saved the issue for me was watching Bug whup butt, and seeing his lovely girlfriend. I also dug seeing the varied species of beings living on Kaliklak. As bummed as I was, I still enjoyed this issue and wanted to see what happened next. RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - "Oh man, oh man, oh man! Bug lives!" With this issue, young Chaykin takes over on art, and it is a noticeable change from the level of detail and the style I was adoring with Golden. Chaykin already has his storytelling down on this issue, but the refinement of his style would come a few years later with his American Flagg comic. Still, Bug's solo adventure is fun, and I love the introduction of his "ladybug," Jasmine. With this issue, I would give almost anything to see a side-by-side of what Golden's take would be from back then, and what Chaykin's take would be today...that would be something to see. RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #14
The Micronauts #14 Written by Bill Mantlo, layouts by Howard Chaykin, finished and edited by Al Milgrom, lettered by Annette Kawecki, colored by Bob Sharen, published by Marvel Comics. Bug and his crew continue their battle to retake Kaliklak from Karza's holdout forces. Between Bug's traitorous father still gunning for him, and the man who presided over Bug's tenure at the "Pleasure Pits" fighting to retain control of the planet, our favorite Insectivorid has his work cut out for him. King Acroyear and Lady Cilicia decide holding down a desk job (ruling Spartak) is no fitting work for warriors, and the pair head off to rejoin the Micronauts.
Young Donist - Somehow, I missed this issue and it would take years before I was able to actually get a copy. My cousin had it--which chapped my hide--so I did get to read it, just not in order. I still had problems with the change in art, but I was cool with my favorite character taking center stage. Whoa...what are the Fantastic Four doing in this issue! RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - I liked this issue just fine, but it's missing something. It could be that the art is not thrilling me, but I think this issue is missing the drive, stakes and narrative that made earlier issues so very addictive. My comments about issue 14 are going to be brief, because there's not much to say. It was fine, I liked it well enough, and the lesson I can take away as a writer is that you cannot expect every issue to be a grand slam. RECOMMENDED!

That's it for now, and I hope to see you next week where we start off with an issue that at least brought the thrills back to my favorite series...if not Michael Golden! Thanks for reading.

While writing this entry, I listened to the Ahmad Jamal Trio's "The Awakening" and the soundtrack "La Planete Sauvage". Check 'em out if you can.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 1/24/2014

(Sung to the tune of Pink Floyd's "The Wall")

So you want some groovy comics
We just need some Deadly Class
How 'bout some Bad Dog, Chew, or Batman
Donist, throw these kids a bone

Hey, Donist, throw these kids a bone

All in all these are great comics, I'm tellin' you all
All in all read great comics, I'm tellin' you all

So you want some groovy comics,
We just need Pretty Deadly, Cuzz
How 'bout some Hawkeye, for you to go try
Donist, throw these kids a bone

