Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 4/29/2016

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Saga, Sex Criminals, Low, and Thanos: The Infinity Finale

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 / purveyor of “Pop Life” Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). My puppy executive team and I have been wearing purple all week in honor of the brilliance and joy that Price gave us through his music for so many years. <ugh> I’m still so bummed about the man’s much-too-early death, but Reverse Obie put on “Take Me With You,” and I couldn’t stop the chills (the oh-so good kind) from washing over me. I also couldn’t help but smile as the tune washed over me. I guess if any of us start to get the sads again that we’ll just have to put on “Controvery” or “Peach” or “Let’s Go Crazy” to help pick us up again. So put on some purple, queue up a block of your favorite Prince tunes, and settle in to 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 #36
Saga #36 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, coordinated by Eric Stephenson, published by Image Comics. Escape attempts, reunions, a battle, stowaways, and a revelation…oh my!

Thus ends book two, volume six, of chapter 36 of this tremendous series. This issue in particular is a prime example of why Saga remains one of the best comics currently hitting the stands. For those unfamiliar with this story, we have a sci-fi, fantasy tale that is essentially a take on Romeo and Juliet in space…only with so much more. Yes you will see the occasional monster or spaceship, yes you will on rare occasions see something so insanely shocking so as to be completely gobsmacked (this series is in no way for the kiddies; mature audiences only), but what strikes this Donist a deciding blow as to why I will forever follow this series are the myriad characters wrapped up in a compelling story. I love them. I care for them. I wish them all happiness, which makes every struggle, every bad decision or behavior that much more heart-wrenching. As I’ve said many times on past issues, my love does not stop with the “good guys,” it also extends to the “bad guys” as well.

Vaughan and Staples continue to thoroughly immerse readers in their characters’ lives by creating a level of relatability to each character, some moment where we see ourselves in a similar situation. How would you deal with the loss of a sibling, or of a lost child, or of familial scrutiny over your life choices? It’s all rather heavy, but that is not to say the series is without its more humorous moments. There are plenty of times that will have you laughing out loud, or trying not to laugh as you cover your mouth in shock over something you will never ever be able to un-see (remember what I said about this book being for adults?). It’s the precise balance of characters redeeming themselves while others succeed in steadily messing up their lives. It’s the bickering and fighting with those closest to them. Its the laughs mixed with moments of intense sadness. It’s all of this that keeps me coming back to this fantastic funny book. But most of all, it’s the feeling that these characters are now family; for better or worse, I love them.

If you’ve read any of my 35 previous thoughts on Staples’s art, then you know how stricken I am with her work. Even the most mundane of pages is worthy of being framed and hung on your wall for all to see. It’s refreshing to have such a vibrant book that manages to have so much life even when the situation is most dire. Her storytelling prowess is amazing, but it is the character acting and body language that manage to tell you everything you need to know about a scene before you read a single word balloon. Her work is heavenly; just take a look at the picturesque cover to see what I mean.

It’s going to be a brutal two or three months until the next issue drops, as there were plenty of “whoa!” and “wow!” moments that kept me wishing the issue would never end. Not to mention the bomb dropped on the final two pages. Dang, Denizens, this is one heck of a fantastic issue. If you are reading Saga, then you already know all of this. If not…<sigh>…just order the dang oversized hardcover, or load up on the five trades (soon to be six!). Tired of capes and tights? Well there, little buckaroo, Saga is the book for you — provided you are mature enough to handle it. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Sex Criminals #15
Sex Criminals #15 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Chip Zdarsky, edited by Thomas K, production by Drew Gill, published by Image Comics. When Doc realizes that Kegelface has stolen all of his files concerning a patient, he panics. Too bad those files were about Jon and his deepest, darkest thoughts.

Because my new coworkers might be checking out the ol’ Donist World blog, and are probably considering running a deeper background check on me because of this comic’s title, I will take this time to explain what this book is and why it is not what first comes to mind. Cool? Cool. Okay, Sex Criminals was not only TIME Magazine’s #1 comic series / graphic novel of 2013, it has also been a Donist World Darling since issue one. This is wholeheartedly a mature-readers book that’s about Jon and Suze who meet and are instantly attracted to each other. What neither knows at the time is that they each have a secret superpower that allows them to actually stop time at the moment of…“the little death.” The first time they sleep together, they are pleasantly surprised to find that they can stop time and move through the world together, doing whatever they like, including robbing a bank. That is until the Sex Police find out they are violating certain rules; Jon and Suze aren’t the only ones with powers. 

Sex Criminals has characters so realistic that you might see parts of yourself or your friends in them, as well as relatable situations that can be absolutely hilarious one moment and emotionally painful the next. Zdarsky’s cartooning is a joy, and his coloring brings a sense of magical realism to the page, especially when Jon and Suze venture into “The Quiet.” Despite the title, the comic is not titillating, but is rather an earnest look at what sex means to the various characters whose lives are exposed for us to see. Odds are high that you will be cracking up most of the time, but be prepared for a possible tear or two down the road. 

The lengthy delays between issues is kind of affecting my remembering what has happened issue to issue, but when the creators have many other projects, including film and television, I can see how things can regrettably fall behind. No worries, though, Sex Criminals is still one of my favorite comics hitting the stands; despite not hitting as often as I might like. So after my little rundown, if you’re ready for some adults-only, R-rated humor, that is as fun as it is charming, then you should dive right in on this sex-positive series with either the hardcover or the two available trades. I think you’ll dig it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Low #13
Low #13 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Greg Tocchini, colored by Dave McCaig, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. The twins realize too late that the woman claiming to be their deceased brother’s wife is not who she claims to be.

