Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 5/27/2016

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Afterlife with Archie, Rachel Rising, Tokyo Ghost, Weirdworld, and East of West

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 / new computer fixer upper Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Okay, I’m waaaaaaay out of time, so let’s get into the thick of things. Tulip, Reverse Obie, and I each took a couple reviews this week as we didn’t even begin writing this week’s post until this morning. You see, we’ve been getting the new machine up and running (almost there), and we also had seven books in our pull; a good problem to have given that we’ve only had one or two for the past couple weeks. Anyhow, let’s dive in, but only after we take another moment of silence for the loss of the masterful Darwyn Cooke. So check out some of his gorgeous work — both comics and animation — order up some delicious tacos, 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***

Afterlife with Archie #9
Afterlife with Archie #9 - Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, illustrated by Francesco Francavilla, lettered by Jack Morelli, published by Archie Comic Publications, Inc. Reggie Mantle’s been called many things: jerk, jock, joke, bully, stalker. But there's one word that has stuck with him. A word no one has actually said to him, but one that has troubled him for some time. That word is…Sociopath.

When we last read Afterlife with Archie, the gang was…ummmm…yeah, they were…hmmmmm…I remember an AWESOME The Shining homage issue, and…well, that’s about all I remember. You see, Denizens, the last issue of this amazing Donist World Darling came out over a year ago. You read that right — over a year ago. But here’s the thing: I might be a little shy of remembering some of the specifics of the story, but all it took was one page to grab me, hold me, and pull me completely back into this wonderfully bleak world.

Yes, I had a scowl on my face when I saw this issue waiting in my pull, but that scowl vanished almost instantly as my love of this series came flooding back in, and Francavilla’s cover depicting a cracked mirror reflecting Reggie’s smiling face behind the darkened images of those closest to him gave me a chill, not just of dread, but of anticipation over what’s coming next. Like I said, it took all of one page for Aguirre-Sacasa to hook me, and the bitterness (okay, I wasn’t that bitter, I’m just being dramatic) over the long delay between issues was gone. The writer had me sympathizing with Reggie despite everything he has done throughout his life, including sparking the zombie apocalypse that plagues the world. I actually felt sorry for the kid, and his disassociation with those closest to him. Reggie does indeed come dangerously close to being a sociopath, but his feelings of guilt, of being responsible keep him from crossing that line…until he crosses a new one in a way I did not see coming at all. But Reggie’s a complex character, and only time will tell if we are seeing all that is going on within his not-outside-the-box-but-a-totally-different-box-altogether brain. His devastating choice in this issue is extreme yet fully within his character. However, this is Reggie; I don’t believe we’re seeing the full picture.

Then you have Francavilla’s art; it’s sheer beauty. Even if the word balloons were to suddenly vanish from the page, his storytelling and character acting prowess would keep you gliding from panel to panel, and you would still be able to get the gist of the overall story. But it’s his use of perfectly placed shadows and his striking color palette that create just the right mood for the series. No matter how you look at the man’s work, it’s certain to enchant and leave you desperate for more…the gorgeous Reggie and Midge pages especially knocked me out this issue. (Side note that has nothing to do with this comic: My friend has a Clash of the Titans poster that he has had for a couple years, and that is still in the shipping tube — it drives me to near madness to see that ugly brown tube, knowing what rests within. <sigh> I need to get some kind of Francavilla art for my home…pronto.)

Forget the long delay between issues. It doesn’t matter, Denizens. What matters is that we have a new issue of Afterlife with Archie, and it is freakin’ fantastic. If you like zombies you should check out this series. If you like Archie you should check out this series. If you don’t like either of those things…well, I’m sure there’s some sort of therapy available for you. You can easily catch up with the first trade, and then scramble to pick up the remaining issues (6—9), since I doubt you’ll be able to wait for the second trade to come out once issue 10 drops. Yes, the wait was painful (I’m sure it had something to do with the Riverdale television show set to appear some day in the future), but for work of this caliber, I will gladly wait. Let’s just hope the wait isn’t so long for issue 10, which I am desperate to have in my grubbly little paws. I love love love this series. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Rachel Rising #42
Rachel Rising #42 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. Now that the threat to the world has been dealt with only one mystery remains: who killed Rachel.

