Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 9/25/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Weirdworld and…wait…that's it?!?! Okay, Chew Omnivore Edition, too.

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 / Polemachus tour guide Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Oh. My. Doom. I only had one Doomdang comic in my pull this week, as the new issue of Secret Wars looks to have been bumped. Huh? Oh well. I’ve been ridiculously busy taking written tests for a job consideration, preparing for an interview for another job later today, and there’s a ton of other stuff going on as well. Not only that, the heat has returned, and Obie is walking around the corporate office (Mom’s basement) muttering, “Get a job, deadbeat.” <sigh> Fine. Having only one book this week looks to be okay by me, and the one I did read is all kinds of awesome. Next week, though…more comics! So, while you prepare to stay cool, fire up some chillwave music (new Neon Indian album in October!), pour yourself a nice cool sweet tea, get yourself a taco basket, and settle in for this week’s post. Thank you for reading.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Weirdworld #4
Weirdworld #4 - 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 fears he might never see his home of Polemachus ever again, and whoever knows fear, burns at the touch of the Man-Things. Of course, Morgan Le Fay and Skull the Slayer aren’t making Arkon’s life any easier.

I initially started this issue off with a sense of dread. Not for the content inside, or the art, or a fear that I would be let down in any way, but because I erroneously thought this was the final issue of the mini-series. Sometimes it’s good to be wrong. This is actually a five-issue mini-series, which finally occurred to me when I read the “To Be Concluded…” on the final page. <phew> Dread diverted, or at least postponed until next month. The funny thing was the whole time reading this issue, I was thinking there’s absolutely no way they can tie up everything started since issue one, and I was right.

In this issue Aaron and Del Mundo take Arkon and Skull’s battle to a forest of Man-Things. Not just Man-Things — plural, not singular — but Man-Things carrying cool shamanic staffs. Werd, denizens. You read it. I said it. STAFFS!!! Then to top it all off, they bring in the leader of the Man-Things…wait for it…wait for it…Jennifer freakin’ Kale. That’s right, little Jenny Kale commands the gosh darn Man-Things. Ms. Jennifer Kale from… … …<crickets>… <crickets>…yeah, I had to look her up, too. Anyhow, she first appeared in 1972’s Adventures into Fear #11, has had ties to the Man-Thing, she’s a cousin to the Ghost Riders (Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch), has magic powers, and is part of Doctor Strange’s supper club or something. Regardless of who all the characters are and how they relate to the Marvel Universe at large, I don’t care. I am digging every single one of the weirdos who’ve appeared throughout the course of this exciting, bizarre, and gorgeous comic.

It’s clear that Aaron is having a heck of a time writing this series. He somehow succeeded in writing a Secret Wars tie-in that doesn’t really tie into the main event at all, with the occasional curse of “Doomdamned” thrown in the mix; this might also be Aaron’s subtle comment on events in general as well, but who knows. The awesome thing about this issue is that the reader finally discovers what Arkon’s problem is — you have to pay attention or you’ll miss it — and why his attempts to return home have all failed. To be honest, I almost missed it, but flipping back through the book, everything fell into place. Arkon’s situation definitely falls into the category of weird, very clever, but also very weird in the best of ways that I did not see coming. <sigh> Why must there be only one issue left?

Del Mundo’s art…well, you need to prepare for it. I don’t just mean mentally, but also physically and with the proper amount of time to enjoy this issue to its fullest. You should not creep into bed at night with a tiny book light to read this issue, as you are liable to miss the glory of this gorgeous — and I mean gorgeous — art. You need strong, bright lighting from indirect sources so as to reduce glare from the comic’s glossy pages. You need to have the right environment to admire the greens and reds of Arkon’s hallucinations, and to marvel at the muting effect of water as Skull attempts to drown the hero, but most of all you need to get a load of the positively stunning Man-Things and their groovy staffs. I am very curious as to how Del Mundo pulled off the lush, painted textures on these creatures that almost look as if they are made of natural vegetation viewed through a gently flowing stream. As weird as the story is, the art is simply magical.

I positively love this Doomdamned series, and I am generally bummed for poor Arkon. At this point, I want to try to help him get back home, maybe take him out to coffee and a pumpkin scone and check-in to see how he’s doing, to see how he’s holding up. I’m genuinely worried for the guy. That said, I’m sad that this fun adventure mini is nearing completion, but the good news is that it seems like the creators will be able to complete the story they set out to tell without Captain America, or Iron Man, or Doctor Doom entering the scene to mess things up. I fully expect next month’s conclusion to wrap in the most satisfying and weird manner possible. Two side notes: 1) Weird World will continue as a series, only without Arkon and with Sam Humphries writing and Mike Del Mundo returning for the art…YAY! 2) There is a Weirdworld: Warriors of the Shadow Realm trade out that has nothing to do with this mini, but it is a fantasy series from the ’70s that I am excited to pick up in the near future for the heck of it. This issue of the mini-series, though, comes VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Chew Omnivore Edition
Volume 1
Chew Omnivore Editions Written and lettered by John Layman, illustrated and colored by Rob Guillory, color assists by Taylor Wells, published by Image Comics. After the avian flu snuffed out tons of lives, the consumption of chicken has been outlawed, and the FDA has become the most powerful government agency on the planet. Tony Chu is a detective now working for the FDA. He’s also cibopathic, which means he gains a psychic impression from whatever he eats: an orange gives an impression of warm weather, pickers injured retrieving the fruit, and the pesticides used; eating a steak gives an impression he’d rather forget. His bizarre ability sees him involved in the most bizarre and grossest cases imaginable.

