Friday, August 7, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 8/6/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven

Welcome back, Donist World denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / quantumology guru Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). It was an incredibly slow new-release week this week, with only two titles in my pull, but I had a digital-only offering that blew my socks off (I need to look into the origins of this phrase) and I finally finished reading a beast of a book that nearly threw my back out as a result of its sheer size. I also just finished another volume one Image trade ($9.99 retail…whoa, doggie!) that I picked up while up north last week, that will have to wait until next week’s FSoH/SitW. It’s otherwise been yet another…weird…week, but we’re going to forget all of that noise and close the corporate office (Mom’s basement) at noon today, because it is Fiesta here in Santa Barbara. Obie has already left the building, saying that part of his “wholacracy” (his version of holacracy) vision is engaging in the principle of obtaining “the whole enchilada,” which means heading down to De La Guerra plaza and literally eating some whole enchiladas. <sigh> In the meantime, cut out early —it is Fiesta, after all — and grab some killer tacos (or a burrito mojado con pollo), 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***

Universe! #3
Universe! #3 - Everythinged by Albert Monteys, published by Panel Syndicate. It's the year 3543, and Earth has sent out 130 "Handshakes," or spaceships if you will, to explore the universe at large in hopes of finding new life beyond our own. The brave — well, most of them are brave — team of explorers aboard Handshake-117 supposedly come up empty handed when they arrive at Taurus-77, but for one man, Arthur Bonaparte, and his robotic pal Henry, “new life” can mean many different things.

Daaaaannnnng, denizens. I love this comic! Ever since the glorious first issue, which I talked about…ummm…wait a minute, I’m sure it’s here somewhere…I think I…poopies. I can’t find a review for the fantastic first issue. Crud. I did take a look at the equally fantastic second issue here, but I’m stunned there is nothing for the first…zip…zilch…nada. <ugh> Anyhow, I thoroughly enjoyed both the first and second issues of Universe!, and I’m happy to report the third does not diverge from the path of heavenliness already set by what came before.

Now, each issue of Universe! is a done-in-one sci-fi tale, with no discernible ties to what came before or after, other than being humorous, futuristic tales. Issue four looks to break from this pattern as a group of characters are said to reappear, but I suspect that the next offering will still work as a brilliant standalone — ooooooooohhhhh, I can’t wait!

Montey’s beautiful cartoony style and vibrant nearly-flat coloring schemes set a jovial, lighthearted tone to the book, but as you laugh and smile your way from page/screen to page/screen, you begin to pick up on subtle themes and commentary on the nature of freedom and life. The relationship between Arthur (the not so brave anthropologist) and Henry (the Class E transport unit who enjoys writing poetry) is funny, but at heart the two have much in common as they are both owned by the government, but only one of them is actually pursuing their dreams. Then Montey comes to what qualifies as “life,” the value placed upon its discovery, and what types of life are ignored. The first two issues also had a deeper meaning lurking beneath the lighter, more prominent imagery presented upon the page/screen whether it was looking at the nature of work or love or relationships or acceptance, but the thing all three installments have in common is providing an uplifting reading experience that is sure to have you smiling, while leaving you thinking about the finer details of the storyfor many days after.

You absolutely need to be reading this amazing digital comic, denizens. With gorgeous art and thought-provoking, humorous, sci-fi stories, you cannot go wrong with Albert Montey’s Universe! Support this. Support this. Support this! Universe! is from Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s Panel Syndicate, which means it is available in a digital-only format, and the crazy thing is that you can contribute any amount you want to gain access to a download, which includes FREE. So, if you have any doubts about this book (or the must-read The Private Eye), then download these first three issues, read them, love them, and then go back and kick down a little somethin’ somethin’ to the creator to ensure that we get to see more of this amazing creative endeavor. I chipped in $3 for each issue, and I intend to buy some prints if Panel Syndicate decides to offer some. I am beyond excited to see what Monteys comes up with in the next issue. A grand achievement. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

We Stand on Guard #2
We Stand on Guard #2 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Steve Skroce, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Fonografiks, coordinated by Eric Stephenson, published by Image Comics. The United States has invaded the biggest threat to democracy in all of history: Canada. At least that is probably what they are telling their citizenry. They actually invaded their northern neighbor to secure clean water, but Canada is not going to just sit around and take it. A group of rebels, the Two-Four, mean to end the occupation of their country, and new recruit Amber is more than willing to do the job.