Last month’s issue absolutely blew me away, as we saw Stel Caine finally reach the long abandoned surface in her quest for the satellite that holds the hope for a new and habitable world. The action was bountiful and intense. With this issue, we jump back to Stel’s twin daughters, Tajo and Della, and the pacing slows to allow us to see just how psychologically damaged the women have become after their brutal abduction and separation so many years ago. And although I suspected not all was right with the new player in the book, I wasn’t prepared for the actual reveal…or the startling turn of events at the end. Ouch.

Although I’m usually a champion of Tocchini and McCaigs art, things seem a tad rushed and muddied for about half of this issue; the other half is just as ethereal and gorgeous as we’ve come to expect from these two. The change is mostly in the weight of lines and certain proportions, but by the end, when the insanity starts goin’ down, the imagery comes together to reflect the look I have come to adore since the first issue. Who knows, it might be a print thing, but in the end, the shift in the look of the art was enough to give me pause.

My questions with some of the art aside, Low continues to be one hell of a compelling sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, adventure, monster, drama comic that I continue to love. I can’t wait for Stel and her girls to be reunited — if they all survive that long! — and finally prove that hope is not futile, but one of the strongest forces there is. If you would like to dive into this thrilling and visually arresting comic (even with the noticeable style shifts of this issue), then you should rush out and grab the two available trades. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Thanos: The Infinity
Thanos: The Infinity Finale HC - Written by Jim Starlin, illustrated by Ron Lim, inked by Andy Smith, colored by Guru-eFX, lettered by Clayton Cowles, published by Marvel Comics. Face front, true believers, as the latest “Infinity” chapter comes to a close. Thanos is dead. Warlock captured with most of his unlimited power under Annihilus’s control. The mysterious orchestrator of the posiverse’s woes continues to operate from the shadows while the fate of all rests in the grubby mitts of one…lone…smelly…troll.

Sorry about the “Thanos is dead” thing, but remember what I said about “possible spoilers?” Anyhow, if you’ve read my thoughts on the first two books in this series — Thanos: The Infinity Revelation and Thanos: The Infinity Relativity — as well as the optional (optionally amazing, and not to be missed) four-issue, limited series The Infinity Entity, then you know I had high hopes for the conclusion to this epic story. But did it pay off in the end? Heck yeah, it did, Denizens, this cosmic is better than I could have ever hoped for. I love everything about this awesome cosmic space opera from my lifelong hero Jim Starlin.

I’m going to shy away from revealing anything major, but when the title character ends the second hardcover by killing himself, do you really think he’ll stay dead all that long? This is Thanos, after all. If there’s one thing longtime fans know, it’s that you can’t keep a good / mad /evil / brilliant Titan down. I mean, the guy is madly (emphasis on the “madly”) in love with the physical embodiment of death, known as…well…Death. (In the demigod’s defense, Death is kind of hot…at least when she’s not all skeletony.) The same holds true for my fave Adam Warlock. How many times has this cat died only to return to life? The answer: tons. The whole death has no meaning in the Marvel Universe is something I’ve commented on in the past, and it gets rather obnoxious as event after event sees a litany of ultimately meaningless deaths of its characters (Captain America, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, etc.). The thing about Starlin’s work with Thanos and Warlock is that these characters exist outside of the cosmic norm and death / rebirth is part of their appeal. If one dies, you can count on them to return, but with certain changes; it’s all part of what makes these tales so much dang fun.

Speaking of death…holy cow does this book get dark. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Starlin get as brutal and bloody as he does with this book. The situation with Annihilus is indeed dire, but man-oh-man I did not expect to see major superheroes getting cut down in such ruthless fashion. I also could not believe what Thanos had in store for ol’ Nightcrawler (<brrrrrr> I will not spoil, but…harsh), but for all of the insane intensity of the battle against Annihilus that had me madly whipping through the pages, the moments of hope with Pip had me cheering all the way through. Once Thanos and Warlock are back in play, the story shifts from fights and battles (except for one awesome power move by Thanos) into the more cerebral aspects of righting all the cosmic wrongs of the universe, and restoring all to as it were. Of course the story has no moments that will “change the Marvel Universe forever!!!,” but these hardcovers are outside of whatever is going on at Marvel these days. If there’s one thing Starlin is a master of it is taking all the toys out of the box, crafting a compelling story with palpable stakes, and ultimately putting all those toys back in the box as they were; Thanos and Warlock being the only possible exceptions.

One thing you will notice with this third and final volume is the change in art. Starlin does not illustrate this book — an odd choice given that he illustrated the first two — but if you are going to have anyone other the master-of-all-things-cosmic draw your book, then there is no better choice than bringing in Ron Lim (I will say that Alan Davis was fantastic on They Infinity Entity, though). His storytelling skills are tremendous, and the character acting stronger than ever. If you like his past work on Silver Surfer and The Infinity Gauntlet (I certainly do) then you will be thrilled with what is on display here. Art, coloring, and overall design of the book are certain to please.

