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.


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