Saturday, December 30, 2017

Donist World 2017 Year-End Roundup - Part 2!

(Sung to the tune of Enigma’s “Sadeness”)

Chanting (Ummm…yeah, uh…a bunch of Latin-sounding stuff that I don’t understand.)

Donist World 2017 Year-End Roundup - Part 2!

Hey there, denizens, and a soon to be Happy New Year! I am joined as ever by CFO Reverse Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier, whose surly attitude changed for the better after his fur colors swapped when a corrupt businessman’s curse backfired) and by marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/New Year kibble nibbler Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). We hope you enjoy the top 20 heavenly things of 2017 while the Reverse Obie, Tulip, and I take our past-due “long winter’s nap” before we map out the course of our lives for the coming year.

***Probably NOT Spoilers Below***

If you have a moment, check out our past FSoH/SitW Year-End Roundups for 2017 (Part 1)2016 (Part 1), 2016 (Part 2)2015 (Part 1)2015 (Part 2)2014 (Part 1)2014 (Part 2)20132012, and 2011 to see all things heavenly from the past. Now, keep in mind that some of the items listed below might have come out before 2017, but 2017 was the year that we read, watched, drank, or ate them, thus their inclusion here. We at Donist World, thank you for reading and hope you enjoy our selections as much as we do.

Donist World 20 Heavenly Things (In No Particular Order)