If you’ve been reading Donist World for any length of time, then you know how much I love this series, and I have been merrily singing Chew”s praises since I jumped in at issue four and scrambled to find the first three issues. Once I finally tracked down some difficult to find reprints of the early issues, I became a lifelong fan, and I’ve been reading the monthly(ish) issues, and snatching up the hardcover editions the moment they drop.

Now, this is not going to be a review of the series. Nope. Instead, I want to take a look at the extra-fancy, super-slick hardcover Omnivore Editions, of this fantastic series. Thus far, four volumes are available and the fifth should drop right around the time I complete my reread of the series. At that point, the countdown for the final ten issues should begin, which has me excited to see how it all ends, and sad that is ending.

Chew Omnivore Editions Vol. 1–4
I am currently midway through volume 2!
Each Omnivore Edition contains at least 10 issues, possibly a Poyo special, and a whole host of extras such as the original pitch, preliminary / test pages, photos, special covers, and probably some stuff I haven't even discovered yet. This ain’t your peepaw’s hardcover book, no siree Bob. Ain’t a Doomdang dust jacket to be found anywhere near these beauties. Instead, we have covers with spot UV (glossy) images and titles atop matte backgrounds and body text, making for a beautiful effect, especially when viewing the book at an angle from a few feet away. The inside cover is a highly-textured, heavy paper stock of a color that ties to the scheme of the cover. Also matching the color scheme is a slick ribbon bookmark that is a welcome and necessary touch.

Size comparison: comic
versus Omnivore!
Come close for a second…I don’t want any Doomdamned eavesdroppers. Okay…are you a new-book sniffer? Don’t worry, denizen. It’s cool, you’re among friends. Most of us comic collectors are book sniffers, I imagine, and much like digging that new car smell, when you tear off the shrink wrap on these pretty puppies, you gotta go in for the new book fragrance, that eau de toillete of the printed word. Unfortunately, I got a bit of a headache from doing that, but it…was…worth…it!

The great thing about these Omnivore Editions is the small-but-noticeable bump in size from the comic that gives you a much better view of Guillory’s art and a better opportunity to find the multitudes of sight gags scattered throughout the pages. Speaking of pages, they’re still the same glossy pages I love from the comics, but possibly on a slightly heavier paper.

There you go. Man, did the creators put their all into the presentation of these dang fine editions. Every aspect of these things was designed with class and and an eye for perfection. The bottom line is that you need to get these for your favorite bookcase, you know, the one that makes your friends and pets drool with envy. I have volume two by my side for reading this evening, with the other three volumes standing majestically on my bookshelf of heavenliness. I also have two empty spots set aside for the fifth and sixth volumes once they are released. Doomdamn, these Chew Omnivore Editons are true treasures of my collection, and I think they might be a prize of yours, too. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Slice into the Woods

One Comic in My Pull - Only one dang book? Okay, this week has been positively bonkers, so I guess I am okay with that. I also have some crazy and stressful stuff going on over the next few days, so I guess the timing was right on. Not only that, I got a bit of Chew I need to be rereading…

(Sung to the tune of Cat Steven’s “Wild World”)

Now that I’ve been revisiting the awesome Chew
The Omnivore Edition’s a rockin’ it’s true
It’d warm my heart if you're readin’
Baby, that’s believin’
Built with much love, such great care
I can’t wait to give them pages a good stare
But then I got another one I’d like to share

Oh, baby, baby, read Weirdworld
It’s harsh but it’s cool, Man-Things make me smile
Oh, baby, baby, read Weirdworld
Arkon’s hunt for Polemachus calls you, girl


Friday, September 18, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 9/18/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Prez, Sex Criminals, The Fade Out, and Tokyo Ghost

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 / curser of extreme temperatures Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Ahhhhhh…finally, a reprieve from the heat. Alas, it is short-lived, though. Today and through the weekend, it will again be in the upper 80s / low 90s, which is better than a few weeks ago, but still…yuck. Anywhooo, we have the Donist World corporate office (Mom’s basement) all set up for chillaxin’ with a pitcher of sweet tea in the fridge, lime popsicles in the freezer, and some salmon-flavored kibble on ice for my doggie executive team. We also have a truckload of comics and graphic novels to keep us occupied in the event we need to hunker down to wait out the heat. Luckily, Obie is preoccupied ironing out the details of his wholacracy management plan (not holacracy, mind you, wholacracy, where he is in charge of everything), so he should be out of our hair for most of the day. So, while you prepare to stay cool, fire up some chillwave music (new Neon Indian album in October!), pour yourself a nice cool sweet tea, get yourself a taco basket, and settle in for this week’s post. Thank you for reading.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Prez #4 - Written by Mark Russell, illustrated by Dominike “DOMO” Stanton, inked by Mark Morales and Sean Parsons, colored by Jeremy Lawson, lettered by Marilyn Patrizio, published by DC Comics. No one suggested to Beth "Corndog Girl” Ross that being the PotUS would be easy. With the recent death of an innocent Pakistani boy at the hands of “beanbag soldier,” the weight of reining in power-gone-awry begins to take its toll.

Denizens, I can’t begin to tell you the lift in spirits I get each time I see a new issue of the amazing Prez in my LCS pull. Even without seeing the other comics waiting for me, I knew this would be the first book I’d be reading later that night. But does the comic continue to WOW me the way it has with the previous three issues? Boy howdy, yes.

