Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 3/20/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven

Welcome back, Donist World denizens! I’m joined as ever by CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / coding therapist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). It’s a slow week on the comic book front, as we only had one book in our pull, but that does not mean we were lacking in stuff to read…we actually had to postpone one exceptional Image trade for another day, but never fear, we’ll get to it soon enough. I’m actually rather appreciative of the timing of this smaller week as I’m going to be mostly off-the-grid for a few days, and I have to figure out some perplexing stuff for one of my graphic design classes while I’m traveling…ugh. Anyway, Obie and Tulip are shaking their heads in agreement about the smaller week, and I know we’ll get pummeled with a ton of books soon enough, but for time being, check out these great books to whet your appetite.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Creature Cops
Special Varmint Unit #3
Creature Cops Special Varmint Unit #2 & 3 - Written by Rob Anderson, illustrated by Fernando Melek, inked by Novo Malgapo, colored by Juan Romera, lettered by E.T. Dollman, story edits by Paul Allor, consulting editors Andy Schmidt and Bobby Curnow, published by IDW and Comics Experience. 20 years ago, China created the first duo-spliced animals with the introduction of the “Panda Dog,” which became immensely popular as a pet around the world. Now, in the US, both legal and illegal hybrid animals have flourished, existing in the home and oftentimes in the wild. In response to the growing numbers of these animals, Animal Control has been federalized to deal with problematic, animal-related incidents. But when an ethically-challenged thug is found dead beneath a bear-bull hybrid, Officer Kaminski begins to suspect a popular sports star and an eccentric novelist to be involved in a most heinous crime, one similar to a case that nearly killed him and Lt. Carson ten years ago.

Thus far only issues one and two have been released, but I have an advance review copy of the third and final issue of this fantastic mini-series. Anderson and Melek give us a large cast of characters — both on the side of the law, and in opposition to it — as well as plenty of cool hybrid animals causing havoc. Humans and animals alike are compelling, with Kaminski and Spike, a horned-mastiff, taking much of the spotlight. Anderson deftly moves from scene to scene as we follow different characters and their storylines, with everything tying very well together. Even without the mini-summary at the beginning of each issue, you will have no problem knowing who is who, and what they are up to, as the creators have organically built everything you need to know into the story. You could pick up the second book without having read the first and still follow along, but why miss out on the wonderful character development, dialogue, and imagery?

Melek’s art is beautiful, with top-notch storytelling and character acting from beginning to end. Dramatic talking scenes are compelling, and he knows exactly when to go for a subtle laugh like when Spike is riding in the Animal Control truck with Kaminski and Vasquez, and a sharp turn causes the horned-mastiff's jowls to shift with the momentum. It's a minor touch, but one that shows the lighter side of the story quite well. The big baddie hybrid — okay, it’s right there on the cover, so I didn’t spoil — Cthulhu monster is freaking awesome as well.

Romera’s colors help push the all-ages, not-too-dark tale, by giving the book a more classic, bright look, than the muddy colors found in many of the “darker-themed” comics on the stand. Orange griffons leap out against the cooler colored rooms and the earth-tones of the officers’ uniforms. Even when we first see the Cthulhu monster in its subterranean cave, Romera brightens the shadows enough to fully reveal the creature that Melek has stunningly rendered.

So, yes, I absolutely loved this mini-series. It is beautifully written and paced, and looks fantastic. As with Anderson’s equally great Rex Zombie Killer (The Incredible Journey meets The Walking Dead, plus a gorilla with a baseball bat…seek it out!), it is clear the writer has a deep love of animals. As a fellow animal lover — and one who despises animal fighting of any kind, and the sports millionaires who engaged in that activity — it seems as if this book was written for me. Creature Cops is an exciting, enjoyable adventure suitable for all ages of readers who have an appreciation of animals and monsters…the humans in the story are pretty cool, too. Now that the mini is over, and the story nicely tied up, I hope to someday see a return to the Creature Cops universe, and hopefully a Spike plush toy at some point. Read it, read it, read it! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Silver Surfer V.1
“New Dawn” TPB
Silver Surfer Volume 1 “New Dawn” TPB - Written by Dan Slott, illustrated by Michael Allred, colored by Laura Allred, lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles, published by Marvel Comics. The Silver Surfer has seen much of the cosmos. Dawn Greenwood, of Earth, has experienced very little outside of her sleepy town. But when strange forces cross the cosmic hero and the travel-deficient woman’s paths, they form a friendship and head out to explore the unknown together. Along their journey, they visit strange worlds, meet the powerful being known as the Never Queen, confront Shuma-Gorath, join forces with two superpowered friends, and set out to experience the wonders of space.

