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!


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