See? No real spoilers on what exactly goes down in this book, just the understanding that I love love love this series of hardcovers, and that Finale is the best of the bunch. If you are a Starlin or Warlock or Thanos fan, or if you just like engaging superhero space operas, then you MUST pick up these books. I am also happy that I went back and reread all of the early material (Thanos QuestThe Infinity GauntletThe Infinity WarThe Infinity CrusadeWarlock and the Infinity WatchThe Infinity AbyssThe EndThanos: The Infinity RevelationThanos: The Infinity Relativity, and finally The Infinity Entity) to prepare for my read of Thanos: The Infinity Finale, which made an already great read all the better. Dang, I love this book. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Prince Dies at Age 57 - I’m still not over the loss of this tremendous artist. <sigh> at least I know what’s going to be playing around the Donist World corporate office (Mom’s basement) this week. So very sad.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 4/22/2016

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Chew: Demon Chicken Poyo, Tokyo Ghost, East of West, 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 / “Sign O’ the Times” Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). <sigh> Forget it. All meetings to discuss maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company are canceled. I even think we’re going to cut out early to day so that my puppy executive team and I can mourn in our own ways the loss of the Purple One, Prince. Ugh. Losing Bowie was a huge blow, but now Prince? It’s all a bit too heavy to think about. Again, I must…<sigh>. Anyhow, be sure to dress up in somethin’ nice, somethin’ purple, put on some “Purple Rain,” and contemplate what it sounds like when the doves cry. After you mourn the loss of this tremendous artist, then rejoice in the legacy the man gave us, and then, only then, 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***

Chew: Demon
Chicken Poyo #1
Chew: Demon Chicken Poyo #1 - Written and lettered by John Layman, illustrated and colored by Rob Guillory, color assists by Taylor Wells, published by Image Comics. A sick child’s health worsens as she catches a bad case of demon possession! The only surefire way to put the demon behind her ain’t through the word of the Good Book, but rather through the power of an even better one.

Boy howdy, Denizens, we’re about to head into the final five-issue arc of the Donist World Darling Chew, and what better way to kick things off than with a third special issue surrounded by everyone’s favorite luchador / murder machine / chicken badass, Poyo. But we need to get something out of the way first. If you have not been reading Chew, then you will certainly miss out on much of what the creators have carefully built over the course of 55 issues, two specials, and a crossover. That said, the casual reader could pick up this issue, and enjoy Guillory’s vibrant, hilarious, crazy cartooning, as well as Layman’s witty, hilarious, biting writing, but reading this book without first experiencing the rich history of the awesomeness that came before will do you a disservice. It’s that very history that makes this issue such a treasure.

If you have already been reading Chew, then you surely know why this chicken is so feared, why he wears a luchador mask, why he has cybernetic limbs, and why he now has a flaming head. You’ve already got the tools to maximize your enjoyment of this issue. Although this special one-shot is not vital to the main Chew narrative, it further expands the crazy world we’ve all come to love over these past few years, and is something no true fan can afford to miss. I mean, c’mon, Poyo fighting all kinds of crazy evil foes? Including Dick Cheney and his teeny-tiny, wee heart? Dang…how could you not love this.

<sigh> I’m preparing myself, Denizens. I’m preparing myself for a world without Chew, once the final five issues release. That looming, final issue is something I don’t want to see arrive, yet I can’t help but be excited to see how it all ends. It’s a dang conundrum is what it is, but it’s a dang good place to be. If you have not read this bizarre, gross, laugh-out-loud, cry-your-eyes out, enthralling series, then you can easily catch up via the trades, or the even better Omnivore Edition hardcovers. What matters most is that you are reading the most unique comic to hit the stands in a very long time. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Tokyo Ghost #6
Tokyo Ghost #6 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Sean Murphy, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Now that Flak corporation has taken what is left of Tokyo, humanity looks to descend even deeper into the tech-addicted nightmare of its own creation. Things must be doubly bad if Davey Trauma stands as a voice of reason. Thankfully, the ghost of Tokyo lingers on…

You need to be reading all of Remender’s recent creator-owned work (Low, Deadly Class, Black Science, and heck go back and read the amazing Fear Agent, while you’re at it), and that definitely includes the sci-fi, dystopian thrill ride that is Tokyo Ghost. What you have is a world where a tech-addicted society that is almost always “logged in” has willingly enslaved itself to a corrupt corporation’s every whim. This all hits a tad too close to home as I look at the multiple phones, desktops, MP3 players, game systems, television, and tablets littering the Donist household. <brrrrrrrr>…freaky.

It’s been a couple months since the first arc wrapped and left us with one doozy of a cliffhanger, but the series picks up right where it left off as the terrorists Miss Muffet and Jack Horner — dang, this comic is NOT for kiddos — wreck havoc as Led Dent returns to his old job at Flak in the most brutal of ways. Thankfully, the creators have a fairly kick-ace surprise waiting for us loyal readers towards the end, one that will not resonate at all unless you have read the first arc.

Did I mention this series is not for kids?

Tokyo Ghost is a thrilling look where we might be headed with our tech-addicted society, and the repercussions of having our eyes firmly fixed on our phones at all points and times. So break away from the tech (I say as I write on my Mac) and pick up the first trade of this fantastic series. Not only will you find yourself laughing as you wince at certain revelations about your own relationship with tech, but you will be mesmerized by Murphy’s gorgeous storytelling and design, and Hollingsworth’s stunning colors. Given the final four pages of this issue, I can safely say I cannot wait to see what happens next. Did I mention this series is not for kids? VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Power Man and
Iron Fist #3
Power Man and Iron Fist #3 - Written by David Walker, illustrated by Sanford Greene, colored by Lee Loughridge, lettered and produced by VC’s Clayton Cowles, published by Marvel Comics. Luke Cage and Danny Rand (Power Man and Iron Fist) are still not back together as Heroes for Hire. Nope. They’re not even teaming up to right wrongs. Double nope. They’re just lending a helping hand to a friend in need. Okay…they’re teaming up.

