Friday, July 3, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 7/3/2015

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 / look-at-all-da-comics specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). It’s been yet another nutty week here at the Donist World corporate office (Mom’s basement), but we’re focusing on our brand and digging in to maintain our status as a Fortune 320,000 company. This week, Obie, Tulip, and I scrambled to get a query letter out (for which I received the fastest form rejection letter response ever…2 days) for my first novel (Kibbles ’N’ Bots is actually my second novel), and we spent the weekend writing and tightening down a comic book pitch for a story I’m pretty proud of. So, write that last email, cut out of the office early (it is The Fourth of July tomorrow, after all), 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 before heading out. Thank you for reading.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Chew #50
Chew #50 - Written and lettered by John Layman, illustrated and colored by Rob Guillory, color assists by Taylor Wells, published by Image Comics. The moment we’ve been waiting for is finally here! Tony Chew versus the Collector at the Granger-Coulibiac International Telescope in Northern Siberia. But the Collector has an army, and Tony is alone…The Collector doesn’t stand a chance.

This was the most action-packed issue to date, which is saying something given many of the past issues. It’s a shift from the norm of shorter confrontations, but the series has been building to this for quite some time, and we needed to see Tony take this guy down, and we needed to see him take him down hard. It is not a quick fight. As the two foes go toe-to-toe, intermittent flashbacks of the moments leading up to the confrontation flow between Guillory’s beautiful storytelling skills all the way through to the end. And what an end it is! We also get three pages of a “Not Over” moment that totally rules, and is so cool to see play out. My only disappointment with this final chapter in the “Blood Puddin’ ” storyline is the final splash page of the issue, that left me more confused than anything. I'm not going to spoil the ending, but after the rush of the main story, I can't help but feel things should have ended after the first epilogue fist pump moment with the addition of a brief caption cluing the reader in that the book will be back for the next storyline; the final page seemed out of place.

With my one gripe about a single page aside, Chew continues to be one my favorite and most anticipated reads with every installment. Having the most unique — and often hilarious —story on the stands, as well as a crazy style of art that works oh so well, you are missing out on this tremendous series that is now heading into its final two story arcs. <sniffle> If you have not been reading this fantastic series, then you can easily catch up via the trades or, even better, the Ominivore Editions! If you are already a regular reader, then don’t lament the limited time we have left with Chew, instead celebrate the awesome times we’ve had by giving it a well-deserved re-read. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

We Stand on Guard #1
We Stand on Guard #1 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Steve Skroce, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, coordinated by Eric Stephenson, published by Image Comics. 100 years from now, Canada’s few remaining freedom fighters attempt to stave off attacks on their soil from their greatest enemy: The United States of America. With mecha-wolf murder machines, and monstrous mecha-apes, the small band of freedom fighters known as the “Two-Four” mean to stop the invasion of their country by any means possible, or die trying.

All I knew about this new Image Comics number one issue was that it’s about a futuristic war between Canada and the USA. Which is cool…but the second you mention BKV, I’m in the car and on my way early to the LCS to try to secure a copy because I was dumb and forgot to add it to my pull; my shop held a copy for me anyways…comic book LOVE! Now, war comics ain’t usually my bag, but when you throw in mechs, wolves, and a certain writer mentioned above and top it all off with stunning art and colors, then there’s no way I could resist picking this up. But now that I read We Stand on Guard was all the scrambling worth it? Heck yeah, denizens!

The issue comes in at 40 pages, and it is positively crammed with world building and character introductions, and although I am not overly attached to any of the characters — yet — this issue is a blast (literally at times) to read from beginning to end. We don’t yet know if it was indeed Canada who attacked the US first, prompting a retaliatory strike, or if the US faked an attack on its own shores to have a justifiable reason to attack its northern neighbor in an effort to secure clean water, which looks to be a rare commodity in the future. The idea of waging a war with Canada might seem ridiculous at first glance, but any sense that this is a humor title is quickly dismissed as the brutal nature of the story takes hold on the startling double-page spread on pages four and five. Turn the page after that and you learn this is no joke. Vaughan introduces us to 12 characters and by the last page a third of them are toast. Criminy.

Before reading this issue, I was unfamiliar with Skroce’s work, which is regrettable as his art is simply gorgeous. The character acting is fantastic, and the storytelling during the action sequences refuses to allow you to turn away, but rather leaves you torn between lingering on a panel and moving on to the next. His mech designs are dang fine, too. Skroce’s art stands on its own, but Hollingsworth brings another level to the imagery with tremendous heat during and after conflicts, and then awesome cools during the frozen scenes in the woods…which were my favorite moments.

We Stand on Guard is one pretty book, and the story is dang compelling, and I suspect a bit more character development to come in the next issue, which will pull me deeper into this comic than I already am. Once again, Image has a smash new series (mini-series?) with We Stand Guard, and I can definitely say that I stand eagerly waiting for the next issue. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Secret Wars #4
Secret Wars #4 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Esad Ribic, colored by Ive Svorcina, lettered by Chris Eliopoulos, production by Idette Winecoor, published by Image Comics. The Cabal confronts the Thors, then Dr. Strange and the survivors from The Raft get caught up in a skirmish. It’s pure chaos, enough to warrant God Doom’s personal attention.

We’re at the halfway point and I’m loving Secret Wars even more than I did with the first issue. Hold on a moment, denizens, I think I need to take my temperature and be sure I’m not running a fever. Nope, I’m perfectly fine, and still thoroughly enjoying a “Big Two” event book. I know, right? Secret Wars is an absolute joy. I'm loving this book as much as I used to love the mini-series that were springing up throughout the ’80s. The kid in me is thrilled by all of the cool heroes and villains running around, but the adult in me is loving the rich, complex story of plots and secrets underlying everything that is happening. It’s almost like Marvel Comics fused with A Game of Thrones, complete with a few startling deaths that are sure to knock the wind out of you.

