Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 6/24/2016

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Bitch PlanetWonder Woman, Archie,and Power Man and Iron Fist

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 / perpetuator of poolside partying Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). It’s been a long work week after having spent last weekend baking in the Ojai heat; thank goodness we had a glorious swimming pool and a bucket full of frosty beverages to help keep us cool. We were also able to catch up on some older comics we missed this past month, but we’ll talk about until next week when it looks like slim pickings for the ol’ comic pull. We’re also glad things are cooler (both in temperature and grooviness) around the Donist World corporate office (Mom’s basement) this week, especially given Reverse Obie’s new office addition of a waffle making station, which is pure magic. So, pour yourself a fresh cup of coffee, cook up some waffles, 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***

Bitch Planet #8
Bitch Planet #8 - Written Kelly Sue DeConnick, illustrated by Valentine De Landro, colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick, lettered by Clayton Cowles, designed by Rian Hughes, backmatter designed by Laurenn McCubbin, edited by Lauren Sankovitch, published by Image Comics. Even though her new bunkmate was once her jailer, Kamau Kogo will not falter in her quest to find her sister. Meanwhile, Meiko Maki’s father, Makoto, arrives at Bitch Planet and begins to suspect that he is not being told the truth about his daughter’s whereabouts.

We might have lengthy waits between issues of this Donist World Darling (a four month wait this time), but when a new issue of Bitch Planet arrives any grumblings about timeliness tend to wash away with thoughts of Wow, that’s one heck of a strong issue. With this release, a handful of new characters are introduced with one in particular contributing to a major twist that I did not see coming. In fact, there’s a whole populace of Bitch Planet prisoners who of course would end up being removed from society as Noncompliants, and their introduction to the story is positively fantastic. DeConnick and Leandro had my sympathizing with two of the new characters in all of four pages, and when you factor in the Kam and Whitney interactions, then throw in Makoto and the mysterious figure at the end…dang, Denizens, Bitch Planet fans are sure to forget all about the painful wait between issues.

Leandro’s storytelling is as strong as ever, but it’s the character acting that stands out, especially during a touching sequence involving Morowa and Rose. Then again…seeing Kamau tune up Whitney in their cell was pretty darn cool. Fitzpatrick’s coloring in this issue is still eye-catching as a mostly-flat colors on the characters, and bright halftone dots covering the computer generated imagery and special effects; the combination of the two styles plays perfectly to the fake cheerfulness of the fantasy, versus the more subdued colors of reality. Let’s just say it’s a pretty comic.

Not to get political — which means I’m about to get political — but this is the world I could see coming to rise if a certain old, white, male, sociopathic blowhard who was born wealthy and totally detached from reality actually were to become the President. But let’s not think about that egocentric a_hole or the very Bitch Planet-type world he could bring about (make sure to vote) and enjoy this powerful comic. If you have not been reading Bitch Planet and you love sci-fi stories centering around a dystopian society, then you must must must check out this phenomenal series. You can easily dive in with the ridiculously low-priced trade (issues 1–5), and then rush out to get issues 6–8 to be fully caught up. But be warned, I did have one big disappointment: the issue was over way too soon. Let’s hope the wait for issue 9 isn’t too long, because I’m eager to see what happens next. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Wonder Woman #1
Wonder Woman #1 - Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Liam Sharp, colored by Laura Martin, lettered by Jodi Wynne, published by Marvel Comics. The truth of Diana’s past, her origin, has become obscured by myriad lies, but who has tampered with her memories and why? The Princess of Power seeks answers, and her journey will lead her to a land where she is very much unwelcome.

As I said with the “Rebirth” issue, I didn’t want to pick up this series. I didn’t. But the allure of Rucka’s name attached to a character that has always enchanted me, tore down my defenses, and ravaged my wallet. Okay, I’m exaggerating, $2.99 is not that bad at all…especially after reading that issue. So, when I saw the first issue of Wonder Woman sitting on the New Release table at the ol’ LCS, there was no hesitation in picking up what looks to be the start of something pretty darn great.

If you’ve been reading Donist World for a while, then you know I’m a Rucka fan. He has a solid grasp on spy / espionage stories, and he of course excels in his portrayal of strong female characters, and what better superhero comic to showcase his work than Wonder Woman, one of the strongest superheroes of them all. But there’s more to this issue than just Diana fighting her way through a jungle. We also have some scenes with the estranged Steve Trevor, who is on a special mission of his own, one that is sure to reunite him with Wonder Woman and raise questions as to why they have been apart for so long. I can’t wait.

