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


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