Dang, Denizens, It’s hard to comprehend a world without new issues of one of my all-time-favorite horror books on the stands. I’m bummed. Rachel Rising has been a creepy joy that everyone needs to read, but now that the series is over, did this final issue leave me happy, or merely scratching my head? The answer: definitely happy.

I do think things were a tad rushed to get us to this satisfying ending, but as I said last issue, I felt the final conflict with Malus could have used its own six-issue arc, and the same holds true for the mystery surrounding Rachel’s death. But Moore handles EVERYTHING on his own. He does the writing, art, lettering, design, publication, printing, sales, marketing…everything. So if sales aren’t in line — which deeply wounds me on this tremendous book — then the series has to end. Thankfully, Moore respects his readers enough to give them an immensely satisfying conclusion that is filled with his beautiful art, backgrounds, dialogue, pacing, and overall story. Just be prepared for some shocking-as-hell stuff that goes down, which Moore (an immensely nice and earnest man I’ve been lucky enough to meet three times over the years) is all too happy to leave us with.

You also need to read all the way through to the end!!! There’s a black page, a credit page, and two more black pages before the actual final page which made me laugh and cheer, and which made the conclusion all the more satisfying.

You need to read this series. Whether you choose to go the floppy route, or trades (there will be seven trades total), or the limited done-in-one from Moore directly, Rachel Rising is well worth your time. Heck, with any luck we’ll get that television series that’s been trying to happen for the past few years; Moore definitely deserves some financial reward for yet another truly remarkable comic book. I will miss this series tremendously. Both this issue and the series as a whole come VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Tokyo Ghost #7
Tokyo Ghost #7 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Sean Murphy, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Wracked with guilt over causing the death of the love of his life and the subsequent destruction of the Garden Nation of Tokyo, Led Dent retreats ever further into brain-deadening technology. But the Tokyo Ghost has arrived in New Los Angeles with a mission to put an end to Led Dent’s employer, Flak Industries, once and for all.

Remender brings the negative aspects of too much tech, too many distractions to the forefront of our thoughts with this cautionary, dystopian adventure that is an absolute blast to read. Sure, I’ve known for some time that advances in technology have also brought an influx of distractions (I say as I disconnect my iPod, glance back at my iPhone, and type away on my brand new computer) that further distance us from actual meaningful experiences. But there’s so much more to Tokyo Ghost than “too much tech is bad.” It’s also a heartbreaking love story and an action-packed rollercoaster ride with explosions and humor and most of all hope.

In addition to the timely message, the thrills, and the laughs lurking in this fantastic story, Murphy and Hollingsworth’s art continues to be stunning. The solid storytelling and tone-setting colors, as well as the loads of interesting things happening in the background, demand that you repeatedly come back to this book to see all the things you might have missed — which is sure to be plenty. Tokyo Ghost looks as beautiful as it reads.

Since issue one of this fantastic series, I’ve really become conscious of how much time I spend checking messages, checking emails, and wasting on social media. I also find myself thinking about this must-read series while on long runs and driving to and from work. I honestly can't get it out of my head, and that is a good thing, indeed. If you are not reading Tokyo Ghost — oh, the pain, the pain — then you need to immediately get the super-cheap first trade and the two issues that follow; you’ll be glad you did. I can’t wait to see where we go next. Davey Trauma! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Weirdworld #6
Weirdworld #6 - Written by Sam Humphries, illustrated and colored by Mike Del Mundo, color assists by Marco D’Alfonso, lettered by VC’s Cory Petit, published by Marvel Comics. Becca and Morgan Le Fay have a little chat as the secrets of the Wuxian Seed are revealed.

Ummm…did my favorite Marvel comic book just get stealth cancelled? I know that Humphries —who has written a weirdly weird comic of epic weirdness that I positively love — has gone exclusive with DC Comics, and this issue ends in one of those “Our path is now known to us, and further awesome adventures await” endings…an ending to the arc that also clearly states “The End” with both of the creators names below it. Yeah, Denizens. The future of Weirdworld doesn’t look to bright. <sigh><sniffle>.

This sucks. Even with this not-really-a-wrap-up wrap up issue that mostly centers on Becca and Morgan Le Fay sitting around talking, it is still incredibly compelling, manages to tug at the heart strings, and of course had me smiling throughout. The dialogue is beautiful.

