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.


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