Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 11/13/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Descender, The Twilight Children, Southern Bastards, and Secret Wars

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 whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / senior cuddle muffin 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…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap. Today, I arrived at the Donist World corporate office (Mom’s basement) and found that Reverse Obie had not just outlined a business plan to maintain our status as a Fortune 320,000 company, but built a strategy to move Donist World into the Fortune 315,000 territory. Dang, I like the cut of his jib, not to mention his go-getterness; he’s got upper-management written all over him. Regardless, pour yourself a cup of Joe, order in some tasty nachos (National Nacho Day was last week, but Donist World believes in year-round nacho appreciation), and settle in for this week’s post. Thank you for reading.

ALSO, even though Halloween is over, please check out our special “The Donist World Required Reading Halloween Bash 2015” for some truly spooktacular comics worthy of your reading time.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Descender #7
Descender #7 - Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics. The Hardwire, a group of terrorist robots, has arrived, and they mean to free TIM-21 from the clutches of the Gnishians and their anti-robot culls. This is great news for TIM-21…not so much for TIM-21’s expendable non-robot friends.

Dang, Denizens, the wait wasn’t that bad between arcs of what is not just one of my favorite new releases of the year, but also one of my favorite ongoing series. Yet each week that passed without a new issue of Descender, I felt this tremendous book’s absence. Thankfully, TIM-21, Telsa, Dr. Quon, and the rest are back, and this wonderful story is more exciting and compelling than ever.

Before the two month break, we left TIM-21, Telsa, and a grievously injured Dr. Quon just as The Hardwire made their violent appearance to rescue our hero. Last month’s startling revelation rested upon who (I ain’t spoilin’) accompanied the band of robot terrorists. With this installment, we pick up where we left off, but only after the creators introduce us to a new, deadly robot hunter whose identity slowly became apparent, yet whose reveal managed to shock nonetheless. We also get some early insight into the troubles ahead for TIM-21, Dr. Quon, and Telsa now that they are affiliated with The Hardwire, especially after the leader, Psius, commits a calculated move that looks to put them in the crosshairs of all biological lifeforms…guilt by association.

As I mention with each passing issue, the story grabs me on many levels: the retro sci-fi feel, the aftermath of a catastrophic event, the quest to find loved ones, the need to belong and be more than you are, mysteries abound, and the critical component of absolutely loving the characters. This is before you even get to Nguyen’s gorgeous watercolored art. Every issue manages to “wow” me anew, whether through storytelling, character acting, character design (humans, aliens, and robots), and background and tech design; it is all so very, very lovely. But besides the beauty of Nguyen’s work, there’s the subtle intricacies within the art that succeed in rounding out an already stunning comic. An example is midway through there’s a humanoid alien talking with the recently introduced bot hunter. This alien has a set of marble-sized black dots on each side of his nose (pierced through?) that either project or levitate lenses for the visually-impaired alien. This slight touch of sci-fi technology is never acknowledged…it just is. I actually can’t wait for a reread of the series just to see what other norms of these creators’ world that I might have missed.

Man, speaking of the art, I hope Nguyen provides process breakdowns at some point in the future. I would love nothing more than to see a blank page transition to a completed one. Come to think of it, I also hope to see some of Lemire’s sample scripts, or some examples of how the writer and artist communicate. I suppose these things will eventually come when a hardcover collection is released hopefully this time next year (please please please). What I’m trying to say, Denizens, is that I LOVE this comic so much that in addition to the writing, the art, the design, the characters, I actually want to see the beginnings of this story’s movement from the cocktail napkin, to emails, to the drawing board, and ultimately to the finished comic, which I sincerely hope you too are holding in your hands. If you do not already have this comic in your grubby little paws, then let me suggest that despite this issue claiming it is a “jumping on point,” that you do jump in here. Instead, buy this issue, and buy the ridonkulously inexpensive first trade, which contains the first six amazing issues. Descender is a truly special book that immediately sunk in its hooks and looks to hold tight for a good long while. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Twilight Children #2
The Twilight Children #2 - Written by Gilbert Hernandez, illustrated by Darwyn Cooke, colored by Dave Stewart, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics Imprint. The mystery of this sleepy, little, Latin American fishing village deepens as the spheres continue to appear and disappear. Even with the strange arrival of the lovely, but-silent, white-haired girl, and the recent blindness afflicting three children, life goes on…for better or for worse.