Geez Louise, I had forgotten how creepy that Pink Floyd video was, and now I know where my dreams are headed tonight <brrrrr>...anyhow, welcome back to Donist World, denizens. I'm joined this week by Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/pumpkin pancake connoisseur Tulip (my Boston terrier), and fresh from his corporate retreat--of which he attended alone and on the company dime--is Donist World CFO Obie (my friends' dog, Tulip's brother). It was a slammin' comics week, and we have six of the seven comics that I bought to look at, so we're going to keep this intro short. Just know that here at Donist World headquarters (my mom's basement), we are fully committed to maintaining our Fortune 320,000 status while synergizing our intra-geo-methodologies to bring you the the things you should be checking out. Now, while I scrutinize Obie's T&E (that's travel and expense for you non-Fortune 320,000 company types) report and--since when does a 15lb bag of kibble cost $429.97? Ugh, while I roll up a newspaper to have a talk with our CFO, take a gander at this week's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Deadly Class #1
Deadly Class #1 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, colored by Lee Loughridge, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Hey, Remender...hey, Image Comics...Are you proud of yourselves? Is this what you wanted? Is it? Huh? Well, no use crying over spilled milk, I'm in, hook, line, and sinker. Oh, all right, stop with the doe-eyed innocence look, and git...go on, run back outside and play in your subterranean assassin training compound for youths. We all know I can't stay mad at you; I never could. Just be sure to be back home before supper. And don't forget to check on that little rascal Black Scienceain't no tellin' what he's getting into.
It's the '80s and Marcus's life has been terrible. Having tragically lost his parents in an accident that should have never happened, and forced into a boys' home, Marcus quickly decides life is safer living on his own under a bridge than suffering the evils of the home; he's fourteen. A few more bad events push him to hopelessness, and as he finds himself standing atop the Golden Gate Bridge staring down at the water below. A voice whispers "Don't." Life then speeds up, and Marcus is on the run from the police when a gang of teens intervene to provide Marcus with the choice of a lifetime.
I wasn't planning on picking up this book, but my LCS pulled aside a copy for me, and after glancing at two or three pages, I knew there was no way I was going to pass on this tremendous new series--Remender's second in the past three months. This is a personal tale as evidenced by the letters page at the back of the book--which you simply MUST read. Remender, Craig, and Girner all collaborated on Deadly Class and they make it painfully clear for the first third of the book just how miserable Marcus's life has been in a way that is not over-the-top. They also don't bludgeon us with a barrage of exposition, but rather the information flows naturally, fluidly from one painful panel to the next. The repercussions of Reagan's defunding of U.S. mental health facilities succeeded in destroying much of the lead character's life, and from there we understand why Marcus would decide to call it quits. Then the Kings Dominion School of the Deadly Arts appears with an offer Marcus can't refuse if he wishes to offer they could have made much sooner, yet clearly did not to be sure Marcus had been sufficiently beat down by life to accept their offer. It's all exceptionally heavy, yet compelling to the point I could not put the book down.
Don't fret, though, this book is by no means a downer as the later two-thirds is filled with action so intense I was flying through the pages. I am not overly familiar with Craig's work, but I am now seeking to remedy that mistake. His storytelling skills are mighty, and oftentimes go against normal panel count guidelines to great effect. On the two pages where a homeless man tries to steal Marcus's shoes, we have a page with 10 and 17 panels respectively. Pages with this many panels are difficult to pull off, heck, having a page work with more than seven panels is no easy feat, yet Craig makes such high-panel counts work effortlessly throughout the entirety of the book. He also cleverly adjusts the angle of the panel borders on the more action-intense pages, adding additional velocity to each scene to the point that I felt like I, too, was involved in the car/motorcycle chase. Sloping down, sloping up, and jumbled all around, Craig's layouts pull you right into the middle of the action. Oh yeah, character acting? He has that down, too.
I will say that it was the coloring that grabbed my attention first as I flipped through Deadly Class at my LCS. Loughridge uses a predominantly flat coloring style, but instead of using the same general color palette throughout, he fluctuates between warm and cool, monochromatic and contrasting to push the emotions of Craig's action scenes into overdrive. It's an experimental choice, but one that works perfectly.
So, surprise, surprise, Image Comics releases another kickace comic book that I am completely invested in. At 30 dense pages, you will breeze through this comic in no time and if you are like me, you will flip back through just to make sure you didn't miss anything. As the cover suggests, there are a whole host of characters involved in this story, and with issue one we have really met only three of them (one of whom is not even on the cover). There's a lot to come, denizens, and I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to see what happens next. THIS is how you start a comic book series. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Bad Dog #6
Bad Dog #6 - Written by Joe Kelly, illustrated by Diego Greco, lettered by Thomas Mauer, published by Image Comics. This is kind of weird, denizens. I had almost forgotten about Bad Dog up until last month when issue five popped up out of the blue to remind me of how much I had enjoyed the first four issues. Then came the darkness. Nothing, zilch, nada for months, years, possibly centuries. But like I said, issue five came in to remind me of how much I had missed the story of a werewolf named Lou and his diminutive partner, Wendell.
Bounty huntin', hard drinkin', some substance abuse, wakin' up in strange hotel rooms with ladies of questionable morals, what more could a werewolf possibly want? The problem is that this is not what Lou wants. In fact, he doesn't know what he wants, until he sees a milk carton with a missing girl he's been trying to find for some time. From there it's a beautiful-but-psychotic assassin extremist, her diabolical bull god, accountants with a death wish (what else is new?), an a-list a-hole who wants Lou on his payroll, and Wendell...loose in the very bowels of Las Vegas. Oh dear...
Bad Dog is not so much a comic that skirts the line of good taste, but rather one that kicks it, stomps it, and reminds it of what happened way back in junior high...yeah...that incident. Kelly is clearly enjoying the character of Lou, but once you get past the debauchery and the exceedingly poor behavior, we see the other side of Lou, the one merely hinted at in prior issues. Lou is a man lost, who does not know his place in life, and becoming a werewolf and acting like how he expects a werewolf to act only serves to push Lou deeper into ennui. Finally, then comes the revelation, but Kelly puts a twist on Lou's awakening and it's kind of rough to see despite being necessary. Kelly's dialogue continues to be well-paced and extremely funny.
The issue clocks in at almost 45 pages, which is especially great as we get tons more of Greco's beautifully rendered illustrations. The action is intense, fun and exciting, but what gets me the most in this issue is the expressiveness of the characters' faces, primarily with Lou. The page four look in his eyes coupled with the second-to-the-last page change in his expression wordlessly shows where Lou stands, and his realization as to who put him there. As heavy as those moments are, the rest of the book springs to life with beautifully flowing action and vibrant, gorgeous colors.
This series is definitely not one for the kiddies, but is one for us adults interested in watching someone--who just so happens to be a werewolf--mess up their entire life. If you are cool with that, then this is the book for you. Behind all the sex and violence and debauchery and fun is a thoughtful story that will stay with you for some time after you set the book down. I can only hope that Kelly and Greco bring us back to the wonderful world of Bad Dog in the very, very, very near future. Until such time, I guess I need to go excavate those older issues from many years ago and get to rereading. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Pretty Deadly #4
Pretty Deadly #4 - Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, illustrated by Emma Rios, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered by Clayton Cowles, edited by Sigrid Ellis, published by Image Comics. Ohhhhhh...I get what's happening now; at least I think I do. Sweet. But here's the thing...even if I still didn't know what was going on, I would be buying this series.
