Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 5/30/2014

(Sung to the tune of Harry Nilsson’s “Coconut”) *If anyone knows what this song is about, then please…let me know.

Donist bought some comic books, he bought ’em cause they’re prime
They’re ones you should be readin’, son, they’re a heck of a good time

You get a bag for your comic books, then read ’em all up
You get a bag for your comic books, then read ’em all up
You get a bag for your comic books, then read ’em all up
You get a bag for your comic books, then check with Donist, raise it up

Say “Donist, Trees, Chew Revival are so great”
You say “Donist, Deadly Class I cannot wait”
You say “Donist, Southern Bastard’s really great”
You say “Donist, Batman’s awesome for Pete’s sake”
Donsit World’ll set you straight

You get a bag for your comic books, then read ’em all up

Hello there, denizens, welcome back to Donist World. I am joined, as ever, by our CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / barometric pressure tester Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Yesterday was an odd day around the Donist World corporate headquarters (my mom’s basement) in that something in the air just made us tired and foggy-brained. It was difficult to put two and two together, let alone present strategies for maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company or quickly write reviews that actually made any sense for this week’s comics. Luckily, today I feel better, and with much revising I believe those letters, words, and sentences are a bit more understandable. Obie and Tulip will back me up on this as…hold on. Where the heck did they go. <hmmmmm> The note here says that the puppies have failed their savings throws and still feel crummy. In fact, they say they feel so crummy that they are off to the park across the street to have tacos, mojitos, and to “recover” from the change in barometric pressure that we believe is messing us all up. Again, <hmmmmmm> From here, I can actually see that they are not feeling ill — they are wearing their “Happy 5th Birthday” hats from last Sunday — and are playing tug of war with a rope toy in the park. Usually, I would have to write them up, but you know what? It’s a nice day, and I could go for some chicken tacos myself. I also see that Obie took my wallet. While I head across the street, take a look at the Image bonanza of…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Trees #1
Trees #1 - Written by Warren Ellis, art by Jason Howard, lettered by Fonografiks, published by Image Comics. Let’s just cut to the chase, denizens… Yes, I loved this first issue. I loved it quite a bit, and you want to know something? I honestly have very little idea as to what is going on or what is going to happen. I’m cool with that. The important thing to know is that Image Comics again assails comic fans with their newest must read title, but is anyone really surprised given that the creators behind this intriguing new series are Warren Ellis and Jason Howard? Nope, I didn’t think so. 

Ten years ago, the monstrous “Trees” landed on planet Earth, and stretched far into the heavens. Humanity shuddered at the sight of the alien structures and the Trees responded by doing nothing. We attempted to attack them, but to no avail. In response, the Trees did as before: nothing. It has been as if they have not even noticed us, as if we are nothing to them. The Trees appeared across the globe, and after a decade of no activity, something finally happens, and it is not good.

Again, I loved this comic. In one issue, Ellis and Howard bring the reader up to speed with what most of humanity in the series knows: precious little. We see a high-tech pacification police force — complete with armed drones and those creepy robotic dog things —oppressing the citizenry of Rio De Janeiro, a politician in New York vying for more than political power, a young artist newly moved to the Special Cultural Zone of the city of Shu, and a team of scientists in frozen North West Spitzbergen, but how they are all linked outside of the Trees remains to be seen. The creators instantly pull you into the chaos of this world, and although we know next to nothing about the handful of characters introduced thus far, uncovering the mystery of what has happened, and the drive to know who these strange aliens are is so strong, so compelling, I was desperate for more when I reached the final page. In fact, I was dreading each page turn, because I knew there were two fewer pages left for me to experience. My main complaint is that there are only 20 pages of material for this introduction.

Ellis’s story, dialogue, and the very idea of the series are fantastic, and Howard brings the full impact of it all home. The action kicks off almost immediately in Rio, but the story shifts more to the dramatic as we are introduced to what I assume will be the main characters of the series — I could also be wrong about this. Trees showcases Howard’s storytelling and character acting prowess, as well as his ability to enhance both through the use color. 

Trees is a beautiful yet chilling read. As troubling as the thought of the ominous Trees is to the planet, thus far it is humanity’s reaction to the occupying aliens that is the most fascinating in this excellent first issue. The creators succeed in making me curious to know more about not just the Trees, but how various regions have responded to them, and how humanity intends to deal with them after so much time has passed. I have so many questions about this series, but I can definitely say that Should I keep buying this? is NOT one of them. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Chew / Revival #1
Chew / Revival #1 - Written by John Layman and Tim Seeley, illustrated by Rob Guillory and Mike Norton, colored by Rob Guillory and Mark Englert, lettered by John Layman and Crank!, published by Image Comics. Hey! Someone got some Revival on my Chew. No, wait…someone dropped their Chew into my Revival. Two great tastes that go great together! If someone asked me to predict a far-out event occurring in either of these series, this issue would never have come to mind. I always figured each to have their own separate worlds, but then again, this is the beauty of creator-owned comics. Those involved can do whatever the heck they want with their properties, but just because they can have a crossover event like this, does it mean that they should? We all know my thoughts on some of the crossovers that have gone down at the bigger publishers, and I suspect that many of you have felt the financial sting of buying the multitudes of comics involved in those crossovers only to be let down by the convoluted story and multiple artistic changes. Keeping those feelings in mind, is Chew / Revival something we should be worried about? Yes, it is something you should be worried about…you should be worried about missing out on this awesome double feature that is both laugh-out-loud funny and pull-the-covers-up-tight scary.

Chew / Revival #1 - This 16-page section of the book was done by the Chew creators and focuses on their characters with some of the cast of Revival brought in. Tony and Colby head to the quarantined zone in rural Wisconsin where the dead have come back to life, and a particularly grisly crime has caught the FDA’s attention. Tony and Colby meet Officer Dana Cypress and her partner Ibrahaim Ramin as they attempt to track down a missing hand that looks to be involved in the sale of black market body parts. They also meet Martha Cypress, Dana’s sister, and things get real weird, real quick.

Revival / Chew #1 - On the flip side of this issue is another 16-page story, this time told by Revival’s creators. Officer Dana Cypress and her partner Ibrahaim Ramin are investigating a spate of missing bodies at a cemetery, and FDA agent Tony Chu arrives to investigate if the missing bodies are tied to the sale of black market body parts that have periodically escaped the quarantine zone for “normal” folks to eat in hopes of gaining immortality. What they find out at the old barn will unnerve and disturb them all.

This book is a blast. When I saw this issue in my pull, I immediately noticed the $4.99 price tag and I then heard a ghostly voice echo in my mind, Donist…this is a crossover…beware the crossover…it has burned you before. I almost put it back on the shelf, but I'm glad I didn’t. Each story was worth it’s half of the cover price, and I found myself giggling and cringing through Layman and Guillory’s half, while feeling incredibly creeped out by Seeley and Norton’s disturbing portion. Although I would not recommend a reader who is unfamiliar with each series to try this issue — read the first couple trades of each first — I would strongly encourage fans of these series to read this special comic. It has the best of what you love most about each title, even when the creators are working with the characters that are not their own; both teams seamlessly integrate the two worlds into one and it works. If you love Chew and Revival as much as I do, then you will definitely be pleased with this crossover that is just crazy enough to work. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Deadly Class #5
Deadly Class #5 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, colored by Lee Loughridge, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Indubitably my reaction to this issue can be summed up in an exclamation and one sentence: No! You can’t end this issue there!!! <ahem> Sorry, allow me to regain my composure. Okay. Last issue seemed to be a nod to Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, but after reading Remender’s note at the end of this issue, it will become clear that much of last issue and this issue are reflections of events that the writer has actually endured. This is a scary thing. 

Marcus took some acid. That’s a lie. He took a boatload of acid, and his friends have taken off, leaving him trippin’ balls in a Vegas hotel room with Billy,  a punk rocker with daddy issues. To make matters worse, their friends left the television on to baby sit Marcus – it’s not helping – and their room just happens to be right next door to Billy’s dad. Things just kind of fall apart from there. 

