Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 9/30/2016

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 / concertgoer Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Earlier this week, the Donist World corporate office (Mom’s basement) let out early to attend a Dolly Parton concert at the Santa Barbara County Bowl. Now, Amy the intern (my wife), Reverse Obie, and Tulip were really excited about the show, but I was mostly indifferent…until the rhinestone goddess took the stage. Holy moley was she amazing. She has one of the strongest voices I have ever hear, she played six or seven instruments, she told stories in between numbers, joked with the crowd, and is one of the best performers I have ever seen. Period. Dang, Tulip still can’t stop singing “Jolene,” which is weird to hear a dog do, yet I find myself humming along with her. <phew> Anyhow, comics…So, while queueing up some classic Dolly Parton tunes, be sure to read some of the awesome Prez comic, checkout tonight’s premiere of Luke Cage on Netflix (I can’t wait!!!) 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***

Saga #38
Saga #38 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, coordinated by Eric Stephenson, published by Image Comics. Marko, Alana, and crew look to refuel their rocket tree and help out a stranded family of seemingly innocent creatures. Meanwhile, The Will looks to meet up with Gwendolyn, as new player The March makes their debut.

Whoa, boy. Dang, Denizens. Now the creators have gone and done it. <sniffle> I just need to take a breath and not overthink what went down this issue, so I can cleverly dance around the fact that something terribly distressing happens in this book, and I’m not about to tell you what that is. I know, I know, but spoilin’ something of this magnitude would be a total dick move, and I’m not about to do that to you, Denizens. Nay. I respect you way too much. All I will say is that with Saga, you can expect to read a beautifully told story, with gorgeous art, characters you will come to love, and the occasional moments that will leave you rolling with laughter or turning away in disgust — oftentimes both. Sometimes, every so often, you can expect to be shocked to the core and to have your heart torn from your chest to be drop kicked across the room; this happens to be one of those times. No more on the story, only that it is as great as usual.

Also “great as usual,” an understatement to be sure, is Staples’s art, which delivers the devastation through the emotional roundhouse blow of her flawless character acting and storytelling. The new characters are delightfully odd and intriguing, but also worthy of melting the ol’ peepers is the coloring and backgrounds. Every panel Staples lays out is a thing of vibrant beauty that continues to leave me scratching my head over how the heck she manages to make already stunning art look even better. I know I keep saying this, but I really want a process video or a quick look under the hood of her layers (whoa…that sounded kind of bad), so I can finally rest knowing that it doesn’t involve actual magic.

If you’re a Saga fan, then I’m certain you’ve already read this issue, and you’re just as distraught as I am. I mean, you must be, right? It’s been 24 hours since I read the latest issue and I’m still kind of messed up over what happened. If you are new to Saga, and you’re curious as to what all the hullabaloo is about, then just know that this comic is a (usually) NSFW, sci-fi, fantasy, adventure, drama, about love, life, loss, and <sniffle> death. Be prepared for laughs, be prepared for heartache, be prepared for a dang-fine series and one of the best comics on the stand. Do not just dive in willy nilly! Start at the beginning either with the trades or the lovely oversized hardcover, just be sure you aren’t missing out on the heavenly Saga. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Descender #15
Descender #15 - Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics. Since the coming of the Harvesters, Andy and TIM-21 have not seen each other for ten years. Much has changed since then. As Andy attempts to find his “brother,” we take a look at those missing ten years and his relationship with the girl who will one day become Queen Between.

It’s an unseasonably hot day, but I have the fan on, a cold beer on my left, Tulip sleeping on my right, and a new issue of the Donist World Darling, my favorite comic being published, Descender. All is well. Since Andy’s reintroduction to the story as an adult, I have been desperate to know what happened to him during those ten years he was separated from TIM-21, and we finally get some answers. We also get a bit of back story on Andy’s wife, Queen Between, or Effie as she was known way back then. This is a Lemire story, and as such you can expect plenty of touching, heart-wrenching moments, handled with such realism that you will at times forget the story is set in outer space, with aliens, robots, and spaceships. There’s loss and change and growing apart to an extent that, even before a new tragedy strikes, it’s clear that things will never be the same for Andy and Effie. And although we already know how things end up for these two, it’s all so very sad, nonetheless.

Despite the tragic tone of this issue, however, what is sure to lift your spirits is the outstanding visuals of Nguyen’s phenomenal watercolored artwork. Previous issues have featured lush worlds, bizarre alien races, and a diversity of robots, but this one mostly focuses on the drama, which is what makes the devastating moments of the amazing story all the more powerful. Again, the art is watercolored, which is a skill few can pull off, yet Nguyen not only makes the book lovely, he makes it look effortless.

Yeah, I love this comic. I mean, I really love this comic, and if you are a fan of the look and feel of ’80s sci-fi comics, anime, or movies — or great sci-fi in general — then you need to immediately get a hold of the first two trades and the third when it comes out in December. I can safely say I will be triple-dipping on the oversized hardcover when it is eventually announced and released. Descender is the real deal, Denizens, and although there are some fairly sad moments, I promise this wonderful book is well worth your time. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Wonder Woman #7
Wonder Woman #7 - Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Liam Sharp, colored by Laura Martin, lettered by Jodi Wynne, published by DC Comics. Wonder Woman and the Cheetah move to rescue Steve Trevor from the clutches of Cadulo in hopes of stopping the madman from bringing the god, Urzkartaga, into the world.

