Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 5/22/2015

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 / job huntress Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). This week, now that Mad Men is over (such a good show), and I’ve seen Avengers: Age of Ultron (yay), and I’ve seen Mad Max: Fury Road (this movie is A-number-one bonkers, but incredibly fun and great…go see it), my puppy executive team and I have decided to engage in some team building by cutting the day short and locking up the corporate office (my mom’s basement) to head over to the park to enjoy some fog-diffused sun, some Frisbee, and some tasty morsels (thanks Mom!). Obie is always game for cutting out early, at least he is for himself, but Tulip is kind of a workaholic, and even she thought it would be a could idea to reconnect, recharge, and re…uhhhh…eat stuff. Anyhow, why don’t y’all cut out early, de-stress, grab some tacos, and sip away at a strong ginger ale — or perhaps an iced tea, iced tea is nice — and enjoy this week’s post. Thank you for reading.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Wytches #6
Wytches #6 - Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Jock, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Clem Robins, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics. Charlie Rooks has done the impossible: he has found his daughter, Sailor, deep in the horrifying caves of the wytches. But now, the Rooks have an even more difficult task ahead of them…getting out alive.

My pants are laying across the room, denizens. If you care to look, they’re back over behind the couch. Why is this? Well, obviously, because this book scared them right plum off of me. Man, this series has been creepy since the first few pages of issue one. Snyder has systematically been tapping into many the fears that drive / afflict most people: being alone, being singled out by something menacing, the dark, the forest, confined spaces, loss of mental faculties, powerlessness, hopelessness, noises, voices, betrayal, the otherworldly, child abduction, and the list goes on and on. The amazing thing is that the writer succeeds on all fear fronts…and then some. What’s more, Snyder knows just the right moment to pull away and leave the awfulness of certain scenes to the imagination. <brrrrrrr> While reading this issue — and the series as a whole — I had this continuous prickling, tingling feeling flowing beneath my skin, and a general sense of unease eclipsed only by a frantic determination to see what happens next. And with this first arc finale there are some true shockers to reward those brave enough to keep turning the pages of this awesome horror title.

Jock’s art is perfect for this comic. His fine lines mixed with his heavy shadows, provide the right mood, while allowing perfectly timed character acting and storytelling to deliver just the right psychological scares. The final panel on page two is a prime example of pulling the reader into the unease as Sailor stares ahead, and Charlie turns to the left in wide-eyed fright at the sound of the horrors lurking deep within the cave. That one panel sets the tone for this issue, and you better get used to it, as that feeling will follow you through to the end.

The effects of Jock’s art are compounded by Hollingsworth’s gorgeous coloring and otherworldly effects from the various glimmers and splotches that embellish each page. The flame plummeting down the cavern to reveal what awaits below, and the scenes of the wytches clawing their way out of the forest are simply beautiful…once you get past how utterly unsettling these moments are.

I love good horror stories and comics, but creating something that sticks with you long after you put the book down is not an easy thing to do. Far too often, what qualifies as horror nowadays, actually falls under the splatter pr0n category for which this Donist has little interest. But if you give me fantastic characters, preferably with terrible secrets that plague them, or give me a mysterious, lurking threat, then you have my attention. If your idea of scares is a cat jumping out of a trash can, or of some poor sucker locked in a room proclaiming, “I must eat my own eyeballs or die. Oh what must I do?!” then this is probably not the book for you. But, if you are more along the lines of “What was that sound? What is that?! Why won’t you leave us alone?” then Wytches is exactly the book you need. <sigh> Now it’s time to take the dog out into the cold, quiet, dark night. “@#$%! What was that sound?!?!” I need to reread this from the beginning…with more lights on this time, of course. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Fade Out #6
The Fade Out #6  - Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips, colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser, published by Image Comics. Charlie and Gil aren’t getting along. It probably has something to do with the little writing arrangement that forces them to work so closely together — it definitely has something to do with their drinking. As Charlie digs into Val’s past with an old friend, Gil meets with a pal of his own…one who sparks certain ideas.

