Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 10/30/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Prez, Weirdworld, and Chew

Welcome back, Donist World denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / Halloween costuming specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). As I’ve explained over the past couple FSoH/SitW posts, Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magics mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well. Gone are the days of pilfering the petty cash drawer to buy top-shelf kibble and tacos. Away are the questionable meetings where he attempts to unleash his fringe management styles upon Tulip, Amy the intern (my wife), and I. Get a load of this…today, I came into the office (Mom’s basement), and found the latest comics neatly stacked on my desk (the fold-up card table) along with a list of talking points and words of encouragement. He also went into the dreaded Closet of Doom and excavated a stack of older comics that he felt I would enjoy rereading. Not only that, he gave me a cup of piping-hot coffee, and delivered it with a “Thank you, Boss-Man.” Is it wrong if I don’t look into reversing the curse (or blessing in this case) afflicting my CFO? I kind of like the new attitude. Anyhow, pour yourself a cup of Joe, order in some tasty tacos, and settle in for this week’s post. Thank you for reading.

ALSO, please check out our special “The Donist World Required Reading Halloween Bash 2015” from earlier this week for some truly spooktacular comics worthy of your reading time.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Prez #5
Prez #5 - Written by Mark Russell, illustrated by Ben Caldwell, inked by Mark Morales, colored by Jeremy Lawson, lettered by Travis Lanham, published by DC Comics. The Good Ol’ US of A has done quite a bit of good over its existence, but it has also made more than its fair share of mistakes; some of which are pretty bad. Thankfully, teenage President of the United States Beth “Corndog Girl” Ross has a rather simple solution to begin to set things right.

I love this comic, Denizens. With the arrival of the Not-New-52, new DC Comics, Prez was the comic that sounded the most interesting of everything being offered. No capes, no tights, no powers, or masks, just a world set in the not so distant future, where a teenage girl becomes the President by a fluke in the electoral process of the current guard’s own creation. In all honesty, Prez should have been released as a Vertigo book. Heck, if it had been set to release during October, I have no doubt that it would have fallen under that umbrella, and rightfully so.

Visually, the comic appears to be a lighthearted, heartwarming tale of a teenage girl accidentally rising to the role of one of the most powerful people in the world. But don’t let the oh-so-gorgeous art fool you. Russell and Caldwell’s book is a dark satyrical look at the world we’ve allowed to come to pass, and the stark trajectory we are currently on in regard to politics, corporate malfeasance, corruption, extremism, healthcare, greed masquerading as ideology, elder care, and the unstoppable progression of technology. With Prez, I laugh and smile at many of the more ridiculous notions as I read each issue, but then the creators’ true meaning begins to push through, and although I still gleefully hammer through the comic, it becomes clear that those ridiculous notions unfortunately ring all too true. Prez touches upon the terrifying realities of our world to such a degree that merely categorizing the comic as a comedy (a hilarious one at that), is actually a disservice as the book can easily be filed under “horror” once you begin to really think about it. Yup, this is a Vertigo book through and through.

The art and story are a perfect balancing act of harmony and conflict with subtext creeping in to change laughter and glee, to nervousness and unease once the realization that the absurdity of what you are reading is actually kind of happening. Criminy…I can feel a shiver rattle down my spine, but I can’t help but laugh every time I see that Pharmaduke. <brrrrrrrr> Caldwell’s cartooning is so filled with joy, and oftentimes goofiness, and Lawson’s vibrant, mostly-flat colors so exciting and cheerful, that it is all rather disarming once the underlying meaning of what you are seeing sinks in. But more than the fantastic colors and characterization, the visual storytelling and character acting are phenomenal from page one through to the end; dang, I really want some Caldwell art to display in my house.

Prez is easily my favorite new series for 2015, and it continues to boggle my mind that this is a DC book. I don’t mean this as a knock on DC, but as I said above, this book is as far removed from traditional superheroes as you can get. The keyword here is “traditional.” President Beth “Corndog Girl” Ross is in no way a traditional hero, but her outsider’s look at our political system and the world we have built looks to be everything our country needs to progress; she doesn’t require powers, a cape, or brightly colored outfit, just intelligence, and a rational mind. Don’t wait for the February 2016 trade release of this amazing comic, Denizens. If you are not reading Prez, then head out to your LCS and pick up the available five issues to ensure we continue to see Russell and Caldwell’s series reach its intended end. Prez is a timely triumph that will have you cracking up even as you realize it’s touching upon reality. Screw the other candidates, Beth “Corndog Girl” Ross for President!!! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
* Side note: I find it interesting that despite Prez’s commentary about the invasiveness of multinational corporations, we get a full-page ad for the KFC and The Flash comic book, The Colonel of Two Worlds. No, sadly, I am not joking. I am looking forward to a Superman Saves WalMart in the near future. Geez Louise.

Weirdworld #5
Weirdworld #5 - Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated and colored by Mike Del Mundo, color assists by Marco D’Alfonso, lettered by VC’s Cory Petit, published by Marvel Comics. When we last saw Arkon, he was a tad distressed (an understatement) about never being able to reach his home of Polemachus. But he was filled with something more powerful than despair, a great seething rage with which to unleash upon Morgan Le Fay, and even Weirdworld itself. Best not stand in his way.

Holy furious dragon doo-doo! This is one of the most insane comics I have read from the Big Two in I don’t know how long. Whoa… Dang, Denizens, I was upstairs on the tiny porch, enjoying my second Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (sooooo good) and Weirdworld was the last comic in my stack for the night — what a way to end a healthy bout of comic booking. I gave a hearty cheer (ummmm, or rather mumbled audibly causing Amy the Intern, my wife, to look up from her book in annoyance) more than once at multiple guest appearances, a killer double-page spread, and an awesome last page splash. Even writing down my experience reading this issue, and flipping through the pages, I’m grinning like a Man-Thing playing croquet with his dope-ass staff. This issue was a heck of a great way to end the five-issue mini, left me wanting one surprise guest appearance to appear in their own book once again, and excited for the new ongoing series coming in December from Sam Humphries and Mike Del Mundo. I soooooo cannot wait.

If you are looking for a positively bonkers adventure comic book as written by one of the best writers in comics today, and gorgeously illustrated by the same artist who provides the striking (regular version) covers, then look no further than the five-issue Weirdworld, which will be available in trade mid- to-late December. The only negative thing I can say about this book is that the many ads (including two super-obnoxious fold out pieces) really disrupt the reading experience; this is not the creators’ fault in the slightest. I took a chance on this title, and boy howdy am I glad I did. I can see returning to this fun-filled adventure many times in the future, and I suspect you will, too. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Chew #51
Chew #51 - Written and lettered by Jonathan Layman, illustrated and colored by Rob Guillory, color assists by Taylor Wells, published by Image Comics. Now that Tony Chu has handed the serial killing Collector his ass (if you missed last issue, then you done messed up, son!), it’s time to check in on Toni and Olive Chu. Oh yeah, check it out…Chonks!

Last issue wrapped one of the major arcs that has been playing out since the beginning of the series. I talked about it here, but to summarize: it was hella awesome, and the three month wait for the followup was painful, yet, as always, so very worth it. Although we now only have ten issues <sniffle> remaining with this Donist World Darling — and possibly a Poyo!!! special — the countdown to the end of Chew has begun. Even though the Collector storyline ended, there’s still plenty that awaits some answers: Was the Avian Flu a grand hoax? What about the mysterious, fiery space writing? How about our beloved Poyo? Or the space fruit that tastes like chicken? Not to mention all of the various awesome character arcs. Although I don’t want this series to ever end, I can’t help but want every single remaining issue in my grubby paws now now NOW! I can’t wait to see how it all ends. Not to mention…Chonks?!?!