After reading this issue, you might need to watch some old cartoons. Something, anything to get your heart rate down after the excitement of this stressful issue. Geesh. This is not a bad thing. The creators perfectly bring the reader into the bad trip Marcus is suffering through with each harsh scene building upon the next until the messed up end of the issue…which you will have to read for yourself. I will say that I am curious to see more of Kings Dominion High School for the Deadly Arts, but after what happens on the final page, I am definitely fine hanging out in Vegas to see how the events of this issue play out. 

Remender’s dialogue and captions capture the paranoia of someone on drugs and the bizarre directions their brain takes them. Craig’s storytelling and character acting is staggering in how it ramps up the intensity of a scene, as he effortlessly pulls off high-panel count pages to great effect; not an easy thing to do. The truly spectacular moments of this issue are by far the action scenes, which Craig speeds up with either upward tilting panels, or a large splash page followed by quick snippets of action through lower-panel-count pages. To make the mood even more extreme, or psychedelic, or terrifying, depending on the scene, Loughridge using a primarily flat coloring scheme to push and shove the reader to the emotion they need to feel. The casino and the Vegas nightlife are mesmerizing, right before those insane final five pages. 

Deadly Class continues to be a dark but compelling read with great writing, art, and colors that deserve your time and appreciation. I believe the first five issues are set to be collected in a trade come late July, but if you can get the floppies, don’t hesitate to pick them up. After the brutal cliffhanger ending, I will be biting my nails until the next gorgeous issue. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Southern Bastards #2
Southern Bastards #2 - Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated and colored by Jason Latour, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, color assists by Rico Renzi, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Okay, here we go on our fourth Image Comic review for the week, and surprise, surprise, it’s a dang fine comic as well. Something I need to point out before we take a quick look is that I do not like sports. I just don’t care about them in the slightest. If I have to watch a sport, I guess basketball is okay, but the only time I will willingly watch football is during the Superbowl; I do this for my friend’s mother’s diablo chili (hurts so damn good!). Otherwise, sports…they ain’t my bag. That said, leave it to the strength of the Jasons to make a 22-page comic consisting of eight pages devoted to a football game enormously entertaining and worthy of being immediately reread.

Earl Tubbs left Craw County, Alabama decades ago for what he thought was for good…then his uncle passed and the next thing he knows is he’s back and clearing out his Uncle’s home, which used to belong to Earl’s father. The town lives and dies for the one thing it collectively cares about: football. The unfortunate thing is that someone is going to die for the team, and that someone was an acquaintance of Earl’s. Earl finally meets Coach Boss, and quickly learns that no one crosses the man…ever.

Not much has happened over the past two issues, mostly just an old guy returning to his hometown, running across an old acquaintance, and noticing that things are bad in Craw County. But Aaron paces the book so well and allows us to get to know Earl and some of the other characters through great dialogue and the escalating airs of violence. Latour’s storytelling and colors are a driving factor in the building feeling that shit’s-about-to-go-down. The drama of people’s facial expressions is great, but what I love the most with this issue is the body language, especially with Coach Boss who oozes malevolent authority even without a single word balloon — just look at the cover to see what I mean. 

There are no capes, no tights, no action figures (yet), and no chance for a set of Southern Bastards branded bed sheets (I WILL buy a set if the creators get around to releasing some…truth!), but the strength of these creators’ craft and the apparent heart and soul put into this comic make Southern Bastards a must read for fans of real-world crime comics. The crazy thing about this book is that the protagonist is not a handsome, young guy with sex appeal, but rather a semi-portly, older guy with a strong sense of right and wrong and a need for justice. I have a feeling things are about to get ugly, and I guarantee I will be there when it does. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batman #31
Batman #31 - Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Greg Capullo, inked by Danny Miki, colored by FCO Plascencia, lettered by Steve Wands, published by DC Comics. Whoa! A non-Image comic on Donist World, denizens! What is this world coming to? It has been “Zero Year” for going on two years now, which is cool by me because of a few things: 1) it’s written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo, 2) keeping the story in the past keeps it, for the most part, from getting mixed up in external events and crossovers like “Forever Forgotten Days of Future Earth 2’s Evil Villains,” 3) Batman has been and continues to be quite good. 

The Riddler holds Gotham City in his purple-gloved grip, refusing anyone access in or out. The city is overgrown, more primal, and each day Edward Nigma plays a game of “stump me with a riddle.” The rules are simple: each day someone has the opportunity to tell a riddle that the Riddler cannot solve. If that person wins, then Gotham goes free. If that person fails, then they forfeit their life to the pit. NO one has won. After far too much time cutoff from the world, Lucius Fox decides to step up to the challenge until Batman appears with a plan. 

The story is still intriguing and it is cool to see Batman operate without all of his tech, gadgetry and doohickeys. For this tale, it will take brains and the tools of the past and the creators handle it well. There are plenty of words on most pages, which is typical of a Snyder book, but what is also typical is that you never notice it; Snyder’s words serve and enhance the story from front to back. Capullo is king of facial expressions and drama in this issue, but the splash page of Batman riding in on a motorcycle is one of the best images of the series to date — although we all know Capullo’s next issue will probably bring something even awesomerer…it’s that kind of thing. One of the key additions to both the splash and the opposite page are Plascencia’s colors. Plasencia uses an orangish-gold background to complement Batman’s blues and greys (desaturated purples actually) and the image is stunning as our hero and his Batcycle practically leap off the page. The rest of the issue is equally brilliant, minus the drab that usually bathes Gotham City, and this month’s cover is also one of my favorites for the series in both its layout and coloring. 

So, of the New 52, Batman is one of two books that I am still reading — the other being Swamp Thing. I almost dropped off after that “Villains Month” money grab, but I’m glad I’ve stuck around, as the creators have given us much to love. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Last Friday… - I usually try to keep the “Woods” portion of my posts geared towards comics or comic company shenanigans or movies or gripes about monopolistic distributors, but last Friday’s terrible events really rattled me. I am of course referring to deadly stabbing/shooting rampage of that monster-who-I-will-not-do-the-service-of-naming. It’s tragic, deeply saddening, and ultimately just another notch in the stupidity that has been happening all too often in our country. 

Isla Vista is located just over three miles from our house. Amy and I go there every two to three weeks to pick up a pizza, and we were in fact tossing around the idea of heading into IV that night, which would have meant we would have missed driving by the exact location of the shooting by just a couple of hours. It’s scary, but nothing compared to what the people who were there had to suffer through, or to the innocent people who lost their lives. 

Of course I have been following the events on the radio, on web sites, and on Twitter, and I have seen people bickering over what is the leading cause of this: criminally underfunded and dismantled (thanks for nothing Reagan) mental health services, the ridiculous availability of guns and ammunition (legal or otherwise), misogyny on a grand scale, absent parents, male entitlement, boys never taught to not rape, “pick up artist” bullshit, etc. My problem with this is why can’t ALL of these things be to blame? Why can’t we focus on fixing ALL of these things at the same damn time? Fund mental health services, and keep the private sector out of it. Get these NRA lobbyist out of Washington, and make much-stricter gun control laws; no one needs semi-automatic weaponry or more than one handgun. Keep sex education in our public schools, it is so much more than penis-in-the-vagina talks and should discuss misogyny, rape, STIs, and so much more. On the topic of sex education: abstinence-only “education” is complete bullshit that does not work and should be defunded immediately. As for parents, parent; talk to your children, read to your children at a young age — yes, I know that no one can control what happens in the home. Classify “men’s rights” groups as hate groups. Improve stalker laws immediately. Get asshole, douchebagging, white-haired, old men who believe in the immense stupidity of “legitimate rape” out of office…their time is better spent utilizing the services of a more robust mental health care system, which they so desperately need. 

<sigh> The Isla Vista shooting should not have happened. None of the shootings that routinely occur should happen. My condolences to the victim’s families and to all of those injured or who have to carry the memory of this horrendous night with them for the rest of their lives. 

If you have a moment please read this page from The Onion, whose headline captures my thoughts perfectly titled “‘No Way to Prevent This’ Says The Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.”