I am totally enjoying both the past and present tales in Wonder Woman, and this showdown with Urzkartaga is exactly what I hoped it would be: a reminder of how iconic and great Wonder Woman is. In this series, Diana is a confident, fearless warrior intent on saving her friends and keeping her promise to free Barbara Ann from the curse of the Cheetah. I won’t spoil the ending, but will say that I loved seeing the effect our hero has on the prisoners as she inspires them to stand up to their oppressor and believe in themselves; it’s exactly what being a superhero is all about.

Sharpe’s art seems to be getting better and better, which is saying something as it’s been beautiful since day one. I especially liked the hyper-creative panel layouts which reminded me of various moments from Swamp Thing throughout the years. I also appreciate the confidence behind Wonder Woman’s slight smile during her battle with the evil god (is he somehow related to the Swamp Thing or the Green? Kinda seems like it. Hmmm…). Cheetah stomping Cadulo and the jackal men are pretty alright, too. I will say that although I love Martin’s colors on this issue, they are from a darker palette than in previous issues, but then again, the story takes place in Urzkartaga’s lair, and he doesn’t appear to be down the livelier colors of the rainbow.

Wonder Woman’s good, Denizens. It’s a blast, and like I said above, the issues set in the past are every bit as good as the ones set in the present. If you’ve been looking for a good Wonder Woman story to jump in on, then rest assured this is one not to be missed. The creators look to have some great things in store for us, and I’m happy to say I will there to see it all unfold. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Deadly Class #22
Deadly Class #22 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, colored by Jordon Boyd, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Freshman finals is over, and the survivors return to King’s Dominion to find a new batch of freshmen and to see new plays for power.

Remember issue 21, Denizens. Remember what a mess I was after reading it? Yeah. Shizzle. Went. Down. And it all went down hard. Part of me went “Holy moly. There’s no way that really happened.” Apparently, it did. Dang. A lot of characters died in that issued, and I guess they’re gonna stay dead. Again, dang. Now that the survivors know what to expect, it’s fascinating to see them already vying for leadership over the other students, and how the new crop of kids attempt to impress each other and the sophomores; the coming year promises to be brutal for them all.

After the hiatus — only a couple months, but it felt like forever — Craig doesn’t miss a beat with his superb storytelling and his ability to utilize high-panel-count pages in ways that few can effectively pull off. (Dang, I need to look into getting some of his original art.) The black and white line art alone would make this comic worth the price of admission, but the addition of Boyd’s coloring makes this comic quite lovely. Boyd utilizes little rendering, focusing predominantly on monochromatic and analogous colors that perfectly set the tone of the story while giving the book an experimental look and edge. It’s stunning.

I have some ideas as to what is going on but given the punishment these creators routinely put on us through — I’m not complaining, mind you — I could totally be wrong. We’ll just have to wait and see. That said, for all you Deadly Class newbies, don’t jump in here. Don’t do it. Yes, this is year two, and it might seem like a jumping on point, but it is not. All the crazy — boy, howdy, do I mean crazy! — stuff that happened in the previous 21 issues necessitates starting at the beginning of this fine series to better understand this world, the characters, and their relationships. Plus, messed up stuff goes down often in Deadly Class, and why would you want to miss any of that? So, if you’re in the market for a series about a school for young assassins, then you should start with the first four trades or the lovely hardcover; you’ll be glad you did. I can’t wait to see how this all plays out. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Heat Wave - Enough is enough, already. Thankfully, things have finally cooled down some, and I hope that fall is ready to stick around. As much as I loved the Dolly Parton concert, the mixture of intense heat and the intensely uncomfortable chairs hurt the experience some, but not enough to prevent us from having a blast. Sleeping through the night with this heat this week, though…ugh. Awful.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 9/23/2016

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 / beachgoer Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Today, the Donist World corporate office (Mom’s basement) is vacating the premises for an offsite day of reflection — over doughnuts and coffee, of course — and then heading to the beach for some fun in the sun and teambuilding our way to maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company. It should be good times. So, if you can’t make it to the beach, be sure to read some of the awesome Prez comic, check-in on an episode or two of the exceptional Stranger Things on Netflix, 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***

Seven to Eternity #1
Seven to Eternity #1 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Jerome Opeña, colored Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Garils Sulm, The God of Whispers, has conquered most of a world…but most is not all. One man, Zebadiah Osidis, heard the conqueror’s words and rejected him, and he and his kin were ultimately forced to settle to one of the most obscure regions. Unfortunately for the Osidis family, the “Mud King” has found them.

Yes to everything about this phenomenal new series from creator-owned hero Rick Remender. We’ve already experienced some fantastic sci-fi (Fear Agent, Black Science, Low, Tokyo Ghost) and great action / drama (Deadly Class), and now we are led into the glorious domain of fantasy with this exciting new series. Now, Denizens, this book has everything a Donist could ever hope for in a comic book: a determination to persevere in the face of great adversity, staying true to yourself and those you love, groovy monsters, a crazy sort of magic the rules of which I don’t yet fully understand, a fearsome evil being cloaked in mystery, and so much more. As I have said with many of Remender’s other works, this book seems like it was written for me.

