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


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