Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 4/24/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven 

Welcome back to Donist World. I’m Donist, and I am joined by our CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / Daredevil enthusiast Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Okay, breathe, Donist...just breathe. <phew> Okay, my entire blog post vanished for a second there, but I was luckily able to retrieve it. Criminy, that was close. Anyhow, Tulip and Obie are not speaking to each other right now, as they both have finished watching Daredevil and they have both dressed up as ol’ Hornhead today. The problem is that they do not believe there can be two Daredevils walking around the corporate office (Mom’s basement) at the same time. <sigh> I actually had to write into the “Employee Conduct” policy a clause stating that anyone can dress up as Daredevil if they so choose. But between us...Obie dressed up in an old red towel that was hastily sewn into a costume, and Tulip has a fully-functional leather outfit complete with billy clubs that even a Boston terrier can use. No contest as to which is better...just wait until get a load of my costume when it arrives. Woo ha! Anyhow, I’m glad I retrieved the post. So, grab some tacos and a strong ginger ale and enjoy this week’s post...then cue up some Daredevil on Netflix. Thank you for reading.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Deadly Class #12
Deadly Class #12 - 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 the death and destruction of last issue, Marcus and Maria find themselves facing down a threat even greater than that of @#$%face and his entourage of inbred psychopaths: El Alma de Diablo, head of the most violent cartel in all of Mexico. The fact that Marcus is carrying around the severed head of El Alma de Diablo’s son, does not bode well for the teens.

It’s only been a month or two since the conclusion of Deadly Class’s second arc, but it was a painful wait to finally pick up after that insane cliffhanger ending. The creators don’t miss a beat. The cover I bought for this issue pretty much sums up the mood of this issue: one of a desperate struggle to stay alive against impossible odds. My main takeaway after reading this issue — besides the need to see what happens next — is that Maria is a badass. Not only is her character design one of the best in the book, with her face painted a la Dia de los Muertos and gorgeous flowing black and red dress, but those deadly fans she uses are just plain cool. You have to see her in action to see what I mean, and action is what you most definitely get with this issue.

Craig’s storytelling skills continue to amaze as he mixes both low-panel-count and high-panel-count pages throughout to keep your eyes whipping through the scenes, unable to break away for fear of missing what happens next. Even if this issue were in black and white, it would be stunning, but Loughridge’s predominantly monochromatic panels and knockouts pack such energy and excitement into Craig’s imagery that you can’t possibly turn your gaze away. The page with Maria squaring off against Chico’s brother is one of the best to date...criminy, denizens!

<sigh> I’m not sure why I do this to myself. Last issue, and now this one? Each leave you scrambling to see what happens next, and of course you have no choice but to wait. But that’s what we love so much about comics. Amiright? That driving need to make sure the characters we’ve become so attached to make it through okay, and to be left playing possible outcomes in our heads for days afterwards. If you have not been reading this fantastic Image offering about a school for assassins set in the ’80s, then you can quickly catch up with the first two trades along with this issue. Next month’s release can’t come soon enough. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Chew #48
Chew #48 - Written and lettered by John Layman, illustrated and colored by Rob Guillory, color assists by Taylor Wells, published by Image Comics. Applebee and Caesar are finally getting released from the hospital, but not without some...enhancements. Meanwhile, Tony and D-Bear are investigating what happened to Mason, Olive (Tony’s daughter), and Amelia (Tony’s lady love), but what actually happened in the broken and bloodied hospital room might not be what he expected.

New food-based powers? Check. A story that continues to intrigue and excite? Check. Art and colors that only get better with each passing issue? Check. Blatant and subtle laughs? Check. Another darn-fine issue of Chew? Check, check, and what the heck, check! Honestly, at this stage in the game, y’all know what this comic is, and how phenomenally awesome it is. Seriously, I might as well just list the title, creators, and publisher with only “Yup. More of the same” following. That is not a knock on the most unique comic on the stand, where the worst-case-scenario issue is merely very good, and the opposite end skating the heights of all things heavenly. If you have been reading and enjoying Chew, then you are well aware that the new issue you are about to read is going to have you LOLing...and occasionally crying. C’mon, this issue has a group called the “Jellyassassins” for cripe’s sake — where do these creators come up with this stuff?

Buy it if you haven’t already. You know you need to. If you haven’t read the hilarious — and sometimes gross — Chew, then you can take a sample with the ultra-cheap first trade, or take a major step in bettering your life by picking up the even better Omnivore editions, which average ten issues each, with a ribbon marker, hardcover, and oversized pages. As for this issue, it is wacky, funny, grotesque, creative, engaging, and all around great. In other words, exactly what you can expect from this fantastic series. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Lazarus #16
Lazarus #16 - Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Michael Lark with Tyler Boss, colored by Santi Arcas, “artifact” pages by Owen Freeman and Eric Trautmann, lettered by Jodi Wynne, design by Eric Trautmann, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics. Family Carlyle and Family Hock are about to go to war after the events of the Conclave. Sister Bernard, who is a nun and a physician under the sponsorship of the Carlyles, is unaware of the pending war and about to enter into Hock territory to retrieve something she is not supposed to know about.

