Monday, March 31, 2014

Micronauts Monday 3/31/2014

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! 

I'm not going to lie to you, Donist World denizens. The next eight or so issues are a little rough. As I said last week, Young Donist lost track of his beloved The Micronauts after issue 37 when the book went exclusively to the direct market. What this meant was that the comic book I used to be find on spinner racks at 7-11, K-Mart, or the grocery store (in other words, everywhere) were now only sold in comic book specialty stores, of which I did not know one existed in my town for about a year…hey, I was 12 and the internet didn't even exist yet. I would not see my next issue of this fantastic series until issue 50, and then had to chip away at the back issues box (held behind the counter) for issues 38-49 all while having my eyes opened to the world of MANY other comics outside of Marvel and DC, such as Eclipse, First, Epic, Pacific, and not much later than that...Mirage Studios. Anyhow, I think it was a good thing that I initially missed out on issues 38-49 as at least half of those issues might have scared me away from the series all together. Stick around, though, things get insanely better by around issue 48!

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts #39 - Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Steve Ditko, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Jim Novak, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. In a failed attempt to warp back to the Microverse, the Micronauts' ship, the Endeavor, mistakenly appears out of the front cover of an issue of none other than The Micronauts #1 at a comic book specialty store. How crazy is that?! Our heroes find themselves assaulted by a cigar-chomping store owner, toys (not living or animated toys, just normal toys) that look like Baron Karza or their current enemy the Force Commander. Meanwhile, back in the Microverse, King Argon denies Huntarr (the menace from the awesome issue 37 starring Nightcrawler) his request to be put to death, as Duchess Belladonna—an elderly, wicked woman—sees her request for a new body approved…unfortunately, that body belongs to former rebel leader Slug. Not only that, Acroyear’s old love, Cilicia, is working with Argon and sends an Acroyear assault team to Earth to capture the Micronauts.
Young Donist - What…the…hell…is…this?! Let me get this straight. You take my favorite comic, move it to something called a “comic specialty store,” leave me with over a year-long absence, and this is your second issue for this move? A fight in a comic book store, when they come out of their own comic book?! Man! Brutal! Ugh..., although I did like seeing Huntarr again for all of three panels. Micronauts versus Acroyears was okay, and I liked the art, but dang…if this wasn't sealed in a bag by Andromeda Book Store (RIP), I would have not picked it up. I would not recommend this issue to anyone.
Current Donist - <sigh> Yeah, I still do not like this issue. Supposedly Steve Ditko was the illustrator, but if you are familiar Ditko's art style, or have read The Micronauts Annual #1 and 2 (which I have not yet talked about), then only a few panels will strike you as being his. I'm not totally certain, but my guess is Ditko did the layouts with Bulanadi providing the finishes, but I will say that I did enjoy the art. It’s just the story that grinds my gears, with the exception on the three pages with King Argon, Huntarr, Belladonna, and Cilicia to spark my interest. Yeah, I still cannot recommend this issue.

The Micronauts #40 Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Gil Kane, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Jim Novak and Albers, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. In this issue, as the cover clearly tells you, The Micronauts meet up once again with the ever-lovin’, blue-eyed Thing! The Endeavor has fallen into a sewer and is sinking fast, as our heroes attempt to save the battle damaged vessel. Bug needlessly endangers his comrades, but directs them to the Baxter Building, home of the Fantastic Four and the chance for a way home. There they meet Franklin Richards, an evil host of antrons (alien bug creatures), and the Thing who would like nothing more than to get back to his nap.
Young Donist - <shaking his head> Why me? If I didn't already know that issue 50 is a fistful of awesome, I might have been done after this issue. It doesn't need a Marvel super guest-appearance (The Thing), and more than that, it doesn't need a freakin’ toddler (Franklin) to be the hero! Plus, talking, lots and lots of talking. The 1.75 pages of King Argon were great and I wanted more of that. Okay, I will admit that the antrons look really cool, but other than those two things…barf. I would not have recommended this issue to anyone.
Current Donist - Is this where my dislike of the “guest-appearance” first began to grow? Possibly. Like the issue before, I do not see the listed artist, Gil Kane, as being the primary artist on this issue. Kane has a very distinct style—just look at the cover—and the art inside is more like the previous issue than the cover. I'm guessing Kane did mostly layouts and Bulanadi finished, but despite who did what, I like the art, especially on Bug, Devil and the antrons. I also wish that Sharen could have done more of his intense coloring like he does on a page of the antrons and on Argon's scientist, Degrayde. The story is filled with exposition, and for a series flagged for specialty stores only, it sure has a lot of ties to the regular Marvel Universe. Wasn't the move so the creators could do more edgy stories? Thank goodness I kind of remember what is coming. I cannot recommend this issue unless you are an obsessive hoarder like me.

The Micronauts #41
The Micronauts #41 - Written by Bill Mantlo, art by Gil Kane and Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Jim Novak and Albers, colored by Bob Sharen and Warfield, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. In this issue…Doom! The Endeavor has fallen into a sewer and is sinking fast, as our heroes attempt to save the battle damaged vessel (yes, the exact same sentence as the previous review, but it happens again). This time they lose and the ship is lost. Thankfully they have their hovering Astrostation to get around. Back on Homeworld in the Microverse, King Argon's madness escalates as he has swapped the minds of the young, strong Slug—to whom he was once engaged—with that of the aged Duchess Belladonna. To make matters worse, he becomes more and more like the deceased Baron Karza, as he is no longer a man, but rather something more, as he has transformed his body into living energy. Lady Slug (in Belladonna's aged body) and the beaten Prince Pharoid begin to plot. Back on Earth, The Micronauts travel to a US bound Castle Doom (Huh?) where they find a miniaturized village, where none other than The Puppet Master is shrunk and held captive by a miniature puppet of Dr. Doom!
Young Donist - COME ON! Give me back the stories I love! Okay, yes, I want to see Acroyear kick Dr. Doom's butt, but this isn't the real Dr. Doom and this bald Puppet Master guy is about as threatening as my eight-year-old cousin. Those gripes aside, the stuff about King Argon becoming energy…can we just see that, please? That is awesome, and that look of vengeance in Slug's eyes is more along the lines of what I wanted. I like most of the art. I would not have recommended this issue to anyone, except my eight-year-old cousin or brother…they totally used to bug me.
Current Donist - Hmmm...okay, I agree with some of my younger self in that the Homeworld based storyline—all five pages of it—is the best part of this book, but I actually like this issue more than I did as a kid. Despite the Doom "guest-appearance" and the use of a regular Marvel Universe villain, this issue creeps back into the Warren Magazine (Creepy, Eerie, etc.) style territory that I love so much. The five pages with King Argon are fascinating and still interest me far more than what is happening on Earth.
It doesn't move the story forward that much, but I did enjoy the House of Wax influence and the creepiness of the village. Again, despite the Kane cover, little in the way of his art is within the actual pages, but this time Kane and Bulanadi are credited as "artists." Young Donist might not have liked this comic, and even though I would have preferred to NOT see Doom in this issue, it regained some of the feel of the book I fell in love with. RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #42
The Micronauts #42 - Written by Bill Mantlo, art by Gil Kane and Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Leferman and Albers, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. In this issue a guest-appearance by…The Wasp! <groan...ahem> Devil is becoming more unhinged, more feral with each passing day. After the death of Fireflyte, the absence of her song has caused the once amiable Micronaut to return to his buried animalistic side. Music does calm the savage beast. We catch up with the story—again—and somehow Bug finds himself psychically linked to none other than Janet Van Dyne (the Wasp), and he rushes off to her rescue placing his teammates in harms way—again. It turns out that one of Hank Pyms old enemies, Dr. Nemesis, has broken in and stolen a miniaturized adamantium suit that can shrink things out of existence…like the Wasp's clothes. Can the Micronauts save the Wasp, and does Dr. Nemesis have the means to return them home, or to destroy them?
Young Donist - <drops the issue on the floor and kicks it under the bed> At least half of the team might be back in the Microverse. I'm going outside to play. I would not have recommended this issue.
Current Donist - Whoa. Young Donist really has nothing more to say about this issue, and I'm pretty sure he only read it once. This book is just whatever. It has more panels that look reminiscent of Kane's work, and some of the action scenes are pretty cool, but this Dr. Nemesis clown didn't stand a chance when he faces the people responsible for taking down a tyrant who threatened not one but two universes. In fact, the only thing at risk in this issue are The Wasp's clothes, which get shrunk out of existence; she spends half of the issue naked but "covered" by strategically placed things like laser blasts, arms, and wings. This issue isn't as bad as 39 and 40, but without a glimpse into what is happening back in the Microverse, I think I'll just flip through it when my next reread pops up in a couple years. I don't recommend this one.