Bones Bunny and Butterfly continue their tale of Ginny, Death's daughter, who is free to walk the world of the living and that of the dead, and nigh all in between. Ginny hunts a Mason who goes by the name Fox. Fox is also Ginny's mother's husband, the same man who imprisoned Ginny's mother away from the world until such a time as the woman caught Death's eye. In Death's cruelty, or as a response to the Mason's cruelty toward his own wife, Death tasked the Mason with slaying a beast, and only then would Death hold back Ginny's rage and allow the Mason, at the time of his passing, to see his wife one last time. Unfortunately, the "beast" was a little girl named Sissy, and she has a grand task ahead of her. Fox could not bring himself to harm the girl and raised Sissy as his own.
I realize that the little summary of what has happened in the past three issues might just confuse a bit more than it clarifies for those who have not yet begun this series. But if you have been following along from the beginning, then, like me, the fog has lifted and all the players and their goals become more apparent with this issue. The beautiful thing about creator-owned comics is that DeConnick and Rios can tell the tale they wish to tell, at the speed they wish to tell it. The vague nature of what was happening at the beginning was fine. I knew the creators would bring the various threads of the story together, and now more than ever I want to go back and reread from the beginning. DeConnick still leaves us with many mysteries: the Night Maid, the Day Maid, Coyote's companion, Sissy's beginnings and where she found that dope vulture cloak. I have every confidence we will learn more as the series progresses.
Rios's art becomes more and more stunning with each issue. I'm amazed by the level of detail in her animal illustrations, primarily with the Bones Bunny and Butterfly segments. Equally impressive is her character acting, especially on the page where Fox (the Mason) and Sissy are reunited; it's all incredibly touching. But Rios's skills are not limited to the static or the emotional beats, as seen in this issue's multiple-page battle between Ginny and Fox, which had some of the most exciting choreography I've seen in a comic book fight scene; I would love to see DeConnick's script for this btw.
Its writing lyrical, its illustrations lovely, its story unique, Pretty Deadly is yet another Image title that readers weary of superhero knock-down, drag-outs should be reading. It's a slow-burn tale by design, but you will want to take your time with this one, as you take pause on both words and imagery. You need to read this book. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Chew #39
Chew #39 - Written by Jonathan Layman, illustrated by Rob Guillory, color assists by Taylor Wells, published by Image Comics. Tony Chu is still in a slump after his sister's murder, especially now that his food-based powers will no longer allow him to commune with her. Olive (Tony's daughter) and Amelia (Tony's girlfriend) want to snap the FDA detective out of his funk, but it is going to take a very special recipe requiring some of the more...exotic...ingredients to do the job right. Already in possession of the weird space fruit that tastes like chicken, next up on the list...psychedelic chogs (chicken frog creatures). Finally, the duo has one last decision to make..."Pulse, blend or puree?"
Okay, denizens, I can only imagine the reaction I would get reading aloud the brief synopsis above at say...a grocery store, or outside of a junior high school, or a church, or to my dad. Let's just say that following my arrest and inevitable release, I would have plenty of mental health industry reading material to take home with me. Thankfully, I can always go no, no, it's not me, it's those guys Layman and Guillory; they're, like, totally messed up and stuff. Regardless, whatever ails this scorpion-hating duo, I'm fine with whatever their issues might be, so long as we keep getting issues of this consistently amazing and inventive series. Yes, Layman's writing is fantastic and all of the little plot threads strewn throughout the past 39 issues (40 if you count the Chew Secret Agent Poyo special...must read btw) are starting to come together for the <sniffle> series end at issue 60. Yes, Guillory is an fantastic storyteller with some of the best sequentials around and a grasp of color to push the emotions of a scene to the max. Yes, you should be reading the most unique series on the stand (do so with the kickace Omnivore Editions!). Yes, if you love fun, love chogs, love the occasional gross-out moment, and, more importantly, if you love to read great comic books, then this is a series to hold dear. Whether you pulse, blend, or puree, you need to be reading this phenomenal series. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batman #27
Batman #27 - Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Greg Capullo, inked by Danny Miki, colored by FCO Plascencia, lettered by Steve Wands, published by DC Comics. Somewhere in Tokyo in the year 1946 a lovely woman sings for some guy for some reason. I have no idea why. Meanwhile, six years ago, the Batman has been setup and the more corrupt members of Gotham's finest are looking to put him down for good. Luckily, Jim Gordon does not number among the crooked cops and lends the young Batman a helping hand. Gordon tells a tale that chaps my hide (people involved in dog fighting deserve to be thrown into a volcano) and Batman learns that Dr. Death is not the one calling the shots.
Man, Snyder really knows how to get my blood pumping with that story Jim Gordon tells Batman--which also served to cleverly strengthen the mens' understanding of one another. We also get to see a very inexperienced Batman have a rough go as Gotham's protector. The dialogue is tremendous as always, with moments of exposition naturally worked into the action of each page.
Every panel of Capullo's art is...criminy, you just need to flip through to see the incredible action and the exquisite expressions on the various characters' faces. Batman's battle with the police is desperate, nearly hopeless, and Capullo keeps us as breathless as our hero from one panel to the next. I will also say that I never wanted a poster-sized splash page of a hand coming out of the water more than the one found in this issue. Complementing the breathtaking art is Plascencia's colors, which are most stunning when depicting harsh contrasts at key moments in the story like the fight scene and Bruce and Alfred's talk at the Batcave.
Batman continues to be one of the best told--both visually and written--superhero stories on the stands. For a hero who has been around for 75 years, Snyder and Capullo bring a new and exciting take on the character, even when revisiting Batman's earlier years. Although I am not reading that many DC titles, Batman is one I anticipate eagerly picking up for some time to come. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Hawkeye #16
Hawkeye #16 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Annie Wu, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Chris Eliopoulos, published by Marvel Comics. Okay, I thought I was going crazy for a moment. I was positive that the last issue was number 14 and that it centered on Kate. Then the letters page confirmed that issue 15--Aja's issue--was running a bit behind schedule, and that it will follow shortly. This is a bit of a bummer, as I'm excited to see what happens with the Barton brothers, but, hey...we still get some West Coast Lady Hawkeye.
Kate's newest Los Angeles client for her detective gig appears to be a shaggy, crazy man who she just found walking down the 405 freeway.
What Kate doesn't know is that the man is one half of a famous '60s duo who both happened to vanish away from prying eyes...until now. Will Bryson is back, but he's in a bad place after his brother supposedly stole and leaked previously unreleased recordings that Will wants back. Kate Bishop is on the case...which brings her to a certain masked killer's attention.
Much like last month's issue #14, Fraction delivers a mostly standalone tale that is both thoughtful and touching. Wu's imagery is perfect for this dramatic story, with moments that make it impossible not to feel deeply sympathetic for poor Will Bryson and his terrible situation. There is little fighting for a superhero book, but that is fine, what is there is handled well.
I am enjoying Kate Bishop's adventures, and it was a good idea to split the characters apart for a while, but I will admit that I am missing my main Hawkguy guy. Still, this is a great issue that is definitely worth checking out. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Let's Not Be Negative Today - It was a huge week and this one took a while to write, so let's not focus on the negative--like stupid Reagan defunding mental health facilities, or the scum of the earth who engage or support dog fighting. Instead, let's head out for a walk, say howdy to a friend or loved one, pop a craft beer open, and work on something that makes us happy. I think some pumpkin pancakes are calling my name.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Micronauts Monday, 1/20/2014