Monday, May 26, 2014

Micronauts Monday 5/26/2014

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 can’t believe it, denizens. After this post, I will have covered the amazing The Micronauts comic book series, the two annuals (blah), and The X-Men and the Micronauts mini-series, which will complete my look at the entire first volume of of this life changing series — 65 issues, by golly! Honestly, it seems like I just started doing “Micronauts Monday,” but I guess it’s true what they say: Time flies when you’re having fun. Today, I’ll finish my look at issues 2–4 of the mini, and then next week begins the ultimate dive into mystery of checking under the hood of the second volume,  Micronauts the New Voyages, which I remember as something that flabbergasted Young Donist’s mind and sensibilities; I honestly remember very little about it, so I’m curious how Current Donist reacts to those 20 issues. For now...

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The X-Men and the
Micronauts #2
The X-Men and the Micronauts #2 - Written by Chris Claremont and Bill Mantlo, pencilled by Butch Guice, inked by Bob Wiacek and Kelly Jones, lettered by Michael Higgins, colored by Juliana Ferriter, edited by Bob Budiansky, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts battle with the nigh-omnipotent Entity did not go that well. Billions of beings lost their lives to the monster’s whim, and our heroes find themselves trapped atop a chasm that leads down to an enemy who looks to be worse than Baron Karza ever was. That meeting does not go well, either. Speaking of Karza, the mad man is with the X-Men, who have been shrunk down to his size and the unlikely team rushes to confront the Entity. They will find the evil-doer has created his own version of the X-Men, only these from the mind-controlled Micronauts...fight!

Young Donist - More than anything, I wanted the first-page splash showing the Micronauts as a poster for my room. Dang! How sweet would that be? Anyways, the scenes with the Entity’s weirdlings trouncing the Micronauts was painful to watch, yet I loved every panel of the confrontation; I especially pored over the image of Bug being turned into, well, a bug. Then to see my heroes crawl on their knees to the bad guy only to be be remade into a version of the X-Men and wearing the “First Class” original costumes? I was pissed off, yet at the same time loved seeing them as thralls to the Entity. Bug and Huntarr especially looked cool, but I shook my head in shame at the sight of Commander Rann and his big, dumb, beefy, bearded self in the X-Men costume — shave that beast, son!

The parts with Karza and the actual X-Men, all looked cool once you swam through the sea of words, and trust me, it is a vast sea. But that’s okay, I found out that Kitty Pryde was alive and well, aside from her mind being trapped in Karza’s armor, but it was the fight between the “Micro-Men” and the “X-Nauts” that made me jump to my feet in excitement. It was the moment I had been waiting for, but it was over as soon as it had begun and those harsh, cruel words that wound us comic book lovers to our core popped up...“To be continued!!” Arrgh! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Current Donist - Criminy! I still really want this first-page splash as a poster on my wall — only this time, I would not use tacks on this gorgeous page, or, dawg-forbid, tape. No, I would have it framed and hung with one of those weight-displacing hanging mechanisms, y'know, class it up real nice. What I’m trying to say is that it’s a beautiful page. It has Guice art depicting my favorite heroes, and I absolutely LOVE how the title of the issue is drawn as part of the environment of the page. So very pretty. Anyways...

Mantlo and Claremont go full-on weird with this issue and it is cool to behold. The first third of the book with the Micros being assaulted by the appropriately named “weirdlings,” where they are confronted by their worst fears, was awesome to see, and quite horrific as well. The sea of words that made Young Donist recoil were not a problem for ol’ Current Donist, and I love the fight between the heroes. I will say that Commander Rann needs to hit a barbershop and get that soup-catcher removed — he also looks ridiculous in the X-Men outfit…yuck. I’m still loving the mind-swapped Kitty and Karza, and the final two pages of this gorgeously illustrated issue did their job and left me desperate for more. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The X-Men and the
Micronauts #3
The X-Men and the Micronauts #3 Written by Chris Claremont and Bill Mantlo, pencilled by Butch Guice, inked by Bob Wiacek, lettered by Joe Rosen, colored by Juliana Ferriter, edited by Bob Budiansky, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts and the X-Men run rampant on one of Baron Karza’s outposts, where they annihilate every dog soldier with glee. This is not the behavior of heroes, but none can resist when under the control of the god-like being known as the Entity. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Professor Xavier discovers how to fight the Entity and makes a startling discovery as Baron Karza (trapped in Kitty Pryde’s body) makes a desperate move.

Young Donist - I was immediately upset that my heroes were not in control of themselves as they cruelly slaughtered the dog soldiers, yet I could not help but be thrilled at seeing my two favorite teams working together; I loved the beginning of this issue. Then we get to see Kitty (in Baron Karza’s) body giving Degrayde the “Shut up, fool” treatment, and I couldn’t resist cheering her along.

I also liked the scenes with Karza (in Kitty’s teenage body) as the Entity came in to reward her, but I still found it pretty scandalous. Here we have a pervy, old guy living out his fantasy of gettin’ busy with Kitty, complete with a Princess-Leia-slave-girl outfit, but it isn’t really Kitty. Nope, it’s an equally pervy, old guy trapped in the body of an attractive teenage girl. I had no idea what to think, all I know is that I was relieved when Karza Kitty shanked the Entity’s pervoid ass, before things went any further.

As much as I liked the majority of the book, the final five pages kind of left me with a mild case of the blahs. Back then, I just didn’t care about the New Mutants (either the characters or the comic), and I also didn’t really care about Professor Xavier either. I know this will upset some people, but, c’mon, I was thirteen and had not picked up  The New Mutants comic (something I definitely now regret not reading) and Professor X just didn’t have the sexiness factor of groovy powers or a cool costume like his students — at least now I know Professor X is a total bada$$. I liked this issue, but the cliffhanger didn’t wow me the same way issue two did. Still, the majority of the issue was pretty darn cool. RECOMMENDED!

Current Donist - Wow…unknowing old perv, on old-perv-in-teenage-girl’s-body-dressed-in-Princess-Leia-slave-girl-outfit action! Dang, I’m still kind of scandalized. Yes, I know that Karza hasn’t really been interested in the fairer sex or whatever, but given that the dude is probably in his mid-to-late 1050s and still sports a mohawk and that pencil-thin mustache…yeah, the perv-force is strong in that one. Anyhow, I liked this issue a lot more than Young Donist, but I still feel that something slipped, just a little, in my enjoyment of the series thus far. Maybe it’s the parts with the New Mutants, which are fine, but not my favorites, that drag down my enjoyment of this issue just a hair.

I also noticed that the art seemed to be off towards the end of the book when compared to the first two thirds of the issue. A few panels look like they might have been finished by someone other than Guice, but I’m guessing that things had to be rushed to make deadlines. That said, most of the book looks as gorgeous as ever. I also noticed that we have only one issue left, and the X-Men are still in the Microverse, Kitty and Karza are still mind swapped, but on top of all of that the Entity is on Earth in Xavier’s body, and Xavier is in the Entity’s body and dying of a knife wound. Talk about a lot of storylines to tie up in only one issue. <phew> I can’t wait to see how this all ends, but dang am I not nervous as to whether or not they can pull it off. This issue, however, is still HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The X-Men and the
Micronauts #4
The X-Men and the Micronauts #4 - Written by Chris Claremont and Bill Mantlo, pencilled by Butch Guice, inked by Bob Wiacek, lettered by Rick Parker, colored by Juliana Ferriter, edited by Bob Budiansky, published by Marvel Comics. This is it, denizens! The grand finale of this incredibly fun mini-series, starring two of my favorite teams in comics! Let’s see what all the hubbub is about. We open with Dani Moonstar asleep at her desk and wearing only panties and a button-up shirt tied at the middle; Professor X leers at her from the shadows. But it is indeed not Professor X, but rather the Entity in the Professor’s body, and he seeks thralls for his dastardly desires. Meanwhile, in the Microverse, Kitty Pryde (possessed by Baron Karza) attempts to assassinate her friends, Baron Karza (possessed by Kitty Pryde) attacks Kitty, the Entity (possessed by Professor X) bleeds out, and must find a way back to Earth to confront Professor X (possessed by the Entity) who looks to annihilate the Enigma Force itself in an effort to wipe the Microverse from existence. The clock is ticking as the fate of two universes are in peril!

