Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 8/21/2015

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 / burger outreach specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). This week my head is spinning as Obie has been assaulting Tulip and I with an unending barrage of business jargon, as opposed to focusing on what matters most…great comic books. I doubt he even understands half of what he’s saying. It’s all “open the kimono” this, and “core-competency” that, and I tell you, it’s getting tiresome. I don’t buy in to this whole synergizing our vertical silos by reaching outside our own swim lanes. I’m not about to drink the Kool-Aid on this. I ain’t gonna…oh no…he’s got me doing it now, too! Excessive business jargon does not a good company make. Oh well, forget building your tiger teams, the best practice is to grab some killer tacos and a strong ginger ale — or perhaps a sinfully rich malt from your favorite soda jerk — and settle in to enjoy this week’s post. Thank you for reading.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Archie #2
Archie #2 - Written by Mark Waid, illustrated by Fiona Staples, colored by Andre Szymanowicz with Jen Vaughn, lettered by Jack Morelli, published by Archie Comic Publications, Inc. Archie and Betty, Riverdale’s most famous couple have broken up in the wake of the supposed “Lipstick Incident”…whatever that was. Now, Archie is in search of employment to make enough money to fix his ailing car—Betty was the one who used to fix it for him. The problem: Archie is not only the nicest guy on Earth, with the best of intentions, he’s also the world’s biggest klutz and oftentimes a menace to himself and all who cross his path. <sigh> Would someone please get those two back together already?

I suddenly have an unshakable urge to have a soda pop with a burger ’n’ fries, and to start writing in my diary, one that I keep under lock and key. It’s unfortunately only 6:30 AM, so the burger joint will have to wait, but I think I have a pop in the fridge here somewhere. Ah, a Tab! Such a blast from the past. Crud that stuff tastes awful, but it does grow on you. Anyhow…

Dear Diary, 
Take a gander at this. The first issue of the new Archie was a killer-diller, y’know, a total kick. No foolin’. Archie Andrews might be a total meatball, but he’s still pretty sharp, and an all around swell guy. Then there's that cookie, Betty. What a dish! Don’t get me wrong, though, I ain’t carrying a torch for her or nothin’…I know it’s just not meant to be. Now, I’m not in the know on this whole “Lipstick Incident,” and I might not be an ace on the megillah with this whole love thingamabob, but Archie and Betty kinda belong together. Talk about a couple born to be rationed! But why is everyone at school with half a brain child putting their noses where they don’t belong? I’m just gonna have to go with my pal Jughead on letting the two be. Whatever the rhubarb was with those two, it’s their business. Anyone who says otherwise might just get a bust in the chops from me. But this new baby-doll, this Veronica…beat me daddy eight to the bar! She’s the cat's meow! But she’s a topic for another day, and what a topic that’ll be. Hubba hubba. Anyhow, EVERYBODY needs to be reading Archie, its a laugh a minute and a total gas. I guarantee Archie’ll flip their wigs. I’m an eager beaver for more more more. It’s hotsy-totsy. Oh well, I gotta take a powder. We’ll catch up again tomorrow.

<warble, warble, warble> What the heck am I doing lying on my stomach, on the bed, writing in this glitter-covered journal with, of all things, a pencil?! Where did I get a pencil from? Whatever, Archie continues to be a beautifully written, gorgeously illustrated comic that is great fun for all readers. And I mean all readers. Why, at my LCS, while I was picking up my pull, I saw a young kid (I think grade school or junior high) ask the store owner specifically for Archie. The owner steered the kid to the new release table, where HE was then able to rifle through the copies for the cover he liked the most. When I was a kid in the ’70s, I would have never opted to pick up an issue of Archie when Big Two fare filled most of the spinner rack. I should have given the book a chance. I might have discovered my love for this universe that much sooner. Archie is not just for young girls, it was never meant to be. So I find it incredibly refreshing to see not just myself (a xx-year old man) as well as a newly-teen boy traveling to the LCS to specifically pick up a copy of this fantastic comic book.