Sharp’s art on this issue is stunning. The character acting shows exactly how confident and determined Diana is in getting the answers she requires. She is every bit as regal in how she carries herself as she is in how she dresses, and although I know some Wonder Woman purists take issue with her more practical armor, this Donist happens to love the design. I also love the designs of her various foes, including the one partially shown on the final splash page, which I can’t wait to see more of in issue three. The colors are also fantastic, although I do hope to see things brighten up some for our hero in the future.

I have to admit that as much as I adore the Wonder Woman character, I haven’t exactly kept up with her over the years. I need to get the previous Rucka material, the Gail Simone trades, and I would love to reread the George Perez stuff at some point as well. I will also be continuing on with this biweekly series where issue 2 starts a “Wonder Woman: Year One” storyline for the even numbered issues, as the odd numbered ones continue where this one left off. If you are a fan of the Princess of Power, or are looking to see what she is all about, then you’ve come to the right place with this issue. VERY HIGHLLY RECOMMENDED!

Archie #9
Archie #9 - 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. Mr. Lodge is fine with Archie dating his daughter…just so long as the redheaded teen never ever comes anywhere near him or Lodge Manor.

Ten years ago if you told me I would be reading and loving various Archie Comics comic books, I would have probably written you off as crazy. But here we are. I love this book. I love the characters. I love the creators and how they effortlessly take a love triangle that has existed for decades and brings it into the modern age while keeping a timeless feel to the book that will appeal to fans young and old.

Fish’s art continues to be beautiful, and Szymanowicz’s colors vibrant and lively, but when combined with Waid’s fantastically earnest dialogue, it is nearly impossible to not laugh or at least smile at our friends from Riverdale and their hijinks. This issue especially wins me over with how well the creators manage to make us sympathize with Veronica through her honest attempt at trying to fit in and please Archie’s family. But when we cut to Betty <sigh> I can’t help but feel for her, too (I am still on Team Betty, though).

Whether you grew up reading the Archie Comics of old or you’re a fairly recent convert of this cultural icon like I am, then you simply must read this delightful reboot that is sure to brighten your day even when so many of the comics on the shelves tend to be so very dire. You need to read this series, Denizens, and there’s no easier way than by picking up the first trade (issues 1–6). VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Power Man and
Iron Fist #5
Power Man and Iron Fist #5 - Written by David Walker, illustrated by Flaviano, colored by John Rauch, letters and production by VC’s Clayton Cowles, published by Marvel Comics. It’s a very public example of “He said, She said,” as Luke and Danny stop by a radio station to set the record straight over what went down during a fight with a numbskull known as Manslaughter Marsdale.

Who says superhero books all have to be gloom and doom? So why not take two classic comic book characters who I have adored since I was a kid, and add a little humor to their new book? The first four issues were funny, but this one had me cracking up. Manslaughter Marsdale is a ridiculous punching bag, the Power-Fist Mobile sequences are a crackup, and the various retellings of the fight by different people — although a device I have seen many times in the past — was well done and had me rolling throughout the issue.

Although this is only the fifth issue and we already have another artist filling in for Sanford Greene, I was pleasantly surprised by how Flaviano’s style perfectly complements the look and tone of the series. The action sequences are grand, and the character acting extreme, and you’re certain to be smiling by the time you get to the end.

Yes this is a fill-in issue, with a different artist than we are used to, but it is still Luke and Danny righting the wrongs, fighting the good fight, and trying not to look to bad in the process. If you need a break from the stressful intensity found in most superhero comics, then the first five issues of Power Man and Iron Fist will set you straight. Be warned, though: next issue is a crossover with the “Civil War II” event, which kind of irks me as this book just got started, but I will still be there to read it when it drops next month. Who knew comics could be this much fun? HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Out of time as always - It’s been a weird week following the awfulness of the previous one, and although there is plenty to be concerned about, let’s leave things on a positive note and have a good weekend filled with friends, family, and great comics.


Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 6/17/2016

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: DescenderLazarus, and Low

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 / weekend getaway specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). This past week was pretty awful. We’re actually still kind of reeling from it all, but the Donist World team still came to work at the corporate office (Mom’s basement), and we attempted to process things by burying ourselves in work and reading good comics. <sigh> So tell a friend / loved one you appreciate / love them, pour yourself a fresh cup of coffee, cook up some pancakes, 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***

Descender #12
Descender #12 - Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics. Tim-22 has revealed his true nature to Tim-21, and it’s not pretty. But there’s much to learn about Tim-22, and the robot he has become is more a result of nurture, than nature.

