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.


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