Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Slice Of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 2/12/2015

(Sung to The Cure’s “Catch”)

So lend ear towards new books I kind of love
Some groovy ones you need to know
Yeah The Sixth Gun’s end indeed draws closer
I sure don’t want to see it go

You know Rachel Rising might be great for you
That dead dame’s been through hell it’s not fair
With sports I roll my eyes up to heaven
Yet Southern Bastards makes me care

These books make me fall in love by gosh
I can’t help but keep falling again and again
And there’s still one more to read, have no fear
Satellite Sam’s back top of game

Hello there, denizens, and welcome back to Donist World. I’m Donist, and we’re joined as ever by CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / head nurse of medicine disbursement Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). I’ve been sick this week and had to resort to taking some NySwill anti-cough, knock-yo’-butt-into-next-Tuesday cold medicine last night, so I don’t really know what the heck is going on or in what plane of existence I’m actually residing at this moment. What I do know is that Obie, thankfully, is leaving me alone with his “Full-Contact Management” nonsense, and instead has used his new techniques to hammer one of the comic distributors (yeah, we all know there’s only one) into being sure all of our comics arrived on time this week. Historically, for whatever reason, there has been a higher probability of any comics beginning with R or S, being mis-shipped and delayed for at least two weeks. I would say that 5–10% of the time this occurs, and it just so happens that this week’s comics were only comics beginning with R or S. So, thank you, Obie, for getting on the horn and letting that distributor know that we suffer no…hold on…Tulip’s whispering something in my ear. Okay, it turns out that Obie was not on the phone yelling at the distributor, earlier this week, he was actually yelling at the burrito joint about holding the sour cream on his order — he just said he was securing our weekly comics. Hmmmmmm…well, we got them all anyways and that is what matters. So, while I re-up on my coffee, and try to get back down to Earth, rise up towards all things heavenly with…

Friday Slice Of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Sixth Gun #46
The Sixth Gun #46 – 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. With Screaming Crow’s spirit dispersed, the great thunderbirds have gone mad, lashing out at everything in their path as the tempest rages on. Griselda the Gray Witch and Jesup have used the six guns to break the damnable seal and they head downward to forever alter the world. Meanwhile, Becky and Drake have snakemen, wild thunderbirds, and a flood to occupy their time.

This issue is one heck of an adventurous blast. The issue opens as Griselda and Jesup succeed in placing the final gun upon the seal. Drake and Becky have failed…and you hold your breath as you turn the page. From that moment on, Bunn and Hurtt refuse to let you catch that breath as thunderbirds rampage, snakemen descend, and Drake and Becky struggle to stay above water as a town dies. The tension never really lets up until the very end with a surprise guest who made me cheer. Still, the good guys are totally hosed, and I was left desperately wishing for another 20–40 pages since my adrenaline was in overdrive; no matter how long the wait for next issue, it’s going to be a brutal one.

Save for a couple of pages, the creators use high panel counts to keep the tension high and to make each sequence all the more dire. The scenes with Drake moving from house to house and from level to level had the feel of an Indian Jones movie as the hero barely squeaks by with his hide intact as enemies come at him from every direction. The same is true for Becky as she struggles to stay alive despite all hope being lost. Each character’s fight had me eagerly flipping through to see what happened next, and despite being nerve-wracking, I enjoyed every page.

This issue is yet another example of Hurtt’s storytelling prowess, as your eye flows through each panel and your mind fills in the unseen actions in-between. The character acting is as wonderful as ever, with great scenes of snakemen losing their bravado when faced with Drake, as well as when Becky flashes a smile just before Drake panics over what lurks behind her.

The artwork alone is beautiful, but Crabtree’s colors make the book shine. Because of the rain and the flood, most of the book is set to cool color tones, but near the issue end, the blast of red with flowing blue lines (not going to spoil exactly what is going on) has a shocking similarity to blood and veins on a gorgeous full-page spread.

