Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 2/19/2016

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Archie, Bitch Planet, and Power Man and Iron Fist

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 / Deadpool Historian Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). <kaff> <kaff> <sniffle> <cough> Yup, I’m sick. No meetings about maintaining our Fortune 320,000 status at the ol’ corporate office (Mom’s basement) today. Nope. It’s all about the chillaxin’. Reverse Obie has ordered in some wonton soup, and Tulip has queued up some Young Justice Season 2 (which is a really good cartoon, btw). Yup, it’s all about a quick recovery and no better way to do that than reclined on the couch with my two-puppy executive team by my side, watchin’ our stories. So, order up some tasty tacos and a nice ginger brew, put on some ’80s retro synth music, 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***

Bitch Planet #7 - Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, illustrated by Valentine De Landro, colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick, lettered by Clayton Cowles, design and logo by Rian Hughes, published by Image Comics. Kamau tightens her grip on the guard who might be able to help her find her sister. Meiko Maki’s father arrives on “Bitch Plant” to build a new stadium unaware that his daughter was recently killed in an inmates versus guards scrimmage.

I am so glad to see Bitch Planet coming out on a regular(ish) schedule. Last year we only got about three or four issues, and thus far in 2016 we have two. Nice. This issue successfully steers many moving parts forward as we see some additional world building, we check in with one of the “fathers,” and Kamau works toward locating her sister despite getting some shocking news, but there is so much more going on over the course of these packed 24 pages. We also have the buildup to Meiko’s father learning the truth, Kamau’s roommate, and a touching scene between inmates over the loss of their friend that all succeed in making what should feel like a cramped issue actually flow quite beautifully.

We have not seen De Landro on the book for a few months, but criminy was it worth the wait. Great character acting — especially in the heartbreaking scene between Kamau and Penny — and his storytelling prowess keeps your eye gliding from panel to panel, page to page. Fitzpatrick’s mostly flat coloring brings about a pulpy life to every panel with deliberately utilized halftone dots on the virtual environments, which set the perfect scene. This is a beautiful comic in word and line and color, and even if this issue had been 100 pages long it would not be enough for this Donist.

There is something for everyone in Bitch Planet…provided you are mature and smart enough to handle the subject matter. If you have been reading this book since issue one, then you are already aware of how great a comic this is. If you are new to Bitch Planet (or my new employer raising an eyebrow at the title of the book) what you need to know is that this series is about a dystopian version of Earth under a male patriarchal system, and where “noncompliant” women are shipped off to a prison planet coined “Bitch Planet.” What constitutes as “noncompliance?” Well, basically anything: talking back to male superiors, husbands, boyfriends; not staying in shape; being too old; being too smart for your own good; the list goes on and on. This series is about what happens when women begin to try to regain the control that was systematically taken from them. See? Crazy cool, right? And you’d be crazy not to pick up the ridiculously inexpensive first trade. I can’t wait to see what happens next. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Archie #6
Archie #6 - 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. When you enlist Reggie Mantle stir things up, you get exactly what you asked for: Reggie Mantle. Once you take that genie out of the bottle, it won’t be easy putting him back.

Yup, I’m still very much loving the new Archie comic. Waid continues to weave an engaging and hilarious tale with the Riverdale gang who has charmed us for decades. The great thing is that Waid not only stays true to each of the characters, but he succeeds in bringing them all into the modern world in an organic way. We have laptops and sports cars, cell phones and modern business practices, and all the while I smile and laugh from beginning to end, even as Waid has me completely sympathizing with the “bad guys.” Veronica and Reggie have fairly messed up lives and they have definite wants and vulnerabilities, just as Archie, Betty, and Jughead; it’s how they deal with those needs and weaknesses that define them.

With the art, I wasn’t certain how I would handle Fiona Staples’s departure after the third issue, but Fish is the perfect successor. Her style fits well with the book, which is no surprise given her grasp of storytelling, character acting, and her superpower of keeping the reader at the least smiling and at the most laughing aloud. Then she shows us Reggie at home, alone, and you can’t help but think, that poor guy. Szymanowicz’s vibrant colors bring an upbeat and positive tone to the book that to be honest is something we don’t see in all that many comics these days. 

