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.


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