Hey there, Donist World denizens. Welcome back to Micronauts Monday, where I talk about my longtime favorite comic book series The Micronauts. You'll get a summary of the issue, my remembered reaction/experience with the comic book as a kid, and my thoughts as an adult after rereading the issues over the past week. The Micronauts is the book that introduced me to the wonderful world of comic book addiction. The sad thing about this amazing series is--as I explained in the first post here--is that if you haven't read the comics, doing so is going to be a bit of a hunt since reprinting rights are firmly wedged into a Prometheus Pit of a printing-rights purgatory. But don't despair, it can be done, you can find them. has most of the main series for a fairly inexpensive price. If you want to dip your toe into the glory that is the Microverse before committing to a hunt for individual issues, then you could also check out the five "Special Editions," which I believe had two or three issues included in each. Or, better yet, if you have an opportunity to do some longbox diving into the $.50-$1.00 bins at your LCS, then I'm sure you can find many issues there. My only caution here is that the story has a tremendous narrative that builds over the course of the series, one that deserves to be read in order, but that said, any Micronauts is good Micronauts! Anyhow, without further ado...

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Micronauts #8
The Micronauts #8 - Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Michael Golden, inked by Bob McLeod, lettered by Diana Albers, colored by Carl Gafford, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. Baron Karza may have recently clawed his way out of the Prometheus Pit--the bridge connecting Earth with the Microverse--but he wastes little time setting about his conquest of our world. With less than a dozen Earth-made robots on his side, Karza is annihilating our military, and not even the mighty Micronauts stand a chance of defeating the now human-sized madman. All hope appears lost on Earth, but the Time Traveler, the embodiment of the Enigma Force, sends an emissary--Captain Universe--to stop him. Meanwhile, back on Homeworld, Prince Argon dons the sacred battle armor of Dallan Rann to become the "Force Commander" and lead the rebellion to reclaim Homeworld while Karza is away.
Young Donist -  Oh. My. Goodness. Gracious. This issue had everything a young comic book lover could ever want: the coolest looking badguy I had ever seen laying waste to the goodguys; Prince Argon putting on the Force Commander armor (one of my favorite toys); the Enigma Force creating a new super hero; an ad for the Micronauts alien toys; a massively under-powered Prince Acroyear attacking Baron Karza; an insane battle between Karza and Captain Universe; discovering why Karza was human-size on Earth; AAAAAAGGGHHH!!!, LOVE!!!, RESPECT!!! This is another comic that I had to replace for my library-bound collection--as I had to do for the next four issues as well--because I read it until it fell to pieces. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - I knew what was coming with this issue, and I clearly remembered the feeling of excitement I had first reading this issue as a kid. To be honest, as much as I enjoyed experiencing issues 1 to 7 again, it was the next five that I was dying to read the most. Immediately I am blown away by Golden's gorgeous first-page splash and the shadows of the soldier getting taken out by the off-panel Karza. With this single page, you know the tone of what you are about to read, and it's going to be heavy. Two pages later, we see Karza just pummeling people, and Gafford's warm/hot colors make the tyrant all the more imposing and the brick-toned soldiers being dropped out is a killer effect for Golden's second amazing splash. From here the action only intensifies. The character acting on everyone's faces, the sequential movements of Acroyear's futile battle with Karza, and the Ditkoesque appearance of Captain Universe left me cheering until I paused on the third splash page of Captain Universe battling Baron Karza. Gafford then delivers some outstanding knockouts as Ray Coffin is revealed and Karza makes his escape.
As stunned as I am by Golden's beautiful art, Mantlo's story and dialogue is what still grabs me with this issue. I'm a total sucker for the whole good versus evil thing, but when you mix in the strong dialogue and the multiple worlds at war storyline with the characters I adore, there's no way I was going to put this book down until I was darn-well finished. This issue is what made me love expansive storytelling and reminds me of exactly why comic books have been so important to me for the past four decades. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMEDED!

The Micronauts #9
The Micronauts #9 - Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Michael Golden, inked and edited by Al Milgrom, lettered by Joe Rosen, colored by Carl Gafford, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts have managed to return to the Microverse after Baron Karza's crushing defeat. Unfortunately, Karza's spirit has returned along with them and resumed control of his normal body. Awaiting the Micronauts are Prince Acroyear's people, but as our heroes prepare for yet another battle, they are surprised to find the Acroyears are now free of Karza's influence and they are mad, really mad, at the despot. We also meet Acroyear's love, the lady Cilicia, who is a powerful warrior herself. As the Force Commander presses his attack on Karza's forces, Acroyear journeys to the heart of the Acroyear planet, Spartak, to converse with the very soul of their world, but it will not be an easy task. Pssst...hey, you...we also get to see what Acroyears look like under all that armor.
Young Donist - This is a definite calm-before-the-storm issue. The cover alone left my jaw dropped and succeeded in keeping it that way with every close up of every new Acroyear on the page. My mind was awhirl with the dream of tons of new Acroyear action figures to grace my room; sadly, these toys never came to be. I was also thrilled to finally see Acroyear without his helmet, but I was disappointed to find that he was just a beefy bald guy without a nose. I was also disturbed by Cilicia's noselessness and that she too was bald, except for the ponytail. Seeing Commander Rann crunch into Karza's shield made me gasp, and the thought of the Worldmind of Spartak getting on Acroyear's dingus probably gave me a couple of hangups. Still, I have to say...RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Yeah, the armored-up Acroyears look mighty fine, and if they released some of them as toys today, this grown-ace man would buy them. Storywise, I like this issue much more than I did as the kid who mostly enjoyed checking out all of the cool armored warriors. I love that Mantlo and Golden created a warrior love interest (Cilicia) who will become every bit as impressive as Acroyear, and that she is someone who makes his stoney heart beat. Force Commander's brief appearance is great, and the comedic moment of Bug's crushingly ineffective come-on to an Acroyear maiden still cracks me up many years later. Acroyear without the armor no longer bothers me and the noseless thing makes total sense given the fit of their helmets, but I will say that my rocks-on-the-dingus hangup has returned.
The insane excitement of the previous issue might be missing, but I know what's coming and the creators have given us a moment to catch our breath...right before they punch us in the stomach. I cannot wait to get to issue 11! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #10
The Micronauts #10 - Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Michael Golden, inked and edited by Al Milgrom, lettered by D. Albers, colored by Carl Gafford, published by Marvel Comics. Last issue Commander Rann was defeated and Prince Acroyear was encased in living rock by the Worldmind, the very soul of the Acroyear planet Spartak. Princess Mari is captured by the maniac, Baron Karza. Bug is lost in battle, leaving Microtron and Biotron to join the Acroyear people in their battle against Karza's dog soldiers. With the Worldmind accepting Acroyear as the rightful heir to the throne of Spartak, the Acroyears win the battle for their planet, but at great cost. Rebel leader Slug catches Prince Argon's eye, and the battle for Homeworld is about to begin.
Young Donist - "Now this is more like it! Action, action, NO! Not Bug. Don't let my favorite character be dead." In addition to that sentiment, I remember loving how Acroyear commands the planet itself to attack the evil dog soldiers. I also remember being fairly traumatized that the dog soldiers were not only killing Acroyear warriors, but that one panel of them about to take out a crying Acroyear baby crawling away from its dead mother...ugh. Thankfully, that page is soon followed by Cilicia and Microtron representing like bosses on the dog soldiers. Cilicia taking out Major D'ark with the cold mercy of her Acroyear steal helped me feel a bit better about things. I was nearly peeing my pants in anticipation for the next issue. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Okay...Baron Karza's baby-murdering dog soldiers still traumatize me today. Dang...that is some dark stuff for Marvel Comics, especially for way back then. <brrrrr> That said, those two six-panel pages are incredibly well-paced and a testament to Golden's storytelling mastery. The intensity of both Mantlo's dialogue--whether coming from Major D'ark or Cilicia or Microtron--and the moving captions all ramp up the the action to the next climatic issue. I'm not one for gore or death, but the page where Cilicia executes D'ark is one of my all-time-favorite pages, both visually and in terms of the words written on the page. Oh issue...the climax! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

