Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 1/29/2016

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Saga, Southern Bastards, Deadly Class, Chew, East of West, and The Twilight Children

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 / ULE (User Life Experience) designer Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). The intro’s gonna be a tad short (again) as we picked up six heavenly new releases this week and we wanna get to them all. We were also slammed with MANY staff meetings at our corporate headquarters (Mom’s basement) where we have been laboring over the next steps for the followup to my all-ages novel Kibbles ’N’ Bots; I just finished the second draft yesterday. Now, between the racket of the washing machine, dryer, leaf blowers, and lawn mowers, we are narrowing down a title, cover designs, and how to best approach the third draft to get the next book out as soon as possible. All this, a bag of chips (Sriracha style, baby!), and some fantastic comic books to boot! So, order up some tasty tacos, get yourself a nice ginger brew, put on some music by David Bowie, and most of all read some great comics. Take care. Thank you for reading!

*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.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #33
Saga # 33 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, coordinated by Eric Stephenson, published by Image Comics. With The Brand having left the realm of the living, Upsher and Doff are back to investigating the largest news story of the…well…the universe!

It has been a while since we last checked in with Upsher and Doff, the aquatic alien, writer / photographer, gay couple, journalistic team, since their efforts to find Marko and Alana were greatly discouraged (i.e. threatened with being killed to death by The Brand), but this issue belongs to them; as well as a couple of other characters who have been absent for far too long. The creators perfectly reestablish the importance of these two likable characters, bringing them back from the void and into prominence in a way I should have anticipated…but didn’t. They also bring back Ginny (the cute, purple, bat-featured dance instructor) and introduce her husband, who is only too perfect in his look, style, and demeanor; I couldn’t help but laugh.

As much as I want to talk about the characters at the end I won’t. I will say that my spirits elevated (actually, the issue just kept getting better and better from the page one “golden triangle” Parliament reference) upon turning the page to a key reveal. I was then confused, and ultimately was left cracking up. But more than anything, I am completely amped to see what happens next, especially now that seemingly-minor aspects of the story from many issues past have returned and are clearly no longer minor story points.

A mediocre issue of Saga is always great when compared to most all other books on the stand, and this current arc has been nothing but awesome. If you are not, you need to be reading this series. Sci-fi, fantasy, humor, adventure, drama, romance, the occasional shock-your-socks-off image, ALWAYS stunning art, and a compelling as hell story, Saga has everything you need from a great comic book. You can get the single issues…ummm…actually, you probably can’t anymore as those early issues will break the bizzank. Never fret. You can pick up the gorgeous over-sized hardcover of the first three arcs, or dive in with the first five trades, which you should do immediately on this “mature readers” Donist World Darling. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Southern Bastards #13
Southern Bastards #13 - Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated by Jason Latour, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. It’s the most important day of Craw County’s year. Of it’s life, actually. It’s Game Day. It’s Homecoming. It’s the Craw County Runnin’ Rebs versus the Wetumpka County Warriors!

Yup. I still hate football. This issue doesn’t help in that regard at all, and to be honest it kind makes me hate the sport all the more. That said, I L-O-V-E this comic. Love it. The crazy thing is that I am usually turned off when most of the characters are so thoroughly wicked, and the Jasons have crafted some truly despicable characters. However, these characters practically live and breathe on the page, and some have very good reasons for being so thoroughly evil. As I have said before, I hate Coach Boss, but past issues shined such a light on the character’s past and motivations, that there were times that I actually sympathized with the coldblooded killer.

The sentiment didn’t last long.

I’m not only back to despising him, but I am just waiting for him and his cronies to finally get what what’s coming to them. This is by design. The creators even go so far as to remind us of five sets of individuals looking for some payback, and this is before Earl Tubb’s daughter is set to arrive next issue. Holy moly, I can’t wait to see what’s next. The dialogue is amazing and thoroughly develops characters and setting and motivation, while Latour’s art continues to be raw, stunning. Again…this issue focuses on a football game…and I absolutely love it. Football!

Huddle up and listen, Denizens. Read this series. I want you to give 110% and get out there and read read read. The game ain’t over yet, and there’s two trades (a third drops in May) or a beautiful hardcover for you to check out, which I strongly encourage you all to do. Now get out there and let’s see some readin’! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Deadly Class #18
Deadly Class #18 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, colored by Jordan Boyd, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. It’s finals time at Kings Dominion Atelier, and in order to pass the “haves” need to kill the “have nots,” and the “have nots” just need to survive.

Talk about riveting, white-knuckle excitement! Man, if you’re on heart medication, then you should probably steer clear of the current story arc as it is pretty intense. The creators have the bad-by-situation scrambling to stay alive and the bad-by-choice acting downright vicious; it is awesome to behold. Now, remember back in the first issue when we saw exactly what a badass Saya is? Well…yeah, more of that here, and we also gets twists and insights into other characters (that Shabnam…dang) to such a degree that I had to give a hearty “Awwwwww shucks” when I reached the last page of the issue — it was over much too soon.