I find this series troubling. With each issue I read, I’m left upset, anxious, and generally messed up; I wouldn’t have it any other way. Lazarus is a dystopian-future, sci-fi drama that at times seems to be set not all that far in the future, and the science fiction seems to blur into the realm of science possible. So, why do I continue reading this comic that manages to so thoroughly disturb my Wa? Simple. It’s one of Image Comic’s strongest titles currently being published.

This issue serves as a single-issue break before the next story arc, and focuses on a character we only saw briefly in the second chapter, “Lift,” and serves as a reminder of what happens in this world outside of the main players, where the majority of the population, the Waste as the they are called, struggle to survive. I liked this issue well enough, but the final four pages made things very interesting and brought back my enthusiasm despite the lack of Forever Carlyle, the family Lazarus.

Lazarus is an amazing — if not rough on your emotional wellbeing — title, that all fans of dystopian comics and sci-fi should be reading. With three trades available, you can easily catch up before the next big storyline begins. I do have to say that reading this beautifully told story is actually better in single issues, as the back matter further develops the world of the comic, and Rucka offers insight into current scientific discoveries (the real stuff) that bring us closer to the world he and Lark have envisioned. That’s both informative, and utterly terrifying. RECOMMENDED!

Daredevil Television Show (Netflix) - Okay, I’m going to keep this brief. I just finished watching all 13 episodes of this Netflix Original series, and it is safe to say Daredevil is the best superhero television show…ever. Don’t get me wrong, I love both Arrow and The Flash — a lot, actually — but Daredevil left me wanting to ignore the towering pile of “to read” comics in favor of returning to the multitudes of great comic runs for this character. The worst episode was really, really good, while the best completely blew my mind. All of the actors are perfect, they are the characters they portray. The story keeps you engaged and riveted, while the action scenes are mind-blowingly stunning (just see the The Raid-esque, single-take fight from episode two...WOW). The thing about this gritty, violent series is that one of the best episodes, “Nelson v. Murdock,” had little fighting, but rather had two friends talking and arguing through events that had happened in the story, and I could not turn away. That said, the season finale…oh my stars and garters, denizens, it’s awesome.

If you are not a Netflix subscriber, then I believe they offer a 30-day free trial, which I strongly encourage you to do, just so you can check out this phenomenal series. But...after you dazzle your senses with this tremendous show, consider staying on as a paying customer. The only way great shows like this will continue to happen is if people continue to subscribe to the service. With Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and (oh my gosh, oh my gosh) Iron Fist up next, not to mention the loads of other fantastic series already available, I don’t see continuing as a difficult decision. Daredevil is ridonkulously VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

No New Daredevil Episodes For a While – <sob> <sniffle> Looks like I’ll just have to watch it over again.

No Song This Week - Sorry, denizens, I’m so buried right time to write a song. But, hey, in the meantime, to solidify my all-consuming love of the Daredevil television show, just replace any mention of an actor in this hilarious Key and Peele clip with an actor from Daredevil, and all mentions of other movies with Daredevil, and that should about sum up what I think of this show.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 4/17/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven

“Dang it, Obie, knock it off!” Oh…hi, Donist World denizens. Welcome back to Donist World. I’m Donist, and I am joined by our CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / cosmic puppy Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Apologies for having to yell at Obie in front of you, but he keeps parading around the Donist World corporate office (my mom’s basement) in a graduation cap and gown, and he’s hacked the music player to keep playing the “Pomp and Circumstance” march, which after seven back-to-back plays is becoming tiresome. You see, I’m getting a certificate for being added to the college President’s Honor Roll this afternoon, which is not a graduation (I already have a degree from a while back), Obie has not accomplished anything outside of receiving a master’s degree in bugging me, and I don’t believe there is any sort of ceremony when I do receive my associate’s degree in graphic design at the end of the year…but whatever. Anyhow, while I regain control of the music player, grab some tacos and a strong ginger ale and enjoy this week’s post. Thank you for reading.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Fade Out #5
The Fade Out #5 - Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips, colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser, published by Image Comics. Someone’s got it in for screenwriter Gil Mason; that person is himself. For such a talented person, you would think Gil has it made, but his outspoken nature got him blacklisted as a communist, and now he has to work through Charlie Parish, a screenwriter who lost the skill after the war. The relationship should be an easy one…if not for Gil having an acute taste for the booze and the cards. But when Phil Brodsky, the head of studio security, comes calling to remind Gil of something he didn’t see, does Gil have the wherewithal to keep his mouth shut? Meanwhile, Charlie wonders where the hell Gil has gotten to…

I love this series. Aside from my interest in the bizarre dealings of old Hollywood (heck, new Hollywood seems to have its stories, too), The Fade Out provides a noir, murder mystery of a period piece with a huge cast of characters, each of whom has a secret to keep. The series went on a bit of a hiatus for a while, mostly to make way for the phenomenal, must-read Criminal: Special Edition (you can read my raves about it here), but now it is back. With the large cast of characters and the many moving parts of the story, I thought for sure I’d be completely lost after a couple months off, but that was not the case. Brubaker’s characterization of Gil, Charlie, and Maya, as well as smaller glimpses into Brodsky (his first name is Phil, but a guy like this…yeah, you refer to him by his last name), Valeria, Tyler, and Dottie, it’s hard to forget who these flawed characters are. The unique situations for each are compelling to the point that I was thinking about them even before I read issue five. For a comic that is effectively a drama with mostly people talking and skulking about, and with no superheroes, no zombies, no aliens, nor monsters, The Fade Out is a tremendous example of how to engage a comic book audience with the power of the writing.

