Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 5/8/2015

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 / Black Widow enthusiast Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Thankfully, Tulip and Obie have forgiven me for sneaking out and ditching them last week to see the awesome Avengers Age of Ultron movie, which I really want to see again in the very near future. It’s been a crazy week this week here at the corporate office (Mom’s basement) with tons of comics, job interviews, and the submission of a Comic Books & Craft Beers app for my Publishing Design class that I created in InDesign using the Adobe DPS (Digital Publishing Suite), which is something I need to figure out how to make available somehow for y’all denizens to check out if you so choose. Anyhow, let’s get right to it. So, grab some tacos and a strong ginger ale and enjoy this week’s post...then head on out to catch the new Avengers movie…while ignoring the naysayers. Thank you for reading.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Descender #3
Descender #3 - Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics. TIM-21 is dead…or is he? After suffering grievous harm at the hands of the wicked Scrappers, he awakens to meet a robot who has long been dead. The robot wants to show the boy something and TIM-21 follows. Meanwhile, Driller and Bandit, a mining bot and a robo-dog respectively, rush to save the boy's life, only to run into Dr. Quon (father of robotics), Telsa, and Tullis; the meeting does not go well.

I absolutely love this comic series. What’s even better than just reading this candidate for “Best New Series of 2015” is listening to appropriate background music while doing so. Take for instance the awesome La Planete Sauvage O.S.T., which should definitely put you a sci-fi state of mind, for this gorgeous sci-fi comic.

After the brutal cliffhanger from last month, Descender #3 picks up at the worst case scenario, and it is just as we feared. Lemire instantly made us fall in love with TIM-21 with but a page or two of the first issue, yet despite knowing that the creators intend for this series to last quite a while, we can't help but fear for the boy robot's safety. Lemire’s beautiful characterization and dialogue give us no choice in the matter. We also get to see more of Dr. Quon, who we also learned to love in the first issue, as well as the mysterious and surly Telsa, who I desperately want to learn more about. In short: The story and the characters are going to keep those ol’ peepers of yours glued to the page.

Nguyen’s art…oh my stars and garters, denizens, it is something to behold. The beauty of his character acting and his engaging storytelling skills are just part of this amazing comic. When you factor in the lush watercolors and otherworldly rose-colored hue of the robot afterlife, I suspect you will be as transfixed as I am with each panel of this beautiful comic that brings back all the best memories of Epic Comics in the early ’80s.

<sigh> Apologies. That was a not a sigh of frustration, but a sigh of contentment…mixed with a tad bit of disappointment that a great experience is over all too soon. To repeat what I stated above and on each of the first two issues, I absolutely love this comic series. LOVE IT! Don’t trade wait this beautiful, emotional, sci-fi mystery comic. At only three issues in, you should be able to catch up with little hassle. The first issue is in second printing, and I believe the second issue will be headed there as well. I already know I will be picking up the deluxe hardcover that I hope will be released sometime late next year (please please please), as Descender looks to be one of the truly special ones. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Afterlife with Archie #8
Afterlife with Archie - Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacassa, illustrated by Francesco Francavilla, lettered by Jack Morelli, published by Archie Comics Publications. A month has passed since “Blaze” walked out of the woods carrying a bloodied machete and proclaimed that her twin brother, Jason, would not be joining the group of zombie survivors…ever. Now, the gang is holed up in the Bradbury Hotel and Archie is having a conversation with his good pal, Jughead — Jughead is supposed to be dead. Disagreements, decisions, and declarations, oh my.

I don’t know where this comic has been these past many months — that bleak time was cold, so very cold — but I’m glad Afterlife with Archie is back. I came to the world of Archie late in life after having deemed it too “kiddie” when I too was a kid. I was terribly wrong, and eventually learned to love and respect this publisher. When Afterlife with Archie first appeared, I was at first dismissive, but made the buy anyways, and was beyond surprised by this phenomenal, horrifying, touching, and earnest take on the gang from Riverdale; I fell in love.

Aguirre-Sacassa continues to take the lovable characters from out of their past lives of soda shops, sock hops, and goofy hijinks into a modern world of real problems: Death, unfulfilled lives, secret loves, and so very much more. With the first issue, I knew many of the characters (Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead), but throughout the course of the series, I have been better introduced to the twins Cheryl and Jason Blossom, Nancy and Ginger, Reggie, and many others, but what Aguirre-Sacassa does so well is make you quickly care for all of the characters and their plights. At times, Zom-Jughead and his zombie army, as awesome as they are, take a backseat to Archie and his gangs’ most intimate moments. The Shining-esque scenes of this issue with Archie and Ghost-Jughead only make an already fantastic comic truly heavenly.

Francavilla…geez Louise, this guy could illustrate the two most boring people in the world talking and make the scene utterly beautiful. But, take two popular and fascinating characters like Jughead and Archie, put them alone in a creepy hotel bar with an uplit surface, and the colors and shading alone are mind-blowing. The character acting and sequentials all ensure you can’t turn away until you reach the end. The combined efforts of the creators make this series something even non-comic book lovers can appreciate.

