Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 7/25/2014

(Unfortunately, there are no musical guests this week, but at least we have somethin’ below)

*beedeep, bedeep, bedoop, doop, beep!* This is Donist reporting late Friday night from the depths of the smoldering wild North. I am on location with Tulip (my Boston terrier) our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / climate accepter and intern Amy (my wife). We have spent the past couple days completely cut off from the outside world: no cell phone service, and no wireless, but we are now back up and running. Obie, our CFO (Tulip’s sister, my friends’s Boston terrier), attempted to parachute in external connectivity devices along with a healthy dose of comic books and almond croissants, but to no avail. Thankfully, we were able to procure said croissants and we managed to pick up our comics before departure, but ,alas, connectivity was not achieved, and thus we have today’s very, very brief post; we do not want to break our long-running streak of FSoH/SitW. So, now that we are no longer traveling and I finally have a chance to breathe, it’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven (Minimus Style)

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #21 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, published by Image Comics. I like Saga. I like it a lot. We all know this. But what about this month’s offering? Yup, I still like it.

In this issue: Alana continues along her path; Marko and Girl-Bat chat; Friendo represents like a freakin’ boss (FRIENDO!); Prince Robot “returns.” And some other crazy, sexy-time stuff happens.

This issue is like a cement roller version of a train wreck slowly unfolding. It is painful to watch these characters who we have learned to love and who we so desperately want to succeed, yet they go about making decisions that are going to spell  big T-R-O-U-B-L-E down the road…and there’s nothing we can do about it. The thing is, Vaughan so perfectly sets up these situations for Alana and Marko, that their actions kind of make sense…it’s all rather complicated. Staples’s art is gorgeous as always, with Friendo and Girl-Bat being thoroughly adorable for very different reasons. Saga is a phenomenal book that I hope will continue forever and ever. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Afterlife With Archie #6 - Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, illustrated by Francesco Francavilla, lettered by Jack Morelli, published by Archie Comic Publications. Up until a few years ago, I had never really paid attention to anything from Archie Comics. Bad move on my part. Not even factoring in this must-own series, I am now an admirer of the old stuff as well as the new, like the dang-fine Archie: The Married Life. 

Afterlife With Archie is something all comic lovers should give a try. Not just because of Aguirre-Sacasa’s engaging and honestly scary story, or Francavilla’s gorgeous art and perfectly moody colors (I am REALLY bummed I am not at SDCC to get his Star Lord print <sniffle>), but because of the power of their combined efforts on this beautiful, yet creepy, book. This month, we get to see what Sabrina the Teenage Witch has been up to, and it is sure to send shivers down your spine. Thankfully, you can buy the first five issues in trade and pick up this newly released issue to get caught up right-quick on this Donist World darling. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batman #33 -  Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Greg Capullo, inked by Danny Miki, colors by FCO Plasencia, lettered by Dezi Sienti, published by DC Comics. This is it, Zero Year concludes its long run, and with Bats finally having to facedown the mad villainy of the Riddler, will he be able to save Gotham from pending doom?! Well duh, silly, of course he will, this is Zero Year; it takes place in the past. But this story is about how he takes down the menace. The writing and dialogue are great, Capullo’s art is absolutely beautiful in its storytelling, drama, and character design, and if you have not been reading this “maxi-series,” then I suggest you get caught up when the trade is eventually released. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Trees #3 - Written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Jason Howard, lettered by Fonografiks, published by Image Comics. Okay, I’m not totally certain what is going on now with this story, but we follow one woman who wants to disappear, and another who wants an artist to leave his room. As for the “trees” themselves? I think there is only a single panel showing a portion of one, but dang if I am still not enjoying this look at how different people in different parts of the world deal with the an alien invasion that did so very little. It’s still early for this sci-fi, cultural anthropology study of the human race. Fantastic art from Howard. RECOMMENDED!

Supreme Blue Rose #1 - Written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Tula Lotay, colored by John Roshell, lettered by Richard Starkings, published by Image Comics. At Donist World, we’re all about the honesty, so I’m going to be honest and say that I am not completely certain what I just read, or what this book is about. You see, I’m freakin’ exhausted and sweating like a cow from the heat, and things have been hectic. BUT...I can tell you that I enjoyed the writing, and that although I am new to Lotay’s art, it is something I desperately need to see more of. I will reread this beautiful comic once I have a chance to properly take it all in…hopefully tomorrow. I can tell you it is a safe buy and that it is at least RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

No Time Like the…Well, No Time - Sorry for the brief post, denizens, but between school wrapping up, our home being worked on, traveling, and a funeral set for tomorrow…hey, at least I got something out. Right?


Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 7/17/2014

(Sung to the tune of Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love”)

Satellite Sam
Delayed to me
Things like that drive me
Out of my mind

It’s all good I got it now
Along with The Bunker times three

Satellite Sam love
Satellite Sam love
Satellite Sam love
Satellite Sam

Quick introductions…Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) is our CFO. Tulip (my Boston terrier, Obie’s sister) is our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / anger management liaison. I, of course, am Donist, CEO and general manager of Donist World, and we are so mad we could spit. In fact, Obie is so mad he barfed in the corner of our corporate office (my mom’s basement), but then again that might be the carne asada tacos coming back up…they’re way too spicy for dogs. Anyhow, we had our childhood and our puppyhood annihilated this week by the news that Thor will soon become a woman in Marvel continuity. Can you believe that, denizens!? CAN YOU!? Oh my stars and garters this is devastating news even though we have not read this book, nor have we been buying any Thor books since the amazing “God Butcher” storyline, but still…Thor a dang woman?!?! Noooooo. Why would we ever accept a publisher mixing things up to give us something we have not seen before, something new, something surprising that might end up being cool?! I mean, without taking chances in the past, we would never have seen the likes of Beta Ray Bill, or Frog-Thor, or Loki as a kid, or the death of Odin, or old-man Odin, or…or…or… oh, I see. It’s like Sir Ken Robinson said, “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” Obie and Tulip are now nodding their heads in agreement. We have actually been chased away from series and characters who merely kept repeating the same adventures time and time again. Heck, it was Beta Ray Bill taking up the hammer of Thor (thanks, Walt Simonson) that ended up bringing me back to the character decades ago. Not only that, this is a Big Two book that just so happens to have a certain high-profile movie coming out next year that features Thor, so I have zero doubt that the thunder god I grew up with will be returning in the not so distant future. My guess is the new “Thor” will be one of his three daughters, but regardless of who it is, we might just get something awesome. Now that our rage-filled hearts are a cool pool of tranquility, Tulip is excited that she can make believe she is the new god(dess) of thunder, and we’re happy to look at some cool stuff.

