Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 01/15/2016

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Descender, Secret Wars, and more from the previous two weeks

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 / Space Oddity 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. My puppy executive team and I are still trying to determine our course for maintaining our Fortune 320,000 Company status, while seeking to implement a cooperative company culture conducive to creativity, comics, craft beer, and cranial consoling credos. Cool? Cool. To sum it up: we’re ready to do all the stuffs! So, whether you are heading out to see Star Wars for the 12th time, or you have to wait a couple more days, then set yourself up for some tasty tacos, or perhaps a nice ginger brew, and rewatch the real three Star Wars movies, and most of all read some great comics. Take care. Thank you for reading!

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Descender #9
Descender #9 - Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics. TIM-21, Telsa, and a newly-armed Dr. Quon are about to learn the location of The Hardwire’s secret base as they journey to meet the rest of the robot resistance.

Yup. Descender is not only my favorite new comic series of 2015, it’s my favorite comic series of 2015 period. Now in the new year, it continues to be one heck of a captivating read that still flips all my sci-fi command console switches. This is despite the slowed down pacing of this issue after the crazy revelations and sequencing of issues 8 and 9. The creators primarily focus on TIM-21, Telsa, and Dr. Quon as they bicker amongst themselves, and on TIM-21 and TIM-22, who discuss who they are and why they are so special; their growing friendship succeeds in being one of the most touching moments of the series to date.

The book also (finally!) catches us up with Tullis, Driller, and Bandit, who were left behind on the planet Gnish while the other characters made their hasty escape. This set of characters has a chance encounter with a pair of prominent Scrappers, thus setting everyone on a course for a reunion, while leaving me utterly desperate to read issue 10. With any luck, we’ll soon see some of Tullis’s backstory, as well as additional glimpses into Telsa’s past.

Nguyen’s art continues to be a stunning display of utter beauty. I have no idea if the man actually paints each page on watercolor paper, or if all of the painting is done digitally, but you can see the texture of the paper through both Telsa’s skin and the shading of her clothes, while the fierce reds of her hair and eyebrows completely saturate the page. The end effect is gorgeous, but so too is Nguyen’s attention to character acting, storytelling, and the setting of mood — especially during the TIM-21 and TIM-22 scene. The double-page layout of Driller fighting the robots in the arena made me want to shout aloud, “Driller is a killer! Driller a real Killer!!!” Every page is a visual treat.

Descender is a lovely book in both what is written and what is drawn. My only gripe about this issue is that I constantly forget Tullis’s name, which is not mentioned anywhere in the comic. With each new issue, I usually have had to do a bit of digging in order to remind me of this mysterious character’s name. Maybe mentioning his name and UGC rank on the “Previously…” page would serve to remind readers of who he is. Other than that, Descender can do no wrong in this Donist’s mind. I love this series. I’ve honestly lost track of how many copies of the amazing (and amazingly cheap!) first trade I have given away as gifts, as well as how many friends I have directly influenced into reading this thrilling book. It will indeed be a most painful wait for issue 10 to show up in my eager mitts. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Secret Wars #9
Secret Wars #9 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Esad Ribic, colored by Ive Svorcina, production by Idette Winecoor, published by Marvel Comics. This is it, true believers! Doom’s world comes crashing down around him as the remaining heroes mount one last desperate attempt to free what remains of the universe from his grasp.

Discounting the many delays, the multitudes of story flow-crushing ads seeded throughout each issue, and the glossing over of what might have been some really cool moments, this Marvel event series ended up being quite enjoyable. The story essentially plays out as an homage to the adversarial relationship between Victor Von Doom and Reed Richards that has been waged for over half a century. The Black Panther, the Molecule Man, and, to a lesser degree, Namor all have their time to shine, but in the end it all comes back to Reed and Doom. This is fine, and the conclusion succeeds in renewing my interest in the Fantastic Four comics…just in time to have that comic shelved until some unspecified date (huh?!).

As someone who has been reading fewer Big Two titles over the past couple of years, I was able to follow along with the Secret Wars tale, with the exception of the Black Panther epilogue scene — which I believe has something to do with New Avengers, although I am not certain. What I am certain of is how gorgeous Ribic and Svorcina’s art is in this issue. The fight scene between Reed and Doom in the Molecule Man’s chamber makes it seem as if the stark-white background is pulsing with power and energy as warm color tones wash across both characters. The dramatic cooler scheme of the Richards family and their allies is equally beautiful as we get the slightest taste of what a Ribic and Svorcina cosmic comic could do. (Please please please do a Warlock / Thanos / Silver Surfer book!)

Secret Wars succeeded in delivering an event that was entertaining, although confusing at times, and which actually told a mostly complete story. Given my past experience with these companywide initiatives, I’m pleased to say I’m for the most part satisfied with how everything played out. Would I have preferred a more self-contained nine-issue mini-series? Yes, of course, and although I’m not aligned with all the booming praise being heaped upon the series, I did enjoy it nonetheless. If you waited to see if Secret Wars stuck the landing before diving in, and you are a Marvel Zombie, then tracking down the floppies should not be too difficult a task, or just wait until March when you can get the hardcover version of issues 0–9. RECOMMENDED!