Denizens, this is one helluva beautiful series. You have a noir, murder mystery set in Hollywood as only Brubaker can properly construct, as told through Phillip’s phenomenal character acting, deliberate lighting / shading, and storytelling that keeps you flowing from panel to panel. There is oftentimes little to no action in this series, but everything revolves around the story — what is being said, what is not being said. One of the strongest moments of this issue is the scene where Charlie talks to Jack “Flapjack” Jones about Val’s supposed suicide. It is three pages of two men passing a bottle and smoking cigarettes, which I know doesn’t sound like much, but through Brubaker’s words (and a great silent panel) and Phillip’s sideways glances and the attention to lighting up a new cigarette, you almost feel as if you are in the dimly-lit dressing room, rubbing your eyes from the smoke, and feeling the burn of the whiskey as it slides down your throat. It’s a powerful moment, and we learn a bit more about Val that pushes the story forward at its steady pace.

If you enjoy noir-crime-mystery stories then you simply MUST read The Fade Out. Currently, there’s one trade, and another two issues past that, but if you can, I highly suggest you pick up the floppies so you can read the fascinating and informative backmatter, which is definitely worth your time and energy. Once caught up on this heavenly comic, then rush out and buy all of Brubaker and Phillips’s Criminal trades, which are also fantastic. The next issue of The Fade Out cannot come soon enough. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Satellite Sam #14
Satellite Sam #13 and 14 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Howard Chaykin, lettering and logo by Ken Bruzenak, digital production by Calvin Nye, designed by Drew Gill, edited by Thomas K, published by Image Comics. This is it Satellite Sam fans! The moment you’ve all been waiting for. Michael White learns exactly how his father died, and it’s not exactly what he was hoping to hear, but at least he has a coping mechanism in place…one that involves a match and some gasoline. Meanwhile, the Roth family decides how to deal with their blackmail problem, and Gene and Eve have a horrible experience.

Okay, I don’t know whether to be pissed or thrilled, denizens, I just don’t know. You see, my LCS forgot to give me issue 13. <sigh> Thankfully I figured out their mistake before cutting into this week’s release, otherwise I would have missed a ton of key revelations and moments that have been building throughout the series. To remedy this, I went to my LCS (didn’t have 13), I went to the new comic shop I just found out about (nope, didn’t have it either), so I did what any obsessive compulsive true comic fan would do: I bought the digital version with the intent of buying a floppy at the next available opportunity.

The bright side is that I got to read two issues of Satellite Sam back to back. The steamy / racy / completely-messed-up events (definitely NOT a series for the kiddies, boy howdy, no!) of issue 13 had me whipping through the digital pages, only to toss the ol’ iPad aside for the real deal pages of issue 14 immediately afterwards. Now, I have enjoyed Satellite Sam since issue one, but it’s clear the series is coming to an end as everything that has been building comes crashing down. Fraction and Chaykin created a huge cast of characters, some admirable, others despicable, others damaged, all interesting, and the combination of the fascinating time period, the character development, the impeccable writing, and the jaw-dropping art all succeed in telling one heck of a compelling story.

If you shed a tear over Mad Men coming to a close (wasn’t that finale great?!), or if you like murder mysteries, or if you want some mashup of the two, then you can’t go wrong with Satellite Sam. The next issue is the last, so picking up the floppies might not make all that much sense, but you can pick up the first two trades today, and probably the third a month or so after the series concludes. Then again, I think I read that Fraction mentioned a hardcover containing the entire series is in the works, and I kind of suspect I’ll be putting that on my birthday wish list. I’m biting my nails in anticipation of the finale, and my LCS best not mess around with getting me my copy in a timely manner. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

A-Force #1
A-Force #1 - Written by Marguerite Bennett and G. Willow Wilson, pencils by Jorge Molina, inked by Jorge Molina and Craig Yeung, colored by Laura Martin and Matt Milla, lettered by VC’s Cory Petit, published by Marvel Comics. The will of God Doom has created Arcadia, an island paradise, where the peace is upheld by A-Force, a team of women of immense powers and abilities. A-Force is led by She-Hulk, who is strength and heart personified, but even she and A-Force must follow Doom’s law.

As you know, I haven’t been exactly picking up that many Marvel titles over the past year aside from the Fraction/Aja Hawkeye <crickets…more crickets…and even more crickets.> Then I took a chance on Spider-Gwen (love it), and most recently Secret Wars (against my wishes I also love it), and now I find A-Force in my grubby little mitts…it's kinda alright, too.