<sigh> There you go. Nothing all that great, on one of my all-time-favorite comic book series. But that's okay, I know what is coming, and trust me, it is going to be mind blowing. Hey, you can't expect to make an omelet without dropping an egg on the floor and having Tulip eat up that egg before you can pick it up…or however the saying goes. Although I did not enjoy these comics as much as I enjoyed most of the previous 37 issues that came before, please understand that they are not bad—#39 comes close—just not as gripping as what came before. Next time, things begin to look up as half of our heroes are back home, but even though half are still trapped on Earth, I'm still excited to see what happens next. Thank you for reading.

While writing this entry, I listened to Tycho's albums "Awake" and "Dive" each of which are perfect for writing or getting into the groove of whatever it is you are doing. I especially like the song titled "Dive."


Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 3/28/2014

(Sung to the tune of The Handsome Family's "Far From Any Road")

In a remote book store, your anticipation grows
Tons of new comics, what to buy? Ol’ Donist knows

The Wake’s a must read surely, Satellite Sam adult time fun
And Sandman Overture’s beauty shines next to none

In your eager hands a book to make your heart swoon
Deadly Class is sure a gas, in heaven's grasp you now loom

1st Monthly & Mandatory
Donist World Corporate Sleepover
Such a haunting, beautiful song…and what better reason to listen to “Far From Any Road” than after completing our second viewing of True Detective, which is right up there as one of my all-time favorite television shows. But I digress…welcome to Donist World. I'm joined as every by Donist World CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/true detective Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Currently, the dogs are wiped out after not sleeping so well after rewatching the final episode of the season after last night's viewing. You see, most Fortune 320,000 companies have corporate retreats, or outings, some even have pow-wows (snicker), but here at Donist World we are pioneers of innovation. Thus we give to you, the Donist World denizens…the corporate sleepover. Yes, Obie slept over last night and we powered through the show, ordered in tacos, treated ourselves to a three hour marathon of Power Point presentations, and of course ended the evening with a pillow fight with Donist World branded pillows, of course. There was one odd point in the evening where I woke up to see Obie standing over me whispering, "Carcosa. Carcosa. Carcosa," which was unnerving, but that just goes to show you what happens when you are the first to fall asleep at a sleepover. Anyhow, I'm going to take a nap since I hardly slept because of my terror-filled dreams, so please enjoy this week's…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Wake #7
The Wake #7 - Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Sean Murphy, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint. Issue 6 of The Wake can be considered the start of the “second season” of the series, and it is one that grabbed me by the front of my shirt and sat me up straight. The first five issues of the series are kind of creepy and a great read for sci-fi/horror comic fans, but that sixth issue...criminy, denizens, the game changed and a really good comic became a fantastic comic book. But does this issue continue the shock, the awe, the unexpected moments that leave me going “well, I never expected that!”? Gosh darn it, you bet your sweet patootie it does. Whoa, boy howdy! I’m not even certain I totally understood what happened at the end, but I’ll tell you this, I cannot wait for issue 8!
Leeward’s use of the ear (communications device) actually delivered a message she wanted to hear...something about defeating the mers once and for all. Too bad the Arm—what passes for law enforcement—found out about what she was up to and threw both her and the man who sold her the ear, Pub, into the bowels of a repurposed cruise ship where they will spend the next six months rowing the vessel across the seas; that is if they don’t die first. Not one for being told what to do, Leeward plans (poorly) to escape but all plans are interrupted by a mer attack. All seems lost until an odd turn of events occurs.
<Arggh> I so want to spoil the ending of this issue, as I see two possibilities for what actually happened and I’m not totally certain as to which it is. I could also be totally wrong. Just know that I was not expecting this shocker of a cliffhanger in any way, and however the creators explain this...<ack>’ll be fine with me. As truly bonkers as this ending is, I am biting my nails to see what happens next; it's gonna be a painful wait for issue 8. (Okay, deep breath, Donist. Chill out and get on with it.)
Despite the final two pages that left me calling for more more more, Snyder and Murphy’s submerged apocalyptic future is completely fascinating, and therein lies my problem with The Wake. The first half of this maxi-mini-series of what is to be a 10-issue comic progressed just fine. At issue four, I could envision how the comic would round out the next six issues, but then issue five slammed the door shut on that chapter, and issue six introduced a whole new world of wonders. We have three issues left in the series, and that is not going to be enough. Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt that the creators will wrap up the story in a satisfying manner, but I am going to want more...I know this. Issue six and seven have opened up so many potential areas in this world beyond Leeward's current plight that I want to travel to every corner of this fascinating world. Yes, I’m dying to see how Leeward handles what just happened, but I want to see her go from the West Coast to the East Coast as well as inland. I want to see her first meeting with Dash. I want to experience the training programs with the whales, and the capture of the first “king” mer. A common problem I see in many stories is a meandering when things just need to progress, but that is not the case here. I want to meander and take up residency in this story, and I mean that as the highest of compliments.
I don’t need to go into detail about how much I love the dialogue, or character development, or how striking Murphy’s art is—I will say  the splash of the giant mer attacking the cruise ship is worth the price of admission—or for Hollingsworth’s beautiful world building through color. I’ve discussed all that before. The only other thing you need to know about The Wake is that it is a book you need to be buying. I do see a hardcover solicited at with a November release date, but that is a long ways away. With any luck we will see this title extended to 20 issues, or a new mini will be announced, or screw that noise...I'll gladly stick around for an on-going. It's safe to say I like this comic book. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Deadly Class #3
Deadly Class #3 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, colored by Lee Loughridge, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. This comic, like The Wake, has a moment that I fully was not expecting...not in the slightest. The difference being that the previous review threw something outlandish—yet consistent with the story—while this one sucker punches you in the best of ways.