Phillips takes Brubaker’s words and expands them with his grasp of storytelling and use of dramatic lighting. You only need to go as far as the first page of this issue to see Phillip’s immense talent at work, and that includes a third of the page being a solid black title block. But what he does with the remaining two thirds is incredible. Even without Brubaker’s captions and word balloons, we see a down-on-his-luck drunk, sitting with no other patrons sitting near him, rambling to a bartender who clearly wishes the drunk would just move it along. Yet the drunk keeps talking, and he’s becoming increasingly belligerent. The bartender tries to ignore him, and probably knows the drunk — at the least he’s seen and heard it all before. Then, the drunk’s attention goes to something behind him. Even if this was the first issue, and the first time we see Gil, we recognize the situation and the type of person this guy is, and all through Phillip’s character acting as enhanced by the dramatic lighting.

The Fade Out as a whole is a beautiful comic, even though what goes down within the pages of the story is very far from pretty. I love this book and I’m eager to see what comes next. The great thing about this creator-owned comic is that the creators can expand an issue to fit the pacing and story as they see fit. Issue five clocks in at 26 pages of comic story, plus a “Cast of Characters” page, three pages of letters, and four pages for a bonus bio piece. You get your money’s worth with this must-read series, and if you missed out on what happened previously, then you can right the ship by picking up the recently released $9.99 trade that contains issues #1–4, and pick up this issue in one go…which you really should do. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Infinity Revelation
Thanos: The Infinity Revelation HC - Written and illustrated by Jim Starlin, inked by Andy Smith, colored by Frank D’Armata with Rachelle Rossenberg, lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna, published by Marvel Comics. The “Mad Titan” Thanos has noticed an imbalance in the universe and has taken it upon himself to investigate. When none other than Adam Warlock, Thanos’s one time most fiercest foe and greatest ally, resurrects on Thanos’s ship, he knows his task is one of grave importance. Warlock agrees to aid the Titan, and the two are brought into conflict with none other than the ruthless Annihilators. With the boundaries of reality wavering and madness taking hold, can Thanos and Warlock succeed in setting things right…before they themselves are annihilated?

I. Freakin’. Love. This. OGN. I love it. In case you are new to Donist World, I should probably clarify that I am a Jim Starlin cosmic comic junky, especially when it comes to my favorite characters of the Marvel Universe: Warlock and Thanos (see my look at the Avengers Versus Thanos from a few months back here). Man, after plowing through this 112-page OGN in one sitting, I almost feel like going up to the balcony and sipping a glass of pinot noir while watching the sun set across Santa Barbara as I reflect upon the mind trip that is this book. All is at ease, I’m good. Hmmmmmmmm…

Oh, sorry, I’m back, and I’ll try my best to stay focused. Anyhow, this book brought back my favorite moments of Thanos and Warlock over the decades, from their initial meeting in the ’70s, to the awesome The Infinity Gauntlet and The Infinity War, The Infinity Abyss, and Marvel Universe the End. What’s even better is, like the earlier and later stories, Starlin both writes and illustrates this beautiful book, with the most visually-stunning moments coming from every page that takes place in the cosmos, especially with a couple double-page spreads near the end of the book that have to be seen to be believed. He also draws one helluva Thanos.

I’m not going to go into the story beyond the teaser above, as doing so might give things away, but just know that as a Warlock / Thanos fan for almost four decades, this book does not disappoint. You have outer space, near-omnipotent beings manipulating reality, madness, conflict, a plethora of cosmic heroes, a mysterious relic, and of course some decent fisticuffs. If you’re a fan of the Marvel space opera books, or even better, Jim Starlin, then you definitely need to check out this book. What’s even better is that a second OGN, Thanos: The Infinity Relativity is set to release toward the end of May! I can’t wait. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
*Oh yeah, a shout out to my good buddy, Bret, for surprising me with this book earlier this week, it could not have come at a better time.

Sinestro Vol. 1
The Demon Within
Sinestro Vol. 1 The Demon Within - Written by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Dale Eaglesham and Rags Morales with Igor Lima and Ruy José, colored by Jason Wright and Andrew Dalhouse, lettered by Dezi Sienty, Taylor Esposito, Carlos M. Mangual, Rob Leigh, and Dave Sharpe, published by DC Comics. Thaal Sinestro has forsaken both the Green and Yellow Lanterns, and he could not care less. He has lost everything: his people, his planet, his family, his stations (both of them), and his true friend. Now, when Lyssa Drak, the blue-skinned, razor-toothed possessor of the Book of Paralax has come calling to prove that none dispense fear better than the former leader of the Sinestro Corp, Sinestro will seek to reclaim some of what he has lost; the tales of his exploits are still being written.