I know I’m not really going into any detail of this specific issue other than to say that we see a cute preview of what’s in store for a few characters, we’re introduced to a new character, a new creature shows up, E.G.G. shows up, and Tony doesn’t even grace a single panel (okay, maybe one), which is fine. In fact, I don’t even mind that the lead character doesn’t show, I’ve spent so much time with all of these characters and the creators have developed them all so beautifully that I love them all. Heck, I love this series so much that I have reread the first three Chew: The Omnivore Edition volumes and the fourth is next in my queue (I discuss the actual presentation of the volumes here). If you are new to Chew (what is wrong with you, you monster!), then just jumping in now is not advised. My recommendation is to go with the lovely, slightly-oversized The Omnivore Editions, but if you must go the route of the trades, then that is an easy option for you to get started with the most unique comic on the stands. I weep for the approaching end, but I celebrate this fantastic comic created exactly as Layman and Guillory intended; their way. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

A Fire Hits Montecito - Ack…we were so close to having the El Nino storm that is supposedly (most likely) going to pummel the bejesus out of Santa Barbara in the very near future. Having lived in Santa Barbara for 35 years, I’ve seen my share of fires come through, and I have to say that there are few things as freaky as seeing the mountain range blaze in fury, or blue skies turn a sickly yellow as ash falls like rain, while I scramble to make plans for what items to pack up in the event we have to evacuate. Now, the Gibraltar brush fire is small — and hopefully extinguished soon — but having spent the last year with nerves on edge with every siren I hear is getting old. “Rain, rain, come today. Stick around for many days.” It’s about time this heatwave and the drought went on its way.

And on that nervous note…

(Sung to the tune of The Pixies “Debaser”)

Got me some comics
I want you to know
Prez, Chew, and Weirdworld
I want you to know
They are so groovy
I want you to know
So very good it’s true
But I am un bien lector de comic ah
I am un bien lector de comic ah
I am un bien lector de comic ah
I am un bien lector de comic ah
Wanna grow
Up to be
Be a comic lover, lover


Monday, October 26, 2015

The Donist World Required Reading Halloween Bash - 2015

Hello and welcome, Donist World Denizens, to the Donist World Required Reading Halloween Bash, or DWR2H…if you prefer a simplification that is actually more difficult to remember than the actual title of the post. I’m joined as ever by my Boston terrier executive team of Tulip (my dog) and the Reverse Obie (Tulip’s sister, my friends’ Boston terrier, who recently had a reversal of the black and white coloring of his fur…which brought along the additional bonus of making him easier to work with). Since Halloween falls later this week, I thought it would be fun to compile a list of MUST-READ comics that very much embrace the spirit of the season. I love this time of year, Denizens. The weather begins to cool, the leaves change, there are pumpkin flavored goodies appearing everywhere from pancake mix, ice cream, cornbread mix, chai latte mix, chocolates, frozen yogurt, granola, power bars, and the best of the best of beers (Avery Brewing’s Pump[KY]n, Dogfish Head’s Punkin’, Uinta’s Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin Ale, and Elysian’s Punkuccino are all phenomenal) — I draw the line at pumpkin-flavored coffee, which tends to be an abomination of the senses. But with the season also comes the need to read comics on the darker, scarier side of the spectrum, ones which Tulip, the Reverse Obie, and I are pleased to share with you below.

What follows is a list of horror-tinged comics which everyone who shares our fondness of Halloween should have read or have sitting beside their bed in their “To Read” pile. In no particular order, it’s…

The Donist World Required Reading Halloween Bash!

The Upturned Stone HC
The Upturned Stone HC - Most everythinged by Scott Hampton, lettered by Tracy Hampton-Musey, published by Heavy Metal/Kitchen Sink. Okay, I lied about the no particular order thing. This book stands tall alongside the book that follows as one of the best horror comics I have EVER read. I came very late to the party with Hampton’s masterpiece of art and the written word, and have talked about it many times here at Donist World (read my initial review here). The story is essentially a watercolored work of art in the guise of a cross between Stand By Me and the best of scary ghost stories. I love this wonderful work so much I tend to read it twice a year. You can and should pick this up for the ridonkulously low price of $5.00 and you can find it at the Heavy Metal site. It really doesn’t get better than this.

Swamp Thing
The Saga of the Swamp Thing - Written by Alan Moore, illustrated by John Totleben and Steve Bissette, published by DC Comics. As I have said many, many times over the past five or six years, Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson’s Swamp Thing (which you also need to read) is the comic that made me appreciate the work of a master artist, and later, once I was old enough to actually read, a great story. But when Moore’s take on DC’s muck monster came out, it was one of those things that showed me how a cool character with some great stories behind him, could be completely spun into something new. This series compelled me to read and reread every issue by Moore I could get my hands on, while making my skin crawl, then lifting my spirits, and ultimately horrifying me with some legitimately frightening stories. The Saga of the Swamp Thing is one of my stranded-on-a-desert-isle books and one I love to revisit again and again as a slow, steady tingle creeps up my spine.

The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead - Written by Robert Kirkman, illustrated by Charlie Adlard (and initially by Tony Moore). If you have never heard of The Walking Dead, then allow me to be the first to congratulate you on your recent freedom from the doomsday bunker you have been stashed away in for the past two decades. Seriously, I’m sorry that happened to you, but once you start reading this massively-successful creator-owned series, you will probably be scrambling to return back to that gawd-forsaken, concrete prison you crawled out of; this series about a zombie outbreak is about as grim and horrendous as it gets. Now, I freely admit I am behind by about five trades, and that I have not yet seen any of the latest episodes in season six of the television show (although I recently hammered through the entirety of the awesome season five), but I do intend to check in on Rick and the rest of his soon-to-be-deceased-in-a-shockingly-gruesome-manner crew in the near future. The Walking Dead is the undeniable king of zombie comic books. You should at least make it to issue 100 on this ever-popular series.

28 Days Later
28 Days Later - Written by Michael Alan Nelson, illustrated by Declan Shalvey, published by BOOM! Studios. Oh, man! Did I ever love watching 28 Days Later. I first saw the movie in the theater with Amy (Donist World intern, my wife), whose ever-tightening grip on my arm threatened to snap a bone, or at the least cause some bruising as she leaned over to whisper in my ear “What did you bring me to see?!”; this was during the first 10 minutes of the movie. <phew> Yeah, the film is damn intense, but I love it and the sequel 28 Weeks Later is dang scary, too, but the comic is no joke. A fantastic story by Nelson and gorgeous art by Shalvey, 28 Days Later sees the character of Selena, a survivor of the original outbreak, embarking on a mission back into the same infected zone that nearly killed her. Dang, I need to reread this one…I best plan on not sleeping afterwards, too.

Batman: The Black Mirror - Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Jock and Francesco Fracavilla, published by DC Comics. I’m currently at the halfway point of my fourth reread of this phenomenal Batman tale. Snyder writes a fantastic Dick Grayson standing in as Batman in this comic that is more cerebral horror / noir crime tale than superhero book. It also brings in Commissioner Gordon in one of the best takes on the character since Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One. Jock and Francavilla deliver spine-tingling visuals that ramp up the unease you are sure to feel in one of my favorite Batman books to this day.

Afterlife With Archie - Written by Roberto Aguierre-Sacasa, illustrated by Francesco Francavilla, published by Archie Comics. Okay, I’m not sure what the heck is going on with the release schedule of this surprise offering from Archie, but this book has no qualms in turning their well-know, much-loved characters into the terrifying undead, and touching on some rather disturbing sequences. I just reread the first collection straight through, and was unnerved, sympathetic to characters’ plights, amused, and oftentimes moved by Archie Comic’s biggest and best risk to date. As I have said before, when I originally read the solicits for the first issue, I intended to write the comic off as kinda not for me, but then I read it and fell deeply in love with the fantastic story and Francavilla’s oh-so-gorgeous art. Don’t kid yourself, this is one of the best horror comics out there.