I didn’t intend to buy this comic for fear of going down the money-consuming event black hole, but seeing only one issue remaining at my LCS, and annoyed by this The New Yorker article, I picked it up anyways. I’m glad I did. I will admit that I’m still a reeling a tad from whatever happened in the first couple issues of Secret Wars, but I figure this is one of those forget the why and how this Arcadia and A-Force exists, and just go with it. So, all/most of the Marvel superwomen protect the paradise of Arcadia, end up fighting a monster shark, and one of their number does something that violates Doom’s laws, and a chink in the paradise’s facade appears; this is where my interest in the story sprouts. Yes I love seeing my favorite heroes (and a couple ex-villains) working together to maintain peace, but it is a false peace that can come tumbling down whenever Battleworld’s god awakens in a bad mood. Also, She-Hulk is just plain awesome.

Molina’s art is ridiculous in its stunning beauty. The page 2–3 double-page spread with Captain Marvel, Miss America, Sister Grimm, Pixie, and Dazzler (’70s style, thank you very much) is stunning, especially with the partially knocked-out inks and softened colors of the Aracadian background — criminy, I want to live there. The character acting and storytelling are fantastic, and seeing these awesome heroes whale on a megalodon shark is cool and a bit funny. Between the story and the art, I’m excited to see what happens next.

Dang, I guess I’ll be picking up the next issue…doggone event pulling me in, dagnabbit. A-Force is a heck of a lot of fun, even though I don’t totally get what all led up to it. But, again, who cares. Just go with it and enjoy seeing a dinosaur shark get busted in the chops by some of the coolest heroes Marvel has to offer. And when you look at the cover — and the interior for that matter — I doubt you’ll see any imaginary “porn stars,” but rather a group of heroes you wish actually existed. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Oh my Dawg! How could
you not support THIS!!!
Again With the Archie Kickstarter - Well, it looks like Archie canceled the Kickstarter, which I believe was the right thing to do. As I griped about last week, Kickstarter is a place for those of us without corporate entity protection (nope, corporations are NOT people), without the availability of business lines of credit, and without the ability to obtain a bank loan to print funny books. That said, I applaud Archie’s willingness to think outside the box and to take risks, and I realize that although they sell a large number of comics and are a known publisher, they are still markedly smaller than the Big Two. Maybe the whole thing would have gone over better if the rewards had been much, much better than two comics for $20. You know, something to actually thank their current — and potentially new — readership for their support and belief in the Archie brand. Then again, maybe Archie knew all along that their rewards were severely lacking, and that having this Kickstarter was more about promoting not just the three new comics and the creators involved, but the new Archie, and the fact that they want you to buy Archie comics in Walmart (evil corporation, btw, but one that could open up a whole new world of readers for the publisher) and Target. Maybe the Kickstarter wasn’t supposed to be funded, but actually engage a wider audience outside of the current comic book microcosm. I think they succeeded in that.

Now, I want to be clear that I LOVE Archie Comics. Not just for being progressive champions for gay rights with Kevin Keller, and standing up to the pro-censorship idiocy that is One Million Moms (actually more like 48 moms, including Debbie, whose young Timmy sells pornos, clove cigarettes, and sage masquerading as weed to all of the other Moms’ kids…you know it’s true, Debbie, just admit it already), but also for taking crazy risks by mixing things up with the Predator, the Punisher, and KISS, and for giving us the must-read series Archie: The Married Life, Afterlife With Archie, and Sabrina. Even though I did not like the whole Kickstarter thing, I still love this company and will pick up those titles and the new Archie when they come out.
*I MUST own the cover of Archie rescuing a Bostie stuck up a tree!

The Santa Barbara Oil Spill - I didn’t see signs of this on Wednesday, but if the mess is not here today, it soon will be. It’s been bad enough coming across so many hurting and dead sea lions the past four months, now this. Hopefully, I will live to see the day Big Oil and and all of their execs and bought-and-paid-for politicians are put out of business for good (I’m cool with jail time and/or environmental community service for them as well), and clean / sustainable / renewable resources reign supreme. Dare to dream, Donist, dare to dream.

and on that note…

(sung to the tune of The B-52s’s “Party Out of Bounds”)

Surprise, comics
Yeah, A-Force you can just drop in
Where’s Satellite Sam?
Or The Fade Out?
Eww, Wytches grossest!

Who’s to blame, when you’re shafted on your comics, man?
Who’s to blame, not this Donist, denizens!
Hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo


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