And speaking of “beautiful,” Del Mundo’s art is as otherworldly as ever. And I say this despite there being almost no monsters, no barbarians, no trippy-as-hell machines or machinists, no Man-Things, and no sorceresses of the woods to be found. It’s all mostly people talking and a weird Catbeast. Put it this way…Del Mundo could illustrate a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman convention, and I promise you it would be nothing short of magical.

<sigh> I got the sads, Denizens. I got ’em somethin’ fierce. This was a fun book while it lasted, but at least I have the memories…and the actual physical books to forever remind me of just how well-written and gorgeously illustrated Weirdworld is. If you opted to wait on this one, then now is the time to get the Volume 0 trade (written by none other than Jason Aaron), and then pick up the final <sniffle> Volume 1 trade when it releases in mid-July. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

East of West #26
East of West #26 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics. Death continues the search for his son, as the Chosen finally meet as foretold.

After 25 issues, it looks like most of the many — and I mean many — players are together and things are about to get cray-cray. This issue focuses on two sequences: Death shaking down the bartender for info, and the meeting of the Chosen. Each storyline of this issue is fascinating, but I have to admit to being most intrigued by Death getting closer to finding his son. This isn’t to say I wasn’t just as quickly whipping through the pages as the members of The Chosen arrive in their own unique ways to the meeting to discuss the coming apocalypse, I just love the character of Death. I also have to admit that as intrigued as I am by the creeping, talking eyeball, I also find the thing immensely disturbing and fully expect it to haunt my nightmares with fever dreams for the remainder of my days. But that’s neither here nor there.

East of West is big kid comics created to challenge comic book readers in the best of ways. You can’t just jump in anywhere. You have to start with the first issue and let the journey progress at the creators’ pace. At times you will be lost, but that is by design. Don’t worry, though, answers will come, as will elevated stress levels as things intensify within this fascinating post-apocalyptic, sci-fi, Western, fantasy, political drama of revisionist history that is sure to please readers willing to work for the many rewards this series has to offer. You can catch up with the oversized hardcover, or go the route of the trades (five available thus far), but again you must start at the beginning…you’ll be glad you did. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Out of Time - No, I’m not talking about the R.E.M. album I can no longer listen to as a result of hearing it too many damn times while working at a music store many years ago. I just want to briefly say that we also read The Sixth Gun #48 and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #5 (also dreadfully late), and that each of these are well worth checking out, each receiving a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! for their fantastic stories. I would have gladly gone into some of the details, but I just ran out of time and I have a lovely dentist appointment I have to go to. Yay?


Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 5/20/2016

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Power Man and Iron Fist, Jughead, and Uncanny X-Force

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 / princess of pizza pizzazz Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). It’s a weird week of highs and lows (mostly lows) this week, Denizens, but we’re gonna do this thing with what we have, and we’re going to do it right, by golly. We have to start with the most devastating news of all: the loss of comic book master creator Darwyn Cooke, whose work has enchanted this Donist for years. I will talk a bit more about that near the end. Otherwise, it’s a quiet week this week with only two books in our pull as we were once again shorted on The Sixth Gun (I’m now behind two issues) and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Needless to say, the puppy executive team is crunching the numbers and calculating the impact to the Donist World Pleasure Principle quotient to determine if maybe going digital is the way to go. Thankfully, there was some positive this week: I finished the third draft of the followup to Kibbles ’N’ Bots. Now, I just need to adjust a pacing issue near the action-packed ending before coming up with a title and developing a cover. I also finally replaced my eight-year-old computer, which should help things tremendously. Anyhow, take a moment of silence for Darwyn Cooke, check out some of his gorgeous work — both comics and animation — 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***

Power Man and
Iron Fist #4
Power Man and Iron Fist #4 - 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’s old secretary from their Heroes for Hire days, Jennie Royce, is angry and resentful; she’s also now a powerful demon filled with an immense blood lust. Luke and Danny need to act quick if they are to free their friend from the cursed amulet before someone gets seriously hurt.

Thus ends the first arc of Power Man and Iron Fist. The comic established itself as a lighter, more humorous superhero book that, despite the muted coloring scheme, offers a glimmer of hope where most of the capes and tights fare on the stands are intent an exploring harsh realities, infighting, and oftentimes death. Many of the jokes found in the first three issues continue to run their course with a nice payoff by the end. But even though there are some beautifully choreographed fight scenes, one of my favorite parts of this issue was the flashback scene of Jennie and Black Mariah’s growing friendship during their time together in prison. Each flashback breaks up the action for a moment to remind us how we got to where we are and what it is that will ultimately free Jennie. The jokes are plentiful, the fighting intense, but it is ultimately the relationships (Jennie and Black Mariah, and Luke and Danny) that won me over.