Manifest Destiny - Written by Chris Dingess, illustrated by Matthew Roberts, published by Image Comics. Want a revisionist history of Lewis and Clark’s exploration of the untamed West? I wasn’t certain that I did, but I heard some pretty high praise for this comic, so I bought the ultra-cheap first trade and was completely blown away. Read my thoughts of the first two trades here and here AFTER you read this awesome adventure, monster mash, horror comic that has me very eager for the third trade that arrives in mid-November. My goodness gracious, I cannot wait! Who knew being so completely freaked out could be so much fun.

Rachel Rising - Everythinged by Tony Moore, published by Abstract Studio. Mr. Moore is a modern day comic book master, and I have been singing the praises of his work since beginning Donist World, and it should come as little surprise that I LOVE this comic, too. Think Twin Peaks meets horror comics, with Moore’s stunning line and character work, and a story that is touching, compelling, and with characters you will adore. The story? A woman comes back to life in a grave deep in the woods with missing memories and a desire to find the person who killed her. There is sooooooo much more going on in the series than that, but you will need to read it for yourself to follow along with this Donist World Darling.

Chew - Written by John Layman, illustrated by Rob Guillory, published by Image Comics. Yeah, yeah, yeah, settle down, Denizens. Yes, I know Chew is predominantly a humor comic, and it has indeed left me laughing issue after issue, but the book is about an FDA agent who has the bizarre ability to get a psychic impression off of anything he consumes. He oftentimes comes across murder victims. How do you quickly solve a horrific murder case when the victim is lying in front of you, the clock is ticking, and you have just such an ability? Let’s just say the math adds up to a disgusting sum, but the sum of this laugh out loud comic — the most unique comic book on the stands — brings about some fairly gruesome and occasionally scary moments. All y’all already know you should be reading this great comic.

Creepy Presents… - Published by Dark Horse Comics. I totally flipped my wig over the first two volumes for Bernie Wrightson and Richard Corben (I gushed over them here and here), and I also quite enjoyed the Steve Ditko edition as well. I grew up sneaking peeks at these thrilling, terrifying, and oftentimes titillating tales of torment and tension as a kid, and I am happy to say that my fond memories hold true. These stories, many of which are written by Bruce Jones, are of a grand time when the Warren Magazine’s offerings were in full effect with the best of the best that comics had to offer. These beautiful editions need to be on everyone’s favorite bookshelf, which reminds me that I need to get ahold of the recently released Creepy Presents…Alex Toth.

Locke & Key - Written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, published by IDW. I don’t have the newly released hardcover edition for the link above, but it looks to be even more kickace (and cheaper) than buying the first two individual hardcovers that I have. This series is fantastic, whether it is Halloween, Christmas, the Fourth of July, or Aunt Barthalomew’s birthday. The creators immediately pull you into the lives of the Locke family and keep you firmly glued to the pages of this mystical horror comic that is phenomenal from beginning to end, as well as every step in-between. The crazy thing — as of this writing — is that this graphic novel series is available in its entirety for FREE through Amazon Audible as an audio-only book. Seriously. Go grab this NOW before it is no longer free, BUT read the comics first all the way through, and then fire up the audio version to expand what you already know. I think I will reread these as I listen to the glorious audio version to better experience this masterwork that made me shutter, unnerved me, made me laugh, and tugged on my emotions and heart the entire time. No matter how you look at it, Locke and Key is something special that all mature comic fans need to experience.

Other Notables - Ack, I’m out of time, but here are some other books you should check out to celebrate the Halloween season: The Sandman, Revival (this one is great!), Wytches (creepy to the max!!!)Hellblazer, Midnight Nation (I need to reread this one soon), Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Did I Miss Something? - Please let me know if I forgot to add a particular horror comic to this list. I’m sure there are tons out there that I mistakenly forgot about, or have not yet read. One series I have owned for some time that I have not yet tackled is From Hell, which I fully intend to remedy very soon. Thank you for reading. Have a great and safe Halloween!


Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 10/23/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Tokyo Ghost, The Fade Out, and Thanos: The Infinity Relativity

Welcome back, Donist World denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / protector of the pull list Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Dang it! I somehow was skipped for my copy of Weirdworld, and despite Tulip being on the phone all morning with none other than Arkon himself, it looks like it will be at least a week until I get to read the conclusion. <sigh> Anyhow, in other weird happenings, Obie has taken his studies of archaic corporate management styles, mixed them with a touch of sorcery, and has come out of the ordeal completely changed. Now, he wishes to be known as the Reverse Obie (a reverse Boston terrier, which means the fur that was white is now black, and the fur that was black is now white). It was at first rather upsetting, but then he actually got me some coffee, ordered in some tacos, paid back some of the petty cash he had appropriated for kibble, and boosted Donist World’s ranking as a Fortune 320,000. All before lunch time! Maybe having the Reverse Obie as part of the executive team is not all that bad. We’ll just have to see. Anyhow, pour yourself a nice cool sweet tea, set yourself up with some tasty tacos, and settle in for this week’s post. Thank you for reading.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Tokyo Ghost #2
Tokyo Ghost #2 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Sean Murphy, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Debbie Decay has had enough of the tech-addicted world, the one that has made her boyfriend, Led Dent, a pale comparison of who he once was. No, she’s taking Led and going to Tokyo, a place void of technology, a place for starting over. Now, how to break the news of their departure to their employer…

You might remember from last month that I did not immediately connect with Tokyo Ghost or the characters on my first read. Thankfully, this changed. After finishing that comic for the first time, I couldn’t stop thinking about its commentary on where we are headed with our current tech addiction, while Debbie, Led, and the world they live in kept coming to mind. So, I reread the issue. After that, I completely loved the characters, their plight, and their tech-plaqued dystopia.

With this issue, I had zero hesitance and was instantly pulled in by the first panel.

Remender and Murphy “dangle dangle” (see page three of the comic to get this reference) an additional glimpse into the mechanics of the Nation of Los Angeles, and the level of control its overlord, the corporation known as Flak, has over the populace. We also get a peek into Debbie and Led’s past in a cool narrative that flows through three pages, and although those pages are text-heavy, the sequence is so compelling and fascinating that I barely noticed the many words gracing the page — I also fell more in love with Debbie and Led because of it.

The premiere issue started off with a bang, carrying the reader on a fast-paced thrill ride that only let up for a page or two near the end. This issue doesn’t do that. Instead, things slow down to set the direction of the story, but, never fear, we still get a fantastic, nerve-rattling chase sequence that takes us through a spectacular double-page spread, and a last-page splash that has me chomping at the bit for issue three. Now, I’m sure you can already guess that I love those pages I just mentioned, but let’s not gloss over every…single…other…page from Murphy and Hollingsworth. As I’ve said before with these artists’ work, their mastery of storytelling will carry you through the comic quickly, but you owe it to yourself and to creators to go back through to appreciate every bit of the beauty to be found within each glorious panel. Murphy places a wealth of detail into every background and static object of nearly every panel, that to breeze through a page risks missing Easter eggs, clever jokes, and additional levels of beauty hidden within. This is one gorgeous comic.

As I write this review, I have an iMac, a MacBook Pro, a MacBook Air, two iPod Nanos, an iPad, an iPad 2, an iPad Air, two iPhones, an Apple TV, PS3, and Wii all within a 20' radius of me. Yeah, it's kind of worrisome…Remender might be on to something. Dang, maybe I should see if Ms. Decay and Mr. Dent wouldn’t mind a Donist and his two puppy executive team members joining them on their journey to tech-free Tokyo. Speaking of “tech-free,” I suggest reading Tokyo Ghost in floppies, as reading digital will push you much too close to the terrible reality that our heroes so desperately want to escape. And let’s take things a bit further, take your comic outside where the sun — you remember the sun, right? — can provide the perfect amount of lighting for your reading experience of this awesome new series. Come to think of it…shut your phone off and then enjoy Tokyo Ghost. I promise you, Cousin Billy-Bob’s latest brag post about how much better his life is than everyone else’s can wait. FYI…Cousin Billy-Bob’s lying…he’s just as miserable as the rest of us. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Fade Out #10
The Fade Out #10 - Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips, colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser, published by Image Comics. The lovely young starlet, Valeria Sommers, didn’t commit suicide; she was murdered. Charlie Parish knows it, his writing partner Gil Mason knows it, but anyone else who knows of the true events of that one faithful night ain’t talking. Charlie and Gil, however, know one man who might hold the answers they need. Unfortunately, that man is one of the scariest sons of bitches that ever walked this green Earth.