I love this series. Yes, I would prefer to not have the lengthy delays, but as long as new issues continue to be released, I’m a happy Donist. I have given the Afterlife with Archie trade to a handful of friends over the past year, and I will continue to do so for all who might appreciate this think-outside-of-the-box comic that probably would not work without these talented creators’ touch. If you aren’t reading Afterlife with Archie, you are missing out on an important and spooky-fun comic. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Rachel Rising #33
Rachel Rising #33 - Everthinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. Out in the woods, someone, or rather some thing, rises from the dirt to once again wreck havoc upon the town of Manson.

Not much happens in this month, so it’s pretty easy to write a teaser about the issue. This in no way implies that this issue is lacking in substance or direction for the series, even though Rachel, Zoe, nor any of their friends appear within the pages. Instead, it’s all about the return of a major character from the past, whose identity I assume you can easily guess if you have been reading this terrific Twin Peaks-meets-horror-comics series. I did, however, miss seeing Rachel and discovering more about who originally killed her, but that's cool, I can wait.

The art in this issue is as beautiful as ever, especially where Moore’s character acting and design are concerned, and the depiction of the returned character is as wicked and manipulative as ever. The scene where the character tries to convince an old man to let them in his house showcases Moore’s dramatic range as the angry person puts on a happy, naive face that barely manages to hide the frustration and rage. It’s all quite stunning, but you can always expect such attention to detail from this tremendous creator.

Although I did not expect this interlude issue, I did enjoy it — this is despite the fact my issue has a misprint as pages three and four are exactly the same. If you like smart horror, the kind that slowly creeps up upon you as opposed to torture pr0n or cheap scares like cats jumping out of trash cans, then you must read this phenomenal comic (five trades available!) that can at times make you laugh and at others give you the willies. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Spider-Gwen #4
Spider-Gwen #4 - 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. With the Vulture out of the picture — for the time being — Gwen has a moment to breathe and think about what it is she is doing. Sometimes fighting super villains is easier than dealing with the battles going on in your mind.

Last issue, there were fights, and punching, and fighting, and kicking, and if I remember correctly, some fights. This issue sees none of that, and is all the stronger because of it. Latour gives both Gwen and the reader a moment to think about what has transpired thus far. He provides some great moments between Spider-Woman and some barely-criminals, and some beautifully honest moments with the cheerful Uncle Ben and Aunt May, the latter of whom helps Gwen through her turmoil. It’s all deeply real after Peter Parker’s death (dang, I really need to get a hold of that Edge of Spider-Verse #2), with the possible exception of Aunt May repeating Gwen’s name back to her a few too many times.

Rodriguez and Renzi’s art alone is enough to warrant a look at this title, with the taggers versus Spider-Woman part being gorgeous…dig that splash page, denizens! Speaking of splash pages, the one with Gwen finding Aunt May’s scrapbook, and the one of The Mary Janes are just too cool for school, and would look quite lovely hanging on the wall above the printer.

I really wish there was a The Mary Janes band out there. I kinda think I’d be listening to them right now.

So, Spider-Gwen continues to be the only Marvel Comics comic book I am actively picking up aside from Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye <crickets chirping…loudly>.  We get something more with this series than the same ol’ characters doing the same ol’ things, and this is despite the series containing many of the same ol’ characters, who are not so much “ol’ ” as they are reimagined in a way that sparks my interest. As long as Spider-Gwen continues to be exciting and different in both story and art, I look to be onboard for quite a while. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

God Hates Astronauts #8
God Hates Astronauts #8 - Most everythinged by Ryan Browne, colors by Jordan Boyd and Ryan Browne, lettered by Chris Crank and Ryan Browne, edited by Jordan Browne, designed by Thomas Quinn, published by Image Comics. The host with the most, the 3-D Ghost, is back — although he is totally drunk — and leads us on a journey through time and space, as Starrior attempts to recruit Star Fighter, Big-Head Star Fighter, and Star Grass into her efforts to rescue her kidnapped daughter, Starlina, from the clutches of some cosmic a_holes. Most shocking of all…Star Fighter insults Dr. Professor. Repeatedly.

This comic is soooooooo stupid. I mean this as a tremendous compliment. I guarantee you have not read anything like this insane comic. The fact that the little summary above actually makes some degree of sense is a shocker in and of itself, but this hilarious, weird, vulgar, head trip of a hot mess is something all comic lovers seeking a break from the dark, shadowy, darkly-dark darkness found in most of the comics being released should check out (don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE many of those bleak comics). The dialogue alone in this series is enough to crack me up, but when it comes from an exchange between a ghost-cow-headed star warrior and an anthropomorphic rhino with a mustache you just can’t go wrong. The art, though, is a powerhouse as well. Just have a look at the King Tiger Eating a Cheeseburger (the name exactly describes this character) versus Sir Hippothesis (a muscular, sword-wielding hippo warrior) and you will fully experience Browne’s command of storytelling, humor, hilarious sound effects lettering, and character acting.