The story-crushing ads were obnoxious, especially the Luke Cage in “A Close Shave,” but so it goes with Big Two books these days, where ads trump story cohesion.

Walker’s story is fun, and Greene’s art stunning, and those looking for a superhero book not steeped (currently) in any sort of event or crossover or convoluted history, then this is the comic for you. At only four issues in, catching up should not be that big of a deal, or if you must, you can wait until October for the trade, but why do that to yourself…you should “fiddle faddle” check it out. RECOMMENDED!

Jughead #6
Jughead #6 - Written by Chip Zdarsky, illustrated by Erica Henderson, colored by Andre Szymanowicz, lettered by Jack Morelli, published by Archie Comic Publications, Inc. Jughead’s given up the fight against Principal Stanger and his super secret high school spy program? Whatever will it take to bring our hero back to the fray?

Well, I guess the best way to lessen my irritation over having to wait for three comics that should have been in my pull is to spend some time with the more upbeat and humorous books; Jughead does not disappoint in lifting my flagging spirits. Zdarsky continues to dish out the humor, while Henderson’s beautiful linework and solid storytelling brought many laugh out loud moments worthy of rereading — mind-bent Moose and dance-machine Dilton (go Dilton!) being my favorites. The great thing is that with all the goofiness and daydreams and sight gags, the creators deliver a satisfying ending that made me smile once the bad guy finally got what’s coming to him.

Jughead’s my favorite character from the Archieverse. He does his own thing, he thinks in ways that confound those around him, he’s food driven, and he’s fiercely loyal to his friends. He’s a zen genius, and I kinda want to be more like him. I ain’t lyin’. Whether you are longtime fan of the Archiverse, or you’re relatively new to the gang from Riverdale, Jughead is a heck of a lot of fun, and something you should definitely check out (trade comes out late July). While you’re at it, check out the new and amazing Archie, as well. RECOMMENDED!

Uncanny X-Force
Complete Collection V.1
Uncanny X-Force - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by various artists, published by Marvel Comics. Wolverine decides that the best way to prevent monsters from destroying the world is to preemptively strike those who pose the largest threat, beginning with the latest incarnation of Apocalypse. Gathering like-minded mutants (Archangel, Deadpool, Psylocke, and Fantomex) to become a secret group of super assassins, Wolverine and his X-Force set out to right the wrongs before they ever happen.

If you’ve been reading Donist World for any length of time, then you already know that Rick Remender is a creator who clearly falls under the category of “heavenly” with the MANY comics I’ve reviewed on this site over the years. I have mostly read Remender’s creator-owned work (Fear Agent, Low, Black Science, Deadly Class, Tokyo Ghost), but after Marvel had a “half off” sale at Comixology, I decided to finally pull the trigger and get this series which I have had my eye on for quite some time. Thank goodness I did. I plowed through the entire series in just under two weeks; I couldn’t put it down.

I’m not going to go too far into the story other than to say that things go badly for our heroes, and many of their actions have horrendous repercussions that threaten to destroy them all. The story is solid and tremendously compelling for the whole of the series, with most of the art working well throughout — and some not so much, but whatchagonnado. The story and character work, however, make up for any of the few, jarring artistic shifts. If you like any of these characters — I am now a Fantomex fan — then you will absolutely love Uncanny X-Force. Remender’s entire run is covered by either seven trades, or by the somewhat recently released two volumes of the Complete Collection, and is sure to please Remender fans, dark superhero fans, and fans of finely crafted comics all the same. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Darwyn Cooke Dies at Age 53 - After already losing two of my biggest heroes so far this year (David Bowie and Prince), the news of Darwyn Cooke dying at such a young age was a devastating blow that came completely out of the blue. I continue to be floored by the beauty that his storyboarding helped produce for both Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series, but it’s his work in comics that has enchanted me since I first discovered his art in Catwoman. From there, I went on to gather up Batman: Ego, The Spirit, The Twilight Children, but it is his work on DC: The New Frontier and his masterwork Richard Stark’s Parker books that showcase his complete understanding and mastery of the comic craft. So, if you are not familiar with Cooke’s work, then please remedy this, by picking up some of this writer / artist’s work, and you will instantly see why the man is so thoroughly respected in the comics world. He will be sorely missed.


Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 5/13/2016

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Southern Bastards, and Archie

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 / regent of relaxation Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). It’s a good thing we only had two books in our pull this week, as my puppy executive team and I traded in the intensity of the Donist World corporate office (Mom’s basement) for the luxury of the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. Yup, we had two and a half glorious days of sipping cocktails by the poolside, enjoying good music, and savoring tasty foods. Although we did hold a few meetings (catered of course) about maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company, we also got in a few good runs around Ojai. Best of all, I got to have two spa days with the pups, where we sweated out the toxins of stress in the steam room, rejuvenated our faces at the cleansing station (the dogs trimmed their whiskers nicely), and luxuriated in the relaxation room with mint tea and calming chimes. (Speaking of which, how does one get a “gig” as a spa music composer? I got my pan flute skills at the ready…I’m just sayin’.) It was a simply delightful time of team building and strategizing. Anyhow, add some lavender oil to your sauna experience, wrap your hair in a towel, pour a calming hot mint tea, and settle in to read some rejuvenating great comics. Take care. Thank you for reading! Namaste.

*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***

Southern Bastards #14
Southern Bastards #14 - Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated by Jason Latour, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. When Roberta Tubb returns to her old home, she finds that Craw County, Alabama remains a bastion of ignorance, anger, and hatred. Being a stranger to the area, the daughter of Earl Tubb, and having a black mother doesn’t exactly sit right with the locals…that’s fine by her.

I’m not sure what the delay was — actually, I’m pretty sure it was the many other projects the creators are working on — but I have been missing Southern Bastards something fierce. Not to mention that we were not even on a between-arcs hiatus since we last saw an issue back near the end of January. This actually concludes the current storyline, and we now we have a few months before we see another issue. But if reasonable delays mean we get a series of this caliber, then this Donist is totally cool waiting to get this amazing comic in his grubby mitts.

Since the shocking conclusion to the first arc — which still messes me up just thinking about it — I have been dying for Roberta Tubb’s arrival, and now it is finally here; the Jasons do not disappoint. With Roberta, an Afghanistan war veteran, we learn exactly what kind of a woman she is within the first few pages. We know she’s a strong, highly intelligent, and disciplined soldier, but beneath that calm exterior is an anger leftover from the war, at the loss of her father, and at Craw County’s inhabitants’ racism whose depths manage to surprise even her. We also get a flashback where we see daughter and father right before Roberta went overseas. It is a dreadfully awkward moment between the two where we see her accept her father’s inability to communicate his feelings. With but one page, the creators successfully sum up the relationship between the two and as sad as the exchange is, it is immensely beautiful. Roberta’s exchanges with the neighbors is beautiful in a totally different way, but you’re just going to have to read the issue to get the deets on that.

Latour’s art is as gorgeous as ever, in both storytelling and drama, with the muted, earthy colors providing the perfect mood, with sparse reds adding just the right punch when needed most. Some panels in this issues seem rushed, or a little rough, but at no point was I removed from the story, in fact, it’s that roughness which strengthens the impact of some of the truly ugly people found in this series. Rather, I was moved by Latour’s character acting mastery, and desperately wanted to see more of Roberta and the rest of the characters so expertly introduced throughout earlier issues in this arc.

Southern Bastards is a harsh, unflattering look at the deep south, but despite the ugliness (accurately) portrayed in this small town of Craw County, you can tell the creators have much love for some of the redeeming values of the region. It is precisely this love, and this frustration that makes this such a powerhouse of a crime comic. As I’ve said before, I hate football, but the creators have made one hell of a compelling tale — including the football parts — with characters you will love, and others you will utterly loathe, but you will understand them. As rough as this book gets, it is must read material that will keep you coming back for more more more, which you can do with the two available trades (third in July) or the oversized hardcover. Regardless of how you read this series, or when individual issues actually appear, Southern Bastards is one of the best books on the stands that warrants your immediate attention. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Archie #8
Archie #8 - 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. There’s no level too low that Mr. Lodge will stoop in order to keep his daughter, Veronica, away from that Archie Andrews hooligan.

