Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 5/15/2015

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 / road warrior Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). This week, my puppy executive team is gearing up to have their hearts broken yet again. You see, they think they are going with myself and Obie’s owner to catch the new Mad Max movie — following lunch at Hollister Brewing Co., of course. Ummm…yeah…movie theaters still don’t allow dogs, even when they are dressed in torn up leather outfits (Obie is wearing chaps…disturbing), and mohawk / Tina Turner wigs. Sorry dogs, keep on keepin’ on with maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company; we’ll have a corporate office (Mom’s basement) viewing when it eventually comes out on Blu-ray. <sigh> So, grab some tacos and a strong ginger ale — or perhaps an iced tea, iced tea is nice — and enjoy this week’s post...then head on out to catch the new Mad Max movie…I’m so excited! Thank you for reading.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #28
Saga #28 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered by Fonografiks, coordinated by Eric Stephenson, published by Image Comics. Sophie and The Brand’s chat is interrupted when Halvor makes his presence known. Alana, Hazel, Klara, their kidnapper Dengo, and the baby princeling robot all come to the conclusion that they have a bad Last Revolution problem. And Prince Robot IV’s family obligations finally catch up with him (and Marko, and Ghüs, and Yuma, too)…the reunion doesn’t go well. Oh yeah…Friendo!

Remember in past reviews how I said that at its worst a new issue of Saga tends to be merely awesome? Well, this month’s release falls on the other end of that spectrum. This issue pulls all three main groups of characters into the issue, each with their own spectacular moment(s). I’m not going to spoil it, denizens, but that final, full-page splash is beautiful as an illustration, but within the context of the story and the particular scene…stunning, shocking. I’ve gone on and on in the past about how the creators leave their readers desperately loving their characters, even the “bad guys,” and we smile when good things happen for them, wince as they make self-destructive decisions, and are saddened when bad things happen — ugh, poor Heist. I even want Prince Robot IV to be safe and come out ahead, and he was once the big-bad-threats of the series. What I’m saying is that I would like to plead to Vaughan and Staples not to allow any harm to come to Marko, Alana, or Hazel. Or The Will and The Brand. Or Lying Cat and Sweet Boy. Or Gwendolyn. Or Sophie. Or Prince Robot IV. Or even Dengo and the princeling. Or Yuma. Or Klara. Or, by all that holy, no harm to Ghüs or Friendo. There’s also the telepathic, aquatic, gay reporters we haven’t seen for a while…keep them safe, too. But then that final sequence… <sigh>

It’s moments like the opening page that sucks you in and refuses to let go. We have three horizontal pages, only two word balloons that total six words, and absolutely nothing happens on that page. Panel one is of Lying Cat sleeping in a tree, panel two of Gwendolyn sleeping on a dozing Sweet Boy, and finally Sophie and The Brand talking and roasting marshmallows over a camp fire. Staples’s gorgeous art makes you smile, and your heart warms at the tenderness of the scene. Then Vaughan’s two words, followed by four words practically made me shoot my beer out my nose — which doesn’t feel good, denizens, believe you me.  I was laughing and more than anything desperately needed to find out more of the context of their conversation. It’s a classic “arrive late” moment that works oh so well and completely turns the tranquility of the moment on its head. Heh, I’m still cracking up…man, I love these characters.

So, yes, Saga continues to be my favorite book on the stands as well as one of my all-time-favorite comic book series. It’s sci-fi, fantasy, adventure, and drama with some brutally real moments that ring all too true despite being wrapped between layers of rockets made out of trees, Lying Cats, robot sex, adorable seal boys brandishing enchanted axes, and quests for magic dragon semen — no, I did not mistype type any of that. If you have not yet read Saga, then I’m sure you’re scratching your head over my description of this must-read series, but you need to trust Ol’ Donist on this one…pick up the trades or go full Monty with the gorgeous hardcover. After you get caught up, I'm certain you’ll welcome these wonderful characters into you imaginary family with open arms. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

East of West #19
East of West #19 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics. It’s all Babylon, the son of Death, all day and all night. Actually, it’s all night, and there are lessons to be learned. The problem is that Babylon might be learning lessons that the corrupted “Balloon” never intended.