The dialogue and characterization stand strong all on its lonesome, but with Opeña’s art to bring this rich world to life…boy howdy, best hold onto your knickerbockers, you’re in for a heck of a ride. Yes, the usual can be said about the tight storytelling and character acting, but the design is what’s sure to rock your world starting with page one. The character designs and costuming are stunning, the design of the monsters — especially on the spectacular double-page spread — jaw-dropping, and the seamless mix of familiar with the completely alien had me wanting to both stay on the page and whip through to see what could possibly come next. Pushing all of the incredible linework is Hollingsworth’s vibrant colors, especially when magic fully enters the scene with the confrontation between Zebadiah and a Piper (not gonna spoil this character, you just need to see him). Where most comics tend toward a muddy / muted coloring scheme, this one is not afraid to dazzle when it wants to give that extra one-two punch.

I love this first issue. You need to go out right now and get a copy of Seven to Eternity…if you can find one, that is. As far as first issues go, I could not have been more pleasantly surprised by this comic. I had high expectations going in, and the creators gave me so much more than I could have hoped for. Wowsers, Denizens, I cannot wait to see what happens next. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Empress #6
Empress #6 - 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. Queen Emporia, along with her children and protectors, have finally arrived at their destination, but is it truly the safe haven they have been seeking?

I have been enjoying this seven-issue mini-series since issue one, but I have to admit that my interest waned a little with the past couple of issues. Don’t get me wrong, Denizens, I still really enjoyed those issues, but I think I was hoping for a little bit more insight into some of the characters. This issue does not provide any flashbacks or anything, but what it does give is a look into some of the characters’ relationships with each other, which got me square in the feels and brought me back in. It also helped that Immonen’s art is off the chain with the character acting, and Svorcina’s colors made the banking world of Euphoria a gorgeous showcase of how color can make an already great comic book even better.

<Arrrgh> There’s only one more issue left in this great series, and given the two twists I didn’t see coming, I have no idea how this story is going wrap up. What I do know is that I don’t want Empress to end; I still want more more more. If you chose not to pick up this great sci-fi roller coaster of an adventure <ugh, how could you do this to me?>, then never fear: you can pick up the hardcover sometime in February. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Chew #58
Chew #58 - Written and lettered by John Layman, illustrated and colored by Rob Guillory, color assists by Taylor Wells, published by Image Comics. Well, looks like the end of the world is tomorrow, so whatever is a cibopathic FDA agent supposed to do? Why, go on the ultimate date with his honey, of course.

At certain points in life, you just have to accept that some good things must come to an end. That monstrous mud pie you ordered, that exceptional rare beer you just popped open, the television series Firefly (oh, heck, and Stranger Things, too). It simply must be. So it goes with Chew.

What more can I say about this series that hasn’t already been said — 61 times by me to be exact (including Poyo! specials and a Revival crossover — other than I love it, and the glorious hardcover Omnivore Editions reside on my favorite bookshelf for all to see. If you’ve been reading along since the beginning, then you are exactly where I am: eagerly awaiting the next issue that puts you that much closer to the end. If you are sitting there sayin’, dang, Donist, after hearing you jaw on and on about this series 62 times now I’m finally sold. Where do I jump in? Well, let me tell ya. I’m glad you’ve finally listened to me, and you should start at issue one. Duh. Of course you start with issue one. You need to grow to love the characters, learn the world and its rules, and get sucked into the bizarre mystery of this Donist World Darling of a series. Hey, you also get the added bonus of seeing Guillory’s art evolve and Layman’s premonitions come to pass. Just know that it is never too late to dive into the most unique comic on the stands, and you can do so through the trades or the previously mentioned Omnivore Editions. Trust me. You’ll be glad you did. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Archie #12
Archie #12 - Written by Mark Waid, breakdowns by Ryan Jampole, finishes by Thomas Pitilli, colored by Andre Szymanowicz, lettered by Jack Morelli, published by Archie Comic Publications, Inc. An understandably misinterpreted hug. A mayoral race coming to a close. Current loves deciding enough is enough. It’s all chaotic business as usual for our favorite redheaded resident of Riverdale.

I’m gonna have to take Ronnie and Sayid’s side on this one, they have a right to be upset. Now, I can see being on good terms with an ex and still being friends and all, but the connection between Archie and Betty has been built into a reinforced bridge since the two were toddlers. How’re possible new romantic interests, or even possible new friends for that matter, supposed to compete with that? In short, it ain’t easy. Waid continues to take a decades long love triangle, expand upon it, and ground it in reality, all the while making the reader sympathetic and understanding toward each character’s feelings. In the end, we’re just as torn over the situations in Archie as the characters themselves.

The inconsistent look of the art from last issue is not a factor this month, as Jampole and Pitilli provide panels and pages reminiscent of the art that has come before, while keeping the reader immersed in the rather heartbreaking story. There are some lighthearted moments this issue, with some great sight gags, but the humor dips in favor of the drama this month, which is the right choice in getting this ol’ Donist’s cold heart to melt.