Some homework assignments are murder. Unfortunately for Marcus and his classmate and potential new friend, Willie, their homework assignment is exactly that...murder. The two are assigned to kill a vagrant and document the experience as well as the removal of the corpse; such are the disciplines taught at Kings Dominion, a school for assassins. Thankfully, Marcus's old acquaintance might have a lead on a bad man, but will either boy have the killer instinct to solidify a passing grade? What happens will shock you. Also, little do they know they are being watched by an outside party.
By the half way point of this issue, I was enjoying what I was reading and I liked the budding friendship between Marcus and Willie, which alone kept me interested in this title, but it’s what goes down later in the issue that has my grimmer side anxious to see more. Again, I’m not going to spoil what happens, just know I was not expecting the event in the slightest and that I was stunned afterwards. Dang, everything changes, but thankfully the creators at least give you insight into why things play out the way they do.
The characterization and dialogue are fantastic—no surprise there—and Loughridge’s coloring, although not realistic by design, packs a punch that drives the emotional beats of the story. Craig’s art continues to showcase storytelling grace as he glides your eyes from panel to panel. He even throws in a cool comic within a comic moment when detailing Willie’s past. The panel counts are again high, but they hammer home the intense moments, while easing you through the calmer ones; each page is worth taking time to appreciate.
Three issues in and I am still loving this series, as each provides a new level of excitement and opens the door just a sliver wider as we look in on these characters’ past lives. I can’t wait to see what happens next. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Satellite Sam #7
Satellite Sam #7 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Howard Chaykin, lettered by Ken Buzenak, digital production by Jed Dougherty, designed by Drew Gill, edited by Thomas K., published by Image Comics. <phew> give me a second, denizens. Let me just fan myself and cool off a little as some of the imagery of this issue is a bit racy. Then again, once you start to delve into just what a mess Mikey is and how much more so he is becoming, that takes a bit of the punch out of the more titillating imagery. Still, that Chaykin sure knows how to draw ’em.
Libby Meyers, the assistant director for the hit children’s show Satellite Sam, has been keeping a secret for quite a while. Unknown to Michael at the time, Libby used to run a weekly errand for his father, where she would make deposits to a peculiar storage facility. Now, if he can get his head together and stop letting his daddy issues dictate his life and dalliances, he might be able to appreciate the enormity of what it is Libby has to show him. Of course, he should probably try not to implode his career by giving poorly-thought-out and inappropriate gifts to the Satellite Sam crew. Change is a coming.
I love this book. Not just because of the aforementioned Chaykin-lady steaminess, but because of his command of body language, facial expressions and the storytelling of his sequentials that keep you gliding through the story while also stopping to linger, to appreciate. Fraction’s dialogue is distinct to each character and the situations that arise, whether part of the overall mystery or not, each word is simply engrossing. If you are a fan of the television show Mad Men, or of either creators’ non-superhero work, then this is the book for you. The good news is that if you have not yet picked up this series, then you can get the trade (issues 1-5) for under $8 at (and support me in the process!) and then easily grab these two issues for this unique and authentic look at television showbiz in the ’50s. Satellite Sam is not for the kiddies, but if you are looking for a break from super heroes and villains punching each other in the face, then you know what you need to do. Satellite Sam is an amazing work. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Sandman Overture #2
Sandman Overture #2 - Written by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by J.H. Williams III, colored by Dave Stewart, lettered by Todd Klein, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint. I’ve said it before, but let‘s just get this out of the way. “I may not know art, but I know what I like.” Well, I know a little about art, but for the latest issue of The Sandman Overture I don't completely understand what the heck is going on, yet I still like what I’m seeing.
We begin the tale with the current manifestation of Dream, he who was once known as Daniel, as he prepares to go for a walk where he encounters Mad Hettie and discusses the intricacies of time. Meanwhile, in 1915, the previous incarnation of Dream, Morpheus the Shaper, meets a host of different versions of himself, some more alien than others. Each aspect of Dream sees themself as the only aspect that exists as others fade and appear and...wait, where was I? Anyhow, the Dreams have gathered because one of their own has died and they want to know who is responsible, so they consult the first Dream, a creature reminiscent of the “Old Gods.” Dream then goes into his ruby gem to consult with “The First Circle”…something something somebody named Glory. Uh…something something a mad star…blue lady made out of stars…Morpheus and an aspect of himself venture forth to meet with someone unexpected.
I understood roughly 65–70% of what went down in this issue, but that's okay. The Sandman Overture is lyrical in its lovely dialogue and captions. Gaiman’s words are mesmerizing and just as magical as the tale being told. Couple the exemplary writing with Williams III’s stunning imagery, and there is absolutely no excuse for skipping this issue. Ignore the lengthy delay, you will forget all about it the very moment you see the ghostly Daniel, with his complete lack of a hard black line, or when you see the many aspects of Dream, or when you wander through the crimson landscape of the mystical ruby.  You will want to stay on each panel of each page as Stewart’s coloring style shifts along with the change of each location; every page is worthy of mounting in your home for all to adore. Even the lettering is something to appreciate in this issue as Klein gets the workout of his life with each Dream aspect—and trust me, denizens, there are many—receive their own distinct word balloon, and most of the aspects speak; lettering is something that is usually designed to be invisible, yet Klein's work here is a triumph of the lettering art form.
Neither the wait between issues, nor my inadequate Donist mind should discourage you from checking out this gorgeous comic book—mom always claimed you were the smarter ones anyways, denizens. You need to see this. You need to read this. Come to think of it…rereading issue one and two back-to-back might not be such a bad idea for this comic book from another plane of existence. I won't even guess as to what might come in issue three, as Dream(s) journeys to meet he-who-I-won't-name, but I can tell you I am excited to see what happens. Hopefully the wait won't be too long. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Still Missing Some Books - Gosh darn it. Dag nabbit. Geez Louise. Where’s my The Sixth Gun? Where's my Undertow? Awwww Sugar! Hopefully these missing comics show up next week. Cripes, I hate waitin’ when I shouldn’t have to wait…that goes doubly so when we are talking comics.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Micronauts Monday, 3/24/2014

