Friday, June 12, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 6/12/2015

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 / too-much-of-a-good-thing analyst Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). We’re keeping the intro short this week as we came home with eight books, seven of which we need to tell you about, so we better get rolling. My puppy executive team and I are heading into a meeting about maintaining Donist World as a Fortune 320,000 company and about the best taco variations in existence today…we’re in for the long haul. So, grab some killer tacos, and a strong ginger ale — or perhaps an iced tea, iced tea is nice — and settle in to enjoy this week’s post. Thank you for reading.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #29
Saga #29 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, coordinated by Eric Stephenson, published by Image Comics. The Last Revolution makes their demands, but Wreath High Command has some demands of their own. Another group’s quest for dragon…ummm…remainders comes to an end. A third group hops out of the frying pan and into the ice box.

Not since the second trade  have I been so shockingly repulsed by imagery from a comic. One particular splash page comes to mind, and if you read that issue/trade, then you know exactly what I’m talking about (hint: Fard!!!). This month, we don’t get just a single horrifying splash page, but rather, Vaughan and Staples deliver a full on double-page spread of something that will scar your mind, body, and soul for the rest of your days. You can’t un-see this image once you’ve seen it, denizens, it’ll be with you forever. I’m sure five, ten, fifteen years from now, I’ll be sitting on the porch, sipping my coffee, reading my funny books, relishing the things that make life enjoyable…and then the image will come crashing home from the recesses of my mind, causing me to bolt upright and spill hot coffee into my lap, and damaging my holographic comic book presentation device (iDisp Air 2…nailed it!). <Ugh!> Even going back to look at the spread for this review I’m seeing details I did not previously notice. Whoa boy… being so thoroughly shocked, repulsed, appalled by these creators is something…it’s something I cannot thank them enough for. Criminy, I cannot stop laughing. Bravo and ewwwwwww!

Anyhow, aside from those pages, a ton happens in this issue and it ain’t pretty. It also is by no means funny. I’m not going to spoil what happens, but I will say that last month’s issue is small beans in comparison, and waiting for issue thirty is going to be one painfully long wait indeed. Dang…just dang. All three groups get some screen time this month, and things move quickly as one jarring event after another goes down. After the slow start of the first couple issues in this arc, you should be pretty much floored by the end of this issue. Again, criminy.

As always, the writing and art are phenomenal, with my favorite panel being the last panel page-turner of three bewildered characters as they gaze upon the scene of what will be the double-page spread. I paused on that panel for a good minute, as I tried to imagine what they were witnessing, to predict what horror could possibly be waiting at the turn of the page; my guess wasn’t even close. Again, ewwwwwww! Ha.

Saga is great. I know it. The Donist World executive team knows it. The PotUS knows it. You should know it, too. You can catch up with the trades (four currently available), and or the beautiful hardcover edition that contains the first three issues as well as bonus material. All I know is the next issue needs to get here now now now. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Descender #4
Descender #4 - Written by Jeff Lemire, art by Dustin Nguyen, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics. TIM-21 and Dr. Quon have been reunited after the terrible destruction of The Harvesters from a decade ago. But no one aboard their UGC ship is prepared to hear that while TIM-21 was dead, the boy robot actually dreamt of a robot underworld. Unfortunately, the group will have little time to investigate the matter as more Scrappers arrive on the scene.

As I have said before, I absolutely love this series. It tugs on all the right ’80s comic book and sci-fi nostalgia, while expanding upon those experiences by delivering an exquisitely written and paced story with some phenomenal watercolored art that brings the reader right up to the front row of the action. The creators instantly made me love the humanoids, Dr. Quon and Telsa, while sparking great interest in tough-guy Tullis, but they also made me positively adore the robot TIM-21 and Bandit — a robo-dog, who looks like a more mobile Rhumba…but cuter. I also dig the monstrous, not-all-that-smart, lethal bot, Driller, who looks like the ’80s lovechild of a GoBot and a Transformer, which I say as a huge compliment. Almost every panel is hauntingly beautiful in both storytelling and layout, but Nguyen’s bonus one-two punch comes from his brilliant character acting and gorgeous character design. It does not matter that the first page is a simple four-panel grid depicting TIM-21 from the shoulders up as he talks to someone (Dr. Quon) off-panel. There is not a shred of background detail, only TIM-21, but the expression and life in the boy-bot’s face strengthen make the page a compelling scene. Or, take the moments with Telsa and Dr. Quon, where the woman relaxes the perma-scowl on her face for just an instant and the hard lines under her eyes lift. We have always had the impression that Telsa has seen a lot in her life, and this issue reveals the reason why those harsh scowl lines exist — she is dang stunning, though.