East of West continues to be a fantastic, dark, post-apocalyptic tale. Usually, each issue is wrought with characters plotting and manipulating to achieve their desires with the repercussions of their actions affecting the world on a global scale, but not so much with this issue. Of course Babylon is being manipulated by Balloon — as he has been since day one — but as we saw last issue, the Prophet Orion has updated Balloon’s programming to something a bit more sinister. The cool thing is that Hickman narrows the focus of this issue to only Babylon and Balloon’s interactions, and we see Death’s son begin to question what he is experiencing in the real world. This has been building for a while, and I am torn between fearing and seeing what happens when Babylon finally sheds the VR goggles and the Beats by Dre headphones to experience the world as it actually is. <brrrrrr>…feel that chill creep up the spine.

Dragotta’s art on this issue is as heavenly as ever with fantastic character acting and character design for both Babylon and Balloon, but it is his storytelling on the nearly silent double-page action sequence of 22 panels that is sure to make readers gasp in appreciation. Then you turn the page to the awesome full-page splash… You have to see it to believe it.

With a rich, complex story, and stunning illustrations, East of West is sure to please those who want an intricate story with many moving parts. You will, however, need to wear your thinking caps, and you should be well-rested before tackling this awesome comic. Actually, you should do some jumping jacks to get the blood pumping…and you should hydrate beforehand as well, that’s always important. Basically, you need to be ready for this fine comic. If you have not yet read East of West, you can easily catch up with the first three trades, but be warned, you might not know what’s going on at first, but stick with it through the third issue and you will be glad you did. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Secret Wars #2
Secret Wars #2 - 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 Thor police force of Doomgard gain a new recruit as Bar Sinister and Higher Avalon have grievances requiring regulation. So says the god Doom. The new status quo is harsh, brutal, but is Doom’s ascension to godhood prepared for those who seek to complicate matters.

My reaction to the first issue was one of confusion at what was going on in the well-written story, awe at Ribic’s gorgeous art and take on Marvel’s top heroes ( about a four-issue mini for Iron Fist? please please please!), and a spike in my interest and hope in this event book. So, a week later, we have issue two with no change in artist, waaaaaay fewer ads and interruptions in the story (thank you, Marvel!), over 40 pages of material, an absolutely bonkers story that mostly makes sense and is pretty dang cool, and some visually stunning moments. Is this honestly an event book? It seems too good to be an event book. Yup, it’s still an event book.

Now, I have no idea as to how Doom gained the powers from issue one, or what the deal is with the white outfit, but you know what, denizens, why over think it? I’m fine with the god Doom of this world and his harsh punishment of those who willfully disobey his rule. Thankfully, he still pays heed to the words of Susan Storm (The Invisible Woman) in scenes that remind me of the best parts of A Game of Thrones, complete with Dr. Strange who is the sheriff of this series, yet who visually reminds me so much of Littlefinger. The duel between Sinister and Jaime Braddock (I had to look him up) is beautifully choreographed and something that slowed my reading of the comic as I just had to linger over every panel.

Then we get three and a half pages of Jaime as he submits to his fate and descends the wall into the realm of the Marvel Zombies (the Deadlands). This is where Ribic, whose art is gorgeous on its own, is elevated into the realm of all things heavenly by the talents of Ive Svorcina. I have no idea how Svorcina achieves the unique look that he imparts upon Ribic’s art, but when scenes change to outer space, or the mystical, that is where Svorcina floors me. He has a style that makes scenes like the Deadlands look positively ethereal and ultimately haunting, especially when Jaime fires up his sword and looks into the mist to see Venom approaching. It was so creepy and beautiful that I almost couldn’t bring myself turn the page. Almost.