It’s been three, long months since we last saw an issue of Descender and my hopes were exceedingly high for the start of this third arc. I was, of course, not disappointed. Yes siree Bob this is a fantastic issue.

Last time, the creators left us with the painful revelation that Tim-22 was not the kindly companion bot, he made himself out to be, but this issue — most of it in fact — gives us a clear view into  some of what happened to Tim-22 some 10 years ago. I’m not going to go into the details of Tim-22’s origins, only than to say if you are familiar with Lemire’s non-superhero comic book work (Essex County, Sweet Tooth, The Underwater Welder), then you can safely expect the first 16 pages of this issue to walk up to you with a smile…before punching you 32 times in the stomach. What I’m trying to say is that Tim-22’s journey is not a pleasant one, and where I was angry with Tim-22 over his betrayals last issue, the heartbreaking glimpse into his life made me understand where he was coming from. Lemire excels at revealing the more painful parts of life (the hockey story in Essex County still chokes me up…and I hate sports…<sniffle>) every bit as much as he does with the joys and wonders, and such is the case in this phenomenal series. (With the brief appearance of Psius, this issue is also a subtle look into how someone can be radicalized and who extremists tend to target.)

Nguyen’s art is pure beauty. I love it, I love it, I love it…I have no idea how he does it. I desperately want to see a sped up version oh how he typically makes this wonderful story come to life. Does he work strictly digital? Does he blue pencil then actually watercolor each page with actual water, paint, and brushes? Is there a mix of hand and computer. I have no idea, but I’m fine with having to live with the mystery just so long as we continue to get this amazing imagery. But we all know that there is more to fantastic art than just static cover shots (and what an amazing cover this issue and the next have!). Nguyen perfectly brings across the emotional gravity of Lemire’s script with stunning character acting and flawless storytelling accentuated by the gorgeous backdrops, character / robot designs, and futuristic technology. Criminy…I think I’m going to reread Descender (again) from the beginning…I owe it to myself.

Before I wrap it up, let me gripe for a mo-mo. Descender is my favorite comic on the stands. It has been in my pull for each of the past 11 issues, but on Wednesday I learned the hard way that my favorite comic was not on my pull list. WTF?! Needless to say, that horrendous error has since been corrected, and my issue should arrive in the next couple of weeks, but my love of this series is too great to have to wait for the issue to magically appear, so I bought it on Comixology. I had no choice, Denizens. Descender is a love letter to my favorite sci-fi comics / anime / movies of the ’80s, and each release is worthy of celebration, and I strongly urge you to celebrate by picking up the two available trades as well as this exceptional kick-off issue to the third arc. I need July to get her quick! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Lazarus #22
Lazarus #22 - Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Michael Lark, inked by Michael Lark and Tyler Boss, colored by Santi Arcas, lettered by Jodi Wynne, production design by Eric Trautmann, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics. The war has shifted after Forever and her team defeated the family Hock in America. But that is just one battle. The fight now moves to Switzerland, but it will have to do so without Forever, who sustained massive injuries. Luckily, the Family Carlyle has another Lazari on hand: Sonja Bittner.

Dang, Denizens, that was a particularly long and harsh hiatus. It’t been five months since we last had a regular issue of the fantastic-but-bleak Lazarus, but then again, a regular month’s wait between issues is never an easy thing for a title of this caliber: the wait is always worth it.

Rucka and Lark, however, ensured that this hiatus would be especially brutal given the perilous condition Forever was left in last issue. But the creators also enjoy tormenting us loyal readers just that much more — in the best of ways — by not immediately picking up where we left off and opting to give us five, nearly-silent pages of the Family Carlyle forces touching down in Switzerland. Then we jump back to Forever, in a be careful what you wish for moment that brings the grievously injured Forever back to the Carlyle compound, where she is to be treated. She is wild with pain and shock, and despite missing a leg is danger not just to herself, but to all attempting to help her.

