Friday, August 5, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 8/5/2016

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 / carpet stain hater Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Amy the intern (my wife) is out of the office on vacation (house/dogsitting for a friend in San Francisco) so you would expect things around the Donist World headquarters (Mom’s basement) to be a bit rambunctious. You know: staying up late, eating bottomless nachos, high-stakes poker with my puppy executive team, cigars, beer, and oh so heavenly french fries. Sadly, that is not the case. Instead, we’ve been chilling, reading, and heavens to murgatroyd dieting. Dieting I tell you. Yes, instead of super monster burritos from Freebirds every day, it’s been eggs with broccoli, salads, and hearty vegetable soups. <sigh> Not really what I’d call going crazy, but at least Tulip and the Reverse Obie have been supportive and set up a wellness week here at Donist World focused on exercise, eating right, and detoxing. Oops, look at the time. We have a scheduled walk and talk meeting, so pour yourself a fresh cup of green tea, grab some carrot sticks (I want pizza! Beer! <sob> French…fries…), 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***

Black Science #23
Black Science #23 - 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 has disappointed his children for most of their lives, but even though he has vowed to make things right, his decision to visit the Cursed Witch isn’t improving things.

Last month’s installment kind of took me by surprise with the shift in tone from sci-fi adventure to comedic fantasy, but after taking a step or two back, I realized how much I enjoyed that issue. This month, however, the creators opt to let most of the comedy slide away and focus primarily on fantasy…with a ray-gun. In an effort to repair his troubled relationship with Pia, his daughter, McKay embarks upon a quest to a dark land, to find an evil temple, to steal a magic artifact from a cursed witch. He even rides a horse named Spaghetti.

So, yeah, this arc is a departure from the previous four as it seems kind of like it’s poised to become an AD&D campaign (a great one, mind you), but you know what Denizens? This issue is a total blast. Not only does the story and dialogue stand on its own, but this issue proves to be a showcase for just how gorgeous Scalera and Dinisio’s art is. The first splash page is sure to capture your attention, but it is the pages where McKay and company (not saying who) meet the witch that hold the power to convert non-Black Science readers into true believers. I know this issue just came out, but dang…we need a poster of that McKay meeting the Witch splash page. So. Very. Beautiful.

Black Science is a series that all sci-fi fans should be reading. It’s fun, intense, dramatic, positively heartbreaking at times, and overall thrilling. You probably won’t like Grant McKay at the start of the series, but that is by design. Once you get into the story, though, prepare to see him differently as you ride the roller coaster that is this fantastic series. McKay’s quest might not be going so well, but your quest is a no-brainer as there are four trades available and an oversized hardcover as well. Get ready for one heck of a grand adventure. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Low #15
Low #15 - 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 and Zem near the space probe that looks to be mankind’s salvation. All they have to do is fight their way through hordes of murderous insectoids and somehow survive massive radiation poisoning. Still, there is hope.

Dang. Just…dang. Denizens, this series is tied with Black Science as my favorite Remender work currently hitting the shelves, which is kind of crazy given the hell the creators continuously put the poor Caine family through. And seeing as how one of the themes of the series is maintaining hope in the face of great adversity, all I know is that I would have no hope of ever being able to survive in this brutal world; at least not without the help of my hero, Stel Caine. But I have hope for the Caine women, even though one of the twins has gone off the deep end, the other is in a terrible situation, and Stel begins this concluding arc in truly dire shape. Oh, geez, they’re doomed. But there’s hope! Oh, double geez, I hope they’re not doomed.

The art is gorgeous throughout, especially on the double-page spreads, and splashes, with the warm reds and yellows conveying the unrelenting heat of the surface world, as well as the intensity of the killer fight scenes. My only struggle with this issue was that there were a couple panels where I wasn’t completely certain as to what had happened, but those moments were few in comparison to all of the spectacular ones. The design of a new character is great, and those final few pages left me desperate to see what happens next. <grumble, grumble> We’ll all just have to wait and see.