Okay, I read this one about a month ago and just didn’t have the time or space to talk about it…thank goodness for the odd, light, new comic book week. I feel in love with the Green Lantern mythos at the time of Rebirth, and was completely floored by the awesome Sinestro Corp War arc and on through the Orange and Red Lantern books. Then came the Blackest Night, which left me vastly underwhelmed, and the Brightest Day books that left me so annoyed that I dropped off of Green Lantern entirely. I had interest — and still do — in everything that’s happened after the Brightest Day junk, as well as everything that happened with the New 52 Green Lantern, but once I saw all of the many spinoffs, I decided to take a pass. Then DC put out a book on Sinestro as penned by my hero from The Sixth Gun, Cullen Bunn.

Sinestro boasts a bunch of new characters in this title who I have zero background on, but they are all pretty cool and interesting, and I am curious to find out more about each of them. Hal Jordan shows up briefly, which is fine, but he doesn’t need to make an appearance as the rich, complex character of Sinestro can carry the burden of the his title all on his own. Hopefully, The Powers That Be allow Sinestro to be its own book, without having to force frequent appearances from other lanterns — the universes are big places, after all — or bloated events…of course, there’s some sort of thing called Convergence going on, so who knows what’s going to happen next.

If you enjoyed the Sinestro Corp event from years past, or you just want a great story about a strong super villain, then look no further than this great trade.  I for one am anticipating the next volume, and I’m probably going to have to revisit those old Green Lantern collections in the near future. DC’s take on the space opera is pretty out of this world. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Minnesota Proposes Classroom Censorship Bills - <sigh> I figured it out, denizens. If I want to ruin my day, all I have to do is go to the vitally important Comic Book Legal Defense Fund site ( and read through an article or two. Seriously. The level of audacity and stupidity of some people and some states is thoroughly disappointing and frustrating, but at least we have someone like the tremendous CBLDF making the evil workings of cerebrally-challenged, censoring nimrods available for all to see. Take the three bills in Minnesota that have come up from some we-know-what-is-best-for-you-and-everyone-else-too lawmakers in this article.

Crazy, huh? So, if the worst of the three bills passes, then one psycho parent can deem a book like The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, or The Catcher in the Rye as “harmful to minors,” and thus force school districts to publicly justify retaining said book as part of the curriculum…all while the crusading psycho’s identity remains anonymous. All of this is in spite of the fact that parents already have the right to opt out their child from books they deem wrong for their child. If the bill passes, then one faceless, nameless individual decides what is suitable for all; they decide what is appropriate for other parents and children. This is wrong, and needs to be stopped.

Grrrrrr…I’m going to order another CBLDF t-shirt to help support them, and as denizens of all things heavenly, and protectors of the right to decide what books you and your family read, I hope you will do the same. Just don’t read their site first thing in the morning. Have some toast and coffee first.

and on this week’s annoying censoring note…

(sung to the tune of Ratt’s “Lay It Down”)

I know some books you must see
The Fade Out continues to intrigue, amaze me
I’m into Thanos: The Infinity Revelation
Sinestro cosmic comic totes thrills me

You know you really want to read ’em now
Right now and how
I know you really want to read ’em now
Right now

Read ’em now, read ’em now
Read ’em now, read ’em now


Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 4/10/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven

Hello there, Donist World denizens, and welcome back. I’m Donist, and I am joined by our CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / Nameless-figure-outer-puppy Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). This week, the Donist World administrative team is offsite from our corporate office (Mom’s basement) and we are instead reclining on our relatively new Casper mattress in my room. You see, we all just read Nameless, and we’re kinda, sorta, mostly perplexed about what is going on in that comic. Obie says he understands it completely, and just keeps staring at me with a smirk on his face, shaking his head in amused disappointment as if I were a child. Fair enough, but I know he doesn’t get it either. Tulip freely admits she doesn’t understand it, and is violently shaking the bejesus out of her stuffed donkey toy…perhaps we should just let it all go until the next issue. Anyhow, while I crash out for a moment and mentally prepare to head out into the world in search of great tacos, please enjoy this week’s post. Thank you for reading! ***Oh yeah, if you are looking for a new mattress and are considering buying from Casper, email me and I will send you a $50 off coupon code. Spreading the wealth, denizens, spreading the wealth.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #27
Saga #27 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, coordinated by Eric Stephenson, published by Image Comics. Marko’s having a bad trip as a result of the Fadeaway drug he took, and he hallucinates through an eye-opening journey into his past, which ain’t so pretty. Prince Robot IV, however, has had about enough of Marko’s nonsense, but at least Ghüs the seal boy is around to talk sense into the hotheads aboard the rocket tree, as the group attempts to locate their missing families.

Now this is the Saga I remember. Okay, okay, denizens, simmer down. Tarnations…let me explain. You see, there ain’t an issue of this here dang-fine comic that I don’t like; not a one. That said, not all issues are created equal and some are better than others. The past couple issues of what is still my favorite comic on the stands have been merely amazing, as opposed to flat out heavenly. I suspect the reasoning for this is because issue 25 and 26 delved into all three of the large character groups in the storyline…as well as introducing new characters to the mix. This meant too little time spent with each group — it wasn’t enough, but then again, is it ever? This issue focuses solely on Marko, Prince Robot IV, Ghüs, and Yuma, providing an insightful flashback into Marko’s past, as well as a look into what drives the man. We needed to see this, and the decision to slow things down and stay with this group is a good one.