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! 

As I mentioned last week, The Micronauts #37 was an awesome comic that brought Young Donist much joy, but following that joy was a rather big somethin'-somethin' in the letters column that at first confused and then worried me; I had good reason to worry. I'll get into what happened as we look at issue #37 below, just know that this was the precursor to the current state of the comic book climate we have today. With that said, let's take Young Donist's heart and crush the shizzle out of that sucker!

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts #37
The Micronauts #37Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Keith Giffen and Greg Laroque, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Jim Novak, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Tom De Falco, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts are once again stranded on Earth, with their spaceship, The Endeavor, in much need of repairs. After decidedly defeating the Death Squad a second time, our heroes are now pursued by King Argon's latest horror Huntarr, the living weapon. Little do the Micronauts know that they will be confronting this new enemy on the grounds of Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, where they will find themselves trapped in a most dangerous room. Thankfully, they will have an ally in the X-Man known as Nightcrawler to aid them in their fight against Huntarr, but even Nightcrawler's life will be at stake when the Danger Room goes on a rampage.
Young Donist - This issue had everything I could ever want. Back then, Nightcrawler was my favorite X-Man, although the release of the Wolverine limited series right around this time brought that character up considerably in my mind. Not only that, there's a brief appearance by the rest of the X-Men, a wicked new adversary, the Danger Room, the Micronauts working as a team against impossible odds...criminy, I'm getting all worked up just thinking about how much I loved this darn comic book! Little did I know that this Huntarr character, who for a blobby, orange, blue-eyed lump of a monster in stylish metal boots would later return to take on a HUGE roll in the series, but you'll have to wait find out more about that. Not only did I love this story, but the art blew my mind as well. I was so thoroughly pumped for the next issue that I could not contain my excitement...then with a "Special Announcement" in the Micromails letter column, my excitement popped like a balloon. Here is what it said:
Next issue (#38) The Micronauts go to a full 32 pages--no ads--for $.75. The only drawback will be available only through subscription or at selected retail outlets (in other words, at comic specialty stores.) for a list of these outlets contact Mike Friedrich Circulation Department Marvel Comics 575 Madison Ave. New York, N.Y. 10022
Wait a minute. What? What is a "comic specialty store?" What is a "retail outlet?" For that matter, what the hell is a stupid #$%^ing "subscription?!" ARRRGH! I'm only 11-years old. How am I supposed to know about these things? Anyhow, I crossed my fingers and prayed that our neighborhood Alberstons grocery store, or K-Mart, or 7-11 qualified as one of those things. Unfortunately, none of those outlets were, and I would soon see ALL comic books vanish from those places as well. I like to call the period following this fantastic issue the Comic Book Dark Ages, or the Winter of Comic Book Despair. I would not find out about the glory, the heavenly greatness, the dream-fulfilling beauty of my local comic shop until about a year and a half later. The next issue of The Micronauts that I would find would be issue #50, and I was left to fill the gaps by harassing the poor Andromeda Bookstore workers two or three times a week as I drooled over vast the sea of beautiful back issues before me. Ahhh, Andromeda very important to Young Donist and so fondly remembered, but I digress. This issue—not counting the @#$%ing "Special Announcement"—was freaking VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Wow, what a difference a couple decades makes. The advent of them there interwebbies unleashed the knowledge of where to find comics and ensured that if I miss a book, I can get a hold of it in fairly quick order. But let's look at issue 37. When I cracked open this issue, I expected it to not hold up to the test of time. I am so happy to say that I was oh so wrong. This issue is every bit as great and fun as I remembered. The intro art of the X-Men removing scrap from yet another Danger Room mishap—don't they ever learn? It should be called the Impending Death Room for cripes sake!—is staggeringly gorgeous, but the single page that seals the deal for me is that splash of Huntarr. Holy guacamole! He is gross. He is menacing. He is awesome. I am in love, denizens. Mantlo also has me sympathize with what was once Iann-23, right before the powerless man gets permanently mutated. That one moment of Iann-23 smacking Argon in the face—Agron seems to get punched in the face quite often; I'm not complaining—is so inspiring and brave despite the futility of the gesture, that even when I was young, I knew there was something more to the deadly monster known as Huntarr; I cannot wait to see his return. The rest of the issue is filled with great dialogue and intense action that had me blazing through the pages until the end where that damn "Special Announcement" causes me to wince to this day. Dang, denizens, this issue is right up there with the best of the best (issues 11, 28, 35). With comics like this, it's no wonder I became the fan I am today. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #38
The Micronauts #38 - Part one written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by John Garcia, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Jim Novak, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Tom De Falco. Part two written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Gil Kane, colored by Christie Scheele, lettered by Diana Albers, edited by Al Milgrom. Both published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts are back—and unfortunately sold only in the direct market at the time—and we get two filler stories as the diminutive yet valiant heroes take time to remember the past that led them to where they are today. First up is Commander Rann's tale of his time over 1000 years ago, when he was a young lad under Baron Karza's tutelage, when he first began to suspect that something was dreadfully wrong. Next up is a new "Tales From the Microverse" where Bug tells of his capture at the hands of his homeworld Kaliklak's conquerors, and of his daring escape and fateful first meeting of his friend Acroyear.
Young Donist - Although it took over a year and a half to pick up The Micronauts with issue #50, it would be about a year after that before I saved enough money to chip away at the back catalog of missing issues. The first half of the book left me thrilled by Garcia's art and seeing Commander Rann's earlier days, as well as a younger-yet-equally-devious Karza, had me cheering. The second story's focus on Bug also made me glad I picked up the missing back issue, yet at the same time I was not overly happy with Kane's art. The story, however, answered many of my questions about Bug and Acroyear's first meeting; I was more than willing to look past the art that I did not yet understand. Yes, this is a filler issue, something I usually hate, but given a chance to meaningfully expand the history of my favorite characters for my favorite comic is something I will never complain about. This issue was a blast. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Yeah, I am not a fan of filler issues, but experiencing key moments of these characters' past is thoroughly rewarding with this issue. I'm not sure what happened to Giffen—maybe he got chased out of Marvel, too—but Garcia kills it with an art style tailor-made for the book. His depiction of the space-gliders-in-training sequences are killer, and I'm left wishing I had a glider suit to cruise around in myself. The story is awesome, and although I would be mighty apprehensive about things if two attempts on my life were made in a 24-hour period, I put aside disbelief and just glided like the wind through this cool story.
The "Tales of the Microverse" feature was equally as enjoyable, and I am infinitely more appreciative of Kane's illustration on this title now that I am an adult. The style is different than what I am used to seeing, but his storytelling skills are fantastic and I love love love the designs of the ships and the surroundings. Seeing Bug and Acroyear's first time meeting still lifts my heart and makes me cheer.
Current Donist is generally leery of filler issues, but this one is a prime example of a filler issue done right, as it fills in back story and gives us a chance to take a breath before the insanity that is to come. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

There you have it. A shorter reading week, but I was on a brief vacation and toting the ol' omnibus around is not something I wanted to do, not just because of its bulky weight, but mostly because I did not want any damage to come to my prized book. Anyhow, my recollection of the next couple of issues is a little fuzzy, so next time I'll be coming into the story somewhat new. I'm sure it will all come rushing back once I crack into each exciting new chapter. Thanks for joining, and see you next time!

While writing this entry, I listened to Washed Out's albums "Within and Without" and "Paracosm" each of which are simply beautiful. Give each a listen and you'll see just how ethereal and uplifting these songs are and how they are perfect to write, study, or just plain chill to.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 3/21/2014

(Sung to the tune of The Go-Go's "Head Over Heels")

Been reading great books, they've all blown my freakin' mind
Need some direction? This here Donist won't steer you blind
Need help with choosin' 'em? Don't you worry, now let me see
Buyin' them's so easy, but you know looks sometimes deceive

You're spending cold cash, don't go past your budget line
How about some Rocket Girl? Dang! You're gettin' free advice.
Your hand should reach out, and grab an Animal Man
Your cookin' with gas now, but that's just half of the plan

Sex Criminals a dang fine book
Don't stop yourself, hey take a look
Sex Criminals, you need one more?
With Lazarus you shoot you score

