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."


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