Friday, June 5, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 6/5/2015

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 / life coach Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). It’s been a weird week, and as much as I hate to see days go by, I’m glad it’s over. Thankfully, I have my trusty puppy executive team beside me, and we are aggressively seeking to maintain our standing as a Fortune 320,000 company. We are also embellishing our core competencies, while buying-in to the scalability or our cross-geo-canis-Donist-synergies. I don’t know what that means either, but Obie was adamant about it, and I don’t feel like arguing the matter with him. So, why don’t y’all shove aside the blahs (or heck, set the Midnighter upon ’em), 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***

The Autumnlands:
Tooth & Claw #6
The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw #6 - Written by Kurt Busiek, illustrated by Benjamin Dewey, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered and designed by John G. Roshell and Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft, published by Image Comics. The parley is finally here, and Seven-Scars the bison has brought his secret war party to celebrate the occasion. But Learoyd, the Champion of the magic-using upperclass, has a plan in place for such treachery, one that will shock and appall both sides in the disagreement…provided anyone lives to tell the tale.

The first arc of the exciting The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw fantasy series comes to a close and it does exactly what it is supposed to do: it leaves you eager to see what happens next. This issue shows just how out of place Learoyd is in this world, and how far he will go to win the day. No one understands the man or his methods, or why he does not adhere to their customs or beliefs in right and wrong. The situation is further complicated as the Champion freely admits to Seven-Scars that he might very well be on the wrong side of this war, but the fact remains he has chosen a side, and that side will persevere through whatever means necessary. Learoyd has some pretty drastic means. Although, I am a little surprised by both sides' shock over Learoyd’s actions. Seven-Scars was going to violate the parley the first chance he got…the Champion was just willing to go to even more extreme means to improve his side's chance of survival. Still, I can’t help but be sympathetic to the bison tribe, who has literally had the crap of the magic-using upper class dumped down upon them for generations. Maybe the Great Champion is on the wrong side, but there are still plenty worth saving like Dusty (bull terrier boy) and Gharta (warthog woman). That Sandorst (the owl guy), though, is a piece of work…

Dewey’s art is as gorgeous as ever. As I have said with each of the prior issues, his storytelling prowess is extraordinary, as are the character designs and costuming, but it is his character acting with the myriad animal people that rocks this Donist’s socks off. I have never seen a more cheerful / distressed bull terrier, or a more beautifully detailed owl, begrudgingly admiring the human Champion. In one panel you see a bear, a mastiff, and a walrus, all armed to the teeth, with such grim determination that you can’t help but feel slightly more at ease as the furious tribe of bison men descending upon them. Make no mistake, you not only get a wonderfully crafted story with The Autumnlands, you get some truly beautiful pages as well.

I love this brilliant fantasy series. The Autumnlands world is inventive and fascinating, its characters rich and complex, and each more-pages-than-a-Big-Two-book comic gives you incredible value for each issue's $2.99 price tag. Much of this six-issue arc has been dedicated to world building, but we have been given enough of a glimpse into the characters to at least get to know them some. Yes, I want to know more about Dusty, Learoyd, Sandhurst, Seven-Scars, and the rest of them, but with the amount of content crammed into each issue, the creators would have needed to give us around 48 pages with each installment (I would be totally okay with this, btw). That said, I’m pleased with what we have, and I’m certain we will explore deeper into all of the fascinating characters in the next arc, which cannot come soon enough. If you have not been reading the best fantasy comic on the stands, then you will soon be able to catch up with the July release of the first trade ($9.99 retail!). HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Secret Wars #3
Secret Wars #3 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Esad Ribic, colored by Ive Svorcina, lettered by Chris Eliopoulos, published by Marvel Comics. Dr. Stephen Strange and Dr. Victor Von Doom have always had a complex relationship, a complex relationship that persists in this new world, where Doom is god, and Strange his sheriff. Both remember the way the world used to be, but they are not alone in this knowledge, as a few more players emerge whose recollections of the past have not been altered.

Denizens, I am so confused by what is going on. Not by the story, or art, but by the fact we are on the third issue of a Big Two event comic, and I am absolutely loving what I am reading. Weird, right? Usually I enjoy the first issue and things begin to fall apart thereafter, whether it involves the writing (characterization, story, etc.) or art (rotating artists, 10+ inkers, breakdowns in storytelling), but that is not the case here.

