Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 8/29/2014

(Sung to the tune of Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love”) also from The Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mixtape

Read (read)
Hey, girl, Saga melts your head, yeah
Read (read)
Then The Sixth Gun trips your mind
So sublime an-a, oh-oh-oh
Read (read)
How ’bout Black Science? Right! Said, Fred
Baby find it, come on and find it
Read with me, baby
These books are fine
You got time, they’re simply divine

Come and get some Low
Come and find your love
Come and get some Low
Come and find your love

Hey there, denizens, welcome back. I’m Donist and I'm joined as ever by CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / lead chillaxologist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s brother). This week we decided to clean up our act — literally — and the Donist World executive team is hitting the showers, so to speak. You see, my staff is kind of dirty today. Although Obie sprawled out in a patch of dirt a few moments ago, his filth rests more along the lines of the metaphorical, as he is filthy with corporate greed, and acquiring of unnecessary things like caviar, Rolex watches, and rare hummel figurines, which by golly, is the absolute last straw; thus he be cleaned. As for Tulip…well, she rolled in the carcass of some unidentifiable creature and she smells like the physical embodiment of Death itself. The sad yet — let’s be honest — gleefully satisfying part of the Donist World mandated “bath time” is to see the stalwart champions of the Donist World corporate empire pretending to tremble in fear and anger over receiving an oatmeal-shampoo bath. Now, while I clean the tub and prepare for my special ritual, have a look at this week’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #22
Saga #22 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, published by Image Comics. I think I’m going to create a new method for reading Saga, you know, something special just for me and my favorite comic book series. My old modus operandi was to pick up my new comics, sort them into the reading order, head home, pop open a craft beer, and enjoy — if there are tacos around, then that is an added bonus. The thing is, Saga deserves a little more than that, a more delicate touch. So, on weeks when my favorite space-faring love story arrives, I resolve to do the following: pick up my books, sort into reading order (Saga first, of course), rush home, draw a bath, pour a hefty glass of pinot, and settle in for a tumultuous, emotional, roller coaster ride destined to mess me up for the rest of the evening. Now, there is already a standing rule that the Donist World  intern (my wife) is not to disturb me during my comic reading time — although she does this often — but on Saga Day, all interruptions will henceforth be met with DOUBLE penalties including whining, pouting, and a hefty serving of muttered-under-the-breath grumbling. Relationships take work and time, denizens, which is why you have to take Saga Day seriously, to see just how Marko and Alana are holding up. Then, and only then, look to your own relationships and take the time to…uhhhh…the Donist World intern is giving me the evil eye, so…

Neither Marko or Alana are around the home as much these days. Alana’s drug use causes a slight mixup at work, which catches a recently-absent duo’s attention. Prince Robot IV meets with his daddy, and things fall apart even further at home and even more so at the studio. Also, Friendo!

All joking aside — I’m only half joking about the wine and bath, btw — Saga continues to astound in its depiction of the highs and lows of family life, as it provides an intensely realistic, heartfelt, heartbreaking look at a relationship unraveling under the stress of day-to-day life; all this from a sci-fi / fantasy series complete with robots, aliens, and monsters. Vaughan writes emotional and intensely personal dialogue, which leaves the reader sympathizing, at least to a minor degree, with every character in the book. Marko has cause to be upset about his wife’s drug use around their daughter, but then Alana is well aware that Marko’s romantic attention has strayed. Prince Robot IV has a whole mixed up history spurring him on to some of the horrible things he has done, and I can even sympathize with Dengo, who has justifiable reasons for being upset with the status quo, although his actions are reprehensible. There is no black and white, no hand-wringing villain out to enact wickedness for the sake of being wicked. The characters in this world are complex, oftentimes making mistakes knowing full well they shouldn’t be doing what they are doing. Saga is one of the most “real” comics I have ever read, and this is in spite of plant women, gargoyle bosses, sentient and emotional robots with televisions for heads, and the magnificence that is Friendo (Friendo!).

As for Staples, her flawless storytelling skills keep your eyes flowing through each scene, but her tremendous character designs — the double-page spread of King Robot must be seen to be believed — will give you reason to slow your reading to appreciate each character, as will the beautiful color palette that brings it all to life. But, as I have said practically each issue, it is Staples’s mastery of character acting that hammers home the gravity of each scene. This is especially true during Marko and Alana’s fight near the end of this issue. The facial expressions compound the force of Vaughan’s dialogue with the three panels following what Marko does (sorry, not gonna spoil) showing you just how bad things have become.

Ugh...see? Now I’m all upset. Sipping my wine. Lounging in the bath. Reading my Saga. Letting the tears fall into the tub. But you know what, denizens? I wouldn’t have it any other way. If you are not reading this series, then by now you know you should be. It’s sci-fi, fantasy, romance, war, and comedy (not so much in this installment, though) all rolled into one finely-tuned package. You can pick up three trades now, or splurge for the hardcover of the first 18 issues that is set to release in November. The most important thing to know about Saga is that it is definitely worthy of your time. I hope you have some bubble bath ready. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Low #2
Low #2 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Greg Tocchini, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. I love the first issue of Low — I hope you were able to find a copy, it blew out of stores quickly. That issue ended with a tremendous cliffhanger that left me desperate to see what happened next with the Caine family and their plight. I was in no way prepared for the turn the story took in the second issue. That is a great thing, indeed.

Ten years have passed since the terrible events that led to the abduction of Stel Caine’s young daughters, and the tragic fate suffered by her husband, Johl. Now, Stel is alone and her only child, Marik, now an officer of the law, will not visit her. As Marik relays a terrible truth, his life begins to fall apart, as Stel’s hopes are lifted by a timely communication.

The creators take a chance and jump ahead ten years on this second issue, which in a sense makes the first issue a prequel to the story we are now being told. Last month we were introduced to the Caine family and fell in love with them before everything went all to heck. Now, instead of picking up where we left off, we come late to the game and are down three family members, with the mother and son barely on speaking terms. No progress has happened with rescuing Stel’s daughters, as the pirate who stole them is long gone. This issue focuses on Stel’s desperate grasp to maintain hope in a situation that is utterly hopeless. Remender and Tocchini do a wonderful job filling the reader in on what transpired: Stel barely leaves her home, Marik has succumbed to corruption, the days are numbered for the city of Salus. The most difficult part of the story to read is what actually happened between Stel and Johl, and their unbelievably tough conversation near the bottom of the ocean.