  1. 11 O’Clock Comics (Podcast) - I listen to a fair amount of podcasts while at work: 11 O’Clock Comics is not one of them. Instead, I listen to my favorite podcast only while driving to and from work or when I go for a run. I think of it as a reward for doing something I normally wouldn’t want to do. It is during this time that I get to listen to David, Jason, and Vince talk about our favorite subject: comics. They recently hit their 500th episode this year and the special guest episode with Ed Piskor (X-Men: Grand Design and Hip-Hop Family Tree) is one of the best interviews I’ve heard all year. They’ve also had a successful Patreon campaign to which I will be upping my pledge in the new year. If you love comics as much as I love comics, then you can’t miss this podcast.
  2. Stranger Things 2 (Television Show - Netflix) - If you read last year’s installment, you know I was over the moon for the first season of Stranger Things. It touched on practically everything I love about the ’80s: Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars, design and film aesthetics, an amazing soundtrack and score, monsters, friendships, superpowers, and secret government experiments go awry. So, naturally, I was quite worried that the sophomore effort for what is one of my top-five-favorite television shows would be lacking. Not the case. Stranger Things 2 is everything I could have hoped for in the second season and can be enjoyed whether you lived through the ’80s or are just now gaining an appreciation for the time period many decades later.
  3. Blade Runner 2049 (Movie) - When I heard Blade Runner was getting a sequel, I was again quite skeptical on how it would fare when most sci-fi films today go for style over substance; Blade Runner 2049 has both. Adhering to an ’80s style of storytelling very much in line with the first film, while at the same time fully exploiting the advances in special effects technology three decades can provide, this enthralling piece of cinema is a success of story, sound, and vision that I cannot wait to rewatch upon the Blu-ray’s release.
  4. Game of Thrones, Season Seven (Television Show - HBO) - Do I really need to go into how amazing this show is? Yeah, another one of my top-five favorite television shows, this shorter season also managed to be my favorite in the series as many of the characters we both love and love to hate began to come together and realize the threat of the White Walkers. For every episode of this beautiful/terrifying/enchanting/nerve-wracking series, I made sure our schedule was clear of any obligations and that I had a bottle of New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk to help weather the storm of this triumphant fantasy series. I have no idea when the final season will air, but I promise I will be there, beer in hand, to help carry me through to this epic television show’s end.
  5. My Favorite Murder (Podcast) - My friends at work kept telling me about this My Favorite Murder podcast thing they love, so I checked one out. Then I went back to the beginning and steadily made my way through each episode until I caught up. I am now a “Murderino.” Karen and Georgia—with production and anything and everything technical by Steven—talk about murders, both small town and famous, in a lighthearted manner with just enough details to keep your morbid interest from beginning to end. I will be writing to them with my own hometown murder in 2018 and I fully intend to “Stay sexy and don’t get murdered.” Their fantastic podcast led me to…
  6. The Last Podcast on the Left (Podcast) - I first learned of The Last Podcast on the Left after listening to a bunch of My Favorite Murder episodes, so I gave them a shot. They are now one of my favorite podcasts…period. They cover all manner of subject matter but primarily focus on serial killers, government conspiracies, ghosts, UFOs, cults, cryptids, and the occasional Creepy Pasta reading. Impeccably researched and hilariously presented by Marcus Parks, Ben Kissel, and Henry Zebrowski, The Last Podcast on the Left has brought me to tears of laughter on MANY occasions while at work, and I have frequently had to pause an episode to take a walk and regain my composure. I hammered through every episode available (episode 300 just came out), I’ve relistened to many of them, and I even got Amy hooked on the boys as well. I will be signing up for their hugely successful Patreon in early 2018.
  7. Iron Marines (iOS Game) - I adore Ironhide Game Studio’s tower defense series: Kingdom Rush, Kingdom Rush: Frontiers, and Kingdom Rush: Origins. So, when they announced forever ago that they would be making a sci-fi installment among their otherwise fantasy roster, I was 100% on board. Even though the game only came out a few months ago, I’ve received every available achievement, maxed out every character I own (I still need to buy a couple other characters), and loved every second of hostile alien squishing and evil robot smashing. The next expansion cannot come soon enough.
  8. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (Movie) - Man, this is a fun movie. Any fears I had of the sequel not measuring up to the original were quickly allayed within the first few minutes of the opening credits scene. Checking back in with my favorite family of cosmic misfits was a blast from beginning to end that had me laughing, crying, and crying because of laughing as the GotG universe expanded and introduced us to some cool new characters to boot. Once I buy the Blu-ray, I see a double-header viewing night of the first and second movie in my near future. One of my top-five-favorite sci-fi film franchises of all time.
  9. My Favorite Thing is Monsters (Book/Graphic Novel) - My wife gave me this book for X-Mas and I have to say it is now one of my most prized possessions; I’m also only about 30% through the book as of this writing. Everythinged by Emil Ferris and published by Fantagraphics, this absolute treasure is part graphic novel, part fictional memoir, an homage to pulp and monster magazines, a murder mystery, an exploration of art, and a family drama all rolled into one. To make this work of art even more impressive is the fact Ferris illustrated the vast majority of the book using Bic ballpoint pens (red, black, blue, and green) on lined, three-hole punched paper. She primarily uses a system of intricate cross-hatching to depict shadows and the illusion of a broader color palette than what she actually used, and her style shifts from realism to surrealism to cartoonish to horrific as required by the young werewolf girl, Karen Reyes. Please please please please please check out the cover and see that it was drawn with only a couple of ballpoint pens, take a quick look inside, and buy this thing of beauty that everyone simply must own. I can’t wait to continue reading, and I can’t wait for volume two to arrive in August 2018. I must implore you, however, do not buy the digital version! This one is meant to be held in your hands as you turn each glorious page.
  10. Legion (Television Show - FX) - I can’t believe a cable network actually allowed this highly experimental, thoroughly engaging show about a mutant from the X-Men universe to actually grace our television sets. Clocking in at a short eight episodes, Legion follows the possibly crazy, possibly abused, possibly an addict, possibly possessed, possibly the most powerful being in all existence David Haller as he makes his way about a mental institution and falls in love with a beautiful young woman who refuses to be touched. I love everything about this engrossing, trippy, unnerving show whether it is the great cast, the rich soundtrack, the moody score, and especially the bizarre cinematic effects you won’t find anywhere else. Season two can’t come soon enough.
  11. Rick and Morty (Television Show - Adult Swim) - My younger coworkers had been telling me for quite some time that I needed to watch Rick and Morty, that I would love it. So I gave the first episode of the first season a shot and had watched all three seasons within the span of two weeks. I’m a convert. I now totally understand why everyone is goo-goo for gaga over this very intelligent, wholly inappropriate cartoon show. I now worship at the altar of Pickle Rick and look forward to rewatching this show beginning to end until season four is graciously unleashed upon us all.
  12. Marvel Puzzle Quest (iOS Game) - I hate you, Marvel Puzzle Quest. I’ve given you much too much of my time, and I’m ready to call it…wait a minute…I have a shot at a yellow-powered Captain America (Peggy Carter) card!!! Crap! If I get that, it means I only need one more power card—whether that’s red, blue, or yellow—from making this my first fully promotable four-star character!!! Dang, I simply cannot quit you! Marvel Puzzle Quest is a puzzle game involving heroes, villains, battling three on three, getting purple crystals, coins, and stars so you can expand your roster of Marvel characters. Stupid addictive.
  13. Runaways (Television Show - Hulu) - I really liked the Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona comic book series from back in the day, and this new Marvel television series is REALLY doing the comic justice. I love all the actors and their characters, the settings are perfect, the effects are cool, and Runaways is something I look forward to watching with Amy every week. I totally intend to reread the comics once this first season wraps. Enjoyable by all.
  14. The Girl with All the Gifts (Movie) - One weekend when Amy was out of town, I thought, Why not find a cool horror movie to watch. I saw the disturbing poster for The Girl with All the Gifts on Amazon Prime and thought this zombie flick might be the way to go. I got SO much more than a mere zombie movie. The character of Melanie is completely OWNED by Sennia Nanua in this post-apocalyptic masterpiece that gave far more than I could ever hope for. Imagine my surprise when I learned of…
  15. The Girl with All the Gifts (Book) - Nope. Your eyes do not deceive you. I did not know that the amazing movie was based on an equally amazing novel by M. R. Carey. What I also did not know was that M. R. Carey is also comic book writer Mike Carey. The book follows a series of characters in a post-apocalyptic world trying to understand and cure the blight of zombies that has decimated the world, and the strange and brilliant Melanie might hold the key to mankind’s survival. I won’t say anything else other than read it.
  16. Logan (Movie) - At a time when I thought the X-franchise might be done, Logan came along and totally blew me away. Brutal, sorrowful, tragic, and beautiful all at the same time, the film follows an older Wolverine and an ailing Professor Xavier as they encounter a mutant girl who is eerily like Wolverine not just in powers and physical characteristics, but in animalistic attitude. What really drew me in on this film was the atmosphere that reminded me of both the video game The Last of Us and the movie/novel The Girl with All the Gifts. I have this on Blu-ray and intend to watch the regular version followed by the included Black and White version as well.
  17. The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye (Graphic Novel) - Everythinged by Sonny Liew and published by Random House, is a phenomenal story about comic book artist Charlie Chan Hock Chye. The book is partially a history of Singapore and partially a character study, but is wholly a work of wonder. Liew utilizes so many different art styles in this beautifully produced book that it is mind-blowing to know it was both written and illustrated solely by one person. Although this book was released in 2016, I did not read it until this year. The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye deserves to be on everyone’s premiere bookshelf. You can read more of my thoughts about this lovely book from my earlier post here.
  18. Thor: Ragnarok (Movie) - Thor: Ragnarok is not just the weirdest of the Thor movies, it is the weirdest of the Marvel movies, and is now one of my top three—along with the first Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: Winter Soldier. This film is actually three movies in one: the story of Ragnarok, an outer space romp with the Hulk, and the confrontation with Hela. Typically, cramming so much into a movie would make it a hot mess, but not here. Thor: Ragnarok is a thrilling, funny, roller coaster ride that had me cheering and smiling from beginning to end. Even Amy, who is fiercely critical of the superhero movies, gave it a seven out of ten, which means comic book fans outta love the heck out of it.
  19. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (Television Show - HBO) - Dang. We really need John Oliver to come back seeing as how so much as happened since the show went on hiatus until 2018. As the Dotard in Chief and his ever-expanding team of villains continued to assail our democracy in 2017, Oliver exposed it all, broke it down, and told the truth, all while making us laugh despite the horror of it all. It’s only been a couple of months and so much has happened. Come back, John Oliver! We need you to shed light on the truth and to bring some much-needed laughs while you are at it.
  20. Beer (Beer) - Yes, Denizens, 2017 has been all about the barrel-aged beers, which means much higher ABVs (yay) and much higher calorie counts (boo). Here are some of the ones that floored me, as well as some of the staples of the Donist World corporate headquarters (Mom’s basement):
    • Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) (Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Co.) - I was able to pick up two four-packs of what is my favorite beer for celebrating a special occasion. Cave-aged in bourbon barrels for one year, this kicked-up version of Founders’s breakfast stout is a must-find for all beer lovers. I only have three left, but thank goodness this seasonal is about to return in the next month or two.
    • Pliny the Elder (Imperial IPA from Russian River Brewing Co.) - Yeah, Pliny still reigns king. If you’ve tried it, then you know. If you haven’t, seek it out. Amy surprised me with a case of this at the beginning of the year.
    • High West Barrel-Aged Victory At Sea (Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Co.) - Victory at Sea is easily my favorite porter, but when you barrel-age something that is already special, you get a beer that is ever specialerer. This is right up there with KBS for a beer to truly mark a momentous occasion.
    • Stygian Descent (Black IPA from Stone Brewing) - I was thoroughly bummed when Stone canceled my favorite Sublimely Self-Righteous black IPA. Thankfully, this barrel-aged beauty crossed my path. If only it wasn’t so dang expensive.
    • w00tstout (2017) (Imperial Stout from Stone Brewing) - I satisfied my dream of visiting Stone Brewing this summer and got to have this black-gold treasure on tap and by the bottle before the rest of the country got the chance. A lovely, complex, barrel-aged beer that will be vanishing from store shelves soon.
    • 120 Minute IPA (Imperial IPA from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery) It is a pain in the butt to find this in town, but when I do I buy a bottle or two. Clocking in at 18% ABV, don’t expect to do anything of substance afterward. 120 Minute IPA is one to sip and to allow to warm as you enjoy the complex flavors. 
    • Xocoveza (Imperial Stout from Stone Brewing) - The perfect winter beer. till love this special treat.
    • Breakfast Stout (Imperial stout from Founders Brewing Co) - Rejoice denizens! The base beer for my much loved KBS is fantastic on its own and now available year round. I drink ’em out of a Founders Breakfast Stout mug. Why? Because I can.
    • Dragon’s Milk (Imperial stout from New Holland Brewing Company) - Booze…you can taste and feel the booze, and that is a good thing. Don’t watch Game of Thrones without it.
    • Grapefruit Sculpin (IPA from Ballast Point) - Regular Sculpin is one of the best IPAs in town, but you add grapefruit to an already established champion and you get this treasure. The habañero version is interesting, and the pineapple is good, too.