I love this comic. At just four issues in, and with not even half of the year gone, Descender is Donist World’s Best New Release of 2015, and I can’t see anything really edging it out. Heck, I’m already imagining the over-sized hardcover collection, and where I’m going to put it on my favorite bookshelf. What I’m saying is you need to be reading Descender if you are in anyway a fan of great sci-fi, great storytelling, wonderful characters, and beautiful art. You should be able to find floppies at the ol’ LCS, which I strongly suggest you do for this Donist World darling. Buy it! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Black Science #15
Black Science #15 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Matteo Scalera, colored by Moreno Dinisio, lettered by…someone, possibly edited by someone as well, published by Image Comics. Dissension among the group leads to startling developments, as Grant McKay attempts to save a world that very much wants to see him dead.

I frequently refer to Black Science as an adventurous roller coaster ride, but I’m going to have to add an “and emotional” clause to follow “adventurous.” Holy schmoly. Okay, first off, there is a flashback of Grant recruiting Shawn to the world of forbidden science, one that struck more than a few personal chords for this ol’ Donist, but that is beside the point. This issue, and the series as a whole for that matter, is all about the choices we make. The whys and the whats that blur the lines between selfishness and selflessness, and of how the right decision can twist to become the wrong, and that action and inaction can have equal consequences. Shawn, Kadir, Shaman, Pia, Grant, Nathan, everyone makes some big choices in this issue, and there are definite repercussions that I suspect will make readers gasp and groan in frustration at having to wait for the next awesome issue that will conclude this third arc.

If you want a crazy sci-fi comic that will take you up, down, and all around, all while giving you some beautiful sights to see along the way, then look no further than Black Science. You can easily catch up with the first two tradesthen the third (available in August), which should leave you more than ready to convert to floppies, as the creators promise next month’s third arc finale will leave you breathless. I cannot wait to see what happens next! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Rachel Rising #34
Rachel Rising #34 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. As Rachel and Zoe begin to investigate whether or not reclusive author Carroll Palmer had anything to do with Rachel’s death, but a surprise visit from someone looks to adjust their priorities. Meanwhile, Jet and Earl have the talk…

The discussion with Earl and Jet almost — almost — brought a tear to my eye as my cold, dark, shriveled heart thawed to near room temperature. I was close, denizens, dangerously close just like that time on the train from SDCC where I was reading the final volume of a series that left me sniffling with sadness and my bottom lip trembling as I approached the end. What was that book you ask? Why none other than must-read Strangers in Paradise, which was also created by Moore. So, no big surprise that a horror series by the same creator can have the same effect on me, only for a very different reason. This brief moment with Earl and Jet was so real, so heartfelt, so deeply earnest that I was touched to my core. Usually, moments like this feel forced or ring false, but not true for Moore; he has this down, in both visuals and written word.

The moments with Rachel and Zoe are also fantastic, as are the implications surrounding their uninvited house guest. Story and art continue to be on par with what one can expect with this wonderful series, but I was a tad bummed by the fact that there are only 18 pages of story in this issue. <sigh> More people need to be reading Rachel Rising, and with the five available trades, catching up has never been easier. This is a great series, and I want to see it run for a good long while, but to do that, Moore needs readers to pick up the individual issues and preach the word of what a great horror comic this is. Maybe a jump over to Image would boost sales volume enough to raise awareness of this fantastic series by this writer-artist master. Even at only 18 pages, Rachel Rising comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Weirdworld #1
Weirdworld #1 - Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated by Mike Del Mundo, colored by Mike Del Mundo and Marco D’Alfonso, lettered by VC’s Cory Petit, published by Marvel Comics. Arkon the Barbarian battles strange creatures on the most bizarre world of all as he searches for the greatest prize of all…a way home to Polemachus.