Remender’s dialogue carries great emotional heft on its own, but when paired with Tocchini’s gorgeous art and his striking, warm color schemes I was drawn into the creators’ world deeper than before. I could not help but give a sigh of disappointment that the end of the issue came much too soon. Each page is beautiful — including a couple that are definitely not for kids — especially when focusing on Stel or on the wondrous technology and architecture that surrounds her. You need to be reading this adult-themed, sci-fi, underwater adventure, but I have a suspicion that finding the first issue will be a chore until the reprints arrive. Next month cannot come soon enough. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Black Science #8
Black Science #8 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Matteo Scalera, painted art by Dean White, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Speaking of books taking an unexpected turn…I never expected what happened at the end of the first arc. No siree, Bob, not at all. That said, the action-packed thrill ride that is Black Science does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

Pia and Nate are on their own in a hostile jungle, as the surviving adult members of the group argue over how to proceed. The techno-shaman offers a look at his history and the coming of the pillar to his world. Can the adults pull their act together and find the kids before the jungle’s mysterious inhabitants do? The next jump is in three days.

Another blast of an issue, with weird creatures and phenomenal action sequences from Scalera, perfectly coupled with Remender’s look at the dysfunctional relationship of the adults in the group. The huge win of this issue, however, is White’s mesmerizing color palette, especially when he pulls in the magical purples and the crisp, cool blues like on the double-page spread title page…which I wish I had blown up and hanging on the wall above my computer. I also have to point out White’s colors on the techno-shaman’s flashback scene to which he adds some great distressed effects to further envelop the reader into the character’s memory.

Black Science does not appear to be slowing down in the slightest, even with the loss of the main character. I can’t wait to see what surprises the creators have in store for us next. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Sixth Gun #42
The Sixth Gun #42 - Written by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Brian Hurtt, colored by Bill Crabtree, lettered by Crank!, designed by Keith Wood, edited by Charlie Chu, published by Oni Press. The end is nigh, as the Grey Witch’s agent, Jesup Sutter, has gained control of the six cursed guns, and they are poised to open the seal to a new world of their making. Meanwhile, the Knights of Solomon gain information from a horrifying source. Becky, Drake, and Screaming Crow determine their next move, but their chances of success are slim.

Not a whole lot happens in this issue, which is not to say it is anything less than superb. The creators give us a glimpse of the nightmare-inducing King of Secrets as beautifully designed by Hurtt who inserts intricate keys and locks into the creature’s clothes and helm; the King’s priests are equally disturbing. Hurtt also shows us a Mayan-influenced temple devoted to the Grey Witch, complete with a stron serpent and skull motif. Each setting comes to life via Crabtree’s signature coloring style, providing cool blues to the king and an impressive array of warm colors for both the temple and what remains of our heroes.

The Sixth Gun is poised to begin its final steady march to the series finale. I can’t wait to see how this Donist World darling wraps up, but at the same time I am filled with a sense of dread that one of the best indie comics on the stand is rapidly approaching its end. With any luck, the long-teased The Sixth Gun television show will arrive to fill the void left by this fantastic comic. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

The Knee Defender Debacle - I am a 6' 2" tall man, and I have been the victim of the dreaded “entitled recliner” on many flights. Oftentimes, said recliner has been a 3' toddler who could more comfortably lie across their seat with their head on the parent’s lap. Other times, it has just been me divining the future of my irritation in the shiny bald head of the short guy in front of me with his seat fully reclined. Then the Donist World intern (my wife) told me about the Knee Defender devices and the United Airline battle that grounded a plane recently. My first thought was that I needed to order a pair of the devices, and I assumed the intern would take my side, but she didn’t, saying that reclining helped her feel less ill on a plane. We went back and forth over who was right and realized that neither would ever see the other’s point of view. It then occurred to me that the Knee Defender is actually a foreign object brought onto a plane, that alters the design and functionality of the airline’s property, which leads me to believe the devices should be banned.

Now, this does not mean that I believe everyone should recline as far back as they wish without being a gosh-darn human being about it and checking the situation behind them. If you look back and see a 3' tall toddler sitting behind you, then go for it. If you look back and see a 6' 7" high school basketball player* behind you, maybe have the grace to realize that you can somehow manage to live through THREE WHOLE HOURS of sitting upright. I mean, c’mon, I assume you work somewhere for extended periods of time that has zero qualms about making you and your life as uncomfortable as possible. It’s most likely only about three hours. If it’s a five hour flight, then get up and stretch a few times; you’re supposed to do that anyways.

Just to be fair, I also don’t have sympathy for the corporate warrior pounding away on their laptop and shaking the seat of the person in front of them for hours on end. Unplug for a while. Read something fun instead.

The thing is, no one is right in this situation, but there is someone you can blame: the dang airlines. Flying was definitely a MUCH better experience a couple of decades ago. I have a personal list of reasons why this was so, but this problem falls upon the airline’s bottom-line decision to lessen space between seats, so they could add even more passengers. Cha-Ching! Yes, seats can recline, but nowhere in the airline terms and conditions does it guarantee someone in economy class ANY degree of comfort. If you’re upset about the airplane experience, it’s usually the airline’s fault. Just remember to be kind and courteous to your fellow passengers and to the poor vastly-underpaid attendants.

Here are two articles from The New York Times: one for, and one against.

*This actually happened on a flight I was on. I saw the monstrous kid sitting across from me, and the woman in front of him tried to recline and couldn’t because of his knees. She whipped around angrily and said, “Would you mind letting me recline my seat?” The kid was incredibly polite and replied in his Southern accent, “I’m sorry, ma'am, I’m six-seven. I already can’t even move as it is.” The woman huffed and puffed, but when she turned back around it was clear to see she felt like a total a_hole...good.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 8/22/2014

(Sung to the tune of David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” also on The Guardian’s of the Galaxy soundtrack!)

I’m a motivator, I’m a groovy-comic shoutout to you
Rockin’ elevator, sayin’ Trees will freak ya, baby, it’s true
So keep your eyes shut, keep on squawking like a pink monkey bird
Now open them and grock the cosmic written word

Keep your confused eye on it babe
Supreme: Blue Rose daze your head
Press your nose to a chillin’ book, bro
Freak out to The Fade Out daydream oh yeah!