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Satellite Sam #9
Satellite Sam #9 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Howard Chaykin, lettered by Ken Bruzenak, digital production by Jed Dougherty, cover colored by Jesus Aburtov, designed by Drew Gil, edited by Thomas K, published by Image Comics. There’s a reason I was so filled with nerd rage a couple weeks ago when my LCS told me that they had been shorted (once again) on their Satellite Sam order from the monopoly distributor: it’s a darn fine comic. You see, when I received the bad news, I was so enraged I let loose a cacophonous whisper of “Oh, okay, two weeks then?” and went out of the store with a “thank you, see you next week” — I told them, denizens, boy howdy did I tell them. Then, once the book finally arrived this past Wednesday, I politely laid into my LCS owner with a “Oh cool, it came in!” and let him know my two weeks of displeasure by chatting about weddings and trips to Mexico, and how cool our dogs are…I think he got the hint: NO ONE messes with the Donist’s comic books, even if it is the monopoly’s distributor’s fault. Anyhow, after nearly having my childhood murdered by the lack of a book that was never even available during my childhood, I am happy to say the wait was well worth it. 

Guy Roth, writer of the mega-hit television show Satellite Sam, has written an epic teleplay about a homosexual on Wall Street and he also has an ultimatum: either the show airs, or he quits. This does not go over well with Satellite Sam director/producer Dick Danning, who is blindsided by the demand, but little does Dick know that Guy’s teleplay is somewhat autobiographical, and a response to some nasty blackmail pictures that could take down the show and possibly the station. Unfortunately for Dick, he has more pressing matters. Meanwhile, Michael White, the star of Satellite Sam, gets closer to understanding his father’s mysterious death after he talks to the owner of LeMonde Network’s wife.

I love this series. Fraction and Chaykin are not a team I ever envisioned putting out a book, which is part of the magic of Satellite Sam. We have Fraction stretching his writing skills to make a mystery, period piece, drama with an enormous cast of characters who speak appropriate for the time and who each have their own distinct voice. The impressive thing Fraction has done with this series is take all these players — none of whom are actual “good guys” by any means, with the possible exception of secondary character Libby Meyers — and make each one compelling to the point the reader can’t help but bear witness to the train wreck of their lives. Although, come to think of it, I might classify Guy Roth as a “good guy,” especially after his brave and admirable ultimatum from this issue that he uses as a means to end his little blackmailing problem. 

As for Chaykin’s art on this tremendous series, there’s a two step process to reading an issue of Satellite Sam you need to be aware of: first, you read the comic straight through so you don’t miss a beat of the exceptional dialogue and drama; second, you immediately go back through to further appreciate Chaykin’s phenomenal character acting, storytelling, and amazing background settings. Yes the book is in black and white, but through the use of greys and textured patterns, you soon get past the lack of C, M, and Y, and cling to the wonderful story being told. Also on the visuals, I have to commend letterer Bruzenak on the use of grey blotches on Dick’s word balloons to suggest just how advanced Dick’s cancer has become, and the effect is startling, harsh, yet serves to enhance the reading experience.

If you’ve been reading Satellite Sam, then I’m sure you understand my incredibly polite, boiling rage at having to wait to read this great series, but it all worked out as I had nothing else in my pull this week. If you have not been reading this fine comic that stands firm among Image Comics’s onslaught of greatness, then you can read the first five issues in trade for only $9.99, which is a great way to experience this content-rich, dense, smart read. Keep in mind though, this is not for the kiddies in any way, shape, or form, but solely for us adults who enjoy television shows like Madmen or who loved American Flagg back in the day. You cannot go wrong with Satellite Sam. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Bunker  #1
The Bunker #1–3 - Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov, illustrated and colored and lettered by Joe Infurnari, edited by James Lucas Jones and Robin Herrera, published by Oni Press. Before we even get to The Bunker I want to state how much I like Fialkov as a writer. I have covered his wickedly thought-provoking Echoes in the past, as well as following I, Vampire through to it its end — I still wish we could have seen I, Vampire without all of the crossovers and “events,” y’know, the story that Fialkov wanted to tell had he been allowed to do so. On top of his past work, he graciously dropped by Comics Experience one night a couple years back to discuss Echoes, where someone asked How do you stay motivated? He replied with the following advice that I have since taken to heart: 

“I don’t need an artificial way to stay motivated…for people who aren’t writing full-time, that should be your motivation. Your motivation should be writing full-time. Because I know what it is like to have the heart of a writer and to be stuck behind a desk doing a job you hate. That’ll kill you. That’ll kill you, it’ll destroy you. Because…I know, I spent years doing that. Finding a way to actually turn your passion into a way of making a living should be your motivation. And honestly, if it is not, then being a writer is not your passion.”

How about that? So, I typed out and printed his quote, and stuck it under the glass of my desk so that I see it every day. With summer classes ending this week, it looks like it’s time to double down on my writing, but that has nothing to do with the awesome new creator-owned series The Bunker.

Five longtime friends are celebrating their college graduation by hiking into the woods to bury a time capsule, which they intend to retrieve 20 years from this day. The shovel strikes shallow dirt, along with something else: steel. What they find is a monstrous bunker exactly where they had intended to bury their capsule, but the most startling thing of all is that four of the five have their full names printed on the hatch. Perplexed, they enter the bunker to find a history of how in the future they will bring about the end of the world. What is most terrifying is that they each — except for Billy — have a note supposedly written to them by their older selves. What do you do when you know you play a part in humanity’s downfall? And where is Billy’s note?

I warned you that there would be spoilers up top, but don’t worry, denizens, this is just the first third of issue one, and trust me when I say that things get real weird as you go along through to issue three. Fialkov lays out an intense mystery as to what happened while providing a hard look at each of the five characters as we learn what their ultimate fates will be if they don't change things. Unfortunately, some of the advice from their future selves causes them much grief. How the heck do you justify staying the course at the behest of your future self, knowing full well that the death of humanity is nigh? How do you know when to deviate from that course? How do you even know you can trust yourself? What the heck happened to Billy and his note? Fialkov smacks you with all of these questions, and given that there is a bunker in the ground, you might think of the television show Lost where there ended up being far more questions than answers. The creators are aware of this, and even have the characters joke about the similarity of their plight to that of the fictional show. Unlike Lost, I trust the creators to carry us through this story in a manner that will satisfy us adoring readers in the end. I am hooked.

Infurnari’s art is perfect for this story. It is dark and rough, and his use of drama and body language pulls you immediately into the thick of things. His incredible storytelling coupled with his nearly invisible lettering (this is a good thing, and is not easy to pull off) keeps your eyes trained firmly on the page as you glide from panel to panel through to the end of the book. Then there is the striking, mood provided by Infurnari’s colors, which brings me to the early version of The Bunker. This comic originally was Fialkov and Infurnari’s digital-only creation that lasted two (?) issues, before they decided to actually do an official release through Oni Press. Now with a publisher, the creators tweaked the format and colored the comic for a physical, floppy release. This was a great decision, as the colors add much to the impact of this compelling story.

I’ve been sitting on these first three issues — the first two Fialkov kindly signed for me at Wondercon back in April — for far too long, but I'm glad I read them this week. Actually, I couldn’t put the dang things down. Not only that, I missed issue four and I am now on an urgent mission to find a copy when I head up north in the next couple weeks; I MUST know what’s going to happen next. If you missed out on these first four issues, then never fear, you can pick up the trade in August, which I strongly suggest you do. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Slice Into the Woods

You Get It From the Intro - Yeah, nerd rage…so stupid. Ease up. Nothing ever lasts in the Big Two — Phoenix, Bucky, Frog-Thor, etc. — so sit back, relax, and you might just get something awesome. If not, well, It’ll all go back to normal soon enough anyways.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Micronauts Monday 7/14/2014

Hey there, Donist World denizens. Welcome back to Micronauts Monday, where I talk about my longtime favorite comic book series The MicronautsYou'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! 