If there is anything you think I should be reading, watching, playing, or drinking, then please let me know; I’d love to hear it. Thanks for reading Donist World and all the best for you in 2018!


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Donist World 2017 Year-End Roundup - Part 1!

(Sung to the tune of The Sound of Music's “My Favorite Things”)

Giant-sized robots torment the planet
Scott Free’s my hero I’m telling you, dammit
Cruel-hearted Mud King, Doomsday Clock it rings
These are a few of my favorite things

X-Men historian does what most cannot
Stone Age critique of the have and the have not
Hero Matt Wagner’s Matchstick finding kings
These are a few of my favorite things

Six bizarre heroes stuck in the country
High school assassins yearning to be set free
Berzerker warrior’s deadly ax it sings
These are a few of my favorite things

Diamond misships
Then my beer spills
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

Slice of Heaven For the Year!

Happy Holidays, denizens! Needless to say, it has been a harrowing past couple of weeks. My grandma died, many cities around us burned for three weeks, I had to work remotely, the air was toxic, my work nearly caught on fire, I started a new position at my job, we fled to Morro Bay for a couple days, and…and…and… Let’s just say Saturday was the first chill day I’ve had for some time. But everything seems to be back on track so long as you don’t look at what the Dotard in Chief and his GOP minions are trying to do to our democracy…but let’s not go there today.