I had to keep the “squawking like a pink monkey bird” line of “Moonage Daydream” intact, since outside of this David Bowie song, I will probably never write those six words in that order ever again; it’s a onetime deal. Anywho…welcome to Donist World. I’m joined as ever by CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / lead groovologist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). This week at the corporate office (my mom’s basement) I have required all of us to wear our matching red polo shirts with the yellow writing embroidered on the left side. I have also required that the puppies wear their red collars, drink from red water bowls, I’m only to eat red M&Ms, and we are typing on red keyboards (they were on sale in bulk last year). Why are we doing this? Well, because this week it is all about one thing and only one thing: Image Comics. The red theme just happened to fit because our matching red Donist World corporate polo shirts were the only color we were able to afford at this time, and we wanted to maintain a sense of unity in our manner of dress and in the comic books we read this week. <pssst> <pssst> Come closer for a moment. I actually wanted to have a required uniform, because Obie has been breaking the dress code lately. He has worn sleeveless shirts with things like “Who’s the Big Dog Now, Punk?” and “Take This Job and Shovel It!” and “I Ain’t Your B_____!” to work lately, so I had to come up with something to get him back on track. Now, while I crunch the numbers to see if we have enough coin to order some blue corporate polo shirts, have a look at this week’s Image exclusive…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Fade Out #1
The Fade Out #1 - Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips, colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics. I would be lying if I was to proclaim that “Image needs to knock it off, already!” Or maybe partially lying, because the ol’ pocket book is getting tired of the big lunch-time shakedown it gets every Wednesday at the LCS. But maybe a bully analogy is the wrong way to think about the Image Comics parade of domination that only gets bigger and bigger with each passing week. Yeah…the situation is more comparable to an increasing number of lovely temptresses each kissing me on the cheek and whispering amazing things into my ear as I gleefully hand each of them $2.99 or $3.50 (minus a 10% purchase volume discount, plus sales tax, of course). I then leave: lipstick on my collar, hair completely tousled, glasses askew, and an ever-growing number of Image comic books in my hands. I wouldn't be shocked to see little cartoon hearts floating around my head either as I stumble merrily from the store. So, yeah…the first issue of The Fade Out…

It’s 1948. Charlie Parish is a Hollywood screenwriter who really tied one on last night. I mean REALLY tied one on. Not only does Charlie not know how he ended up sleeping in a bathtub, he has no idea where the bathtub is, or who owns it. As he tries to piece together the fragmented chain of events of last night’s party, he finds that the tiny apartment he woke up in happens to belong to a friend of his: the dead starlet in the living room.

One mistake I need to remedy in the very near future is missing most of the Fatale comic book series, as I am a huge fan of the creators’ work on the superhero-turned-double-agent series Sleeper and the phenomenal Criminal series — ESPECIALLY the darn-near perfection that is the Criminal: The Last of the Innocent storyline found in the second hardcover. Burbaker and Philips have proven with their exceptional past work that they have crime / noir / spy storytelling down and the same holds true for The Fade Out. Two panels — and to be fair a “Cast of Characters” page helped as well — is all it took to grab my attention, and the funny thing is that panel one contains only white text on a black background that says “The Wild Party.” That’s it, that’s all it took for me to know I was going to greatly enjoy this new series: basically an image of a passed-out, still-drunk screenwriter coming to in a bathtub.

On the simplistic “Cast of Characters” page, with Brubaker’s succinct character descriptions coupled with Phillips’s mastery of depicting drama, it takes only six individual images to gain tremendous insight into each of the key players before the story even starts. Phillips’s subtle changes in a character’s eyes and mouth tell you what you need to know about each person as you read left to right, top to bottom: ready to snap, confident, sad, barely treading water, kind / helpful, not to be messed with. There is no need to for up-front, lengthy exposition surrounding each character’s background as a small headshot speaks 1000 words. After panel two, it’s a steady 30-page ride through this crime comic that takes a rather unexpected turn involving the dead starlet, which opens up the story to many intriguing possibilities.

I also need to compliment Breitweiser’s beautifully-moody colors that set the tone for each scene and add so much to Phillips’s already substantial storytelling skills. I especially liked the green-tinged murder scene where Valeria’s red-purple dress draws the eye.

We’re only one issue in, and I’m completely hooked. If you are a fan of the other books I mentioned above, or if you loved the tone of Brubaker’s awesome Captain America run, then you can’t go wrong picking up The Fade Out. If you have not yet read those older works, then change that immediately when you go to pick up this fantastic entry to the crime-comic genre. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Trees #4
Trees #4 - Written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Jason Howard, lettered by Fonografiks, published by Image Comics. I’m going to spoil this issue right off the bat by saying that all we see of the alien “trees” is a single spire in one panel, and a brief look at the top of a smaller tripod unit. They still don’t do anything, and you know what, denizens? That’s okay.

Chenglei and Zhen take a walk through the Chinese city of Shu on the way to where Chenglei will create art; it is an eye-opening experience. Meanwhile, near the North Pole, Marsh determines that the strange black flowers are more than what they seem, and in Somalia the military makes a move against what is believed to be the smallest “tree.”

 What should now be clear with Ellis and Howard’s Trees, is that it is more a look at humanity and its reaction to the possible threat of an alien invasion that is decades in the making…if it is a threat at all. This story is about people and how they cope with the aliens’ arrival. The creators show us how some study, some attack, and others are inspired to create. What is also refreshing is the glimpse of the city of Shu and how it thrives off of art and creativity and innovation, while fostering an environment of equality and acceptance as seen with Zhen, a transgender woman, and her friends. Unfortunately, Shu appears to be poised for a downfall as the perceived threat of the “trees” looks to have been forgotten by the supposed “peacekeepers,” who seem very much on edge. Tension is building in this series, not just in free and idealistic Shu, but throughout every region of the world, both from the “trees” and predominantly from mankind itself. The beautiful thing about Trees is that I have ZERO idea of what’s going to happen next.

Howard’s art has been amazing on this series thus far, but I have to say that this issue is the strongest. The opening splash page is worthy of blowing up and hanging on your wall, and it is merely an image of a bustling city street with the focus on two characters walking; it’s lovely. The rest of the book is just as striking, with a wondrous look at the art tower, and some great moments of the snow base, but it is Howard’s colors that push the beauty and the mood to even greater heights.

If you like smartly written, and strikingly illustrated sci-fi that is more about story than spaceships, explosions, and laser beams, then this is the book for you. Trees is a calm ride, at least it has been for four issues thus far, but the escalating tension and unease in the series is something I cannot wait to see play out. Things are about to get very interesting. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Supreme: Blue Rose #2
Supreme: Blue Rose #2 - Written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Tula Lotay, lettered by Richard Starking, designed by John Roshell, published by Image Comics. I may not know Supreme: Blue Rose, but I know what I like. Yeah, denizens, I ain’t gonna fool ya…I don’t know what the blue blazes is going on, but maybe if I jot down what happens in this issue, something will dawn on me.