So that wraps another storyline, and I fully intend to be there for the next issue that reintroduces yet another well-known redhead into the mix, Cheryl Blossom. I can’t wait. If you need a break from the capes and tights, and Civil Fights of the New Less than 100, then you owe it to yourself to give the relaunch of Archie a try. Just be sure to start at the beginning with the first trade and then mosey on over to the second trade when it becomes available late December . RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Keeping it Positive This Week - I want to keep it positive this week and just reflect on the great comics I’ve read and the tons of great comics yet to be discovered. Have a great weekend and…and…Donald “Drumpf” Trump is a small-handed, lying, racist, entitled, inheritance-having chump (or is it “Chumpf?”). And John Stumpf (Wells Fargo CEO in charge of defrauding Americans, and firing loyal workers because he is a dick) should go to jail and lose everything he stole made. <ack> Be positive. Be positive. Puppies…are…cute. Burritos…beer…


Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 9/16/2016

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 / potluck proponent Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). The Donist World corporate office (Mom’s basement) has had it up to here with being served extra portions of home improvement fail this week and as such have decided to serve up some good food instead. That’s right, Denizens, we’re having a Donist World potlock. I made up a fresh batch of grape salsa (the jalapeños could have been hotter, but whatchagonnado) and brought a couple bags of tortilla chips. Reverse Obie brought a green jello dish with fruit in it, and Tulip…also brought a jello dish (red color) with fruit in it. Hmmmm. Here’s hoping Amy the Intern (my wife) brings burgers or chicken or something for tacos. Whatever the case, it looks to be a good time. So, cook up your favorite dish for the potluck (you know, the one you’re famous for), read some of the awesome Prez comic, check-in on an episode or two of the exceptional Stranger Things on Netflix, 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 #6
Wonder Woman #6 - Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Nicola Scott, colored by Romulo Fajardo Jr., lettered by Jodi Wynne, published by DC Comics. Diana and Steve Trevor land an invisible plane in sunny San Diego with the bodies of Trevor’s former team as cargo. The military is probably going to have a question or two for them.

Wonder Woman continues to be one of the best DC Superhero comics I have read in quite a while, and I have read some pretty cool DC superhero books over the past few years. The funny thing about this issue is not a single supervillain or superhero appears. Not one punch or kick is thrown. Instead, Rucka and Scott focus on Steve and Diana’s connection, their communication issues, and them trying to explain to the military about Diana and the Amazons; this book is all the better for it.

Diana and Trevor’s relationship is at the forefront of this “Wonder Woman: Year One” storyline, and Scott’s simply gorgeous artwork completely sells the trust between the two through some of the best character acting I have seen outside of a Terry Moore comic. As you read the page, you experience exactly how overwhelming this new world is to the Amazon princess, and how hesitant and guarded she feels in dealing with these strange, new people.  Aside from Trevor, Diana is alone. No one speaks her language except for one individual — which wonderfully ties this story set in the past to the story in the present. Whether you see Diana react to a bunch of police officers with weapons drawn, or Trevor breaking the bad news to his buddy’s widow, or Diana waiting in a holding cell you can’t help but empathize with these characters. The emotion on their faces and the stunning display of body language when combined with Fajardo Jr.’s lively, vibrant colors easily pulls you in.

I guess the eyes have it, Denizens, as Wonder Woman has transitioned from a superhero comic to a story about characters I honestly care for. Yup, no action, only drama, and this issue is one heck of a compelling read that leaves me eager to see what happens next. It’s not too late to jump in with the even-numbered issues covering the past or the odd-numbered issues covering the present, and while you’re scooping this series up, don’t forget to grab a copy of Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1 while you’re on the hunt, you’ll be glad you did. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Black Science #24
Black Science #24 - 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 a lot to make up for with his family, but for his daughter Pia, he’s willing to give up that which he prides himself on the most.

Last issue’s art blew me away with its brilliant colors and its tremendous linework, especially when it came to the wicked witch, and this issue delivers more of the same awesomeness. Even when a scene is something as minor as Grant and Pia calmly walking down the street at night, there’s something to admire. The mixture of Scalera’s character acting and dynamic storytelling combined with Dinisio’s complementary colors and bold highlights make each page a thing of beauty.

I’m not gonna spoil nuthin’, but I will say that true to Black Science form, this issue throws in a couple of curveballs I did not see coming at all. Now more than ever, I cannot wait to see what happens next. If you’re a fan of Remender and / or good science fiction stories, then look no further than the fantastic Black Science. You can easily catch up with the four trades or the oversized hardcover and rest easy that Remender will take care of you every bit as well as he did back in the days of Fear Agent. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

All Star Batman #2
All Star Batman #2 - Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by John Romita Jr. and Declan Shalvey, inked by Danny Miki, colored by Dean White and Jordie Bellaire, lettered by Steve Wands, published by DC Comics. It’s two tales: One with the madman Two-Face, the other with the psychopath Zsasz.