Oh boy. Here we go with the end of The Micronauts: The New Voyages — volume two for those of you unfamiliar with the original, AWESOME volume one. Today we’re going to take a peek at the last two issues of the series. If you’ve been following along since the first “Micronauts Monday” post (thank you, btw!), then you’ve probably guessed that I did not like the second volume either in my younger years, or in my later years, which is a total bummer. That said, there are still two issues remaining, so before we come to any consensus on these issues, let's walk out onto the diving board, gaze into the pool below, close our eyes, plug our nose…and leap in.

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts:
The New Voyages #19
The Micronauts: The New Voyages #19 - Written by Peter B. Gillis, pencilled by Howard Bender, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Janice Chiang, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Ralph Macchio, published by Marvel Comics. We all know that covers never lie (“ we don’t”), and this one heralds the return of Baron Karza!!! Yeah, not quite. The Micronauts are back on Homeworld, what is left of it anyhow, and the desolation is nothing compared to molecular planet’s individual spheres being blasted apart. Scion appears in his new form, and tells the Micronauts what Solitaire did way way way way way way way long time ago. They fight. Solitaire crys. Rann also cries as he explains on and on and on and on about what has happened over the past 18 issues, and it all leads back to Baron Karza’s version of the Prometheus Pit. There’s also stuff about stopping the Pain, and being “prime beings,” and Rann discovers how to control the pit.

Young Donist - Young Donist couldn’t make it through a read of this issue. He did, however, start with hope, especially after opening to page two and three to see Karza talking about something or other, but after flipping to the next page it was clear that the Baron wasn’t going to be showing up in any substantial form at all. The cover lied. Not only that, the two characters I never even liked — and felt the Micronauts should never have given the time of day — get into a fight and I just didn’t care. Sure the growing to giant size, and shifting forms as they fought was neat(ish), but all the crying and the talking seemed to go on forever. Even when Rann puts on the Karza armor, and began to get that certain evil tingle…yawn. I reached for my Mage, my Elementals, and my Squadron Supreme. Blah. No recommendo, my friendo.

Current Donist - First of all, I should know better than attempting to read The Micronauts: The New Voyages late at night, right before bed, after a full day. This issue took two attempts to get through and I really wanted to understand what the heck has been going on with the Pain, the Makers, what Baron Karza knew and didn’t know, who these Solitaire and Scion characters are, what this reverse-engineered Prometheus Pit is all about, and on and on. It wasn’t easy to kinda-sorta get the gist of what the heck has been going on for the majority of this second volume, and unfortunately once I did sort of “get it” I was anxious to be done with the series.

I’m only guessing here, but I suspect that this storyline was supposed to play out over many more issues and have the rather intricate plot come about slowly, but upon receiving notice of the series cancelation, the creators had to wrap things up quickly. Or perhaps Takara decided to yank the licensing to the property, whether because of the direction of the series, or flagging sales, or something else entirely — I need to do a little digging. Regardless of the reason to cancel The Micronauts: the New Voyages, I agree that it was time. That said, I would have preferred to see a volume three, or an entirely new creative team brought in to return the series to the exciting, action-packed, space opera many of us grew up loving; years later, we almost got a third volume.

Rann trying on the Karza armor and beginning to bend to the madman’s will is an awesome idea, and something that should have been pursued back in…say for instance…issue two. Unfortunately, we get this cool twist in the penultimate issue which is a bit of a bummer. As for the Scion/Solitaire stuff, I have to defer to my younger self. Yeah, I never really jived with those two, and I never understood why smart, rational, seasoned, space-faring, heroes would ever put up with these meddlers’ level of nonsense. Solitaire a five-million-year-old trilobite? Scion a newer model of Solitaire? Seeding Planets? It just ain’t my bag.

The Micronauts: The New Voyages #20 - Written by Peter B. Gillis, pencilled by Kelley Jones, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Janice Chiang, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Ralph Macchio, published by Marvel Comics. Face front true believers! We’re here for the exciting “cosmic conclusion” to the series! We begin with a splash page of an image that has never happened in the book, that the Micronauts were never able to achieve, and that does not happen at the end in any shape of form…but whatever, let’s just call it a bonus pin-up that somehow became page one and leave it at that. Scion and the Micronauts all jump into the Prometheus Pit to go to individual planet spheres to be obliterated so their genetic goop can bring new life to the Microverse. The Makers appear and look like a mix between the Celestials and the Acroyears, and Rann goes full-on eeeeevil, but Mari dive-tackles him into the Prometheus Pit so he can seed a planet somewhere, too. Meanwhile, Solitaire skulks off to be miserable for another million years.

Young Donist - “That’s it?! You’re kidding me. Arrrrrgh!” Young Donist was not impressed by either the finale or the series as a whole, and we better leave it at that, as I have tried to clean up my potty mouth over the past couple years here on Donist World. Just know that the second volume of The Micronauts was not Young Donist’s favorite thing in the world.

Current Donist - “You’ve got to be kidding me.” <sigh> So, the Micronauts allowed themselves to be manipulated for roughly 17 issues and all so they can be made into cosmic seeds to restore life to the Microverse. Why couldn’t Scion do it? It’s what he was created for. What about Scion’s other siblings? Can’t they do it. Plus, why do the Micronauts get the healthy hi-pro glow to begin with, when they were never created to seed the Microverse to begin with? Dang, denizens, I have tons of other gripey questions about this, but I just want to be done this second volume, which is unfortunate. The series started with so much promise, but it kind of went too far into the metaphysical and the what does it all mean? when there was really no reason to go there, as I explained last week.

I did not like the Micronauts-as-seeds-of-life ending, and after 59 issues and two annuals for volume one, a four-issue crossover with the X-Men, and now 20 issues in the second volume, I find it hard to…digest? absorb? accept?…that Rann and Mari’s last moment together is her dive-tackling him into the Prometheus Pit before he can become the new Baron Karza. After all of the strife and obstacles seeking to keep these two lovers apart, the series ends with them apart in a forced moment. Then Bug sneezes butterflies and each Micronaut commits suicide: alone, and separated from those who were their closest friends, comrades, loves, their family…basically the things that made the original series so damn compelling. I will say that Jones’s art looks great, but not even that is enough to salvage this issue, or the series in the end. Not recommended.

Yikes. Sorry, denizens, I wish I had better news to report on the second volume of what is one of my all-time-favorite comic book series, but unfortunately I do not. That said, I beg you to seek out all 59 issues of the original series, as well as The X-Men and the Micronauts four-issue mini-series; the two annuals are up to you, they’re only okay. If you are a fan of the original series that changed my life, and you have not read The Micronauts: The New Voyages, then pick up the first couple issues and see if they work for you. You never know, they just might tickle your fancy, but those first 59 issues are magic that more than stand the test of time.