Wait a minute…I’m still reading a mainstream superhero book from one of the Big Two. And I’m totally digging it. What’s going on?! Who cares. What matters is that I am still really liking this book. Nothing much changes from the events of last issue, but that is fine given that we see just how drastic an effect the Supersoul Stone has had on Luke and Danny’s old friend, Jennie; it’s not good. We also get to see more of Luke and Jessica Jones interacting as husband and wife, which is always good for some laughs.

Even though there’s little in the way of any sort of fighting or superheroics in this issue, Walker’s humorous dialogue and Green’s refreshingly non-standard cartooning had me smiling through to the end. This is especially true of the last three pages, which have me eager to see what happens next. I kind of have the feeling that the next two issues are probably going to have all the fight scenes you could ever want from two of my favorite “street-level” heroes.

If you are looking for a slightly-off-kilter superhero comic that successfully avoids (thus far, at least) the lackluster and financially draining trappings of ”crossovers” and “events,” while maintaining it’s own sense of individuality, then Power Man and Iron Fist is the book you’ve been waiting for. It’s fun, thoughtful, and provides just enough punch to keep this Donist coming back for more. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  

East of West #25
East of West #25 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics. The Wolf reunites with his uncle. Death walks into a bar.

It’s been a while since we last saw an issue of the sci-fi / horror / fantasy / revisionist history / post-apocalyptic-yet-gunning-for-another-apocalypse / Western / drama East of West. It actually seems like ages ago, which made remembering much of what has been happening with the grand cast of characters and their intricate storylines and political machinations a bit difficult to follow. This is not a series you jump into. This also isn’t a book you casually read. You can’t be tired or distracted when you delve into this rich, complex world; if you’re not at your best it probably won’t make a whole lot of sense.

Let’s just say it was rather late last night when I finally sat down to read this kickoff to the next arc. I had forgotten about “The Message” and who was / wasn’t one of “The Chosen.” I remember being shaky even before picking up this issue on the reasoning as to why Wolf and Crow left Death at a time when he was finally making some progress in finding his son, but sometimes you have to just go with the flow…others, a solid reread from issue one might be the best thing to do. Still, the art and coloring continue to be rather lovely.

With East of West you have to start from the beginning, Denizens. Just be sure to eat your Wheaties, put on the noise-cancelling headphones with some mellow classical music, put the kids / significant other / dog to bed, and maybe do some stretches before setting in to read this series. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the book or been reading since issue one, you need to be prepared, which you can easily do with the first five trades, or the oversized hardcover. East of West is varsity level comicbooking, but if you are up to the challenge, it is well worth your time. RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Prince Dies at Age 57 - I can’t begin to say how sad I am at hearing of the musician’s passing. Prince’s music has been a timeless mainstay of the Donist household since the ’80s, and I can’t remember how many times the man’s music revived a wavering party and kept the celebration going into the wee hours of the night. Such a sad loss for such a talented and influential individual.

No The Sixth Gun? It should really come as no surprise, but in upholding the curse of The Sixth Gun, my comic shop was once again shorted on it’s shipment of this title, just as is has been on (seriously) 60% of the issues in the series to date. I don’t know what the problem is, but for some reason I can count on getting this issue two weeks after its initial release. This is especially a bummer given the lengthy delay between arcs, and the fact that we are heading into the final chapter in what is the best supernatural Western to grace the stands.


Friday, April 15, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 4/15/2016

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Deadly Class, Weirdworld and Empress

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 / Weirdworld tour guide Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). For once we are a little more on the ball, so my puppy executive team and I have decided to forego our usual weekly board meeting about retaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company and we’re getting a little weird in honor of Weirdworld #5. We’re putting coffee in our milk, having dinner for breakfast, we decorated the office (Mom’s basement) with Halloween items, and we even knighted Amy the intern (my wife…she did not take it gracefully). We’ve even been walking around backwards for no reason other than to freak out the nosy neighbors; it’s just that kind of day. Anyhow, go queue up some Daredevil on Netflix, order up some breakfast tacos for lunch, 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***

Deadly Class #20
Deadly Class #20 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, colored by Jordan Boyd, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Marcus, Petra, and Billy are almost there. They only need to survive seven more hours until deadly “Finals” is over, but betrayal of the highest order rises alongside the coming of the dawn.

If you read some of my past reviews of older issues — namely moments in the second and third arcs — you will probably pickup a notion that this Donist was preparing to bounce on this series. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no way I could blow off the series entirely, I would have gone to trade waiting, but then “Finals” started. Criminy, Denizens, this arc has been intense, brutal, and compelling-as-all-get-out; trade waiting is no longer a consideration.

Remender succeeds in making this arc a nerve-wracking, nail-biting, roller coaster ride of power grabs, betrayal, and ultimately of enlightenment as seen with Marcus in this tremendous issue. The lead character finally connects the dots as to how and why he has been self-sabotaging his life. It makes sense — given his horrendous childhood — but that doesn’t make reading his realizations easy, it just adds a level of sympathy to a character who I had started to dislike many issues ago. With the “Die for Me” story arc, Remender not only changes my thoughts about Marcus, I am back to adoring the character once again.