Wait a sec…didn’t the last issue end with Bats driving a semi as the Gentleman Ghost clung to the back of the rig? Now, the story opens on a train as the Dark Knight fights Killer Croc, King Shark, and Amygdala (no idea who this cat is, but I can roll with it) as Two-Face watches. Okay, I guess there was a jump in time or somethin’, but as much as I was looking forward to seeing this Gentleman Ghost guy get his butt handed to him, I have to admit seeing Batman serve up some critical beatdowns to some cerebrally-challenged monsters is dang cool. We also get a new(?) villain, who goes by the name “The Beast,” and the backup story, although a tad confusing, is a creepy good time.

The art on this series is striking with one of the highlights being White’s colors over Romita Jr.’s linework. White brings shocks of color to this usually desaturated, murky world, and the mixture of smoke-grey and sharp reds pulsing across Two-Face’s face is a look that makes him all the more sinister. Shalvey and Bellaire’s short backup story looks mighty fine, too.

If you’re a fan of the New 52 Batman series by Snyder and Capullo, or if you’re a fan of the character in general, you should definitely seek out this 40-page, $4.99 comic that looks to offer shorter stories (spread over three issues for both the main story and the backup, at least I believe that’s the case) and a rotating roster of superstar artists. We’re only two issues in thus far, best get on it while you can! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Blue Cross - Wow. Despite having raked in $2.5 billion in profit, and having raised premiums on subscribers between 10–20 percent, I just received a letter from my hospital’s anesthesiologist, that Blue Cross refused to allow them to raise their rates to Blue Cross (supposedly the anesthesiologist rates are 10–15 percent below country average). The anesthesiologist group has not raised rates in over three years. Wow, I guess times must be VERY tough when $2.5 billion in profit is considered chump change. I guess the ol’ “Take a big swig of this cheap whiskey, bite down on this here wooden spoon, and hold very still…this might sting a bit” method of performing surgical procedures is coming back. We need to divorce our health insurance providers from prioritizing shareholder returns over quality care. This just seems wrong.


Friday, September 9, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 9/9/2016

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 / bad news slayer Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). The Donist World corporate office (Mom’s basement) continues to be in a state of constant upheaval since beginning the recent bout of home improvements. Now, after the trials of having new flooring and carpeting installed and a complete interior paint job, the Donist World bathroom now smells like a campground porta-potty briefly every morning around 5:00 AM. Not cool. I’ll mention the exact / costly remedy down in “Slice in the Woods” so we can get right to the reviews. So, appreciate your own bathroom for not being like ours, read some of the awesome Prez, check-in on an episode or two of the exceptional Stranger Things on Netflix, and most of all read some great comics…like Prez. 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***

The Flintstones #3
The Flintstones #3 - Written by Mark Russell, illustrated by Steve Pugh, colored by Chris Chuckry, lettered by Dave Sharpe, published by DC Comics. Science in the prehistoric age? War veterans getting kicked to the curb? Alien bro invaders? Just another day in stoney ol’ Bedrock. All this plus the origin of a certain catchphrase we all know and love.

I will just have to take The Flintstones as a consolation for not getting the final half of Russell’s brilliant Prez — Hey, DC, c’mon what’s a measly six additional issues of a critical darling? — but what a consolation this fantastic new series is. Much like Prez, this comic deals in satire and offers a cold, hard look at life for our fave Stone Age family, all while turning the microscope back onto our present-day selves. Now, this would all be utterly depressing if not for these creators making the particulars of the story so dang hilarious and at times touching.

The situations and dialogue alone are enough to turn my ever-resistant frown upside down, but when combined with Pugh’s comical art, sight gags, and callbacks to the original The Flintstones cartoons you get a double whammy of fun that’s sure to wipe away any of the grumpies that might be ailing you…at least until you pause to ponder aspects of the comic’s subject matter. Still, the space launch, the David Bowie nod, and the alien bros on “Galactic Break!!!” will keep you laughing between bouts of nervous fidgeting.

Where else are you going to find a rich business man pleading for power from a foreign / alien force …okay, don’t answer that depressing question, but what I’m saying is that The Flintstones is a heck of a lot of fun. Although, it’s probably not as enjoyable for the kiddos as it is for the parents who were tuned into the cartoon for a good chunk of their childhood. The social commentary in this series is as relevant as it is in Prez (is there a petition out there somewhere to convince DC to allow its creators to finish the series? Six. Issues. That’s all we need) and the creators successfully integrate it into the nostalgic mainstay so many of us grew up with. Here’s hoping this series sticks around for some time to come. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Paper Girls #9
Paper Girls #9 - 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. Erin, Tiffany, and Mac are reunited along with “Old” Erin and “Techno” Erin. What could possibly go wrong? Other than a giant-sized, microscopic critter, of course.

Dang, this comic is a blast, but given the creators, how could it not be a total hoot? Not only do Vaughan and Chiang provide answers as to who / what “Techno” Erin is (or is she actually “Other” Erin…hmmmmmm), we get some insight into where next month’s second arc conclusion is going to be taking us, and it looks to be mighty weird, indeed. But with this sensational ’80s-based, sci-fi, fantasy, adventure comic about a group of friends thrust into some extreme circumstances, weird is the name of the game, which is part of what makes this series so great.