Young Donist -  The thoughts of a youngster on this issue: Kitty (Karza) attempting to kill the Micronauts and the X-Men…cool; Professor X (the Entity) doing “sensual” things with Dani Moonstar…confusing; Kitty (Karza) and Karza (Kitty) confronting one another to get their proper bodies back…cool; Bioship, the Micronauts, and the shrunken X-Men battling the New Mutants…totally radical, man!; Professor X and the Entity talking a lot…confusing; Degrayde dies…cool; Bioship dies…are you out of your ever loving minds? C’mon!!!; It’s over already?!

This wasn’t exactly what I was expecting and I wasn’t even sure how I wanted this mini to play out, but I was left feeling slightly unfulfilled. I guess I wanted a more grand battle of sorts, that never came. I also did not completely understand what the heck had happened, or why Bioship had to die, or why Karza just vanished and the X-Men were immediately on their way back to the Microverse. If you fit these four issues into the release schedule of the main The Micronauts series — aside from Bioship’s death — it’s almost like this mini series never happened. Back then I just didn’t realize that that’s the thing about comic book events and mini-series…in the end they almost never have any longterm effect on the main story or the rest of the Marvel U. Even if nothing really mattered by the end, I did get something I never thought I would ever see: a team-up between the heroes of two of my favorite comic book series. Young Donist would say this issue and the mini as a whole are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Current Donist - Okay, I get a lot more of this issue than I did as a kid. I also have the patience to sit through a reading of some of the heavier dialogue sections and now see that although wordy, those sequences are key to the ending and are well crafted. The action is great, the characters all act in a consistent manner, and the conflict between Karza (Kitty) and Kitty (Karza) is fantastic with Guice’s powerful first panel on page six being yet another page I wish I owned.

Although the art does not feel as rushed on this issue as it did on issue three, the same cannot be said of the story. Everything wraps up way too fast, and I wish that Marvel would have opted to make this one at least 30 pages so the pacing could have flowed better and we could have received an epilogue to make the experience even more satisfying. Heck, even a fifth issue would have helped, but eight more wrap-it-up pages would have pulled things together nicely. Whatchagonnado?

This issue also answered a couple questions I had about the main series. Through The X-Men and the Micronauts, we learn of Degrayde’s fate, we find out what happened to the Bioship, and we find out what happened to all of Karza’s dog soldiers. This also strengthens my belief that Mantlo knew he was out the door on The Micronauts, and this mini allowed him to make the events of issue 58 possible, which is a bummer. I would have loved to have seen Degrayde step up to become the new psychopath plaguing the Microverse, and maybe have D’ark show up, while Lady Coral actually received her moment to shine. <sigh> Alas, it is not meant to be. Aside from wanting more, more, more Mantlo and Guice on the main series, this mini issue is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! with the mini-series as a whole falling somewhere inbetween HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! and VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Thus ends my look at the first volume of one of my favorite comic series. There were a few low points, but they were few. There were more issues that were simply mind-blowing in writing and art, and scale. All the other issues inbetween are simply dang-fine comic books in a series I treasure above most others. Part of my love for The Micronauts is nostalgia, I will admit to that being a factor, but even without the Young Donist memories, this series is freakin’ excellent and something every comic fan should seek out. I would also suggest reading the series proper before reading The X-Men and the Micronauts so you can get a handle on these characters and see what they have been through; your love for them will carry you a long way.

<phew!> Okay, next week, it’s on to Micronauts the New Voyages, and all I remember is that Young Donist had no idea of what he was getting into, and although I do not remember what all happened in this series, I will say that there is one part early on that filled Young Donist with blind rage. Hope to see you over the next month or two so I can tell you all about it. Thank you for reading.

While writing this entry, I listened to Sulk’s awesome 2013 album Graceless,  which is like a reborn version of the Stone Roses. The whole thing is great, but I am especially loving the song "Flowers." Click the link to see what I mean about this amazing band!


Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 5/23/2014

(Sung to the tune of Social Distortion’s “Story of My Life” find the greatest hits album here)

Comics they’ve always ruled my world
I didn’t have much interest in sports or eating corn dogs
And at class I’d dream all day ’bout hittin’ my LCS
Whoa, whoa...

But the books I like to read now
Saga, East of West, Undertow ones you need to notice
That this silly lifelong love’ll be there ’til the end
Whoa, whoa...

Life goes by too fast
You really ought to read the books that set you right
Open your eyes, they’re a gas
Comic fans for life

Hi there, denizens. I’m Donist, and I’m joined as ever by my executive team of CFO Obie (my freinds’s Boston terrier) and marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / 7th level half-elven blink dog Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). So…the heatwave has passed, for now, and the puppies are a bit more lively this week, as am I. They have already forgiven me for not taking them to see Godzilla last week, but they are now salty over the fact that they are not going with me to see X-Men: Days of Future Past; I honestly don’t blame them. I’d be pissed, too, but then I guess being able to attend a movie is a plus for humans that those of the canine persuasion just don’t share. Sorry little puppies. At least Tulip is still working and putting together a power point presentation about maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company and how…wait a sec…“employee morale and productivity are unquestionably related to attending X-Men movies, with one driving the other”; she’s even added an X-Men symbol to her bar graph. <sigh> I guess that’s better than Obie, who keeps bringing his paws to his temples while squinting at me and muttering, “Obey…human scum. Fail your pathetic constitutional savings throw, fool.” Unfortunately, not only is he attempting to control my mind, he is still pushing his rather insulting MBDM (Management By Dungeon Master) proprietary management style on me. Whatever. I know a certain Boston terrier who’s going to roll a D20 and end up in his sleeping crate for a time out if he doesn’t knock it off. Anyhow, while I devise a way to sneak out of the house to see the movie, train your jeeper-peepers on…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #19
Saga #19 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, edited by Eric Stephenson, published by Image Comics. It’s only been a couple months since the creators of Saga went on much deserved break, but that time away has been an eternity for us readers. Not much might have happened in our own lives, but that is not the case with Alana, Marko, Hazel, Izabel, and Klara—our favorite happy family. To be fair, there have been big changes, but they happened quickly and much time has passed since. We come in after things have been the same, stable even, and at a time when life has become predictable and routine for the characters, but thankfully not for the readers.

Baby Hazel is now toddler Hazel, and she is very much walking and talking, as she and her family hide away on the planet of Gardenia. Marko is a stay-at-home dad, Alana brings home the bacon — provided her temper doesn’t get her canned first — and Izabel and Klara hang around the rocket tree with the newest addition, Friendo. They’re all one big happy family...errr, uh fulfilled family? Ummmm, content family? Normal family? Meanwhile, as his son is born, Prince Robot IV is still missing…whatever happened to that guy?

Although the book was on hiatus for a few months, the creators waste no time shocking the reader as they bring to life a new direction and tone for my favorite book on the stands. To be honest, not much happens in this issue. We don’t have explosions, or shoot outs, or Lying Cat getting poked in the eye. This issue is about life and living, and the routines we tend to unknowingly settle into; it’s also a little bit about the resentment that can build in those moments. Vaughan perfectly captures the interactions between husband and wife, wife and mother-in-law, babysitter and mother-in-law, wife and boss, wife and assistant, husband and cute bat-like girl at the park, with each word of dialogue. This isn’t some lame rom-com where everyone lives happily ever after, tensions build, whether legitimate or irrational, and Vaughan captures it all with such clarity, with such brutal honesty, that I actually blushed while reading this issue. I felt embarrassed, like I had walked in on an intensely private matter, an intimate moment that no one would want an outsider to see or hear. That said, each bit of dialogue and each caption is handled beautifully. We don’t need to know exactly what happened in between issue 18 and 19, but with the final page splash, Vaughan lets us know exactly what is going to happen in the near future. Needless to say, I gasped.

As emotional and powerful as the writing is, it’s Staple’s gosh darn, @#$%ing amazing artwork that gives the calculated gut punch to each dramatic moment. You can see it in every scene. With Marko watching Hazel in the park, it’s nothing more than a slight tilt of his head, a softening of the eyes as he speaks to a stranger, a beautiful woman. Or by the fact that Klara refuses to even look at Alana as she speaks to her. Staples truly shines when we get to the moment between Alana and Marko in the kitchen, where the body language and the expressions tell the story every bit as much as the words spoken between them. The final splash gives that “Awwwww, cute” moment, but again, it’s Vaughan’s final sentence that contradicts what we see, and which succeeds in breaking my heart.

