Saturday, November 18, 2017

Comics Lust 11/18/2017

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/pumpkin-lovin’ Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). It’s Amy the Intern’s birthday next week, so my puppy executive team and I are in full lockdown: red light blinking, “Do not disturb” signs hung outside the corporate office (Mom’s basement), and a pyramid of assorted burritos stacked six high as we work out the details of her main gift. Not only that, we are trying to juggle how to even get our mail to receive her presents after some evil moron took a crowbar to the complex’s group of mailboxes late Wednesday evening. Ridiculous. Anyhow, while we get back to planning, pour yourself an early winter-warmer beer or hot cocoa, grab a burrito off the top of your own burrito pyramid, and read some great comics. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magiks 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.

Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.

Comics Lust

The Gift of Giving (Part 1)! - The Comics I Like to Give

The holiday season is upon us once again, and with it comes the deluge of stress, guilt, bickering, awkward dinner conversations, and the feeling of wanting to run home to snuggle up near the heater with a nice glass of wine and your favorite comic book. Ahhhhh…peace, relaxation, zen. Wow, started going dark there for a moment, but I pulled myself back from the abyss; every little thing’s gonna be all right. The holidays aren’t all doom and gloom, though, sometimes it feels good to give a loved one, a family member, a friend, or a colleague something that means a lot to you and that you think they will enjoy. So, today I’m going to give a quick hit list of five trades from the past and five trades for series currently running that I like to give to those who are interested in comic books but might not know where to start. As for already established comics fans…we’re an obsessive lot and tend to have read tons of material already, so best to get a list of things they specifically want to read to avoid duplicating anything.

There’s no order to this list other than starting with five already completed series and following that with five continuing series and knowing that there are way more than just 10 books that I like to give to new comic readers; those titles will appear in subsequent installments.

Now, you might be thinking that I bring up Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing (DC Comics, 1984) every other week and you’re probably right, but there’s a very good reason for that. It has held a solid position in my top five favorite comics of all time since the day I read Moore’s first issue. This is a book I give to those who might like a good horror tale that is also tinged with a love story. The book focuses on the person that was Alec Holland as he finds his place in the world now that he is a monster. There are very brief appearances by superheroes, but this comic belongs to the Swamp Thing and Moore was pretty much given free rein to do whatever he wanted with the book whose sales were in decline before he came aboard. Moore’s run began with issue 20 and really gets going with issue 21, but the beautiful thing is that you don’t need to have read any of the prior material to know what is going on. Couple that with gorgeous art by John Totleben and Stephen Bissette and you have the makings of a masterfully told story that will resonate with readers for a good long while. There are six available trades in this must-read run.

Preacher (written by Garth Ennis, illustrated by Steve Dillon, published by DC/Vertigo, 1995) is also one of my top five favorite comic books of all time and something I think everyone with an open mind and an interest in comics simply must read. It’s also a no-brainer for those who like the television series as the comics are lightyears better than what I have seen on the show, which honestly isn’t that bad. Preacher tells the story of what happens when small-town preacher Jesse Custer is inhabited by a strange and powerful entity that imbues him with the word of God. But it’s so much more. Preacher has an impressive cast of characters: Tulip, the love of Jesse’s life who he has to win back; Cassidy, Jesse’s hard-drinking friend from Ireland who holds a bizarre secret; the Saint of Killers who you will have to learn about on your own; and Herr Starr, a twisted man with his own ideas of how to fix the world. I’m surprised there haven’t been more book burnings of Preacher because of its commentary on God and religion, but for open-minded friends looking for stellar characters and one helluva compelling story this heavenly series belongs on everyone’s best bookshelf. Preacher ran for 66 issues and had a bunch of one-shots, but they are all gathered in six beautiful sets.

Fear Agent (written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Tony Moore and Jerome Opena, published by Image Comics then Dark Horse Comics, 2005) is a sci-fi adventure comic that pulled me in the moment I read the first trade. I immediately switched to floppies because I couldn‘t wait for each new collection to come out; I definitely made the right choice. Fear Agent is the story of Heath Huston who was once your average Texan raising a family but is now one of the last spacemen known as Fear Agents set on ridding the Earth and the galaxy of alien threats. Every issue is a tale of weirdness, loss, and setting things right. Fans of pulpy sci-fi should love this beautifully written and illustrated tale. There are six trades from Dark Horse that might not be in print, but, better yet, there are the two Fear Agent Library Edition hardcovers that I need get for myself. Hint hint hint.

For some reason, I did not pick up the individual issues for the amazing The Vision (Written by Tom King, illustrated by Gabriel Hernandez Walta, published by Marvel Comics, 2015) as they were coming out. Looking at the brighter side of life, I was able to power through this I-can’t-believe-Marvel-is-letting-them-do-this-but-I’m-glad-they-are 12-issue series that focuses on the character of the Vision and the android family of a wife and two kids he has built for himself. The Vision and his family move to the suburbs and try to have a normal life, but nothing is normal about an android superhero and his makeshift family attempting to fit in with a society that fears them. There are uplifting moments and even more unnerving moments in this story that is what you get if you mix superheroes with Twin Peaks. There are two trades available, but it looks like a hardcover collecting the entirety of this critical darling comes out in January 2018.

I’m a huge fan of Mark Russell’s sadly unfinished political satire Prez (Written by Mark Russell, illustrated by Ben Caldwell, published by DC Comics, 2015), but I’m just as much a fan of his latest critically-acclaimed 12-issue run on The FlintstonesThe Flintstones (written by Mark Russell, illustrated by Steve Pugh, published by DC Comics, 2016) offers not only political satire, but also commentary on capitalism, religion, economics, consumerism, war, veterans, love, and so much more, all while focusing on the first family of Bedrock. There are plenty of laughs to be found both in the writing and in Pugh’s lovely backgrounds. Given our current awful political climate, The Flintstones is a smart, funny comic to help brighten anyone’s mood. There are two trades available for this series.

