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?


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