Instead, let’s acknowledge that the holidays aren’t necessarily “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” for everyone (I do like that song and video, though), and they can honestly be quite painful to many. So, let’s spread some much-needed cheer with some winter warmer beers—last night I had a Ballast Point “High West” barrel-aged “Victory at Sea”…a beautiful beer, indeed— some gingerbread cookies, and some whiskeys and ryes by the fire as we reflect upon the comics that captured our hearts over the course of 2017. So, if you have your own “forced family togetherness” making things unbearable as Uncle Billy Joe Jim Bob once again shouts pantless from the roof as he swigs from a bottle of cooking sherry, then, by all means, you owe it to yourself to swipe an innards-warming beverage as you abscond to your place of peace to enjoy some most wonderful comic books. Oh yeah, be sure to grab some of them there Christmas cookies, especially the ones with the crunchy frosting, before you take a deep, calming breath and let all those worries go for a little bit.

***Probably NOT Spoilers Below***

If you have a moment, check out our past FSoH/SitW Year-End Roundups for 20162015201420132012, and 2011 to see all things heavenly from the past. For the comic series listed below, I provide a linked image of the best way to experience the comic if you have not yet read it. Basically, I will try to show an omnibus, then a hardcover, then a trade, and finally, if no trade is yet available, the first issue of the series. We at Donist World thank you for reading and hope you enjoy these comics as much as we do.

Donist World Top 10 Favorite Comic Series of 2017 (In no particular order)

1) Descender

Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, published by Image Comics.I know I have said this every year since the first issue’s release, but Lemire and Nguyen’s Descender is still my favorite on-going series hitting the stands and even though I say “In no particular order” this sci-fi, space opera extraordinaire cements its spot at number one. The creators keep me desperate to see what happens next as the ever-expanding roster of amazing characters—comprised of robots, humans, aliens, and cyborgs—begins to come together to unveil the secret of the monstrous robots known as the Harvesters. Lemire makes you love even the villains of the series as he exposes their pasts and gets you to sympathize with their plight—I’m looking at you, TIM-22. The writing stands on its own, but with Nguyen’s gorgeous watercolors depicting such breadth of emotions for the characters, such intricately detailed spacescapes, and such amazing character designs, Descender continues to be a powerhouse of a comic worthy of displaying on your favorite bookshelf for all to see. There are also four trades available in addition to the lovely hardcover.

2) Seven to Eternity

Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Jerome Opeña, published by Image Comics. I’m of a firm mind that all “Top” or “Best of” lists for the year have to have at least one title by Rick Remender. He currently has four series running, all of differing genres, and I love them all. But if I had to choose one, the fantasy adventure Seven to Eternity is hands down my favorite. Remender and Opeña have not only created a unique world, they have established religions, rules of magic, and creatures like no other. Our dying protagonist’s quest to break the evil Mud King’s terrible hold on the denizens of this treacherous world is positively fascinating as are the mysterious cast of characters rounding out the story. Opeña’s art is stunning; his designs, line work, and intricate backgrounds are mesmerizing in their beauty with each panel being worthy of taking a moment to linger over. My only complaint rests on the delays between issues and arcs, but part of this lies in just how captivating this series is thus far and my desire to see how it all plays out.

3) X-Men: Grand Design

Everythinged by Ed Piskor, published by Marvel Comics. Okay, I just read this on Wednesday and I have to say it is one of the best things Marvel has released in at least a decade. It is clear Piskor not only knows his X-Men history, but he wholeheartedly loves them as well. For those not in the know—and also almost certainly out of luck for getting a first-print copy of this MUST-OWN limited series—X-Men: Grand Design is a summarization of the history of the X-Men. Piskor has given himself the nigh-impossible task of refining decades of material down to its base elements while making sense of convoluted storylines and making the book enjoyable to boot; he totally knocks it out of the freakin’ park. His art clearly is his own, never towing any sort of house style, and if anything has an indie vibe. The design of the wonderfully lengthy first issue is spectacular: newsprint-feeling paper stock, yellowed-appearing pages, halftone dots and primarily flat color schemes. In reading this issue, I was torn between staying on a page to admire it for as long as possible, and whipping through the thing to see what happens next. In two painfully long weeks we get the second issue, and then in May of 2018, we will get an oversized collection of the first two issues. Hot diggity dog, I can’t wait! I also need to pick up Piskor’s gorgeous Hip-Hop Family Tree.

4) Mister Miracle

Written by Tom King, illustrated by Mitch Gerads, published by DC Comics. This is starting to get ridiculous. King blew me away last year with his Omega Men and The Vision series, and now he’s gone and done it again with the phenomenal Mister Miracle. We only have five issues of the twelve-issue series thus far, but with just the first issue I knew Mister Miracle was going to be one of the best new series of 2017. The book opens with Scott Free’s attempted suicide, but something isn’t right. Something’s off and we don’t yet know what that is. Gerads’s solid storytelling and emotional character acting make each issue a powerful and intricate look into Mister Miracle and the weight that being a New God has on him. I still have no clue as to what is going on behind the scenes of this story, but the frequent staticky images imply something nefarious is pulling Scott’s strings; I will be there every step of the way to the end. This series is certain to pull in tons of awards and rightfully so.

5) Doomsday Clock

Written by Geoff Johns, illustrated by Gary Frank, published by DC Comics. Again, we have a solitary issue showing up in my Top Ten of 2017 list, and it’s also a comic I was initially dead set against buying. How things change. Like many, my initial thought was to just leave Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen alone and in no way did I want those twisted Charlton Comics characters mingling with the DC proper. I was convinced it could not be properly done. This one issue, however, leads me to suspect Johns and Frank just might pull it off. We see why Ozymandias and Rorschach are still running around, as well as the impact of Rorschach’s journal coming to light on the world; it’s damn terrifying. The first issue also briefly checks in with the Man of Steel and left me wanting more more more. Johns and Frank tonally and visually sync with the original creators’ work, delivering the feeling of tension and dread that made Watchmen such an iconic masterpiece. Time will tell if Doomsday Clock can remain true to the source material while melding two distinct universes; I have high hopes.