Of the current comics seeing release, Descender (written Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, published by Image Comics, 2015) is one I talk about often and is one I have given to at least three friends to read thus far. The story is appropriate for all sci-fi buffs who are ready to fall in love with a large cast of characters and to possibly get their hearts broken on occasion all while enjoying adventures with aliens, robots, monsters, and intergalactic battles. The story is about the boy robot TIM-21 who awakens ten years after massive robots known as The Harvesters decimate much of the populations of the nine planets in the United Galactic Council, and TIM-21 might just hold the answers to the secrets of the dreaded Harvesters. I positively love love love this series both epic story and lovely watercolored art. There’re four trades (a fifth in January) and a deluxe hardcover that I must have (again…hint hint hint) comes out the middle of December.

It’s no surprise that Rick Remender shows up twice on this list as his current creator-owned Deadly Class (written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, published by Image Comics, 2014) is a fantastic comic that we will be able to watch as a television series on Syfy come next year. The story is set in the ’80s and follows the travails of Marcus as he attends a high school for assassins. The story is pretty heavy as it deals with teen assassins, the craziness of adolescence, sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The cast of characters is huge and I will warn that you shouldn’t get too close to any of them as life at King’s Dominion does not promote long life spans. I also have to point out that Craig’s high panel count pages add a level of urgency and intensity that you’d be hardpressed to find in very many comics. To date, we have 31 issues, five trades (sixth mid-December), and one hardcover with a second at some point in 2018.

Saga. (Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, published by Image Comics, 2012) Oh, Saga. How I love thee. Okay, straight talk for a second, folks: Saga deals with some occasionally shocking adult situations (sex, nudity, death, drugs, violence) so you don’t want to be giving this one to any kids or work colleagues, but rather only someone you have known for a very long time. Trust me on this. Got it? That said, Saga is a Romeo and Juliet meets space opera series that primarily follows Marco and Alana, each of a differing warring alien species, happen to fall in love and have a baby, Hazel. Hazel is proof of the possibility of peace that those in charge do not want the populace to know about. The cast of characters is huge, no one is safe, the humor will make you laugh out loud, and there might be a moment or two where you actually cry. Saga is a huge success in the world of creator-owned comics and is one that can turn someone who knows little to nothing about the medium into a lifelong fan through Vaughan’s all-too-real and compelling story and Staples’s gorgeous, painterly art. There are two hardcovers and seven trades that your LCS should definitely be stocked up on.

Manifest Destiny (Written by Chris Dingess, illustrated by Matthew Roberts, published by Image/Skybound, 2013) is another one I love and have given to more than a couple of friends. If you know someone who has a particular fondness for history, then this revisionist historical take on the adventures of Lewis and Clark is an easy way to make them smile. Manifest Destiny is a look at what would happen had Lewis and Clark’s task not just been about exploration, but also about cataloging and eradicating the monsters that plague the untamed West. And by “monsters” I mean actual monsters: humongous frogs, giant insects, zombies, minotaurs, etc. The characters are intriguing and the mystery of the terrible arches scattered across the lands leaves me nervously whipping through the pages of this awesome serious. The fifth trade just came out and I read it in one sitting; I can’t wait for the sixth!

Since I’ve already talked about Rick Remender twice, I might as well mention Brian K. Vaughan again, too. Paper Girls (written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, published by Image Comics, 2016) is the book I give to anyone who loves the Netflix original television show Stranger Things as much as I do. You’ve got the ever-retro ’80s, kids on bikes, weird monsters, mysterious outsiders willing to help, and of course forces at work no one understands. The main difference between the comics and the show is that instead of four boys being put in nightmarish situations, you have four girls—paper girls to be exact—who are put in nightmarish situations, time travel, and enter new nightmarish situations. Unlike Vaughan’s other work, Saga, Paper Girls is for everyone provided they can deal with some fowl, yet realistic, language. Funny, touching, exhilarating, and sometimes scary, Paper Girls has something for everyone. You can pick up the three trades or jump right in with the oversized hardcover.

I’ll look at other gift ideas next time. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Read some great comics!

This Week’s Reading List

Descender #26 (written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics) The “Rise of the Robots” event comes to a close and I am SO amped to see what happens next. Seriously can’t wait. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Mage: The Hero Denied #4 (Everythinged by Matt Wagner, colored by Brennan Wagner, lettered by Dave Lanphear, consulting editor Diana Shutz, design and production by Steven Birch, published by Image Comics) Man, I struck gold this week. Kevin takes on Ereshkigal, Mistress of the Underworld and she might very well prove to be more than he can handle. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

East of West #35 (written by Johnathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics) Death and his son, Babylon, are finally together and taking some time to finally get to know each other as the remaining three Horsemen of the Apocolypse grow impatient. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Black Science #33 (written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Matteo Scalera, colored by Moreno Dinisio, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics) Most of the gang is back together…which is not a good thing as Kadir makes a tragic choice. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Future Quest Presents #4 (written by Jeff Parker, illustrated by Ron Randall, lettered by Dave Lanphear, published by DC Comics) We learn the tale of Space Ghost’s meeting with The Galaxy Trio and how they might not have perished by the evil tentacles of Omnikron. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Bug: The Adventures of Forager #5 (written by Lee Allred, illustrated by Mike Allred, colored by Laura Allred, lettered Nate Piekos, published by DC Comics) Forager’s adventures continue as he crosses paths with none other than OMAC: The One Man Army Corp. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


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