The main takeaway from Archie is that it is a heck of a lot of fun. With so much darkness and gloominess in the majority of comics these days, the lighter, happier fare found in Archie is quite refreshing. That said, don’t assume that just because the comic is lighthearted means that the story doesn’t carry any weight. It does. There’s plenty to think about regarding relationships, socioeconomic differences, the nature of friendship, acceptance, and more, but at no time is the book preachy. It’s just people trying to live their lives how they see best fit. If you are new to Archie, whether this incarnation or historically, you can catch up on this fantastic all-ages comic through the floppies, or through the first trade that releases near the end of March. Being able to see my hero Jughead again can’t come soon enough. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Power Man and
Iron Fist #1
Power Man and Iron Fist #1 - Written by David Walker, Illustrated by Sanford Greene, colored by Lee Loughridge, lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles, published by Marvel Comics. Power Man and Iron Fist are back! Well, not really. Definitely not back, back. They’re only doing a ONE-time thing to help out a friend. Seriously, just this once…

So, I guess I have two Marvel comics that I’m now going to be buying (Weirdworld being the other). Now, I’ve been an Iron Fist fan for ages — I’ve been a Luke Cage fan for almost as long — but what made me completely flip for the martial arts master from K’un-Lun was the Matt Fraction / Ed Brubaker / David Aja The Immortal Iron Fist run that had me scrambling to find action figures of the character and hoping for a decent t-shirt to be released (dark green, gold dragon…still waiting). I love that series.

That said, I saw the solicit for this book and thought, Nah, son. New number one that will reboot again in nine months anyways…no way. Yeah, way to stick to your guns, Donist! Anyhow, I’m thrilled I took the plunge. The great thing about this issue is that you don’t really need to know all that much about the heroes’ epic pasts. Walker and Green let you know just enough about these two and their previous heroic adventures together, as well as the character (who I don’t remember ever seeing at all, prior to this issue) who brings the duo back together again to get you up and running fast. No lengthy origin stories for either man, just a sentence here or there to bring both new and longtime readers up to speed on where we are and a glimpse into where we’re going. Fine by me.

The dynamic between Luke and Danny is great, as are the brief moments with Jessica Jones, where she and Luke have some spot-on husband / wife conversations; I couldn’t help but laugh. Speaking of laughing, I was surprised to realize that I was laughing throughout quite a bit of this issue, whether because of the dialogue, the various situations, Greene’s phenomenal art, or the overall tone of the book. Hold on to your seats, Denizens, I’m about to drop the “F-Bomb”…this kickoff issue was a heck of a lot of…here it comes, wait for it…FUN. Wait, what “F-Bomb” were you thinking of?

Anyways, I enjoyed the story, and Green’s unique take on the duo pulled me in completely, and with such a strong last page reveal…well, that left me going “Awwwwwww,” as I definitely was not ready for the issue to be over. For the first time in quite a while, I’m fully on board and excited about a Big Two superhero book, and I can’t wait to see where the series goes. Let’s just hope all the reboots, refreshes, events, and crossovers stay away long enough for the creators to tell the story they wish to tell; it looks to be an exciting one. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! 

Slice into the Woods

Keeping it Positive this Week - Of course. Sick. Dagnabbit. Feelin’ pretty cruddy, but I guess that’s what happens when loads and loads of stress are suddenly removed from one’s shoulders. Anyhow, let’s stay positive. Go see Deadpool. Definitely see that movie. It’s a blast and I’ve never really been a fan of the character, but after seeing it this past weekend, I guess I’m a fan now. Peace, Denizens.

I know, I know, but I’m sick and trying to get some needed rest, so again no song this week, but enjoy this video game fighting scene from Danger 5 (which you can stream on Netflix!!!).


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