6) The Flintstones

Written by Mark Russell, illustrated by Steve Pugh, published by DC Comics. Yes, I’m still bitter that Russell’s critically-acclaimed Prez was canceled before it could finish, but what better way heal that wound than with another critically-acclaimed series: the twelve-issue The Flintstones. Collected across two trades, the first family of Bedrock comes together in a hilarious satire that oftentimes hits far too close to home to be comfortable. Russell and Pugh cover everything from consumerism, to religion, to our treatment of war veterans, to local politics, to capitalism, to family, to marriage, to friendship, to work, to corporatism, to economics, and everything in-between. Pugh’s characters are a hybrid stylization of the cartoons of old and traditional comic characters—with the exception being gorgeous women, like Wilma—and he layers so many sight gags into his pages that readers of The Flintstones are rewarded with missed surprises with each reread. Anyone looking forward to Russell’s 2018 revision of Snagglepuss as a gay playwright should definitely give the brilliant social commentary of The Flintstones a try.

7) Mage: The Hero Denied

Everythinged by Matt Wagner, published by Image Comics. I can honestly say that Mage: The Hero Discovered is not just one of my favorite comics of the ’80s, but one of my top five favorite comics of all time. Mage: The Hero Defined was also incredibly fun, and was well worth the eleven-year wait. Now, eighteen years after the second series wrapped, we finally head into the third and final chapter of the Mage Trilogy. The wait was worth it and my enthusiasm for Kevin Matchstick and his trials has only grown. Now with a wife and child to protect, Kevin is once again ushered onto the hero’s path as the stakes increase. Words of warning, though: if you have not yet experienced Mage, then you really should start from the beginning and follow along through to the rapidly approaching end. A truly epic tale.

8) Atomahawk

Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Ian Bederman, published by Image Comics. What do you know. Another single issue, and who knows when the official first issue is set to come out. This oversized #0 comic is madness from the getgo as we follow the metallic Cyberzerker and his bloodthirsty weapon, Atomahawk, as they cleave their way across land and space. This one is a trip and a half given the mind-bending visuals of whites, reds, blues, and blacks and acid-trip cosmic adventure. You have to see this comic to believe it, and I highly recommend you listen to some Iron Maiden or Judas Priest as you marvel at the insanity of this lovely beast. It was originally serialized in recent issues of Heavy Metal magazine, and I am not sure if they continue to serialize stories or not, and I also don’t know when we will see the next installment. What I do know is that Atomahawk is an amazing experience you can have again and again with each reread. Turn on the blacklight, things are about to get crazy.

9) Black Hammer

Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dean Ormston, published by Dark Horse Comics. This comic series blew me away after I read the first trade and now that I got my grubby little paws on the just-released second volume, I am thoroughly amped to dive in…I’m going to reread the first trade first, though. This series is what happens when Lemire wants to write an homage to Silver Age characters. Black Hammer follows an oddball group of heroes stuck in a town from which they cannot escape. What/who stranded them there? Who is happy with the situation? Who will do anything to escape? You will have to just wait and see like the rest of us. Ormston’s illustrations are eerie, haunting even, and tell the story beautifully. I especially like the tripped out Captain Comet (?) analog known as Colonel Weird. I cannot wait to immerse myself back in, and I’m also excited for the spin-off miniseries Sherlock Frankenstein and The Legion of Evil.

10) Deadly Class

Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, published by Image Comics. There’s a reason why Deadly Class is set to have a television pilot premiere in 2018, and it’s that this comic about a high school for young assassins is a nail-biting, roller-coaster adventure. Set in the ’80s, the first year of school shocked my socks off with the lethal freshman finals (sorry, not going to spoil), and the second year, with the introduction of some new fresh faces for the meatgrinder manages to keep my heart rate ever elevated. Remender makes every twist and turn impactful, and Craig’s gorgeous art and kinetic high-panel-count pages keep things zipping right along. Be warned: don’t ever get too comfortable with this book, because the creators are certain to throw you for a loop just when you least expect it. You can currently pick up the first six trades if the hardcover route is too long a wait between releases.

But wait, I’m sure there's more...

I'm sure there are plenty of other comics I somehow forgot to mention or have not yet bought or read in 2017. If there are any glaring omissions, please let me know. There's plenty of room at the Donist World corporate offices for more comics and...hold on a sec...actually, Amy the intern (my wife) has corrected me and said that "No, there is not plenty of room here." <psssttt...hey denizens, let me know anyways. I can totally sneak more comics in on the down low. Just let me know. We can do this…>

Stay tuned next week for the “Donist World 2017 Year-End Roundup - Part 2!”