The scene is particularly jarring given Lark’s harsh realism in the scene. His storytelling makes it nearly impossible to look away despite how uncomfortable things get…and you want to look away, as the intensity of that makeshift operating room scene is almost too much to handle, which is a testament to Lark’s talent as a storyteller. But as I have said in past reviews of Lazarus, Lark’s skill with character acting is fully on display, especially when we see the panic and trauma in Forever’s eyes upon being wheeled into the room. <brrrrrr> It’s actually going to be hard to forget that look. To make matters worse — and by “worse,” I mean more intense and awesome for the reader — Arcas’s colors add to the tone of the sequence, providing the macabre effect of barely-adequate fluorescent lighting in a hospital room. Heavy, uncomfortable to see, those three pages are striking and beautiful in their construction and pacing with Rucka’s dialogue adding even more realism and stress to get the reader’s blood pumping.

At only eight pages in, I was fully drawn back into the world of Lazarus, with that same mix of excitement and dread that this might be an indication as to where we in the real world are actually headed. And that apprehensive thrill does not even count the shocking assumptions we readers made many issues back about Marisol and Forever that hits like a battering ram, or the crazy cliffhanger we are left with for next issue. Oh, and sorry, Denizens, I’m not spoilin’ either moment.

I’m so glad Lazarus is back, as I’m sure is the case with everyone who follows this amazing post-apocalyptic tale. For those who have not yet read this series, do not start here. Don’t do it. So much vital world building occurs from the first issue that you must start at the beginning and read in order, which you can easily do with the first four trades, or the two beautiful hardcovers. This is heavy stuff, Denizens. Yet as terrifyingly realistic as situations in Lazarus are, I can’t help but come back to one of the most compelling titles on the stands. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Low #14
Low #14 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Greg Tocchini, colored by Dave McCaig, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Stel Caine and Zem come across even more problems on the surface, as the twins, Della and Tajo deal with the daughter of their greatest enemy…among other things.

Arrghhhh! This book cannot end where it ends! <sigh> At least this isn’t the conclusion to the third arc — that comes in the next issue — but man oh man do the creators know how to mess with us. They start us with Stel and Zem exhausted and hungry and bickering, before giving us a slight glimmer of hope, which they summarily yank away as they remind us exactly why no one goes to the surface. But there is a brief moment, a single caption, that gives both the characters and the readers something to think about for future issues. It’s a very clever tidbit that I think will be something major for later in the series, but time will tell. What I do know is that the bad thing that happens to Stel and Zem ends up being pretty dang scary. Terror rides upon blue wings…

The second half of the book focuses on the twins, and, true to the nature of this comic, delivers some fairly harsh changes for the Caine girls that had me wide-eyed and bewildered over what happens. Again, I’m not going to spoil what goes down, but I will say that there’s much more to worry about than just the vengeful daughter of the Roln the pirate. Sheesh, I never saw what ultimately happens coming.

Although the art last issue seemed a bit rushed, that is completely not the case here. No way. This issue is every bit the beauty I have come to expect from the wonderful team of Tocchini and McCaig. The storytelling and character acting are great as ever, but we also get some great vehicles, intricate costumes (still loving Stel’s swimming suit), and the full page splash that ends Stel’s half of the book is something to marvel at for a good long while. Dagnabbit, this is gorgeous comic.

As great as Remender’s other creator owned books are (Black Science, Deadly Class, Tokyo Ghost), Low is my favorite currently on the rack (Fear Agent is still my all-time-favorite, though). Lovely art, striking colors, a grand post-apocalyptic, undersea, sci-fi, drama, monster mash with a struggle to maintain hope is everything this Donist loves, and I think you might like it, too. You can easily find the first two trades, which I strongly encourage all fans of good comics to do. I can’t wait to see what happens next. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

I Still Don’t Have The Sixth Gun #49 - But I have issue #50! A lot of good that does me, though. <pffffft> I might just buy #49 digitally, as I don’t want to wait for the issue to someday show up in my pull. Waiting to see how the series ends is driving me nuts.

The Tragedy in Florida - The killing of 49 people in Florida last weekend should not have happened. It shouldn’t have happened. This whack job, a_hole should not have been allowed to buy a gun, or bullets, let alone an “AR-type rifle.” No one needs and no one should own an assault weapon / assault rifle (fuck semantics). This should not have happened. It keeps happening. It needs to stop. This type of mass-murder machinery need to be banned. My heart goes out to all those touched by this act of cowardice and horror.