Although my love of the main character has fluctuated throughout the series, what continues to grow is my adoration of the art. Craig…Craig is something not entirely of this world. His art leans toward heavy panel counts per page, but where many artists would have difficulty pulling off a coherent or engaging experience, Craig pulls readers in and refuses to let them go. He uses panel placement to intentionally drive the mood of the story, while using his mastery of storytelling to keep your peepers locked on the comic from page one through to the end. You almost need to read the book twice: once to whip through quickly, and then again to fully appreciate the beauty of his work. And speaking of beauty, Boyd’s predominately monochromatic colors push the tone of the book to new heights, helping elevate reader heart rates as tension in the story escalates. Dang, Denizens, this is gorgeous book.

Yes, a while back I was beginning to waver slightly on this title, but it is a creator-owned Remender book…I should have known this master creator would pull me back into the story. You can’t go wrong with any of the man’s current work (the others being Low, Black Science, and Tokyo Ghost), and if a brutal comic about a homeless boy invited to attend a premier school for assassins set in the ’80s sounds like your cuppa tea, then you simply must pick up this fantastic comic, which you can do with the oversized hardcover (available in July) or the three available trades. Heck, even if Deadly Class doesn’t sound like your thing, give it a shot for Craig’s art, and I’m sure Remender’s writing will draw you in before you even know what happened to you. I can’t wait to see how this chapter wraps. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Weirdworld #5
Weirdworld #5 - Written by Sam Humphries, illustrated by Mike Del Mundo, color assists by Marco D’Alfonso, lettered by VC’s Cory Petit, published by Marvel Comics. A girl, a wizard killer, and a wizard in the form of a bat-winged cat with horns look to cross a mountain range but stumble into a mystical swamp queen’s realm. No, this isn’t the beginning of bawdy joke, and, yes, a wizard killer traveling with a wizard makes for a complicated relationship, but anything goes in…Weirdworld.

Okay, before I even get into this awesome issue, please take note that I am going to spoil something in the story that is so ridiculous, so mind-boggling, and so weird that I just can’t keep quiet about it. Cool? Cool. Anyhow…Weirdworld continues to be freakin’ weird as heck and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We have Man-Things, the aforementioned cat-beast, an army of magma creatures, an evil sorceress who rides a dog-beast made of lightning, a swamp queen with roots and all, and with this issue we extend even further into the realm of all things heavenly with the introduction of “Dog Fighters.” What is a “Dog Fighter,” you ask? Well, it’s a squadron of dogs, dressed in pilot clothes and goggles, who fly biplanes that have a large, bloodshot eyeball instead of a propeller. Yeah, go ahead and reread the previous sentence, and I will confirm that you just need to see it to believe it.

This comic is utter madness in both story and art, but as you scratch your head in disbelief on your first read through, you will also be smiling at the amazing beauty of the written word and the oh-so-gorgeous illustrations. Sure the premise is simple: a girl needs to fulfill a promise, but she meets seemingly insurmountable resistance. But it’s the details of the promise, her situation, her companions, her enemies, and her surroundings (Weirdworld is basically a character in and of itself) that make this story so thoroughly entertaining. You could honestly pick up this issue, having not read a single prior issue, and be as charmed by the characters and world as you are mystified by what the heck is actually going on. It’s all so much fun that total comprehension becomes an afterthought, and the desire for immersion in this nutty world takes hold.

Then there is the art. My goodness gracious, Del Mundo’s art is like nothing I have ever seen. I also have no idea how he goes about making his imagery. His storytelling, character acting, and choreography are all off the charts, but it is the painting where everything turns toward the otherworldly. The colors are vibrant, lively, and the knockouts and glows are stunning, but I especially love his technique of darkening and blurring things in the foreground during certain dramatic moments (the Man-Things and the Dog Fighter). I really want to see some process videos to better understand how Del Mundo works this level of magic on the page. Dang, denizens, this art is beautiful.

I like this book. It’s fun. It’s ridiculous. It’s weird. It’s like nothing I’ve seen from the Big Two for decades. Like I said above, you can totally just dive in with this issue, but you owe it to yourself to start from the beginning of Humphries’s run, or even start with the Volume 0 trade that was written by Jason Aaron so you can bask in the glory of Del Mundo’s striking art. Whatever you do, if you are seeking a break from the capes and tights norm, then this delirious piece of awesomeness is something you need to be checking out. I hope to see new issues of Weirdworld for some time to come. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Empress #1
Empress #1 - Written by Mark Millar, pencilled by Stuart Immonen, inked by Wade Von Grawbadger, colored by Ive Svorcina, lettered by Peter Doherty, edited by Nicole Boose, published by Icon, a Marvel Comics imprint. It’s never an easy matter to take the kids and flee an abusive spouse. It’s even more difficult when your spouse — who is not actually cruel to you or the children, but rather the populace of an entire world — has vast resources to get you back.

I bought this comic knowing very little other than it’s a sci-fi story set in the past. Given how much I thoroughly enjoyed Millar’s retro, sci-fi homage to Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers comics with the amazing Starlight — which has become one of my all-time-favorite comics — I decided to give it a shot. Oh my stars and garters, I’m so glad I did. Empress is set 65 million years in the past — yes, the past — on an Earth where a despotic monster named King Morax rules with an iron will and an incredible cruelty that extends to all but his wife (Emporia), daughter (Aine), and sons (Adam and Puck). Although Emporia was rescued from a relatively normal life of struggle and hardship, she has finally had enough of Morax’s madness. She leaves.

