Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 9/19/2014

(Sung to the tune of Electronic’s “Getting Away With It”)

I’ve been thinking ’bout my books
Freaking myself out on purpose
The Private Eye’s on my mind
Would internet-free life be worse?
I’ve been reading great comic books all my life
(Reading great books)

However I look, it’s clear to see
Deadly Class is intriguing
However I look, it’s clear to see
Ellis’s Trees has sure hooked me

Over two decades old, and I still really love that song. Hello there, Donist World denizens! I’m back with our CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / getting-away-with-it specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister) and we are trying to pull our collective acts together after this stoopidly hot heatwave. You see, even from the safety of our glorious corporate office (my mom’s non-air-conditioned basement) the heat was still getting to us…then we had to go home. Tulip and I sleep upstairs in a room with vaulted ceilings, a weak fan, and not much air circulation; it was miserable. Needless to say, neither of us slept at all for three whole nights. Obie tells us that at his “crib” (his words) it was so hot he snuck out of his crate, dumped all the ice from the ice cube trays onto the floor, placed a towel over them, and slept like a baby. Of course, now he’s grounded because of the two grand worth of water damage he caused to my friends’ hardwood floor. But whatchagonnado? It was hot. Thankfully, today is much cooler, so to celebrate we’re going to pause our efforts in maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company, and we’re heading out for walk-’n’-talk meeting followed by a trip to the taco truck…my treat. So, grab a cold beverage of your liking and have a look at this week’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Private Eye #8
The Private Eye #8 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Marcos Martin, colored by Muntsa Vicente, published by Panel Syndicate. I love stories that have the whole this-is-a-look-at-the-world-that-might-be feel to them. Or rather, I love those types of stories until such a point that the writer’s fiction starts to transition toward reality. Such is the case with Rucka and Lark’s frightening Lazarus, and, of course, with Vaughan and Martin’s amazing The Private Eye. 

A severely-wounded DeGuerre and the ever-subdued Nebular are poised to see the fruits of their brutal labor, as they prepare to launch their satellite into orbit and tear down the privacy of the world in their bid to restore the flow of information; the internet might soon live again! P.I., however, could care less. All he wants is to get back his seen-better-days sidekick, Melanie, who just so happens to be in DeGuerre and Nebular’s custody. As the clock ticks on the restoration of the internet, so does the time left for Melanie’s life…the girl’s sharp, cruel tongue looks to hasten her demise.

You know what, denizens? I love this dang comic. This donation-only-(this-includes-free!) comic is so good, so thought-provoking, you will gladly kick down a couple bucks to the creators. Then, if you are like me, you’ll even throw in an extra dollar or two, because you are all giddy from that email that just informed you a new issue has become available. The amazing — and frightening — aspect of this comic is that it centers on a world where the privacy we thought a life in the cloud afforded us all, eroded in one fell swoop exposing everyone’s secrets, big and small; lesser versions of this actually happen all too often (see “Slice Into the Woods” below). If that wasn’t enough, the creators throw other glimpses of other worrisome concerns at us, such as global warming (aka SCIENCE! to all climate denying, dum-dums out there), and although what we see at the wall might be exaggerated (possibly not…again, SCIENCE!) it is shocking.

Vaughan and Martin are not completely one-sided in their depiction of a world without internet. Even the morally-reprehensible character of DeGuerre makes some very valid points concerning the flow of information, and how knowledge should be made available. But then, so does the battered and bruised character, Melanie. The funny thing is the creators keep saying they will never put The Private Eye into any sort of tangible form of print, which is a brilliant comment regarding what would happen to this very work if the events leading to the creation of their world actually did occur. Yes, maybe Martin actually used art boards when drawing each page, but the lettering would see different positioning, and thus the work as we originally saw it would be gone forever; if Martin illustrated digitally, this book would be lost along with the web. It’s crazy to think about.

Oh, yeah, the story and art are as tremendous as ever…in case you didn’t gather that from prior reviews.