The first three scripts and artwork (I believe) for a proposed third volume exists and I will have a look at those, and will probably revisit “Micronauts Monday” at some point in the future, but for now it looks like the end. Thank you so much for joining me the past few months, and I hope you enjoyed my ramblings about the series that created a comic fan, and made me interested in writing my own stories. So…Did any of you denizens read this follow-up to one of the greatest comic series of all time? If so, what did you think of it? Do you have your own experience with The Micronauts you would like to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thank you so very much for reading.

While writing this entry, I listened to the amazing new(ish) album by the Dum Dum Girls “Too True,” and to the awesome new album by Beverly “Careers.” Give both a listen, and you will see what I mean.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 7/11/2014

(Sung to the tune of Gloria Estefan “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You”)

O eh oo aah, o eh oo aah
(Yah ya goh)

Wednesday when the new comics arrive
If there’s nuthin’ for you to buy
Yeah, Yeah Donist World’s gonna help you

It’s cool, bro, there’s plenty to be read
Comic books to wake the dead
But I know it, Donist World’s gonna help you

Private Eye rules I tell you
Velvet is great it rocks, dude
Darklon’s old but good, too
Donist World’s gonna help you…alright!

Yeah, so my executive team is pissed at me again — like I have anything to do with comic book release schedules — but whatever. Despite the terrible, horrible, soul-crushing experience of not having a single new comic waiting for me at my LCS, I was able to pull out a couple recent releases, as well as a certain somethin’ somethin’ from the ’80s. Oh, how rude of me, welcome to Donist World and I’m joined as ever by the surly executive team of CFO Obie (my friend’s Boston terrier) and marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / party pooper Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). I honestly think the pups are pretending to be more upset than they actually are, so that they can get out of working on our fourth quarter plan to maintain our status as a Fortune 320,000 company. You see, we have stacks and stacks of comics and graphic novels we’ve not yet been able to talk about here at Donist World, and we have a substantial backlog of things to read, as well as some much loved books to reread. But without further ado, here’s Tulip to explain…wait a minute. Where’s my executive team? Ahhhh…the taco truck by the park. <sigh> Well, I could go for a taco or four myself, so while I retrieve the escapees, feast your peepers on…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Private Eye #7
The Private Eye #7 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Marcos Martin, Colored by Muntsa Vicente, published by Panel Syndicate. Yes, I’m behind on my digital comics reading. Waaaaaay behind on my digital comic reading, actually. I have a virtual ton of digital comics waiting in the confines of my computer and at a quick download to my pitiful iPad 1 — that poor ol’ beast. Therein lies the problem with reading digital comics in a timely fashion...with print, I am oftentimes tripping over my books, or fielding spousal complaints about the towering twin piles of the read and unread comics and “what I plan to do with them.” The cool thing about digital is if I had the actual print books, they would tower higher than my 6' 2" frame, but the bad thing is that they are truly out of sight, out of mind. This is not the case with The Private Eye. With this book, although it might take me anywhere from a day to two weeks to get to it, it’s always on my mind. Why? Because it is so darn good.

I’ll get to some specifics in a moment, but one thing I absolutely love about this comic is the business model. You see, the creators decided to bank on the power of their names, their painstakingly built fanbase from days spent at the Big Two, and have created a digital-only platform for this comic. There is no publisher taking the lion's share of the profits, there are no apps that give a third-party 30% of their profits, and no printing costs. But how much does each issue costs since all possible middlemen have been cut out of the picture…or rather the profit pie? The answer: as much as you are willing to pay. This includes nothing. Let me say that again, this includes a whole heaping bunch of nuthin’ for these creators, who take their time to collaborate, script, pencil, ink, color, letter, digitally produce, compile into different formats (.pdf, .cbr, .cbz), translate into Spanish, and also eventually into Catalan. With this being a digital offering, this does not mean the process is without costs. There are VAST amounts of time involved in making a comic (which should be apparent from the previous sentence): if an artist is drawing an issue and is paid after an issue’s released (hopefully), then the time spent drawing those pages is time not spent drawing work for hire from the Big Two…aka opportunity costs. When I said there are no middlemen, that was not necessarily true. There are also server/host costs to maintain / store / distribute the files, and there are fees to using Paypal for the handling of money…that’s if someone actually decides to pay them. So, the big question: why pay for these comic issues when they are FREE!, when you don’t have to pay a dime? Easy. Because time is money, and if this phenomenal comic becomes too costly to produce, then the creators would just walk and we will never get the full ten issues. More importantly, though, we the fans have an opportunity to give directly to the amazing creators who have brought us so much awesomeness over the years, and we know that our money is going directly to them. According to this week’s letters column, even with a nuthin’-to-whatever-you-want business model, the creators are making BETTER than a Big Two page rate, which means a full ten issues of The Private Eye as well as the possibility of future projects down the line. I’m more than cool with that.

Oh yeah, this issue…

We begin with a flashback of the time P.I. first met his spunky driver, Melanie. In the present, however, Melanie ain’t feeling all that spunky after the horrific car accident she barely survived, and now she is being wheeled off by a one of the surviving(?) French psychopath assassin twins to meet with the killer’s boss. Meanwhile, P.I. and Raveena have found Nebular’s home…and all the perverse items therein. But when Nebular and Deguerre — the man calling the shots — arrive, the chase is on. Can P.I. and Ravenna uncover Deguerre’s crazy plan, and how the heck can Gramps help?

You can probably guess by the lengthy buildup that I LOVED this issue. The Private Eye falls into the realm of a sci-fi book that dances on the edge of “Holy crud, I can see this actually happening” in regard to privacy versus security, and what happens in a world where security ultimately failed and privacy completely vanished. Vaughan throws in many twists and turns to the story and the characters are so interesting that I want to know everything about them; this includes the despicable bad guys. With this issue, as with the others, you are in a constant state of being off balance from the action, the chases, the excitement of it all, only to be jarred when everything slows for a moment as our heroes learn something new regarding the mystery of who killed Raveena’s sister. Then things go batsh!t crazy and you are swept up into the insanity all over again. The strength of the script and the dialogue alone will carry you along, desperate to find out what happens next (you can see an example of a script in the “making of” at — pay what you want, of course), but then you also have the power of the art.

Martin…dang, denizens, this cat Martin, I tell ya. You just have to see it. The character acting is great, outstanding actually, but the gnarly (I had to go full-on Valley Girl here) splash pages and the beautiful calamity of the chase scene are worthy of a heck of a lot of moments of your time. I was especially floored by the double “BLAM” panel with the silhouette foreground, and it is something I am sooooo gonna…uhhh, borrow…on the next thing I letter. You also have amazing speed lines, close ups on determined eyes, and storytelling prowess that simply refuses to allow you to look away. Don’t be surprised if you are tempted to immediately reread this issue, which you should do, just so you can see what you missed the first time through.