In 24 pages that flew by much too quickly, we are introduced to the world that was, its technological capabilities, the ruling family, Emporia’s sympathizers, the royal children, and we also flashback to Emporia’s first encounter with Morax. Again, all of this is stuffed into only 24 pages of uninterrupted (no ads, thank you Millar!) and amazing story.  The crazy thing about Empress is that at no time does the story feel bloated with exposition, and it succeeded in pulling me in completely by page three.

The fabulous story and characterization alone are enough to pull anyone in, but when you have 24 pages of glorious Immonen imagery, storytelling, character design, costuming, monster design, space ship design, and background detail, you have something worth checking out for the pretty-pretty pictures alone. Written word and drawn line combined gives the reader what looks to be a thrilling series that already has me desperate for the next installment.

Empress gives comic fans exactly the feeling we strive to achieve: a rush, a chill (the good kind), and an uplifting of spirit at having discovered something new that starts strong and looks to only become better. I’m into this world, I’m into the characters, I’m into the conflict, I’m into this series for the long haul. Whether you are a fan of science fiction or great stories in general, Empress is a comic you cannot miss. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Not Gonna Complain…It’s Warlock / Thanos Time! - I’m actually ahead of the game for the first time in a long, long while. Sure I could complain about that moron Donald Drumpf, but I’m not gonna. Instead, I’m going to focus on the good and continue hammering through my rereads of my treasured Warlock and Thanos stories in preparation to read the Thanos: Infinity Finale hardcover, which arrived today. Thus far, I have read Thanos Quest, The Infinity Gauntlet, The Infinity WarThe Infinity Crusade, Warlock and the Infinity Watch (which I am finishing up tonight), and then it is on to The Infinity Abyss, The End, Thanos: The Infinity Revelation, Thanos: The Infinity Relativity, and finally The Infinity Entity. <whew!>


Friday, April 8, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 4/8/2016

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: The Infinity Entity, Archie, and Rachel Rising

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 / HTML5 therapist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). I am running dreadfully behind, as usual, and Blogger’s HTML5 switch is doing all kinds of funky formatting to the blog that requires tons of fixing. <sigh> Anyhow, while I sob in my car on my commute to work and as Tulip and Reverse Obie read through some coding books to figure out easier ways of doing the blog, we can take solace in the fact that Captain America 3 will soon be upon us, and that we have a big honkin’ Neal Adams Batman Omnibus waiting for us to read. Anyhow, go queue up some Daredevil on Netflix, order up some tacos, be sure to stay healthy, 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***

The Infinity Entity #4
The Infinity Entity #4 - Written by Jim Starlin, illustrated by Alan Davis, inked by Mark Farmer, colored by Wil Quintana, lettered VC’s Joe Sabino, published Marvel Comics. Adam Warlock finally discovers the reason for his missing memories, but his problems are only beginning as a new player makes their presence known.

Before I get to what I love about this issue and the four-issue mini as a whole, I have to return to a gripe I have had in the past concerning spoiling major reveals on the cover of the very issue that contains the major plot twist. Remember when DC had their monumentally annoying “WTF” month of twist-killing spoils on their covers? Well, this isn’t as bad that, but it’s pretty darn close. I guess part of this is my fault, as I ended up getting a variant cover in my pull (remember my love of marketing gimmicks?) and didn’t notice such until I got home. Basically, the secret orchestrator of the events in this series, Adam Warlock’s veiled manipulator, is clearly shown tormenting Warlock on the cover of this particular variant (I put the regular cover up top to avoid spoiling things for you). Anyhow, instead of reading the first five pages and wondering who the heck this Bultar guy is, as the creators slowly pull back the curtain, I instead take a glance at the cover and go, oh, of course, that must be who that yellow fella is. Starlin and Davis are masters at their craft and still manage to add excitement to the moment, but there is no denying that the heft of what they have been building to is diminished. Meh! Meh, I tell you. *Dear Big Two, stop doing this, just stop it. Do what you used to do back in the day: silhouette out the big reveal on the cover so people can experience the reveal organically within the story as the creators intended. Your marketing department or whoever is wrong about spoiling on the cover.


Oh yeah, I liked this issue quite a bit. We finally learn what happened to Warlock, why his memories were jumbled, and who was messing around behind the scenes. That said, for the final issue of the mini, there’s little action this issue, and quite a bit of talking. Tons of talking, actually, but that’s definitely fine when it comes to Starlin’s cosmic work; it wouldn’t be a Starlin book without complex mysteries and mind-bending intrigue. Davis’s art is of course fantastic, exhibiting his mastery of drama and story telling while giving him a couple moments to get weird and go galactic. The full-page spread of Warlock and Bultar’s confrontation is epic, something I wish would be made into a poster to hang on my wall and possibly hit with the ol’ black light to make things extra…cosmicy.

