Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 6/27/2014

(Sung to the tune of Blondie’s “Dreaming”)

When I saw them at the comic store
I knew I could never ask for more
Saga’s such a pleasure, Rachel Rising a treasure
Chew’s just right for me

Surely I must be dreaming, books you must read
Dreaming, books you must read

I sure love Remender’s Deadly Class
Trees and Batman kick all kinds of ass.
How To Train Your Dragon 2 rocks me, it’s something you just have to see
Ol’ Donist would not lie, we all must be dreaming

<phew> We’re going to keep the intro brief, as there’s quite a bit to talk about. I’m joined as ever by CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / dragon-in-training Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). We got hit by the great comics bomb this week. This is not a complaint. Even the fact that we were once again shorted Undertow can’t harsh our mellow. All of the great comics this week brought us much joy and gave us the dang, we gotta get scrambling on this post feeling. Spirits are so high here at Donist World, Obie just declared the Donist World team to have made its collective saving throws (he still believes in the Management By Dungeon Master method of management), and has agreed to spring for tacos from the taco truck today…with money from the petty cash drawer, of course, but it’s the thought that counts. Anyhow, run out and get yourself some tacos, sit back, and enjoy the thrills of…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #20
Saga #20 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettering and design by Fonografiks, coordinated by Eric Stephenson, published by Image Comics. Prince Robot IV found! Marko visits a dance studio as Alana goes on a trip. Meanwhile, all is not well on Prince Robot IV’s home world as the 99% decides it has had enough.

As you can expect with this Donist World darling of a comic book, Saga begins with a bang (literally in this instance, if you get my drift) and ends with a shocker…and thus begins the terrible time of suffering known as SWS (Saga Withdrawl Syndrome). At least this bout should only last 30 days(ish). Given Saga’s grand cast of characters, this latest arc has not yet given us a glimpse of The Will, Gwendolyn, Lying Cat (is he/she blind in one eye?!), or Sophie. We also do not get to check in with the new breakout character, Friendo, which is deeply unsettling, but we can only assume Friendo will take up a more prominent role in future issues.

True to Hazel’s shocking cliffhanger declaration from issue 19, Vaughan begins to show us how this is going to go down…on both Marko and Alana’s side. Despite some nerd-rage stupidity (grow up, why don’tcha) that I heard about concerning last month’s shocker, every event that is happening, or supposedly going to happen, makes complete and total sense; I’ve seen it happen with people I know…many times in fact. Vaughan has always managed to add a degree of realism to his work, that oftentimes shows beloved characters making decisions that might not be in the best interest for anyone involved, primarily the characters in question. So we have it with both Marko and Alana. No, I'm not going to tell you what each is up to — it was hinted at last issue — or why their actions make me go uh-oh, but I understand the mindset these two are in because of Vaughan’s beautiful characterization.

The power of the dialogue and the narration is tremendous on its own, but Staples’s art with her gorgeous storytelling and character acting provides the one-two punch that makes this comic book such an addictive powerhouse of a read. A twist of the mouth, or a hand on a hip, or the slight softening of a character’s eyes carries so much emotional sway, you can’t help but feel for the characters, even as they set about imploding their lives. Heck, how could anyone not feel better about life after being on the receiving end of purple bat-girl Ginny’s smile? As a side note, I hope to see more of Staples’s process on this book sometime soon, as I would love to see how she does her colors once again.

I was trying to keep this week’s look at my favorite things brief, but it is darn-near impossible to practice word economy when I am so in love with this title; I can’t help but go on and on. If you have never read Saga, then you are not my friend anymore. But you can remedy the situation by reading the very inexpensive trades and checking out one of my top three comics seeing release. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Rachel Rising #26
Rachel Rising #26 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. It’s amazing what a little witchcrafted herbs will do for healing up them broken bones. Rachel and Zoe discuss “Jack,” as Rachel takes a chance on touching what was once Lucifer’s sword. Malus looks to make his presence in the world known.

Criminy, I love this comic. I love Rachel and Zoe, but seeing the sheer joy on Aunt Johnny’s face after being healed of her substantial and painful injuries, warmed my heart. I love all the characters, but when Aunt Johnny was practically killed in the car accident many issues ago, I whispered, “no,” and found myself actually distressed over the wellbeing of this non-existant person. But this is what Moore does so well. Yes, he is a master illustrator, but whether you are reading Strangers in Paradise, or Echo, or Rachel Rising, the creator’s main talent is drawing you into his world through the characters you cannot help but care for with all your heart. This issue is especially interesting as we get a glimpse into “Jack” and what it means for one to be his wielder.