I Lost My Friend Frederick Kim - I’m still quite confused and in disbelief over the passing of my friend, Fred, who died this week as a result of a brain aneurysm he suffered last Thursday. I’ve known Fred for just over five years, and met him online through the Comics Experience program. We were also part of the short-lived Brutal Circle writing group, and we often critiqued each others writing (teleplays / comic scripts / short stories / pitches / etc.). Fred even contacted me out of the blue a few times to tell me of various writing opportunities he thought I had a shot at getting, and he encouraged me to pursue them; he was just that kind of guy. He was an IMMENSE talent, and I often would say to my wife after watching a particularly great television show, “I can’t wait for the day that I see my buddy Fred’s name listed in the credits as writer for one of these shows.” It hurts that this now won’t happen. It’s so unfair. He was much too young. I wish I had been able to express my gratitude and appreciation for his generosity, patience, and much-needed advice one last time. I will miss you, Fred. You were such a good and talented person. You will continue to inspire me with everything I write.
My thoughts, heart, and love go out to all of Fred’s family and friends.


Friday, June 10, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 6/10/2016

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Wonder Woman: Rebirth, Empress, and DC Universe: Rebirth

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 / jump-on-the-bandwagoneer Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Here at the Donist World corporate office (my mom’s basement) we’re all kind of scratching our heads. Okay, Tulip was actually scratching a flea, but she admits to raising an eyebrow and tilting her head at the sight of our comics this week (btw, it’s adorable when she does that, trust me). You see, Denizens, we only read Big Two books this week. Nothing else. In fact, we’re so out of sorts we cancelled our meeting on maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company, and I even dropped my doughnut on the floor in pleasant surprise. If one title I’m late to reading hadn’t sold out last week, I would probably have yet another DC comic to talk about; dang, I might even go digital on that one. Anyhow, while we pull ourselves together, pour yourself a fresh cup of coffee, have some delicious breakfast 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***

Wonder Woman:
Rebirth #1
Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1 - Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Matthew Clark and Liam Sharp, inked by Sean Parsons, colored by Jeremy Colwell and Laura Martin, published by DC Comics. Wonder Woman has stood for many things in her life, but truth has ever been of the utmost importance. But something is not right in the world, and the Princess of Power means to uncover the truth as to who has been interfering with her history and her life.

If you look back to the Donist World of 2011, you’ll notice a marked jump in the number of DC Comics titles I was reading. Why was that, you might ask? No, really, ask me…c’mon, do it, ask me! That’s right, Denizens, 2011 was the beginning of the New 52, for which I started off with a hefty amount of titles to better see what all the hullabaloo was about with this big reboot shakeup. I was pumped. But despite my initial enthusiasm, my interest waned as titles I liked were canceled and creators I followed left the series for others, or left the publisher completely. So when I heard about this whole Rebirth thing I was skeptical and vowed to sit on the sidelines to see how things would play out with this “not a reboot” reboot.

Yeah, I didn’t last long.

After hearing about the excitement over Rebirth #1 (which I had to buy digitally, and thank goodness I did) I had to check it out. Then walking through the LCS, I could not pass by Batman: Rebirth #1 (which is fantastic, btw) and I am now scrambling to get ahold of the Green Arrow: Rebirth issue. But when you have Greg Rucka writing Wonder Woman…please, Denizens…there really is no decision to be made: I had to buy it.

Having only read roughly half of the New 52 Wonder Woman, I had no idea of what to expect going into this issue, and fully believed I’d be lost. Thankfully, this was not the case. Rucka does a fantastic job of giving the readers just enough info to acknowledge that Diana has had many differing storylines and histories, and that all those conflicting threads are part of what troubles her here. Through some very clever uses of her powers, Wonder Woman determines that all is not right with her or the world, and thus begins her journey.

And what a beautiful journey it is. The first fifteen pages are gorgeously illustrated by Matthew Clark, where we see Diana struggle with her mishmash of origins through solid storytelling and character acting — and some great hair — but it’s the awesome double-page splash that really blew me away. Two pages later, the art switches to Liam Sharp, who handles the shift in location (I’m not spoiling), for some wonderfully choreographed fight scenes. More than anything, though, both Clark and Sharp, as well as colorists Colwell and Martin, leave me with the a clear picture of who Wonder Woman is: a majestic, powerhouse worthy of everyone’s respect and admiration.