That's it for now, and I hope to see you next week where the daddy of all issues comes down! Thanks for reading.

While writing this entry, I listened to Grant Green's "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "Idle Moments." Check 'em out if you can.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 1/17/2014

(Sung to the tune of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing In the Dark")

I wake up in the mornin'
Hot dawg it's new comic book day
I best get a move on
Don't want to wait, by golly, no way
I been checking my pull list
Man, I already know what's waitin' for me
Hey there baby, Daredevil and Thor are top shelf

Bunn and Hurtt're on fire
With a great story and kickace art
My need for The Sixth Gun's dire
Denizens, it's a great place to start.

Howdy and welcome to...hold on a sec. Where is Obie? Tulip, where's Obie? I see... Okay, let's start over. Howdy, denizens, and welcome back to Donist World. I am joined by Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/exercise tracker Tulip (my Boston terrier). Today we are missing our CFO Obie (my friends' dog, Tulip's brother) who I am now being told has left to go on a company retreat and has emailed me a photo of himself sitting on a beach somewhere with what looks to be a pineapple-based, frozen drink of some sort. There are a few things wrong with this picture (both the actual emailed image and this particular situation):

  • Company retreats are supposed to include your team members to promote beneficial synergies and promote creative "outside of the box" thinking.
  • There's $22.15 missing from the petty cash box.
  • The tropical image is clearly Photoshopped, but I think the pineapple drink is legit, though.
  • Obie recently took some online courses on Adobe products so he could tamper with adjust Donist World PDF contracts and documents.
  • Now that I'm standing on the washing machine to peer out my mom's basement window I'm looking out my corporate office window, I can see Obie (with what appears to be a frozen pineapple drink) at the park across the way.

Okay, while I head over to the park and allow my CFO an opportunity to "retreat" his butt back to the office, that the pizza delivery guy bringing him a pizza?! Ugh...anyhow, please take a gander at...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Sixth Gun #37
The Sixth Gun #37 - 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. It's always exciting to find a new issue of The Sixth Gun waiting for me in my pull on release day. If you've been following me for the past couple years, then you might remember that for whatever reason, I always had a rough time getting my copy of this compelling supernatural Western. For some reason, Diamond tended to often omit this book (same with the fantastic Rachel Rising) in the shipment to my LCS, meaning I would be waiting a couple more weeks for them to to "fix the glitch." Thankfully, something has changed over the past year, and I have received every issue on time (knock on wood). This is important, denizens, as The Sixth Gun is a heck of a darn-fine book that only gets better--and creepier--as we close in on the end. We don't suffer no misships around these parts, and you shouldn't either for comic books this good.
Becky and Drake aren't the only ones on the hunt for Missy Hume, the Knights of Solomon also want her for her gun, but with Griselda the Grey Witch in Missy's troupe the Knights best tread lightly. Unfortunately, what they don't know is that Griselda does not care about the Knights; Becky and Drake, and, more importantly, the five mystic guns in their possession are all that matter to the monster. Becky is also about to discover the hard way that Missy Hume is no longer among the living and that the Sixth Gun is now in the hands of Drake's rival, Jesup. As Griselda's snake men attack, Becky, Drake, and Nidawei (in possession of the sentient--and powerful--shrunken head of Screaming Crow) discover that one of their own has turned against them.
Holy cow, this issue is intense! I zipped through my first reading in no time and I had to immediately go back and experience the more shocking imagery. Bunn and Hurtt give us even more gasp-inducing moments than usual. They hold fast to their decision to put an end to Missy Hume--in a gnarly way--moving Griselda to the forefront as the supreme enemy--until General Hume steps forth once again, but who knows how he will react to his mama snakeploding his wife.
Hurtt delivers some of his creepiest best work with this issue with some beautiful nightmare-inducing stuff. His sequentials of "Missy" looking over her shoulder (page 5) at Becky while a snake steadily pushes its way through her eye socket in panels 3, 5 and 6 is pure insanity, and I wish I could see Bunn's script for that page and the level of detail provided. Regardless, Hurtt gave me some tremendous visuals to really mess with my dreams for some time to come; that goes double for the aforementioned "snakeplosion" panel. The action scenes of Griselda's cronies running ramshackle on Brimstone (the town) are riveting, and watching Nidawei/Screaming Crow represent on the snake men left me cheering--the touch with the bow was dang groovy as well.
Although most of the pages are exploding with action, the two dramatic pages between Drake and Kirby are beautifully tense with Bunn's dialogue added to Hurtt's character acting. Each character's voice remains unique, reflecting how each would act during the dire situation assaulting them. I love Kirby's laid-back attitude, and Drake's menace, but watching and hearing Becky's confidence grow throughout the series is a triumph; these characters are my pardners, through and through.
So, yes, we all know I love Bunn and Hurtt's The Sixth Gun, but this issue just took that feeling to a whole 'nother level. The series as a whole is terrific and if there is anything to be dismayed about with this installment it is that we now have to wait six weeks to see what happens next. You can catch up on this awesome supernatural Western with the trades, but be aware that there is an oh-so-sweet hardcover available--that I desperately want to own--for those who want to add even more style their life. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Thor God of
Thunder #17
Thor God of Thunder #17 - Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated by Emanuela Lupacchino and Ron Garney, colored by Ive Svorcina and Lee Loughridge, lettered by VC's Joe Sabino, published by Marvel Comics. Thus "The Accursed" story arc comes to an end as Thor and the League of Realms appear to be doomed. Unfortunately for Malekith, he has failed to consider the lessons a certain thunder god might have learned growing up with a trickster god as a brother. Victory may be at hand-with the exception of one character...ooooohhh, ouch--but "winning" might not be what everyone hoped it would be.
After Aaron's scary-yet-tremendous "God Butcher" arc, "The Accursed" has added more humor, and vibrancy over the course of the past five issues, which has made for a fun read. I will admit I enjoyed those first eleven issues quite a bit, but this run still has an enjoyable story worth checking out. Garney's art has been beautiful throughout, although I will say that some of the panels in this issue seemed a bit rushed. Svorcina's colors are incredible and push the storytelling and emotions of every panel on to greatness.
After a substantial hiatus from Marvel's Thor following the fantastic Simonson run, Aaron's take on the character was all I needed to bring me back. Thor God of Thunder drew me in, especially on those first 11 issues, and reminded me of just how much I have loved this character throughout my life. Aaron's grand telling is exactly what new, current, and lapsed Thor readers have been hoping for. RECOMMENDED!