*Unreleated to this issue, but I just thought it would be awesome to see Moore’s take on Saga characters, and Staples’s take on Rachel Rising…ah, dare to dream of an awesome mixup, denizens.* Anyways, Rachel Rising is a tremendous book that can go on forever, and I would be as happy as a Donist trapped at his favorite brewery. Both this issue and series as a whole come VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Deadly Class #6
Deadly Class #6 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, colored by Lee Loughridge, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. After dealing Marcus a terrible beating, Chico’s rampage of violence and death does not seem to be slowing. When a face — a really messed up face — from Marcus’s past arrives on the scene, this trip to Las Vegas seems like even less of a good idea.

Wow, that was violent. But you know what, denizens? That’s okay. This book is all about violence — just look at the dang title — and, frighteningly enough, is somewhat of a reimagining of actual events from Remender’s life. Our main character, Marcus, is freaked out on acid, horrendously beaten, and bleeding everywhere, but the creators focus little attention on his past or thoughts about what is happening. Instead, this book belongs to Maria, Willie, Billy, and Saya and how they deal the insane Chico, who is about to kill their new friend.

Craig’s art is fantastic, and his exceptional storytelling combined with Remender’s writing continues to make this book impossible to put down. Loughridge’s colors floor me on this series, and this issue just goes to doubly impress, with the cool colors of night, and the stunning warmth of the day; that predominantly white space final page is one of my favorites of the series. Deadly Class began with Marcus, and it is his story, but the supporting cast look to play very important rolls in what is to come; I’m excited to see what that might be. Image comics has done it again with this exceptional comic. A trade of the first six issues looks to be available in July at $9.99…don’t miss out! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Chew #42
Chew #42 - Written and lettered by John Layman, illustrated and colored by Rob Guillory, flats by Taylor Wells, published by Image Comics. Sammi the Seal is dead, my friends, and it weren’t no accident. No. Siree. Bob. Luckily, Agent Chu is on the case to find his murderer, but it’s going to be a solo mission, as his partner, Agent Colby, finds himself at a wedding reception…his.

If you're a fan of Chew, then you no doubt bought this issue and love it every bit as much as I do. On every page you’ll find wit and humor and gross-out moments with tiny jokes cleverly hidden in the background of almost every page. The colors are oftentimes vibrant (check out that undersea lab, yo!), a stark kick in the pants when compared to the majority of the dreary-colored comics on the stand. The situations in the story are nutty, absurd even, but they are always entertaining (check out that Applebee family splash page, yo!). With the exception of a perfectly timed and particularly sad issue or two (the first page splash is an homage to the immensely sad issue 31 <sniffle>), I am smiling when I look at the cover, and I’m smiling even more by the time I finish reading the last page.

I’m gearing up to reread this fantastic series from the very beginning. Being a huge fan, I, of course, purchased the first three Omnivore hardcover editions, and I am eagerly awaiting the soon-to-be-released fourth (I can’t wait, yo!). A while back, I read that the Chew live-action television show is not going to happen <sniffle>, but that an animated show is in development, which is alright by me. I love this comic, and if you can get past the gross cannibalism stuff (it’s all rather funny, yo!) then you should jump in on of the most unique and entertaining comics, that also happens to be well-told, beautifully illustrated, and dang impossible to put down. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Trees #2
Trees #2 - Written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Jason Howard, lettered by Fonografiks, published by Image Comics. When the alien “Trees” arrived a decade ago, they caused panic, anger, a disruption of epic proportions, and they did this by doing…nothing. For ten years, the Trees have remained, and humanity has continued life around them, but when a Tree unleashes toxic sludge into Brazil, people take notice once again that the Trees are there. Now, researchers across the world are starting to think these aliens have subtly changed weather patterns, and what of the mysterious black flowers that grow where it is impossible for plant life to exist?

Yeah, I have no idea what the heck is going on. That’s okay, I know as much as the characters in the book. It took me a few issues to catch on to East of West when it was released, and I assume it will be the same with Ellis’s Trees. The important thing is that I am interested, incredibly interested, in what these Trees are doing, why they are there, and what is going to happen. This is a tense book, denizens, because I know something gnarly is going to happen. Whether it is of the Tree’s doing or mankind’s, something is going down after the inactivity of the past decade.