Hi there, Donist World denizens, and welcome back. I'm joined as usual by CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) and by the lovely marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/courtesy desk specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie's sister). I'm going to be quick this week, as I am heading out the door to lovely Palm Springs to attend a conference solidifying Donist World as a Fortune 320,000 company. (This is a lie...I am actually tagging along with Amy the intern—my wife—who is attending some sort of teacher something or other). Anyways, Obie has been so kind as to have packed my bags for me, and he is standing by the door and holding it open as he smiles a huge smile. I don't like that look at all, denizens. Now that I'm thoroughly worried about what he has planned, have a look at this week's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Sex Criminals #5
Sex Criminals #5 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Chip Zdarsky, color flatted by Becka Kinzie, edited by Thomas K, production by Drew Gill, published by Image Comics. Ahhh...the summer of '84. It was a particularly warm summer. It was a time of love, it was a time of being carefree, it was a time of brimping. The daisies smelled particularly fragrant in the summer of '84, and not even dropping my Big Stick Popsicle on a pile of ants could diminish the feeling I had after seeing her standing outside of the 7-11. She was fancy: eating a box of Volcano Rocks and smoking clove cigarettes. Little did I know, I would never be brimped like I had been brimped in the summer of '84.
<blarble, blarble, blarble> Where am I, and what did I just say? No more three-week-old refrigerator leftovers for me. Anyhow...Sex Criminals! After reading so much despair, darkness, and sadness in the majority of the past couple of weeks of comics—I'm not complaining, I like a lot of them, too—it's refreshing to read a book that leaves me smiling as opposed to feeling like I'd just been punched in the stomach 24 times. In fact, as you can tell by the intro, Sex Criminals leaves me feeling kind of giddy after each read, and that is before I even make it to the must-read "Letter Daddies," which is one of many reasons to buy the floppies; the soon-to-be-released trade will probably not contain the letters column in order to keep the $9.99 retail price point. So, was the conclusion to the first story arc every bit as great as the previous first four issues of what is one of my favorite comics being published? Yup. Now, close your eyes, read on, and imagine being brimped, like you had been brimped in the summer of '84. Oh wait, you can't "read on" if your eyes are closed. Instead, head to your nearest Applebee's with your favorite smart device and read the rest of this post there. If you are asking yourself what "brimping" is, or what the deal is with Zdarsky and Applebee's, then you really need to catch up on this Donist World darling, denizens. So, get thee to thy LCS. Pronto!
Things are looking bad for Jon and Suze. They are in van, in the Quiet, being escorted by the Sex Police to an unknown destination. Jon and Suze were intending to stop time so they could rob the evil bank where Jon works, so Suze could then take the money to fix her library's financial woes. Illegal? Yes, but their hearts were in the right place...sorta. Can our heroes escape before they arrive at wherever it is the three weirdos in white are taking them? Also, Jon neglected to tell Suze about a slight problem with authority he might have.
All joking and goofiness aside, Sex Criminals is a highly entertaining, smartly written, and gorgeously illustrated comic that is perfect for sex-positive, open-minded, adult readers. Basically, if you enjoy the awesome Savage Lovecast podcast, then this is the book for you. Hey, Time Magazine called it their #1 pick for the "Top 10 Comics and Graphic Novels" of 2013, so there is that. If you've read my thoughts on the past four issues, then you know exactly how much I love this book. 
Fraction and Zdarsky give you the perfect mix of humor, realism, action, mystery, and awe surrounding a story with highly relatable characters who immediately pull you in. The storytelling of the beautiful art is different from most comics: more upbeat, more cheerful. The colors, however, are what push the book to even grander heights, especially when our heroes are in ethereal Quiet, where magical streams of pink and blue glide across the page. What you most need to know is Sex Criminals is charming, endearing, and one heck of a good read. Now, please excuse me while I enjoy this Pixy Stix and reminisce on the brimping, the brimping in the summer of '84. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Lazarus #7
Lazarus #7
Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated and lettered by Michael Lark, illustrating assists by Brian Level, colors by Santi Arcas, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics. Remember my thoughts of the summer of '84 from above? Yeah, Lazarus is nothing like that. What you have here is a screwed up world, with screwed up people, experiencing really fricking screwed up situations. This is Lazarus. When I finished reading this issue, I was not smiling, rather I was kind of horror-stricken. You know what, denizens? I wouldn't have it any other way.
We flashback to young Forever Carlyle, as she rigorously trains with instructor and "big sister," Marisol. Forever learns about pushing herself, about pain and how to endure it, and most importantly, that when it comes time for her father to instruct her to fight Marisol, he may very well order her to kill her; she will have to obey. In the present, Forever is attempting to gather information from the captured Waste, Emma, who is refusing to cooperate. Meanwhile, the Barret family, like Emma, has lost everything and the five of them are traveling to Denver for the "Lift" selection, where they hope to be lifted from Waste status to Serf and enter the employ of the Carlyle family. Their trip will not go well.
<phew> Okay, this was a heavy issue. Rucka and Lark continue to bring this scarily-possible world to life in all of its gloriously muted colors (thanks to Arcas). This issue is somewhat less about Forever (Eve) beginning to awaken to the world around her as it is about giving the reader further insight into the state of the this world and what the families have done to those deemed Waste. Extreme capitalism has ravaged society for all but a precious few, with those on the outskirts—of which I can easily see myself—put into situations reminiscent of The Road (book here, movie here). It's all rather terrifying. Yes, there are some sci-fi, or rather barely sci-fi, elements to Lazarus, but in the end there really are no fantastical characters, or traces of the supernatural, or anything to ease up the fact that this is a comic taking a look at where we could be headed. 
Still, Lazarus is beautifully written, with striking character work, intricate world building, and art that suits the emotional tone of the story to a tee. Lark gives such emotion to the characters, especially Marisol, as she trains—and even tortures—Forever in an effort to prepare her to take up the role of the family's protector, the Lazarus. We see the pained hesitation, the regret over causing harm to this extraordinary little girl, who Marisol clearly loves, but at some point love and caring will not matter in this harsh, cruel world; we have not yet seen Marisol in the present, and probably will not judging by how the family treats those who serve. The look in Marisol and young Forever's eyes tell you everything you need to know, which is why whatever is coming down the road is going to hurt when Lark lays it out for us to see.
This issue kind of messed me up, but I have to say that I'm glad it did. With every issue, Lazarus will have you thinking, and possibly dreading, where our society is going. I try to be a positive person, but this book does not support that, instead it does its job by getting you thinking...all while delivering one heck of a great comic. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Animal Man #29
Animal Man #29 - Written and partially illustrated by Jeff Lemire, partially illustrated by Travel Foreman, colored by Jose Villarubia and Lovern Kinderzierski, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, published by DC Comics. Despite being on the fence about this title from time to time, I was more often on the positive side with this New 52 kick-off title, than not—you know, the one with the pool, craft beers on tap, and the nacho bar. There were a couple times where I was about ready to switch to trades, but then an issue would drop that pulled me right back in. I preferred the more horror-tinged stories, and the Baker family stories over the superhero ones, and I often wonder what this book would have been like if Lemire (and Snyder with Swamp Thing for that matter) had been able to fully tell the stories they wanted to tell. With the stories taking place in the DCU proper there are certain rules that must be adhered to, so I guess I'm saying I wish Animal Man had been a Vertigo book. 
As for this issue, it is an epilogue to the series as a whole, with Foreman brought in to bookend a tale within a tale with Maxine's narrated story illustrated by Lemire. Both sides are filled with heart and emotion, and it is awesome to see Socks and Shepherd's final fate covered and to know that Buddy Baker is still going to be around as Animal Man. This is actually the type of Baker family story that I enjoyed and hoped to see more of between the more squirmy side of dealings with the Red, the Green, and the Rot. I am also curious about what happened with the dudes who appeared after the defeat of the Hunters Three, as I don't believe that was ever covered. Still, books come and go, and I'm sure we'll see Animal Man return in time, but I will say that this series will be missed. RECOMMENDED!

Rocket Girl #4
Rocket Girl #4 - Written by Brandon Montclare, illustrated by Amy Reeder, published by Image Comics. Rocket Girl continues to be a fun, action-packed joyride with spectacular art and brilliant color and effects. In this issue, Dayoung has been followed to the present (1986) by two Quintum Mechanics Enforcers bent on retrieving her rocketpack so they can ensure their corrupt future. A chase ensues that will take them into the New York subway system and beyond. Meanwhile, in the future (2013), officer Leshawn and his NYTPD (New York Teen Police Dept.) boss are on the run from Quintum Mechanics. Hopefully, they can reach their colleagues before they are captured.
This is a blast of an issue with just enough flash forwards to the future to give you a breather...which you will need. The story does not exactly move that far ahead, but I love Montclare's dialogue and Reeder's art is jaw-dropping in its scope, with her brilliant colors and glows making the entire chase sequence something mighty to behold. My main complaint last issue was that some of the panel layouts seemed rushed, and that is not the case with this issue at all. Everything flows well, and I'm excited to see what happens next. Unlike the other books on today's post, you can rest easy if you were to catch your kid reading this fantastic comic; heck, adults can love it just as much, too. RECOMMENDED! 