I liked Marko the moment I met him in the first issue, but here at issue 27, we finally get a deeper look into him, his rage, and the mistakes he has made — although, I stand by what he did as a young kid…you don’t hurt animals. Vaughan’s character dialogue is as spot on as ever, even when touching briefly upon a bystander character who we will never see again. In addition to mostly looking at Marko, the moments with Ghüs are equally fantastic. The happy-go-lucky seal boy’s dialogue is a joy to read, and so thoroughly defines his background, his nature, and his way of dealing with others, you can’t help but smile.

Speaking of Ghüs…whichever of the creators decided to dress him in crimson-red long johns as he carries his beloved “chopper” around the ship is a genius. I loved the kid when he wore his fisherman’s overalls, but this is just too cute to properly describe. Seriously, denizens, you have to see him, I promise you’ll be smiling when you do. Despite Ghüs being completely adorable, I do, however, have to remind potential readers that this is a “Rated M for Mature” title as the book opens with sex stuff and there is plenty of bad language, although it is probably a bit tamer than what your kids hear at school on a daily basis. Still, Staples’s art only gets better, and again I want a poster of the final page. ***side note: Aren’t we due for some more process examples from Staples? I would LOVE to see another breakdown of how she makes these unbelievable, magical images.

So yes, Saga continues to be a stellar comic with a return to greatness. As I said above, this does not mean the previous two issues of this Donist World darling were bad — there is no such thing when it comes to Saga — but rather the issue as a standalone worked better by following only one of the groups of characters, with much of the focus falling on Marko. An individual issue of Saga always falls within the spectrum of really, really good, and freakin’ awesome, and this issue lands firmly in the awesome category. If you are seeking a comic that is more than your typical capes and tights fare, then Saga should be at the top of your list. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Descender #2
Descender #2 - Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics. TIM-21 awoke to a very different world than to what he was accustomed: Ten years had passed, his family vanished, all the other people on the mining colony were gone, and giant robots called Harvesters had wrecked havoc across the nine core worlds. At least TIM-21 has his trusty robo-dog, Bandit, with him. But when a team of “Scrappers” come looking to sell TIM-21 for parts, and the boy has to run for his life.

If you remember from last month, the first issue of Descender positively blew me away. The comic touched on so many of my favorite memories of the ’70s and ’80s with the book’s anime / Blade Runner vibe and the overall feeling I used to get reading comics and watching the late-night Night Flight program on television. I was instantly charmed by both Lemire’s story and Nguyen’s gorgeous watercolored art. I also think I got a little spoiled with the 36 pages of that issue versus the 20 from this month. I totally understand that cranking out 36 phenomenal pages a month is next to impossible for a book of this quality, but the good news is that the creators have their hooks so deep into me with this title, that I doubt 200 pages would be enough to keep me satisfied.

This book slows the pacing down a bit, as we only see Doctor Jin Quon in two pages of flashback, and the rest of the issue is about TIM-21’s past with his new family, and his trying to survive the dreaded arrival of the Scrappers. You would think a boy robot created to be part of a family would have no chance of surviving against a team of ruthless mercenaries, but Jin Quon outfitted the boy with some fairly curious upgrades — I look forward to learning why. Lemire also loads roughly half the issue with a look back at TIM-21 being prepped to go out into the world. Nguyen’s lovely monochromatic watercolored imagery delivers beautiful flashback scenes of TIM-21 being welcomed wholeheartedly into the family, and Nguyen adds a softness to his characters’ eyes and a gentleness to their smiles capable of melting the coldest heart. It all seems almost too good to be true, but then again something terrible did happen to the mining colony that we have yet to learn about.

Last week I commented that The Dying and the Dead is the best new book of 2015, but I’ll be darned if Descender isn’t right there beside it as an equally great book. I have to know what’s going to happen next, and I’m already going crazy with anticipation for the next issue. If you are a fan of ’70s / ’80s sci-fi and anime, with only two issues out thus far, I cannot stress enough that you need to check out this bold and striking new series. Want to kick your reading experience up a notch? Then give Descender a read while listening to “Magic Fly” by Space. It’s completely instrumental, but I think it totally enhances the experience of this wonderful comic that I anticipate rocking my world and quite possibly crushing my heart throughout its run. So very good. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Nameless #3
Nameless #3 - Written by Grant Morrison, illustrated by Chris Burnham, colored by Nathan Fairbairn, lettered by Simon Bowland, published by Image Comics. Nameless and the Darius Transnational space crew launch three drones toward the monstrous asteroid, Xibalba, and they hold the key to unlocking one of its mega-structures. They hope to find wealths of knowledge within the towering solid iron structure, but soon discover that it was not so much built to keep things out, as it was to keep things in.

