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!>


No comments:

Post a Comment