I love these characters — even the bad guys. I have never read a comic book like Saga before, and by golly I hope to be reading it for years to come. Powerfully written, beautifully illustrated, it is a sci-fantasy-romance that is something everyone should be reading. I could not imagine trade waiting this fantastic series, but there are three trades readily available if by some grand error in the cosmic scheme of life you someone managed to miss the first 18 issues. Need further convincing? Well, let me just say that this issue also introduces the character of “Friendo,” so there really is no going back. Friendo forever! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

East of West #12
East of West # 12 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics. East of West is an odd book. It’s one of my favorite comics on the stand, and one I look forward to reading each month(ish). Some parts of the story interest me more than others, primarily the storylline involving Death, Crow, Wolf, and the horse beast thing, but the story jumps around to its myriad other, more human, characters, and it does this often. In the hands of less skilled creators, I might grow annoyed or bored with the slow pacing, but Hickman and Dragotta make their super-smart tale so rich and rewarding, I cannot get enough of this fantastic comic; it does not matter which character(s) we are following.

Last issue, the Nation, the Union, the PRA, the Kingdom, the Confederacy, and the Republic were sitting down to discuss matters as called upon by Xiaolian. Xiaolian wants a war, but not necessarily a war between the different ruling nations, but one between Chosen and righteous. Since only the Chosen are supposed to know of the Chosen, this strikes a nerve with some of the meeting attendees. What strikes deeper than that are three events that will bring about the very war Xiaolian was hoping for.

Leave it to the series creators to make a bunch of people talking as they sit at an immense table simply riveting. This is before the three events I tease above, and without a single mention of Xiaolian’s husband, Death, or any other fantastical being for that matter. The dialogue is heavy and dripping with menace from the moment you open the book to the end, but it is the expressions on the characters’ faces as they deliver their venomous speeches that made me nervous throughout the entire book.

East of West is not an easy read. It is not something you just pick up and hope to figure out as you go along. You have to have the time and be in the right frame of mind for this one, denizens. You need to start at the beginning — as confusing as that might be — and work through the world building, the slowly revealed history, and the glimpses into each character and their possible motivations. You need to be patient. The creators will provide answers to the many questions you might have, but it will at their pace and when they feel it is time — for all you know, the answers to some questions might have been hidden somewhere along the way. Again, you need to be patient, which is a difficult thing for such an masterfully crafted comic book that I anticipate reading every month(ish). Thus far, there are two trades available for this series. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Undertow #4
Undertow #4 - Written by Steve Orlando, art by Artyom Trakhanov, lettered and designed by Thomas Mauer, published by Image Comics. I’m stunned, denizens. Something must have gone wrong, or is it right? My copy of the new Undertow showed up on time and was waiting for me in my pull. This is odd as issues two and three were both mis-shipped and were delayed by about three weeks. The good thing about this is that I only had to wait a week to get the fourth issue of this exciting new Image title. The bad news is I will now have to wait the full month(ish) to read issue five…provided Diamond gets the book out as scheduled. The shorter version of what I’m trying to say is that all of these mixups between the distributor and my LCS matter to me because I am enjoying this book so very much. You should be, too.

Mission accomplished…sort of. Anshargal and his greatly diminished team have found the Amphibian, Kishar Gelal, the elusive air-breathing Atlantean, and he is everything they hoped he would be. Unfortunately, he’s so very much more: psychotic, homicidal, and believes himself to be the cruel god of humanity. Meanwhile, the inhabitants of Anshargal’s ship begin to divide into those who believe/hope their leader to be dead, and those who are loyal and will do everything they can to find him. As the Amphibian proposes a life-threatening “journey” to Anshargal, the Atlanteans make their move.

I liked the first three issues quite a bit, but something changed slightly with this issue now that we have met the Amphibian, as well as received a better glimpse of Zikia and Uruku. The characters and their motivations have finally sunk in, and we see how Anshargal’s defiance of Atlantean rule is leading to future troubles for him and his people — who are already divided as it is. The big change, however, is that the creators have given me questions. Not questions like What the heck is going on? —that is clear — but rather How did the Amphibian come to rule? Was he always psycho? How did he escape?, or What was Anshargal’s first act of defiance against Atlantis? What are the details with his wife and kid? Is there someone in particular driving the building mutiny?, or Is Zikia and Uruku’s relationship accepted by Atlantean society? Is it accepted aboard Anshargal’s ship? The most important question of all for this book, however, is What happens next?, which means the creators have done their job well.

The writing, especially on the creep-out that is the Amphibian, is fantastic, and the artwork continues to deliver the perfect mix of horror and sci-fi, with gorgeous coloring to drive home the drama of each scene, and a visual style that reminds me of my favorite works from the old Warren Magazine days. If you haven’t been reading Undertow, don’t hesitate to pick it up, denizens, but keep your fingers crossed that your LCS actually has the first two issues, which might be problematic to find. I’m sure a trade will be coming in the next few months, but if you are like me, waiting patiently, especially on something this entertaining, is not your strong suit. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Slice Into the Woods

Words of Warning… - I should have posted a disclaimer detailing everything that grown adults might surprisingly be surprised by when reading Donist World. Within the course of this post (or past posts) you might very well find the following: the mention of dogs, no mention of cats, corn dogs, rockabilly, rock ’n’ roll, comic books, political factions, war, undersea adventure, sex, homosexuality, religion, death, Friendo, sarcasm, jokes, goofiness, dreams, monsters, learning, alcohol, beer, the love of beer, cinnamon buns stuffed with maple bacon, mental health services (or lack there of), anti-corporate corruption and greed, the family ties that bind and gag, health care for all, horror comics, sci-fi comics, superhero comics, movies, Boston terriers, graphic design, mac ’n’ cheese, violence, sexual violence, corporate culture, corporate buzzwords, horse beasts, red onions, the devil (see red onions), bullying, and the list goes on and on.

What’s my point? Well, basically, that I can’t possibly list every single thing that might pose to be a trigger for every single one of the four people who read my blog. It’s terrible that some people have been forced to endure / witness horrors in their lives, or that they have been through some uncomfortable situations that will be with them forever, but as grown adults living in a society, we cannot expect to receive warning every time something uncomfortable / objectionable to us pops up. Honestly, there are far too many variables to consider, or to expect (let alone require) others such as educators to convey. The recent discussions around triggers just got me thinking of how Herculean a task it would be to provide a warning for every possible thing that might upset or offend one person, but be fine for another who shares a similar life experience.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Micronauts Monday 5/19/2014

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! 

Last week we looked at the final two issues of volume one of the amazing The Micronauts comic book series. Throughout the predominantly fantastic run that MORE than stands up to the test of time, we experienced Bill Mantlo’s fascinating sci-fi world through his crazy ideas and his strong storytelling— I think I like it even more as an adult, which is saying a lot as I worshipped this series as a kid. We fell in love with each of his characters as they came to life through the gorgeous art of Michael Golden, Pat Broderick, and Butch Guice as expertly colored by Bob Sharen. We witnessed good and evil, love and loss, and a conflict so immense that it spilled into two universes, threatening to claim them both. In Young Donist and Current Donist’s minds, it is safe to say that at least 90% of the 59 issue run fell into the “heavenly” category; unfortunately issue 58 barely registered as cool, and issue 59…well, it is what it is. But there are more issues that occurred outside of the regular series, namely the annuals and The X-Men and the Micronauts four-issue mini-series. So, let’s have a look at those annuals (oh boy, you know what I think of most annuals) and in order to help us feel better about things, we’ll also look at the first issue of the crossover. In the coming weeks, I will dig into the second volume, which is called Micronauts the New Voyages, which I remember as something that befuddled the bejesus out of Young Donist’s poor, itty-bitty mind, and I honestly remember very little about it, so I’m curious how Current Donist reacts to that series. For now (again, oh boy) let’s check out some annuals…

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts
Annual #1
The Micronauts Annual #1 - Written by Bill Mantlo, art by Steve Ditko, lettered by Costanza, colored by Yanchus, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. It’s 1979…do you know where your Micronauts toys are? Not sure? Then buy this comic so you can see all the different action figures and vehicles you own and those that you NEED to own. In this issue you get Galactic Defender, Oberon the horse, Repto, Terraphant, and Hornetroid. So open your wallets as you open this comic to three tales involving the main characters of the series proper and bask in the glory of exposition so blatant you will need boxing gloves to protect yourself.