Now, I will say that there are a few shifts with this issue that are a bit different from what has come before. First, the tone of the book, although still with plenty of brilliant satirical moments that cracked me up — and that subsequently bummed me out with the realization that the jokes were not at all as far removed from reality as I would like — was decidedly darker. The issue mostly served as a look into the nature of borders and occupying territory, and the effect of using callous “beanbag soldiers” to man death-drone robots. We also see the US detaining prisoners — some legit threats, others completely innocent of any wrongdoing — at Guantanamo Bay, and the abysmal treatment received by those held. It’s all rather disheartening upfront, as opposed to the usual slow building realization that beneath the fun, cartoony style of the comic, the subject matter is rather grim. Thankfully, there are still humorous moments, particularly with Beth’s new Chief of Staff, a movie award ceremony (“I ‘heart’ my dad,” ha ha ha ha) and the commentary on the direction of books, movies, and copyright laws cracked me up completely…until that realization that Russell might sadly be on to something here. A side question I have is whether or not Fred Wayne is a descendent of Bruce Wayne — this is a DC comic after all — but I’m cool with the creators letting us wonder.

The second shift with the issue is fill-in artist Dominike “DOMO” Stanton, whose artistic style is different enough from Ben Caldwell’s issues to be noticeable, while still maintaining the overall feel Prez fans have grown accustomed to seeing. This is not a knock on DOMO, I’m merely stating that I noticed something was different, and then slipped gracefully back into what is one of the best new series of 2015. DOMO’s character design, character acting, and sequentials are pretty dang outstanding. Like most of Russell’s scripting, the art comes off as humorous, lighthearted, but when you stare long enough at a page, such as the one centering around the US wheat stores, you can quickly see the grim nature of the scene beneath Lawson’s beautifully vibrant colors. What I’m trying to say is if anyone is going to stand in for Caldwell as an artist on this series, it dang well better be DOMO, as he is a dang perfect fit. Come to think of it, if Russell wants to do a six-issue spin-off prequel or parallel tale to Prez, I wholeheartedly volunteer DOMO for the honor of doing so. (Please do this.)

Am I as happy or giggly after reading the latest issue of Prez? No, I’m not. BUT am I as thrilled, engaged, and expecting to be left pondering the subject matter of this comic until the day issue five drops? Oh my stars and garters, YES! I. Love. This. Comic. You need to be reading Prez. Don’t trade wait the series, and please preorder the remaining eight issues of this phenomenal satire of our political system and the world as a whole. Russell and Caldwell have confirmed that the series will run its 12-issue course, but as I alluded to above (flat out stated, actually), I want to see Prez prequels, minis, sequels, annuals, epilogues, or whatever. I’m not giving up hope on an eventual hardcover collection, either. This series is a blast and a real kick-in-the-pants as to the current state of the world and where we could be headed. Beth “Corndog Girl” Ross for President in 2016! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Sex Criminals #12
Sex Criminals #12 - Created by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky, flatted by Spencer Afonso, edited by Thomas K, produced by Drew Gill, published by Image Comics. Jon and Suzie are visiting the “Sunshine State” in an effort to find recruits to help them take down the Sex Police. But after their first interaction with Ana Kinkaid, they have learned that not all sex powers are created equal. Some can be downright terrifying.

This comic is not for kids. Did you get that? Allow me to repeat. This comic is NOT for kids. It is for “Mature Readers,” which means no pro-censorship a_holes, no we-know-what’s-better-for-you-than-you-do goody-goodies, no abstinence-only (no…it doesn’t work) champions of righteousness. No. This comic is for those mature enough to laugh at immature dick jokes, and who want to have one heck of a fantastic time reading a hilarious comic that is as enlightening and honest as it is ridiculous. Still with me? Haven’t yet read Sex Criminals? It was number one on TIME Magazine’s ”Top Ten Graphic Novels” of 2013. It is continually a Donist World darling, and has remained as one of my top five comics being released since issue one. Translation: You need to be reading this fine comic if you haven’t been already.

I’m not going to spoil this issue other than to say that it is somewhat of a mashup up of anime and horror and drama, plus a history lesson on the term “normal,” all while remaining off-the-walls funny. Fraction and Zdarsky had me rolling by page four with every page involving Jon and Suzie. Okay, I will spoil one thing…there are few things as messed up as seeing a guy, wearing only a pair of socks, running while in the buff. There isn’t. Well, maybe a nekkid guy jumping on a trampoline — <brrrrrr> so cold, so very, very cold <brrrrr> — but I think you get the point. Why is the guy running nekkid? You’ll just have to read Sex Criminals #12 to find out, and trust me when I say you will not be prepared for the reason why. Dang, denizens, I’m still laughing about it. I will tell you that Zdarsky has some of his best sequentials to date, but you will need to go back through for a second read to spot all of the awesome background gags to be found in the glowing pink bedroom.

There have been some lengthy delays on Sex Criminals, but if you stick around for the letters column, Fraction and Zdarsky will fill you in on the reasons why; it is well worth your time. Plus, you want to read the final page of this issue, which is on the back inside cover, much like a post-credits scene found in many superhero movies. Sex Criminals is loads of fun (*snicker*) and the fact that it keeps getting banned on iTunes and Android and Comixology (Amazon) despite the joyful, positive, informative, honest nature of the comic is all the reason to seek this series out. If you want to buy a copy digitally, then go to and get yourself a DRM-free copy. If you want to read it the way it was meant to be read, in print, then you have two trades and a beautiful hardcover to choose from, but the floppies are where the must-read letters column can be found. Regardless, just be sure you are reading this dang fine comic…provided you are mature enough, and smart enough, to handle it. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Fade Out #9
 The Fade Out #9 - Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips, colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser, published by Image comics. Charlie and Gil have been at odds for a while now, which means they haven’t exactly been talking to each other. But after what happened to Val, and in light of what Gil recently discovered, the two friends need to bury the hatchet…just not in the other’s head.