I can’t wait to see what happens next. There, I said it. I never thought I would say that about an event book. The equally surprising thing is that I am optimistic about the six remaining issues in this mini-series, and if the book can keep Ribic and Svorcina with no hastily put together pages, or fill-in artists, then I might <gasp> be happy with an event comic. At a quarter of the way in, I can say that this issue and the series thus far come HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Black Science #14
Black Science #14 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Mateo Scalera, colored by Moreno Dinisio, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Grant and Shawn have contracted the plague unleashed upon this world by parallel versions of themselves. They are dying. But they don’t have time for that. They need to rescue Grant’s wife, Sara, (a parallel version of his wife at least) and Grant’s daughter, Pia, not to mention get critical parts for the Pillar back to the rest of the group. But then the unthinkable happens…Sara and Pia’s vital signs disappear from the tracking device…

The roller coaster ride continues in grand style as we fly through the city with Grant and Shawn as they attempt to reach Pia and Sara. Scalera’s visuals are exciting, intense, commanding your eyes to stick to the action, but with this issue, Remender’s captions are what steal the show. It’s heartbreaking to read Grant’s final realization that he has not just screwed up his own life, or that of his coworkers, but mostly that of his children and his wife. Grant had thrown his life into his work and missed out on what should have been some of the best moments a happy life has to offer…for work. Years are gone that can never be regained, and this character’s thoughts are so strong, so real, that I could not help but think of time lost in my own life. <brrrrr> Powerful stuff. But amidst the intensity of this issue, I still had a blast reading this comic, and by the end Grant McKay’s growth from a self-centered a_hole to something new left me smiling.

Black Science truly is the equivalent of a sci-fi Indiana Jones movie, keeping you off-balance and on-guard for at any moment things might get positively nuts, and they usually do. If you aren’t reading this phenomenal Image Comics series, then you can easily catch up via the first two trades in time for the third, which will be available shortly after the next two issues in this arc. I kind of love this long form, weird sci-fi story that successfully blends the feel of the old Warren Magazine stories with their modern takes, all in one exhilarating package. You need to be reading this. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Kickstarter and Archie Comics - I’m going to keep this brief. Please don’t support this. If you have been reading Donist World for any length of time, then you know I have been championing Afterlife with Archie, Sabrina, and Archie: The Married Life, as well as Archie Comics’s forward-thinking stance on important issues, and their willingness to say…throw Archie and the gang into the midst of the Predator, KISS, and at some point Sharknado. Awesome, right? Not so much their horrible decision to go to Kickstarter to potentially release three comics. Here are the problems I have with this:

  1. Archie Comics is a corporation, a mid-sized comic book publisher, whose books have been garnering critical attention, and media exposure for some time now. They shouldn’t be about to shutter the business anytime soon.
  2. They are asking for $350,000 for this campaign.
  3. Kickstarter is for the “little guy,” folks like me, who probably won’t ask for even 1% of what Archie Comics is requesting. A contribution to this established, well-known company potentially pulls money away from the “little guys” who want to see their dream comics a reality.
  4. The prizes don’t match the contribution levels. $20 gets you two floppies, a pdf of one of them, a credit in a comic, an emailed newsletter. Seriously? $20 should get you the new Archie book, all three Kickstarter comics, the newsletter (plus opt-out option), all four PDFs, a button, a poster, a limited edition print cover of all four comics. 

So, yeah, I feel bad about ripping on this, but c’mon…EVERYONE is trying to take our money away nowadays, so why not give those willing show their enthusiasm and support something that shows you appreciate their business and truly respect their continued enthusiasm and support. Please don’t support this campaign.

Ack…Sorry folks, no time for a song this week…again. I had two graphic design project that were due this week, and I still gotta do job hunt stuff. The Donist needs to get P.A.I.D.

I hope to get back to the songs next week. Thank you for reading.

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