Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 11/21/2014

(Sung to the tune of Prince’s “When You Were Mine”)

Read Deadly Class
It’s worth a bit of your money
It is sublime
You can’t go wrong

She-Hulk’s a scream
Tell all your friends that it is a treat
The Technopriests’s so strange
Jodorowsky sci-fi awesomeness that’s sure neat

Oh girl, comics so fine
Tons of good books only heaven knows
Give ’em your time
Maybe that’s the reason
Gotta tell you so

Hi there denizens! Welcome back to Donist World. I am joined by CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / Kindle expert Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). I have to admit to you all that we are collectively feeling a bit surly this week, so we’ll keep this brief, lest we snap at anyone. As it is, none of us are really talking all that much to each other, instead we are working away at maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company and truth be told…doing the I’m-so-tired-I-could-pass-out head bob at our respective desks here at the corporate office (my mom’s basement). The unfortunate thing is our tower of unread comic books are teetering in the corner and we are too exhausted to read them right now, yet the coffee (the second attempt after the first spilled everywhere…grrrrrrr) has jacked us up beyond being able to sleep. We call this state of being “the void of irritability,” which does not make sense, since a void encapsulates absolute nothingness, but just go with this being a void that contains nothing other than irritability. Dang, now I’m confusing myself.

Anyways, before we get to all things heavenly, I need to clarify something about the all-ages book I just released through for the Kindle. I ran into a friend at the store and in catching up told her about my new book Kibbles ’N’ Bots. She was excited to read it, but when she learned that it is thus far only available digitally on the Kindle, she was sad to say that she could not read it because she does not own a Kindle. Here’s the thing: you don’t need to own a Kindle device to read my book. If you have a Smartphone (iPhone, Android, Google phone, etc.), or you own a tablet (iPad, Surface, Nexus, etc.), or own a personal computer, then you are set. All you have to do is install the FREE Kindle App for your Smartphones or tablets, or download the free Kindle Reader on your computer. You can read the details here. It’s as simple as that! If you can, help me out and buy my $2.99 ebook (or free from Kindle Unlimited and Lending Library), and get a fun read about a comic-book-inspired Boston terrier puppy with superpowers fighting off a robot menace. In short, the book stars none other than Tulip and Obie as puppies! I hope you give it a chance. And now…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Deadly Class #9
Deadly Class #9 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, Colored by Lee Loughridge, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Even if Deadly Class was not the only comic in my pull this week, it is pretty safe to say it would have been one of my favorite new books of the week. Remender has been on a creator-owned tear over the past year with this title, Black Science, and my favorite of the exceptional bunch, Low. All three comic series are showcases in compelling storytelling, exceptional visuals, and top-notch production. All three series are works of art worthy of displaying on your best book shelf, not to mention using as possible entry points into the world of comics for your more mature friends — these titles are not for the kiddies. The thing is…if you’ve been reading Deadly Class, then you have most likely already read this issue and loved it. Heck, it was probably the first comic you read from this week’s comics haul.

A flashback of Maria’s past. A modern display of her prowess as a ruthless assassin. A glimpse of a young woman falling apart at the seams. Marcus has tried to be a caring boyfriend, but a few other things weigh heavily on his mind: finding Chester and putting him permanently in the dirt; the mysterious-but-beautiful Saya. If Maria finds out about her boyfriend's wandering eye things will get ugly fast.

We have been back at the King’s Dominion High School for the Deadly Arts for a couple of issues now, and little has progressed in the hunt for Marcus’s nemesis, Chester. This is fine. Instead, we have spent issues 7–9 discovering more about Marcus’s messed up past, learned a little about Maria’s brutal history, and were introduced to a new student while being reintroduced to a few of the personalities on campus. That said, Marcus and his gang are poised to take all the skills they possess and descend upon Chester and his group of inbred murderers, and hopefully gain control of the long-dead Chico’s body. The way Remender has set up the emotional entanglements among Marcus, Maria, and Saya, I have a strong feeling the assault will become…complicated, which is part of the allure of this title.

The Craig and Loughridge art and color team are as visually strong as ever with this issue, but it is the Maria flashback sequence from the first seven pages that are the most stunning. I paused on each panel and went back twice to see the progression from one to the next and the emotional power given through the weight of the colors. It’s all rather phenomenal and simply needs to be seen. There are also some great character designs at work: the old man dressed all in white who throws fire, the mountainous preacher, the boy, and El Alma del Diablo (or “The Soul of the Devil”) are all striking characters I hope to see back some day. There are some fantastic knockout panels with the fire effects, but it is pages six and seven where we see what happened to Maria’s father and we catch a glimpse into Maria’s terrible fate where the artists truly shine. Loughridge throws down a primarily monochromatic orange coloring scheme with the complementary purple of the sky being the exception that thrusts the imagery off the page. Craig adds to the effect of his already stunning line work by intermixing standard background gutters and roughly painted gutters that partially break up what we are seeing. The final three panels on page seven call back to the beauty of issue six’s concluding full-page splash. Again, you really need to see each page to believe it.