The Sixth Gun is rapidly approaching its end with what I believe to be only this chapter and the next (?) remaining. Now is not the time to jump in. If you have been reading this comic since the beginning, then you already know how great this supernatural Western with a The Lord Of the Rings vibe continues to be. If you have not been reading The Sixth Gun — despite my continuously telling you to read this exceptional comic, I might add — then you really need to start at the beginning with the first trade and move on from there…you'll be glad you did. This thrilling roller coaster ride of an issue comes VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Rachel Rising #31
Rachel Rising #31 – Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. A grisly find on a long, lonely stretch of road gives Aunt Johnny cause for concern. Rachel died…again…but this time she sees “the stream of life” and gains the address of her killer from the ghost of one of his previous victims. She also envisions Zoe’s fate five years in the future, and it is not a good one.

Rachel Rising has been moving at a slow, steady pace for the past couple of issues, but that changes as we (maybe) learn the identity — or at least find the residence — of Rachel’s killer. We also see Aunt Johnny — one of my favorite characters in the series — at work and discovering a horrific murder that makes me very curious to see how it ties into Rachel’s search for her own killer.

Even though the story is fantastic, Moore’s greatest success with each issue of this series is his ability to make you love his characters. A child with the soul of a serial killer and in possession of Lucifer’s sword? Fine by me, Zoe is one of my favorite characters. A slightly unbalanced mortician who talks to her subjects, and was once poisoned, and had her soul placed into a dog before being brought back from the brink of death? As I said before, Aunt Johnny is one of my favorite characters. Of course you have Rachel and Jet — the dead girls — who are fascinating in their extremely different personalities. Moore’s art only makes you love each character all the more, which can even be said of some of the past villains like Lilith and Malus.

Every panel of Moore’s work is beautiful to such an extent that even the rain falling on a two-lane road is something to linger over and enjoy. Or the lovely falling leaves as Rachel and the spirit girl stare at a murderer’s property. Every character is a work of dramatic, expressive art, and the same can be said of even the mundane background elements that set the mood of the scene. Moore is a master writer / artist, a rare thing nowadays, and each of his creator-owned books is worthy of all praise given.

This cover is also my favorite to date.

If you are not reading this book, then I implore you to do so. Moore is a solo act on this series, he does it all, including publishing it on his own. Every issue and every trade sale goes to ensuring we continue to experience this awesome horror comic. Rachel Rising is always one of my most anticipated reads, and I look forward to rereading the five trades in the near future. I actually double dip on this one, denizens, as I read issues, and my wife reads the collections, and we are glad to give a little extra boost to a creator we adore. Face, it, you owe it to yourself to be reading this dang-fine comic. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Southern Bastards #7
Southern Bastards #7 – Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated by Jason Latour, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. After Euless Boss got his foot shot as a result of his no good, rotten-to-the-core daddy’s illicit activities, one would think the boy had given up on football…not so. In fact, even before he is fully healed, Boss is on the field giving it his all. With the instruction of blind Big, Boss might have a chance of seeing his dreams made real. Unfortunately, carrying the name “Boss” carries a helluva lot of weight.

As I have said before, I do not like football, and after issue four of this fantastic series, I sure as heck hated — and I mean hated — Coach Euless Boss. Now, I still have little to no love for the sport, but the creators are succeeding in turning me around on Coach Boss. This is kind of insane, as Euless is a deplorable character in the present, but now that we’ve taken a look at his youth and seen the household he’s grown up in…let’s just say the wicked son of a gun looks to have good reason for being the way he is. Criminy, his life was awful, and therein lies the extraordinary talent of these creators, who have made a sport I dislike and the culture behind it fascinating, while at the same time making me sympathize with the murderous Coach Boss. Heck, I still have a hard time believing it. Even more crazy…I want more: more of Boss’s past, and more of the game and its effect on the town of Craw County, Alabama.