Not only are the story and characters compelling, but Chiang and Wilson bring this story to life with their glorious visuals. I have praised Chiang’s grasp of character acting and storytelling with each issue, as I have Wilson’s mix of eerie pinks and blues, but this issue really stands out, especially with the gorgeous double-page spread of the airship and Wilson’s vibrant reds and blues on “Techno” Erin. But writing about the art of Paper Girls can by no means do it any justice. It has to be seen to be believed, as this is one dang, fine, purty funny book.

I’m really not surprised the tremendous Paper Girls took home Eisner Awards for Best New Series and Best Artist — I kind of figured it was headed for greatness after the first issue completely blew me away. If you are a fan of the phenomenal Netflix original series Stranger Things (one of my top five favorite shows of all time), then you MUST check out this extraordinary comic book series, which you can do with the first trade today, and the second trade in December. I can’t wait to see what happens next. Exciting, yo! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Kill or be Killed #2
Kill or be Killed #2 - Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips, colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser, editorial supervision by Eric Stephenson, published by Image comics. Dylan remembers certain childhood events that led him to choose his first victim.

With a Brubaker and Phillips book, you can always expect a well-paced, beautifully told, gorgeously illustrated tale that oftentimes leans toward less than savory characters who behave in questionable ways, and that remains true for Kill or be Killed. With this book’s protagonist, Dylan does horrible, repugnant things in an effort to calm his inner demons (see what I did there?), but when you listen to the why he chose who he chose, as he goes deep into a long buried childhood memory and recalls a discussion with his father right before the man’s suicide, it’s easier to sympathize with Dylan, to better understand him. This is a bit unsettling.

But as uncomfortable as this comic might make readers, there’s no mistaking the strength of both Dylan’s inner dialogue, or the exceptional visuals. I often praise Phillips’s mastery of storytelling and character acting, so no big shocker that this issue is yet another showcase of the man’s talent. One cool thing, however, is that amidst this dreary world we see one beautiful and vibrant image depicting a magazine cover that is said to be painted by Dylan’s dad. It’s one of the few non-bleak (no knock on Breitweizer’s great coloring, this is a depressing and drab world after all) moments and the electric reds and blues make me kind of leave me wanting to see more risque ’70s-style sci-fi paintings from the two (future art book? Please?).

Now, I have to admit I was somewhat taken aback by the reveal from the first issue of what sets Dylan on his course to become a vigilante, but I’m rolling with it and enjoying the ride thus far. If you are new to Brubaker and Phillips work, and are looking for a comic with a little hope, then this probably isn’t the comic for you. But, if you are a fan of crime comics and you love Criminal and The Fade Out as much as I do, then jumping in early on Kill or be Killed is definitely the right move. RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Dang, Son, Our Bathroom Reeks! - If the Reverse Obie is ever to regain his “Fortress of Peace and Quiet and Solitude” then we will have to have the old toilet (a Swedish model that is no longer made and that has different plumbing than US standards) removed, the flooring we just put in removed, the floor cut into, the plumbing redone to US standards, the baseboard put back, the flooring redone, and a new US toilet installed. And Voila! No more early morning methane blasts. Crap…and I mean that literally. CRAP!


Friday, September 2, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 9/2/2016

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 / unintentional whistler Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). The Donist World corporate office (Mom’s basement) kinda fell into disarray this week when during one of team building exercises — tug of war with a beat up dog toy — Tulip yelped and retreated to her cubicle. Low and behold, the toy had blood on it, and one of her front teeth (not a canine) was loosely held in her gums. By the next morning I found the tooth on the bed. Thankfully, the vet said the tooth had popped out clean and that it would have fallen out eventually anyways because of overcrowding in Tulip’s mouth; the rest of her teeth are doing fine. Thus we are all three taking it easy for the rest of the week. Y’know, chillin’.  And you should do some chillin’, too. So read some of the awesome Prez (see “Slice into the Woods” below <sniffle>), and check-in on an episode or two of the exceptional Stranger Things on Netflix, and most of all read some great comics…like Prez. 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 #10
Afterlife with Archie #10 - Written by Roberto Aguierre-Sacasa, illustrated by Francesco Francavilla, lettered by Jack Morelli, published by Archie Comic Publications, Inc. Josie and the Pussycats finally make their appearance and they discover firsthand that monsters roamed the Earth even before the coming of the zombie apocalypse.

My goodness gracious, Denizens, even though the wait between issues was only three months this time — compared to the year-long wait between 8 and 9 — it still felt much longer. Heck, even if the wait was only two weeks it would still be far too long. What I’m trying to say is that I L-O-V-E this series. This week’s issue does not detract from my rather bold proclamation of adoration, and the crazy thing is that this issue doesn’t even touch on the events of the previous nine issues. Nope. Instead, we jump back in time to catchup with Josie and the Pussycats (Josie, Melody, and Valerie) to see what they were doing before the zompacalypse, and I can promise you it is not what I was expecting. No siree Bob.

