Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 6/6/2014

(Sung to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s “I Get a Kick Out of You”)

Life without comics? Sad, if truth be told
The notion, bro, perplexing just leaves me totally cold
So rush your LCS and hit up some cool books
Head out for a grand comic spree
Embrace the awesomeness of all you see
Too many options? Just ask me.
The Wake demands looks

So many books, it’s insane
I tell y’all Swamp Thing’ll thrill you all
Flashback Marshal Law still holds true
Comics rule, they’re a hoot it is true

Hello there, denizens. Welcome back to Donist World. I’m joined, as ever, by our CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / lead time-travel specialist Tulip (my Boston terrier, Obie’s sister). I’m going to level with you…I have no idea what time it is, what day it is, where I’m at, or why there is a color called red. My computer tells me it’s Friday, but I’ll be doggoned if it doesn’t feel like Tuesday. Where did the time go? What the heck did I do this week? How many more questions will I ask myself? Why does Obie keep grinning at me each time I look at him? I have no idea. I do know that I accomplished a lot this week (finalizing a book rewrite, “Micronauts Monday,” long runs, dog walks, prelim logo stuff, etc.), but it just doesn’t feel like I did anything. The reason I believe Obie has something to do with it is that when I walked by his desk he muttered, “How’s that savings throw working out for you?” refering to his new proprietary MBDM (Management By Dungeon Mastering) management style. I basically think he swapped my allergy medicine for Tic Tacs, which would explain my spaced out feeling this whole week — as well as my minty-fresh breath. Anyhow, if I can prove he actually did this, I will be able to serve him a Letter of Reprimand +3, which would require him to pick up tacos this week, and on his dime to boot. Now, quick, before I blink and this lovely foggy morning turns into the evening, have a look at…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Wake #9
The Wake #9 - Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Sean Murphy, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint. The end is nigh, denizens! The end is nigh, and I am not ready. I want the speeding freight train that is The Wake to slow down, hit the brakes, park and stay for a while; five issues just isn’t enough space to show all of the marvelous things the creators’ world has to offer. Yes, I know that this is actually a 10-issue series, but the first and second halves are darn near separate beasts. The first half of this tremendous sci-fi / horror book is based primarily in an underwater oil rig and the nearby surrounding area. The second half covers…well, the entire world, both above and below the waves. With the wealth of fascinating situations and characters, I would have preferred this arc to be 15 issues…or longer even. I’d love to see more about Leeward and Dash growing up, a one-shot (or two) of Captain Mary and his Argo 3, more about the history of the Governess and the rise of the ARM in the wake of the mer presence, and the list goes on an on. What I’m trying to say is I want to hideout in this world, squat in one of its abandoned buildings for as long as I can, but unfortunately it looks like next month I’ll be evicted. It takes not only a mighty fine writer and illustrator to bring me to these ends, but a story and subject matter that speak to me and make me desperate for more. Snyder and Murphy’s The Wake does this with ease.

Three months have passed and first mate Leeward, under Captain Mary of the Argo 3, is nearing the source of the transmission that has sent her and her companions nearly twelve thousand miles. When they find what they are looking for, more questions arise, but they will have to wait as the Governess makes her move — and what a move it is! — as a shocking new discovery unfolds.

When I compared The Wake to a speeding train, I was only semi-joking. It is very apparent that the creators have so much more that they wish to do with this world, but they are limited to the pre-approved ten-issue format agreed upon at the beginning. I’m guessing this is a DC/Vertigo decision to not allow the limited series to be extended, or maybe it has to do with other creator obligations, but this issue feels like we are being ushered along all too quickly as we see one intriguing thing followed by another. The creators are keenly aware of this as they take a panel to tease at Leeward and the crew of the Argo 3 meeting the Bogong tribe and their mysterious towering harps, and the Tru Nudes, who receive a solitary panel and a lone caption box. These two adventures are side-tales that wouldn’t necessarily move the main story forward, but ones I would love to see play out anyways, as they would tighten the relationship between Leeward, Captain Mary, and the rest of the Argo 3 crew. Alas, we only get about a panel for each.