There are other stunning moments in the book like when Maria takes down Viktor, and when Marcus and Saya are slam dancing at the club (beautiful analogous color schemes, btw), but having striking art throughout the book comes standard in an issue of Deadly Class, as does the engrossing story. But, again, if you read this comic, you already know all of this. If not, then by golly, what is the hold up?! You can easily catch up with the first Deadly Class TPB, which is only $9.99 retail and contains the first six issues, meaning you only have three issues after that to be fully caught up. Then, denizens, you will be in the sad/joyous boat the rest of us are in…eagerly anticipating the next heavenly issue. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

She-Hulk #1
She-Hulk #1–3 - Written by Charles Soule, illustrated by Javier Pulido, colored by Muntsa Vicente, lettered by Clayton Cowles (Hey! I know this guy!), published by Marvel Comics. Here’s the deal, denizens: I am only buying one comic apiece from the Big Two these days. For Marvel, that comic is Hawkeye (can you really count this one as buying given the massive delays?) from Marvel and Swamp Thing from DC. Now, this is not a statement that I hate either of these publishers — nothing is further from the truth — I just needed a break from the tights and punching and crazy superhero stuff that’s been going on for a while now. My tastes are currently geared more toward the sci-fi, the drama, the horror, and the fantasy versus the “Zounds!” and the “never fear…I’ll save you!” and the events. The thing is, sometimes great books happen at the Big Two when you aren’t looking. There are titles out there greatly deserving of your attention that might get obscured by the razzle dazzle of the multitudes of other titles. This is true of Avengers Arena, Superior Foes of Spider-Man, and now the awesome She-Hulk. 

Jennifer Walters is known to the world as She-Hulk: beautiful, strong, fierce. To a lesser degree, she is an attorney, and a dang-fine attorney at that. But when the law firm that employs her threatens to fire her if she does not bring in any of her rich superhero friends on as clients, she does what anyone who has been insulted to the core of their being does: she quits. Now with her own law firm and a fresh start, she has no clients, that is until a woman shows up with a grievance against none other than Tony Stark. Then, with friends like Patsy Walker (a superhero) and another new client who happens to be the son of one of the world’s most dastardly villains, it will take the soul and determination of a hero to enact the letter of the law.

A good friend of mine sent me these three issues out of the blue and I was in love with the series after the first couple pages of the first issue. As I said, I was a little tired of straight-up superheroics and heroes and villains wailing on each other, and to be honest, there is a bit of that in each of the three issues, but those instances are an afterthought to show the ridiculous nature of a particular situation. What I mean by this is that you have Jennifer Walters, aka the She-Hulk, professionally dressed, trying to do good by utilizing the law. She is gorgeous, green, something like seven-feet tall, and can toss a car across the city, but she is there to help in ways beyond her fists and it shows in Soule’s writing and Pulido’s art. From what I’ve read and heard through interviews, Soule’s secret identity is that of a practicing attorney, thus bringing a level of authenticity and expertise to this title. I, on the other hand, have just come off a summer-long, binge fest of the first five seasons of the phenomenal The Good Wife, a series about a woman who returns to practicing law after more than a decade-long absence following a scandal that landed her husband in prison — btw, every episode of this series, and I mean every episodeis expertly crafted. So, coming off The Good Wife and its look at the world of law, I was left hungry for additional intelligent legal dramas, which made She-Hulk a complete no-brainer for me.

This series knows what it is talking about concerning the the legal system, with cases that could potentially happen in a world where superheroes exist. It also does not take itself too seriously as evidenced by Walters leaving her house dressed for work, only to return home with her expensive clothing shredded after getting into a fight with some robots. Practicing law and protecting citizens physically merge beautifully in this series, leaving me with many words to describe this title, of which I will center on one. It is a word I so rarely use when referring to modern comic books, but dagnabbit, denizens, I’m a gonna say it. Fun. She-Hulk is positively fun, and the only disappointment is that I only have these three issues and not the rest, which I anticipate seeking out this week if I can swing by a comic shop Ventura.