Holy cow, this book is great. Brubaker and Phillips have had the crime drama down ever since their phenomenal Criminal series debuted.  The Fade Out is set to run for 12 issues and at the three-quarters mark, I am every bit — more so, actually —engrossed in this exquisitely-paced, brilliantly-told tale involving many damaged characters, all with secrets to hide and stories to tell. I honestly can’t get enough of it. This issue is especially important for all of those who have been following the series, as we finally learn Charlie and Gil’s history along with the ups and downs of their relationship. Trust me, there are some pretty big downs that actually made this Donist gasp in surprise. But despite their intensely complicated relationship, it is clear that these guys are lifelong friends no matter how crazy things get; unfortunately, certain decisions they make kind of suggest their lives might not actually run all that long.

With each issue of The Fade Out, I comment at length about Phillip’s mastery over storytelling and character acting, and absolutely nothing has changed since last issue — the art delivers as expected; each page is a thing of beauty. If anything caught my attention visually with this issue, it was the scene where Charlie and Gil stop their fighting and actually talk things through. There’s drinking and smoking and anger and caution, and the dim lighting accentuates the shadows to set the mood that Breitweiser’s beautiful complementary colors hammer home. It’s a powerful scene, but I have to say that the panel of the sock to jaw packs quite a wallop itself…dang, that looked painful.

If you like crime comics then you have absolutely zippo reasons to not be reading the tremendous The Fade Out. Brubaker and Phillips are masters of their craft, and this series is certain to draw you in and keep hold of you until the harsh end. There are no “jumping on points” for this series other than the first issue, so that is where you must start. You can dive in with the ridiculously inexpensive trades, or, better yet, by picking up the floppies that provide tremendous bang for your buck with the exceptional letters column and fascinating essays that are well worth your time, and not available in the trades. This series just gets better and better. I cannot wait for the next issue. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Tokyo Ghost #1
Tokyo Ghost #1 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Sean Murphy, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. 70 years in the future, most of humankind has slipped into an apocalyptic nightmare of their own creation, a world where tech addiction runs rampant. Enter Debbie Decay and Led Dent, constables for the powers that keep everyone jacked in and jacked up, to enforce the law.

This comic is positively nuts. I kind of had the same feeling reading Tokyo Ghost as I had watching the amazing Mad Max: Fury Road, only with the comic, I needed a bit more to fully hook me to the characters and the world. This is not to say I did not like this premiere issue, much the opposite, but the movie had over two hours of madness to immerse oneself, whereas Tokyo Ghost had only 28 pages of material to introduce an incredibly messed up world, a corporately run political system, a psychotic (but waaaaaay groovy bad guy), showcase the bad guy’s powers, hint at the tech involved and the effects of tech addiction, and sympathize the reader to the two main characters and their lopsided relationship. <phew> See? I told you there’s a lot going on, and I haven’t even touched on the insane action of this thrilling issue that kicks in on page two and carries through to the end. Again…<phew>

My initial reaction upon finishing the issue was what they heck just happened? But now that I have slept on the issue (no, denizens, I do not literally sleep on my comics…not all of them, at least), and flipped back through it, I really want to go read it again with a clearer mind and brighter light — I’m positive I missed a ton of the intricacies in the story and art on my first read. So, yeah, I didn’t immediately connect with this comic in the same way I did with Remender’s recent creator-owned work (Low, Black Science, and Deadly Class), but upon further reflection and after reading Remender’s note at the end that Tokyo Ghost will see many drastic tonal shifts in the story, I am definitely amped to see more more more.

If you’ve been reading Donist World for a length of time, then you know I am a fan of Murphy’s art, but jumping Jehoshaphat this book looks freakin’ incredible. As I mentioned above, there is a lot going on in both the story and art, and I have to recommend reading the comic through quickly, scratching your head, going for a quick run or walk, and then reading again and taking a good half hour or so to appreciate every dang intricacy of every dang panel. Not only is every character beautifully designed and depicted, but there are tons of gags, Easter eggs, and generally cool things going on in the background of every page (like a Black Science pinball machine, no less). Debbie Decay is gorgeous, Davey Trauma is killer with all of his groovy high and low-tech gear (Atari and NES controllers on his arm…classic! Get it?), cars look phenomenal, and Led Dent is imposing, but most importantly the storytelling will keep you madly whipping through the issue to keep up with the high-octane action. Also, Led’s motorcycle, “Zeus’ Dick” is the bee’s knees. This is one beautiful comic, and when you add Hollingsworth’s mood-enhancing colors (also available in pill form) you can feel the despair of this defeated world, only to then have the action heat things up with oranges and yellows to get your heart pumping. (If you want more from Murphy, check the must-own Punk Rock Jesus, Joe the Barbarian, The Wake, and the book I need to pick up and read ASAP The Chrononauts.)

Again, my initial reaction to the first issue of Tokyo Ghost was that I liked it okay, but didn’t love it. The thing is, I keep thinking about the comic, it’s commentary on the invasiveness of tech, the codependency between Debbie and Led, the beautiful art, and I realize just how much I enjoyed reading it; it just needed a little time to marinate, I guess. There’s a richness both within and below the pages that just begs for another reading, which I intend to do later today. I started out liking Tokyo Ghost, but now I love it. I am excited to see where this thrilling series takes me next. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

I Could Sure Use a Wet Banana - “Wait What?!?!” you might say, especially after this week’s awesome issue of Sex Criminals. What I mean is this thing that was a knock off of the old Slip’n Slide. Both options are awesome ways to keep cool, but are probably more likely to cause untold numbers of injuries. I remember being a kid in drought-ridden Santa Barbara, and running to jump onto the Wet Banana, but without a lush, green lawn to cushion our descent…well, the price to stay cool was sometimes a painful one; mind those rocks and dirt clods! And then there were the days where we ignored the warning “Do not try to stand on the Wet Banana,” and quickly learned why you do not try to run, jump, and slide while standing. Those metal fasteners at the end were also not much fun to skid into, and then there were those times you slid off the Wet Banana to learn the hard way that even grass can burninate you. Still, watching the temperature rise, I can see the allure of revisiting those fun-filled-and-often-times-painful days. Ah, youth…