Daredevil #35
Daredevil #35 - Written by Mark Waid, illustrated by Chris Samnee, colored by Javier Rodriguez, lettered by VC's Joe Caramagna, published by Marvel Comics. "This is the end(ish), my only friend." Well, not exactly, denizens, but sort of...I--I'm confusing myself. Let's see...Daredevil #36--next issue--marks the end of the excellent Daredevil series by Waid and Samnee. This is a bummer, as we at Donist World have been enjoying the comic for some time, but fear not, Daredevil will be back! When will it be back? Who are on the creative team? you ask. Well, the all new Daredevil--complete with a brand, spankin' new number one issue--will be out the month following issue 36 and brought to you by the new creative team of...uh...ahem...Waid and Samnee. Basically, it's a changing of the numbering scheme back to issue one for new readers and with a name like New 52 Marvel Now .X to Astonish or something. In Summary, Daredevil ain't goin' nowhere. Oh yeah, this issue...
The Serpent Society has upped its game and made things personal by taking the fight from Daredevil to Matt Murdoch. With Foggy's health deteriorating every day, and the Serpent Society threatening to use the healthcare system against him, it's time for Matt to seek some advice. Elektra drops by to encourage Matt to think outside the box and to NOT do what the Serpent Society would expect...after he beats the bejesus out of Constrictor and Mamba, of course.
Waid, as is usual with this writer, got me. He got me good and mad at these Serpent Society white supremacists, d_bagging, Jerky McJerkfacing, chumpified, @#$%ers! Man, I want to kick every one of these fools in ol' twig and berries. Promising to save Foggy with new treatments while threatening to have Matt disbarred and exposed and dropping Foggy's platnium-level, comprehensive health insurance coverage down to what us "normal" 'Mericans get? How could I not get pissed? That is some cold-hearted stuff. But Waid doesn't wallow in the misery for long and brings the fun, exciting elements back with an Elektra appearance. He also ends the issue hinting that the day will be won through brains and not punches in the face--which might happen, but it is the brains that seal the deal.
Samnee's storytelling is in top form, as always, and succeeds in taking my Waid induced rage at the Serpent Society to new levels--especially the panel where the jerk with the grey/white hair admits to using drugs and serums on an "expert witness" and we see Matt look down at the comatose Foggy. <grrrrrr> The emotional drama of that talking scenes show you everything you need to know, while the action panels are intense with the sequentials flowing beautifully. This is especially true of the pages where Daredevil and Elektra are running across the rooftops--he can also draw the heck out of some HVAC units. As always, the art and style of this book are stunning.
Regardless of what Marvel is up to with the addition of the "All New Marvel Now" banner and the renumbering back to issue one, keeping Waid and Samnee on this title ensures that you can expect more great tales with ol' Hornhead. Daredevil has been one of the most consistently good titles from Marvel, but that should come as no surprise from these two talented creators. I am biting my nails to see how this series wraps up next month. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Hansel and Gretel:
Witch Hunters Blu-Ray
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters - Okay, okay, simmer down. Geez, Louise, can't a fella mention something that he enjoyed without everyone gettin' all bent out of shape? Okay, first off a disclaimer: the linked item will direct you to an "unrated cut" of the theatrical cut of the movie that I watched this week on Netflix. That said, I now want to check out this "unrated cut." Anyhow, the day before I watched the culty, campy, awesomeness of this ridiculous movie, I made the poor decision to watch it's bastard sibling of a fairytale Snow White and the Huntsman. SWatH, although visually gorgeous, left me more interested in washing dishes than dozing through the mess of a film. Trust me on this, if I would rather wash dishes (something akin to the 4th and 7th rings of hell combined) than watch a movie, then something is terribly wrong with said movie.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, on the other hand, knows not to take itself too seriously from the get go. You can tell that everyone involved actually enjoyed poking subtle fun at the whole thing; Hansel having to give himself daily injections after eating too much of the witch's candy as a child? Classic! Not to mention the insane weaponry that should in no way be available to people in that time period, but let's just give that a pass since there are witches and trolls roaming the woods, as well as aspiring, young witch hunters who talk like they're from the Valley or somethin'. Plus, any world where Famke Janssen, even with her witchy-poo makeup, is believed to be an ugly monster, is just to wacky of a world to be taken seriously. Renner and Arterton had me laughing and cheering throughout, but I will admit some confusion as to how the producers actually managed to attach Renner to this film...I'm glad they did, though, he was great.
As far a synopsis goes, what do you want? Hansel + Gretel + adulthood + icky witches + missing children + troll comrade + ridonkulous action + Famke (thank goodness) - good witch's clothes - tons of icky, evil witches = HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Too Big to...Let Us Buy a Fitness Band - I've been thinking of buying one of those health monitoring band/dongle doohickeys for some time now. You know, one of those deals that tracks how many steps you have taken and that can monitor workouts and such. I also like the idea of monitoring my sleep and whether or not the quality of my sleep is up to par or not. Luckily, Amy the intern (my wife) received a Jawbone UP band for Christmas, which is great, but she felt the fit was a bit small and called customer service to see if she could swap for a medium. Jawbone, to their great credit, shipped out a medium-sized band with instructions to return the small once Amy received the replacement. Long story short, the medium was too large and she wanted to keep the small.
Since we had two of the things, I tried the medium and surprise-surprise, my slender, girlish wrist provided the perfect fit. I tested out the unit for a few days and found that I actually liked the thing. I was tracking my steps (averaging the 10,000 recommended) and paying attention to my sleeping patterns and it was all pretty nifty. With a renewed interest in my health and dreams of someday looking like Stephen Amell from the hit television series Arrow, we decided to bite the bullet and buy the band. Amy called Jawbone and found out that...well, we can't do that. They had no process in place to charge us for the additional band already in our possession. Huh? They suggested returning the extra band, going to the Apple store, buying a new one, and restarting the setup process. This was a bit discouraging, but having just recently quit an enterprise-level corporation, I am painfully aware that changes not affecting stock price can take forever, or not happen at all. The problem is that Jawbone is not that large of a company at only 500 employees and is, luckily for most of its workers, privately held. I also took the opportunity to actually research the particular band and saw that it has a close to 50%/50% positive and negative reviews with the predominant problem aimed at a two-month unit lifespan. Oh...maybe it's best that I hold off.
Now, I don't want to slam Jawbone, and I'm sure the unit lifespan problems will be ironed out in the near future. I also don't want to knock the customer service reps for not having the processes in place to allow them to facilitate a purchase on the fly. In all honesty, maybe our situation was so unique that it simply had never come up before. Who knows. Maybe by the time UP2 is released and Amy's use of her band proves those two-month lifespan reviews are wrong, I will be ready to take the plunge again...but not if it means having to walk alllllllll the way to the store without having those steps tracked on the way there.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Micronauts Monday, 1/13/2014