What’s different with this issue from the previous two, is that we stay completely within the red-toned, yellowed paper of the past, with not a glimpse of Boss’s present. This is not a bad thing, just something I noticed, and given how much there is to tell of this character’s history, it was precisely the right way to go with this issue. I loved seeing Euless stand up to his father, and excel in the game as each victory brought an even greater crushing blow that made me wince…again, for a character I completely hated.

Aaron’s dialogue is great and Latour’s art jaw-dropping in its harsh beauty. The cover alone is something I could see blown up and hanging on my wall as blind Big looks into the night sky and where he once saw stars, now he only sees football plays. What the heck has come over me? I’m stoked about a sport, and that is something that never happens — except when two truly gifted creators are able to actually make me care.

With a name like Southern Bastards, do you have any doubt that the comic itself will be anything less than kinda harsh? Even if you hate football, or sports in general, this is a book that should not be missed. Just be ready to get angry, real angry, by the end of the first trade. If any creators capable of making you care when you didn’t, sympathize for someone you hated, or excited to see what happens next, then something truly amazing is happening within the pages of their fine book. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Satellite Sam #11
Satellite Sam #11 – Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Howard Chaykin, lettering and logo by Ken Bruzenak, digital production by Calvin Nye (thanks to Dean Parks), designed by Drew Gill, edited by Thomas K, published by Image Comics. Michael and Kara in bed together? Libby forced off the road and left for dead? Blackmail? Klan problemes? Multiple non-conventional marriage arrangements set to implode? Backstabbing at the studio? All that and Dick only just recently died. Things can only go downhill from here.

Satellite Sam has been on hiatus for a while, but the creators waste little time in bringing readers back up to speed with the informative roll call page, just before we awaken alongside the hero of the show. The cast of characters is huge in this series, and it honestly took me a while near the beginning to keep them all straight, but once I figured out who was who, I’ve been transfixed by this book ever since. Satellite Sam can be compared to a darker, more dysfunctional sibling of Mad Men, only with more adult-style themes (i.e. more explicit S-E-X), but like that television show, this comic is not for everyone. There are no superheroes, no fantastical elements, it is straight up reality perfectly set in the early’50s. Fraction has brilliantly written and researched this tale, requiring you to have your thinking cap fit tightly upon your head, and that you are nowhere near the state of mind of the series’s main character, Michael White.

Chaykin’s art is gorgeous and dramatic and his storytelling without compare, with the jaw-dropping shading of crosshatching and halftone dots used throughout the book providing amazing depth to all the characters — mere description cannot do his art service, you have to see it. Then there are the intricate background and clothing patterns like the wood grain in a headboard, or the details of a rug or the titles of books, or the label of a pack of cigarettes, or the checkerboard floor of a diner: it’s all stunning. Everything written and every visualization deserves to be lingered over, making this one beautiful black and white comic.

We are in the final arc of Satellite Sam, and although I did not expect the story to last for many years, I will be sad to see it go. As I mentioned above, this smart, risque series will not be for everyone, but those up to the challenge are sure to be wowed once they get into the groove of things. If you have not been reading Satellite Sam, then by bejeebus do not jump on in the middle. Start with the first ridiculously inexpensive $9.99 trade that covers the first five issues, and proceed from there to the second, and then read this issue. You need to devote the time to the world, the characters, and the multifaceted story Fraction and Chaykin have masterfully built. I cannot wait to reread this series from the beginning once it all wraps. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

This Stupid Cold - It seems everyone has it. The kids at Amy’s school are dropping like flies, my publication design teacher had it, and I had barely recovered enough to make it to class as well. Yuck. So that makes it two illnesses thus far in 2015 for this Donist, and we are not even halfway through the second month. I probably should not have boasted near the end of 2014 to a friend that I had not been sick for nearly three years…I totally jinxed it. Drink plenty of liquids, and get plenty of sleep, denizens, and possibly lock yourselves in a self-contained, human-sized, hamster ball…you don’t want this.


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