Low is underwater, post-apocalyptic sci-fi at it’s best with characters I have come to love — including the one who did a very bad thing an issue or two ago. I’m sure we have a two or three month break between issues, which is going to be particularly harsh given the crazy ending, but I can tell you I simply must be there to see how the Caine women possibly endure. Two trades are available now, with a third in October. Hopefully, that hardcover I’ve been hoping for comes out before the end of the year as well. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Paper Girls #8
Paper Girls #8 - 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 girls, including Erin’s older future self — weirdness, I know — continue to try to find KJ and a way back home.

Yeah, I still don’t particularly know what the heck is going on and I don’t particularly care, since I love all the characters and I’m totally digging this trippy ride. The mix of ’80s, modern, and futuristic sci-fi goodness with monsters and exceptional dialogue and character acting have kept me smiling since issue one, and this issue does not let me down. The overarching mystery as to what is going on is my own personal neon-blue popcorn ball (don’t sweat it if you don’t know what I’m talking about, popcorn balls were an ’80s food court thang). Just know that bits of information trickle in, as more questions arise, while each issue is a joy to read. That final splash page is sure to keep you hungry for the next issue, too, by golly.

If you’ve been reading comics for a while, then you dang well better know the names of Vaughan and Chiang (with Wilson’s otherworldly colors!). If you are new to comics, then you can’t go wrong with these creators, and the first trade is a perfect place to start. Paper Girls plays beautifully with the ’80s resurgence vibe that’s been going on lately (listen to some Mitch Murder, and watch the freakin’ fantastic Stranger Things on Netflix to see what I mean), while also being a compelling comic. I love this book, and I think you will, too. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Kill or be Killed #1
Kill or be Killed #1 - Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated and lettered by Sean Phillips, colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser, editorial supervision by Eric Stephenson, published by Image Comics. The title says it all as a man is compelled to become a vigilante by forces he does not fully understand.

After Brubaker and Phillips’s phenomenal The Fade Out, Criminal, and Sleeper comics there was no way I was gonna let this one pass me by. It goes without saying that if you are a fan of crime comics, then you are well aware of Brubaker and Phillip’s impressive body of work. Kill or be Killed continues their already successful path of characters that aren’t particularly likable, but whose circumstances surrounding their lives and their drive toward self destruction provide more than enough reason to immerse oneself in their damaged worlds.

Although the series is about a vigilante with possible links to other story genres (how’s that for vague?) as opposed to Criminal’s focus on greed-based crimes, the overall mood and tone of the series is sure to please crime / noir fans. Brubaker’s script is engrossing and Phillips’s masterful character acting never ceases to amaze. Whether you are already a fan of this team, or looking for something outside of the capes and tights crowd, then best jump in early with this great first issue. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Tokyo Ghost #9
Tokyo Ghost #9 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Sean Murphy, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. The world is techno-terrorist Davey Trauma’s oyster, and he means to smash it into gooey bits so he can rebuild it to his liking. All that opposes him is the nearly-broken Tokyo Ghost, Debbie Decay.

Talk about your Rick Remender bonanza week. Wow. Three titles — all creator-owned, btw — and all three a blast to read. This is the penultimate issue in this series and it does not disappoint in the action, madness, or mayhem departments. Now, as exciting and funny as this issue is — I’m still cracking up about “Come at me with your woodland creatures, bro” moment — and as much as I want the series to stick around a while longer, I have to say that I am a bit confused by Debbie Decay’s powers and how she acquired them. But that’s cool. If I have to just accept that she projects an EMP and somehow controls Mother Nature, then so be it. As long as we have this insane world, groovy characters, and Murphy and Hollingsworth’s stunning artwork I’m a happy reader.

Yup, the end is almost nigh, but never fear, you late-to-the-party types. The first trade is cheap and easy to find, and the final trade <sniffle> should be available mid-October. If a comic mini-series about a world where tech addiction runs / ruins everyone’s lives with seemingly one woman to oppose the status quo sounds like your cup of tea, then Tokyo Ghost is right up your alley. I can’t wait to see how it all ends. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Goodbye July I’m so glad July is gone, Denizens. Nothing truly terrible happened, mind you, it was just a steady stream of running around like crazy and dealing with things I didn’t want to deal with. Here’s hoping for a much more chill August.

This Explains it All…


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