I have no idea what to say other than this world is indeed weird. Dragons, squidsharks, ogres, floating masses of land, something you would never expect to find under the sea, a familiar enemy, and a bunch of other crazy stuff. I went into this comic only knowing that Marvel was dipping its toe back into the fantasy realm in a way unseen since the ’70s with the original Weirdworld: Warriors of the Shadow Realm — which I now really want to read as well.

I believe Arkon has popped in and out of Marvel books over the past couple of decades, but now he has his own title, and although “Secret Wars” is stamped on the cover, that is the only tie Weirdworld has to the Marvel-wide event. Awesome. What this means is Aaron and Del Mundo can get as weird as they like, and trust me…they get weird. I have no idea why Arkon walks these strange lands, or how he got there, but I was instantly drawn to his plight and sadistically can’t wait to see what trials Weirdworld has in store for him.

Aaron’s writing and characterization are entertaining and compelling, but the art is positively gorgeous. I honestly have not seen such bright, vibrant colors since…well, Spider-Gwen actually, but you get what I mean. The action is plentiful, and each panel of every page is worth taking time to fully appreciate. I am thrilled to see the House of Ideas actually taking a risk on a fantasy title that (currently) has few ties to the greater Marvel Universe; I hope it stays that way. The comic is pretty good, too.

So, yeah, I’m glad I took a chance with this groovy fantasy title, and I am excited to see where it takes poor Arkon next. As long as Weirdworld keeps the tie-ins and the crossovers to Secret Wars to a minimum, and we get to see more of this trippy planet and its funky inhabitants, I can see reading this comic for some time to come. So much fun. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Spider-Gwen #5
Spider-Gwen #5 - Written by Jason Latour, artist Robbi Rodriguez, colored by Rico Renzi, lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles, designed by Idette Winecoor and Jessica Pizarro, published by Marvel Comics. Now that Gwen is back with the band The Mary Janes, things are looking up, but when the band’s rival, Felicia + the Black Cats, invite them to be the opening band for an important show, what could possibly go wrong? Well, how about everything?!

I’ve been enjoying Spider-Gwen since the first issue, but this issue is the best to date. I still don’t know all of the characters very well, or why one of the band members of The Mary Janes is wearing a cat on her head — is that cat alive? or is it a stuffed animal? — but what I do know is that Gwen Stacy is cool, Matt “Murderdock” Murdock creeps me out, Spider-Woman has one of the best character designs in years, and I have loved five consecutive issues of a Marvel comic after not reading anything from them for over a year. This issue left me wishing that The Mary Janes and Felicia + the Black Cats were actual bands, and that the “To be continued…” tag at the end of the issue was for real. What I mean by this is that in the “Gwencils Down” column, assistant editor Devin Lewis mentions that because of Secret Wars, everything ends and this is the final issue of Spider-Gwen. Wait, what? Seeing as how this series was a smash hit, my guess is that we will see a brand new number one issue once Secret Wars wraps, but I really really really hope that Latour, Rodriguez, Renzi, and Cowles are all attached; otherwise, I most likely won’t be attached to that particular iteration of this character.

With Spider-Gwen we get an amazing alternate take on Spider-Man that is refreshing and new to such a degree that even those who have been following ol’ Web-Head for decades will have something to appreciate alongside younger fans of this powerhouse character. Marvel’s onto something special with this series, and I hope that after the all-consuming event (which I am also enjoying) ends, that Spider-Gwen will pick up right where it left off…and continue along the path of success that the creators have built and that their fans have loved. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Sabrina #3
Sabrina #3 - Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, illustrated by Robert Hack, lettered by Jack Morelli, published by Archie Comic Publications. Most sweet-sixteeners hope for a car when they reach that much-anticipated age, but not Sabrina. For much of her life, Sabrina’s aunts have groomed her for the day she will become a handmaiden of the Devil and come fully into her witch powers. Unfortunately, Madam Satan has a bit of a problem with that.