The Private Eye always gets me thinking, but this is after I read each issue. During each read, however, I am swept away with this roller coaster ride of excitement. Brilliant writing and illustrations have made this “book” a Donist World darling  ever since the first issue, and this unbelievably compelling story leaves me frothing at the mouth for the final two issues. DANG! I cannot wait to see what happens next. Please support these amazing creators so we continue to benefit from the exceptional quality of their work…at least until the internet implodes. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Deadly Class #7
Deadly Class #7 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, colored by Lee Loughridge, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. After a brief hiatus, Deadly Class returns for its second arc. Remender is on a creator-owned roll with three tremendous titles currently seeing release (Black Science and Low are the other two must-read titles), and this is in addition to his well-received Marvel work, and his robust history that includes the phenomenal Fear Agent. After reading this issue of Deadly Class, the guy does not appear to be slowing down in the slightest…thank goodness for us.

Young love is in the air…as well as all the jealousy, doubt, and wandering eyes that go along with it. Also in the air is Marcus and his friends’ worry as to what He did with Chico’s body. Like Marcus, He has a family of his very own, all of whom are nearly as ruthless and terrifying as He. Meanwhile, someone close is not what he seems.

How’s that for vague? Removing the whole school-of-assassins aspect of the story, Remender perfectly captures the rush, the confusion, the conflicting emotions of young love. He mixes in the feelings of belonging for some, while not belonging for others, as he tackles the subject of depression and the tenacious grip it maintains on so very many. The lives of each character in Deadly Class are so richly steeped in reality, that you don’t even flinch when the fantastical elements of the murdered psychopath Chico, or He, or adolescents belonging to a school dedicated to killing arise. Through Remender’s characterization, dialogue, and intentionally chaotic thoughts via the captions, it’s all too easy to remember the tumultuous experience of being Marcus’s age — minus the assassinationing (deliberate word choice here, denizens), of course.

Craig’s art continues to be simply stunning. High-panel-density pages are the norm, and each and every one adds to the drama and escalation of the page to the point that when you come across a page with four or fewer panels, you are rattled by the transition; this is by design, something pivotal has just occurred. Craig’s character acting tells you most everything you need to know about a character and a scene, with the exception of the enigmatic Saya and the massively-scarred He (you can read His actual name in the book). Pushing the mood of Craig’s art is Loughride’s primarily analogous coloring scheme which does so much, with so little. Although there is little rendering, the mood and the storytelling skills delivered by his color palette are unmistakable.

I rarely mention letterers, it is the “invisible” art after all, but Wooton expertly steers a reader through the occasional dialogue-dense scenes without breaking the flow of the story. This is not an easy thing to do — I know — but Wooton makes keeping the eye moving through the story seem effortless to the point that most readers will fail to notice any of the word balloons.

So, yes, a couple months off, and Deadly Class does not miss a beat. This excellent title succeeds in capturing the chaos of youth, while mixing in a compelling story that is certain to appeal to mature readers who want something more than the usual capes and tights fare. Now is the time to jump on, as you can pick up the first trade (contains issues 1–6) for only $9.99 retail, and with this fantastic issue you will be all caught up on yet another great Remender comic. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Trees #5
Trees #5 - Written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Jason Howard, lettered by Fonografiks, published by Image Comics. Most of the characters and locations since the first issue appear in some capacity as the trees continue to do nothing…or so it seems. Some try to spur the trees to action, one realizes his purpose as peace collapses, another’s potential is appreciated, as something shocking transpires in the frozen north.

If any of the above makes sense, then good…that’s really about all I can tell you about what transpires in this issue. This is not because I want to avoid spoiling anything, but rather because I really couldn’t tell you much more than that; anything else is beyond this Donist’s feeble mind to comprehend. That’s okay, though, I’m enjoying these glimpses into different parts of the world and the people who live in those places. This is a comic more about human nature, as opposed to the alien trees. So much so, we never even saw the trees’ arrival on Earth, we only see —thus far — humanity acting in its myriad of ways, regardless of whether or not that world includes the trees.

