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


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