Friday, July 8, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 7/8/2016

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Future Quest, Tokyo GhostPaper Girls, Empress, Black Science, and The Flintstones

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 / fireworks denier Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). We need to get right into the thick of things this week, so the intro is going to be short. Just know that Tulip and Reverse Obie survived the apocalyptic fireworks display this past Monday, through their bravery…and through the concrete safety of the Donist World corporate office (Mom’s basement). Now that the horror of the loud fireworks and flashing lights has ended, we are back at work and reading comics with tenacity! So, pour yourself a fresh cup of coffee, cook up some waffles to your specifications, 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***

Future Quest #2
Future Quest #2 - Written Jeff Parker; illustrated by Evan “Doc” Shaner, Ron Randall, and Jonathan Case; colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered byALW Studios’ Dave Lanphear, published by DC Comics. The Herculoids make their appearance in the battle against Omnikron, and Jonny and his friends make a startling discovery…as the agents of FEAR make a discovery of their own.

Wow, Denizens! It seems like only yesterday that I was raving about the first issue of Future Quest — okay, yesterweek to be more precise (read about it here), but you know what I’m sayin’ — but here we are again, and my excitement stays the course with this tremendous followup. Even if I did not have very fond memories of Hanna-Barbera’s more fantastic and superheroic cartoon offerings, I would still be loving this new comic series mashup thanks to Parker’s thrilling story and pacing. Last issue he introduced a handful of characters and by the end had us caring about each of them and excited to see more. He works the same magic here with additional new characters on top of the ones from last month with glimpses and promises of more characters to come, all while making an organic, captivating, and at no time overcrowded story.

Despite the fact that there are three artists on this issue, the shift from one to the other in no way impacts the flow of the story (that’s what the highly intrusive ads are for), keeping the reader firmly glued to the action, drama, and humor (when was the last time you read a comic that was actually humorous that didn’t have a “mature readers” warning on it?). In fact, each artist’s work complements that of the others with the change in line weight being the only real thing to catch my attention, and that was only because I was looking for the switch. The unifying key is Bellaire’s lively colors, which prove that dire circumstances don’t always need to be drab. I especially love the scenes with bad-guy-extraordinaire Dr. Zin and Jezebel Jade…speaking of which, is she single?

I love this series, Denizens, and I am completely pumped for the next issue where we will meet even more new characters as the stakes escalate and the story continues to captivate. There are so many moving parts to this thoroughly enjoyable tale, but the creators keep things moving effortlessly, which is not an easy thing to do. You need to be reading this series, and given that the second printing of the first issue just dropped last week, and the second issue dropped this week, you can be caught up in no time. Dang. If things continue like this, I can see a quest for a double-dip hardcover in my future. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Tokyo Ghost #8
Tokyo Ghost #8 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Sean Murphy, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Davey Trauma’s on the loose once again, and Led Dent is under his control. Will the Tokyo Ghost be able to break the spell and free her one, true love?

Waitaminute…dagnabbit. Are there seriously only two more issues in this fantastic series?! Ay, Chihuahua! There are way too many series I love wrapping up this year, which freaks me out, but that’s a separate matter. <sigh> Anyhow…this issue is as intense a roller coaster ride as ever as the creators play with our heartstrings through some touching flashbacks, and some seriously messed up moments. And when I say “messed up,” I mean keep all children faaaaaarrrr away from this one, as there are some particularly graphic and violent sequences that are startling even to this seasoned comic book lover. This is fine — so long as you’re an adult —because as brutal as things get, it is all relevant and true to the story.

Murphy’s art is as impressive as ever, especially on steampunk nightmare Dave Trauma and the ever-lovely Debbie Decay, but I have to say I am also deeply fond of Hogosha the red panda, who is as cute as he/she is vicious . The shift from action to drama and back is quick, yet at no time are you jarred from the story. This is Murphy, after all. You have no choice but to be drawn ever deeper into the thick of things. Hollingsworth’s colors also remain beautiful with the electric blues of tech-run-awry and the glowing white / pinks of the Tokyo Ghost using her powers. Crack this comic open and you have no choice but to think, Dang…this book is pretty.

Tokyo Ghost is not just another run-of-the-mill, futuristic, sci-fi, post-apocalyptic thriller. It’s much more. It’s also a cautionary tale about the perils of tech addiction and living in a society that has pushed aside normal human interaction in favor of social media, brain-dead television programming, and subservience to a sole corporate entity; it’s kind of scary. You need to be reading this Donist World Darling, which you can do with the first trade, and with the final second trade of this great mini-series dropping in October. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Paper Girls #7
Paper Girls #7 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matt Wilson, lettered and designed by Jared K. Fletcher, color flats by Dee Cunniffe, published by Image Comics. The past and the future intersect in the present, and what’s the best place for just such a meet-up? Why a creepy, old, abandoned shopping mall of course. Oh…gross parasitic monsters, too.

Okay, I’m going to be honest here…I don't know what the heck is going on other than three of the four girls traveled from the ’80s to the present, where one of them meets her older self. Beyond that, I kind of adrift, which is usually a sign for this ol’ Donist to cut losses and bail. But not with Paper Girls. Vaughan has such a wonderful way of developing his characters and of writing beautiful dialogue, that you have little choice but to fall in love with these people and care for their wellbeing.