Young Donist - This was actually one of the last issues of volume one that I ended up buying. As a mad collector of everything Micronauts, I HAD to buy this, but given my experience with the second annual, which I bought years prior, I was in no rush to get it. Once I read this issue, my hesitancy was justified. This just wasn’t Young Donist’s cuppa. Sure, Galactic Defender was in this issue, and he was one of my favorite toys at the time, but then he ends up being like some old guy or something, and that just wasn't like cool, man. You dig? The Mari and Argon thing bored the pants off of me, and the Bug and Acroyear tale was passable, but I did fall victim to “toy fever” at the sight of Terraphant, the vehicle / monster that I never owned. I also had a negative reaction to the art, but I will get into that when I look at Annual #2. Overall, I did not like this issue at all. Young Donist would not recommend it.

Current Donist - Oh my stars and garters, denizens, the exposition! Criminy! I could use the exposition in this story to knock out the rotting fence in the backyard. Jeez Louise. The idea of this is pretty brutal, especially now that I am an adult, and I know an advertisement when I see one. This is what I imagine the powers-that-be saying to Mantlo when it came to this annual: "Y'know, Bill, you’re doing a bang up job on the Micros series; fans seem to love it. But we need to be bringing in new readers so the licensor can move more toys. Here’s what we need you to do…I know it’s short notice, but can you bang out 38 or more pages in say four days so we can get it to Ditko to draw? Y'know…the Ditko. Just be sure to put as many characters and vehicles into the story as possible, and be sure to explain all of what is happening in the series…just lighten up the mood a bit, okay? No kid wants to buy a toy if they’re miserable, y’know?" So, we end up with tons of blatant exposition all kinds of forced introductions of toy representations, and a vibe of “Face front, true believers! The perfect jumping on point for the new reader…and toy buyer,” that might as well have been stamped on the front cover. The problem, is that this issue would not make me want to do either. Most of the comic is forced, but thankfully not all of it.

Yes, I did not like Ditko’s art on this series as a kid, but I will get to that soon enough. This is not the case now. I actually really liked the first story, even if the Galactic Defender ends up being a total geezer. The story is more along the lines of Mantlo’s Warren Magazine-style writing that I love, and couple that with Ditko’s art and allowing the artist to get as bananas as he wants makes it even better. Ditko on Shade the Changing Man, and the Strange Tales issues featuring his art on Doctor Strange are some some of the craziest things I have ever seen and that is exactly what he brings to this first story. The other two stories…not so much. The Mari and Argon tale is kind of painful to read, and is where most of the exposition can be found, but it is primarily talking, more talking, and then to spice things up, some more talking. I almost fell asleep reading it, and it could not have been all that engaging to Ditko, as there was very little, other than few panels of Baron Karza, to get excited about. The third tale, with Bug and Acroyear, has more going on and is fine storywise, but at least Ditko gets to draw some craziness to spur interest.

My guess, and I’m only guessing as I have no real idea, is that Mantlo was allowed to include the first story provided he quickly spit out the other two exposition-laden tales, with the additional toy characters added, as that is what the powers-that-be deemed would bring in more readers. If this was my introduction to The Micronauts, it most likely would have been the last issue I bought. If the other two tales mirrored the greatness of the first, then my tone would be different. Only because the first story is so cool do I give this issue a RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts
Annual #2
The Micronauts Annual #2Written by Bill Mantlo, art by Rich Buckler (pages 1–7) and Steve Ditko (the rest), lettered by Rogan, colored by Gaff, edited by Al Milgrom, published by Marvel Comics. It’s 1980…do you know where your Micronauts toys are? Not sure? Then buy this comic so you can see all the different action figures and vehicles you own and those that you NEED to own. In this issue you get Kronos (which I desperately wanted), Sharkos, Antron, Baron Karza, Force Commander, Oberon (combine with Force Commander to make him into a centaur!), Space Glider, Biotron, Microtron, the Battle-Cruiser, Acroyear, Acroyear 2, the Rocket Tubes, and so much more! So open your wallets as you open this comic to the return of an old foe as you bask in the glory of exposition so blatant you will need boxing gloves to protect yourself. *Sound familiar?*

Young Donist - Story time. I found this issue at the Quaker Square in downtown Akron, Ohio. Quaker Square was once home to 36 Quaker Oats-owned storage silos that were converted into a hotel, with restaurants and stores down below. To a nine-year-old boy, this place was magic. You could have lunch or dinner and watch the trains go by, then you could go to general store, the candy store, and most importantly The News Stand which at the time had an open-air feel with comic books everywhere. It was here in 1980 that I found The Micronauts Annual #2, where I completely lost my marbles over this find, and I could not wait to get home, eat my candy buttons, and read my favorite comic book series. Dang, was I ever disappointed.

“What the hell is this?” I did not like the art, I thought that my heroes fighting toy versions of themselves was stupid, and the reveal of the bad guy’s identity fell flat like a pancake. No way did this have anything to do with the terrible struggles Commander Rann, Princess Mari, Acroyear, Bug, Biotron, and Microtron were having to face back on Homeworld as Baron Karza subjugated sphere after sphere of the molecular planet. Where was the resurrected Prince Shaitan, or the reborn Karza? Pharoid? Slug? I had no idea what the heck was going on! I was enamored with both Golden and Broderick’s art, but this looked nothing like what I expected. I hated everything about this issue. The best thing about it to Young Donist was the memory of watching the trains go by as I ate my French dip sandwich, later buying loads of candy, and the discovery an unexpected issue of my favorite series at the magical News Stand at Quaker Square. I'll just repress the feeling of what happened once I actually read the issue.

Current Donist - <sigh> The exposition of this issue is just painful, and it is clear that Mantlo either had to rush to crank this out, or that he was under order to shoe-in as many toys as possible to either appease Marvel, Takara, or both. This is nothing like the series proper and is not really something to be sought out, except by diehard fans. Yes, the final fate of the bad guy in this issue plays a part in a later issue — one that actually is enjoyable — but you do not need to read it to understand any future storyline whatsoever.

Ditko. Okay, now that I’m older, I can appreciate his art on this issue more than I did when I was nine. Back then, I did not want anything to change from the look or style of what I was used to. But today, I can appreciate Ditko’s intense storytelling skills, his line work, and his character acting. That said, why leash the guy to story centered around a conflict with a normal(ish) bad guy at a Macy’s Department Store. Why was Ditko not brought in to get downright weird, baby? Y’know, have the guy draw the freakin’ Microverse, because that would be positively out of this world and something to behold. But, alas, no. Marvel opted to have the guy draw the interior of a department store instead, so they could essentially release a toy catalog. <ugh>

If you cut the tons of exposition, then the story is not actually all that bad, and if you buy the book, buy it for the groovy Ditko art. I will, however, always dream about what Ditko would have done on a six-issue run of this series set in the Microverse, and not a depressing store. Only because of Ditko’s art do I give this issue a RECOMMENDED!

The X-Men and the
Micronauts #1
The X-Men and the Micronauts #1 - Written by Chris Claremont and Bill Mantlo, pencilled by Butch Guice, inked by Bob Wiacek, lettered by Michael Higgins, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Bob Budiansky, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts are aboard the Bioship and are leading an armada of dog soldiers across the Microverse (what?!) to vanquish the diabolical threat of “The Entity” (don’t you mean Baron Karza?!). Thankfully, they have the might of Baron Karza to add to their team (again, what?!) as they face down a being who can destroy worlds with a thought. As the fighting commences, Karza determines that the Entity’s power comes from a man on Earth known as Professor Xavier.