Hold on a second, denizens. I was just rubbing my eyes for the past minute and they need to readjust. Yup, it’s true. We have a new issue of Sabrina that took just over a month to see release versus the full gestation period of a human child. Cool…I’ll take it! Hold on a second more, gotta rub my eyes again. Yup, it’s true, the book is still here despite my envisioning the entire membership of One Million Moroms (moms + morons, get it? Also probably only a few thousand moroms at best) taking and burning this issue in one big bonfire that they would generally reserve for the witches they were attempting to cleanse. Holy cow! Not to spoil too much, but I will say that Sabrina the Teenage Witch arrives in the woods to perform some Satanic rituals and that there are no less then nine “Hail Satan!” word balloons on that page, which is directly across from a scene where Sabrina machetes a goat. No joke. So, no hijinks, or goofy fun that you would expect to find in an Archie comic in this here issue. No siree, Bob.

Aguirre-Sacasa and Hack spend much of this issue building the world where witches exist and pre-sixteen kids must decide whether to become full-fledged witches or revert to boring old humans. We do however see a bit more of Sabrina, and see Madam Satan establish a false relationship with the girl as she wedges herself into Sabrina’s life. It's a crazy story, and there are tons of word balloons to read in this issue, but I did not notice them as I merrily made my way through to the end. And what an issue it is, given Hack’s gorgeous imagery that skirts the line of whimsical, while predominately remaining in realm of the super creepy. I love it all.

If you picked up Sabrina in the hopes of seeing a strawberry malt magically dumped over Reggie’s head as Sabrina gives a snickering wink to Jughead and Betty and Veronica giggle at the joke, then you are in for one hell of a rude awakening. As I mentioned above, this book is a huge departure for what Archie fans have come to expect from our favorite Teenage Witch. Sabrina is horror, through and through, and one that probably isn’t the best choice for the kiddies. That said, it is smart, engaging, and ultimately compelling to the point of making me excited to see what happens next…in hopefully just over a month. If you are a fan of horror comics, then you can’t go wrong with Sabrina. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

This Has Nothing to Do with Comics, But I thought I would mention it anyways as it was kind of creepy and weird. Anyhow, Amy had just finished teaching her last day of class for the school year, so we headed out to Eureka for lunch. While sitting there, enjoying a beer, French fries, and tacos (you knew it would be tacos right?), an attractive youngish blond woman sat at the table behind us with a much older, bearded man. I did not want to eavesdrop, but just could not block out what I was actually hearing from their conversation. From what I could gather, the woman was trying to sell the guy something, and she was totally giving him the hard sell. She mentioned the previous representative the guy used to meet with, and that she wanted to know what “options” the guy was interested in. I initially thought she was attempting to get him to buy some sort of financial product, but when she started spouting off things like PD-45 and ADH-7 (I made these brands up, I don’t remember exactly what she said), I deduced that she was trying to sell him drugs…as in pharmaceuticals.

Things got even more weird as the guy would express hesitance over whatever drug she was peddling, and he would then ask her about what she enjoyed doing outside of work, or he would lean toward “no” on a particular drug, and she would change the tone of the conversation to her likes. It was like a very weird and awkward date, only she wanted to sell the man on pharmeceuticals, and he wanted to know about her pet peeves and measurements. What did Pharma-Girl like to do you ask? Well, she really likes riding horses and the power the animals possess, and she is heavily into fire dancing, which she learned while visiting an island (I didn’t catch which island) where “a lot of crazy stuff happens, not sex-orgy-type stuff, but pretty crazy stuff,” and that she continues to develop her fire dancing techniques to this day. WTF? The conversation would then steer back to pharmaceuticals, and then back to near sexual stuff, and back again, at which point we finished our lunch and were on the way out the door.

All I know is that whatever pharmaceutical company that woman works for is abhorrent, and that I never want to visit that doctor for fear of being prescribed a healthy dose of ADH-7 or whatever weird drug he agreed to buy in his hope of hopping into the fiery sack with a no-sex-orgy-type-stuff, fire dancing Pharma-Girl. Creepy.

And on that note, bust out the lighter fluid and your fire dancing skills to groove to…

(sung to the tune of Duran Duran’s “Planet Earth”)

Only came outside to buy some good books what the hey
I saw so many worth my time
Like some new Descender and Rachel Rising, oh zounds
Saga and Sabrina, best drop a dime

Look now, look all around, there’s so many books
Weirdworld and Spider-Gwen gotta read ’em now
Also Black Science truth, your looking at great comic books!
Bop bop bop bop bop bop bop bot these’re great comic books!


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