Slice Into the Woods

I Flipping Spoke Too Soon - Scuzz buckets, denizens! Why did I have to go and open my big trap about how Diamond was getting my R–S comics to my LCS on time? Sure enough, Stewie in shipping, missed The Sixth Gun this week after I said not so long ago that their problems seemed to be all worked out. <grrrrr> Not only that, Stewie in shipping must have taken over R–Z, as my copy of Undertow was also missing. Again...<grrrrr>. Now, as much as I want those books, I'm kind of hoping that they do not arrive next week, as it looks like I have nine comics scheduled for my pull. Of course, Stewie in shipping might screw that one up to and I'll end up missing a third of those as well. Blah. Boo on you, Stewie in shipping.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Micronauts Monday, 3/17/2014

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! 

Alrighty, denizens, the three keys of the Enigma Force are in the Micronaut's hands, but Prince Argon is beginning to show signs of drunk-with-poweritis, as the demons and Dr. Strange become involved in the happenings of the Microverse. As I have said in the past couple of posts, I remember issue 35 as being a pretty big deal, and it was an issue Young Donist read until it fell apart—I bought a replacement copy years later. So, without further ado, on with The Micronauts show.

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts #34
The Micronauts #34 Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Pat Broderick, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by D. Albers, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Tom De Falco, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts have done it! Commander Rann, Princess Mari, Bug, Microtron and Pharoid have secured the first and second keys to the Enigma Force, and Acroyear and his new friends, Devil and Fireflyte, have the third. All that is left is for the two groups to meet in Prince Pharoids land of Aegypta and to avert "the time of great distress." It should have been easy. Unfortunately, King Argon (the Force Commander) has gone mad with power to the point of comparison to one Baron Karza. The Micronauts are imprisoned and the three keys taken. Thankfully, a certain "traitor" has a crisis of conscience and looks to set things right.
Young Donist - *yawn* Talking. Talking. More Talking. This is not to say that my young eyes thought this issue was bad, it was just that quite a bit of internal politics and junk were being worked out, while I was wanting to see some action with the keys, the demons, Dr. Strange, Argon, and the Micronauts. Still, there are a few thrilling parts where my favorite heroes wail on some dog soldiers, and my previously low estimate of Devil's worth skyrocketed as he shreds the bejesus out of some bad guys off panel—all I needed was Rann and Mari's shock and horror over Devil's savagery to bring a smile to my face. One thing for certain is that I was plenty mad at King Argon for turning into Mr. Jerky McJerkface, and seeing Commander Rann hand him his ass gave me quite a sense of vindication. "Punch him, Commander Rann! Punch him in his stupid face!" RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - King Argon. What...a...grade-A...a_hole. What is with this idiots once they start to get a little power? Did Argon watch the first two seasons of House of Cards, and decide that's the way the game is won? Ugh, I'm glad the Commander socked him up. Plus, no one should be allowed to kick it in orange loungewear with purple accessories as far as I'm concerned, that right there is cause enough for attempting to depose a tyranical, power-mad jackface. Respect! Anyhow, wardrobe malfunctions aside...yeah, a lot of talking in this issue, but now that I am older, I did not mind. I found the unfolding dramatic events incredibly well-played and actually brought some needed structure after the somewhat bizarre—yet still very much worth reading—events of the past few issues.
Broderick's art is fantastic as always, which really bums me out as this is his final issue of the series after some "creative differences" sent him packing to DC Comics where the artist worked on a handful of series that I also enjoyed in the '80s: Firestorm, Captain Atom, Lords of the Ultra-Realm. Art and story make this issue a fantastic read as relationships and friendships dissolve and the grounds for a new evil force sets to erradicate the hard-won peace recently established in the Microverse. Yes, the action in this issue was minimal, but what action there is left me cheering my heroes along. "By Jove, Commander Rann! What a jolly good right hook you have there, I must say. Excellent donnybrook, old boy. <ahem> Punch Argon in his stupid face!!!" HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #35
The Micronauts #35Written by Bill Mantlo, layouts by Val Mayerick, finished and inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Joe Rosen, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Tom De Falco, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts have been branded traitors to Homeworld by none other than their former colleague, King Argon the Force Commander. This is especially a blow to Princess Mari, Argon's Sister, and to Slug, Argon's wife-to-be. As the Micronauts flee Argon's dog soldier forces in an effort to reach Deadzone with the three keys to the Enigma Force, our heroes' time is running out as the impending darkness is upon them. Demons surround the tomb of Wayfinder the one who created the Microverse with the aid of a star sword, and who became the first Time Traveler. The history of Microverse is revealed as the Micronauts face off against Argon's newly created Death Squad, and as Argon attempts to strike a bargain with the whirling chaos demons who want to eradicate all semblance of humanity from both our world and the Microverse. Can Commander Rann, with the help of Dr. Strange and Fireflyte, make it to Wayfinder's tomb to save the day?!
Young Donist - Game over. Mind blown. I loved this issue. Not only is this issue double-sized, but all the action that was missing last month is crammed into this here comic. Heck, I did not care that a whole $.75 of my $2.00 allowance would be eaten up on one comic (oh how I weep for the days where even a child could afford to buy comic books <sob>), it was worth it. I believe I picked this issue up at K-Mart—how often did I go there back in the day?—and I read it over and over until the cover eventually fell off. To me, this issue was every bit as good as the phenomenal issues 11 and 28, and seeing the Micronauts take on a team of anti-Micronauts left me giddy to see more; I especially loved Bug's enemy, Lobros, who was gross and all sorts of awesome. The first page splash of King Argon wearing a now jet-black Force Commander armor made my jaw drop and left me wishing for an all-black update to the Micronaut toy. On the other hand, I was deeply confused by Devil's fur being a purplish shade that I assumed was black on the cover, which left me scratching my head. Heroes, monsters, Dr. Strange, Force Commander in black armor, the Death Squad, the history of the Microverse, this issue rocked my socks off. Well, if you love it so much, Young Donist, then why don't you marry it? I would have, denizens, but as I said, my allowance was only $2.00, and after buying this issue, $1.25 was not enough to support an 11-year-old and the love-of-his-life comic book. True story of economic hardships, denizens. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - First off, I still love this issue as an adult, but does it live up to the awesomeness of issues 11 and 28? Young Donist would say yes without hesitation, but Current Donist would have to say close, but not quite. Part of me is annoyed by the fact that Pat Broderick was allegedly (but most likely as so many other creators were) treated so poorly by editorial at Marvel that he had to quit and go to DC. Did these overlords—one in particular—not look at the past 16 gorgeous issues that Broderick worked on? Grrrrr... Not only that, a few of the pages towards the front appear to have been illustrated by Broderick and are uncredited, which really chaps my hide. <sigh> Let's move past the book's loss of one of my comic art heroes and get on with this issue..
This book is an exciting finish to the quest for the keys to the Enigma Force, although I would have liked to have seen another issue or two before this one to extend out the anticipation and raise the stakes a little more. As it stood, with last issue's revelation of King Argon's power madness and treachery, it would have been cool to bring him into conflict with Dr. Strange, or for all the Micronauts to have a run-in with the demons, but what we do get is pretty tremendous, even if it doesn't quite reach the heights of those exalted issues 11 and 28. The fight scenes are spectacular and the lead up is tense, but where I remembered this as the closing chapter of a grand storyline, it is actually the lead-in to something much bigger as Argon steps up to fill Baron Karza's recently vacated shoes—you know, those stylish thigh-high jobbers he used to wear. The thing that most hurts this book is the inconsistent quality of the art, but even that can't prevent me from giving this issue a rating of VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #36
The Micronauts #36Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Keith Giffen, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Jean Simek, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Tom De Falco, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts are back on Earth for some reason—let's not worry about that detail as we are not really told how or why—and they are pursued by King Argon's newly reformed Death Squad. Unfortunately, the Microverse starships happen to appear at an elementary school, where school is in session, much to the horror of the students and teachers. It's the Micronauts versus the Death Squad (again), only this time their foes' ranks have grown.
Young Donist - Heck...YEAH! Boy howdy did I love last issue's battle with these Death Squad guys, but in no way did I expect them to appear in the very next issue. It blew me away to see the new villainous members of Antron, Repto (who still kicks Antron's a$$...sorry Brother Of the Donist, Jeff), and Galactic Destroyer. I also liked that the battle was waged at a school, and I would spend the next few months at Vieja Valley Elementary School imagining the Micronauts waging battle in my classroom as I learned the joys of fractions and decimals. I was also happy to see that the art received a sizable kick in the pants over last issue as well. This issue ruled. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Current Donist - Okay, how the heck did they make it back to Earth so easily? It's not like you can hop on the downtown 11 bus and get off in another universe; it's supposed to be a big deal. Whatever, pushing that bit aside, this was another exciting issue that I can safely call fun, which is odd after how serious the book has been for so long. Luckily, the fun factor of this issue does not detract from the story, and actually increases my interest in seeing what happens next, especially since I know who the guest star will be next issue.
Although Broderick will sadly not return to this series, the quality of art that I expect on this title returns with the addition of Keith Giffen, whose art style is perfect for this book. His phenomenal storytelling and his spot-on designs make this story all the more enjoyable as we watch our heroes work like a team to beat impossible odds. I enjoyed rereading this issue every bit as much as I did as a kid. That said, has a child faced with impending doom from a microscopic universe ever exclaimed the words "Sockamagee" or "Hominna-hominna-hominna?" I'm not sure, but enquiring minds really want to know. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