At an undesignated time, a gorgeous redhead with a extreme case of glowing face, meets a writer and then decades later draws him up into the heavens upon a blue spiral staircase (Wait...what?!). Meanwhile, Diana Dane, the reporter hired by Darius Dax to find ”blue roses” (okay, got it!) is picked up by Dax’s limo driver who goes by the name of Twilight Girl Marvel (Hey, it’s a free country, choose whatever crazy names you want). As the limo drives by a diner, two scientists talk about (errr...ummm) quantum mechanicky stuff, and a Supreme symbol opens up another dimension with math (fragonometry?) giving some other lady “Supreme-like” eyes (or something), which causes disco lights (and possibly jazz hands). We learn that Diana likes the show Professor Night (okay, this I know for a fact…mostly because she flat out tells us this). Finally, Diana’s limo ride travels on the Bifrost Bridge (maybe? I don’t know), and a sexy man with bedroom eyes appears in the limo for some reason; Diana is dreaming (?). What the what?!

Okay, writing down what happened in this issue only made my understanding worse, but that said, I still really like this issue. The dialogue and captions are well-written, at times poetic, but what makes this issue — and the first for that matter — so wonderful, is Lotay’s shockingly beautiful art and colors. Both character design and storytelling are impressive to begin with, but when she lays in the ethereal color palette and the glows and the panel bursting squiggles, the book takes on a dreamlike quality I have not seen in other comics. The main things I DO know about Supreme: Blue Rose is that Lotay’s work is simply mesmerizing and I can’t wait to see more of her art in the next issue as I try to figure out what exactly is going on. Seek out these issues if you want to please your eyeballs and stretch your mind. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Heaviness, Denizens, Heaviness - This week I exclusively read heavy subject matter, and I’m about due for some lighter fare. You see, in addition to the books above, I’ve been trudging through the third bulky volume of Hellblazer, and it’s a good book — although nowhere near as much as the first volume, just sayin’ — but I think I need something a little more light-hearted or something more upbeat and brightly colored. Maybe something older is the way to go. I'm thinking some older superhero books can raise my spirits, maybe this Avengers vs. Thanos is the ticket to get me going again. Fun, action, thrills, and chills, and it has a few stories I missed back in the day. Plus, we all know how much I love the cosmic Marvel stuff. Boom! It is decided.

Thank you for reading and have a great weekend.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 8/15/2014

(Sung to the tune of Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”)

Listen, baby, there are comics high
They won’t make you low, these ol’ comics got the stuff, baby
Have a looksee, wooeee, no matter where you are
So many comics, don’t worry, baby
You know the name, don’t get all in a flurry
No need to worry

’Cause baby, these ol’ comics got the stuff
They won't leave you low or rough, books so good can’t get enough
They’re sure to be thrillin’ you, baby

Hello there, and welcome back to Donist World. Things are almost back to normal after our two-week vacation, and I am joined as ever by CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / health insurance grievance counselor Tulip (my Boston terrier, Obie’s sister). Gonna keep this brief, but you might have noticed a bit of a facelift on the ol’ Donist World site; let me know what you think. For a bonus, here is a design I was thinking of using, but I decided to go for a more ’70s vibe instead...maybe I will use this as a link to my store (which if you use it to make a purchase I will get a portion of the sale at no cost to you = more weird stuff to review, so you should buy this here television). Or I might use it as a banner to, where I also get a percentage of each linked sale as credit so I can buy and review even weirder stuff. Anyhow, I will post some of my non-comics projects here to share with y’all on occasion, so let me know what you think about those as well. Now, it’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Sex Criminals #7
Sex Criminals #7 - Written by Matt Fraction, art by Chip Zdarsky, color flats by Becka Kinzie, edited by Thomas K, production by Drew Gill, published by Image Comics. This issue arrived a couple weeks later than planned, but that’s okay. I’m cool waiting a tad longer than usual for one of the best and most original comics on the stand. With many late comics, I find I have to go back a couple issues for a refresher on what has happened previously, but for Sex Criminals that is not the case. I fell in love with this series by page three of issue one, so how could I ever forget what has been happening with these characters who have become such dear close friends?

Suzie’s day might have started off bad, but when she crosses paths with her recently ignored best friend, Rachel, things begin to look up. As close friends reconnect, Jon crosses a MAJOR line with the Sex Police from which there is no going back.

As with every issue of this phenomenal series (hey, TIME magazine says so, too), you will laugh — oh how you’ll laugh — but at the same time you will sympathize with Suze or Jon, or both. You might even relate to their plight(s) a bit more than you bargained for. Heck, their situation might even make you a bit sad, and therein lies the beauty of Sex Criminals. Fraction and Zdarsky made me love their characters and each issue has succeeded in strengthening that bond. As humorous as this book can be, it is also brutally honest and sincere. Fraction somehow perfectly captures both traits of people I know, as well as (more likely…oh boy) aspects of myself, and conveys each character’s thoughts through his wonderful dialogue and captions; the words alone are enough to hook me with this series. Add in Zdarsky’s gorgeous illustrations (the colors are absolutely stunning…such vibrant glows in The Quiet) with all the drama and character acting and there is plenty to love about this comic. With but a shift of the eyes or a shrug of the shoulders, the art tells you everything about a scene you need to know, and you can rejoice in the characters’ happiness, or commiserate in their lows.

It should be pretty clear what I think of both this issue and the series as a whole: it’s a Donist World darling, through and through. Sex Criminals even passed the wife test when I gave her the stoooopidly inexpensive trade of the first five issues and she plowed through it in one sitting. The title alone should tell you that this book is strictly for mature readers, and if you fall into that category and dig things like fun and joy, then Sex Criminals is not a book to be missed. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Rachel Rising #27
Rachel Rising # 27 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. Need another fantastic comic book? If you’re a horror fan — not torture pr0n crap, real horror — and like television shows like Twin Peaks, and comics like Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing or the Hellblazer books, then you need to be reading Rachel Rising. If you are a fan of Terry Moore — and you should be after reading Strangers in Paradise and Echo — then you are probably already buying this great series.