Now, if you’ve been reading Donist World for any length of time, you already know how much I adore both Waid and Staples’s work, and this comic builds up from that love. Waid’s dialogue had me smiling, and Staples had me cracking up with every unintentional calamity that followed in Archie’s wake. How could anything from these two not be terrific? But also worthy of mentioning is Szymanowicz’s beautifully vibrant color palette that bring so much additional life and joy to an already stunning book. Archie continues to succeed on every level.

If you’re an 80-year-old, man or woman, you surely know of Archie and his pals from way back when. The art style is definitely different, but the characters and their personas are intact, and although the times have changed somewhat — updated cars, cell phones, some of the clothes, etc. — the heart and soul of the Archieverse is still here. If you are a kid, you might be new to Archie and unaware of the rich history behind the title, but with only two issues out, you can easily jump in and have a blast reading this funny, upbeat, beautifully crafted series. And for all those in-between, folks like me…yeah, this one is for you, too. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Weirdworld #3
Weirdworld #3 - Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated by Mike Del Mundo, lettered by VC’s Cory Petit, published by Marvel Comics. Fighting! A getaway! A dragon! A Brawl! A fall!

I’m still digging this gorgeous and funky adventure comic. I’m also thrilled that despite being a Secret Wars tie-in, Weirdworld continues to be its own incredibly wild beast. Sure, Arkon has appeared in a handful of books over the years, the Crystar characters have been absent for nearly 30 years, Morgan La Fey only shows up in the Marvel Universe proper every once in a while, and I honestly have no idea who the heck this Skull the Slayer cat is. What I’m trying to say is that I am pleased as punch with this barbarian / fantasy comic that doesn't feel the need to have a bunch of costumed knuckleheads running around. *I just looked up Skull the Slayer, and it looks to be about a shirtless dude who fights dinosaurs and lizardmen…I must read this!*

Anyhow, the story is still fairly simple: Arkon is trapped on a bizarre world and wants to return home. That’s it, and the thing is, denizens, that’s all it needs to be. Arkon is a cool character and the obstacles in his way are freaking insane to the level I have to see what’s thrown at this unlucky chap next. It’s clear that Aaron is having fun with this story, free of the shackles of continuity, and fairly free of the constraints of the event it is supposedly part of, and we the readers reap the benefits of this. But as entertaining and fun as this series is, the art is what will draw you in and keep you coming back. I really, really want to see how Del Mundo actually creates these magical pages with their rich colors, vibrant glows, and depth of field blurs, especially when it comes to Warbow and Moltar’s Magma Men, all of which have to be seen to be believed. I really wish we had another 20 or so issues of this series, as I do not want it to end next month.

Weirdworld is, well…a weird one. The genre does not fit in with what typically comes out of the “House of Ideas.” The fantastic painted art doesn’t look like your everyday Marvel book. These characters are so old and obscure that you practically have to dust the cobwebs off of them, and one of them I had never even heard of…and I have been reading Marvel comics for over 40 years. None of these statements are a slight against this title, but rather quite the opposite. Weirdworld is a fun-filled thrill ride, that is just the right prescription for those seeking something a little crazy, something a little less capes and tights, something a little weird. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Ms. Marvel Vol.1
No Normal tpb
Ms. Marvel Vol. 1 - No Normal - Written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona, colored by Jan Herring, lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna, published by Marvel Comics. What should have been a night of teenage rebellion against her parents, instead became a one that turned Jersey City girl Kamala Khan into a superhero. Unfortunately, she still got in trouble for sneaking out of the house, she’s mega-grounded, her best friend ratted her out, her brother is being himself…which is bad enough, her new powers are weird and hard to control, the other kids at school can’t wrap their minds around the fact she is Muslim, she has frenemies, and she’s kind of stuck with the name Ms. Marvel…don’t ask.