Aguirre-Sacasa has continuously juggled horror, drama, mild-humor, and intense emotional beats with every issue, while ever remaining true to Riverdale’s inhabitants. So what if Archie Andrews does not appear in this issue. Neither do Betty or Veronica. Hey, we don’t even see one stinkin’ zombie this issue, but given our time with Josie, and to a lesser degree the Pussycats, I am totally fine with the decision. As I said above, I did not see the direction this story was headed, and I was completely immersed in the story and characters even before the crazy reveal came. Dang, this is a cool, creepy, fun story that I look forward to rereading in the near future.

The art is as astounding as ever. If you do a search for “Francesco Francavilla” on Donist World and read each of my thoughts on the books I have reviewed, you’ll quickly figure out that I kinda like his work. Okay, that is an understatement. Actually, I freakin’ love what he does. Not only does his compelling storytelling and phenomenal character acting pull you into his work, but his coloring also pushes the story forward, while accentuating the mood of each scene. His art is stunning, which reminds me I need to get one of his posters so I can proudly put it on display around the house.

If you are already reading Afterlife with Archie, then you are definitely nodding your head in agreement to everything I’ve said. If you aren’t, then I’m guessing you are thinking, “Archie meets The Walking Dead? That sounds dumb,” but trust me. This comic is a powerhouse of a series, with story and art that will grab hold and keep you desperate to see what happens next, and I can’t wait to see what that is. You can catch up with the first trade (the second trade releases in February), and you might as well pick up Afterlife with Archie’s sister book, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina while you’re at it, it’s good, too. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Future Quest #4
Future Quest #4 - Written and illustrated by Jeff Parker, illustrated by Evan “Doc” Shaner and Ron Randall, colored by Hi*Fi, lettered by ALW’s Dave Lanphear, published by DC Comics. New players enter the fray against the dreaded Omnikron!

The first three issues of Future Quest have been a blast. Even without the nostalgia kick to remind me of just how much I used to love many of these characters — and to remind me that I should try to watch some of these old shows again someday — Parker’s story is engaging and thrilling with some legit stakes. Already we’ve been introduced to hosts of characters and this multiple-chapter issue introduces a bunch of new ones with still plenty more to come. At 32+ pages each issue, the story is close to feeling a tad full, but the creators somehow manage to move forward even while introducing Mightor, a caveman, a kid named Todd, Number 1(?), Linda Kim-Conroy, Buzz Conroy, and Frankenstein Jr. See what I mean? There’s a lot goin’, but — dagnabbit — even if we barely see one panel with Space Ghost, I’m still loving this adventure comic.

As I mentioned above, this issue consists of three chapters / stories, each with a different art team, which is a bit of an odd choice given last month’s flashback issue. But as tightly packed as this comic might be, everything works; each page is lovely, vibrant, fun. It doesn’t matter whether you were watching these cartoons back in the day or not — although I’m sure it helps — there’s still plenty of excitement for everyone. For a comic book series spun off of multiple cartoon shows, Future Quest is a heck of a thrill ride with more depth and intrigue than fans could ever hope for. You need to be reading this. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

East of West #29
East of West #29 - Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics. At long last, Death and his son are reunited.

With almost every installment of this post-apocalyptic, revisionist history, sci-fi, horror, political drama, I remind the Donist World Denizens that this series is varsity-level comic booking. What I mean by this is that the there are so many characters, all with their own motives and secrets and complex relationships, and so many different plot threads that sometimes this ol’ Donist has trouble following what is going on. The good thing is that the mysteries tend to be slowly revealed over the course of a story arc. This issue, however, isn’t like that.

For the first time in quite a while, things are fairly straight forward. There’s fighting and cool imagery, as well as the highly anticipated meet up that has been building over much of the series, and let me tell you, it’s awesome. After so much intrigue and machinations and labyrinthine power plays, this issue reinvigorates things by giving the reader that which they’ve been clamoring to see. Don’t worry, though, new questions arise near the end, and I have no idea what the final two pages mean for this bleak world. What I do know is that I am jazzed to see what happens next.

Complex. Difficult. Fascinating. Genre crossing. East of West is all those things, but for those interested in an intricately plotted, challenging series that is thoroughly rewarding, then you need to give this one a shot. You can dive in with the five available trades (a sixth in November!), or take the plunge with the oversized hardcover. Crazy things look to be on the horizon in next month’s conclusion to “Year Two.” VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Tokyo Ghost #10
Tokyo Ghost #10 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Sean Murphy, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. This is it, true believers. It’s Debbie Decay, aka The Tokyo Ghost, versus the techno-terrorist Davy Trauma for the fate of the entire world.

Tokyo Ghost really got me thinking about how pervasive and intrusive tech is in our lives (I say this as I type on a MacBook, while controlling an Amazon Tap through my iPhone, as my FitBit patiently waits for me to get up and move). The creators gave us a world where all but the Tokyo Garden had fallen before the might of a tech addicted society and the whims of greedy corporations. Back in the real world, after seeing a gaggle of bros all engrossed in their smartphones at a local brewery, Remender and Murphy’s Tokyo Garden suddenly seemed like a rather nice place; yeah, that paradise didn’t survive the first story arc of Tokyo Ghost…at least not completely.