As I’ve been saying since my look at the first issue of this series (here), this four-issue mini-series is probably not the best jumping on point for those wanting to dip their tippytoes in pure Starlin cosmic goodness. No, you should go back a bit and familiarize yourself with the characters and the rich history first. Trust me. It’s well worth your time. If, like this Donist, you read all of the material I mentioned in my review of the first issue, and you were unsure whether or not you have to read The Infinity Entity before plunging into Thanos: The Infinity Finale, then to be honest I have to say it is not necessary. However, if you’re a fan of Starlin and these characters, this mini is everything you’ve grown to love over the years, and this mini will have you pulsing with cosmic energy to see how it all concludes. I, for one, cannot wait! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Archie #7

Archie #7 - 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. Reggie’s not only after Veronica, he’s also trying to get in on her father’s good side. Archie won’t stand for it. In order to save Mr. Lodge from the evils of Reggie, Archie and his pal Jughead will have to seek help from the one person who knows all and sees all…

Archie continues to be a heck of a lot of fun as Waid and Fish bring their modern touch to the Riverdale gang, while remaining true to both the characters and the Archieverse we have adored for many decades. If it weren’t for the occasional cell phone, computer, or car you could easily question what year the story actually takes place. The creators give the story a charming sense of timelessness as we have hijinx, young love and young heartbreak, drama, comedy, hamburgers, and all around goofiness that is sure to leave you smiling. But you should be aware of something when reading this issue of Archie: you will probably be chomping at the bit for the next issue in an desperate attempt to learn the truth behind Reggie’s devastating secret.

The cool thing about this all-new Archie is that you can actually jump on at any point in these first seven issues and be able to follow and enjoy the story. A brief “Previously…” paragraph (and possibly a faint inkling of who the main characters are) is all you really need to get sucked into the drama and — dare I say — fun of this wonderful series. But why jump in here? Doing so means you will miss the “Lipstick Incident” issues that deal with Archie and Betty’s breakup, and Jughead’s attempt to get them back together in the wake of Veronica’s arrival in Riverdale. You will also miss out on a bunch of laughs as well as some heartfelt moments to which we can all relate. So, first get the recently released trade (with fantastic Fiona Staples art on the first three issues), and then pick up this issue and everything that follows as you will probably become as attached to the Riverdale gang as I am. With most comic book worlds so heavily immersed in the dark, the gritty, and heroes fighting heroes, the vibrant, lively, and enjoyable Archie is a welcome beam of light to be found in a local comic shop mired in darkness. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Rachel Rising #41

Rachel Rising #41 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. As the series draws to a close, there are many loose ends that need to be tied up. One of those loose ends is Malus.

I only recently found out that the amazing and spine-tingling Rachel Rising is actually ending with issue 42. I guess the announcement was made a month or two ago, and I somehow missed it as I’ve been less interested in social media of any flavor as of late. So when I actually heard the news — probably from my favorite comic book podcast 11 O’Clock Comics — it was already rather late in the game at issue 40. Before learning of the series end date, it actually felt like things were beginning to wind down, but I was thinking we had an additional two or three arcs to go judging by the pacing of the story; I guess I was wrong.

Longtime Denizens know I’ve been a fan of Rachel Rising since the first issue, and it is my favorite horror title on the stands, even though the drop to 18 pages of material per issue had caused me to raise an eyebrow. This issue is also 18 pages long and one of the main conflicts of the story, one that has been building for at least 30 issues, is quickly found and…corrected. Easy peasy. All the discussions on how to handle the situation over the course of the series are tossed aside for a simple solution that came much sooner that I would have liked.

This leaves one more issue to wrap up the main plot of the series: who killed Rachel, and how do you right the wrong. I’m actually not sure how it will be done. Not only do we have the end to Rachel’s journey, we have the murderous Lilith, Zoe, Aunt Johnny, Earl, and Jet to check in on and wrap up as well. I don’t see how it can be done in 18 pages, but we’re talking about the creator who gave us Strangers in Paradise and Echo, so I’m sure this tremendous series will get a satisfying ending despite the accelerated pacing. My guess as to why the series is ending so soon is that the numbers were down, or too many people switched to trades, making continuing on the series no longer economically feasible, which is a bummer. I also haven’t heard any recent news of the Rachel Rising television show, which also likely lead to an accelerated ending.

Although the story is wrapping up sooner than I would like, it has been one heck of great ride. Gorgeous art, an engaging mystery, and characters who I love so much they’re practically family to me now, Rachel Rising has been a joy to read. It has been scary and unnerving, humorous and touching, but most of all compelling. Despite not wanting the series to end, I HAVE to see what happens in the next final issue. If you have not been reading this great comic, you can easily catch up with what will be seven trades, or the soon(ish) to be released Omnibus edition. RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Out of Time! - As always, I’m running late, thanks to a ton of formatting issues that I need to uncover the cause (why is my text shrinking midway through the post?!?).

Argh! Gotta go. Later!


Friday, April 1, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 4/1/2016

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Saga, Black Science, and Jughead

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 / “Get Going Fool!” coordinator Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). I am running dreadfully behind, and only had time to read two of my three comics this week, so this is going to be brief. I’m still trying to figure out how best to juggle time with my new job and writing and all of that, but with the help of my trusty puppy executive team, we’ll work it out. Speaking of which, Tulip has my slippers in her mouth (she meant to have my shoes, but it’s the thought that counts), and Obie has my coffee ready to go (I’ll have to mop up the spilled coffee when I get home this evening, again it’s the thought that counts) and I’m out the door. Anyhow, go queue up some Daredevil on Netflix, order up some tacos, be sure to stay healthy, and most of all read some great comics…even if you only have one in your pull this week like me. 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 #35
Saga #35 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, coordinated by Eric Stephenson, published by Image Comics. All of Marko and Alana’s preparations and searching have paid off as they prepare to go against the odds and get their little girl back. Too bad The Will is still harboring a massive grudge…and a slight mental break.