So, will I be continuing with the bi-weekly series? You betcha, Denizens. I honestly can’t wait to see where the creators take us next. I love the Wonder Woman of the ’80s, as well as the one portrayed in the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited TV shows, and the animated movie, and I truly hope to add this version of the Princess of Power to that list as well. Exciting times. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Empress #3
Empress #3 - Written by Mark Millar, illustrated by Stuart Immonen, inked by Wade von Grawbadger, colored by Ive Svorcina, lettered by Peter Doherty, edited by Rachael Fulton, published by Icon, a Marvel Comics imprint. Queen Emporia, her children, her personal guard, and a shifty gambler with a teleportation device jump from peril to peril as they try to reach the homeworld of Emporia’s sister. They better move fast and sure, for if King Morax, Emporia’s dictatorial husband, catches them, their lives will be forfeit.

I am still loving this mini-series. Millar gives us a roller coaster ride of a sci-fi adventure that barely gives the reader a moment to catch their breath, which is part of what makes Empress so much fun. We’ve all read tales or watched shows about the wife and children fleeing an abusive husband, but never one set 65 million years in the past with monsters, aliens, and spaceships. It’s almost as if this book was written with this Donist in mind. I only wish things would slow down enough to where we can learn more about Emporia, Dane, Morax, Ship, and the rest, but that is the compromise in telling such a grand space opera, with a sizable cast of characters, and a limited number of issues. What I’m saying is that if the creators wish to drop some one-shots or preludes or what have you to supplement this awesome comic, I will be there to swoop them up in my loving arms.

Immonen. Daaaaannnnng. Dang! This is one pretty book. Whether you are looking at character design, character acting, choreography, storytelling, backgrounds, vehicles, past/future technology, monsters, or various alien environments, everything is beyond stunning. The thing is, if I had to nail down a single sequence as being my favorite of the issue, it would have to be brief respite when Emporia is feeding the baby and talking to her daughter. The layouts and emotions on display are fantastic, but when you add Svorcina’s colors to already gorgeous art, you can’t help but take pause and appreciate the imagery; this is especially true of Emporia’s hooded cloak.

I really dig Empress, Denizens, and I’m already dreading the day I hold the final issue in my hands. Not because of any worry the creators won’t stick the ending — they totally will — but because that will mean no more tales involving Emporia, Dane, Tor, and the rest. Everyone needs to be reading this compelling-as-heck space opera. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

DC Universe:
Rebirth #1
DC Universe: Rebirth #1 - Written by Jeff Johns; illustrated by Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis, and Phil Jimenez; inked by Joe Prado, Ivan Reis, Matt Santorelli, and Gary Frank; colored by Brad Anderson, Jason Wright, Hi-Fi, and Gabe Eltaeb; lettered by Nick J. Napolitano, published by DC Comics. The DC Universe is in for a shock as a bolt of lightning strikes to reveal none other than Wally West…the real Wally West…and he is on a mission to not just save his own life, but to fix the wrongs in reality. But who orchestrated the changes and why?

Seeing as how this book is a few weeks old, I’m not going to go too deep into it as many other sites have already done so. This includes MANY places spoiling the big one-two punch of who is most likely responsible for the bleak, joyless world our heroes have found themselves in for the past few (make that five) years. Sounds cool, right? It actually really is.

First off, I’m guessing digging up a copy of the first printing might be a bit difficult, so you should probably hit up Comixology to get this 80-page giant of a comic offered at $2.99. (Word on the street is that the second printing will see a one or two dollar price jump.) Also be aware that at the bottom of the first page of the actual comic is a recommendation that you read Justice League #50 and Superman #52 before reading this issue, but I didn’t read either book and for the most part did just fine following the story. Sure I had absolutely no idea of certain events that happened, but Johns has got your back and gracefully clues you in to what has come before while he mostly brings you into a new, more hopeful world. The tone and feel of this issue is a perfect embracing of the best that comics had to offer back in the days of the ’80s with DC Universe: Rebirth bringing the excitement of Crisis on Infinite Earths to mind (which reminds me it is about time for a reread).

It’s almost criminal to skate over just how beautiful the art and colors are in this book, with all four artists truly shining on every page. The storytelling and pacing are phenomenal, and the colors are bright, bold, exciting, which again brings me back to more hopeful times. Just take a peak at a few pages and you will see what I mean.

DC Universe: Rebirth is wroth every penny of its $2.99 cover price whether you judge by writing, by art, by page-count, or by the excitement you should hopefully now feel for some of the coming titles. Yes, there is a major component of the story that is sure to irk some readers, but those guys tend to get irked at everything, even the characters and books they supposedly hold so near and dear to their hearts. But who cares. Things are about to get cray-cray over at DC and this issue was enough to make this Donist sit up and take note. I’m in. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Tired. So Tired. No Sleep. - I only got about six hours of poor quality sleep as Tulip kept getting up to get in my face so I would put her cover back on her, until she got so hot that she would crawl back out until she got cold and made me repeat the cycle again. Ugh. Okay, got to pull myself together for the commute and a full day of work.