Actually, I lied. There is one other disappointing thing about She-Hulk. This comic is not like Marvel’s other titles, and that probably has something to do with why I enjoyed it so much. Unfortunately, it is probably why it is being cancelled after issue 12 (I believe that is the last issue). This is a bummer, but do not let that dissuade you from seeking out the first trade or the individual issues on this one. If you like legal dramas, superheroes, and/or having a good time, then She-Hulk is something you need to check out. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Technopriests:
Supreme Collection HC
The Technopriests: Supreme Collection HC - Written by Alexandro Jodorowsky, illustrated by Zoran Janjatov, colored by Fred Beltran, designed by Jerry Frissen, edited by Alex Donoghue, published by Humanoids, Inc. I just realized that I never wrote a followup to the first half of the review for The Metabarons: Ultimate Collection (which I believe is unfortunately out of print for a little while) that I wrote about here earlier this year in February. I have three words for both the final half of the book and the book as a whole: VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! The strength of that book coupled with my viewing of the brilliant Jodorowsky’s Dune documentary (MUST viewing for all sci-fi fans, and doggonit I wish his movie had been made, what a spectacle it would have been) left me scrambling to get The Technopriests: Supreme Collection HC in my hands before it too went temporarily out of print. Let me tell you, I made the right decision. Oh yeah, neither of these books are for the kiddies and should be for mature readers only.

Supreme Technopriest Albino has led his 500,000 young technopriests across many galaxies and through scores of deadly situations in the hopes of founding a “new society in which healthy human relationships will be valued more highly than scientific advances”; he is nearly there. As he travels, he recounts to his trusted friend, Tinigrifi, a highly intelligent mouse-like creature, the story of his life. It is a story about the terrible raping of his mother, Panepha, and the three children born from that violation: the white-skinned Albino (brilliant, but ignored by Panepha), the grey-skinned Almagro (cruel and doted upon by his mother), and Onyx (a red-skinned girl with four arms despised by Panepha). When Albino pleads with his mother to send him off to become an exalted video game creator for the Technoguild, Panepha is only too happy to be rid of the boy. Thus begins a long history of learning, living, overcoming great adversity, revenge, forgiveness, life, death, and enlightenment with Albino existing at the center of it all.

Jodorowsky is quite possibly insane. That said, I will have seconds, thirds, and most assuredly dessert of whatever the man happens to be serving. Holy moly! This book is almost as wild as The Metabarons, and I mean that to be the highest of praise. I thoroughly enjoyed this epic sci-fi that spans countless years and sets our protagonists against giant snakes, one-eyed horrors, terrifying religi-corporations, techno-assassins, misunderstood aliens, woman-faced cat monsters, and even themselves, which barely scratches the surface of all that transpires within the pages of this 406-page tome. I also believe that portions of the story contain bits and pieces of Jodorowsky’s original vision for his unmade Dune film, with some of the main themes of the book originating from his frustrating dealings with Hollywood, coupled with his thoughts on the video game industry; thus the mantra of a “new society in which healthy human relationships will be valued more highly than scientific advances.”

For the visual elements of the story, Janjatov’s line work coupled with Beltran’s ridiculously gorgeous painted imagery deliver stunning visuals that make every page…no…every panel of this book a work of art. Just have a look at the profile of the aged Albino on the cover and see every wrinkle and hard line of his face, the upturned collar of his coat, and the floating glass helmet topping his head to see what I mean. Yet there is so much more. The fascinating character designs, the intricate backgrounds, the drama, and the storytelling all scream creativity, uniqueness, and one heck of a captivating read.

The Technopriests originally appeared in a French comics magazine, and unlike most American comics, which can be plagued by deadlines requiring noticeable shortcuts (many artists, many inkers, etc.), an inhuman amount of detail was spent on every portion of this great comic mini-series. Topping off the amazing amounts of time and energy the creators clearly bled into every step of The Technopriests, Humanoids continues the process by releasing yet another impeccably designed book. Everything from the glossy cover, to the matte title block, to the typography on the cover and the spine, to color choice, to the introduction, to the greatly-appreciated black ribbon marker, to the tiny matter of the page numeration make this book worthy of display. Knowing what is contained between the front and back cover of this phenomenal work of art demands that this graphic novel be on your best book shelf of literary and comic treasures. Now I need to finally get ahold of The Incal, and Before the Incal and I should be all set. The Technopriests is exactly the sci-fi fix I needed, and is something both comic fans and comic creators need to experience for themselves. Another masterpiece. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Keeping Positive - An week-long lack of proper sleep, closing in on finishing up my Graphic Design I and Digital Imagery classes, preparing to promote Kibbles ’N’ Bots, celebrating Amy’s birthday, preparing for Thanksgiving holiday, and preparing to reenter the work force has all left me with not enough time to worry about things that upset me (outside of She-Hulk getting canceled). Let’s take a deep breath, chill out with the awesome new Kingdom Rush: Origins game, and maybe catch a nap. Have a great weekend and week, denizens.


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