As lighthearted and fun — I can’t believe I used the “f-word” to describe a current comic — as this series is, I was stunned by how cutthroat Mr. Lodge (he ain’t mayor yet) is in this issue. Dang, denizens, Archie is essentially a walking disaster, a tornado in human form, but he is truly a good guy. Heck, he’s the best. But, Lodge is ruthless to the point where I had to mutter, "Now that’s just cold,” in between the laughs and wanting to tell the actual comic, “Forget that Veronica chick, Archie, she doesn’t deserve you.” The guy’s my pal now. I’ve been rooting for the kid since Waid’s first phenomenal issue, where the writer took an already beloved character, put a modern coat of paint on him, and made each issue a joy to read.

Fish’s art just gets better and better. The storytelling and character acting are top notch, and the exaggerated moments are laugh-out-loud funny, while the sight gags are hilarious. I especially enjoyed the part where Jughead throws a ball for Hotdog, who then comes back with a stick, only to run off to fetch a live squirrel, to then run off to get the next non-ball object. It’s all rather subtle to the point that you have to pay attention to each panel lest you miss something cool. Szymanowicz’s colors set an upbeat, vibrant mood that makes Fish’s already lovely art all the more appealing, and the comic is as pretty as it is well-written.

At eight issues in, I am still very much loving this series. So much so that I am kicking myself for waiting so long to foster a true appreciation of all things Riverdale. Archie has heart, big time laughs, heartbreak, as well as moments that are all too relatable. It is so easy to see not just yourself, but your own friends, family, and acquaintances in the characters, and you can’t help but want to see your pals succeed. This comic ain’t just for kids, it ain’t just for girls, it has something for everyone to like, and you can easily catch up on the first trade of this wonderful series, which I strongly advise you to check out. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Spa Days are Over - <sigh> I’m not really sure why it takes so much time, effort, and planning to actually relax, but I guess that’s just how life goes nowadays. It was great to get away for a few days (I was actually out on a work thing, which was awesome) and not fretting over Donald “Chump” Drumpf Trump (who I am certain Aaron and Latour’s Craw County residents are voting for…no doubt on that), or bills, or parking spots, or garbage littering the park. Ack. I’m queueing up some chimes and pan flute music, dabbing some calming lavender oil to my forehead, and off to ponder the AMAZING Captain America: Civil War, which I have already seen twice now. Yeah, focus on the positive. Focus on the awesome. Take care.


Friday, May 6, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 5/6/2016

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Criminal: 10th Aniversary Special, 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 / Captain of America Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Poor Tulip had a rough day yesterday. We think she ate something bad after she proceeded to barf throughout the day (including on the bed and couch). So, in a show of solidarity, the Donist World executive team is taking a sick day today. Thankfully, with Reverse Obie’s kindly care, Tulip finally appears to be on the mend, but we’re going to kick it mellow style today with some Captain America: The Winter Soldier and plenty of rest. I, however, will be stepping out for a few hours later this afternoon to see Captain America: Civil War…I can’t wait. So before you head out to catch this Donist’s most anticipated movie of the year, grab some tacos and strong ginger brew, and read a couple 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***

10 Year Anniversary
Criminal: 10th Anniversary Special - Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips, colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser, published by Image Comics. Young Tracy Lawless has been on road trips like this before, and when a father like Teeg Lawless, tells you to pack your bag and get in the car, there's no discussion of school or friends or staying home; you just do as your told. From there it’s a journey of armed robbery, seedy hotels, and violence as father and son scour a small town for a girl named Lana.

I failed, Denizens. Not just you, not just myself, but as a fan of the Criminal series. You see, this comic came out a week or two ago, and I knew nothing about it. Somehow, through all of the various Image announcements, solicits, website mentions, and what not, I missed that this was even coming out until I heard it reviewed on a comic book podcast. Talk about dropping the ball. But never fear, Denizens, all is right in the universe…my LCS had a single copy waiting for me on this rather meager comic book week.