Aunt Johnny and Earl have a heart to heart, before making a distressing discovery at the morgue. Zoe and Rachel (along with her new hairdo) order take out and find a friend. Zoe takes care of old business.

I ain’t going to lie to you, denizens, but little happens in this issue. Usually, I would be pretty annoyed by the lack of progression in the plot of a comic, but not on Rachel Rising. What Moore does instead is pull us in and ground us with these characters, who I hold near and dear to my heart. The scene with Aunt Johnny and Earl is immensely touching, almost shed-a-tear touching, but just when the scene is at its heaviest, we do get some movement in the story with their realization surrounding the deceased Carol’s supposed suicide note. Moore also delivers the humor during the Rachel and Zoe scene and the introduction of a character who I hope reappears later in the story. We also get a moment with Jet realizing one of her faults, before ending with Moore’s contest promise, which plays out well while giving a rather spooky revelation about a certain character. So, yeah, little movement with the story, but what we see with the characters, the life of this series, MORE than makes up for the slower story progression. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with the story…no siree, Bob. Resurrections, killers, witches, devils, mysteries, serial killers, century-long tales, Rachel Rising has plenty of happenings going on to keep your interest, but when you throw in Rachel, Jet, Zoe, Johnny, Earl, and the rest of the cast, you can’t help but be drawn into Moore’s beautifully creepy world. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Where Is Jake Ellis?
Where Is Jake Ellis? #4 - Written by Nathan Edmondson, lettering and art by Tonci Zonjic and Jordan Gibson, published by Image Comics. Okay, here is where the jokes can start: Where WAS Where Is Jake Ellis?; Who is Jake Ellis, Again? I Totally Forgot; etc. Apologies to the creators for the jabs — we all need to remember that crazy / tragic things can cause the delays — but it has been roughly a year and half since I read (and loved! btw) issue three. Thankfully, there is a brief summary on the first page to catch us all up on what came before.

Jon and Jake have both been captured by a mysterious organization interested in their unique “relationship.” The innocent bystander Mollie continues to be in the worst place at the worst time, and Jon and Jake plan an escape that will involve extreme measures.

I will admit that it took me a couple pages to remember what the heck was going on in this book, but once it all came back, I was pulled back to the action-packed roller coaster ride that made the first volume as well as this rapidly ending chapter so very exciting. In fact, it was easy to be swept up in the nerve-wracking intensity of Where Is Jake Ellis?. Although Zonjic might not have been responsible for some of the art in this book — it looks like Gibson will be providing all of the art on the final issue — the sharing of art duties is not intrusive or all that noticeable; you stay in the story from beginning to end. What I notice as being different from previous issues is the coloring, which is fine, but I remember the coloring as being a more vibrant and apt to fit the mood of a scene…I might be wrong about this and should reread the earlier issues to be sure. Edmondson’s story remains as solid and engaging as ever; I can’t wait to see how this ends next month (???).

You missed out if you did not pick up the spy / mystery / action-adventure romp of a first volume titled Who Is Jake Ellis?, which is readily available. Once you have read that, then hopefully a Where Is Jake Ellis? trade will be available to carry you home on this fantastic series. This issue is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Missed Books Over the Past Couple Weeks:
The Wake #10
The Wake #10 - Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Sean Murphy, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, Jared K. Fletcher, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint. The first time I read this issue I had no idea what had happened, who was who, or how things ended. Granted, that day I had packed a car full with suitcases, drove five hours, came home to spend a couple hours moving furniture, then ate a monster burrito and had two beers before attempting to read the finale to this awesome series. I’m here to tell you you can’t do that, denizens. No way. This issue ties it ALL together and puts a pretty bow on this series, but you need to have your noodle firing on all pistons for this smartly written, beautifully illustrated story. So, I reread the book while in a better state of mind (last night), when I could focus on what was being said and what it was I was seeing, and it all clicked; that’s how you’re supposed to do it.

I’m not going to provide a synopsis on this issue, you’re just going to have to read it yourselves, and the only way to do it is to start at the beginning (a hardcover releases in November, wink-wink-nudge-nudge) otherwise this issue will not make sense. I will say that Snyder took the original genre of the book and changed it at the midway point, and to great effect, which is a freakin’ hard thing to do. Murphy’s art makes me wish I was rich enough to buy every dang page of original art in this series, but I’ll just have to wait on the ol’ Lotto to come through. <sigh>

My biggest complaint about The Wake is the same that I have had for the past four issue: I want to see a ton more of this world. It’s kind of unfair to give us only ten issues with mere flashes of what this world and these characters have to offer. Heck, give me multiple one-shots, give me a three-issue glimpse of what happened in the past 200 years, or give us an epilogue, give us a Dash Special…I don’t care, as long as we get to see more. I know this probably won’t happen, but <sniffle> dare to dream, denizens. Dare to dream. Anyhow…this series begs to be read straight through once you have read each of the issues, which is something I fully intend to do in the near future. A great end to a great series. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Swamp Thing #34
Swamp Thing #34 - Written by Charles Soule, illustrated by Javier Pina, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Travis Lanham, published by DC Comics. Jonah dying! The Wolf transformed by Lady Weeds in an effort to enact revenge on the Swamp Thing, Alec Holland!
This issue is a blast, and an ending to the Jonah / Wolf / Lady Weeds storyline that manages to hold great potential for future stories. I want to say how great it is to have an issue free of outside interference, but then we have the final two panels that open up the the “Futures End” event that looks to be taking over next month; oh boy, we’ll see how that goes. Regardless, Swamp Thing continues to be my favorite New 52 DC book, and I remain ever hopeful for the eventual return of Arcane to the pages of this title. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Health Insurance - I’m going to keep this brief so as not to get too ranty. As I mentioned a couple times since the beginning of the year, I left a fairly well-paying job on account of being there was demoralizing and made me question the purpose of life. I saved for a long time, took care of some major financial obligations, and having a fair amount of padding, I quit. I have since become a near full-time student in a graphic design program and I am about finished with my second novel (almost there). 

Part of the reason I was able to do this was because I have been on my wife’s health insurance plan for going on 15 years. This plan has traditionally covered all employees for a family of four (individual, spouse, +2 children), this is even if the individual was unmarried, and without children, and whether or not the spouse was already insured. This was fine for a while, but she has had to pay more and more with each passing year. This year, however, everything is about to change. 