<phew> Okay. I had a much easier time following what the heck is going on with this series than I did with the previous two issues. However, that feeling only lasted until I hit the 3/4 mark. What the heck?! Anyhow, as far as I can tell, there’s some sort of reality-bending, madness monsters lurking about that have caused people to go crazy (first two issues), and that Xibalba contains something(s) infinitely worse (this issue). As for what has happened by the end is beyond me, but probably something that will be explained / worked out in the next few issues. Despite my continued confusion with this series, I am still on board and wanting to know both what has happened, and what’s in store for us next.

Nameless primarily has my attention because of the bizarre and intriguing story, as I have not yet connected with any of the characters. I believe this is by design. The story moves quick, and we have had little time to become acquainted with Sofia Darius, and Nameless continues to be…well…a nameless enigma. But this is fine. Morrison’s crazy story is compelling with the extinction-level threat to humanity in the form of Xibalba and the terrible secrets locked away within. Unfortunately, humanity has the key, and our desire to understand what’s inside looks to be our undoing.

A huge part of Nameless’s draw is Burnham’s breathtaking art. It is pure hard-sci-fi goodness that immediately took me back to the first time I watched the film Alien, and gave the same feeling of insignificance amidst the vastness of space, and the dread of tampering with forces far beyond us. The first page splash of the tiny spaceship floating above Xibalba’s surface, which looks like a monstrous skull, conveys the feeling of being far out of our league, as do the moments when the probes travel through the bunker. Aside from the killer structures and creepy architecture, Burnham wows the reader with fantastic character acting; the spacesuits are pretty nifty, too. Fairbairn’s colors succeed in lifting the gorgeous line work to even greater heights, and drive home the foreboding Alienesque feel of this issue.

Yup, I’m just as lost as I was with the first issue, but I’m lost on a completely different level than I was back then. Still, I want to understand, I want to see what happens next, and I want to continue with the sci-fi / horror vibe Morrison, Burnham, and Fairbairn have successfully delivered with this issue. If a confusing outer-space monster comic that delves into the far reaches of madness sounds appealing, denizens, then this is the book for you. It’s totally what I want from these creators, which is why this issue comes RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

The “Clean Reader” App - I hate everything about this app. I learned about it on the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s site here. As a consumer, I have to agree with Doctorow that once a person buys something, then they can do whatever they dang well wish with it. As a writer, I would almost prefer a person not read any of my books as opposed to censoring my work, but if they paid for it, hey, knock yourself out. Of course I currently only have one all-ages book out, and there are no swear words in it, but the urban fantasy book I have not yet released has plenty of cursing, plenty of references to S-E-X, and if someone can’t handle such things, then perhaps they should stay away from not just the book, but the genre as well. But, again, if they paid for it they can do what they want with it.

My problem is when someone, or an institution (schools, libraries, book stores, government, etc.) take it upon themselves to decide how others will experience a work.  That. Is. The. Problem. This harkens back to the time certain companies were “sanitizing” movies for distribution at family-friendly video stores, or recutting music, or editing historically relevant books such as Tom Sawyer (which is great how it is). Books are meant to be read as the author intended for them to be read. This means unedited. Changing a work without the creator’s consent is a copyright violation and just plain wrong.

The creators of “Clean Reader” were clever in that their app adds an overlay to eBook files as opposed to changing anything, which prevents them from being sued for copyright infringement. Thankfully, angry authors and publishers pressured “Clean Reader” into no longer being allowed to sell books through their app or profiting off their mangling of a creator’s work. The fact that some intensely weak-minded overly-sensitive people even want this nonsense is completely baffling to me. If you can’t handle a work as it is, then don’t consume that work.

and on that lameoid censoring note…

(danced to the tune of Space’s “Magic Fly”)

No song this week, but instead get up and groove to this awesome video from Space. Man, this was so ahead of the times back in ’77. Dig those rocking spacemen and that gold-skinned dancing lady! Have fun, we’re off to get our dance on.


Friday, April 3, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 4/3/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven

Hello there, Donist World denizens, and welcome back. I’m Donist, and I am joined by our CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / Spring Break experience specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Yes, we are on Spring Break this week, but that does not mean we skip out on FSoH/SitW. No. Siree. Bob. Actually, the comics we read were soooo freaking great this week, that even if we were in jail (Obie made bail and does not wish to discuss the matter any further), we would bust out to tell you all about them. So, while you check ’em out, we’re off to bask in the afterglow of some mighty fine comic booking and to eat some pollo asado tacos, have some chips and salsa, and to enjoy some dang-strong ginger brews. Feast your peepers on this week’s heavenly comics. Thank you for reading.

*Possible Spoilers Below*

The Dying & the Dead #2
The Dying & the Dead #2 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Ryan Bodenheim, colored by Michael Garland, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics. Once upon a time, Colonel Edward Canning had a crew. There was Beller, Moss, Fairfax, and Shepard, all of whom were men trusted to get the job done…but that was back in the day. But when the Colonel comes calling with a grand new mission, one that involves working with the mysterious ghostly beings of the city, even men past their prime can rally to behind the man’s cause.