Rapid Fire Look at the Past Two Weeks!

The Fade Out #12 - Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips, Colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser, published by Image Comics. <sigh> This is the final issue in the 12-issue series, and MAN did this crime noir comic deliver. I won’t spoil a thing, but will say that I was most pleased with the ending. You need to read this comic ASAP if you are a fan of crime comics, as Brubaker and Phillips are masters of the genre. If you missed the floppies, then, by golly, get those three trades! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Black Science # 19 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Matteo Scalera, colored by Moreno Dinisio, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. This issue is a triumph, an emotional, one-two gut punch look into Grant McKay’s past and the baggage that has weighed him down for most of his life. Scalera’s art is even more impressive than ever — especially on the gorgeous double-page spread, and Disisio’s colors are breathtaking. If you are behind, you can pick up the three trades or the soon-to-be-released hardcover. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Lazarus #21 - Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated and inked by Michael Lark, ink assists by Tyler Boss, colored by Santi Arcas, lettered by Jodi Wynne, published by Image Comics. Most of the “Poison” storyline dragged a bit until this issue brought some downright intense military action, and some compelling family dealings. The first ending of the issue had me cheering for more. The second ending made me gasp and even more eager for what comes next. Four trades will soon be available, and a second hardcover arrives around May. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Paper Girls #4 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matt Wilson, lettered and designed by Jared K. Fletcher, published by Image Comics. The weirdness continues as three of the girls — and the two teenage weirdos from the future — rush to save Erin’s life. There’s a cool monster and an amazing four-page sequence that hits waaaaaay to close to home (i.e. video games). There won’t be a trade out until April, but why wait to read something that is so very good? VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Archie #4 - Written by Mark Waid, illustrated by Veronica Fish, colored by Andre Szymanowicz with Jen Vaughn, lettered by Jack Morelli, published by Archie Comic Publications, Inc. Fish steps in without missing a beat as the new artist for a story that continues to be great. Things heat up in Betty and Jughead’s quest to free Archie from the clutches of Veronica as they bring Reggie Mantle in on their schemes. This reboot continues to be a hit. A trade debuts in mid-March. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Bitch Planet #6 - Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, illustrated by Taki Soma, colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick, lettered by Clayton Cowles, published by Image Comics. Yeah, it has been awhile between issues, but at least the latest issue is finally here! Soma steps in beautifully on art duties for this one-shot look at the events that brought Meiko Maki to Bitch Planet. At once hopeful when looking at Meiko’s parents, then utterly crushing by the end, Bitch Planet continues to be a fantastic comic. This issue and the first trade will bring you up to speed. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Weirdworld #2 - Written by Sam Humphries, illustrated by Mike Del Mundo with Marco D’Alfonso, lettered by VC’s Cory Petit, published by Marvel Comics. We already know that the Weirdworld mini-series was the best part of Secret Wars, and the new series looks to continue the insanity with Becca (girl lost) and Goleta (killer of wizards). Visuals are completely stunning with some fantastic monsters, humorous-yet-exciting action sequences, and a story that’ll have you cracking up as the art leaves you weeping in awe at the beauty before you. Volume 0 trade available. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Jughead #3 - Written by Chip Zdarsky, illustrated by Erica Henderson, lettered by Jack Morelli, published by Archie Comic Publications, Inc. His name is Jones. Jughead Jones. The laughs continue as Jughead matches wits against the new Principal of Riverdale High, Mr. Stanger. I love seeing Jughead blur the lines of fantasy and reality. I will say that I prefer the more zen version of the character, but the brilliant goofball envisioned by Zdarsky is still hella fun. RECOMMENDED!

East of West #23 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics. After the spectacular mostly-silent issue from last month, the action slows as the political intrigue ramps up as we focus on John Freeman. An interesting issue, but I’m looking forward to checking in with Death and Babylon. A fifth trade will be available soon, and there is a gorgeous hardcover covering the first year of the story as well. RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

David Bowie and Alan Rickman - Shit. In less than a week we lost two exceptionally talented and influential people, each of whom has entertained, thrilled, and affected not just me, but the world as a whole. I have attended two life-changing Bowie concerts over the years, and have loved his music most of my life. Rickman’s work has kept me enthralled for nearly 30 years. Both will be missed.

Happier thoughts…

(Sung to the tune of Kansas’s “Carry On Wayward Son”)

Dang these books are so much fun
I don’t want them to be done
This Descender is the best
I can’t wait for more


Surely Nguyen’s art must be an illusion
Watercolors, feast your eyes and go cruisin’
Such beauty ain’t none higher, so good makes me high

Wowzers, geez Louise, this book is the tops, man
The stellar words can charm any comics fan
Sci-fi goodness, must be dreaming
Must reiterate

Dang these books are so much fun


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