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Comics Lust 12/16/2017

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/fire-and-smoke-avoider Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Well, Denizens, this week has been a little bit better than the last, which isn’t saying much. The Thomas Fire is still causing havoc across Ventura, Ojai, Carpinteria, Summerland, Montecito, and parts of Santa Barbara. Evacuation warnings come and go, and come and go, and it has been an ordeal for many of our friends and colleagues. I am not yet sure if anyone we know has lost their home, but plenty of people have been evacuated. Amy the Intern (my wife) and I live on the border of Goleta and Santa Barbara where we are not currently anywhere near an evacuation zone, but the smoke and awful ash make going outside an unhealthy endeavor. My job’s office has mostly been under evacuation notice and air quality there is toxic and I’ve had to work from home this entire week. So, yeah, been getting a bit stir crazy at home, and Tulip doesn’t understand why her walks are so short and sucky, but we get out of the house when we can, and exercise at home when possible, but it is all rather depressing. Here at Donist World, I spend hundreds, if not thousands, of words every week talking about comic books and superheroes, but right now the firefighters combatting this flaming behemoth are the true heroes risking their lives to protect us all. All of that said…I still miss my grandma. So, respected Denizens, love those close to you, appreciate what you have, lift a drink in honor of your city’s firefighters, go see the Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi, and read some great comics. Thank you for reading!

***UPDATE*** Okay. After starting this post, and completing the intro above, Amy and I decided to leave town and head north. The air quality was horrible, ash was raining down, the fire had greatly picked up in aggressiveness, and things were getting crazier by the minute. To make matters worse, an oil tanker overturned an exit away from us blocking ALL northbound traffic on the 101, dumping fuel everywhere, and practically halting traffic trying to get out of Santa Barbara. That was it. We had to go. Once we decided to gain a break from the past week and a half of depressing fire conditions closing businesses, causing friends to evacuate, burning homes, creating toxic air, we made up our minds to leave. We almost went south, but then saw that another vehicle had overturned going southbound on the 101 in Carpinteria, so we said screw it and went north. Currently, our home is not in an evacuation zone, and we have neighbors keeping an eye on things. We just had to get away. To add even more stress to the equation, I am starting a new position at my job on Monday, and was supposed to have been training all last week, and providing a smooth transition for those in my old department, but that didn’t happen because Carpinteria was under evacuation. It’ll all work out, but this is a hell of a stressful time not just for us, but for everyone affected by this terrible tragedy.

*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 5) - Kid Stuff

When I was a kid, there weren’t really any specific comics for kids other than stuff like Casper the Friendly Ghost, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and the like. So, I made due with any and all superhero comics I could get my hands on. Back then, superhero comics weren’t all that worried about continuity, and you didn’t need to have read the previous 20 issues to even attempt to follow along. No one cared how Spider-Man could help out the Human Torch in one book, team-up with Iron Fist in another, and battle Captain Britain in yet another all while having his own title. We just wanted cool, fun stories. So what if seven-year-old me had only a handful of Fantastic Four issues to my name? With my limited reading skills and an active imagination, I could totally tell that Reed Richards had been possessed by the Molecule Man’s wand and created a monstrous stone golem out of an apartment building to fight the Thing (issue #188, written by Len Wein, illustrated by George Perez, 1977). Nowadays, however, most of the comics I loved as a kid have matured with my age group. They are darker, more cynical, and definitely more adult. Thankfully, there are plenty of comics that are fun, intense, and wonderfully crafted for both those of the younger persuasion and for bitter, old cusses like myself.

***It was here that we packed up and went north, so this is going to be a very abbreviated post.

Here are a handful of books that comic fans, young and old, can enjoy:
  • Superman Family Adventures (Written by Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani, illustrated by Art Baltazar, DC Comics, 2012). I have not yet read this sadly short-lived series, but I have heard great things about it. Baltazar’s art style is fun, bold, and vibrant, and—best of all—the characters aren’t drawn with monstrous heads and there are no babyified versions of the characters. For even younger kids, the creators have the amazing Aw Yeah Comics for all to enjoy!
  • Batman Adventures (Written by Kelly Pucket, illustrated by Ty Templeton, published by DC Comics, 1992). Since we are already on the DC train, fans of Batman the Animated Series can expand their love with this thrilling series.
  • Bone (Everythinged by Jeff Smith, originally published by Cartoon Books in 1991 and later by Scholastic in a colored version). A few years back, my best friend came to me asking about a book I would recommend to his young son. I went upstairs, grabbed my black and white Bone: The Complete Cartoon Epic and told him that love this book and his son would as well. He thanked me and took my copy, thinking I was giving it to them. Dang…I still need to get a replacement copy as this originally 55-issues-long series is a complete work of art. Funny, serious, scary, glorious, inspiring, Bone has it all. Human characters look amazing, as do the monsters, and as goofy as the Bone creatures might appear, they are exceedingly lovable with character arcs that make them all too human. Everyone must own and read this treasured series whether you opt for the black and white version or go for the colored versions from Scholastic that kids seem to gravitate toward more. You absolutely cannot go wrong with this series.
  • Amulet (Everythinged by Kazu Kibuishi, published by Scholastic Press, 2008). Okay, I also love this series and need to get the latest volume as the end of the series slowly approaches. There is family drama, cartoony characters that are in no way offputting, lofty stakes, friends, foes, allies, and tenuous alliances all beautifully painted in this fantasy/adventure series that will have kids and adults whipping through the volumes and starting over from the beginning before the next volume’s release. I can’t say enough good things about this great series.

That’s it for now, and I hope to return to “The Gift of Giving - Kid Stuff” someday soon when my city is not burning down.