Jolly Gee Wilikers! We only have two issues remaining in this tremendous maxi-series from the creators who brought us the Donist World darling Criminal, as well as Sleeper, and Fatale (I need to go back to this one), and I already feel the sting of not having this series appearing in my pull on a monthly(ish) basis. More than the fear of the absence of this book, I desperately need to know what exactly happened with Valeria, and whether or not Charlie and Gil will succeed in their less-than-sober attempts to bring the killer(s) to justice.

The Fade Out, ever faithful to the noir genre, has been a steady, slow burn for most of the series, allowing the reader to get to know all of the characters, whether they played a hand in Val’s death or not; with some, their involvement remains unclear. With the end in sight, the pace has noticeably picked up speed, and the tension has ratcheted up considerably — get ready to bite some fingernails, denizens. One of the many wonderful thing about this series is that the creators have truthfully painted the Hollywood of 1948 as a dark, foreboding monster waiting to eat up any and all newcomers who dare swim its murky waters. Those who survive are changed, and usually carry a burden of secrets that can make or break careers, if not lives. This series touches upon just one such tragic event, but with a seemingly bottomless supply of wickedness and debauchery, I have great hope that the creators return to Hollywood someday with a (mostly) new cast of characters and a new messed up situation to explore. Basically, I don’t want this series to end, I know it must, and I hold out hope for a The Fade Out Volume 2 to appear some time in the future.

The Fade Out is a shining star of what good crime comics can and should be, and I honestly cannot wait to sit back some weekend with a few fingers of bourbon or rye, and make my way through the entire series in one sitting. I’m positive there are clues just waiting to be discovered that Phillips has hidden within his spectacular art, or that Brubaker has veiled in what a character does / does not say; I want to find them all. When that day does come, once all twelve issues are in hand, I hope it’s raining outside with dark clouds and the distant rumble of thunder to properly set the mood for this fantastic series. If you have not been reading The Fade Out, then don’t tell me about, just remedy the situation by buying the first two trades, or if you must, wait for the inevitable hardcover edition that will collect the whole beautiful darkness that is this damn fine series. This issue, and the series as a whole, comes VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Infinity Relativity HC
Thanos: The Infinity Relativity - Written and pencilled by Jim Starlin, inked by Andy Smith, colored by Frank D’Armata with Rachelle Rosenberg, lettered by Travis Lanham, published by Marvel Comics. Annihulus, the insectoid king of the Negative Zone, is back and has set his sights on the conquest of the positive universe. That is unless Adam Warlock, his old comrades in the Infinity Watch, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Majestor Gladiator have anything to say about it. Unfortunately, Warlock’s cycle of death and rebirth has damaged his sense of self, and our heroes are so severely overwhelmed by Annihulus’s forces that they might need to accept the aid of none other than the Mad God, Thanos of Titan.

Alright, we already know I can’t get enough of Starlin’s cosmic tales, especially where Adam Warlock and Thanos are concerned. The stories found in the recently collected The Avengers Versus Thanos TPB ( which I talked about here) is not just one of my all-time favorite cosmic tales, but one of my all-time favorite superhero stories. Period. As I said in two posts from over five years ago (here and here) I have loved the Adam Warlock and Thanos characters for most of my life, and that love never diminished. I reread the Warlock Special Edition issues annually (they contain a couple extra must-read stories not found in The Avengers Versus Thanos book), I often revisit The Infinity Gauntlet (one of the few event comic series I actually enjoy), I drink my beer in a Warlock pint glass, I have three Thanos figurines, one Warlock figurine (I have my sights on another), and I have my fingers crossed that my favorite cosmic hero shows up some day in the Marvel movies. So, yeah, I'm a fan of these two, but the reason for my love rests squarely with Starlin, the man who made the journey of these two so dang compelling. But enough of the past, on with the present and the future…

Thanos: The Infinity Relativity picks up immediately where Thanos: The Infinity Revelation (which I gushed about here) ended, with Warlock left frazzled after his bizarre reunion with the Mad Titan. Warlock also seethes with power on a scale he does not yet fully understand, the exploration of such would have been enough to keep this Donist thrilled, chilled, and smiling, but Starlin then brings in the Guardians, Pip the Troll (Not sure where Moondragon is…is she dead?), Annihulus, and Gladiator, which initially left me wondering if the book would be too crammed. But this is Starlin. The souls of these characters run through his blood, and with 112 pages to play with, he juggles the intense action, the multiple story threads, the cerebrally-trippy moments, and the host of great characters effortlessly. The book has something for everyone. You also don’t need to have read Thanos: The Infinity Revelation prior to this book, but I suggest reading them in order; some really mental stuff went down that you should see to get the whole amazing story.

The art on this series is as epic as we have come to expect from Starlin: Character acting and storytelling are as strong as ever; the choreography of the fight scenes is intense; full-page spreads are stunning; and the rare double-page spreads simply jaw-dropping. The book is great the whole way through, and the colors are equally beautiful, although I could not help but wonder what this book would look like if it were colored as flats, much like the issues Starlin crafted back in the ’70s that contributed to making me the comics fan I am today. I will say that the ending splash page is one heck of a mind-blowing cliffhanger <snicker> and sets us up for a cruel wait until the next chapter.

Speaking of the next chapter, I have read that before the third and final hardcover book in the trilogy, titled Thanos: The Infinity Finale (to be written by Starlin and illustrated by frequent collaborator Ron Lim), there will be a four-issue mini-series titled The Infinity Entity (written by Starlin and illustrated by Alan Davis) which focuses on my hero — you guessed it — Adam Warlock. It all starts at some point in 2016, and let me tell you, denizens, I am stoopid with anticipation for what is to come next. If you like cosmic superheroes like Warlock, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and awesome villains like Thanos, then there is no way you can skip out on this truly great cosmic adventure. Dang, I just talked myself into rereading these two books. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Keeping it Positive Yet Again - I’m sure there’s some gun nonsense, some climate denying bullshit, and some book banning efforts being mounted by some cerebrally-challenged, freedom-hating a_holes going on — isn’t there always? — but I want to keep things positive. I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire, and need to stay positive. So, let’s close the week with optimism, good thoughts, a smile, and a laugh or two.

And on that note…

(Sung to the tune of Puffy AmiYumi “Tokyo Nights”)

It begins with a new comic
A kickin’ jam with the sexy prose
The Fade Out with its intense noir vibe
Is getting fraught peril for all
The latest Thanos book is cosmic fun
With Warlock and all, a twisted ball

Then there’s Tokyo Ghost, groovy and awesome
Tokyo Ghost, tech addicted world


Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 10/16/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Sex Criminals, Low, I Hate Fairyland, and East of West

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 / master scheduler Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Yup, I’m totally late this week, but never fear, denizens, I haven’t missed a weekly post in five and a half years, and I ain’t about to miss one now. Anyhow, I’ll keep the intro brief, as there’re some killer comics to talk about this week. Thankfully, Obie pretended to storm out of the office in a huff around noon, so I was able to get a lot of work done without him trying enact yet another fringe management style or pilfer the petty cash drawer for spare kibble money; he just wanted to leave early so he kick it at the park and eat some chicken tacos. So, while I hammer this out, pour yourself a nice cool sweet tea, set yourself up with some tasty tacos, and settle in for this week’s post. Thank you for reading.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Sex Criminals #13
Sex Criminals #13 - Created by Matt Fraction (not given props for Harvey award in humor) and Chip Zdarsky (Harvey award turn-downer for humor), color flats by Spencer Afonso, edited by Thomas K, production by Drew Gill, published by Image Comics. Alix has always felt different. An outsider. An alien. Actually, she has always wished she was an alien. That would explain her lack of interest in that way when it comes to boys…or girls for that matter. But Alix has a secret, a secret that makes her one of the most unique people on the planet.

