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


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