Ribic and Svorcina’s art is otherworldly — especially on those final four pages…whoa — without ever going into outer space or the “Deadlands,” where their atmospheric art truly excels. Come to think of it, I would love to see them handle a Silver Surfer or Thanos story of some sort in the future; these two were born to go cosmic…I’m just sayin’. I also loved their rendition of Bhor, Swine of Thunder, who better return at some point in the future. On Hickman’s side of things, I am digging his take on Valeria, who stands as God Doom’s advisor and daughter; I was left wanting to know more about her and her abilities.

So, yeah, the Donist who is usually pretty harsh on event comics — if I even buy them at all — soooo can’t wait to see what happens next. For all of you who haven’t been reading Secret Wars, I’m thus far impressed and greatly anticipating the next issue. If you are concerned about having to chuck loads of your hard-earned cash at all of the tie-in issues, then let me tell you that you have nothing to fear. You can totally follow the story without having to delve into all of the other titles, BUT you might be more willing to have a look at some of the other tie-ins once you reach the end of each issue. Secret Wars is something all superhero fans need to check out. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Satellite Sam #15
Satellite Sam #15 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Howard Chaykin, lettering and logo by Ken Bruzenak, digital production by Calvin Nye, colored by Jesus Aburtov, designed by Drew Gill, edited by Thomas K, published by Image Comics. This is it, Satellite Sam fans. The end. We learn who wins, who pays, who goes down in fiery flames, and who makes it in this thing called…show biz.

What a great dang ending, for a great dang series. If you have been reading Satellite Sam, then you saw all the different storylines come to a head last issue. This final issue serves more as an epilogue that beautifully puts a coat of polish on all the shocking events from last issue in a way that is satisfying and real, while remaining true to each of the characters and the time period. Fraction and Chaykin really brought it all home, but they did leave this Donist with one nagging question…I wonder how much awesomerer (yes, I made that word up) this great series will read back to back without the wait between issues? I intend to find out in the next month or two, and I can’t wait.

So, that’s it. It’s done. Stick a fork in it. I’ll miss this series, and I hope to see another similarly-toned title from Fraction and Chaykin some day in the future. If you missed out on Satellite Sam, do not try to just jump into this Mad Men meets crime meets television production studio drama. You need to start at the beginning, which you can do with the three trades, OR — better yet — wait until October and pick up the Omnibus, which I already have my eye on. I can’t wait to reread this grand accomplishment from Fraction and Chaykin. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Deadly Class #14
Deadly Class #14 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, colored Lee Loughridge, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Marcus ain’t doin’ so good. Maria skipped out on him (not true, but he thinks she did), his best friend stabbed him in the back (not literally…but figuratively…kind of?), Saya doesn’t really enjoy being rebound material (oh, that’s totally true). Counter this with all the drugs and booze, well, a depressed and dejected boy’s bound to get some wrong ideas churning in his wee, thick skull.

After the intensity of the past couple of issues, the momentum slows to allow Marcus to dwell. Remender perfectly captures the confusion, anguish, and torment that teen heartbreak has to offer: Marcus furiously journals, quotes depressing songs, replays things over and over in his head, and misplace blame. Apparently, Remender went through it all, too…I can relate. However, the craziness of attending a school for assassins and drowning oneself in massive amounts of substance abuse is where I detract and stop relating to young Marcus. But that’s cool, it’s those psychotic diverging paths where Deadly Class pulls me in.

Craig’s art this issue has are no chases, or fights, or action-packed sequences. Instead, he uses intense character acting and drama, while utilizing some creative panel layouts and plenty of whitespace on certain sequences. It’s all rather beautiful. Loughridge’s colors are still flat, and mostly reside in the monochromatic / analogous color schemes, but it is a stylistic choice that absolutely makes Craig’s already stunning art so impactful. These two are the perfect team.

This issue is a slower than the high-octane excitement of the past few installments, but it is still a fascinating read, that promises more craziness is yet to come. If you need a break from underwear worn outside of the tights (or rather just plain ol’s tights seems to be the trend these days with the super duper set), and some heavy teen angst set in the ’80s at a school for young assassins, then you cannot go wrong with Deadly Class. You can easily catch up with the first two trades of yet another one of Remender’s awesome creator-owned works. This issue comes RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Disclaimers on College Course Descriptions - What the heck is wrong with people these days? Seriously? The pro-censorship nimrod (not saying her name as I think this nonsense is a play by the girl to use later when she starts her political career) and her stratosphere-level helicopter parents are still putting up a stink about how she was exposed to “pornography” in her English 250 class where she had to read Fun Home, Persepolis, The Sandman, and Saga…aka the porno comics. What a load of BS. Thankfully, Crafton Hills College did not cave to the nutters on their demands to “eradicate” the graphic novels from the course and the college altogether. However, the school did agree to add a disclaimer to the course description, which opens the door to a whole host other nutters to push their beliefs on an institution for higher learning, while infringing on the rights of everyone else seeking to…you know…try thinking about things and stuff. Thankfully, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) has joined with the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) to push the college not to add any sort of disclaimer, which I wholeheartedly agree with. College is a place for challenging one’s ways of thinking, and is not a venue for diminishing the rights of everyone else. Please support the creators of the books listed above, by buying them, reading them, and talking about them.
*One good thing to come of this is that a lot of attention has been brought to Fun Home, Persepolis, The Sandman, and Saga, and I’m sure it will be reflected in the increased sales on those works, while making the pro-censorship nutters look even more nuts.

...again...sorry, no new song this week, but here is a video that should make you all happy:

We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It - “Rules and Regulations”


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