Jon and Suzie only show up on one page of this issue. Now, now, denizens, don’t go gettin’ all discouraged, this issue focuses predominantly on new character Alix, who looks to make quite a splash in future issues with her unique connection with “The Quiet.” Not only do we get this awesome new character, but we catch another glimpse of Kimiko, as well as a peek at one creator totally owning another (sorry, not gonna clarify, you just need to read the book and be up on recent events).

What I will tell you about Alix is that she is a asexual, and this issue chronicles her life as a young girl and follows her into adolescence. But how does an asexual person enter “The Quiet” and how do her powers manifest? That I am not going to tell you, but it is pretty dang cool, and every bit as magical as we have come to expect from Zdarsky’s gorgeous imagery and wondrous light show of colors and glows. Much like issue nine (read my thoughts about it here), which explored the character of Ana Kinkaid, this issue takes an in-depth look at Alix, and what her life was like being asexual in world of constant pressure to conform to what others call “the norm”…especially from the boys who just might possibly die were she not to help them with their dang-near terminal case of horniness. No, seriously, they might totally, like, die to death or somethin’ if she doesn’t help them out.

As always, this issue is a complete crack up and firmly cements Sex Criminals as one of the best comics hitting the stands. The fantastic thing about this issue, and the series as a whole for that matter, is that behind the many laugh-out-loud moments hides an honest and celebratory look at what makes us all so wonderfully different, even minus any sort of superpowers. Jon and Suzie have always felt real, like close friends, and the same goes for Robert and Rachel. But Fraction and Zdarsky also bring us in close with the newer characters, Douglas D. Douglas, Ana, and now Alix, to the point that we laugh, cringe, and relate with them through the story of their lives; now I kinda love them, too.

As I always say, this is not a series for the kiddies; there’re bad words (*gasp!*), occasional nudity (*oh*, I believe I have the vapours!), and humor that they will just not get (trust me, though, they hear and see much worse than parents could ever imagine on the playground and on the internet). But beyond those things, there’s much for everyone to love in Sex Criminals from the acceptance of others, to knowing you aren’t alone, to the good and bad that comes with life, and to a positive look at sex in a world that has historically tried to demonize it. If you are an adult in need of a break from your normal superhero fare, and you are not reading this Donist World darling, then you can easily catch up with the hardcover or the first two trades. I simply adore this book. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Low #10
Low #10 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Greg Tocchini, colored by Dave McCaig, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Stel Caine is in the clutches of an aquatic vampire who know just the right buttons to push to coax her into giving up and submitting to becoming a meal. Will Stel cave to despair? Or will the hope that has guided her throughout her life prevail?

This issue closes the second chapter of Low, and what an exciting roller coaster of a ride to leave us with until the series returns, January 2016. This issue is also quite timely for those looking for a horror fix before Halloween, as Stel’s situation is scary to say the least. Remender writes a creepy psychological horror scene that is certain to give you the willies as the mer-creature mesmerizes and pleads with Stel, one mother to another, into freely giving up her blood to seemingly nourish a starving child. Things go dreadfully wrong from there, and Tocchini adds the disturbing reality of what is happening as McCaig’s lush purples and blues escalate the unease of the imagery. Despite the harshness of what you see in the book, this is easily one of the most beautiful looking issues in the series to date.

The creators immediately plummet the reader into darkness and keep us unbalanced for the entire issue, until both the characters and the reader rise again toward the next chapter. The whole experience of reading this issue, marveling at the beautiful artwork and shifting color schemes is an exhilarating and satisfying journey that went by all too quickly. I can’t wait for Low to return in the new year.

This issue is a fantastic read, and the perfect close to this chapter. Like Stel, we are left with a sense of hope for what is to come, although we all know that more heartache is in store for what remains of the Caine family. My only gripe with this issue is the misleading cover, which doesn’t happen, but who cares, I still wish it was a poster I could hang in my home. If you are not reading this great post-apocalyptic, underwater, sci-fi, horror, thriller, adventure of a comic, then you must remedy that situation ASAP. You can do this by picking up the first ultra-inexpensive trade  ($5.49 for six issues!!!) today, and then picking up the second trade come mid-November. After that, you can bite your nails in anticipation of seeing what happens next for the magnificent Stel, her family, and her colleagues at the beginning of the year. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

I Hate Fairyland #1
I Hate Fairyland #1 - Most everythinged by Skottie Young, colored by Jean-Francois Beaulieu, lettered by Nate Piekos of Blambot, designed by Rian Hughes, published by Image Comics. All kids wish they could live in Fairyland, a place where they can be Princesses and Princes, eat cake and candy to their heart’s content, and frolic with strange, mystical creatures. This is the story of Gertrude, who gets her wish, much to her dismay.

This comic is complete, utter madness…and I love it. Young introduces us to Gertrude, who has been stuck in Fairyland for the past 27 years where she does not age, and try as she might, she cannot escape. Needless to say, Gertrude has some anger management issues after such a length of time and Young puts every imaginable weapon at her disposal so she can dispatch the inhabitants of Fairyland with extreme prejudice, which she gleefully does. This is one heck of a messed up comic, which you should be able to gather after a single look at the rather beautiful — in a horrific way — cover. <psssst> C’mere. I’ll let you in on a little secret…the cover is nuthin’ compared to what actually goes down inside the book. All that said, this comic is a “muffin huggin’” grand ol’ time.

Young has risen to some fairly lofty heights with his work over at Marvel, with the multitudes of covers and cute X-Babies and Avenger Babies covers, as well as his work on Rocket Raccoon (I really want to pick up his Oz books someday when I have, like, money and stuff). I suppose working on the more wholesome side of things for such an extended period of time is enough to make anyone see red, and thus we have I Hate Fairyland; thank goodness. Everything is cute and cuddly until Gertrude (and Young for that matter) determine the lead character has had enough and the carnage begins. Cartoon moons get their brains blown out, adorable little stars show what they are made of, and mushroom constables get consumed for a hallucinogenic effect. All of this occurs with Beaulieu’s vibrant, gorgeous colors giving the illusion of joy and double rainbows as the unspeakable carnage continues. Again, this book is messed up.

I honestly have no idea of what to expect going forward other than to be disturbed to the core of my being in the best of ways. I Hate Fairyland is not for faint of heart. Nay, denizens. It is for the nerds, the dorks, the weirdos, the geeks. It is for me. After my first read through, it is safe to say that this book is destined for cult status among the previously mentioned nerds, dorks, weirdos, and geeks who will no doubt be dying their hair green, and carrying large foam battle axes to their next comic con, much to the dismay and confusion of their parents. That said, this comic is not for everyone, but it was just the right amount of weirdness I needed. Now, where’d I put my foam battle axe? HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

East of West #21
East of West # 21 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics. The world is on the brink of war, and now we see Doma’s motivation in sparking it all off. Unfortunately, The Endless Nation is aware of Doma’s duplicity and wishes to use that for themselves.

Okay, East of West has once again gone into the realm of being a shade difficult for me to follow, but that’s okay. I know the creators will bring it all back around in the near future, and as long as we get to see Doma, and a new horse beast (scary, scary horse beast) rocketing across the plains, then I am a happy camper. I will definitely say that I miss seeing Death and Babylon, and hope that we check in with them in the near future.