The stakes are high in this series conclusion, and I have to admit I was skeptical that this 10-issue series would end in a satisfying manner. Silly, Donist…given the creators involved, there was no way Tokyo Ghost could miss the landing. They also succeed in making this book simultaneously sad and uplifting considering the events of issue 8 and the “One Year Later” ending of this issue. I still don’t necessarily understand what Davey is or how he came to be — maybe a Davey one-shot someday? Please? — but in the end he’s the bad guy, the force of group think, the end of independent thought, and what a fine villain he is.

This NSFW maxi-series is an exciting, fun, tragic, heartbreaking, and uplifting comic that will get you thinking about the direction our lives might be heading, all through fantastic scripting and Murphy and Hollingsworth’s stunning artwork, with all its fine details and glory. That’s it. It’s done. It’s over…for now, at least. Who knows, we might get more Tokyo Ghost someday in the near future, but for the time being newcomers can jump in with the first trade today, and the concluding trade in October on this cautionary tale of the perils of tech addiction and codependency. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Lazarus #24
Lazarus #24 - Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated and inked by Michael Lark, ink assists by Tyler Boss, colors by Santi Arcas, lettered by Jodi Wynne, designed by Eric Trautmann, published by Image Comics. Joacquim is on a secret mission, as Forever learns of a closely guarded secret.

As creepy as the idea of tech addiction is in Tokyo Ghost, the book that really makes me nervous is Lazarus. Lazarus is the comic that portends the direction the world is headed given the current political climate and the ever-increasing disparity of wealth distribution. I can see certain one-percenters pushing for a world of serfs (those who actively serve a ruling family) and waste (those deemed unnecessary), and that’s troubling. This is the landscape of Lazarus, only with super(in)human beings known as Lazari protecting each of the controlling families.

The creators have this series so dialed in, so thoroughly researched, that it often leaves me wondering if some of the more fantastical elements of the story are not actually part of reality…again, given our current course some things might someday come to pass; let’s hope not. But as disturbing as this series can be, it is trumped by the strength of the lead character, Forever, and the other Lazari. It’s also thrilling as heck given what the ending leads me to think is happening. I can safely tell you I will be peeking through my fingers as I eagerly read the next issue.

Despite the scary subject matter, I love this series, and seeing Joacquim in action — as told through Lark’s spectacular storytelling prowess — has me thoroughly pumped for the next issue, especially after seeing who he is working with. Lazarus isn’t just a post-apocalyptic, political thriller, it’s also an important comic that warns of what happens when a handful of “Haves” continue to take from the “Have-Nots.” If you aren’t already nervously reading through the floppies, you can catch up with the first four trades, or go the route of the two impressive hardcovers. However you do it, be sure you are reading this awesome series. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Saga #37
Saga #37 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, coordinated by Eric Stevenson, published by Image comics. Alana, Marko, and their eclectic family-by-circumstance search for Sir Robot’s abducted child. Meanwhile, Sophie sets a new life goal.

Such wow, Denizens! For some reason that seemed like a dreadfully long hiatus, but most Saga fans will agree that a hiatus of any length is gonna be a harsh one. This beginning of what is the seventh story arc — an impressive achievement for a creator owned book these days — mostly serves to remind us of the myriad characters, their plights, and their wants. I would almost…almost…go so far as to say it could be a jumping on point for new readers, but I would strongly advise against such a thing. You see, all the way back in issue one I quickly sympathized with Alana and Marko, but over the course of the series they, and almost all of the other supporting characters, have practically become family to me: I love them, they worry me, they upset me. But to really get into this amazing series, you need to start from the beginning to understand the world and to get to know the cast; you also don’t want to miss any of the touching, or laugh-out-loud funny, or exciting, or thoroughly disturbing (but still hilarious in a I’ll-never-be-able-to-unsee-that kind of way…i.e. FARD!!!) moments.

As I’ve said before, a merely good issue of Saga is better than most books on the stand, and this re-introductory issue is definitely good based off of the story itself. Fiona Staples’s art, however, continues to be better than ever. Her storytelling and character designs are always masterful, but it is her character acting that can have you smiling on one page, and then sniffling back the tears by the next. To be honest, she could illustrate an issue about Marko and Alana arguing over Hazel’s toys scattered about the rocket ship and it would be a thing of wonder. Dang, I still want to see some process videos on how she creates these stunning works of beauty…I think it involves some sort of magic or something.

So, yeah…I might not be raving about this particular issue, but I still completely adore this compelling series. If you aren’t reading Saga then you owe it to yourself to start from the beginning with the six available trades, or pull up your big-boy/girl pants and jump in with the gorgeous oversized hardcover. Just keep in mind that Saga is wholeheartedly NSFW, but this sci-fi / adventure / fantasy ever remains one of the best comics on the stand. Chic-a-chic-a-check it out! RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Prez Cancelled?!?! - Yeah, I’m still REALLY upset about this. Considering how important this comic is as commentary on our world, politics, society, etc., I am surprised that DC did not market it better to the likes of Last Week Tonight, The Daily Show, or any news station that actually has brains in their heads (although there aren’t many these days). Who knows, maybe DC didn’t want to get overly political or stir things up, which is a cowardly move, if that is the case. Regardless, six final issues of a critical darling is not that huge of a financial risk, given the great potential of this fantastic series. Bah humbug.