Here is a link to my look at the first issue, which completely blew me away and left me desperate for more. The second issue does not disappoint in the slightest, despite being quite different from the amazing premiere. With the first installment, we are introduced to the bad guys, and there is action and mayhem, and some creepy twist to their organization. Then we were introduced to the Colonel and the lengths he is willing to go to save his wife from the cancer that consumes her. We also met the strange, mysterious race of stark white creatures that have existed since time immemorial, and toured their M.C. Escher-esque city which was a sight to behold. We have none of that in the latest issue.

No action, no crazy world threats, no exotic lands, yet I was immediately sucked into the story as much as the amazing first issue. The creators use this month to pull the team together, and through Hickman’s brilliant dialogue and Bodenheim’s fantastic character acting, they take a bunch of old dudes chatting and manage to turn it all into a hyper-compelling read. Of course the final three pages remind us this is going to be an adventure story with mystical elements, but every moment spent with these new characters and seeing the people they are with hints of who they were kept me flying through this issue and dreading hitting the last page; I didn’t want it to end.

So, yeah, two issues in and I am as psyched and pumped as ever to see what happens next. I also still have no idea as to what the heck is going on, or who the bad guys are, or what exactly these alabaster-white beings are supposed to be, but this does not bother me. What does bother me is that I now have to wait another month(ish) for issue three to drop on this fantastic series that quite possibly has already nailed the Donist World “Best New Release of 2015” award. The adventure’s barely begun, and although I don’t really know what is going on, I know I’m in for the long haul…and knowing is half the battle. I sooooooo can’t wait to see what these old cats do next. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Southern Bastards #8
Southern Bastards #8 - Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated by Jason Latour, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. “Gridiron” comes to a close as we see Euless Boss rise to become Coach Boss. The journey to this moment has not been pretty, and taking that final step will be far uglier than anything we have yet seen. Long live Coach Boss!

With a title like Southern Bastards, you kind of have to know what you are getting into with this comic, but maaaaaaaannnnnn, I was not ready for what goes down in the conclusion to this chapter. As I have said over and over again, I don’t care one lick about football, Coach Boss is an absolute monster, and I hate Euless’s daddy even more. So why am I reading this book with characters who actually piss me off, in a setting of wickedness centered around a sport I don’t like? Because the immense talent of the creators left me absolutely no dagburned choice in the matter.

I hate these characters for what they did to poor Earl Tubb — dang, poor Earl — yet at the same time, this four-issue flashback into Euless Boss’s past has been so fascinating and utterly tragic, that I could not help but feel for and understand the guy. This shocks the bejesus out of me as much as it does you, denizens. But the power of Aaron’s writing and the commanding force of Latour’s pristine yet harsh lines made me care about a man turned monster, solely because they helped me understand what set this man on this path in the first place. Still, I have the chills <bbbbrrrrrrrr> over the cold-blooded events in this issue, and I’m still messed up a couple days later; I love that.

Even if you are like me and don’t give a flying fig about sports or really awful human beings, I cannot recommend this comic enough. I suppose if I had to categorize Southern Bastards, I would shove it into the “True Crime” genre, but it is so much more than that. You could also tuck it into “Sports,” “Cultural Anthropology,” possibly “Cooking,” but definitely “Damn Fine Comic Booking.” The next issue comes in June, which is by no means soon enough. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Black Science #13
Black Science #13 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Matteo Scalera, colored by Moreno Dinisio, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Family strife of the past and alternate present rears its ugly head, as the Anarchist League of Scientists discover what their alternate selves inadvertently brought back to this new world. Those still live here are none too happy to see the strangers bearing the symbol of the onion.

At times, the past couple of issues have left me scratching my head and trying to remember what had happened in previous issues, but that in no way suggests that I did not enjoy reading them. This month, however, it is crystal clear as to why these armored beings hate McKay and his group so fervently, and we know which character is which, and the roller coaster adventure ride that is Black Science takes off once again.

The introductory pages of the McKay family turmoil in this issue ring so true and are so brutally honest, that I could not help but feel embarrassed, like I had been caught eavesdropping on a most personal moment, when characters are not acting at their best. Thankfully, we get a bit of balance with scenes like the one with Pia and her (alternate world) mother, which are incredibly touching and heartfelt, as well as the scenes of Shawn being the hero despite having his hand forced into an action he finds most heinous. Emotions run high this month on all fronts, and through Remender’s all-too-realistic dialogue and Scalera’s spot-on character acting and storytelling, I was pulled firmly back into the story that I had been somewhat wavering on. In the end, we have yet another great issue of Black Science.

This issue has me fully on board and excited to see what comes next, especially given Remender’s hint that the story direction is about to take a crazy turn. If you like crazy time travel stories that are thrilling and unpredictable, with monsters and enemies within, with dysfunctional family lives striving to heal against insurmountable odds, then there is no reason to skip out on the ever-awesome Black Science. But don’t fret, you can easily play catchup with the first two trades and then grab issue 12 and 13 to be right with the rest of us. I have my Junior Member of the Anarchists League of Scientists decoder ring on, and once you delve into this tremendous sci-fi adventure, you’ll be wearing yours too. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

God Hates Astronauts #7
God Hates Astronauts #7 - Most-everythinged by Ryan Browne…otherwise…colored by Jordan Boyd, additional narration by Charles Soule, additional lettering by Chris Crank, edited by Jordan Browne, designed by Thomas Quinn, published by Image Comics. Charles Soule drops by to replace the ghostly 3-D Cowboy as narrator for this issue. A flashback to the Japanese French Alps, Starlina abducted by the weirdos of Super Gentendo 64, Starrior cursing like a sailor, King Tiger Eating a Cheeseburger even angrier, and Time Giraffe provides Starrior with a new outfit…Woweee Zowee!