Howard’s artwork is as strong as ever, with his command of character acting and coloring driving the impact of every scene. One thing I can glean from Howard’s tremendous art is that this issue signals the beginning of many things to come, as indicated by varying color schemes, and the subtleties within each panel. Whatever is in store for us, I’ll be there to see it happen…I can’t wait. RECOMMENDED!

Supreme Blue Rose #3
Supreme: Blue Rose #3 - Written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Tula Lotay, lettered by Richard Starkings, designed by John Roshell, published by Image Comics. Diana Dane continues her search for Ethan Crane…the blue rose that does not, and should not, exist. She is also being paid an incredible amount of money to do so by billionaire Darius Dax. As she rides in a limousine with some…uh…guy who just appeared there for no reason, he informs Diana that she is on a road that is 250,000 miles long and has taken countless lifetimes to traverse. Then…ummmm <cough, cough> a television show about someone called Professor Night means something or other, as (dang…I’m dyin’ over here) a hot redhead with cleavage molecules appears at a bar at Dax’s complex, a bar that doesn’t exist (what?!). Then...crud…a blue guy talks about something and an African-American Albert Einstein in a cool spacesuit steps out of a wrecked army medical vehicle (don’t text and drive, denizens!). Ummm…yup, that sure is what happened, alrighty.

I feel dumb.

What the heck? Even after writing down only what I see — the words kinda make things more crazy-complex — I feel the need to give my poor brain a break with some Rich Mean Housewives Who Dance While There Are Stars-a-Boo-Boo, just to make myself feel semi-intelligent again. So, no idea what’s going on, but I’m looking at this as a freakin’ challenge.

When the first story arc wraps, I’m going to detox from bad foods, beer, caffeine, and television for a good week. During that time, I will engage in some long runs, yoga, and meditation, while helping woodland animals. Then, and only then, will I light 44 candles in my Fortress of Donistude and reread each issue straight through. This will be no mere reading, but an osmosis of comprehension from the Ellisplane to the new pocket universe of my own making. That should help things make sense.

All joking aside — am I joking? — I still like this comic…whatever it is. Lotay’s artwork is stunning, magical, especially when depicting the gorgeous women…doubly so for those with molecule cleavage. The coloring on every page is jaw-dropping beauty that makes me wonder how she achieved the various effects she utilizes. The rainbow of squiggles that flow through panels and gutters and out into the bleed add to the visual delight of this book as well.

I ain’t going to lie to you, denizens, this is varsity-level comic booking. There are no capes and tights or cheerful, light-hearted moments, and things might not (yet) make sense, but my love of the creators will keep me coming back to see if I can figure out what is going on. So, if you want something truly not like anything else on the stands, then do some jumping jacks, some pushups, and give Supreme Blue Rose a read. Let me know what’s going on if you figure it out. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Crud…I Forgot Satellite Sam #10 - Darn. Add that to the list of missing Image comics, alongside God Hates Astronauts #1 and Lazarus #10. Dang.

The Private Eye Got Me Thinkin’ (Oh No) - You remember what just happened a couple weeks ago? Some…not a very nice person(s)…shattered many female actresses’ perceived privacy by releasing countless nude photos of them on a methodically scheduled basis for all the world to see. In a sense, a small-scale version of The Private Eye played out right in front of our faces. This could have happened to you, it could have happened to me. (Un)fortunately, I don’t think I’m pretty enough to get this sort of treatment, but please know, denizens, I have been working out. Sadly, this is the world we now live in, the world of cloud computing, our “private” lives stored in cyber space even when we don’t know our camera / phone is placing that info up deep into the interwebs. We are practically told to change all of our passwords on a quarterly basis as passwords and personal information are routinely pilfered from any number of websites. Not only that, we now live in the age of services versus ownership, where computer software — I am specifically calling out Adobe here — is now rented to us with the only set of keys belonging solely to the company as handed down through an internet connection (which other companies are attempting prioritize based on $$$s); if the internet goes down, so does your access to those programs. It’s a scary world where nothing is private and we own less and less and less. If the internet ever goes down hard with all of our juiciest secrets up for grabs, just remember that Vaughan and Martin’s The Private Eye told you so.


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