But enough of what we don’t get. What we do get is a wonderful adventure story that pulls you in with stunning artwork that gives you cause to linger on each page not just for the fantastic character acting and storytelling, but for the insanity of what is going on in the background: the Argo 3 chewing through ice with heated teeth as it is being unloaded, a dolphin crate attached to the top of a vehicle, the Bogong, the Tru Nudes, the first discovery, and the second (I ain’t gonna spoil either…you just need to read it!). Speaking of lingering, Murphy’s double-page splash near the end is something that must seen — words cannot do the imagery justice — just know that it is a grand attack mounted on the Argo 3. Everything about this issue is stunning, but in the end I wish it had been extended to 60+ pages to give us adequate time to enjoy the bizarre intricacies of this world and to become better acquainted with some of the characters, one of whom is cutdown much too soon.

The Wake delivers the sci-fi / horror / monster-mash I’ve been hoping for. My sole complaint about this mini-series is exactly that…it is a mini-series. Snyder and Murphy dug their fishhooks into me and I don’t want to be released. Next month all-too-quickly brings the finale, and there are many story threads dangling in the air, but I have no doubt that we will receive a satisfying conclusion. Who knows, maybe someday we will get a The Wake: The Three Month Journey or a The Wake: Dash Special or The Wake: The Lost Years of the Argo 3...anything to keep this magical-yet-terrifying world alive for as long as possible would suit me just fine. You need to be reading this. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Swamp Thing #32
Swamp Thing #32 - Written by Charles Soule, illustrated by Jesus Saiz, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Travis Lanham, published by DC Comics. From out of the depths it claws its way, inch by inch, to the surface. Onlookers shrink back in fear, a fear of the unknown, a fear of what has come before. It is…the comic book crossover! <bwah ha ha ha ha> If you have been reading FSoH/SitW for any length of time, you know that I am very skeptical when a crossover / event pops up. Far too many times, these types of things are marketing tricks used to move extra books in a double-shipped month, or a lackluster attempt to boost sales, while oftentimes having the opposite effect. But sometimes, whether during a full moon, or the onset of the red tide, a crossover happens that manages to be pretty darn entertaining.

Alec heads into the ocean, a realm that he has never fully explored, yet one that contains countless variety of plant life. Unfortunately, a plant beast is destroying all life it encounters; as it consumes, it grows. Aquaman is not pleased by this and sees the Swamp Thing as the cause of the problem. Alec will learn that his past decisions greatly affects the present, and that many are not forgiving of this.

I hate to say this, but I have not been reading the New 52 Aquaman, but this is something I hope to someday change, as I have been a fan since I was a kid. Teaming Aquaman with Swamp Thing is something that did not make sense at first glance, and I was fully prepared to take a stance against this crossover. Then I read it. Soule deftly explains how the two characters’ worlds intersect, and although the reasoning should have been obvious to me, the crossover makes sense; it works. More importantly, the story is enjoyable, bordering on crazy at a few points — Aquaman and his pack of hungry dugongs? Yes, please! - and although this crossover might have been a mandate from up high, Soule works the meeting organically into the structure of his tale. My only knock is that things felt a tad rushed, but when you only have 20 pages to work with yet manage to tell the whole story, add some great lines of dialogue (“This is my kingdom more than it is yours.”), plus consider the fact that Soule pulled this story together so well is truly commendable.

Saiz’s art with Wilson’s colors is tremendous in this issue. Everything from Saiz’s design of the monsters to Aquaman’s regal confidence stands out, while Wilson’s ability to show the shimmering of light on Aquaman’s armor and on the dugongs’ back is marvelous; I also love the purple hue on Aquaman’s skin, as well as the bubbles resting atop the art layer. With any luck, we will see Swamp Thing back in the ocean in the near future.

So, was the crossover forced, a ploy to boost sales of either title, or did Soule come up with the idea himself? Who cares, whatever the reasoning, the story worked and was a joy to read. With the introduction of the Grey last issue, the former avatars made human, and this new pocket Green, Soule’s Swamp Thing reaches new depths and greatly expands Alec Holland’s world in interesting, weird, and horrific ways, which is exactly what I am enjoying about this series. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Flashback Friday:
The Savage Dragon
Marshal Law #1
The Savage Dragon Marshal Law #1 & 2 - Written by Pat Mills, illustrated by Kevin O’Neill, lettered by Chris Eliopoulous, published by Image Comics. (the first paragraph is from my post of 4/11/2014) Back in mid-2013, I received the Marshal Law: The Deluxe Edition HC (DC Comics) and I rejoiced. Marshal Law was a series that Young Donist absolutely loved back at its introduction, and the chance to own most of the series in a hardcover edition was something I could not pass up. The key word in the previous sentence is “most.” The hardcover edition contained everything but three crossover mini-series that featured our surly hero meeting Pinhead (from the Hellraiser films/comics), the Savage Dragon, and finally the Mask. My guess is that reprinting those stories would have been a logistical and licensing nightmare, so DC just didn’t trouble themselves, which is understandable, as reining in BOOM, Dark Horse and Image sounds…complicated. Anyhow, if you have a moment, check out my reviews of the individual series that make up the hardcover (start at the bottom and move up), and you’ll come away with my feelings at the time Marshal Law was being released, and you’ll quickly learn that I kind of adore the series of mini-series within that collection. But what about the issues not in the collection? Hmmmm...let's see.