Hickman writes some compelling and complex characters, especially when it comes to the Strange / Doom relationship, which is one of mutual admiration, slight distrust, and dare I say…friendship. If the issue had been merely Doom and Strange talking, I would have been perfectly happy with that, but the addition of the other characters made the story all the stronger. We also gain a tad more insight as to what went down and who knows what, as well as learn of a potential secret plot. The issue ended much too soon.

Ribic and Svorcina’s art continues to amaze, but I will agree with some of what I have been reading across the dreaded interwebs that some faces look slightly off at times, but not enough to pull me out of the story, or dampen my love of the imagery. I will say that I hope to see more of the artists’ interpretations of the Deadlands and, of course, anything that involves outer space, for that is where the pair amaze and dazzle.

Admittedly, I had fallen off from the majority of Big Two books over the past few years, but this event, this Secret Wars, is pulling me back in, by golly. You have Hickman’s writing, which like his work on the Donist World darling East of West, leaves the reader with many questions. But the cool thing is he does not leave you frustrated in a Lost sort of way. Instead he actually answers those questions, leaving the reader with a need to delve deeper into Hickman’s fascinating world. So, yeah, I’m scratching my head. I’m very eager to see what happens next, and as of this writing Secret Wars is delivering a dang-fine event book. Who woulda thunk it? HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Midnighter #1
Midnighter #1 - Written by Steve Orlando, illustrated by ACO, inked by ACO with Hugo Petrus, colored by Roulo Fajardo, Jr., lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, published by DC Comics. The baddest good guy of them all begins his own series, on his own terms, and if you have a problem with that, then take it up with him. Go on. I dare you. That’s what I thought. There’s a thief in the God Garden, and they have taken everything, including something of grand importance to the Midnighter, which was a very, very, very bad move on the thief’s part.

Well it’s about time, denizens. Please keep in mind that I have not read Grayson (Should I?), which I have heard does the Midnighter justice. I first went nutty for the Midnighter back when Warren Ellis introduced him in the pages of Stormwatch and then even moreso in the must-read The Authority. Mark Millar also had some great moments for the Midnighter, but after that…no one really captured the magic of the character or the supergroups he was part of…until now.

Orlando presents the Midnighter as a man who couldn’t care less about protecting any sort of secret identity, and he has zero problems keeping his sexual orientation secret either. Like the honey badger, the Midnighter doesn't give a sh*t, he not only accepts who he is, he likes who he is. Older versions portrayed the character as deeply dark, moody, secretive — which was great — but seeing him release all of that is a fantastic evolution of the character. Although Orlando has made the Midnighter more vocal (outside of when annihilating some sort of soon-to-be-very-sorry bad guy), don’t assume he is a super goody-goody. As the character says, “I’m not a hero. Some people can’t handle that,” which he proved on a previous page, after kicking a steak bone through a bad guy’s skull. Ouch.

ACO’s art is fantastic with some truly insane layouts that brought back memories of watching Sonny Chiba’s Street Fighter with the special “X-ray vision” moments that are still cracking me up — a steak bone through the skull, by golly! That said, there are some moments throughout that I wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but not enough to pull me out of the story; I just wanted to see what happened next.

<sigh> I thought I was out on DC titles, but now Orlando had to go and re-awsomize one of my favorite superheroes. I’m also thrilled that we now have a bit of diversity with a gay character who might not be the nicest of cats, but who puts the “bad” in badass. I also want to applaud DC for allowing a sex positive stance in one of their titles. As for the split-page ads: yeah, they suck, but not as much as having 10 ads interrupt the flow of the story. Criminy, that’s a lot of ads. As for the book itself…Orlando and ACO nail the character, his voice, and his look in a story that is both a fun read, and one that leaves me excited to see what comes next. One heck of mighty fine start. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Not a Great Week - I am not referring to comics, but let’s just say it just wasn’t the best of weeks for me. But, hey, let’s not focus on the negative, and instead move forward with the positive, y’know, the stuff that really matters.

and with that…

(sung to the tune of The B-52s’s “Legal Tender”)

We’re into comics, looking for hits 
All of it’s hot
10-20-30 dollars ready to be spent
Browsin’ racks against the wall
Oh yeah represent

Lovin’ ’em all oh what to buy
But baby, prices are up there, ain’t no lie
Don’t fret, no need to lament
Autumnlands’s a good one, kid
Secret Wars will rock your socks
And also Midnighter
No need to lament


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