Love, denizens. I have love. I also have a burning, desperate need for the next dang issue to get here. I’m also going to be sure I read the next installment the day it is released. Sure this is a digital, invisible book that does not add to the clutter of our lives, but a comic book this grand has a presence all its own that simply must be experienced. So, we’ve established that you don’t need to pay them to check out the best comic NOT on the stands (but you should), that it doesn’t take up space, and that this Donist World darling is a book you simply must be reading. Tell you what…download the first issue or “trade” (issues 1–5) and I’m certain you’ll be fine kicking a few bucks to these hard-working creators for the exceptional job they have done on this exceptional comic book. I gleefully gave $3 for this issue, and you should, too. I can’t wait to reread The Private Eye from the beginning. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Velvet: Before the
Living End TPB
Velvet Vol. 1 TPB - Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Steve Epting, colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser, lettered by Chris Eliopoulos, edited by David Brothers, production by Drew Gill, published by Image Comics. During the Image onslaught of the past couple years, and especially during their doubled efforts over the past year for comic book domination, occasionally a series falls through the cracks at the Donist World offices (my mom’s basement). Velvet is one of those books. Thankfully, Image remedies this problem with the release of a $9.99 retail trade that spans the first five issues…you can even find the trade for as low as $8.00 (click the link)! Aside from price and quantity of issues therein, it’s also a dang-fine comic that fans of Brubaker and Epting MUST check out.

Velvet Templeton is the secretary to the Director of the Agency, but when the top secret agent, X-14, is killed, Velvet becomes suspect number one. She is being framed, but something those working against her failed to realize is her past; Velvet was once one of the Agency’s top agents, and she hasn’t forgotten a thing. On the run, and attempting to find X-14’s killer, Velvet uncovers a terrible secret that’s been building for many years. Her chances of survival are not looking good.

We all know that Brubaker has the espionage / spy / crime thriller down, but with Velvet he pushes the genre further with his strong female lead. She’s smart, tough, deadly, and her no-nonsense approach to her predicament is inspiring; she might seem harmless, but she is a terror if you are on her bad side. That said, she is not infallible, and some of her actions go so very, very wrong. Even when Velvet is making a mistake, Brubaker’s treatment of the character leaves you trusting in her skill and her confidence, as you are pulled from one harrowing situation to the next. The dialogue and voiceover captions are fantastic throughout.

Epting is a king of tension and storytelling, but the emotions and drama of a scene are where he shines the brightest. A subtle change in Velvet’s eyes moves her from a misleading appearance of helpless to a look that says I’m going to ruin you all…the intense action sequence that follows confirms she was right. The color scheme runs on the darker side, as it should for a comic of this nature, and Breitweiser creates some stunning nighttime scenes with cool purples and blues, and warmly lit cities. Together, every page is a beauty.

If you are not reading Velvet, you are definitely missing out on a great new series, and at this ridonkulously low entry price, there is no reason to deprive yourself any longer on this fantastic creator-owned series. I can’t wait to see what happens next! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Flashback Friday
Darklon the Mystic #1
Darklon the Mytstic #1 - Story and art by Jim Starlin, colored by Glorie Cohen, Basilio Amaro, and Joe Chiodo, published by Pacific Comics. If you dig waaaaay back into the Donist World archives, you’ll come across a couple of posts I made about one of my all time favorite Marvel characters and one of my all-time favorite series / storylines: Warlock by my hero Jim Starlin (read those four-years-old posts here and here). I dig the cosmic stuff, especially when Starlin is at the helm, whether it is Warlock, Captain Marvel, Thanos, or the Silver Surfer, but his cosmic work was not solely confined to Marvel. He had his Dreadstar series, which I know was published by Epic, which was owned my Marvel, but Epic was a totally different company…at least until it wasn’t. Anyhow, between his work with Warlock and Dreadstar, Starlin created a handful of Darklon the Mystic strips for Warren Magazine’s Eerie (issues 76, 79, 80, 84, and 100. All in black and white). Pacific Comics then collected those stories, colored them and released them in one issue, with nothing further appearing from ol’ Darklon after that…sort of (we’ll get to that at the end).

Anyhow, I’ve wanted this comic for a while and was happy to find it in the $.50 bin at my LCS; for that price, the purchase was a no-brainer. The story opens with Darklon and his dealings with an assassin before launching into his origin of shame and the terrible choice he makes to rescue his father from the clutches of cosmic usurper. Darklon then battles both his father and his demonic maker in an over-sized comic that tells a few complete stories, but ends much too soon.

I really enjoyed this book, with the exception of one GLARING issue, which I will get to in a moment. The story is typical Starlin space-faring insanity at its best, with a cool, tormented character who gets put through the ringer (beheaded and de-eyed!) and who still manages to press on. We see a complicated relationship with a son and father, and a return to the familiar theme of illness (like Star-Thief from the pages of Warlock and Captain Marvel in the amazing The Death of Captain Marvel). This comic is harsh in its subject matter, but none the less fun, and I definitely wanted to see more by the time I finished reading.

Here’s the bad…the coloring / printing on this comic is abysmal. The original Eerie issues were all black and white and Darklon the Mystic looks gorgeous (I found some of the original pages with a Google search), which is to be expected from Starlin. His artwork is epic, something to linger over and appreciate, but the colors in this issue are serviceable at best, and muddy to the point of being illegible at worst. Criminy, the colors are simply deplorable on various pages, and I suspect it’s mostly the result of bad printing than any fault of the colorists involved, but, man… I would love to see this recolored, or at the least collected in black and white so we can fully enjoy Starlin’s bold line work and storytelling.

As a side note, a Darklon-esque character called Darklore showed up in the pages of Warlock Chronicles and Warlock and the Infinity Watch. This charcter has a cape, fancy boots, a sash-like belt, he used magic, and was missing an eye. Aside from a new hairstyle (and hair color) and a differently colored costume, we was pretty much the same guy.

If you like Jim Starlin’s work — and I know you do — you should definitely pick up this oldie-but-goodie, but go into it knowing that the colors will pull you out of the story as you try to make sense of what you are seeing in the final chapter. My love of the creator’s work and for the groovy story make me give this issue a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, but the crap coloring / printing force me to only give this a RECOMMENDED! If you are rich, then seek out the early Eerie issues to see these stories in their full black and white glory.

Slice Into the Woods 

Thumbs Down Comic Week For Donist - <grrrrr> So, not only did I not have a single new comic in my pull this week, I’m still missing my issue of Undertow (3 weeks late), and also Satellite Sam (1 week late). Yay Monopolies? It also looks like I have a whole heaping helping of nuthin’ in my pull next week as well, and then the weeks following that I’m going to be bombarded with titles. Looks like it is time for ol’ Donist to get Marvel, DC, and Image (mostly Image) on the horn and throw my weight around to get a distribution schedule more to my likings. Yup, time to use that Donist World clout!


Monday, July 7, 2014

Micronauts Monday 7/7/2014

Hey there, Donist World denizens. Welcome back to Micronauts Monday, where I talk about my longtime favorite comic book series The MicronautsYou'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! 