Now, the health insurance racket has gone so outer limits in its pricing and the “Affordable” Care Act has a condition that breaks the current method of insurance in place at my wife’s job. Insurance at the job now can only cover the employee (for a very high cost), and each dependent is an additional charge. Basically, what was once already expensive is now MUCH more so, for much less coverage, and at the exact wrong time for our situation; I should have quit last year. 

We looked into the “Affordable” Care Act — notice the quotes? — and it is anything but. I have no idea of how to fix the problem outside of removing health industry lobbyist from Washington, and regulating the bejesus out of any industry that profits off of the 100% guaranteed probability of illness, aging, and dying. Anyhow, our insurance is almost doubling ($350 more per month), and I feel horrible for families of four who are about to see their premiums jump by more than $500 per month (~$330 to ~$883 taking into account the average plan) with a forced move from HMO to PPO come September. How does this help anyone besides the behemoth that is the health insurance industry? We’re freaking out.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 8/8/2014

(Sung to the tune of Blue Swede’s “Hooked On a Feeling”)

You do gotta. You do. You do.
You do gotta. You do. You do.
You do gotta. You do. You do.
You do gotta. You do. You do.
You do gotta. You do. You do.

I can’t stop a readin’
Comics heavenly
Bro, you might not realize
What’s rockin’ can’t you see?

You can trust me
These dang books are tight
I’ll let you know
Comics to setcha right

I’m hooked on good comics

So now we’re back…from outer space…we just walked in to find — okay, enough songs. Anyhow, marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / dog of the world Tulip (my Boston terrier), Donist World intern Amy (my wife) and I have returned from our two and a half week long spirit quest to find the elusive infinite synergy (a vacation up north) and we are — forgive the term — dog tired as we just got back into town late yesterday afternoon. While we have been gone, CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier, Tulip’s brother) has been working hard to maintain Donist World’s status as a Fortune 320,000 company from deep within the labyrinth of our corporate headquarters (my mom’s basement)…at least that is what he claims to have been doing. What I found waiting for me in the conference room (a folding table with chairs) was multiple empty bags of kibble, 1/5 of a pitcher of mojitos, and a still smoking stogie. I also found the petty cash box to be short $57 and multiple Freebirds burrito wrappers lying around. <sigh> So, while I sweep up my executive’s mess, go see the holy-guacamole-it’s-a-right-kick-in-the-pants Guardians of the Galaxy, and then have a look at half of the books I’ve had a chance to read since yesterday. That’s right, denizens, it’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Low #1
Low #1 - Written by Rick Remender, art by Greg Tocchini, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Man, I tell ya…you go away for two weeks, and come back to a large stack of comics waiting for you at the ol’ LCS with little time to get in a timely post. Then you notice that the trusted store owner has safely tucked away a copy of what is destined to be yet another great title from Image comics, and no shocker at all, it’s written by Rick Remender. Now if you’ve been following Donist World for the past year, then you know what I think of Remender’s other recent works Black Science and Deadly Class (Spoiler alert!…both come VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! and you can buy each trade for roughly $8.00). Now with his third creator-owned series, did I have any doubts whether or not this comic would thrill my cold Donist heart? Nope, none at all;  oh how I love to be right.

Many millennia in the future, mankind has had to retreat below the waves in order to escape the building radiation from the Sun, which will eventually go supernova and eradicate the human race. Enter the Caine family. As the mother and father take their two daughters out to capture a “mammoth” to replenish their dwindling food supplies, they are ambushed by ocean floor scavengers, and everything goes wrong. Now, it is up to the steadfast optimism of wife and mother Stel Caine to confront all obstacles and keep her family safe.

I loved everything about this comic. From the moment I saw the magnificent, gorgeously colored art, great character designs, and the magical undersea world — including the room with something that gives new meaning to the term “water bed” — I was hooked like a teeny-weensie guppy. Sure, Tocchini is a fantastic storyteller, but the ships, both inside and out, with their advanced technology are something that need to be seen and experienced; I whispered “wow” multiple times as I went from panel to panel, page to page. Beautiful art is great and all, but when you have an amazing story that kicks into gear on the very first page, you know you are in for one heck of a great ride. So, yes, Remender has done it again, and I am excited beyond words to see what happens next. You need to track down a copy of this comic ASAP, if you do not have it already. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Black Science #7
Black Science #7 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Matteo Scalera, colored by Dean White, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Remember a few hundred words ago when I was extolling the recent works of Rick Remender, and how his now three creator-owned books were amazing comics everyone should be reading? Well, after a brief little hiatus, Black Science is back with a vengeance with an arrive late, leave early after-igniting-a-ton-of-powder-kegs story that leaves you desperate to catch your breath as one bout of craziness follows another.

After the immense tragedy last issue, the Anarchist League of Scientists cannot catch a break. Captured by cruel reptilian beasts, it is up to an unlikely savior to prevent the team from becoming a meal for the savage race of beasts.

Where Low had me gasping in wonder at a beautiful undersea world, Black Science had me wide-eyed and madly whipping through the pages to see what happened next. Of course Scalera’s art is amazing and White’s beautifully painted art worthy of displaying proudly in your home, but it was the madness of the pacing that had me blazing through before returning for a less-frantic second reading to appreciate every bit of beauty I had unintentionally missed. This is how you begin a second story arc, not just by hitting the ground running, but by tripping and stumbling and righting yourself as you dodge lasers and arrows while ducking and then jumping onto a fish-horse. Criminy, my heart’s still racing after this one. To heighten the experience, Donist recommends that you drink plenty of coffee before reading this nerve-wracking, ball of fire. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Chew: Warrior
Chicken Poyo
Chew: Warrior Chicken Poyo - Written and lettered by John Layman, illustrated and colored by Rob Guillory, color assists by Taylor Wells, published by Image Comics. We don’t need no stinking numbers!!! This is the second one-shot focusing on the cybernetic murder-machine that is POYO!!! and by golly I hope it is not the last. If you’re ever feeling tired (me) or down (not me, all’s good today, but you get my drift) then laughter truly is the best medicine. On this particular comic, I took my medicine well in excess of the prescribed dosage and I…am…feelin’…mighty…dang…rootin’…tootin…fine!

Poyo is back and living the chicken life as he does important things. You know, like saving the President from micro-nuclear-battle-nanites, or traveling into a fantasy world to combat an evil groceryomancer hellbent on raising an army of murderous vegetable monsters. Here is the problem for all who oppose Poyo: NONE have a chance of withstanding the wrath of a chicken. Game over, jerkwads, game over.

