Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 7/21/2017

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 / chillaxinator Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Okay, I’m running late to a meeting with my puppy executive team about maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company, so I need to keep this short. We’re also hoping to cut out early today and head out to the beach for some R&R; we work hard to relax hard. So, before you dive in, grab a tasty beer or refreshing iced tea, relax, and while you’re at it check out some great comics. 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***

Friday Slice of Heaven

Descender #22

Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics. Hot diggity dawg, Denizens, you know by now that I love me some Descender, and it’s been far too long since the book went on hiatus. Yes it was only a measly three months, but when we’re talking about one of my two favorite comics on the stands (Seven to Eternity is the other), three months seems like far too long. I’m glad to have it back.

With this issue, we begin the “Rise of the Robots” event, and after the events of the previous issue, I was a bit nervous to crack this one open. Last time, Telsa was ejected into what looked to be a watery grave, Dr. Quon was about to get pulped by the duplicitous Tim-22, Andy and his crew were under fire from the Hardwire who holds our hero, Tim-21, in their mechanical clutches, as the United Galactic Council (UGC) takes the fight to the Hardwire. To be honest, it was kind of a mean mean mean place to leave us poor readers, but it was being left in that particular pinch that demanded I pick up my pull from the LCS the second I got off work and to read it first thing.

It was worth the wait.

I’m not going to spoil what happens in this issue other than to say that some of the nail-biting cliffhangers from April are left unresolved, some are compounded in even meaner ways, and one plotline is resolved in a manner that raised my eyebrows and caused me to mutter, “Holy spit balls.” Criminy, Denizens. I don’t know if the ol’ ticker can handle the astronomical amounts of stress Lemire and Nguyen are putting us under, but I will endure. I have no choice other than to see what happens next, and I am confident you will feel the same.

Descender is a beautifully-woven space opera that is truly epic in scope. I’ve grown to love each of these characters over these past 22 issues — even the bad ones — as each has a legitimate reason to behave the way they do, and although their actions are not always nice, it’s easy to understand where they are coming from. Nguyen’s watercolored art is stunning whether depicting the intense emotions of a character or the pink-hued, mysterious vastness of the cosmos and its myriad inhabitants; seeing the actual texture of the paper also adds a dreamlike atmosphere to this already phenomenal book. Descender is a must-read series for anyone who loves sci-fi, Lemire, Nguyen, or just damn-fine comic books in general. If you are not reading this heavenly series in floppies, then you need to pick up the first four trades, and then also spring for the hardcover this December. Now comes the month-long wait for the next issue…it’s gonna seem like an eternity.


Lazarus X+66 #1

Written by Greg Rucka and Eric Trautmann, illustrated by Steve Lieber, lettered Jodi Wynne, edited by David Brothers, designed by Eric Trautman, published by Image Comics. Nearly four months ago, Rucka and Lark gave us one heck of a brutal concluding story arc as Forever and Sonja — two nigh indestructible and genetically engineered guardians known as Lazarai — suffered a devastating loss against a diabolical Lazarus known as the Beast. Also wrapped into their defeat was a grand betrayal that is certain to have massive repercussions for them in the future.

This issue isn’t about that.

In order to give their readers something to chew on while regular series illustrator Michael Lark recharges his artistic batteries, the creators decided to release a six-issue mini-series detailing different aspects and characters of the Lazarus universe starting with Casey Solomon. Casey is a woman once classified as “Waste” and recently lifted to the status of “Serf,” and in this first standalone issue, she strives to become one of the Family Carlyle’s elite special forces operators known as The Daggers. 100 people will strive to become a Dagger, but 90% of those will fail, and a fair portion of that 90% will die. It’s a grueling endeavor, and Casey is determined to be one of the few to persevere.

Each issue of this series will feature a different co-writer with Rucka, as well as a different artist. Trautman, the regular series designer, kicks off the writing duties with storytelling and technical champion Lieber providing some fantastic visuals. As much as I want to see how Forever deals with her crushing defeat, this interlude kept me enthralled from beginning to end and eager to see what
happens in the next installment where the creative team is switched up and we shift to the Lazarus Joacquim.

It’s a difficult thing to interrupt the regular story with a bunch of side stories, especially when you break up the established creative team, but this issue of Lazarus X+66 flawlessly pulled me back into Rucka and Lark’s bleak world that offers a glimpse a to where our society could be heading if we don’t right our course. It’s pretty dang frightening, but the series is so well researched and presented it’s impossible to turn away. My only warning is that you get caught up on the main series before tackling this mini, as there is much you need to become acquainted with first. You can catch up with the five trades or the two hardcovers, just make sure you catch up.


Royal City #5

Everythinged by Jeff Lemire, lettered by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics. Yes, indeedy, Denizens. This week we get a double dose of Jeff Lemire, but where the first book deals with distant universes, robots, and strange alien beings, Royal City is very much grounded here on Earth with normal people with normal problems.

The Pikes have gathered to be closer to the comatose patriarch of the family, but they quickly see it is all too easy to fall back into old routines and means of communication. But as fractured as the family might be, they are united by one common thread: Tommy. Each member is haunted by a different version of the ghost of Tommy who drowned at a young age, yet appears to each person as what they want to see, whether that be a priest, a carefree teen, or a like-minded friend. With this issue the father accompanies Tommy on a journey as a mysterious side character makes her true identity known, and things will never be the same.

The story arc concludes with this issue and goes on hiatus until October when a trade of these first five issues is set to arrive. Fans of Lemire’s heartfelt, triumphant Essex County (only $6.75 on Kindle/Comixology!) simply must read Royal City, a complicated, character study of a damaged family’s inner-workings and the toll the early death of one of their own takes on them all. So very good.


Slice into the Woods

A Bit of Crap from My LCS - Not ripping on my LCS or anything, but this week when I went in, the owner commented about four times that I am only getting about eight or nine regular(ish) comics with many of the rest seeing very sporadic/delayed releases. He’s actually right on this. Most of my comics come from Image, and some of those are dreadfully late, not to mention the eternally delayed Archie horror comics. Unfortunately, I had to tell him that little of the stuff coming from the Big 2 is of interest to me at this time. Sure, I’m reading Thanos at Marvel (until Lemire is off the book) and Mister Miracle, Future Quest Showcase, Bug, and Snagglepuss look to be the only DC comics I’m getting, but none of these are their flagship books. Things seem to be in a lull at the moment, but I’m sure I will be picking up a few trades here and there until the industry leaders straighten out and begin taking risks with their stories once again. Comics are also pretty damn expensive nowadays.

Please Just Put #45 and All of His Scum in Jail Already - I said the same thing last week, and it needs to be said again. Now it looks like he’s trying to get anyone looking into his corruption fired or discredited. Sad.


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