Really now? That’s how this is going to go down. <sigh> Okay, we kick off the next three issues of The Micronauts: The New Voyages by jumping into a CROSSOVER EVENT!!! In case you have not been reading Donist World for the past however many months / years, I generally do no like crossovers or events. They usually mess up the main story of the title forced to endure the interruption, and they have historically been used as a ploy to boost flagging sales on a “lower-performing” title or as a corporate money grab. The original Secret Wars was a 12-issue series designed to sell toys, which it did at the very least with Young Donist and the Younger Brother of the Donist. We bought each issue and most all of the figures (plus a vehicle or two)...corporate marketing campaigns for the win! The thing is, I kind of enjoyed Secret Wars, but even at that young age, I could tell something was off, that I was being given something that someone else determined I should like. It felt forced. Yes, the toys were pretty darn cool — I still have some of them out in storage — but the comic? Yeah, it had the components of things I should have liked, but the story was a freakin’ mess. Yet I continued to buy it. Then came the 9-issue Secret Wars II and I, of course, went and bought the first issue despite not really liking the original, even though it was supposedly everything a kid wants. I try to be nice here at Donist World — there’s far too much negativity out there — but the first issue of Secret Wars II sucked. It made little sense, and when I began to crunch the numbers of how many books I would have to buy to get the whole story, I learned at that young age, what it felt like to be “taken for a ride.” If I was to buy the entire Secret Wars II “event,” I would have to buy over 30 other comics — most of which I did not already buy because of limited allowance funds — putting me at over 40 comics to get the whole thing. I only bought the one issue of the mini-series. This is when I noticed something else...try as hard as I may, the event still found its way into my The Micronauts: The New Voyages. Uh-oh...

Micronauts Monday

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Micronauts:
The New Voyages #16
The Micronauts: The New Voyages #16 - Written by Peter B. Gillis, pencilled by Kelley Jones, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Janice Chiang, colored by Bob Sharen, edited by Ralph Macchio, published by Marvel Comics. Captain Eo with a mullet…errrrr…sorry, my bad. Let’s start over. The Beyonder makes his way to the Microverse and totally fixes / messes things up. Scion shows up to rain on the parade of despair some unfortunate Kaliklakians weren’t expecting…or needing. Bug does something totally, uncharacteristically, horrifically stupid, that gets resolved away anyways. The Beyonder should hit up a fashion consultant as Scion kisses his butt, but all the butt kissing in the Microverse won’t save Scion from getting what he deserves.

Young Donist - Young Donist totally did not understand why Marvel had to interrupt his regularly scheduled program with something he did not want. He was already buying a book solely because he was in the habit of buying it, and for fear of something cool actually happening; this was not that book. Not only that, I was pissed that Bug, my favorite character, made the dumbest decision possible resulting in untold deaths, but I was equally pissed that this Beyonder chump fixed it all and then fixed Mari’s legs, then brought back Huntarr’s human form, and then stops the Pain (I think). I also failed to understand why it was necessary for the Micronauts to mess around trying to fix Homeworld when the Beyonder could just fix everything with a snap of his fingers. The guy had already fixed almost everything, why not finish what he started. Criminy. Young Donist does not recommend this issue in the slightest.

Current Donist - Yeah, I’m right there with Young Donist. Aside from my grand disappointment in the Beyonder’s hairstyle and his sleeveless, collared, brown shirt-thing, this issue was a complete and total mess. Aside from the forced nonsense of including the Beyonder in this book at all, this unnecessary addition goes and magically fixes a bunch of plot points that have been running pretty much since the beginning of the second volume...with a snap of his fingers. This is deus ex machina at its worst, but at least Mari is up and walking around again so she can actually do something…hopefully. I was, however, thankful to see Scion get blasted, but seeing him rise in a new form made me roll my eyes. What is this guy’s deal? Is he from the ’50s or ’60s, when adults did not understand how to communicate with one another? Hey Scion, here’s a thought…why not talk to the Micronauts? You appear out of nowhere, beat their a$$es on more than one occasion, and speak in cryptic riddles, while calling them “my Micronauts” and saying you know what‘s best for them. Seriously? How about this approach: “You don’t know me, but I used to power your ship. Please hear me out. The Microverse is about to step in the dog doo, Pain is everywhere, and I could really use your help fixing things and saving trillions of lives. Would you please?” Then there is Solitaire doing the same thing, minus the a$$-kickings. Let’s try this approach: “Hey Solitaire, you seem to know this Scion guy, and you are always speaking in riddles, and you exhibit some crazy-powerful tendencies; you also seem to know what is going on. Now, we appreciate you not dressing like our old commander’s long-dead mother, and it seems like the honeymoon phase of your relationship with Bug has ended, so would you please level with us about what the heck is going on?” There, one issue, maybe two, max and we can get on with things. Oh yeah, and keep Captain Eo out of it! Current Donist does not recommend this issue in the slightest either. The art is fine.

The Micronauts:
The New Voyages #17
The Micronauts: The New Voyages #17 - Written by Peter B. Gillis, pencilled by Howard Bender, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Janice Chiang, colored by Nelson Tomtov, edited by Ralph Macchio, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts glow. Solitare does not. Microtron, Huntarr, and Acroyear openly oggle Princess Mari as she performs some sexy bicycle kicks. Finally, the Micronauts arrive on Homeworld and attempt to rescue the in-pain Devil from the grip of Computrex(?) and the insane Worldmind of the planet(?). I think that’s what’s going on. Oh, and Commander Rann is back.

Young Donist - I don’t care anymore.

Current Donist - As I state above, I’m not completely certain what is happening. All I know is that Devil dies for the umpteenth time and is reborn as Fireflyte…again. So, yeah, the Micronauts fail to save Devil, after all of the buildup over the majority of the series thus far. Then Rann shows up — somehow younger, and without the white hair — as if nothing happened and everyone is happpppppy. The guest artist does a fine job, and his storytelling is strong, but with all of the exposition and the bad taste from last issue’s “event crossover,” I’m just not all that invested in this comic that happens to feature the Micronauts. Still, there are three issues left, so we’ll see what happens.

The Micronauts:
The New Voyages #18
The Micronauts: The New Voyages #18 - Written by Peter B. Gillis, pencilled by Kelley Jones, inked by Danny Bulanadi, lettered by Janice Chiang, colored by George Roussos, edited by Ralph Macchio, published by Marvel Comics. The Micronauts ponder stuff as Commander Rann tries to keep it under wraps that he is in pain. You see, he doesn’t glow, thus he has the pain of Homeworld, but thankfully Huntarr can make him glow…so that’s good, right? Solitaire cries. Mari Cries. Acroyear looks like his old self in every other panel, but then goes back to looking much older with those crazy-lumpy eyebrows. Otherwise, the Acroyears arrive to destroy Homeworld in a bid to cease the pain, but Scion and Solitaire have their rolls to play to heal Homeworld, as Acroyear sees the birth of his son.

Young Donist - Young Donist didn’t even read this. He flipped through the pages and went “nope.” He put it down and went on to read Batman: The Dark Knight Returns instead.