East of West continues to be an intense mind trip of a post-apocalyptic comic, and although los cerebros de Donist occasionally have some difficulty following along with the story, it is always a thought-provoking and beautifully illustrated ride. If you are not reading this fine comic, and you are cool with many players on the board and not being spoon-fed answers to the myriad questions that are sure to arise, then this is the post-apocalyptic, sci-fi, horror, alternate history book for you. It’s heady stuff, but the creators have proven that patience and perseverance will be rewarded throughout the course of the story. You can dive into the thick of things with the first four available trades and/or the beautiful hardcover. RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Yes, I am Dreadfully Late Posting Today - Sorry about that, folks. Thursday was positively insane: I had an interview; I had files I had to process and prepare for printing, I had to take Tulip for a walk, I had to tutor for a class, and I went to my wife’s work party. Yeah, no time to even start Donist World that day. I’m still kind of wiped out. But, hey, Amy’s work party was at a cool pumpkin patch, where I won a monster-sized pumpkin! We also got to go into a brutally difficult corn maze…in the dark…where we got lost…where all the horror movies of my life came to mind until we were semi-rescued by the very, very odd kid who worked there (dang, I actually hope he worked there…), who sort-of showed us the way out.

<GASP!> I Forgot to Pick Up The Twilight Children - Gosh darn it. <sigh> I’m sure it’s sold out by now. Dang…just…dang.

And on that note…

(Sung to the tune of Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock and Roll”)

That Sex Criminals book’s awesome, it’s kinda keen
That new cat Alix’s powers must be seen
Low is extremely strong
East of West cruises on
And I could tell they’d be oh so hella fun to read, yeah read
And I could tell they’d be oh so hella fun to read, yeah read

Singing, I Hate Fairyland
Gertrude wagin’ war on some cartoon freakoids
I Hate Fairyland
So come and take some time and read with me


Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 10/9/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Paper Girls, Plutona, Jughead, Secret Wars, Southern Bastards, and We Stand on Guard

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 / pumpkin beer sampler Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). <phew> Now that’s more like it! I don’t know what happened over the last two weeks that I will call the “New Comics Void,” but that bleak time is over. This week, I had six books in my pull, I received a couple graphic novels I ordered and have not yet even touched, and I am still re-enjoying the amazing Chew Omnivore Editions. Not only that, my friends gave me four different pumpkin beers to enjoy for my birthday, and I also picked up a bonus fifth pumpkin beer all on my little lonesome…do yourself a solid and check out Elysian Brewing’s Punkuccino (a coffee pumpkin ale), it is MOST heavenly. Ah…with good beer, a host of great comics, and my Boston terrier executive team distracted with reading them, I can now safely resume freaking the heck out about reality. Ugh. So, settle in to consume as much pumpkin-flavored everything as you can, fire up some chillwave music (new Neon Indian album in October!), pour yourself a nice cool sweet tea, get yourself some pumpkin nachos, and settle in for this week’s post. Thank you for reading.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Paper Girls #1
Paper Girls #1 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matt Wilson, lettered and designed by Jared K. Fletcher, published by Image Comics. It’s November 1, 1988, and running a paper route in Cleveland, Ohio is not the easiest thing for a girl to do. There’s the exceptionally early mornings, the jerks who are supposed to be asleep (older boys), surly police officers, and who knows what else…thank goodness for like-minded girls with an eye toward business to watch your back. And they’ll need to stand together, as things are about to get weird, really weird.

Oh Image…you and your fantastic, stupendous, ever-expanding stable of amazing comics. So, here we are with yet another contender for best new comic of the year, and we are only on issue one (the others being Descender and Prez). Other than what I mentioned in the above teaser, I have little idea of what is going on — especially after the final page shocker (I ain’t spoilin’) — or where the series is going. I am totally cool with that. Vaughan and Chiang introduce so many bizarre elements to the story that I was left dazzled and reeling after the first read through from the implications of what each reveal meant for the story, and more importantly for the characters.

Here’s the thing about Vaughan for which fans of Saga, The Runaways, and Y the Last Man are already well aware: You tend to fall in love with his characters. Sure the underlying story in his books is compelling, but its the life he imbues into every character who graces the page, whether they are “good” or “bad,” that will make you at the very least interested in who they are, and at the very most worried for their safety and wellbeing long after you have set the comic down. Thus is the case with Erin, KJ, Mac, and Tiffany. The page five scene between Erin and her little sister, Missy, is a prime example of a moment that can endear you to a character with all but four words on the entire page. Of course, having Cliff Chiang illustrate the moment will only make your bond with the characters that much stronger. At just 12.5% of the way through the first issue, I was in. The thing is, the book only gets better with each page, with each interaction, with each new character introduction.

Speaking of Chiang…holy moley, denizens, this book is a looker! Just train your peepers on the page 8–9 double page spread. It is gorgeous, large, bold, silent, and jaw-dropping in its line work, and all it shows is Erin heading out on her bike to deliver the early-morning paper. That’s it. Even without previously clicking with the character, and caring for her, this page is very much something I wish I had hanging above my desk. From there it’s just over with as you meet the other girls and fall prey to Chiang’s brilliant character acting. I loved every panel of this issue.

If anyone can accomplish the nigh-impossible task of making Chiang’s work look even better, it’s color artist Matt Wilson. Wilson makes you feel the night with his cool color palette, that changes skin tones to blues with the occasional touch of purple to add additional life, but there are also the scenes when a startling complementary light source heats things up, adding just the right amount of highlights where needed. I also love how he tends to knockout the usual black lines of a character’s nose, ears, and lips to a darker shade of their skin tone to startling effect.

I am wholeheartedly a Paper Girls fan. I’m in. To be honest, I want a dang paper route now. I will say that once I reached the end of the book’s 40 pages ($2.99 price tag…take that Big Two $3.99 and $4.99 titles) I was vastly disappointed that I did not have another 40 pages…nay, denizens…100 pages still to read. I loved every moment of this fantastic new series with every component (words, art, colors) standing strong on their own while working together to bring us a truly special story. I love Erin, KJ, Mac, and Tiffany, and I am already counting the days until I can tag along on their adventures and see what happens next. You need to be reading this book. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Southern Bastards #11
Southern Bastards #11 - Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated and colored by Jason Latour, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. It’s not everyday that you meet a Craw County native who thinks nothing of football. In fact, odds are pretty good that you’d never even meet someone like Deacon Boone. He tends to stick to Piney Woods much like his father, and his father’s father before him…that is until some town folk cross the line.

Okay, let me catch my breath before I continue. <phew> I have loved Southern Bastards since the first issue. This is despite the fact that the general story revolves around football, a sport I care absolutely nothing about. I also kind of hate — with a capital H-A-T-E — many of the corrupt twisted characters in this book, especially after certain shocking events from the first arc, yet these creators have a knack for deeply investing this Donist in a comic that should not appeal to me in way. Again, let me stress, I love this comic. But issue eleven, denizens…oh ho ho ho…this issue floored me in the BEST of ways. Criminy, this month’s offering is a fantastic topper to an already heavenly series.

The first four pages introduce us to one Deacon Boone as he hunts deer in the woods near his home deep in Piney Woods. All he says on those four pages is one blessing for a deer he just killed with his bow. The rest of those pages rely on captions to relay the information about Boone’s past, world view, and beliefs, and what in lesser hands would come across as blatant exposition, flows as naturally as the river near Boone’s house. By the end of these four pages, both through words and imagery, we know this man, and although he is probably not someone I would like to meet in person, he is a new hero in this series for me. Because of this, I don’t think he is long for this Craw County, Alabama world. Still, I greatly appreciate this man’s thoughts on hunting, guns, football, and how to prevent certain crimes from ever recurring, but I have to draw a line at snake handling…that’s just dumb, but then again everyone has their faults.