(Sung to the tune of The Style Council’s “You’re the Best Thing”)

I am quite content with the new comics I read
They’re a win, boy howdy, they are so dang fine
The Fade Out is hot, I sure like it a lot
This crime comic makes me wanna shout and sing

Tokyo Ghost’s a win, tech addiction sin
Led and Debbie Decay are oh-so very hot
Sex Criminals I must say thrills me all the way
It brings warmth and a smile, brightens up my day, it makes me shout hooray

Prez is one of the best books that’s ever happened to me or my world
Prez def deserves a long look, it’s great fun, I must say


Friday, September 11, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 9/11/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Deadly Class, Bitch Planet

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 / chillwave coordinator Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Grrrrrrrrrrr…last week my executive team and I thanked mighty Apollo for drawing his fiery carriage and glorious steeds away from par baked Santa Barbara. We were able to do a few walk-’n’-talk meetings concerning our status as a Fortune 320,000 company, and generally focus on our cross geo synergies and corporate culture. Alas, Apollo must have lost his wallet somewhere around here and has returned to find it. In other words, it’s been stupid-hot, and stepping out to mist ourselves from the water hose is only a temporary reprieve from the heat madness. Dang, not only has it been so hot that I can’t sleep, we only had two measly comics in the Donist World pull this week. But this is fine…those two books are all kinds of awesomeness. So, while I help Apollo find his dang wallet so he leaves and makes things more tolerable, please fire up some chillwave music (new Neon Indian album in October!), pour yourself some nice cool sweet tea, get yourself a taco basket, and settle in for this week’s post. Thank you for reading.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Deadly Class #16
Deadly Class #16 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, colored by Jordan Boyd, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Marcus really is his own worst enemy. At least now he’s realizing it…sort of. Unfortunately, it might be too late. Old friends hate him, old enemies want to ruin him, he’s pissing off the school snitch, and he’s about to screw things up even worse. Oh, to be a teenager again.

I’ve been a fan of Deadly Class since the first issue, but recently some of the book’s intensity has waned. Now, with this conclusion to the third chapter, the intensity ramps up to leave us in for a painful wait until the next issue come December. Although Marcus is beginning to realize that he is the main component in the machine of his many bad situations — a friend flat out tells him this — he still can’t help but continue to dig himself in deeper. Not only that, but Marcus still has the repercussions of his past deeds to account for. Thankfully, he is off the drugs in this issue, and is thinking more clearly, but the book would not be the same were Marcus to have everything handed to him on a silver platter. He devises a plan to deal with his current blackmail problem, but for all of the character’s self-destructiveness, the universe also has no intention of making his life any easier. The timing of Headmaster Lin’s call for the “End of Year Orientation” looks to create even more hardships for Marcus, but given the level of horrid luck in this issue, chapter four might just offer the kid a way to set things right.

One thing is for sure…Craig’s art has never looked better than with this issue. I know, I know, I practically say that with every new release, but, as always, it is true. Everything from Craig’s high panel counts, dramatic use of shadows, brilliant character acting, and killer storytelling sequences just gets better and better. The scenes leading up to Marcus’s encounter with Viktor had my heart rate steadily increasing until the nerve-wracking confrontation in the showers, where the intensity rockets through the roof. All the while, Boyd’s mostly-monochromatic coloring schemes intensify the mood, ensuring your eyes stay glued to the page. The jump from the predominant cool green panels to the flash of orange with each gunshot are a shock to eyes, but the effect is so exciting, so thrilling you cannot help but become immersed in the insanity of the moment. Then you arrive at the ghoulish oranges of the “Orientation”…I can’t wait to see what happens next.

So, yes, things had slowed down for a little bit, but Deadly Class has again picked up steam, and the next chapter looks to be particularly insane. If you want to read a not-for-the-young-’uns comic about a high school for assassins that is set in the ’80s with a massively flawed protagonist — who still gets you to root for him despite his actions — then look no further than this awesome comic. You can easily catch up with the first two trades, with the third arriving mid-October. Rick Remender is on a roll with his trio of creator-owned comics (Low and Black Science being the other two), and Tokyo Ghost, releasing next week, looks to be a worthy addition to his already tremendous stable. Deadly Class is a trip every comic lover should be riding. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Bitch Planet #5
Bitch Planet #5 - Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, illustrated by Valentine De Landro, Colored by Cris Peter, lettered by Clayton Cowles, design by Rian Hughes, backmatter design by Laurenn McCubbin, edited by Lauren Sankovitch, published by Image Comics. The woman of the A.C.O. — aka “Bitch Planet” — are set to have their first Megaton practice scrimmage. Their opponents? The sadistic guards of the A.C.O. What ever could go wrong?

It has been a while since we last read an issue of the phenomenal Bitch Planet, and although I was worried about following the story after the long delays, by page two I was totally back in the thick of things, and cheering for my favorite “Non-Compliants.” As I say all too often, I generally do not care about sports. Yet here we have an ultra-violent game that involves moving a round ball from one end of the field to the other and beating people up. It’s basically football and rugby with a supersized helping of beatings added to the mix. As dumb as it all sounds, DeConnick and De Landro have made us love the characters so much, that the whole thing is actually quite fascinating. I want to see Kam crunch a guard. I want to see Penny Rolle take on a squad of goons and plow them into the dirt. I want to know each of the MANY new characters introduced with little more than a reference file pic and brief description of their crime(s), while getting to see them in action on the field. That’s all I need to be pulled firmly into the womens’ corner and cheering for The A.C.O Naughty N.C.S. The end of this story arc also brings a shocking turn that I was not expecting so early in the comic, and although I feel delaying said event for another arc or two could have made a deeper impact, it was a powerful moment nonetheless…how’s that for vague?