This Week’s Reading List

Mister Miracle #5 (Written by Tom King, illustrated by Mitch Gerads, published by DC Comics). A very touching installment that shows Scott and Barda spending their final day together before Scott’s execution by High Father Orion the next day. An amazing, personal issue that is a hit on every level: writing, pacing, art, and tension. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Paper Girls #18 (Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, published by Image Comics). Paper Girls continues to be a fun and oftentimes nostalgic romp through time with a great cast of characters thrown into bizarre situations. Dinosaurs, and robots, and weirdos. Oh my! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Comics Lust 12/9/2017

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/emotional-support Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). It’s been a shit week. My grandma died suddenly on Tuesday. A heart attack or blood clot. Not completely sure. It was quick, which was how she would have wanted it to be. She would not want to suffer and more so would not want to have anyone fussing about on her account. Still, it was terrible, but the thing that warmed my heart was how many people who worked in the retirement community where she lived took the time to tell me how much they adored her. Each expressed what a joy she was and how sorry they were for my loss, but seeing the earnest love these people had for my grandma it was clear that they too had lost someone dear to them. She was an amazing woman. I loved her dearly. I am sorry for our collective loss. To compound matters, the Thomas Fire in Ventura has been a nightmare that has caused work friends and colleagues to evacuate from their homes and for my workplace to be in jeopardy—it’s still in jeopardy three days later. I’ve been working from home this week and only able to go outside for brief periods of time as the smoke and ash have reached out into Goleta and are a health hazard; even now the sky is a sickly, menacing, grey-yellow mass of awfulness. It’s scary out there and I’m dreading hearing that someone I know has lost their home. Like I said, it’s been a shit week. But life must go on. So, respected Denizens, love those close to you, appreciate what you have, lift a drink in honor of someone you’ve lost, 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 4)Big 2 Superhero Comics for Those Who Like the Movies and TV

The funny thing about “Comics Lust” is that days, weeks, and even months after writing a post I have these Oh no, I forgot to talk about xxxx, yyyy, and zzz moments where I have to jot down notes to remember to talk about involuntarily omitted titles for a later post. This week, I’m extending the running theme to pick up a couple titles that clearly slipped my mind the first couple times around.

I have found the X-Men movies to be hit or miss, but the ones that “hit” really hit with a bang. I love X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Logan was one that completely took me by surprise as a stunning and powerful character-driven drama with severe stakes. So, for someone who likes those films as much as I do, there really is no better choice than to start them down the addictive X-road paved by writer Chris Claremont. X-Men Epic Collection: Second Genesis (Written by Chris Claremont and others; illustrated by Dave Cockrum, John Byrne, and others; the first issue was published by Marvel Comics in 1975). This beast of a book has the first appearance of the most popular incarnation of the X-Men, which includes Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler, among others and most of the issues are ones I remember reading over and over again as a kid when the X-Men were a huge part of my life. At 520 pages, this book is a treasure trove of material in and of itself, but it also serves as a leadup to the mind-blowingly amazing The Uncanny X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga (Written by Chris Claremont, illustrated by John Byrne and Terry Austen, first issue published by Marvel Comics in 1979). Here you have the Hellfire Club, Phoenix being manipulated until she becomes Dark Phoenix, and an emotional roller coaster as our greatest heroes struggle with having to take down one of their own. I reread this one often and it never gets old, and frankly, you could probably give your loved one this collection first, and then the Epic Collection once you have them good and hooked, but that call is ultimately up to you. Come to think of it…you might as well also give them the Wolverine mini-series (Written by Chris Claremont, illustrated by Frank Miller, originally published by Marvel Comics in 1982), too. A dark, perilous journey through a portion of Wolverine’s secret past with real-world threats and only one supervillain to be found. With two powerhouse creators joining forces on this exceptional comic, it’s no wonder my brother and I read this four-issue miniseries until the books literally fell apart. There are a bunch of entry points into the quagmire that is The X-Men continuity, but these three collections are a heck of a good start.

Not everyone subscribes to Hulu, but those who do and who have been watching Runaways knows that the streaming service has something special on its hands. The 18-issue first volume of Runaways (Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Adrian Alphona, originally published by Marvel Comics in 2003) is an odd story in that it had practically nothing to do with the regular Marvel Universe (although Cloak and Dagger show up much later) and thus allowed the creators to tell the story they wanted to tell without fear of getting wrapped up in any sort of “event”; it was a…runaway…hit. I loved the comics when I read them many years ago, and from what I can remember, the show mirrors the source material quite nicely. I do want to reread the series, but I think I will let the first season of the show run its course to avoid spoiling anything I might have forgotten. Even if there was no Runaways show on television, Runaways comic book series is a fantastic gift for younger and older readers alike. So very good.

This Week’s Reading List

Batman Vol. 1 and 2 (Rebirth) (Mostly written by Tom King, mostly illustrated by David Finch and Mikel Janin, colored by Jordie Bellaire, published by DC Comics.) Why, oh, why did I wait so long to read these? I’m a diehard fan of King’s must-read Omega Men (Illustrated by Barnaby Bagenda, published by DC Comics), The Vision (Illustrated by Gabriel Walta, published by Marvel comics), and the best new title of 2017 Mister Miracle (Illustrated by Mitch Gerads, published by DC Comics), but for some reason I was reluctant to jump into a twice-a-month superhero title. Now, having finally weakened enough to dive in, I‘m hooked. Both volumes are great, with the first focusing on new heroes Gotham and Gotham Girl, and the second focusing on the “Breaker of the Bat,” Bane. Both volumes are beautifully illustrated, and the stories are powerfully told, but I will admit to being thoroughly confused by a page in the Bane story where Batman wedges himself on the wall with his fist and knees and cracks his own back. (???) No idea what that was about, but other than that, I am eager to read volume 3, and also the Batman: Night of the Monster Men trade, which occurs in-between volume 1 and 2, and is comprised of two issues of Batman, two issues of Detective Comics, and two issues of Robin…looks like I have some reading ahead of me! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Detective Comics Volume 2: The Victim Syndicate (Written by James Tynion IV, illustrated by many, published by DC Comics.) Way way back, I was surprised and thrilled by the revamp of Detective Comics. This Bat book features Batman on occasion but primarily focuses on the team led by fan-favorite Batwoman, which includes Spoiler, Red Robin, Orphan, Batwing, and shockingly enough Clayface. I had no idea who half of these characters were before reading the thrilling first volume, but that didn’t matter; a few pages in and I was on board with them all. This volume focuses on the super-creepy The Victim Syndicate, a group of villains whose lives were destroyed after being caught in the crossfire of Batman’s war on crime. The conflict within the team and the pain of a supposed loss (nope, not spoiling) kicks the tension through the roof on this fantastic series. I just have to throw this out there…Batwoman is my favorite with Clayface taking a close second. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Saturday, December 2, 2017