Current Donist - As you can probably discern from the above summary, I’m no longer taking my critique / reviews of this series seriously. This is probably because I’m just not taking the series as a whole seriously. For instance, in one panel Solitaire does some magical spell-type thing and admits that she could have teleported the Micronauts to Homeworld at any point in time. Are? You? Kidding? Me? I would be soooooo pissed at her if I was the Micronauts, that a quick trip out an airlock might be the only thing that could even the score. Not only that, things have been a bit too decompressed for my liking — I could see 15 of the past 18 issues being wrapped into two issues, perhaps three — but I appreciate the creators wanting to build something grand, something epic, but moving at the pace things have been moving, much of the energy has diminished. As readers of the first volume, we grew accustomed to having an actual nemesis to spur our heroes to action, and things moved quickly. I was glad to see Cilicia in this issue, and where Jones’s style on Acroyear seems to change from panel to panel for some reason, Cilicia looks better than ever. Aside from that, I’m sad to say I’m not jiving with this issue at all.

I feel so bad about this, but I just have not enjoyed this second volume very much, and I’ve been struggling to come up with reasons why fans of the original series would want to read this volume. I don’t want to be mean, as I said it’s not for me, but that does not mean you won’t love it, so give the first couple issues a shot and see…AFTER you read the entire first volume, of course. There’re still two issues to go, so anything could happen, but I kind of doubt it. Again, this is just me. So…Did any of you denizens read this follow-up to one of the greatest comic series of all time? If so, what did you think of it? I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

While writing this entry, I listened to a Spotify playlist called “Chill Out” that was probably a little too chill for an early morning.


Friday, July 4, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 7/4/2014

(Sung to the tune of AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long”)

I say my goal’s pristine, to do what is most keen
To read the best dang comics that’ve ever been
East of West no surprise, I ain’t tellin’ lies
It’ll knock you out with its suspense-filled highs

But if we’re gonna be fair, a book that’s also up there
That Lazarus, honey’s, got awesome to spare
Cause Southern Bastards is shaking, fried pies hunger sating
Swamp Thing high rating, and we are loving ’em and

Comics to shake you all night long
Yeah, comics to shake you all night long

Why hello there, denizen, and welcome 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 / lead patriot Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Well, I’m sort of joined by them at any rate. You see, the Donist World office (my mom’s basement) is closed for the holiday — actually, my mom kicked us out and told us to go “play outside for a change” — so we are having a corporate “sleepover” at my place. This is great timing, as Obie’s owners have left him with us until next week, but we are experiencing some issues with the 4th of July holiday. Obie and Tulip know full well that today is the celebration of America’s freedom, which means fireworks, or as Obie likes to call them the big booms and blinding lights of the coming apocalypse. In preparation of the “big booms and blinding lights of the coming apocalypse” Obie has set up a little desk in my closet amidst the dirty socks as he mutters while trembling, “Gotta make my savings throw”and “Must maintain Fortune 320,000 status.” Tulip is in the bathtub shaking and refusing to do anything, which sucks as I really need to take a shower. Man, one would think I had taken out the vacuum cleaner or something, but these guys have HOURS before any fireworks start. <sigh> Anyhow, my executive team wants me to stress that although they are terrified of the coming works that are of fire, that does not mean they are not patriotic…they would just prefer that people keep their patriotism down to a more respectable level…you know, one without all of the booms. Anyhow, while I try to get Tulip out of the shower, have a look at this week’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

East of West #13
East of West #13 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics. I won’t lie to you, denizens, this is a smart comic book. I’ll be the first to admit that with the first couple of issues, I had little notion as to what the heck was going on, but by issue three I finally began to “get” the players and the world they operated in. The pieces of an immense puzzle fell into place enough to at least complete the borders, the barn, a chicken or two, and whatever else tends to show up in one — it’s been a while since I’ve done a puzzle. One could almost compare this fantastic comic to the television series Lost, with its vast mysteries, its extensive cast of characters, and glimpses of how this bizarre world operates. Where it detracts from that television show is that I firmly believe these creators know exactly where East of West is headed. It would not surprise me in the least to learn that Hickman has a 3"x5" notecard that states “Isssue 125 - last page - Death stands atop the devastation mankind wrought upon itself, and sneers.” What I’m trying to say is that we’re in good hands with this title. Things will be made clear(ish) in time, and you can bet your bottom dollar, I will be there every step of the way.

It has been a couple issues since we last saw Death, Wolf and Crow, but what we did see was not nice. We pick up with Wolf’s father, Cheveyo, getting his head blown off by the lawman/bounty hunter just as Cheveyo was about to tell Death where he might find his son. Bad. Move. As Death rushes off to convey his grievance, Wolf and Crow learn that being near the corpse of one who walks the world of life and death in equal measure is not where one should be.

Here’s the thing about East of West: there is a lot of world building, flashback, and political intrigue. This is especially true of the past couple issues as we primarily have seen the intentional breakdown of diplomatic discussion. But then the creators hit us and hit us hard, with an issue of intense action and excitement that leaves us reeling in the grandness of the display. This is especially true of this issue. We open with a brutal splash of Cheveyo being assassinated as Death is taken aback. We then get Death showing just how terrifyingly ruthless and relentless he is, and although the lawman (I forget his name) is one of the deadliest men in existence, he stands little chance. Every aspect of their encounter from the standoff, to the pursuit, to the confrontation had me madly flipping from page to page as guided by Dragotta’s flawless storytelling. This is made ever easier with Hickman’s verbal exchanges between these two tough-as-nails characters and adds to the stunning visuals escalating the scene to higher levels of tension.

What I did not quite understand with this issue is what was going on with Wolf and Crow and the headless Cheveyo. There is talk of between worlds and of Cheveyo having pulled a fast one on the land of the dead and on Wolf, who has made some sort of miscalculation. Like I mention above, I’m guessing we are not supposed to know the exact repercussions of Wolf’s emotionally-driven meddling, but I trust Hickman will clarify at some point down the road; I’m patient, I’ll wait. It’s either that, or I’m dumb as rocks…it’s cool, it happens. What I do understand is that the horse beast appears in this issue and gets taken down hard, and as much as Death’s horse beast terrifies me, I almost feel bad for the thing. I will, however, say that I LOVE the “dog” Red <woof!> and how it has a gun attachment for its face, and how it snaps into the front of the lawman’s cycle…so freakin’ weird and awesome, and something you just have to see for yourself.

East of West is easily one of my favorite comics being published. Two trades are available and given that the individual issues do not have any back matter or letter pages, you will find yourself taken care of with those volumes. That said, I just can’t stand trade waiting this addictive and compelling series. I admit that binge reading might make sense given the complexity and intricacy of this post-apocalyptic science fiction tale, but regardless of the format you prefer, the end result is that you just need to be reading this comic book. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Lazarus #9
Lazarus #9 - Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated and lettered by Michael Lark with Brian Level, colored by Santi Arcas, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics. I love this book, too, denizens, but I will say that it does not help in easing my stress level concerning the nonsense going on both in and out of our country. Crud. Citizens United, GMO food, corporate lobbying, 1% seeking dominion of the 99%, our banks being owned by foreign interest, constant attacks against our safety nets, privatization of everything including education…see?! I’m all worked up again. That is what Lazarus does to me, by golly. It gets me all freaked out because the creators play off all of the current unsettling events as they present to us the world that might be. So, if this comic makes me so upset, then why the heck do I read it? Easy. It is yet another phenomenal Image book that is compelling and exciting, and one that will leave you thinking for days afterwards. Lazarus is science “as-of-this-writing” fiction at its best, with  a story based in truth, and a killer lead character worthy of your attention.