All Donist World denizens know I'm a huge fan of BKV’s various works (Saga, Y the Last Man, The Private Eye, Dr. Strange: The Oath, and more) and for good reason. You might remember from my look at the first issue  of We Stand on Guard (here), I really enjoyed the futuristic war tale. We were introduced to the complicated world, and a handful of characters (a few of them died in that issue), and I was 100% in for the ride. My main takeaway was that although we had 36-pages of material, and I was sold on the story, I had not yet fully connected with the characters. This is fine, as this is a complex story that raises a ton of questions with many requiring immediate answers and the rest for later reveals. It was mostly setup for a rich and immense world, and the same is true with this month’s offering with the exception of Amber, who we learn a bit more about in the first four pages.

The link to current events hits a bit close to home as the US invades another country, detains innocent civilians, seizes that country’s resources for its own, and brands those who want the US out of their country as terrorists. Vaughan uses a flashback at the beginning to pull the reader in and gives them a glimpse of Amber’s journey from a child to adult as she watches her second set of parents taken from her for no real reason. It’s an incredibly harsh moment, and one that helped me identify with the adult she becomes. That said, I wish the book had space for another flashback or two centering on Amber and her little brother, to leave me wanting to don a Two-Four t-shirt while waving a Canadian flag and chanting “Free Canada Now!”

Skroce’s art on this issue is breathtaking. All you need to see is the opening splash-page of the US soldier kicking in the door of the kindly old Canadian couple’s home to see what I mean. It’s practically 3-D with shards of wood exploding toward you as the door itself follows close behind. Hinges tear from the wall, and a massive boot projects toward your midsection. The inks on the image are such that the sole of the boot is of a thicker weight than the rest of the soldier, and the three squad members are composed of an even finer line. The image is as lovely in its composition as it is terrifying in its depiction, but Hollingsworth's colors make Skroce’s image scream to life with the vibrant foreground elements and the recessed knockouts of the background elements. As I said, it’s breathtaking, and we still have 21 glorious pages of insane character acting, fantastic storytelling, and some cool costuming and character designs to experience. The double-page spread is just icing on the bacon-stuffed cinnamon roll (a real thing, denizens…glorious).

I am loving this comic despite not yet fully identifying with any of the characters quite yet, but the second issue of We Stand on Guard brings me a skootch closer to Amber and pushes me farther away from the evil, wicked Americans — wait…Canadians are Americans, too, uhhhhh…so I guess I mean the United Statesians or whatever. As far as the story and the world go, however, dang…I so can’t wait to see what’s to come in the remaining four issues. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Deadly Class #15
Deadly Class #15 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, colored by Jordon Boyd, lettered by Russ Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Oh Marcus…Marcus, Marcus, Marcus… Not only has the deadly teen slid into a deep depression over his girlfriend Maria's disappearance, his drug-fueled paranoia is only serving to alienate the few friends he has left. To make matters worse, Willie and Saya are together, and Marcus has got it in his head that Saya is behind all of the bad mojo going around.

Deadly Class continues to be one heck of a flashback trip into the culty goodness of the ’80s. Only a few of you are going to get this reference, but it reminds me of something I would have watched on USA Up All Night with Rhonda Shear, or maybe as a late-night feature on Night Flight…only much, much better. Remender continues Marcus’s march of self-destruction, but even amidst all of the misplaced blame, excessive use of drugs, and wrong assumptions, the character might just be on to something regarding class size at Kings Dominion Atelier. Remender does a fantastic job of complicating the boy’s life with teen angst and out of control hormones, all of which serve to further isolate Marcus. The last page shocker looks to spark even more problems not only for the protagonist, but for the rest of the cast as the first major story arc is set to conclude with the next issue.

Craig’s awesome storytelling prowess and striking panel layouts make Deadly Class a visual joy to read, but when coupled with Remender’s compelling story and dialogue — even when there are a lot of words on the page — the book works on every level. The addition of Jordan Boyd as the new colorist rounds out the experience as his colors perfectly match the look and feel of the previous fourteen issues, while adding his own style to awesome moments like the vibrant mushroom trip and the appearance of Space Gipper.