It’s been over a year since we last saw a Criminal book, but the Criminal: The Special Edition (One-Shot) floored me (read my thoughts about that amazing issue here), almost as much as Brubaker and Phillips’s masterpiece Criminal: The Last of the Innocent, but the creators do not miss a beat on their fantastic new offering. For those of you not in the know…Criminal is a love letter to old black and white crime and noir movies, where the “good guys” aren’t exactly on the side of the angels and the “bad guys”…let’s just say they lean towards a more downward facing region. You can expect to read about robberies, heists gone wrong, contracts gone right, double crosses, and dames from which no man is safe. It’s all the typical components ow what makes crime comics so damn alluring. However, what sets the Criminal series apart from the wealth of material that influenced it is how human the creators make their characters. It doesn’t really matter which chapter you pick up, you can expect to not necessarily relate to a character and their particular situation, but you will definitely understand how they got into the deep end of a pool of their own making. Maybe it’s gambling debts, or a fixed boxing match, or the wrong girl. Maybe it’s the lose of a decent job, or the drinking, or a family lacking in certain values. Or perhaps it’s just being born bad. Whatever the case may be, don’t expect a happy ending for any of Brubaker and Phillips’s characters, but rather expect to be immersed in the lives of those who have chosen to progress down the wrong side of the street, expect to be captivated by those who’ve succumbed to the more sordid aspects of life.

You can also expect to marvel at the art of a true master of storytelling and drama, especially given that this beast of a comic is 60 pages of dark, gritty beauty. Phillips’s work on Criminal utilizes thick lines and deep shadows to bring about the mood and tone of the series, but the artist definitely has more up his sleeve than just the one style. As with last year’s One-Shot, Phillips illustrates a comic-within-a-comic as Tracy Lawless reads Deadly Hands…featuring Fang, the Kung Fu Werewolf. During these breaks in the main story, Phillips gives us a thinner line and a completely different style that when combined with Breitweiser’s simulated yellowed paper and strategically placed halftone dots, gives the feeling that you have been transported back to the bronze age of comics in the ’70s. It’s a magical shift in tone that perfectly captures Tracy’s retreat into fantasy given the dark, desperation of his reality. Regardless of what page you are looking at in this comic, it’s all beautiful. I will say this…I really wish Brubaker and Phillips would put out a actual Fang, the Kung Fu Werewolf comic; I would love to read it.

I’m not going to lie to you, Denizens. If you want / need happiness and double rainbows in a comic, then you might want to save this one for a dreary day. It’s harsh, it ain’t pretty, but the story being told is beyond compare. If you are a fan of crime and noir, Criminal is an absolute must read. That said, this treasure is something you can thoroughly enjoy on its own, but you will get so much more out of it if you read the Criminal stories that came before it first. I would go in order as follows: Coward, Lawless, The Dead and the Dying, Bad Night, The Sinners, The Last of the Innocent, and then the One-Shot. I know that seems like an extensive list of trades to read, but it really isn’t a bad thing given the caliber of each installment. Regardless of where you begin on this series, just be sure you start somewhere — you won’t be disappointed. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Empress #2
Empress #2 - Written by Mark Millar, illustrated 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.

When a queen decides to leave her husband, the tyrannical ruler of their empire, she takes their three children with her, and a galactic search ensues. Unfortunately, her only means of transport is ruined and all that can possibly save her is a remnant of a war long past.

Millar’s wonderful sci-fi comic Starlight is one of my all-time favorite sci-fi comics ever, so I had high hopes going into Empress; at two issues in (of seven), I could not be more pleased. With the queen, her three children, and an advisor we have only seen brief glimpses into each character, but each slight reveal is enough to pull me in and keep me invested in this fantastic story. We have spaceships, aliens, monsters, and ray guns, but we also have a more grounded backbone of escaping one’s past and subsequently escaping one’s present with the hope of a better future, which is an uncertainty. Millar does not burden the reader with loads of exposition to tell us about his characters, instead we see their actions, their disagreements, and interactions that push us to fill in the gaps, to use our imaginations in this highly imaginative world; we are the better for it.

Immonen and Svorcina’s art is gorgeous. With grand backdrops reminiscent of a more pristine Blade Runner style world, and stunning spaceships and alien designs, the clear storytelling and great character acting make this book as beautiful to behold as it is to read. If you are a sci-fi / adventure fan, then Empress is a comic you cannot skip. At only two issues in, I also heard it has already been optioned for a movie…and with good reason. This series is something special that you need to be reading. I can’t wait to see what happens next. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Keepin’ It Positive, Goin’ to See Cap 3 - It’s been a crazy week…in a good way. So let’s forget about that chump Donald Drumpf, and focus on the good. Go see Cap 3, read some comics, have a craft beer, and listen to some Prince while you’re at it. Take care, I have some Captain America: Winter Soldier to watch before the big movie viewing.