I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before, but whatever they are feedin’ Chew’s creators that enables them to come up with this stuff, I would like to place my order and super size it to boot. I’m not joking. I was cracking up throughout this entire book. Whether I was watching Poyo eviscerate some terrorists, or reading a random sign held by some idiot on the double-page splash — or the sign on the “troll bridge” on the following page — I knew I was in for something special and I was only on page six. Then it was on to the Conan-style barbarian goodness of epic battles and mighty warriors (Dorothy and Toto?!?!) and more hilarity. If you are a fan of Chew, then this is a MUST OWN book. If you have never even cracked a peek at that fantastic series — for shame, btw — and you could use a healthy dose of hilarity in your life, then you should seek this one out. I thoroughly loved this special. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Hawkeye #19
Hawkeye #19 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by David Aja, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Chris Eliopoulos and David Aja, published by Marvel Comics. When did the last Aja issue come out? I honestly don’t remember, but I will say that I am very glad to see Hawkeye return. I’m also hoping that we don’t have to wait as long between issues for what is my favorite superhero comic.

Clint and Buddy have survived the ruthless attack by the assassin known as the Clown. As Clint decides how to deal with his possibly-permanent deafness, and Buddy how to cope with being confined to a wheelchair, they put together a plan to finally deal with the tracksuit Draculas and this Clown jerkwad.

Great pacing, a touching storyline, and an ending that made me cheer as my heroes pull their act together despite their dang-near broken bodies. Even after far-too-many months, Hawkeye is the Marvel comic I am loving the most. Even if you dropped off because of the lengthy waits, you should definitely return to this fantastic book as this issue does not miss a beat. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

East of West #14
East of West #14 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics. As Secretary Chamberlain sees his machinations begin to pay off, War, Conquest and Famine come to a consensus as to what to do with the Beast, the son of Death. Conquest’s son might have some issues with the Horsemen’s plans, as war begins.

As I say with every release, Hickman and Dragotta are playing the long game with the fantastic East of West, and they have shown, patience will be well rewarded as the more supernatural players come closer to confrontation. This is a heavy read, denizens, no mistaking that, and precious little is spoon-fed to the reader. You have to listen and pay close attention to what is happening and what is being said, as the tale unwinds. I will also say that either rereading the individual issues or binge reading this series (two trades are thus far available) might be the way to fully appreciate the intricacies of the story the creators have crafted. I continue to love this delightfully complex comic. Oh afraid, be very afraid, the horsebeast rides again. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Guardians of the Galaxy (Movie) - I’m not going to spoil anything here, other than to tell you that I thought the movie was beyond anything I could have ever hoped for. This is leaps and bounds my favorite of the Marvel movies, and that is taking into account the tremendous Avengers movie, and the the spytastically great Captain America: Winter Soldier. Starlord, Gamora, Rocket, Groot, Drax, Ronan, Nebula and everyone else were great, and I left the theater with the same feeling I had decades prior after seeing Star Wars for the first time. Now I’m plotting my second viewing, and counting the days until I can buy this funny, action-packed, touching, visual extravaganza on blu-ray. Man, I wish I was off to the theater to see it again right now. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Rush, Rush, Rush - Okay. Sorry, denizens. I just returned from a two and a half week long vacation (Big Sur, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, Los Gatos, Timber Cove, Carmel) and rolled into town mid-afternoon yesterday. I then had to put the house back together on account of some work done to the interior, and then I ran downtown to pick up a hefty stack of books. Needless to say, I have not yet read everything, so I will probably have to talk about some of the as-yet-unread titles next Friday. Sorry, about that, but I wanted to be sure I posted a little somethin’ somethin’ about what I did read and what I discovered to be most heavenly. Anyways…HEY! Where’s my copy of Lazarus?! Awwww man. Dagnabbit!


Friday, August 1, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 8/1/2014

(Sung to the tune of Loverboy’s “Everybody’s Working For the Weekend”)

Everyone’s wantin’ to read great books it’s true
How ’bout some ’80s for you? Oh
Everyone’s wonderin’ what Donist’ll say tonight
What books will he say’ll set you right

Everybody’s readin’ books this weekend
Hows about some post-apocalyptic romance
Everybody wants to go off the deep end
Hey, you gotta give these comics a real chance. Oh.

Well, denizens, it looks like ol’ Donist is still stranded. Only this time, I have access to a phone and an internet connection, but regrettably I am without the week's newest comics. This hurts, as I know there are quite a few things waiting for me in my pull. I am still joined by Donist World marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / survivalist Tulip (my Boston terrier), but our CFO Obie (Tulip’s brother, my friends’ Boston terrier) is still at the corporate office (my mom’s basement) working hard at maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company. I have instructed him to make arrangements to deliver our new books to my location, but he is not answering emails or the phone…perhaps he is “working” from home. I will say…hold on…here comes a pigeon that has dropped a little parachute with a message attached. It reads: Hey, @$$%^&*. What did you do with the key to the petty cash drawer? A puppy’s gotta eat tacos from Tom’s Taco Bus. Capiche? Get back to me. Hmmmmm…I guess I should not expect to read this week’s comics anytime soon. Oh well, thankfully, I never travel without a healthy supply of comics and trades on hand. So, without further ado, it’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Six From Sirius #1
Six From Sirius #6 - Written by Doug Moench, illustrated by Paul Gulacy, lettered by Gaspar Saladino, edited by Archie Goodwin, published by Epic Illustrated. Back when my brother and I were wee-little kiddies, we would go on the big summer trip. Whether the trip was to Tahoe, Lake Almanor, Huntington Lake, or what have you, my mom always loaded us up with comics to read on the long drives in the hope that we would not murderize each other from lack of better things to do. For the most part, her idea worked.

Now, as an adult, I still prefer to travel with a bunch of comics to read wherever I am. Although I could load up the iPad and the kindle, the nostalgia of being away from home and holding an actual comic in my hands is a feeling digital can never recreate. Digital also can’t recreate the awesome feeling of walking into a new comic book shop (Atlantis Fantasy World) and finding a few treasures in their $.50 bin, something like Six From Sirius, which I somehow missed back in ’84. Better late than never, especially on this awesome first issue.

The “Six” are intergalactic problem solvers, each with a particular specialty that they bring to the team. Their current mission is to rescue a beautiful ambassador being held on a high-security prison satellite before negotiations between two planets on the brink of war degrade any further. With a meticulously planned scheme, the Six infiltrate the satellite, but when they finally find the ambassador, they are shocked to discover that she is perfectly fine staying right where she is.