After rereading issue 35, I'm not sure I can count it up there with issues 11 and 28, but it is darn near close to being as great...maybe if Broderick had illustrated the entire issue my thoughts would change would change. Still, these three issues are simply wonderful.
Up next, we see a guest-appearance by Nightcrawler—which, spoiler alert, Young Donist loved—followed by news that would break Young Donist's heart for months on end, until the day he learned of the mystical land known as the LCS.

While writing this entry, I listened to Bonobo's albums "Dial 'M' For Monkey" and the awesome "Black Sands," each of which are perfect for writing, studying, or playing during dinner. Great music.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 3/14/2014

(Sung to the tune of The Pet Shop Boys's version of "You Were Always On My Mind")

I'm pretty dang sure I love ya
Just about as much as I could
Batman and Hawkeye I gotcha
Oh so good ones you should

East of West is def' one of the best
Even though Death's now partially blind
Great books are always on my mind
Great books are always on my mind

Hello, denizens, welcome back to Donist World! If you are new here, thank you for stopping by, and please, make yourself at home. For those who are new, here's the deal: every Friday I talk about the comics, among other things, that we loved the most this week. We don't slam the books we don't like, we just don't talk about them, and we don't beat-up on creators—there are far too many negative sites out there already covering vitriol, so forget that noise. No, instead we remain positive with an eye toward critique of why we love what we love. First, we lead with a song where we change up the lyrics. Second, I detail the happenings of the Donist World corporation. Third, the reviews, which might include older comics or movies or television or beer. Fourth, we end with something that is not so positive, but again that does not reflect poorly on the creators...unless they did something atrocious such as selling cigarettes to kittens or something. Anyhow...

This week I'm not joined by CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier) or Donist World marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/role call organizer Tulip (my dog, Obie's sister). As I mentioned last week, I've been running around like crazy between writing and graphic design coursework, so I—<shhhhhhh> don't tell the pups—took a sick day on Wednesday to relax with a meal at Eureka Burger (plus two beers) followed by the awesome Lego Movie, as well as picking up the week's heavenly comics. I took the rest of the week off as well. Basically, I left the corporate office (Mom's basement) in Tulip and Obie's semi-capable paws. I also, unbeknownst to them, installed hidden surveillance cameras throughout the office (Mom's house...creepy, I know), and with this trusty app, I can listen to Obie's nonsensical meeting with Tulip covering how by removing me as CEO of Donist World we can improve our Fortune 320,000 standing and gain market share in the process. There are tons of problems with this, including the fact that you have to have a market to have market share, and that I don't get paid, so how does that impact our nonexistent bottom line? <sigh> Anyhow, I'm relaxing, and you should too, with some fantastic comics. I'll deal with Obie on Monday, where I inform him he will no longer be allowed to watch House of Cards.