There’s a terrorist from the group called “Free” with a bomb strapped to his chest, and he means to detonate it at the Lift, a one-shot-at-an-actual-life job fair located in Denver, Colorado. As Michael and Casey catch a a supposedly lucky break in the form of Sister Bernard, each step of the Lift will not be easy. Meanwhile, Forever Carlyle attempts to change her brother Stephen’s mind about presiding over the Lift in person, as she feels he is one of the main targets of the terrorist threat that looks to cross the paths of those who have, and those who have not.

Geez Louise, I tell ya, denizens, there’s no better way to get the ol’ heart pumping with nervous energy, than a double-feature of East of West and Lazarus. Criminy. I think I need to watch some Bugs Bunny or Woody Woodpecker cartoons to mellow me out a bit. Whoa. Okay, this issue continues the incredible, well-paced story and is every bit as excellent as each preceding issue. That said, I do not advise jumping in with this issue. Sure, there is a decent summary of what has happened previously, but you need to experience this book from the beginning to fully understand this desperate world the handful of ruling families have created. You need to read the venomous words and see the emotional abuse the Carlyle family dishes out upon one another. You need to see the desperation of the Waste, those who were not chosen to become serfs of a ruling family. You also have to see Lark’s brilliant storytelling and the somber mood of Arcas’s color palette that will stun you with the hopelessness of all involved.

This comic is ruthless, it is heavy (man, Casey in this issue…yikes), and it will leave you wondering just how far away we are from the creators’ vision of the near future. Still, you will not be able to put the book down. There is a trade of the first four issues thus far, but for this one, I would strongly encourage new readers to pick up the individual issues where possible. In the issues, Rucka provides timelines of this world, as well as the histories of the individual families, and he often ends with a fascinating/scary, and very-much real, tidbit of recent science news; you essentially get two books in one. This issue, although unnerving, is a blast and comes VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Southern Bastards #3
Southern Bastards #3 - Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated by Jason Latour, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Earl Tubb’s gone and done it. He just couldn’t leave well enough alone. After leaving Craw County, Alabama over 40 years ago, he’s back only a few days before he sees an old friend — more of an acquaintance, really — die after a horrific beating. Then, the next thing he knows, his father’s stick rises from a lightning-struck tree, like something out of some King Arthur fairy tale. Now, Earl wants answers as to why Dusty was killed. He also wants a confession from those who done it, and he’s more than willing to beat it out of them.

Wow…okay, another heavy comic this week. Geesh. Southern Bastards is yet another fantastic new release from Image Comics, only this one is firmly based in the present, and aside from the somewhat mythical emergence of Earl’s father’s corruption-bashing stick from an old tree, is one set firmly in reality. Although we have seen precious little of Coach Boss, his malevolent grip over the town has been felt throughout all three issues thus far. The creators give us a Friday Night Lights-like story gone very wrong, where football rules, and illicit activities fund the way of life for those in power. We see what really lurks beneath all the “Southern hospitality” and BBQ ribs and fried pie (man…I need to try fried pie) as a man tries to do what’s right. Thankfully, however, the creators know exactly what can come from such supposed altruism, and Earl’s actions are going to have some serious repercussions he was not anticipating. Plus, Earl’s motivations are not entirely clear. Does he want to do what’s right, or is he driven by the guilt of disappointing his father? Perhaps a bit of both? Time will tell.

Latour’s art is stunning, both the lines that lead you from panel to panel and the colors that intensify the mood of each scene, but it is the character acting that rules this issue. Esaw is a horrible person, but Coach Boss…the anger in the lines of his face, the indifference toward ordering someone killed is unsettling; Latour captures the moment perfectly.

Southern Bastards is a hit for Aaron and Latour, and Image Comics continues to release new and refreshingly exciting and diverse work. If you’ve been reading the reviews and listening to the comic book podcasts, then you know everyone’s talking about how great this book is, and I am very much inclined to agree. Issue one and two are already on second printings, so you should be able to catch up with little to no problems. If you are interested in a harsh look at the ugly side of America that is done well, then Southern Bastards is not a book to miss. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Swamp Thing 33
Swamp Thing #33 - Written by Charles Soule, illustrated by Javier Pina, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Travis Lanham, published by DC Comics. Alec Holland is being run ragged...unbeknownst to him, it is by design. At least two of the three former avatars are not happy with the fact that the current Swamp Thing has brought the former avatars of the Green back to Earth as powerless mortals. The Wolf and the Lady Weeds have not taken to living with an expiration date on their lives kindly, and the Wolf has been extremely busy plotting the downfall of a god.

Without the need for a “crossover” — I did like seeing Aquaman last issue, btw — Swamp Thing can move unfettered by the dictates of other characters, which is nice. This issue primarily belongs to the Wolf and the Lady Weeds, as we finally learn what the Wolf has been up to over the past few installments. I love how Soule has made this holly-jolly character seem so pleasant and kind until now, where we see how murderous and ruthless he actually is. Because of the focus toward angry, powerless mortals, there is much talking and explaining, but that is fine as Pina’s art aids Soule’s dialogue by both showing and telling what is happening while masking most all of the exposition; not an easy thing to do. Pina also delivers some wonderful character acting in the Wolf and Lady Weeds scenes, where a touch annoys, a brow furrows in mistrust, and a feigned apology at a slight widens a character’s eyes — even without the dialogue, you clearly understand the emotions during play. Wilson’s colors also contribute to the mood, and I especially love the orange and purples in Capucine and Jonah’s moment in the grass; it’s beautiful.

I am less enthusiastic about the Swamp Thing only getting pestered by demons over the course of three pages. This is something I would have liked to have seen play out over an entire story arc. Maybe not breaking up the story with the Aquaman crossover — again, I surprisingly enough really liked it — and devoting an issue or two to escalating the demon problems would have gone a long way to make it seem as if the Wolf’s plan actually had a shot. Instead, the Wolf just doesn't seem to have thought things through, and all of the machinations over the past bunch of issues had little effect on anything. I guess I’m just saying I wanted the Wolf to be more of a threat than he actually ended up being. Still, I am loving this book — one of only two that I am now buying from the New 52 — and hope that the crossovers and the events that hurt the “Rot World” storyline stay out of this series so the creators can tell the stories they want to tell, at the pace they want to tell them. If you are a fan of the character, you should definitely be checking this out. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

<GRRRRR> Where Are the Rest of My Comics?! - Okay, last week I missed out on the latest Undertow, which is still M.I.A., and now I got skipped on Satellite Sam, which I was really looking forward to reading. <sigh> With any luck, both will show up in my pull next week, as it looks like I will have a heaping helping of NUTHIN’ waiting for me; I’m not holding my breath. Usually, when my LCS is shorted, we are looking at a three week wait/delay, which if I wanted that, I would plead for the return of the old ’80s style “subscription” service that Marvel and DC used for kicking out mail-damaged and late-as-hell comics to poor suckas like myself. Oh well, they’ll show up eventually.