Friday, June 3, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 6/3/2016

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Deadly Class, Paper Girls, and Batman: Rebirth

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 / beach cleaner upper Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Today, my puppy executive team and I are taking a break from the usual efforts to maintain our status as a Fortune 320,000 company, and we’re heading out to do a beach cleanup as part of our community outreach efforts. That’s right, Denizens, we’re not even going into the Donist World corporate office (Mom’s basement), instead heading out for some sun (it’s actually fogged in) and some fun (fun until we get annoyed at all the cigarette butts and plastic bottles left on the sand by lazy humans). We’re doin’ it! So, as we grab our rubber gloves, some trash bags, and a quick doughnut, you should pour a coffee, have some delicious breakfast 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***

Deadly Class #21
Deadly Class #21 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, colored by Jordan Boyd, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Freshman Finals is rapidly approaching its end. With the rising sun comes many changes for the students of King’s Dominion as some are betrayed, some die, and some fulfill their destiny. You don’t want to miss the shocking conclusion to the “Die for Me” story arc.

I…I just…dang…I don’t know what to…ugh. Dang. Dang. Dang, Denizens! What the heck did I just read?! I’m shaking after reading this issue. Holy cow, the creators are a couple of mean meanies with a penchant for cruelty. Dang. Just dang. Okay, now that I (sort of) got that out of my system, I have to figure out how to tell you about this issue without spoiling anything, as so many crazy things happen in this issue that even divulging one of them will lessen the impact of experiencing each event organically by reading the story — and there are many shockers this issue, boy howdy, are there many.

This arc has been particularly brutal, but it’s also been my favorite, which is saying something given how good the other arcs have been. As I mentioned above, the previous issues had the hint of betrayal, but I had no idea of the degree to which some characters are willing to go. Sure some are motivated by self-preservation, but others are opportunistic, while others seek to fulfill…more sinister needs. Harsh would probably be a good word to describe this issue, and I mean that as the highest form of praise.

Craig’s art and storytelling are as compelling as ever, and he again opts to not use any non-standard panel layouts. He doesn’t need any additional push to the action of the scene, as the buildup from previous issues has already made every moment in this issue as nerve-wracking as possible. It’s a beautifully choreographed stream of gut punch after gut punch up until the end. As wonderfully brutal as Craig’s art is in this issue, Boyd ramps up the emotion by diverging from his usual monochromatic colors with striking complementary color schemes that make the impact of this issue all the more devastating.

I love this issue. It might be my favorite to date. That said, you can’t just jump in with this arc. You need to start at the beginning with the first trade so you can become familiar with all of the characters so that the true weight of everything that happens in this issue will smack you in the face the way it did me. After this ending, I seriously have no idea where things will go from here, and given that the creators used all 28-pages — including the back inside cover, no less — I have no clues to grasp on to until the the book returns from what will be a painfully long hiatus. You need to read Deadly Class, Denizens, it’s as fantastic as all of Remender’s other creator-owned work, and you can easily catch up with the three trades (fourth in August), or the impressive oversized hardcover coming in July. Whatever you do, just be sure you check out this book about a high school for assassins set in the ’80s. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Paper Girls #6
Paper Girls #6 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matt Wilson, flats by Dee Cunniffe, lettered and designed by Jared K. Fletcher, published by Image Comics. Four paper girls were living the day to day, working their routes, doing what’s right. That was 1988. Now, one of the girls is missing, and the others have appeared in 2016 where one of them, Erin, meets her future self. Time travel…it’s complicated.

Man, that wait seemed like forever. I tell ya. But I’m so glad it’s finally over. Now that three of the four girls are in the future — our present, mind you — and hanging with an older version of Erin…I am still as in the dark as to what the heck is going on as ever, but that’s okay. I’m certain the creators will eventually fill us in on the details of what is happening, but for now I’m perfectly happy being as clueless as Erin, Tiffany, Mac, and older Tiffany as we all try to figure out what made the world get so incredibly weird. That’s the magic of Vaughan’s writing: you can’t help but become immersed in his characters’ lives, which is especially easy to do given Chiang’s delightful art.