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

East of West 10
East of West #10 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics. Ugh. Are the creators intentionally trying to terrorize me? Seriously, it's as if they somehow gained access to my subconscious mind and gleaned knowledge of that which frightens me the most. Take for instance anything involving eyes. Seeing someone put eye drops in their eyes is enough to give this Donist a severe case of the willies, but this Oracle with the Cthulhu tentacles squirming out of her left eye socket and Death's stolen eye in the right... Sorry, I'm back. I fainted, but I'm cool now. Where was I? Oh yeah, if that isn't enough to end any chance of normal sleep, then I have one more tidbit of horror for you, denizens: the horse beast is back. Despite freaking me out, this comic keeps getting better and better.
Death wants to know the whereabouts of his abducted son; sacrificing his eye to the Oracle for the details is not quite working out how he planned. As it turns out, leaving a powerful creature in a prison without her eyes for century after century is no way to ingratiate yourself with someone. Death, Crow and Wolf all head to "talk" to Wolf's father, a member of the Chosen, who knows where Death's son is being imprisoned. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Death, the remaining Horsemen of the Apocalypse stand watch over the boy, weighing the possibility that The Message has been misinterpreted—perhaps the boy is not the Beast. If that is the case, then the Horsemen can safely kill him. Death's son, however, knows full well who watches him and he has plans for his would-be killers. Finally, as Death, Wolf, and Crow face down one of the Chosen that has assumed a spiritual manifestation, a relatively new player makes their presence known.
I'm only partially kidding about how unnerving the opening sequence of this issue is. Hickman and Dragotta give us the perfect hybrid of horror and sci-fi and Western and fantasy and historical piece, and the cast of characters flowing in and out of the story is staggering. But it works. Every single element of this comic serves the story and something seemingly inconsequential today, will have some relevance at some point down the line. I'm curious to know Hickman's process and his organization for this title (if anyone knows of any interviews or articles about this, please let me know), as the volume of information, characters, and storylines is beyond impressive for a comic that works so well issue to issue.
He also knows when to divvy out just enough background information to prod the reader's interest for a character, and when to cut that information off as we finally take a look at Wolf's past with a couple informative panels. As I've said before, Hickman slowly answers questions, but each reveal of past events raises new relevant questions, but you will have to wait for the answers. The great thing about East of West, is that before you can begin to become upset over wanting to know more about one character, you jump to someone else, becoming wrapped up in the new details of their life. The story constantly progresses as pieces fall into place, and the comic is dang near impossible to put down because of it.
Much of the horror of this issue comes from Dragotta's twisted and downright disturbing imagery at the prison—criminy...those tentacles <brrrrr>. Death's rage, frustration, and pain is intense, as is the Oracle's grinning visage as she basks in the knowledge of victory yet to be realized. Later in the issue, we see some of the most intense action scenes in the series to date, with an insane battle at the Sea of Bones. Although I like to poke fun at Death's horse beast thing, Dragotta's design on the creature is impeccable. In one panel it walks like a horse (on tippy toes, no less!), then stalks and crouches during the battle like a cornered tiger, and the next it scurries away like a bug, which leads back to the distribution of back matter; I desperately want to know what this thing is, almost as as much as I want to know more about Wolf and Crow. I also must point out the killer panel of Crow exploding into a flock of crows after Death fires upon her. This one, lone panel is filled with birds, yet in the chaos you can clearly make out Crow's face as she screams in shock; it's a small yet beautiful image worth taking time to appreciate.
There you have it. I continue on with East of West and there ain't nothin' that can stop me. I reread the first five issues a while back and marveled at how awesome a tale this is now that I know the characters, the story, and the world it takes place in. If you have not yet read East of West you can pick up the first trade on the cheap—with a second trade on the way—but I have to remind new readers that you cannot expect to understand what is going on until you reach about the third issue. This did not bother me in the slightest back then, as it was clear from day one that this grand story knows exactly where it is going and you will too...with time. A wonderfully complex comic. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Hawkeye #17
Hawkeye #17 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Chris Eliopoulos and David Aja, colored by Jordie Bellaire, published by Marvel Comics. Oh man, I love this series, but I don't know if I'm coming or going. First Kate Bishop went off to LA, and we have been having even numbered issues focusing on Hawkgal's exploits and Hawkguy's issues covering the odd numbers. Then we saw the release of issue 14, followed by a delay, followed by another Kate Bishop issue 16. Then there was a bit of a delay, and we then received the awesome issue 15 two weeks ago, with this filler issue showing up this week. It's all rather screwy, but every issue of Hawkeye (the only Marvel title on my pull list nowadays) is still a real kick in the pants—which for you whippersnappers out there means it's a good fun time. Usually, the dreaded "filler issue" is right on par with most annuals, but heck this issue was enjoyable and right inline with what you can expect with this fantastic series.
It's holiday season, and Clint (Hawkeye) is visiting with a neighbor and her two young kids. As they settle in to watch the kids' favorite show, the cartoon "Winter Friends." Before it even starts, Simone (neighbor) is asleep and resting on Lucky (Pizza Dog), but Clint is transfixed by show about a group of multidenomenational, pantheistic, all-inclusive animal team of super heroes who have to stop Mister Sun as he arrives early to eradicate winter. Unfortunately, with the heat of the sun, the Winter Friends lose their powers and it's up to Steve—the dog without powers—to come to the rescue. Sounds somewhat relevant to a certain purple clad hero's situation, amirite?
I liked this book on the first read through, it's cute and fun, but I liked it even more on the second read. Fraction's dialogue is whimsical and cracked me up at parts—"My nightmares are turning real!!"—with clever little easter eggs hidden throughout the story to clue the reader in on how the story relates to Clint's current dilemma with the Tracksuit Dracula "Bros."
Eliopoulos's art and character designs are adorable, and his storytelling will have you burning through the pages as if you were actually watching a cartoon show. Even with a cartoony style, the drama and character acting stands fantastically strong, and I finished reading the issue convinced that I would gladly pick up an "all ages" Hawkeye book, if this is what I could expect on a monthly(ish) basis. In short, it was a blast. The first and last page of the issue are illustrated by Aja, and I must give props to the final page where Lucky crawls up to sleep next to Clint, which is so thoroughly touching that I'm going to pause momentarily to pet Tulip.
Although many delays on what is Marvel's best title seeing release can be frustrating, I forgot the annoyances every time I turn to that first page. Yes, issue 15 left us with a brutal cliffhanger that will not see resolution until issue 19, but the creators gave us something truly special to tide us over and it is something everyone should check out. My only wish for this offering is that we would have received it back during the holidays, when it would have had an even stronger impact, but you know...delays happen. So very fun. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batman #29
Batman #29Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Greg Capullo, inked by Danny Miki, colored by FCO Plascencia, lettered by Steve Wands, published by DC Comics. I love when I get that burning nerd rage, that momentary indignation over something rather stupid, only to realize that I did not have the whole picture. What is it that got me going this time? Answer: the price of this comic. Lo and behold I look at the cover and see that the price has gone up by another $1. This has happened often over the year as "Villains Month" waltzed in with extra titles and certain issues danced between the $4.99 range all the way up to $6.99. Let's forget the "Villains Month" thing, and focus on the part where I am wrong. So, yeah, $4.99, but instead of the 20 pages we usually get, this month we have 41 pages of amazing story and oh-so-sweet Capullo art. Here we go with the maths again...that's like $2.50 an issue! So, note to self: simmer down, ya big palooka, take a chill pill and enjoy the bat-ride.
The Batman is onto the Riddler and his schemes, and if he ever hopes to beat the unsettlingly-rational madman at his game, he's going to need Jim Gordon's help, too bad Gotham PD's corrupt force is none too fond of either of them. Luckily, Batman's packing some serious muscle in the form of a monstrous black blimp that he is taking to disarm a stolen weather balloon guarded by none other than the horrific Dr. Death. Intense action, a gorgeous homage, a face not even a mother would love, a brilliant criminal mastermind, and a hero whose brightly colored world begins to slip into the dark await you in this tremendous issue.
Snyder and Capullo have always brought beautifully written and illustrated issues of Batman, but over the past year they seem to be upping their game with each issue's release as the series gets better and better. With this issue, we catch glimpses into Bruce's life before the incident that would forever alter his life. Snyder let's us see just how a young kid could take everything leading up to his parents' deaths and bring it back upon himself; in his mind his actions led them to that alley on that fateful night. We also see Bruce as an adult not exactly winning as he underestimates the Riddler, and Gotham goes all to hell. It is his life and his failures repeating again, only on a much grander scale, and it's kind of sad to see go down.
Capullo...uh...positive adjectives, and positive adverbs for every dang aspect of this book. The character acting, the freaking insane levels of adrenaline-pumping action, the nightmare-inducing character design of Dr. Death, that one stoopidly beautiful homage splash page that I want as a Mondo poster more than anything right now (24"x36" would be perfect, y'all)...short of calling out 70% of the individual panels in this issue, let's just say the gosh darn art sure is purty.
FCO Plascencia's coloring is the same situation: many positive adjectives and adverbs. Not just on the homage splash, but also on the blimp splash page, and each contrasting color scheme page and accented effect throughout the book. Plascencia is also telling a story with this issue as we watch what has been a brightly colored "Zero Year" begin to shift to the darker grey color schemes of what Gotham will become. He also makes Dr. Death that much more terrifying.
To be honest, I wasn't really filled with rage, I'm not that kind of guy. I did notice the bump in price, though, but despite the shenanigans of double-shipments, gotcha events, annuals, and sporadic price jumps, the creators make it up to us faithful readers. An event pops up to mess up a monthly release...the following month we get a double sized issue for only a buck more. An annual pops up and you still get your regular issue with the creators' story still faithfully intact. That is why Batman gets my dollars and the occasional extra buck or two. I support the creators of this fine book because Batman is cool and all, but the real heroes found within these pages are each of the individuals involved and their dedication to the story. And I'd buy that for a dollar...extra. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

True Detective - No. I'm not going to spoil anything. I'm just glad that we were able to watch this eight episode HBO series at a friend's house after we bribed them with pizza. Of my all-time-favorite television shows, this one is firmly in the top five along with Firefly, Game of Thrones, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Breaking Bad. If you don't have HBO, or a friend with HBO, then you have a wait ahead of you for the DVD/Blu-Ray release, but just know this is one of the best shows I have ever seen. Period. End of story. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Nothing To Report - I am quickly getting buried under obligations and quizzes and projects and the guy who just came to tell me that the water is going to be shut off for a few hours, so let's take a deep breath, smile and tackle these things one at a time. All the best, denizens. Have a great week.