If you are ready to take a dive into the deep end of the bizarre, then look not further than God Hates Astronauts, but you gotta do it right. Read this one in order by starting with the first two trades. I don’t mean to suggest that this will help you understand Browne’s mind any better — no one can claim that honor — but rather you will get to know some of the oddball characters on this nutty series. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Secret Wars #1
Secret Wars #1 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Esad Ribic, colored by Ive Svorcina, lettered by Chris Eliopoulos, production by Idette Winecoor, published by Marvel Comics. “The Multiverse is dying. Only two universes remain. Today, Earths collide.”

Notice the quotes around the description, denizens. Yeah, I didn’t write that, but took it from the sixth page (fifth page if you don’t count the storyline-flow-crushing Gillette ad on page two)…you know, the one across from the storyline-flow-crushing Hasbro ad for Avengers Age of Ultron toys. Discounting the storyline-flow-crushing ads for AC*BC, Avengers Age of Ultron movie (okay, this one gets a pass), Share Your Universe, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television show, and the Secret Wars tie-ins ad, you get 35 pages of art and story, and despite my hesitance to ever delve into any sort of event book, I actually enjoyed the first issue of Secret Wars. That said, there is a ton I did not fully understand, as I have not read most (or any) of what’s come before. That’s okay, just go with the flow…ignoring the intrusive ads, of course.

Ribic and Svorcina provide some stunning visuals that remind me of everything I loved about their awesome run on Thor God of Thunder from a few years ago, and it is especially awesome to see their take on the many heroes and villains who show up in this book. The battle in the sky is jaw-dropping and the art as a whole makes this book worthy of checking out.

I know Donist World’s statement is to focus on the positive, and for the most part I do that, but every once in a blue moon, I decide to give an event book a shot. On these high-profile books, I’m willing to bend the rules a little and say what I think, as opposed to my usual rule of just not talking about something I did not love. As I said, I did enjoy this $4.99 book, despite my annoyance that it kinda doubled as a way to serve ads to readers, but the quality of the stuff that matters, the actual story and art, made the purchase worth it. So, yeah, I’m a little confused as to what is going on, but I will be definitely check out the next issue with my fingers crossed that we get a book of substance (like Hickman’s awesome Infinity event, which I reviewed here), instead of a vehicle designed to just sell us stuff. This issue is RECOMMENDED!

Avengers Age of Ultron the Movie - I am going to keep this one brief. I absolutely loved it, although there were some things that kind of bugged me, but the same can be said of all movies. Remember way up at the top of this post how I said “***Possible Spoilers Below***?” Well, I warned you. Anyhow, I loved the humor (especially the stuff with Thor’s hammer), Vision was absolutely killer, Ultron was great, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were great, I liked the extra time with Hawkeye, and the budding relationship with Natasha and Banner was believable and nothing worth freaking out about. My main complaint stems from the film trying to do too much, and it was obvious that there’s some excess material that was hacked out of the film. I would have rather seen the Hulk Vs. Iron Man fight trimmed if not cut — although it was visually pretty amazing — it just didn’t quite jive with the story that was being told. Quicksilver died in a superheroic manner that completely redeemed him of his past crimes, yet I wanted more time for Wanda, Clint, and the rest to actually grieve and pay respects for the guy outside of giving a baby the middle name of Pietro. Still, I LOVED the film. If I had to rank the movies thus far, Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: Winter Soldier are tied at number one, Avengers 1 is number two, with Avengers Age of Ultron being number three. I can’t wait to see it again. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Death Threat Sending Morons - I’m of course talking about the whole Whedon and Twitter bs that has been going on.
Firstly, if you send death threats to anyone because of a movie, then you are a complete and total moron who should be doing jail time for the crime of Stupid in the First Degree. It doesn’t really matter how you interpreted the Natasha / Banner scene, you just don’t do that.
Secondly, Natasha confiding in Banner about what was done to her for the sake of the “job” was merely her expressing to Banner that he is not alone; a strong character expressed a level of understanding to someone who feels they are alone in the world.
Thirdly, when Natasha states that she is a “monster,” she is referring to the “red” files, meaning all of the people she has flat out murdered and ruined over the course of her darker times. This is something The Avengers, Iron Man 3, and Captain America: Winter Soldier have been hammering into our skulls over the past three years. I will concede that maybe if you have not seen the other movies that there could be some confusion as to what she is referring, but I will have to rewatch the scene to be sure.
Finally, Twitter, Facebook, and all of the other social media platforms are time sucks. If you get caught up in the vortex of social media, then your productivity is sure to go down the toilet, along with a fair amount of your happiness and self esteem. I don’t blame Whedon for bailing, especially if morons are calling for his death. Remember, it’s a fricking movie, and one from the guy who brought us Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and The Avengers, which you all loved so much. People, get a grip.

Sorry folks, no time for a song this week…I gotta do job hunt stuff. The Donist needs to get P.A.I.D.


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