As I said above, it took me four pages to know Boone, but I was honestly fully in and excited to read this issue after the first-page splash. The remaining 21 pages did not disappoint. Rather, they built upon that amazing first page and made me more excited to learn about Boone and imagine what he would do in future issues. The writing alone made this issue amazing, but with Latour’s combination of fine and thick lines and his color choices that set the mood while pushing panel elements to the fore or background, this issue has never looked better (which is something I practically say with each issue, but it’s true). Outside of Latour’s mastery of visual storytelling, I loved his use of knockouts on Boone as he trudges away; that watercolored scene of Boone in the boat is simply magical and worth mentioning, too.

Dang. I’m gonna be thinking about this issue until we see issue 12, and for good reason. We have a new and fascinating character in this series that best categorized as a true crime book with a heaping helping of sports. But whether you are a fan of football or not, or like crime comics or not, you need to be reading Southern Bastards if you appreciate comics that are not just well-done, but that are masterful in every sense of the word. Have you heard the good news? Let me share it with you, denizens, you can easily catch up with the first two trades, or with the hardcover collection (issues 1-8) and experience one of the best comics on the stand. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Plutona #2
Plutona #2 - Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Emi Lenox, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics. After finding a much-loved superhero dead in the woods, a group of children discuss what to do next.

The one sentence teaser above about sums up everything that happens in this issue. It’s mostly the same kids from the first issue standing around a dead superhero and debating what they should do next. This sounds like it would be boring, but that is not at all the case. The creators beautifully developed the characters previously to such a degree that I immediately fell back into the story by the first page of this issue. From there through to the end, every word balloon and every one of Lenox’s lovely panels made me care for the kids and their plight all the more. The final page of the main story completely ensures I will be back next month, no doubt.

Plutona is a five-issue mini-series, and it’s practically half over already, which is a bummer, but we should be glad that the creators are telling the story they want to tell, in the format they choose; their enthusiasm for this tale clearly shows. If you are not reading this compelling offshoot of a superhero story as beautifully told from the perspectives of five normal kids, then you can easily catch up with a quick trip to the LCS. I bet you’ll be glad you did. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Jughead #1
Jughead #1 - Written by Chip Zdarsky, illustrated by Erica Henderson, lettered by Jack Morelli, edited by Mike Pellerito, published by Jon Goldwater of Archie Comic Publications, Inc. If there’s a tough job in need of doin’, or you are looking for someone to roll up their sleeves and give you a helping hand…then you probably shouldn’t call Jughead Jones. This isn’t to say Juggy is a bad guy, there’re just precious few things that manage to grab his attention. But if there’s burger injustice in the world, or burgers are being oppressed, then that is the day that Jughead leaps into action.

This book is a total hoot. Zdarsky and Henderson bring their unique senses of humor and styles to the timeless Jughead, at once paying homage to the character of old, while successfully bringing him into the modern age. Of course Jughead would be a video game junkie with an unfaltering attention span and a way of thinking that is not only outside of the box, but rather never been inside of the box to begin with; it’s just not his style. But then the creators pose a real problem to the story’s hero, and it doesn’t even register with him, not until the food he loves so much becomes jeopardized. What follows is a laugh out loud montage of weirdness that shows both how brilliant and obsessive Jughead can be. I will say that this version of Jughead and the one found in the pages of the fantastic Archie are a bit different in that Jughead is a bit more zen in the latter title, and more of a goof in this one. Regardless, ol’ Forsythe “Jughead” Jones is my hero, and the creators give us a heck of a good time with this fun read.

Yes, I had some issues a while back with the whole Kickstarter thing (a corporation shifting risk to consumers, and prizes that are far below the money requested), but that never meant I did not want to see this great spinoff see the light of day. Jughead had little choice but to be a lighthearted, fun-filled romp given the creators involved, and they give us exactly the book we were hoping for. If you are down for a good time, and you oftentimes wish you too lived in Riverdale, then Jughead is a book you cannot miss. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

We Stand on Guard #4
We Stand on Guard #4 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated Steve Skroce, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, coordinated by Eric Stephenson, published by Image Comics. The USA has invaded their northernly neighbor, Canada, in what appears to be a resource grab; only the resource is not oil, it’s fresh water. All that remains against the onslaught of the US military might are the freedom fighters known as the Two-Four…the fight is not going well.

I have been enjoying We Stand on Guard, but I’ve had some difficulty connecting with the various characters of the series, but with this issue I am more on board with Amber and the rest of the Two-Four. Atypical for a Vaughan book, We Stand on Guard has primarily focused on story versus characters, and given the grand nature of the future of warfare and how dwindling resources and technological advancement play a role, there has been quite a bit of world building to tell. Now that we see the monstrous vehicles, the drones, the new torture techniques, the robo-dogs, the dried-out husk that is the US, etc., the slow introduction to the actual people at the heart of the story begin to shine through. We also get a heck of an adventure sequence that builds to the shocking final page splash, which Skroce hammers home as he does with every page of his gorgeous art.

Admittedly, my interest in this series was wavering with the past two issues, but that has changed. I am now fully on board as we head into the final two issues of this beautiful-looking-yet-disturbing series. If you aren’t reading We Stand on Guard  and you need to be — then I am guessing you are waiting for the trade that will inevitably be released in early 2016, but if you love BKV and/or are a fan of the insanely talented Skroce, then tracking down these first four issues shouldn’t be all that difficult, and is something I recommend you do. Sticking with this series looks to have one heck of a payoff. I can’t wait. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Secret Wars #6
Secret Wars #6 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Esad Ribic, colored by Ive Svorcina, lettered by Chris Eliopoulos, production by Idette Winecoor, published by Marvel Comics. Valeria begins to ask the very questions Doom asked her to ask, only he does not want to be the one being scrutinized or have the questions asked of him. (huh?) Some of Thanos’s people have been captured, others now serve Doom…ummm…some werido named Bentley-23 is weird, two Reeds quibble, the Spider-Mans talk to the Molecule Man and feed him a burger (a cross-company theme), someone called “The Prophet” is raising forces against Doom. Then Captain Marvel has a Mr. Sinister doohickey on her forehead and is now kind of mean for some reason, Namor and Black Panther put their differences aside, and Black Panther accessorizes with some sweet bling. Oh, yeah…SPOILER ALERT the Thing is a wall. WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?!

Okay, I either missed an issue (I don’t think I did), or a whole heck of a lot went down outside of the main event that is played off as common knowledge (“Buy all the tie-ins, True Believers!”). <sigh> I know I always say Donist World is a positive blog, but I kind of backtrack on that a tad when it comes to Big Two events. Before I go any further, I will say that I still enjoyed this issue of Secret Wars, and maybe the fact that it was well past my bedtime when I read it caused me to be a tad irked by this issue. It just feels like much of the action is happening outside of the main series, leading to a bunch of characters hanging around talking. I like Black Panther’s find, and I am totally intrigued by this Prophet character (Adam Warlock? Maybe?), and the Thing as a wall came out of left field, but whatever, that’s cool. But for the rest of the comic it seems that the weight of the event threatens to drag the story down, confusing matters. I really shouldn’t be surprised, this tends to happen with practically every single event book that appears over the course of its perpetually-delayed release schedule, but in this instance I decided to give Secret Wars a shot. My hopes were high after the first couple of issues, and I still have my fingers crossed that the creators will be allowed to deliver the book they want us to read over the course of the next three issues — it was also recently announced that the event would now be nine issues instead of eight.

Again, aside from weird story flow problems, and the inevitable push for people to read every one of the tie-in issues to know what is going on, I did like this issue overall. I will buy the remaining three issues — whenever they manage to come out — with at the most a hope that Secret Wars goes back to being awesome, and at the least seeing issue nine drop with a “# 9 of 8" prominently displayed in the top right corner of the book. RECOMMENDED, but things are starting to get dicey!