Spoiler alert—I love this timeless sci-fi comic. Each of the Six get their “moment” to shine and clue the reader into the nature of their character; this is also true of the ambassador. Yes, there are a lot of word balloons on each page — emphasis on  “a lot” — but Moench’s writing pulled me in completely by the third page. From there it is half character development and the rest is breaking into the prison and a history lesson on the strife between two planets, and a moon inhabited by spiritualists who look to be caught in the middle. Gulacy’s art (design, coloring, storytelling, linework…everything) is completely stunning, and each character is distinct, realistically brought to life on the page. In searching around the net, I read somewhere that Gulacy used markers to color this issue, and given that the book is from ’84, the quality of this entire issue is beyond impressive, especially the gorgeous, atypical-for-the-time colors, which must have been nerve wracking in the finality of the technique; digital colorists have it easy with but a quick ctrl + z.

My main problem with Six From Sirius is now that I have read the first issue, I desperately need to know what happens next. It’s kind of horrible, denizens, I combed through the bins for issues two through four, but to no avail. If I had read the issue in the store, I would have been incredibly more thorough in my desperate search for the remaining issues in this dynamic series. So, I hope to find a well-stocked comic shop in my travels, or to pick up the Dynamite reissue trade and the volume two four-issue follow up. If not, I will be ordering ALL of the issues in this must-read, timeless treasure. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slash Maraud #1
Slash Maraud #1–6 - Written by Doug Moench, illustrated by Paul Gulacy, colored by Adrienne Roy, lettered by John Costanza, published by DC Comics. How’s this for a coincidence? I pick up the amazing first issue of Six From Sirius at a store in Santa Cruz, read it, love it, and then four days later visit a comic shop in San Jose and come across a six-issue bundle ($4.00 no less!) of Slash Maraud, a mini by the exact same creators. First off, I don’t remember seeing this 1987 release at all back in the day. Not during the ’80s, and not until two and a half decades later in a bargain bin of a store I had never visited before did this gem find its way into my loving mitts. Crazy, huh? What’s not crazy is this series is a heck of a blast to read, but after just checking out Moench and Gulacy’s other awesome book, the fact that this post-apocalyptic, sci-fi thriller is a great read from start to finish is no far stretch.

Back before the arrival of the “Shapers,” brown fuzzy alien invaders bent on “shaping” the Earth to fit their own homeworld, humanity was not doing so hot. Human’s were the same ol’, disappointing, parasitic vermin who kill their own kind along with their own planet. What’s even more disappointing is the fact that when the Shapers arrived to take the planet as their own, meaning the eventual extinction of the human race, humanity did not band together to thwart their enslavers, they at best allowed them to take over, and at worst embraced their new masters. Slash Maraud couldn’t stomach the weakness of his species and vanished from the public eye…until now. Slash is back and on the hunt for his old main squeeze, Wild Blue, and to confirm the rumor that a Shaper has turned traitor and holds the key to stopping Earth’s transformation of death. But in order to begin to set things right, Slash is going to need more than a traitor and Blue…he’s going to need an army.

Dude! Radical! Okay, if you grew up in the ’80s, then you remember the onslaught of post-apocalyptic movies that were around, both good and bad. The mullets flowed, the shoulder pads jutted, the surly attitudes of our stalwart heroes alone could blacken an eye, and this series embraces it all, but most importantly, it is well-written and paced, and beautifully illustrated — although it has the more traditional style of coloring, which is cool, too. Each issue is action-packed and touches on some aspect of popular ’80s cinema through the use of sci-fi, horror, action, exploitation, train heists, nazi scumbags, and the ultimate alien threat. This series is a total kick in the pants, and greatly reminds me of a Tarrantino film, before there were Tarrantino films. I enjoyed this mini tremendously, and implore you denizens to dive into your nearest bargain bins to seek out this freakin’ fun comic. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Hellblazer Volume 1:
Original Sins
Hellblazer: Original Sins TPB Volume 1 - Written by Jamie Delano and Rick Veitch; illustrated by John Ridgeway, Bret Ewins, Jim McCarthy, Rick Veitch and Tom Mandrake; inked by Alfredo Alcala; colored by Lovern Kindzierski and Tatjana Wood; lettered by Annie Halfacree, Todd Klein and John Costanza; published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint. Since we are talking almost exclusively about the ’80s today…remember how I mentioned above that since a very young age I have always traveled with a stack of comics? Well, before I even left the house on this trip, I acquired the first three bulky trades of Hellblazer with the resolution to read all three before I set foot back in my home. It shouldn’t be a problem.

Hellblazer is one of those books I bought as the issues were being released up until about issue 12, where I regrettably dropped off the series. I suppose I could do a “Young Donist” “Current Donist” look at the first few issues of this trade, but since I didn’t stick around all that long, let me just say that although I did like the series back in the day, I appreciate it far more in 2014.

I was first introduced to John Constantine in the pages of my desert island favorite Saga of the Swamp Thing by Alan Moore, and loved the mysterious character the second his Sting-esque form walked onto the page. From there, I stumbled into the series, and enjoyed his appearance in The Sandman as well. Sadly, living and money eventually meant I had to sacrifice something, and Hellblazer was one of the casualties of the time; thank goodness, I have a lot of catching up to do.

“Original Sins” contains issues one through nine, as well as Swamp Thing numbers 76 and 77, so it is kind of a burly book, but at least it is not all that heavy as it is printed on the lighter — and arguably better — paper from the time. I have thus far only read issues one through four of this chilling horror series that is soon to become a television show called Constantine, which I will definitely be checking out come fall. If you like scary subject matter centered around a protagonist who is kind of an a_hole, along with demons, and evil, and possession, and the struggles of heaven and hell, then this is completely the book for you. Yes, I have not yet finished this first volume, but I can whole-heartedly say you have nothing to fear by picking up this awesome series in this reasonably priced format. I know I will eventually be buying each volume of this series in relatively short order. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Keeping It Positive…Y'Know, Chillin’ - Yeah, keeping things happy this week, plus I actually have to hit the road here in short order in order to prevent Obie from tracking me down and guilting me into divulging the location of the petty cash box key. You, denizens, have the mission of acquiring great comics of the ’80s this month, primarily the Moench and Gulacy books I spoke about up top. If you can’t find any, then your secondary mission is to assimilate as many post-apocalyptic ’80s movies (good and bad) as you can possibly find. Peace be with you. Good luck.