The Savage Dragon finds himself in San Futuro and staring down at the corpse of the villainous Mako, who has been cut up with a number “10” carved into his chest. The moment is quiet, peaceful even, until the Gangreen Gang attacks, meaning to put the hurt on our green-skinned hero. Thankfully, Marshal Law is on duty and is of the firm belief that a week without handing out a vicious beatdown to Gangreen members, is a week ill spent. The Marshal is actually at the docks to find the Commandment Killer, who is a “supe” serial killer, and the Savage Dragon is available to help with the hunt. But when Marshal Law receives a “commandment,” it becomes apparent that he is the killer’s next target. Things get weird when they discover the killer is a long-dead criminal from Chicago, who’s latest victim has hit a bit too close to home for our heroes.

1997…it was right around this time that I had begun my journey back to the comic store after suffering from intense burnout after the speculators and the comic book industry itself looked to implode amidst massively delayed titles, cover gimmickry, ridiculous greed, number one issues up the wazoo, and just plain terrible stories and art. Of course there were exceptions, but the fact was that I bailed for a few years, yet the comic book bug was in me, growing, waiting, and gaining strength until I could not resist.

I actually found this issue by accident a few years after its release, and although I had unfortunately never read The Savage Dragon, seeing my favorite hero hunter in a new comic brought back my love for the many minis and one-shots released from a myriad of publishers. My LCS had this sitting in the discount bin, but the second issue was no where to be found, at least not that I could find amidst the tons of books scattered about. I ordered it and I’m glad I did.

The first thing I have to point out is that this is the only Marshal Law mini that is in black and white. I have no idea why Image chose to go that route, whether it was a budgetary concern, a time factor, a creator choice, or a mix of all three. O’Neill’s art looks as great as ever, but with so much going on in the background, midground, and foreground, a good colorist would have greatly pushed the boundaries of the story and drawn the eye to important components, or offered an added degree of definition. Don’t get me wrong, the pages are still stunning, it’s just that I’m used to seeing Marshal Law in color and that is kind of what I was expecting.

As for the story itself, the Savage Dragon fits in nicely and he and the Marshal make a great team. All of the crude / cruel jokes and easter eggs are present, as are the usual suspects from San Futuro, and the awesome societal / comic book industry commentary that I have enjoyed since the good Marshal’s first appearance a decade earlier. The reveal of the villain is one that slapped me in the face, taking me completely by surprise. At first I was annoyed by how things played out, but after thinking things through, it all makes total sense, and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the “villain” — no, I’m not going to tell you who it is. If you are a fan of Marshal Law or, I’m assuming, The Savage Dragon then picking up this two part crossover is a no brainer.

It’s been a blast revisiting this much loved character, but the sad thing is that there is only one final two-parter left, another crossover called The Mask / Marshal Law. As it stands, next week’s pull looks to have only one book, so FSoH/SitW might need another “Flashback Friday,” so I guess I know what I’m going to be reading this week. As for The Savage Dragon / Marshal Law, the lack of colors almost made me give a lower score than usual, but then after just now flipping back through, I noticed I had a big grin on my face…how could I knock the book after that? HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Time, Time, Time See What’s Become Of Me - I wasn’t kidding about time evaporating this week. On two nights in particular, I went to bed at night feeling that I had just woken up. Back when I was working at the terrible, no good, very bad job, I prayed for the days to vanish — that is NOT the way to live life. This week especially has been the extreme opposite as I clawed and struggled to hang onto each day and have them proceed at a snail’s pace as opposed to passing in the blink of an eye. It didn’t really work out for me. Here’s to hoping things even out.


No comments:

Post a Comment