Hey there, Donist World denizens. Welcome back to the second installment of Micronauts Monday, where I talk about my longtime favorite comic book series The Micronauts. You'll get a summary of the issue, my remembered reaction/experience with the comic book as a kid, and my thoughts as an adult after rereading the issues over the past week. The Micronauts is the book that introduced me to the wonderful world of comic book addiction, a mindset that compels you to own every issue in sequential order; keeping them in good condition would happen decades later. The sad thing about this amazing series is--as I explained in the first post here--is that if you haven't read the comics, doing so is going to be a bit of a hunt since reprinting rights are firmly wedged into some purgatory like the Prometheus Pit. But don't despair, it can be done. has the most of the main series for a fairly inexpensive price. There were also five "Special Editions," which I believe had two or three issues included in each, if you want to dip your toe in the glory that is the Microverse. Or, better yet, if you have an opportunity to go LCS longbox diving into the $.50-$1.00 bins, then I'm sure you can find many issues there. My only caution here is that the story has a tremendous narrative that builds over the course of the series, one that deserves to be read in order, but that said, any Micronauts is good Micronauts. Anyhow, without further ado...

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts #4
The Micronauts #4 - Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Michael Golden, inked by Josef Rubinstein, lettered by Costanza, colored by Gafford, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. As Baron Karza's dog soldiers continue to suppress the fragmented rebellion as they search for the rebel leader known only as "Slug," the Micronauts stranded on Earth aren't faring too well. The Micronauts' battle with Karza's evil lapdog, the Acroyear Prince Shaitan, has left their starship, the Endeavor, critically damaged and their search and rescue mission for their companion, Bug, is slowed while Biotron makes repairs. To complicate matters, Bug, like all Insectivorids, aren't accustomed to sitting still, and he has hopped aboard Ray and Steve Coffin's truck as they head off to deliver the dead miniature soldiers to Ray's old work.
Young Donist - The opening scenes with Karza's dog soldiers ruthlessly attacking the rebels was exciting and kinda scary, but I liked them. I was especially blown away by the page 7, fourth and fifth panel of the beaten rebel claiming to be the mysterious "Slug" and Karza launching his hand from his arm to choke the man to death. That was hardcore before I even knew what hardcore was. The rest of the book...talking, talking, talking. Yes, there were some great Golden shots of Bug, but I was ready for some action in this issue that did not quite come through. RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Man, there was a lot of talking in this issue, but that's okay. Give me Golden imagery of Commander Rann--with striking Gafford colors--sitting at the control terminals of the Endeavor and he could be debating whether to order from Pizza Hut or Dominos for all I care. At least with this issue we are circling back to begin rejoining Bug with the rest of the Micronauts. I also still really like Golden's use of silhouettes at just the right moment. Mantlo really pulls me in with just how wicked Karza is and what an abomination the despot has created on Homeworld with the Body Banks. With but a few panels, the creators have made Baron Karza one of my favorite comic book villains of all time. Even if I didn't know what is going to happen, I totally do not trust Professor Prometheus. RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #5
The Micronauts #5 - Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Michael Golden, inked by Josef Rubinstein, lettered by Jim Novak, colored by D.R. Martin, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts have tracked Bug to Human Engineering Life Laboratory (aka H.E.L.L.) where Steve Coffin (the Micronauts' young friend) and his father have taken Karza's dead miniaturized soldiers to one Professor Prometheus to examine. As Prometheus becomes increasingly unhinged over Steve's experience with the Micronauts, an eavesdropping Bug learns that this more-than-a-man has possibly created a pathway to the Microverse in the bottomless tunnel coined "The Prometheus Pit." Bug attacks, the Micronauts join him, and Prometheus and Steve's father fall into the Prometheus Pit. Meanwhile on Homeworld, Prince Argon (now a centaur) briefly escapes, and his would-be rescuer, the rebel leader Slug, is captured.
Young Donist - Holy cow I was excited when I saw this cover sitting on the newstand of the Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio. It had the Micronauts fighting a terminator-type guy--before there ever was such a thing as a terminator--some kind of glowing hole in the ground, a screaming kid, an angry dog...DANG, son, what isn't there to love! Once cracked open, it took a bit to get going, but when Prometheus peels part of his own face off...I was in heaven. Bug then jacks up Prometheus, and Prince Argon the Force Commander leaps forth on a spectacular three-panel page only to get a brutal smackdown by Karza?!?! I lost my mind. Couple this with the fact that Young Donist had been fascinated by the idea of a bottomless pit, then there was nothing to stop me from reading this issue until it literally fell apart. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Luckily, I bought another copy many moons ago to replace the annihilated mess that remained of my original much-loved issue. I love that Princess Mari finally starts to transcend from being mere eye candy--I still think she is freakin' hot, though--and act like the bad-ass she is. I also loved Golden's page 11 visual of the panel-busting Bug sitting atop the super-science tech in the scene. Even Muffin, Steve's dog, breaks a panel, but Golden uses these moments sparingly, and when they do appear it is startling and dramatic. Mantlo's writing is so exciting towards the end of this issue that I was instantly taken back to the days of lying on the living room floor and absorbing every moment., I love me some bottomless pit. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #6