Last week I talked about the first issue (read about it here) and basically said that the issue completely blew me away. However, I did have a few issues with it…more on those in a sec. This four-issue mini-series is a beautifully told, gorgeously illustrated tale of life with an element of magical realism. Strange things happen — people vanish, children are blinded, spheres appear, spheres vanish without a trace — yet people continue to go about their day as wants and desires, and jealousies complicate their lives. As a reader, you instantly become a member of the creators’ mostly-tranquil, seaside village.

This comic is fantastic. Hernandez’s script continues to calmly and happily lead you along the course of events and moments, as Cooke’s oh-so-stunning art pulls you ever-deeper into the story, and Stewart’s lush, vibrant, nearly-flat color palette elevates Cooke’s already masterful illustrations to even higher levels. Everything about this comic speaks to beauty and the need to slowly, deliberately glide through the story to truly appreciate the magic of this series. I will say that I am no closer to understanding what is going on, but I will also say that I simply do not care; the experience of reading The Twilight Children is enough to keep me excited to see what happens next.

Again, however, the dang ads — of which there are six versus the seven from the first issue — are super annoying and detract from the power of this great tale. Yes we get 30 glorious pages of story and art, and a nice glossy cover with a higher paper weight, but at a $4.99 price tag, the interrupting ads are a nuisance. For a comic of this quality, paying $4.99 would not even be a problem, if the ads were relegated to the back. The ad problem has nothing to do with the creators, who clearly have the making of a timeless masterpiece on their hands.

So, yeah, despite all my griping about the ads last time, I could not stop myself from picking up this magical comic. It is so very, very good. No superheroes, no tights, no capes, just a solid story, beautifully told. If you missed out on the first issue, and don’t want the annoying ads, then you should wait for the hardcover that looks to release in May 2016, and that will surly be priced at less than cover price (after discounts), and without those intrusive ads. As a side note, I really hope to see a mini-poster set of the four stunning covers someday so I can ever be reminded of this beautiful book (please please please). This comic, minus the ads, comes VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Southern Bastards #12
Southern Bastards #12 - Written by Jason Latour, illustrated by Chris Brunner, colored by Chris Brunner and Jason Latour, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Young Tad probably shouldn’t have struck up a friendship with Earl Tubb. This is especially true after Coach Boss sent his thugs out to use the boy as a means of teaching Tubb not to poke his nose in Boss’s business. But after the beating Tad took, he’s lucky to be alive.

With this issue Jason Aaron steps back as Latour fills in on writing and Chris Brunner joins as guest artist for yet another great issue of Southern Bastards. To some, this might sound like a filler issue, but in the end, it seems to be another piece leading to Coach Boss’s eventual downfall. Since the first arc, I’ve wondered what became of poor ol’ Tad, and this issue looks to explain where he’s been and where he might be headed. It also further develops the character of Materhead, who helped beat down Tad in the first place, but is now seeing the error of his ways as he begins to regret being a “soldier” in Boss’s “army.” Folks with a grudge against Boss appear to be lining up for some payback…or at least they see the line they need to get into.

Brunner is a fantastic stand in for Latour on the art duties, as his style fits perfectly with the Southern Bastards style, while remaining its own, especially on Tad’s pain-killer-induced delusions. Also bringing unity to the title is the coloring — lots of muted reds, greys, and blues — while taking longtime readers by surprise with shocks of neon colors as Tad trips balls, watches violent television, and begins to see his purpose. It’s a great issue, and if you are going to rotate the creators around on this book, then Brunner is exactly the person to call in for the task.

Southern Bastards, a noir crime drama with a football-dependency problem, continues to be a great comic, and one that succeeds in making this Donist actually find something of interest in a sport. The writing is dark, gritty, honest (heaven help humanity), and oftentimes kind of scary. Latour’s art is always spot-on amazing, but Brunner steps in with grace on this issue making it a must-read, and nothing close to resembling a “filler issue,” but rather a vital part of the Southern Bastards mythos. If you are not reading this adults-only, harsh tale, you can easily catch up through the two trades, or the deluxe hardcover collection. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Secret Wars #7
Secret Wars #7 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Esad Ribic, colored by Ive Svorcina, lettered by Clayton Cowles, production by Idette Winecoor, published by Marvel Comics. Doom’s control of Battle World crumbles as forces align against him from all directions.