Young Donist - “The very idea of this is better than anything I could have ever hoped for! The Micronauts and the X-Men together in the same mini-series?! YES!” Young Donist flipped out when he found this at the comic shop. There is no better feeling than seeing something you never even knew you wanted sitting on the racks. I distinctly remember blinking a few times and picking up the book to be sure I was not seeing things. Thankfully, I wasn't. What I was even more thankful for, was the fact that this issue beat the pants off of the annuals mentioned above. Although, once I started reading the book, I was thoroughly confused.

You see, Young Donist was unfamiliar with the whole arrive late, leave early method of storytelling, and I thought I had missed some key issues of The Micronauts, but that was not the case at all. Seeing Karza on the Bioship, and no one side trying to murderize the other nearly made my brain melt…I also thought it was pretty cool. I had no idea who this Entity character was, but I did not care; I had two of my favorite comics mixed together, and not only that, I got to see Baron Karza trash the New Mutants. There was very little from Bug, Acroyear, Huntarr, or Mari, but hot dang if I was not amped for the next issue. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Current Donist -  I remembered next to nothing about this mini-series, but that honestly just made rereading this issue that much more fun. Not only that, we keep Guice as the illustrator and we are immediately thrust into the thick of the story. Once again, I totally fell for the arrive late, leave early thing and was wondering what I missed, how Karza got aboard the Bioship, and why no one was attempting to execute his armored butt. The X-Men’s appearance was brief, but there was so much happening in this story, both action and drama, that I was shocked by how quickly I reached the end; I was desperate for more.

This issue was fun, a blast actually, and although I have no idea what is coming next, I definitely know what I am reading this evening. This is how you bring in new readers while pleasing the fans who have been with you all along. You allow the newbies to catch up on who these Micronaut cats are without bludgeoning them with exposition, while maintaining consistency with the art, the current story, and melding the characters of one world with that of another. All without tying the mini / crossover to either series. You don’t have to read this mini to enjoy The Micronauts or The X-Men, which is part of the reason why I enjoyed it; it stands on its own, and it stands strong. I hope the following three issues share the strength of what I just reread. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Hot dang, denizens! After being pretty bummed by issue 58, 59, and the annuals, The X-Men and the Micronauts got me all pumped once again. Join me next week as I look at the rest of the mini and tell you what I thought, and what I think. Do your experiences mirror my own? Did you love the annuals? What was your favorite issue / toy? Let me know, I’d love to hear from my fellow Micronauts enthusiasts.

While writing this entry, I listened to Bernard Herrmann’s phenomenal score for “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.”  Fantastic and driving orchestral beauty for the 1958 masterpiece featuring the effects of Ray Harryhausen. Definitely give it a listen!


Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 5/16/2014

(sung to the tune of Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”)
*for some big laughs, check out this literal version of the video!

Afterlife, every now and then it gets a little bit scary with these dead kids hangin’ ’round.
Afterlife, every now and then Ging gets a little bit tired of her girlfriend’s boyfriend‘s leers.
Afterlife, every now and then Vern gets a little bit nervous as Betty makes a play for that Archie boy
Afterlife, every now and then I get a little bit terrified that these cool cats might horribly die
Afterlife With Archie. Hey! Look this book has got a lot of heart.
Afterlife With Archie. While your at it give Undertow a start.

Howdy, denizens. This week’s post is going to be a bit abbreviated for a few reasons: just finished two major school projects, only two comics in my pull, I want to go see Godzilla. If anything seems off, then that’s probably because this ol’ Donist has not had a full night of sleep in over a week. I’m joined as ever by our CFO Obie (my friend’s Boston terrier) and our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / hater-of-heat Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Typically, the dogs would be getting their hearts crushed over the fact that they are not allowed into the theater to see Godzilla, but with this stoooooopid heatwave, they only want to lie in front of the fan and curse at the heat. I kind of feel bad for them, since, as everyone knows, Boston terriers thrive in a 68–72 degree Fahrenheit environment, as they lounge by a swimming pool with an endless pitcher of mojitos. That’s the kind of environment we don’t currently have at our disposal. What’s even worse is they spent last week building a city out of shoeboxes with little, green, plastic army men scattered about (I know Obie was the one who put Post-It Notes with “Donist” on all of them…not nice) just so they could destroy their readymade city  in honor of Godzilla day. Sad. Anyhow, while I sneak out of the office (my mom’s basement), have a quick look at…

Friday Slice of Heaven

Afterlife With Archie #5
Afterlife With Archie #5 - Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, artwork by Francesco Francavilla, lettering by Jesse Goldwater, published by Archie Comic Publications. It seems like forever since the last issue was released, but then again, if I had my way, Afterlife With Archie would be on a weekly schedule. Come to think of it, issues released daily would be even better, but I think that might be a bit…taxing…on the creators of this fine comic. I love this series, denizens, and although finding back issues might be a bit of an expensive chore, a trade of the first five issues will be released next month.

Who hasn’t grown up with someone watching over you, protecting you, serving you meals, driving you where you wanted to go, polishing the silver, and serving you tea? Well, most people, actually. In fact, very few of us had a butler to call our own, but the Lodge family got doubly lucky with one Hubert H. Smithers. You see, Smithers is the quintessential observer. For a butler, he is rather worldly, and now that Lodge Manor is under siege by the zombified Jughead and his army of undead, Smithers might be the one who holds the answers to what Archie and his pals do next.

Afterlife With Archie continues to be a phenomenal comic from each issue to the next. The beautiful characterization, both through writing and art, succeeds in maintaining the personalities of the long-established characters, while also adding to them in new and fascinating ways. This issue had plenty of great moments, whether we see Smithers consoling Veronica after she witnesses a tender moment between Archie and Betty, or as we see an angry and hurt Ginger as the love of her life, Nancy, retreats back to her boyfriend (“C’mon, Ginger, there are more than one of “the ones” out there. Even as the world ends around her, Nancy still refuses to admit she’s gay. Stop putting yourself through this!”). <ahem> Anyhow…The scene between Ginger, Nancy, and Chuck is pretty painful to watch unfold, but the creators capture every single harsh moment of it, whether through the alternating veiled/blunt dialogue, or through the glare in Ginger’s eyes in a gorgeous panel of pink, purple and yellow. Those are just two moments, but we also see Kevin and Reggie have a great interaction, as well as the super-creepy Cheryl and Jason. This issue has few zombie moments. Instead, it opts to spend most of the time with the characters, and that’s fine. I’m here for the characters anyways, which is something my 10, 20, or even 30-year-old self would never have imagined saying, but Aguirre-Sacasa’s enthralling story and Francavilla’s wonderful illustrations and killer coloring make this comic book a definite Donist World Darling. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Undertow #3
Undertow #3 - Written by Steve Orlando, illustrated by Artyom Trakhanov, lettered / designed by Thomas Mauer, published by Image Comics. Finally! <Grrrrr> My LCS was shorted on both issue two and three, which meant I had a three week wait to get each. Here’s hoping issue four shows up on time, but regardless, the wait was worth it. Undertow is about a faction of scientifically advanced Atlanteans rising from the ocean in suits filled with water to explore the land above, which was previously beyond their reach as they search for a being known as the Amphibian. This is also a premise that I wish I came up with, but hey, whatchagonnado?

As the inhabitants of Redum Anshargal’s ship prepare to mutiny over their leader’s extended absence, what they fail to realize is that Anshargal still lives…but not for long if the primitive human barbarians have anything to say about the matter. In fact the battle is not going well, until a mysterious being joins the fray and changes the dynamics of the battle in a way that Anshargal and what remains of his team of explorers never could have anticipated.

I desperately want to spoil the surprise guest , but I’m not going to…you’ll just have to read the issue for yourself. I will say that this character’s arrival was unanticipated and shocking once they made themselves know. I’m not yet hooked by any of the characters yet, but the story and the dialogue are great and both of this issue’s cliffhangers ensure I will be back next month. The art still reminds me, in tone, of a colored version of the old Warren Magazines that I love so much; it is something to behold. It is still early in for this series, so you should be able to find all three issues without too big of a search, and from what I have read thus far, you should definitely give Undertow a try. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

No Sleep For the Donist - It’s been about a week since I have had a decent night’s sleep. All the projects, exercises, portfolios and such that I have been working on for my three graphic design courses have been having a slight effect, but this @#$%ing heatwave has been brutal. Now that I only have two online finals and an easy-peasy exercise left in the semester, and the temperature is supposed to drop in the next day or two, I might be able to finally get some sleep. Here’s hoping I can stay awake during Godzilla later this afternoon.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Micronauts Monday 5/12/2014

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! 