This book is an absolute blast. For far too long, the Silver Surfer has been the morose, emotionless purveyor of darkly, dark inclinations of the darkest proportions. Did I mention the Surfer’s been steeped in darkness for quite some time? Not so much with this series. The combination of Slott’s upbeat take on the characters, the subtle jokes, and reverence of the wonders of the cosmos are infectious after the first few pages; I knew I would power through the five issues and the mini-tale in this fantastic collection.

With Michael Allred as artist and Laura Allred as colorist, you know the type of visuals in store for you. Heck, all you have to do is look at the striking cover (and the cool ’60s sci-fi style of the title) to know you in for an exhilarating adventure…and what an adventure it is. Everything from the storytelling, to the character/alien designs, to the vivid colors, to the rip-roaring action sequences pulled me in to this comic and left me thankful to have this interpretation of the character and everything around him. I also have a huge crush on Dawn, who reminds me of the Donist World intern (my wife, Amy). Every page of Silver Surfer is something to Marvel over (see what I did there?), which is refreshing to see from this publisher.

I had so much fun reading this trade, that I am counting the days until volume two comes out. I can’t wait. I really don’t know if this series will survive the whole Secret Wars thingy, man, I hope so, as I have not been this entertained by a Big Two book in quite some time. If you like fun, weird, sci-fi stories starring awesome characters, with simply gorgeous art, then you cannot pass this up. Talk about a thrill ride! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Satellite Sam #12
Satellite Sam #12 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Howard Chaykin, lettering by Ken Bruzenak, digital production by Calvin Nye, designed by Drew Gill, edited by Thomas K, published by Image Comics. Life continues to get worse for the cast and crew of the hit children's television show Satellite Sam, as blackmail and racial hatred flourish, old bad habits resurface, career-annihilating photographs float to the surface, alcohol-addled minds fumble simple lines, threats, betrayal, creepy seductions, and inopportune murder accusations. In other words, it’s a typical week on and off the set of Satellite Sam.

Holy Boston terrier! Am I correct in thinking there are only three issues remaining of this tremendous, unorthodox comic maxi-series? I think so, denizens, which both bums me out and excites me to see how everything plays out. Like most of the series thus far, Michael White makes baby steps toward learning about who his father was, and what led to the man’s death. This is fine. The series is not to be classified solely as a murder mystery, but more of a period piece that looks at the messed up lives of the myriad characters linked to the set of Satellite Sam. Michael isn’t necessarily the main character of the series, but yet another victim of the monster that is the show. He isn’t even likable, which can also be said of the rest of the cast, with the exception of Libby Meyers, and possibly — barely — Guy Roth, the closeted Satellite Sam writer. Still, with hardly a single admirable person on the roster, Fraction writes such compelling characters, and weaves so many dramatic elements entwined with each character, that you are completely caught up in how everyone will surpass their obstacles…or not. Oh yeah, then there’s also that pesky little mystery of whether or not Carlyle White was murdered, or not.

Being a drama, the majority of the visual presentation relies upon storytelling, character acting, and settings and costuming faithful to the times. With Chaykin as the artist, you get the best of it all. I honestly can’t see anyone more suited to this series outside of artists who were popular during the time Satellite Sam takes place. The art and design of this series remains as stunning as ever.

As I’ve said before, Satellite Sam is not for your average comic book reader. If you are looking for capes and tights, werewolves and vampires, magical weaponry, a touching romance story to warm the heart, laugh-a-minute sequences…well, you’re not going to find that here. But, if you are a fan of the television show Mad Men (ending soon…can’t wait!), like a large cast of diverse characters, historical fiction concerning a segment of the entertainment industry, and are fine with sex (and oftentimes creepy sex, at that), vulgarity, substance abuse, and people making really bad decisions, all wrapped up in a smart, beautifully written, painstakingly researched, gorgeously illustrated and designed comic, then there is no reason to miss this title. We are now in the third and final arc of Satellite Sam, but you can easily catch up with the two readily available trades, which will allow you to hammer through this binge-worthy title. I for one intend to double dip on an oversized hardcover (please put one out) collecting all fifteen issues once things wrap in the next few months. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Processing Junk - And by “Processing,” I don’t mean working through emotional, personal junk (of which I have tons), I mean the Processing coding language for this Digital Literacy class I am taking. Ugh. Just when I hammer one concept (mapping) into my head, another comes along to confound me (timing). But that said, I'm figuring it all out, and I will get my Abstract Clock (a project of ours) working in due time. This stuff will not beat me. Ugh.

And on that note…

(Sung to the tune of The Cars “Good Times Roll”)

Read some good books, bro
Ones like Creature Cops
Here’s some good books, bro
Satellite Sam’s the tops

Silver Surfer soars through the air
Oh so pretty, commanding your stare

Read some good books, bro
Read some good books, bro
Read some good books, bro


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