Even without the weirdos from the future, the butt-ugly teenagers, the monsters, and the beautifully laid out backgrounds, it’s easy to get lost in Chiang’s character acting and storytelling. I especially love future-Tiffany’s additional age lines, as well as her more modern hair and clothes. You can see the weariness that life has inflicted upon the woman, a weariness missing from her much younger self. All of this is enhanced by Wilson’s flat but effective colors, with the knockouts on the characters’ faces softening the lines to make their expressions all the more realistic. This is one beautiful book.

So what exactly is Paper Girls? Beats me. What I do know is that this sci-fi, time traveling adventure is a heck of a lot of fun, with cool characters, and a captivating story that adds a couple questions with each answer it gives. It’s also a comic appropriate for all-ages, provided you don’t mind some cussing. If you do mind cussing, then I should be the first to tell you that you precious little snow flake has already heard and said worse things (it’s true, I heard them) than you will ever find in this fantastic comic book that everyone should be reading. If you have not already read this series, then pick up the first remarkably-inexpensive trade, as well as this issue, and I bet your bottom dollar that you will be as desperate as I am to see what happens next. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batman: Rebirth #1
Batman: Rebirth #1 - Written by Scott Snyder and Tom King, illustrated by Mikel Janín, colored by June Chung, lettered by Deron Bennett, published by DC Comics. Calendar Man attempted to kill Gotham City through the release of deadly spores, but luckily the Batman was there to stop him. Unfortunately, the creepy villain had a contingency plan.

It’s been a little while since I read an issue of Batman, so I don’t know who the kid is who shows up at Bruce Wayne’s door, or how this Batman is any different from the New 52 Batman, but what the heck…best to just roll with it and have some fun. You can also have a nightmare or two given the little history lesson / “rebirth” sequence involving Calendar Man, which I have to say is something I hope doesn’t sneak into my head as I try to sleep tonight…<brrrrrr> freaky.

Before this issue, I was unfamiliar with Janín’s art, and I am not sure if he will continue on future Batman issues or not, but I will say he is a great fit for this book. I especially love the moments with Calendar Man, and the scenes of Bruce and Lucius talking. Hollingsworth’s colors add to Janín’s already impressive line work, and the colors add perfectly to the mood of each scene.

Even though I still have some questions, I have to say that I enjoyed this book, and I’m curious to see where things are headed in Batman #1. I am especially interested to see exactly how Snyder will traumatize me come August when All-Star Batman debuts, because we’re all aware just how well the writer knows how to divvy out the thrills and the chills. I can’t wait. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Beach Cleanups - No, I’m not against taking a work day to clean the beach, I strongly believe in doing so. Too much crap ends up in our oceans nowadays. The oceans…our supposed source of endless food, but I don’t see anyone serving up plastic water bottles or cigarette butts with a garlic-butter sauce alongside a baked potato and a sprig of parsley. No. My problem with beach cleanups is that we even have to have such things. Here’s the deal: if you go to the beach, pickup after yourself; if you go to the park pickup after yourself; don’t give your hard-earned money to big tobacco; don't give big corporations money for bottled water, use a reusable bottle. Basically, leave the world a better place than you found it. *This has been a public service announcement from the Donist World Green Team.

Some Kind of Nuttiness Involving Captain America as a Hydra Agent - In a rare turn of events, a few overly-vocal comic fans have had at best their fee-fees hurt and at worst their childhoods ruined by the revelation in the new number one issue of Captain America: Steve Rogers that the hero has actually been a secret Hydra agent, or something. Now, granted, I have not read the issue, so I cannot comment on the writing or the art, but I can comment on the outcry and complaints. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion as to whether or not they like a book for whatever reason. If you liked the comic, great. If you didn’t like it, bummer about the lost $4.99 + tax sales price (Wow! Now that’s something to be upset about). But for those outraged by the massively spoiled twist of this issue, chill the hell out. It’s a plot twist. It’s a component of story, meant to make readers go, “Huh?!?!” You’re supposed to wonder what happened, why it happened, and how it happened. I can promise you that by the time the story arc wraps, we’ll all find that something crazy happened with ol’ Stevie-boy that will probably make everyone breathe a sigh of relief once it all gets straightened out. Also, for those complaining and angrily decrying Marvel and the creators on social media, you do realize that every trembling-with-rage, tear-stained post you make sells more copies. You do, right? What it comes down to is if you don't like it, don't buy it. Simple. It’s comic books, folks, there’s supposed to be shockers.