Slice into the Woods

Keeping the Negativity Short…Despite a New School Shooting - So, yet another school shooting, making this the 47th school shooting this year, and we still have two and a half months yet to go. 47th!!! We have had 144 school shootings since 2013. This is just stupid. You want to know how to NOT have a school shooting? Not having the ability to shoot, by not allowing guns. Want to know how to deal with crazy people who would use a gun to kill people (no, I'm not certain if this person is “crazy” or not, but to shoot another human being kind of leads to that assumption)? By once again funding mental health services (I’m cool with my tax dollars doing this) like a developed country should. This is stupid. This is ridiculous. MUCH needs to be done. <ugh>
*I just read that the shooting resulted from a fight between two groups. Okay, possibly not crazy, but if there were no guns, then there would be no shooting. Duh.

Awful…truly awful. Let’s close out happy, though. Thank you for reading.

(Sung to the tune of Supertramp’s “Dreamer”)

Reader, you are a comics reader
Well there’s too many books to be read, oh no!
I said reader, Paper Girls is totes a leader
Well you should check Southern Bastards, oh yeah!
They are “Far out, - so’s Plutona, Jughead, and Secret Wars
You know, - Well you know We Stand on Guard is good, too
Now there’s much to read for you, it’s true

Reader, you groovy comics reader


Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 10/2/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Archie and…wait…that's it?!?!

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 / mostly empty pull box syndrome therapist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Yeah, I don’t really know what’s going on, either. Two weeks in a row where I only had one new comic to talk about. I will say that I did buy two new comics this week, but the other one left me less than thrilled (the art on that one was spectacular, though), but the good news is that that the one book I did enjoy, left me smiling ear to ear. Want to know what also has me feeling the happys? Simple, The Martian debuts in theaters today, which means I will be heading out to Hollister Brewing Company for a couple beers, some happy hour chicken nachos, followed by the movie version of one of the best books I have EVER read (I also listened to the phenomenal audio version immediately after finishing the book). The unfortunate side of this is that my puppy executive team are trotting around the office as if they get to go with me to watch the movie. Not gonna happen. The annoying thing is that Obie is dressed in a purple cape and wearing a set of bouncy antennae, proclaiming he is a Martian. Duh. He totally did not read the book. Tulip on the other hand is wearing a “Hello, my name is Mark Watney” name badge on her fur, so at least she it; she’s still not going, though. So, while you prepare your The Martian viewing plan, fire up some chillwave music (new Neon Indian album in October!), pour yourself a nice cool sweet tea, get yourself some nachos, and settle in for this week’s post. Thank you for reading.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Archie #3
Archie #3 - Written by Mark Waid, illustrated by Fiona Staples, coloring by Andre Szymanowicz with Jen Vaughn, lettered by Jack Morelli, published by Archie Comic Publications, Inc. Archie and Betty are quits. Over. Finished. Done. Finito. Caput. All because of the “lipstick incident”…whatever that is. But Jughead Jones doesn’t accept this; his friends are better as a couple. Unfortunately, Jughead did not anticipate the recent arrival of one Veronica Lodge and the stupefying effect she would have on poor Archie Andrews.

Criminy, denizens, I love this comic! If you frequently tune into Donist World, then you know that I tend toward darker, more cynical comic book fare. Sure, there are a few series that I simply adore, that are laugh-out-loud funny, but most of those have a lurking bleak outlook. Archie breaks me out of my rut, leaving me smiling and wondering whether the title character and Betty will get back together, as well as what Jughead will say (or not say) or do (or not do) next. Archie is all-ages fun from beginning to end, providing relatable and humorous situations for the young ’uns, while giving us more-learned and wise (ie. old) adults something to be excited about.

With Waid’s dialogue and Staples’s character acting, I love / hate the newly reintroduced Veronica Lodge. She’s beautiful, smart as a whip, entitled, charming, vastly insulting, vulnerable, steely, and the list goes on and on. It’s clear that Veronica is a messed up, lonely rich girl with issues to match her father’s net worth. I’m sure she will have her moment to shine as a hero, but I’m also sure she will torpedo that opportunity to join the human race with a spiteful comment to keep everyone at arm’s length. As it stands, Veronica comes through with one of the best lines of the relaunch to date, when, with her nose turned up in disgust, she says to Archie (who she calls “Andy”), “I’ve never been in a public school before. What’s that smell? Is it what they call ‘crack’?” To which, Archie replies, “It’s Coach Kleats.” I suspect this awesome panel will pop into my head over the course of the week to raise my spirits when I least suspect it, and most need it. Moments like this, there are many of them, are what make the all-new Archie series such a joy to read.

Sadly, this is Staples’s final issue. Yes, yes, I’ve known she was only set for three issues for a long while now, but that doesn’t make her departure any less of a bummer. Staples took the traditionally cartoony style Archie Comics is known for and revamped it to a more modern look. Now, I have to admit I was skeptical of this change before I read the first issue — yes, despite Staples slated to be the artist — but after the first page of the first issue of this series, I have been loving the new look…nay, denizens, I am in love with the new look. Staples’s sheer command of character acting tells you everything you need to know about the emotions of the page, with Waid bringing every moment home in the funniest way imaginable.

This issue belongs to Veronica. With her fluid shifts from indifference, to annoyance, to disgust, to horror, through to when she relaxes enough to allow a smile to accidentally slip, or when she completely falls apart in girls’ bathroom, the creators deliver an updated Veronica, who is sure to have us laughing for many issues to come. Plus, those sneers between Veronica and Jughead are simply timeless. Thankfully, although Staples’s is off to work on some little-known comic called Saga along with up-and-coming writer Brian K. Vaughan, we don’t need to worry about the series’s next artist as we will have none other than the awesome Annie Wu to keep us smiling as we forge ahead.

I also need to restate that Jughead is the best. Smart, no-nonsense, nonconforming Jughead flows through life drifting through its setbacks as easily as he drifts through a barrage of ruby-red dodgeball projectiles. Jughead is like the honey badger, only much, much smarter. From this moment forward, I vow to embrace my inner Forsythe.


Make no mistake, Archie is one heck of a good time. Only the coldest of coldest of hearts will be able to resist a smile when reading this charming, fun series that is a successful revamp of an already beloved universe. It’s also safe to say this all-ages title truly has something for all ages to enjoy, which is not an easy thing to do, but given the talent involved, it’s really no surprise just how much fun you’ll have with this book. I am not exaggerating when I say, I am super excited to see what happens next, and although I am sad to see Staples go, I’m pleased to have Wu taking over art duties. The wait for the next issue will be painful indeed, but we will luckily have the new Jughead series to tide us over until then. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Two Comics in My Pull - And only one dang book worth discussing? I guess this is fine as I had yet another nutty week in regard to my search for a good job, among various other crazy time commitment things. If anything, having only the two comics gave me a chance to make it to the halfway point of the third Chew Omnivore Edition that I am positively loving. Oh well, I’m sure all of my favorite books will be coming off hiatus soon, and I will be buried in an onslaught of heavenly comics.

Another Fucking Gun-Related Massacre - Yeah, out of all the massacres over anyone’s lifetime, how many of those massacres have not involved guns? This is stupid. This is ridiculous. NO ONE needs the ability to fire more than a couple bullets in order to protect themselves in their own home. No one should be allowed to carry an instrument of killing to a school, or a church, or a theater, or anywhere. We should have talked about and dealt with guns decades ago, and subsequently decided to be intelligent about them, but since we can’t go back in time and undo the harm guns have caused our country, then now seems to be not just the right time to do something about them, but the only time to do something about them.

Ugh. Now I need to cheer myself up.

No Song This Week, But Since it’s My Brother’s Birthday…

Alrighty, now I feel a little better. Happy birthday, Little Bro.