The only characters from the previous issue found in this one are the scientists in the Arctic as they ponder the existence of the strange black flowers. Otherwise, we are introduced to more characters as they cope with the proximity of the Trees to their lives. I am not certain, but maybe this is the plan for this comic, to introduce many characters once and have them fade away as we see new points of view as to what the arrival of these apparently-immobile aliens has done to differing regions and cultures. It’s an interesting choice — if that is indeed what Ellis is doing — but ultimately, I do hope to at least have the scientists stick around for a few issues.

Howard’s art style is substantially different than his previous work, but I love his rough take on Trees, which adds to the feeling of uncertainty and ratchets up the steadily building tension of the series. I especially LOVE the interior cover page that has a line drawing bleed into the first page with only the bagged flowers and hands having color. The rest of the book is filled with great character acting and solid storytelling, and a color palette that pushes and pulls the mood exactly where it needs to be.

As I said, I don’t really know what is going on, but that is fine, I’m patient and eager to see this mystery unfold. Ellis had a hefty overprint on the first issue, so you should be able to get a copy if you act soon — I suspect even those are not long for this world — and with this issue you’ll be all caught up. Trees is a fantastic “what’s in the box?” comic, and although my first inclination was to merely recommend this issue, the fact that I have not been able to stop thinking about this series for the past two days makes me say HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batman #32
Batman #32 - Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Greg Capullo, inked by Danny Miki, colored by FCO Plascencia, lettered by Steve Wands, published by DC Comics. Gotham City is poised on the brink of destruction at the hands of the madman, The Riddler. But Batman, Jim Gordon, and Lucius Fox have a plan, and it’s a good one…or so they think. As their efforts look to hasten Gotham’s demise, Batman has a new idea of where the Riddler might be, but finding the villain might not work out quite the way he planned either.

“Zero Year” has been going on for quite some time now, and I have to admit that I am a little eager to see what is to come next. That said, the intensity of this issue makes a huge leap forward, and the heroes’ desperation becomes all too real, and my once-drifting attention is fully back in place. Snyder’s dialogue and captions are great as usual, but it’s Batman’s powerfully touching message to Alfred, with those lone six words at the top of the fourth-to-the-last page, that made my cold Donist heart melt.

Speaking of the fourth-to-the-last page, Capullo’s art, and in this case artistic choice, is phenomenal. His use of white space (yes, I know the page is primarily black, but it is still considered white space) on much of the real estate of the page, and the tiny doorway with Batman’s silhouette is stunning, providing a sense of just how large the Riddler’s threat is. All that is left on the page, are two close up panels of Batman’s face, yet if I could own any page of this comic, this would be the one; it’s stunning — Donist want. Otherwise, Capullo’s art is just what you would expect…masterful as always. Plascencia’s colors continue to breathe additional life onto the already substantial imagery, but it is the continued vibrant colors that are so atypical for a modern Batman book that make this one such a joy to experience every month.

I’m not certain what’s going to happen following next issue’s conclusion to “Zero Year,” but where last month had me eager for a new storyline, this issue succeeded in making me want to stay here a little longer. One thing is for certain, Snyder and Capullo’s Batman continues to be my favorite super hero book on the stands. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

How To Train Your
Dragon 2
How To Train Your Dragon 2 - I’m not going to spoil anything, or get into it, but just know that I LOVED this movie. The first How to Train Your Dragon is one of my favorite animated movies EVER, and even when compared to the most cherished of Pixar movies, it stands strong among them. The Donist World intern (Amy, my wife) and I watched the first movie a few days ago, and trust me when I say that convincing her to watch it was not easy, but she did, and she adored it, despite not liking most animated movies. Toothless also reminds us of Tulip in so many ways — if only Tulip could increase in size, sprout wings, and breathe blue fire, she’d be a near perfect match. As for the second movie, we both left the theater loving it every bit as much as the first, and I’m already anticipating the blu-ray release. Hey, if an animated film about a dragon and vikings can bring a grown-a$$ man to near tears one moment, and then have him on the edge of his seat the next, then there must be something to it. Now, I need to pick up the television series as well, which I hear is also excellent. With all my heart, this film is VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Bah...Let’s Stay Positive - After some fantastic comics this week, and after watching some beautiful movies, I’m feeling quite chipper. I’m also not going to dwell on the fact that the latest Undertow was AGAIN not in my pull. Stay happy, denizens. Read good comics and go see How To Train Your Dragon 2. Donist gives you permission to leave work early to do so.


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