The Micronauts #6 Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Michael Golden, inked by Josef Rubinstein, lettered by John Costanza, colored by Roger Slifer, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts and Steve's problems have just begun. Prometheus might have fallen into his own H.E.L.L.ish pit, but his robotic soldiers unfortunately are still attempting to seize our heroes. They escape the building and set the Prometheus minions against the cops, barely managing to make it out alive. Meanwhile, Steve's father, Ray Coffin and Professor Prometheus plummet down the Prometheus Pit and find that they are shrinking. The Time Travelers grab Ray, and Prometheus is left to be discovered by Baron Karza's forces. Finally, the Micronauts plan a trip to the Everglades where they hope to figure out how to make their way back home.
Young Donist - Honesty time here, denizens. When I first saw this cover--cool as it might be--my thought was no more car chases, dagnabbit. Luckily, this issue had a lot going on. Seeing Bug's rocket lance in action on the robot's face had me cheering, and the robots mixing it up with the police so my heroes could escape was pure genius. Ray and Prometheus falling down the pit was cool, especially when the Time Traveler appeared...I was desperate to know more about that guy, and he hadn't really been around for a while. Karza finding Prometheus made me happy, but it was the promise of the next issue that left me flipping out to see what happened next. Also, the Homeworld to English chart at the back of the book was a neat touch. RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Man, the 2/3-page spread with 1/3-page title is how you kick off an issue. Again there are a ton of balloons, but the regrouping of the team and the seamless "catch-up" for new readers is needed, and Mantlo keeps the drama intriguing. Golden's imagery--with the pink knockout--of Ray and Prometheus falling down the Prometheus Pit is really cool, especially as it transitions from a technological tunnel to a sort of organic vein. The appearance of the mysterious Time Traveler still gives me the chills, and I love that Baron Karza appeared without explanation as a centaur. Seeing the tag for next issue's Man-Thing appearance reminds me of how long it took to actually get ahold of issue number seven. RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #7
The Micronauts #7Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Michael Golden, inked by Josef Rubinstein, lettered by John Costanza, colored by C. Gafford, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. Steve Coffin and the Micronauts have retreated to his father's cabin in the Everglades so they can figure out a way to return the visitors safely home. Princess Marionette learns about Commander Rann's 1000-year-long travels through the Microverse, as the Time Traveler asks Ray Coffin a pressing question. With emotions running high, a certain muck monster's unwanted attention is gained.
Young Donist - Okay, mini story took me a long while to get ahold of this comic. For whatever reason, I never found it at the newsstand, and I am fairly certain other comics I collected had an ad depicting this gorgeous cover by Golden to further push me to desperation. Needless to say, I was so pumped to get this issue I could barely contain myself. First off, I was not yet jaded by the usual story-halting "guest-starring" banner, and I actually LOVED the Man-Thing from my Power Records comic/45 record of "Night of the Laughing Dead," which you can actually check out here! This was the best of two worlds. I did get to have a look at issue seven once, though, as a friend had a copy he let me flip through. took me a couple years before I got my own copy, and was it ever worth the wait. I loved seeing Dallan Rann, Arcturus's father, in the Force Commander armor, but watching the Micronauts battle Man-Thing was an awesome break from the shiver inducing image of Baron Karza climbing from the Prometheus Pit. <brrrrrr> Also, Man-Thing going splat was too cool for school. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Nowadays, whenever I see "Guest-Appearance" or "Guest-Starring" I can't help but groan. Maybe even in the late '70s a guest spot from a more well-known Marvel hero was a way to boost flagging sales, but the Man-Thing is hardly what I would call a sales boosting character...perhaps he was a way to bridge The Micronauts book over to the more horror-oriented fans. I can only guess that this was the case, and that their ploy worked since it took me forever to find this issue. But tell you what, I'm going to go on the unqualified assumption that the creators included the Man-Thing because it was a groovy kind of thing to do. Unfortunately, crossovers and guest appearances eventually morphed into a sales strategy that increasingly messed up storylines at some point in the '90s. Anyhow...
Yeah, I still really like this issue. Maybe not as much as I did as a kid, but the threat of the Man-Thing and the way the Micronauts try to conventionally fight him was pure '70s awesomeness. I didn't even mind that it was the kid who saved everyone's bacon by luring the muck-man into the back of a sweet is that?! Golden's art has never been better, especially when showing Commander Rann's flashback/dream sequence and the storytelling involved with the fight scenes still kept me eagerly whipping through the pages.
Mantlo's dialogue and captions are brilliant. He expertly and seamlessly mixes the sci-fi adventure of The Micronauts with that of the grim horror of The Man-Thing, leading me to believe the inclusion of this character was fully embraced by the creators, and that they had a heck of a good time working on this issue. Even though, I am anxious for a meet-up between my heroes and the villain, this was a welcome pause before the frickin' outstanding next issue. Knowing full well what is to come, I can hardly wait to reread issue 8! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

That's it for now, and I hope to see you next week where things really start to get nuts! Thanks for reading.

While writing this entry, I listened to Hank Mobley's "A Caddy For Daddy," Lee Morgan's "Candy," and Wes Montgomery's "Compact Jazz," which appears to no longer be available, but there are plenty of other great albums from the jazz guitarist. Check 'em out if you can.