It also doesn’t hurt to have Chiang bringing out some great character acting and emotion in this issue that predominantly — except for the brief weirdo monster battle — has people hanging out talking. In lesser hands, this could irk some readers, but these creators instill such a heavy degree of reader investment in their characters, that watching three girls and an adult chitchat actually is quite fascinating.

Of course you like Brian K. Vaughan. How could you not, especially after all the phenomenal books he’s given us over the years? It’s safe to say you can add this series to that ever-growing list. Paper Girls is mostly sci-fi, but there’s also some fantasy elements, time travel, monsters, humor, and best of all…four foul-mouthed paper girls from the ’80s trying to make sense of it all. Buy yourself the ultra-cheap trade, you deserve it. Treat yo’ self! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Empress #4
Empress #4 - Written by Mark Millar, illustrated by Stuart Immonen, inked by Wade von Grawbadger, colored by Ive Svorcina, lettered by Peter Doherty, edited by Rachel Fulton, published by Icon, a Marvel Comics imprint. The Royal family is still on the run from the savage grasp of their dictatorial husband / father / employer, but being stranded on a ruined planet doesn’t necessarily count as being “free.”

I’m still greatly enjoying Empress and its nonstop run of perils and adventure and space battles and pulse-pounding excitement and…you get the picture. That said, I wish we had more time (more issues) to get somewhat deeper glimpses into each of the characters’ pasts and how King Morax has personally affected their lives. Thus far we have jumped quickly from scene to scene, location to location (thanks to Ship!), and I love all of the characters; I just want to know a bit more.

Immonen’s art continues to be stunning especially when it comes to his character acting, character design, and storytelling, but as I’ve mentioned with each of the prior issues, his backgrounds and spaceships must be seen to be believed. Svorcina’s colors push Immonen’s art even further, opting for more lively colors than most comics have these days — with the exception of the ruined planet Golgoth, of course, which needs to look bleak. The imagery is gorgeous as it is, but when combined with the exceptional story, you get one heck of a solid sci-fi tale.

Even without the character depth I am longing for, Empress is a fun, thrilling comic worthy of your time and money. There will be a hardcover released at some point next year, but why wait? At only four issues in and with reprints and multiple covers, you should be able to find these first four issues with little difficulty, and you’ll be all set to read the final three issues over the coming months. After that, you should be able to see the film adaptation in a year or two, as well. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Flintstones #1
The Flintstones #1 - Written by Mark Russell, illustrated by Steve Pugh, colored by Chris Chuckry, lettered by Dave Sharpe, published by Marvel Comics. Welcome to the town of Bedrock…Mark Russell and Steve Pugh style.

I used to love The Flintstones cartoon as a kid, but if someone told me I would buy, read, and love a The Flintstones comic at the wise age of __, I would have called them crazy. Well, here I am, enjoying yet another Hanna-Barbera relaunch. The key factor in my picking up this book is writer Mark Russell, whose Prez comic (I can’t wait for its return) was one of the best comic books released in 2015. With Russell’s flair for political / societal / economical commentary and his overall sense of humor, The Flintstones is a definite win to this Donist.

I have been a fan of Pugh’s art since first seeing his work on Hotwire and on the New 52’s second half of Animal Man, and although his work on The Flintstones is quite different from previous series, it is impressive none the less. Having steered away from intricate sci-fi detailing and the roughness of horror, Pugh embraces a crisp, clean line and exaggerated humor. His dinosaurs and mammoths are awesome (a mix of funny and scary), his men and neanderthals muscular hulks, his women gorgeous (Wilma and Betty…wow), and his goofy buildings and backgrounds have so many hidden jokes that you will need a few reads to catch them all.

The main thing that struck me as odd about this fantastic start is that the comic spent a fair amount of time concerning Mister Slate and the neanderthals versus Fred, Wilma, Barney, and Betty. But that’s cool, it’s world building, man. We do get commentary about civilization and war and the results of war, but most of all we get a funny comic that is definitely more for adults than for kids. Also, a work “hot tub party?” Ummm…no way, creepy, that’s just so ’70s. Dang this is a fun book. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Black Science #22
Black Science #22 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Matteo Scalera, colored by Moreno Dinisio, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Grant McKay continues his search for his missing crew members who have been scattered across parallel worlds. Next stop: his daughter, Pia.

The previous arc was a hard look at anarchist scientist McKay’s past and what led him — for better or for worse…mostly worse — to become the man he is today. He also got hella even with the saboteur of the Pillar, the device that allowed McKay and his crew to travel to other dimensions. So imagine my surprise with this issue when, after such an abundance of heavy sadness, the tone shifts completely to comedic. I have to admit to initially being taken aback by the change, but seeing as how this issue is a look at how teens see their parents as detriments to their happiness and a continuous source of their embarrassment, I settled in and laughed with each of McKay’s failed attempts to reconcile with his daughter and the enormous repercussions of his actions.

Scalera and Dinisio’s art is wonderful with some cool character designs and fantastic storytelling on display. As always, each page is something worthy of framing and hanging on the wall to impress…if only the pages were poster size…

Black Science has been described as Lost in Space meets Indiana Jones, which is pretty spot on. It’s sci-fi weirdness with great characters, heart wrenching situations, gorgeous art, and pacing sure to get your blood pumping. If you are behind on this fantastic series, then you can easily catch up with the oversized hardcover, or the four available trades. You need to be reading this. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Out of Time as Always - Again, I’m out of time. There’s still plenty of awfulness to gripe about, but let’s lift the mood, focus on the good, and by all means read some fantastic comics. Take care.


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