First, let’s start with the two biggest problems I have with this comic: 1) I now must read the second trade, 2) I must read the third available trade as well. Basically, my wallet’s gonna take a beating. And thus concludes the entirety of the problems I have with this exceptional comic.

I have been hearing the praise upon praise for this comic series for quite some time now, and after visiting a comic shop in the distant north (aka…Sunnyvale), in a show of support for comic stores, I bought the first trade. I’m so glad I did. Ms. Marvel is a fun — dang, I keep using the f-word today, but “fun” is the best description for this week’s comics — honest look at a teenager’s life. Wilson perfectly captures the pressures assaulting Kamala as she enters young adulthood, whether it is boys, independence from one’s family, pleasing one’s family, friends, people who act like friends who are not, faith, sexism, expectations, one-sided love, and generally trying to do what’s right…whatever that might mean. We also learn what life is like within a Muslim family, and Wilson entertains as she enlightens without ever resorting to exposition. She acknowledges biases and stereotypes, while revealing the reality of this girl's life. In the end, Kamala is a teen trying to understand the world around her and understand herself in the process…gaining superpowers both aids and complicates matters. Even this xx-year-old man learned much from this funny book, and I especially loved learning the terms of affection within the family from “Ammi,” “Abu,” “beti,” and “beta,” and I also found the capitalization for the parents’ terms, and the lowercase on the childrens’ to be of special interest (embrace the grammar, denizens!) Oh, and if you are a teenager, no matter who you are, you can take comfort in the fact that all parents, by default, are insane and most assuredly do not understand you. It’s a fact.

Visually, Ms. Marvel is a ridiculously beautiful thing. Alphona melds a traditional style and a cartoony style of illustration that is perfect for this book as Kamala’s powers involve morphing her body in cool and unique ways. I now can’t imagine an artist better suited to rendering a sixteen-year-old girl not yet comfortable in her abilities, attempting to enlarge her fist enough to pulverize a VW Beetle. But there is so much more to Alphona’s work than mere style. His power comes in the form of the tremendous character acting (a smile, to indifference, to a frown, to intense disapproval) that tells the unspoken story of each page. Then there’s the storytelling that keeps your eye moving gracefully through the page while refusing to allow you a chance to look away; you will not want to. Alphona’s brilliantly designed panels and pages are given even more life with Herring’s colors. Never over-rendering a page, Herring keeps the drab, and the muted at bay, keeping the tone light and exciting…even when the characters are strolling through the polluted city.

Ms. Marvel is one heck of a great read. Even with all the hype and all the praise around this book, I was still pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this comic. Not only that, the Donist World intern (my wife, Amy) read the book first and absolutely loved it. It’s wonderful that a superhero comic can appeal to girls and women — you know, that ~51% of the population mostly ignored by the comics industry for far too long — while still appealing to boys and men. There’s something for everyone here, and I hope to see more fun (there’s that f-word again) books like this released in the future. Psssst, btw…I just found a third problem with Ms. Marvelthe fourth trade comes out late November. Dang, denizens, this Donist needs to make some proper C-A-S-H, pronto. Make mine Ms. Marvel! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Too Much Negativity - Nope. I'm not going to go negative for yet another week. Positive is where it’s at, as I have soooo many irons in the fire (ack…more business jargon!) that I don’t have time to give the negative more than a passing thought. Stay positive, denizens, you’ll be happier for it.

And on that positive note…

(Sung to the tune of Billy Idol’s “Hot in the City”)

Groovy, groovy, groovy, groovy

Let’s not fear tonight, great books to excite
On a rad summer night
Archie all the way, Ms. Marvel oh hooray
On this rad summer night

And when a totally weirdo Weirdworld
Rocks your socks ’n’ gives your brain a big whirl
Then you know that it’s

Hot comics baby, hot comics, baby, alright, alright
Hot comics baby, hot comics, baby, alright, alright


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