De Landro’s art is just as beautiful as in previous issues, and with much of the issue following the action of the game, it is clear to see the great storytelling involved. Of equal importance is the character acting; both on and off the field. Much of the emotions involved occur on the field, but I especially liked the pages where the Father and Makoto discuss the coming Megaton game. Every page that features Makoto, after the first, is comprised of an eight-panel grid layout, and each takes us into this character’s life until a startling discovery (I ain’t spoiling). The strict adherence to this structure shows the sturdy foundation of Makato’s life, which I supect will come tumbling down along with the eight-panel grid layouts; I can’t wait to see it happen. Peter’s colors are still predominantly flat when used on living people, with the backgrounds and computer generated images showcasing effects like gradients / textures, all while providing one heck of a gorgeous look.

Yeah, the wait for this issue of Bitch Planet was a long one, but after seeing it in my pull, settling in with a Saint Archer IPA, and giving it a read, the wait was soooooooo worth it. The characters are great, their situation infuriating to the point of staying in my mind for days later, and the callbacks to all the culty films I love make Bitch Planet a dang fine and — dare I say — fun read. If you missed out on the floppies for this awesome new series, then I think you might be hosed on finding all five issues, as the Bitch Planet “Non-Complient” devotees probably snatch up all the copies they find; from what I can tell, they’re a fairly obsessive bunch…NO, denizens, you cannot have my issues! But never fear. You can pick up the first trade come mid-October and see what all the hubbub and excitement is all about. I strongly encourage you to give Bitch Planet a read, you’ll be glad you did. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

A Slow Comic Book Week - Yes, both of the new comics I read this week are great, fantastic actually, but I still wish I had another comic or two waiting for me at the ol’ LCS. Well, I suppose the only proper way to deal with a bad case of lack-of-new-comicsitis is to finally bust open my four lovely Chew: Omnivore Editions; I’ve been dying to reread Chew for some time now. If life gives you limes, denizens, get some tequila and make margaritas.

So Hot. So Very…Very…Hot - Grumble, grumble, grumble. Like my Boston terrier executive team, I love sunny days. However, these sunny days need to be on my terms. If the temperature is going to 95˚+, then I dang well better be under an umbrella, lounging by the pool, eating lime popsicles, sipping either mojitos or a steady supply of Sierra Nevada PIVO Pilsners or Firestone Easy Jacks, all while being served cucumber and tomato slices drenched in lime juice and dusted with chili powder and salt. Is that so unreasonable? The problem: I currently have none of these things. The closest thing to a swimming pool is the garden hose, and the lime popsicles are long gone, as are the PIVOs and cucumbers. I could go take a quick dip in the ocean at the nearby beach, but seeing as how the beach was littered with seaweed and dead fish last time, it’s not the most pleasant of places right now. Even worse, the heat’s been so bad, I haven’t really slept for a week. Oh well, it’s supposed to start cooling off, and the “Mist” setting on the garden hose is calling Tulip and me…

And on that heated note…

(Sung to the tune of The Style Council’s “Have You Ever Had It Blue”)

Have you ever sought great books that’d please you through and through
A stop at your LCS’s where you’ll find somethin’ new
Bitch Planet’s rocking, thrilling, gripping, chilling NC crew
Deadly Class is a great one to shake your nerves it’s true
Have you read such awesome books, they’re the best I’m tellin’ you


Friday, September 4, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 9/4/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: The Dying & the Dead, Lazarus, We Stand on Guard, Rachel Rising, Plutona

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 / bad to the bone specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Ahhhhhhhh…finally, a reprieve from the scorching heat, which means we can comfortably step outside. Now, I know that bicycling is the new golf for most companies fortunate enough to find themselves among the Fortune 320,000, but heading out on a 20-mile ride when your executive team is comprised of two Boston terriers is problematic at best. Although, Obie has suggested getting a trailer that I use to peddle them around while he spouts off about wholacracy (his version of holacracy wherein he retains ALL of the executive power), which is just not gonna happen. Man, I just want to read some comic books and talk about them, which is what we’re gonna do. So, while I go for a non-team-building run, grab some killer tacos, a strong ginger ale — or perhaps a nice cool sweet tea— and settle in for this week’s post. Thank you for reading.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Dying &
The Dead #3
The Dying & the Dead #3 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Ryan Bodenheim, colored by Michael Garland, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics. A secret collection of immortals, the Baduri, have pulled mankind’s strings since time untold; they are not as secret as they would like to be. Recent history’s most heinous monsters learned of the Baduri and are now in possession of the Bah al’Sharur.

If you need a refresher on my thoughts for the first two issues, have a look here and then here. Don’t feel bad if you need to go back, issue two came out in April of this year. If you read through my review of the second issue, you will see a fairly lofty statement that places The Dying & the Dead as one of the top three best new releases of 2015 (Descender and Prez are the other two, btw). My stance on this has not changed with this issue, but rather has been strengthened…I will say that I wish it came out more frequently though.