Remender’s current creator owned work (Low and Black Science being the other two titles…the first trades are each $4.77 at of this writing!) just get better and better, but Deadly Class is not a book for everyone. Boyhowdy, it ain’t. There’s sex, drugs, and rock and roll in droves, and that’s all heaped a top the premise of a high school for assassins. The kiddies should steer clear of this one, and leave it to those mature enough for the subject matter and who like to read comics that are far away from the everyday capes and tights fare at the Big Two. You can pick up the first two trades today, with the third seeing release in early October. If you aren’t reading this fine book, you are clearly missing out. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Stray Bullets:
Über Alles Edition TPB

Stray Bullets: Über Alles Edition TPB - Everythinged by David Lapham, edited by Maria Lapham, copy edits by Deborah Purcell, Karen Hoyt, and Renee Miller, published by Image Comics. Okay, no breakdown as to what this book is about other than to say it is a crime-drama that began in 1995, carried through to issue 40 in 2005, and then vanished until the final issue was printed in 2015 with Image Comics. This beast of a book is 1200+ pages of black and white, not for the kiddies, harsh, criminal comic booking at its best. All 41 issues of the original series are contained in this hefty collection.

I am going to keep this follow up to what I originally wrote in this FSoH/SitW post very brief. Back near the end of June, I had read the first seven issues of the 41 contained in this behemoth of a book, and I was THRILLED by what I had read. Well, I read the other 34 issues and I am pleased to say I was drawn in even deeper to Lapham’s crime series than ever before. Some stories are brutal, harsh to the extreme, while others will leave you laughing until you need to turn your gaze away in shock, but there is one constant that I found while reading the MASTERPIECE that is Stray Bullets…no matter how shocking or disturbing some of the events might be, I always continued reading with a renewed fervor, even if it meant peeking through my fingers while covering my eyes.

If you are a fan of crime comics, then you absolutely, positively, must read Stray Bullets. Allow me to restate my thoughts on this book in case there is any confusion: Stray Bullets is a complete MASTERPIECE not just in regard to crime comics, in which it is one of the best, but in regard to comics as a whole. I loved sitting on my tiny balcony, sipping a beer or wine, and reading a few issues at a time. I did try to read this massive edition in bed a couple of times, but it was a bit too unwieldy, so if you want something a bit more manageable, you can pick up the newly released individual trades from Image instead. After finishing this awesome achievement, I desperately need to read the Stray Bullets: Killers trade and I also must track down the two Amy Racecar: Color Special issues. Even though I arrived late to the party with Stray Bullets, I at least get to say I was eventually able to attend. A prime example of why I love comic books. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!

Prez Is Still Set to be a 12-Issue-Long Series - A few weeks ago, I expressed distress over a rumor that my current favorite DC comic hitting the stands was having its scheduled 12-issue-run slashed down to only six-issues, but I am oh so thrilled to say that one of the creators recently squashed the rumor on Twitter. We will indeed be getting a full 12 issues, and I am pleased as punch over this news. Now, if DC wants me to be pleased as a bacon infused cinnamon roll, then they will also eventually release an over-sized hardcover edition once the series wraps. Beth “Corndog Girl” for President in 2016!

Slice into the Woods

I Still Want to Keep it Positive - The job search continues to produce nought but the sounds of crickets, but I will fight the pessimism, and cling tenaciously to hope as I continue moving forward on the followup to Kibbles ’N’ Bots, my graphic design projects, and another website idea I am working on creating from scratch. Respect Stel Caine, denizens. Respect! Thank you for reading.

And on that positive note…

(Sung to the tune of Billy Idol’s “Flesh for Fantasy”)

For a change of pace
That Universe! is sure great
Do you like good comics?
Don’t leave it to chance. Oh yeah
Checkin’ out We Stand on Guard tonight
Deadly Class a kickace read’ll treat you right. Oh yeah
So you want some more?
How about Stray Bullets? Oh yeah

Page by page
They’re on the rack
You see and add
Them to your stack
Sing it
Books, good books we must read
We Want
Books, good books we must read


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