Here we are, denizens. Face to face. A couple of silver…ugh, no, criminy, ack. Now I’ll have that dang song in my head all day. Let’s begin again…and we are here. We have reached the end of the first volume of The Micronauts, which is a whopping 59 issues of predominantly amazing storytelling (Bill Mantlo) and gorgeous art (Michael Golden, Pat Broderick, Butch Guice). I still have a couple annuals (you already know those make me nervous) and X-Men and the Micronauts (which I just noticed fall between issues 57 and 58) from the first volume to check out over the next couple weeks, at which point I will probably sum up both my younger and current thoughts of the first volume; if you’ve been following these posts, then you should already have a good idea of what I think of this series. After that, I will look at the second volume which is called Micronauts the New Voyages, which I remember as something that befuddled the bejesus out of Young Donist’s poor, itty-bitty mind, but let’s see how an adult handles that series. Anyhow, let’s wrap up the series proper…

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts #58
The Micronauts # 58 - Written by Bill Mantlo, penciled by Butch Guice, inked by Kelly Jones, lettered by Janice Chiang, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Ralph Macchio, published by Marvel Comics. This issue takes place after the events of the four issue X-Men and the Micronauts mini-series. The Micronauts are once again leaving Earth for the Microverse, only this time it is without the Bioship, and it is Fireflyte and her song that transports thems. Unfortunately for the diminutive Enigma Force fairy, it will be a one way ticket. It is a treacherous, life-threatening ride, but it is nothing compared to what awaits our heroes back on the ruins of Homeworld. Baron Karza’s madness will end this day.

Young Donist - Holy spit! Just look at that cover will ya! I saw this and nearly peed my pants. Commander Rann holding Baron Karza’s head/helmet, yet no one looks overly happy about the victory?! Needless to say, when I got home from Andromeda Comics, I rushed to my quite place, took a deep breath, exhaled, and cracked the cover. I somewhat remember the X-Men and the Micronauts mini as having come out on a bizarre schedule that messed with the timing of this issue, but that was fine by me, I had The Micronauts #58, and that was all that mattered. The page 2–3 double-page spread blew me away, but I was strongly wishing someone would get Commander Rann’s shaggy-ace face a Bic shaver or something, but I pushed that thought aside. What followed were many pages of the Micronauts discussing how horrible Baron Karza is, and how he needed to be stopped. I soon began to worry that there would not be enough time to wrap up the story, that the cover had mislead me, but I pushed on. Finally, though, at around the half-way mark, we find Karza with a bunch of cool-looking monster guys. Then they fight as Karza observes from the sideline. But the fight essentially lasted for only one double-page spread; needless to say, I was bummed. Only Karza remained and my hopes rose as Mari led the charge against him. I cheered as Acroyear crushed the madman’s steel hands, and excited beyond belief I turned the page to find the villain…dead. The fight to once again end Karza’s madness, a battle that kicked off in the exemplary issue #50, wrapped up over three pages?!?! What?!?! What followed was nine pages of talking, and talking, and some more talking—although to be fair, it was cool to see the Homeworld refugees return to confirm the end of Karza’s reign. Are you kidding me?!

 On top of my disappointment with this rush-to-the-conclusion issue, there were plenty of unresolved plot points that I was curious about. What happened to all of Karza’s dog soldiers? Why build up Lady Coral to be a potential badass, only to have the Micronauts find her right before the moment of her death? On the subject of Lady Coral, the person the Micros refer to as Lady Coral looked nothing like her, but instead looked more like the woman D’ark, the leader of the dog soldiers who appeared to be a potential major player in the Microverse after the events of issue 57. Argh! Everything seemed so…so…so rushed. This was not the ending I wanted, but it is the ending I got, and there were some rather cool moments, with the Mari scene completely wowing me. I was relieved, however, that The Micronauts was going to be continuing, and I was greatly hopeful that what was to come would be great. This issue did have some cool, albeit painfully brief, moments, and Young Donist returned to this issue many times to revisit those 10 pages of battle that he wished had been at least 30. RECOMMENDED!

Current Donist - First off, I’m wishing I had read the X-Men and the Micronauts mini first to see if there are some answers to the questions that my younger self had; somehow I doubt it. After reading this issue and the past three or four before it, it seemed like Mantlo was setting up some grand events, whether it was Lady Coral striking back, D’ark having her time in the spotlight to plague the heroes, or what have you. What about the inmate allies from the prison planet and their vow to oppose Karza? Acroyear’s son? Cilicia? For that matter, where were all of Karza’s troops? Sure he was spread thin by sending them all throughout the universe, but wouldn’t he have called them home to protect his power now that he was no longer immortal? Speaking of Karza, what happened to Degrayde, his plotting chief scientist? It seemed as if the creators were building for that guy to usurp Karza’s power? Who knows? My guess is that either the editors pulled Mantlo off the book, or that he quit, but I will have to do a bit of digging on the ol’ interwebs to see if I can find out. Needless to say, the story wrapped up, but it felt extremely forced and unsatisfying. I guess this is why Young Donist had forgotten how it all went down; it just didn’t grab me like how 85%+ of the series as a whole had.

Still, like when I was younger, there are moments that are cool—I still have a “thang” for Mari—and the art is great, especially on the spreads and the image of Karza catching Mari’s sword. I also appreciate the wordier areas of the book, as well as the many moments of reflection, but I just can’t shake the feeling that this book was prematurely halted. Perhaps sales were declining and the powers-that-be decided a reboot with a new number one was the way to go, which is sad. What’s even more weird is the fact that issue 57 was a monstrous 48 pages with hints of ultra-groovy stuff to come, while Mantlo and Guice’s final issue was a rushed 31 pages that tossed all those new storylines out the door. Still, at least Mantlo’s 58 straight issues of life-changing material had an ending, and regardless of the reason(s) for abruptly ending with this issue, it was still an enjoyable read. RECOMMENDED!

The Micronauts #59
The Micronauts # 59 - Written by Peter B. Gillis, penciled by Kelly Jones, inked by Bruce Patterson, lettered by Janice Chiang, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Ralph Macchio, published by Marvel Comics. In this exciting final issue of the first volume of The Micronauts, our heroes…talk.

Young Donist - Ummmm…what the heck is this? Last issues cover promised a battle to end all battles that did indeed see the battle end, only far too quickly for my liking. Now we have a shriveled looking Acroyear lounging in his bathrobe, Bug chomping snail loaf in his tightie-purplies, Huntarr cast so far into shadow that his orange hide almost vanishes into the darkness, Mari in her usual outfit, and Rann looking even more obnoxiously bearded. Barf. Not recommended.

Current Donist - <yawn> What time is it? Oh, 7:30 PM already? Wow…feels way later. All kidding aside, I was not thrilled by this issue at all. I like a couple of the little stories just fine, but by the end, I’m hoping that things turn around for the next chapter—I do remember Young Donist having problems with what is to come, though. We’ll see. Thus volume one ends with a whimper. I don’t hate this issue, I just can’t recommended it.

So, uhhhhh, I guess that’s it? 58 is not the ending I would want for this series, and 59 is…I don’t know what that is quite yet, but I will see when I get to volume two. Again, though, I still have the annuals to talk about, as well as X-Men and the Micronauts mini which I kind of remember as something that had Young Donist practically foaming at the mouth in excitement, yet that ended up confusing the heck out of the youngster; we will find out soon enough. Thank you for reading and thank you for sticking around for my looks at each of the issues in this overall phenomenal series. If you have any comments about the book, then please post a comment; I’d love to hear from my fellow Micronauts enthusiasts.

While writing this entry, I listened to Natalia Clavier’s beautiful “Nectar.”  Clavier sings on albums by Thievery Corporation and Federico Aubelle, which you should also check out.