This issue is all about history: history of the Baduri, the City, Bah al’Sharur, and even a revision to our own history that I am not going to spoil. As I might have mentioned for the first two issues, I loved what I was reading and seeing, but I was confused as to what exactly was going on. That changes here. With a better glimpse into the past of these odd, alabaster-skinned immortals, we learn more about them, and thus discover what was stolen back in the first issue by the Cobra-esque bad guys. Let me tell you, denizens, it’s all pretty sweet…and a tad gruesome to boot. Hickman perfectly brought the arrive-late-leave-early excitement of the first issue, along with a ton of spectacular mysteries. He then followed by introducing a host of stellar new characters with almost no action and more questions. Now, he fills in many of the gaps, and it’s all of a sudden lightbulb central in the ol’ Donist noggin; more than anything I need the next issue.

Bodenheim’s art and Garland’s colors continue to blow me away. Bodenheim’s use of differing line weights adds greatly to his immense storytelling prowess, especially during the unveiling of the Bah al’Sharur sequence. But then again, that history of the Baduri portion is ridiculously stunning…dang, that Baduri woman is gorgeous. Ummm…where was I? Oh yeah, the pictures are DANG pretty. Speaking of pretty…Garland’s color palette is one of my favorites in modern comics. He primarily uses near-monochromatic color schemes, as well as the occasional analogous one, to incredible effect. The cool thing is that once you become comfortable with what you are seeing, he will add a burst of warm colors among the cool to shock or signal the importance of something, such as the trio of orange boxes against the predominantly desaturated purples of the panel; you need to see it to believe it.

Am I disappointed about having to wait until 2016 for the next issue? Yeah, of course, especially given how much I have been loving this series. But it will come soon enough, and according to the back matter, it should be on track for monthly(ish) release thereafter. In the meantime, I will just have to reread the three issues I have and perhaps Hickman, Bodenheim, and Garland’s Red Mass for Mars to get me through the cold winter months. This issue and the series as a whole come VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Plutona #1
Plutona #1 - Story by Jeff Lemire and Emi Lemox, written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Emi Lemox, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics. Life in a small town changes for five children when they find the body of a beloved superhero deep in the nearby woods.

I have a huge problem with Lemire and Lemox’s new mini-series Plutona…that problem is the word “mini” before the hyphen and the other word “series.” What I mean is that I LOVE this first issue, and the fact that we are already 20% into this tale saddens me in that we are that much closer to the end. That’s a crazy way to think about Plutona, but my plan from now on is to just go with the flow, not think about a great thing ending, and appreciate the story we have. And trust me, denizens, there’s a ton to appreciate here.

My one sentence synopsis of the issue pretty much sums it up. The superhero is dead on page one. The kids find her body on the last page (of the main story…more on that in a sec). What happens in between is a glimpse into each kid’s life as they prepare to go to school, their walk to school, a glimpse in the lunch room, and then their fateful meeting after school. The majority of the magic happens in the development of each child: a sister and little brother being raised by a single mother; an awkward girl attempting to establish her identity (she also has a cool new puppy); a boy obsessed with superheroes and tagged with an unfortunate nickname; and a possibly abused boy living with his alcoholic father. We see each prepare for school and instantly gain insight into each kid’s life…it all rings painfully true.

Accurately portraying kids is not an easy thing, but Lemire and Lemox just nail it. We see how uncomfortable some of the kids are in their own skin, we see blatant-but-not-too-bad bullying (toughie to nerd), subtle bullying (sister to brother, friend to friend), bickering, experimentation / coping with cigarettes, and generally just dealing with life. It’s all accurately and tastefully done, and I was reminded of my own youth, my own friends, and what it was like to fill time before the onslaught of grander commitments and very different sorts of stress came crashing down later in life. By the time I finished the issue, I felt like I was the sixth wheel of their little group, and was thankful that I was allowed to tag along.

Lemox’s cartooning could not have found a better place than with Plutona. With but a few precisely drawn lines, a tweak of the mouth, slumped shoulders, or creases of irritation around the eyes, she tells the reader so much about each character, it’s easy to imagine you are right there with Mei, Diane, Ted, Ray, and Mike, attempting to make it through your day. Bellaire’s colors are predominantly flat with most examples of rendering / gradients occurring in skylines or a faint blush to the cheeks, and through her colors elevates the mood of the story, making it a pleasure to read. To add more punch to an already great thing, Lemire illustrates a four-page segment at the end of book titled “Plutona’s Last Adventure,” which looks to unveil what happened to the superhero, through Lemire’s much loved art style.

Although I now want to read this comic forever, I am resigned to the fact that we will get only five issues of this tremendous start to a fantastic all-ages(?) mini-series. 2015 looks to be a heck of a year for Lemire’s creator-owned work as evidenced by Descender and Plutona, and I can’t wait to see what else he has in store for us down the road. As for this book, I have zero doubt that these creators will deliver anything other than a wonderful tale that will resonate for some time to come once issue five falls into our hands. I am so psyched to see what happens next. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Lazarus #19
Lazarus #19 - Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Michael Lark, inked by Michael Lark and Tyler Boss, colored by Santi Arcas, lettered by Jodi Wynne, publication design by Eric Trautmann, published by Image Comics. For all intents and purposes, Forever Carlyle is dead. After receiving a gunshot wound to the head — and after not getting up as a Lazarus should — her team is forced to move on without her, as command moves to Casey Solomon. Meanwhile, Johanna plots…

Lazarus continues to be one of my favorite Image titles. It’s also the title that freaks me out the most because of its portrayal of the direction the world might be headed in, but it is one of my favorites nonetheless. Thankfully, Rucka gives this ol’ Donist a break from the worries of potentially being designated as Waste at some point in the near future by focusing mostly on Casey Solomon pulling the team together to finish their mission, Malcolm Carlyle’s condition, and the state of Forever Carlyle. One thing I noticed that was somewhat uplifting was the supposed sibling concern for Forever’s wellbeing, which I want to believe extends beyond their concern for the state of the mission and the war with Hock.