Now, I’ve praised Craig’s artwork in the past, and I vaguely remember saying how his work gets better and better with each passing issue. That thought hasn’t changed. Man, oh, man. This issue is beautiful. Craig’s storytelling is phenomenal as we go through the higher panel count dramatic moments, only to have him crank the dial up to 11 as he speeds up a scene with fewer panels that each succeed in packing a helluva punch. Couple the art with Boyd’s strongest mood-setting color schemes to date, and you have one heck of an exquisitely written, paced, illustrated, and colored triumph of a comic.

I think I mentioned last issue that I had been considering going to trades (of which there are three), but after reading this fantastic issue, I am firmly definitely sticking with the issues. Not only that, I think I’m about ready for a reread of yet another brilliant creator-owned book by Remender. Man, this is a great series. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Chew #54
Chew #54 - Written and lettered by John Layman, illustrated and colored by Rob Guillory, color assists by Taylor Wells, published by Image Comics. Mason Savoy has had it with trying to get FDA agent Tony Chu to do what he wants. Time for drastic measures.

Crud. We are rapidly approaching the end of the series with only a Poyo special (YAY!) and six more issues to go.  After the events of this issue, I need to repeat myself by saying crud. I didn’t see what happens in this issue coming — although I should have; needless to say I was pretty shocked. That’s the thing about Chew: you smile from issue to issue as you laugh at the ridiculous situations and sight gags, but then the creators suckerpunch you with something fairly devastating, which is exactly what happens this month. The funny thing is that you will still end up laughing and smiling up until ________ happens. Dang.

I love this series; I have for quite sometime. But if you have never read what is easily the most unique book on the stands, then do not start here with the floppies. Nah, son. We’re at the end of this joint, and you need to do the creators a solid by starting from the first trade (10 trades available!), or, better yet, you can sit at the big boy table with the awesome Omnivore Edition volumes (five hardcovers available to date) that I am gleefully collecting. However you wish to consume (see what I did there?) the fantastic Chew, just be sure you give this important comic a shot. You’ll be glad you did. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

East of West #24
East of West #24 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics. The Prophet Orion sends a new version of The Message to each of the seven of The Chosen.

As I like to remind current and potential new readers of the great post-apocalyptic, sci-fi, Western, adventure, political drama, fantasy series East of West, you best be prepared for a complex story, set in a complicated world, with a whole host of different characters. You can’t really do this series justice if you attempt to read it while tired, or without warming up with some jumping jacks or some other form of cardio. It’s quite rich. So much so that previous issues tend to focus on one or two characters, but for the first time in quite a while, we check in with practically all of the major players, wherever they may be.

We have one issue left in the story arc, so we probably won’t be seeing an issue for a few months after early March. This is fine and actually gives everyone who has been reading East of West a chance to reflect on what has happened in the past, what transpires in this issue, and what might be in store for the future. It is also a great time to reread the series from the beginning, so we can find more of the clever clues Hickman and Dragotta have hidden along the way and to clarify plot lines that might not have made much sense the first time around. If you have not previously been reading this dang fine series, then reading everything in one or two sittings via the four available trades or the beautiful hardcover is a great way to experience this deep, rich series. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Twilight Children #4
The Twilight Children #4 - Written by Gilbert Hernandez, illustrated and lettered by Darwyn Cooke, colored by Dave Stewart, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint. The magical realism, supernatural tale of a sleepy seaside town besieged by strange occurrences comes to a conclusion.

Well…that sure wrapped up quickly. After so much had happened with the story and the characters and we were left with such a major cliffhanger last issue, this final installment seemed like a rush to the finish line. It almost seemed as if The Twilight Children was originally slated to be six issues, with the first three issues having been completed, only to have the final three issues condensed down into the fourth. Relationships and proclamations of love come out of nowhere — although to be fair, Tito jumping from one person to the next on the turn of a dime makes sense — two characters are revealed to be…alien ghost thingy imposters(?), and people become happier for some reason. It all goes down waaaaaaaayyy faster than I would have liked.

All that said, I still enjoyed reading the issue, and I still love the series as a whole, but the dramatic shift in pacing is jarring and seemed out of place given the first three issues. Hernandez’s words are still lovely, Cooke and Stewart’s art breathtaking, and the book is something fans of either creator should seek out…if you can wait for the hardcover edition that releases in May. I’m sorry to say that the individual issues (priced at $4.99) are so riddled with ads that the experience of reading this beautiful story in issues was nowhere near as enjoyable as it could have been. I guess what it all comes down to is me wanting a few more issues to allow the ending the space it needed to breathe, as well as giving every character their time to shine or to slowly flicker and fade as the case may be. This series is still very much worth checking out, and I would say that the series comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, but this final issue, because of its change in pacing, is RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

No Song this Week - “Two weeks in a row?!?!” Yeah, sorry, Denizens. I’m already way late delivering this post as I was at an interview this morning and I was tutoring a Publication Design course yesterday. With six comics to talk about in addition to those things, I just plum ran out of time. So, with that, I will let you know that I have been jamming to some “retro” “’80s” synth bands lately that are just phenomenal, that you can and should check out on Amazon Prime: Mitch Murder, Miami Nights 1984, and Lazerhawk are all worth giving a listen.


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