That’s right, denizens, I have no idea what the heck is going on with this issue — and judging by Soule’s narration, neither does he. That’s cool, though, it’s frickin’ God Hates Astronauts, we aren’t here for a simple, straight-forward narrative of sensical sense making. Make sense? No? Good, you’re as ready as you will ever be for the madness that is this awesome series.

The first four pages of this issue tell you what’s in store as we see Anti-Mugger butt slam a “Hamurai” warrior, followed by Starrior straddling and blasting another to the sizzling sound effect of “Pig Blast.” Aside from my familiarity with these characters, anyone could pick up this issue and leave with the same “what the hell?!” reaction I have each time I read this comic, but the amazing thing about this series is that I eagerly return month(ish) after month(ish) for more zaniness. Browne’s character work and storytelling are phenomenal and the story, despite being over-the-top insanity, is a heck of a lot of fun.

I can safely say that you have never read anything quite like God Hates Astronauts, and that is not just a good thing, it’s a great thing. As I stated above, you can just cannonball into the deep end with any issue and marvel at the delirium of attempting to figure out what is going on in between the laughter, but having some idea of the characters is highly advised. You can easily catch up with the first two trades, which I strongly suggest those looking for a break from your standard superhero fare should do. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Spider-Gwen #3
Spider-Gwen #3 - Written by Jason Latour, illustrated by Robbi Rodriguez, colored by Rico Renzi, lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles, designed by Idette Winecoor and Jessica Pizarro, published by Marvel Comics. The relationship between a single father and his teenage daughter can oftentimes be complicated, but imagine having a daughter possessed with superhuman spider powers. The Stacy household is turbulent to say the least, especially when none other than the Vulture shows up to cause havoc. Throw in the borderline-nutcase Captain Frank Castle, and things can get pretty complicated. Teenagers…

I have to tell ya, denizens, I really liked the first two issues of Spider-Gwen, but the action and pacing of this issue finally made me a fan — even though I still have not read the Edge of Spider-Verse #2 where she was first introduced…dagnabbit. Anyhow, Latour’s story is fun, and the cartoony art and dynamic coloring are something to behold. The greens of the Vulture’s costume and poisonous gas battle with the pinks and purples of his skin and of Spider-Woman’s costume to awesome effect as the two face off once again.

The Frank Castle fight is brief but intense, leaving me to wonder what happens next, now that he has seen Gwen’s face. My first thought was that it seemed weird that Castle would not immediately recognize her as George Stacy's daughter, but then again, Castle does not seem like the type to overly concern himself with any of his colleagues’ personal lives. Still, the Vulture’s going to figure out Gwen’s secret, and Castle’s probably going to figure things out at some point too, which should complicate things in an interesting way.

So, yes, I’m buying a Marvel superhero comic again…and I’m dang happy to be doing so. If you have not been reading this exciting, upbeat, alternate Spider-Man comic, then catching up should not be a problem seeing as how there are now roughly 67 printings of the first and second issue available. Just as I was on my way out the door on most of the Big Two offerings, Spider-Gwen comes along to make mine Marvel. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Dying Sea Lion Pups - This is ridiculous. You can read about this terrible tragedy here. Here in Santa Barbara, I have personally seen dead and dying sea lions pups on each of the five times I have been out to the beach. In early March, I saw a sea lion pup weakly lying on the rocks right by the sidewalk of the harbor (the marine mammal rescue truck showed up for him). I saw a dead one while walking Tulip on the beach toward UCSB a week later. The week after that, I found a dead one on the sands of Goleta Beach, and then came across a sluggish pup farther down the beach, who only returned to the water after Tulip and I began to head back to notify marine mammal rescue. This is heartbreaking and terrible. I have never seen anything like this in the 34 years I have lived here on the West Coast. It’s looking like we humans caused it (duh), with global warming most likely the reason. Climate deniers, FAUX News and those who listen to such drivel need to get a clue and listen to say…I don’t know…the scientific experts telling us we need to stop destroying our world, as opposed to politicians and evil business men. Ugh...the look in that sea lion pup’s eyes…

and on that horrible note…

(sung to the tune of The Car’s “My Best Friend’s Girl”)

You want good comics you should read?
Ones to dazzle your eyes?
That there Spider-Gwen’s such a treat
Black Science a real surprise

(Books you need, my friend)
The Dying and the Dead rocks, oh my
It’ll make you flip
(Books you need, my friend)
Like Southern Bastards, dang, oh my
God Hates Astronauts’s such a trip

Give these comics a twirl
And give these books a whirl
Heck, they’re all sorts of fine