As I always say, Donist World is a positive blog when it comes to comics. I only talk about the books I enjoy and believe everyone should be reading. I relax on this rule when it comes to Big Two “Event” books. I occasionally buy these things with the hope that the comic ends up being different from the usual money grab — you know, the ol’ “6-issue event that changes everything and only requires that you buy 135+ additional issues to make sense of the dang story, and even then you still might have no idea as to what happened!” scenario. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike all event books. Infinity Gauntlet and Crisis on Infinite Earths are two past events that I revisit often, and there are a handful of others that are pretty cool, but, unfortunately, the event comics of the past decade tend to leave me cold at best, or irritated that I fell for the promise of greatness yet again. That said, I’m not “at that point” with Secret Wars, and I still have hope that the event will (eventually) reach a satisfying conclusion.

Remember how I warn about spoilers? You’ve been warned again…This issue has all kinds of awesome moments that whip by in the blink of an eye, as the inhabitants of Doom’s world begin to rebel against him. Cool, but…what the heck is going on? This Prophet dude mentioned in a panel or two last issue, reveals himself as Maximus, then is dealt with. Thors are divided and fighting amongst themselves for some reason. Captain Marvel (there’s two of them? clones?) somehow ended up with Mister Sinister (who has an army of selves subservient to him?), before she(s) vanishes upon the arrival of Apocalypse? The Maestro shows up with a team of Hulks smashing stuff? Black Panther (easily?) obtained the Infinity Gauntlet and is now “King of the Dead?” When did any of this stuff happen? And come to think of it, why are folks rebelling against all-mighty Doom to begin with? My guess is that many of these particulars occurred in a few issues of the 100+ side tales we needed to buy to get the full story for this supposedly self-contained comic. But there’s more than the questions raised by these out-of-left-field happenings, there’s also the questions left from Secret Wars #6. Where’s the Thing after the whole wall thing. Molecule Man? Thanos? I just don’t get it.

Those gripes aside, and the fact that I’m completely baffled by the particulars, I kind of enjoyed this issue. However, I would have liked to have seen issues four through six condensed into one issue, with issue seven built up over three issues instead of one. I would like to have seen The Prophet rise and build his army, or the rift between the Thors happen, or Sinister seduce / brainwash Captain Marvel, or Thanos actually be the eternal threat he is supposed to be, etc. As it is, waaaaaaaayyy too much of the cool stuff happened off page and / or outside of the main series. The good news is that Ribic and Svorcina’s art looks as gorgeous as ever, with some impressive battle scenes…I just wish those scenes had been expanded upon a bit more.

So yeah, I’m confused as all heck by the story, but the visuals are solid, and I do want to see how it all ends. The weird thing is that the rest of the Marvel U has supposedly trudged on with the release of all new number one issues and partial spoilers as to what actually happened at the end of the event series that still has two issues to go until its actual end. If you’ve been holding off on taking the plunge into this event, then rest assured that if your curiosity gets the best of you, you’ll be able to buy the hardcover come March 2016. I need to repeat that I did enjoy this issue, and that I don’t blame the creators for most of the missing pieces (hey, you try to juggle over 100 storylines from other creators into your main story), and I hope to add Secret Wars to the very, very, very shortlist of event comics that actually worked. RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Out of Time, Lots to Do, Stressed - Same message as last week, gonna keep it positive other than to say, “Who woulda thought being unemployed was so dang time consuming.” Job hunts, interviews, finishing two classes, tutoring college students, writing, caring for Tulip, minding the house and chores…dang…just, dang. For Pete’s sake (who the hell is this Pete character anyways?). Best not to over-think things. Focus, Donist. Trudge ever forward.

And on that Stressy-Bessie note…

(Sung to the tune of Loverboy’s “Turn Me Loose”)

Comics should be fun
A dang joy to read
The craziest stories to be seen
I gotta read ’em my way
Or no way at all

Descender’s sure to please
The Twilight Children’s key
Comic love that’s never a tease
I gotta read ’em my way
Or no way at all

Southern Bastards came around
knocked me to the ground
A brutal book yet sound
You gotta read ’em your way
Or no way at all


No comments:

Post a Comment