My slight relief at hope for humanity wavered, however, once we got to Lark’s two pages of Sonja, Marisol, and Michael, where Sonja takes the pills given to her. Something about the body language and character acting in the sequence shows there’s more at work than the oddly innocent murder-machine that is Sonja realizes — Marisol’s expressions show she knows more than she is letting on. And speaking of murder-machines…when Forever does get up in this issue, Lark’s storytelling and fight choreography delivers four pages of heart-pounding carnage and mayhem that had me cheering for Forever despite the raw brutality of the scene; dang, it was awesome.

Never before has being so disheartened by what the future has in store for us been so much fun. I love this series. If you are not reading this book and are a fan of post-apocalyptic tales, then you cannot go wrong with the brilliant Lazarus. You can quickly catch up via the three available trades, or jump in with the beautiful hardcover collection. It’s well worth your time, but be prepared to have your senses rattled in the best of ways. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Rachel Rising #36
Rachel Rising #36 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. Rachel and Lilith talk through their problems with Zoe as referee. Unfortunately, their discussions attract the attention of some nosey neighbors. Meanwhile, a certain someone notices that Rachel has been creeping around their property.

Unlike a particular television show that delivered mystery after mystery with very few answers (yes, I’m talking about Lost), Moore’s Rachel Rising delivers mystery upon mystery, while providing plenty of shocking answers along the way. Such is the case with this issue. This month, we gain some fairly startling revelations of Biblical proportions in the nature of Rachel and Lilith’s relationship that made me go “Ohhhhhhhhhh, yeah, why didn’t I see that before?” I always love reading Rachel Rising, but it’s the “Ah Ha!” moments like this that make me love it all the more.

Then you have moments like Zoe, acting like a goofy little girl, swinging and playing about in a tree, all while gleefully spouting off some particularly nasty ways of dealing with the ladies’ demon problem. It’s funny and disturbing all at the same time. What really touched me this issue, though, were the three silent pages of Earl and Jet, and their budding (and probably doomed) relationship. As I have said before, Moore is the guy who nearly brought this Donist to tears while I rode a packed train back from SDCC many years ago after I finished reading his masterwork Strangers in ParadiseNow, it’s Earl and Jet’s courtship that warm my cold, dark heart…the look in Jet’s eyes and then Earl’s eyes…<sigh>. Such a beautiful moment. I will say, that I am ready for some more Aunt Johnny time in the near future, which is the thing about Moore: you cannot help but embrace his characters into your heart.

Dang, sorry for getting all emotional there, denizens, but Moore just has a way of grabbing you with both words and imagery. You’re reading Rachel Rising, right? If not, and you are a fan of shows like Twin Peaks or you’re a fan of smartly-written horror tales — not that splatter-pr0n nonsense or cats jumping out of cupboards — then you simply MUST pick up Rachel Rising, which you can easily do with the first five trades. At 36 issues, Rachel Rising continues to be a fun, exciting read that gets better and better with each issue. I think it’s about time I started up my rereading from the beginning. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

We Stand on Guard #3
We Stand on Guard #3 - 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 war between the US and Canada continues, as the Canandian freedom fighters, the Two Four, prepare for some tough times ahead.

I am still enjoying We Stand on Guard quite a bit, but at three issues in, I am not yet fully invested in any of the characters. But as with the previous issues, the flashback sequences bring me a little closer to Amber, but it is the world and the circumstances surrounding the intricacies of how this futuristic war is waged that keeps me coming back for more.

The part where captured rebellion Chief McFadden is tortured by the US Military was, although reprehensibly, interesting for the futuristic methods employed to extract information from prisoners. Vaughan has the sequence literally play out in McFadden’s head, while her torturer is also not just in McFadden’s mind, she is not even physically present where McFadden is really being detained. It’s all rather messed up, especially given what it is that actually breaks the freedom fighter.

The main draw of this issue is Skroce’s beautiful artwork. Holy moly. The details found in backgrounds, clothing, mecha, tech, animals, expressions…everything, is phenomenal, and when you couple it with Hollingsworth’s colors, the end result is thrilling to say the least. And speaking of thrlling…that final double-page spread is exactly what I’m talking about.

We Stand on Guard might not be my favorite work from Vaughan, but it is still a fascinating look at the future of war. Also what’s not to love when a Canadian freedom fighter says to a US military commander, “I’m not going to explain climate change to an American.” I’m still cracking up over that one. We’re now at the halfway mark of this mini-series, and I am definitely sticking around to see how it all wraps up. RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Ahhhhhh…Out of Time - I will say that the spectacle this Kim Davis moron is stirring up is beyond annoying. It’s crazy — keyword: crazy — how an insanely — keyword: insanely — hypocritical person like Davis is able to gain so much airtime for her supposed morals, morals that clearly do not apply to herself. It’s frustrating that this person believes she can impose her narrow-mined views on others and not carryout the duty for which she was elected, forget the whole separation of church and state, and willingly break the law. If you don’t like the job, then the sensical solution is quit. Oh well, for all her attempts at martyrdom, I’m sure she will soon be forgotten. Enjoy the limelight, dearie, it’ll be gone soon enough.

And on that note…

(Sung to the tune of The Style Council’s “My Ever Changing Moods”)

You want to read great comics, like The Dying & the Dead
Plutona and Lazarus, they simply are the best, yeah
Groovy Rachel Rising, it’s not all that surprising
We Stand on Guard realizing, such hotness I’m surmising 

I wish to read forever, comics are totes my food
Oh, but I’m caught up in the whirlwind
Of comic books that are this good, yeah