It bears repeating that a so-so issue of Saga tends to be better than most everything else on the stands. A great issue of Saga is something else entirely, something most heavenly. This month’s offering falls more towards the “great” side of the spectrum, which translates to hella fantastic. Aside from the characters Gwendolyn, Sophie, and Lying Cat, who have been mysteriously absent for the past few issues, each of the other main characters of the series (of which there are many) have had their stories progress quite nicely: Marko and Alana have found the bond they originally shared, Hazel is growing up and realizing what her existence means to those around her, Prince Robot IV learns a degree of empathy and the importance of relationships, and The Will has gone off the deep end in his quest for vengeance. The point is that all of the characters are making choices — for better or for worse — for which there will be outcomes they won’t be able to take back…and it all looks to be going down in the conclusion to this sixth arc next month.

If you’ve been reading Saga since the first issue, then you already know there are really no bad guys in the series, just characters who have either made a bad decision or been the victim of terrible circumstances that have led them on a fairly dark path. Regardless of what characters have done or what they are about to do, Vaughan and Staples have made readers fall in love with each and every one of them. You might be pissed at The Will for ruthlessly hunting down Prince Robot IV, but to be honest, both characters have been through the shit. We’ve been there as each did something noble, and we’ve been there as each stumbled and fell, but each of those moments have succeeded in endearing the characters to us to the point that it is hard to root against any of them; you tend to love them all.

Staples’s art is off the chain — as always — where even a page of people talking is worthy of being made into a poster to be proudly hung upon the wall. Her art is a showcase of character acting and storytelling prowess that refuses to allow your eyes to leave the page. Every image is also stunning in design and lively in color…dang, Denizens, I hope she does a process video at some point, as I have no idea how she does what she does. This book is gorgeous — I desperately want a print of the final page splash, which made me gasp with equal parts surprise, joy, shock, and worry all at the same time.

Saga remains not just one of the best books currently hitting the stands, but one of my all time favorite comics. For those of you new to this treasure of a series (a most dire condition indeed) what you need to know is that it is a sci-fi adventure with hints of Romeo and Juliet. Saga will make you laugh, wince, and marvel at a brilliant story with lovely art filled with amazing characters, cool aliens and monsters, and moments that are not at all for the kiddies. But most of all the book is filled with compelling characters who will charm you as much by the 35th issue as they did with their first appearance. I love this comic, it is something everyone should be reading. You can easily pick up the first five trades, or the gorgeous, oversized hardcover (collects the first three trades), which I suggest you do immediately if you have not yet experienced the wonder of Saga. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Black Science #21
Black Science #21 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Matteo Scalera, colored by Moreno Dinisio, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Grant McKay finally understands who he is and why he made the many mistakes of the past. Now, armed with the knowhow and the means to track down his family and teammates, Grant sets out to bring them all home, even if he has to do it one person at a time.

How not to spoil this one…okay, here goes. In this conclusion to the “God World” storyline, Grant sets out to find the next member of his family/crew, all of whom were lost three years ago on separate worlds. Last issue, the first member of his team Grant found was one who died many issues ago, but it was a moment that provided some much needed closure, and one that strengthened Grant’s resolve to right the wrongs of the past. This month, Grant finds yet another dead body on yet another strange world, but it is not what you think. Remender completely pulled the rug out from under me with a page six reveal and everything that follows that awesome moment left my jaw pretty much agape for the remainder of the issue as the writer hits you with informative flashbacks and moments to remind you that although Grant might have a new outlook on life, the meaner parts of his personality are still very much intact.

Scalera is a storytelling beast, we all know this, but his grasp of the dramatic — especially in this issue — is off the charts. Subtle smiles, enraged loss of control, panic that touches the soul, and the steady realization of what has happened and that there is no going back, all flow beautifully throughout the course of this issue. You almost can’t help but feel the emotions depicted on the page as Scalera’s mastery of such moments are infectious. Dinisio’s colors bring additional warmth and life to Scalera’s work, but it is the might of his ability to enhance the tone of a scene that made this issue such a powerhouse. This is especially true when it comes to the final confrontation out in the clearing. It’s one hell of a powerful sequence that needs to be felt every bit as much as it needs to be seen and read. Also, that cover…dang, Denizens…dang…

I frequently describe Black Science as an adventurous roller coaster ride of strange worlds, bizarre creatures, and calamity after calamity. But this issue is an emotional roller coaster ride of shocking, messed up situations and motivations that wrap up past events, allowing the next storyline to move beyond the sins of the past and focus on Grant’s journey to rescue what remains of his team. This arc has been a harsh look at some of the not-so-great moments of the lead character’s life and the myriad mistakes he has made along the way, but there is redemption and hope in this sci-fi Indiana Jones-esque thriller, and I can’t wait to see what happens next…after the painful two / three month break until the next issue. If you like sci-fi comics, then Black Science is one you simply must read, which you can easily do with the first three trades (fourth out soon!) or the stunning, oversized hardcover. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Out of Time! - As always, I’m running late. I only made it through half of Jughead because of exhaustion, but I can tell you that what I read thus far is RECOMMENDED! At least we have a song this week!

Argh! I have to shower, dress, and hit the road! And on that Stressy-Bessie note…

(Sung to the tune of Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science”)

These comics stir emotions
So feast your tender eyes on these
They’ll both thrill and chill, y’know, son
As sweet as any harmony
Mmmm - but you gotta read Black Science
You gotta read Black Science
And Saga is a joy to read