Comics Lust 12/2/2017

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/truly-tired Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Dang, denizens, I’m barely standing after this hectic week, and from the look of my puppy executive team, they’re pretty much toast, too. So, we’re going to keep the intro short and get right to it. But before we do, load up on some grilled chicken tacos, pour yourself a nice session beer, take a long nap, and when you’re feeling refreshed 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 3)
Big 2 Superhero Comics for Those Who Like the Movies and TV

We love our comics. We also love to share our love of the medium whenever and wherever we can, which is why I’m always happy to spread some happiness when someone tells me how much they enjoy a movie or TV show yet have never read the very source material from which the show originated. When just such a moment arises, you can come to the rescue of your friend/significant other/family member/coworker with a few easy entry points into the wonderful world of comics.

All Star Superman (Written by Grant Morrison, illustrated by Frank Quitely, published by DC Comics, 2005) is a fantastic choice for those who love the Man of Steel, no matter what movie or television version we are talking about. Originally released as a 12-issue miniseries, All Star Superman tells the tale of what happens the day Superman rescues a group of scientists exploring the surface of the sun and he then has to look to his greatest enemy to understand what that much exposure to the sun has done to him. Beautifully illustrated and vibrantly colored, this award-winning series is enough to make a luke-warm fan of Supes into a diehard believer. There’re huge stakes, fun, excitement, and above all a sense of hope that we all could use a little bit more of. On the “old school” ’80s side of things, The Man of Steel (Written and illustrated by John Byrne, published by DC Comics, 1986) is a fantastic retelling of Clark Kent’s origins and early days as a hero. Equally amazing and somewhat of a cheat is Superman: Secret Identity (Written by Kurt Busiek, illustrated by Stuart Immonen, 2004). What I mean by “cheat” is that although the story is about Clark Kent, it is about someone who happens to have the same name as the fictional superhero from the funny books. This Clark is even teased about being able to “leap tall buildings with a single bound”…until the day he can actually do exactly that. Superman: Secret Identity is a powerful and moving book I bought on a whim and one I need to re-experience in the very near future.

When it comes to the mostly-great Marvel movies, as much as I love Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok, my favorite to date is still Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The story is one of redemption, second chances, righting of wrongs, and a belief in the system that has let our hero down, all mixed in with a spy/espionage thriller of a movie. Captain America (Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Steve Epting, published by Marvel Comics, 2005) kicked things off with a new number one and with the “Winter Soldier” storyline from which the movie gains much of its staying power. It is definitely a darker tale but coupled with the espionage and betrayal angles and some great appearances by the Falcon and the Black Widow, this spy thriller will keep you whipping through to the end to see all of the differences between the page and the reel. Thankfully, I have the out-of-print Captain America Omnibus, which I definitely need to hit up again some time soon.

Leaving the silver screen and tuning in to the small screen at home, I was thrilled by what I saw during the first few seasons of Arrow. If you want someone to have a parallel experience to what goes down on that riveting show, then Green Arrow: Year One (Written by Andy Diggle, illustrated by Jock, published by DC Comics, 2007) is a exciting retelling of the character’s origins, specifically his time on the island. If you want to go with a more retro ’80s vibe, look no further than Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters (Everythinged by Mike Grell, published by DC Comics, 1987), a three-issue, prestige-format, limited series that gives the Emerald Archer a new look, a serious adversary, and some legitimate and lofty problems. From either of these two books, a jump into Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s New 52 Green Arrow run (issues 17–34) wouldn’t hurt either given the younger Oliver Queen and his quest to stop a deadly rival archer.

Now, I have been a huge fan of the Netflix Marvel shows despite some of the episodes not quite hitting the mark, but overall I’ve been stoked to watch them and eager to see what comes next. This is also true for plenty of non-comic readers, too. The strongest entry to date for me is Daredevil, which practically begs for newcomers to read the works of the man who reinvigorated the Man Without Fear to new heights: Frank Miller. Miller’s Daredevil (Written by Frank Miller and others, illustrated by Frank Miller and Klaus Jansen, published by Marvel Comics, 1979) is a must read for everyone, especially when Miller begins writing and drawing the series. Follow that up with the Daredevil: Born Again storyline (Written by Frank Miller, illustrated by David Mazzucchelli, published by Marvel Comics, 1986) and I promise you people’s minds will be blown. For Jessica Jones fans, Alias (Written by Brian Michael Bendis, illustrated by Michael Gaydos, published by Marvel Comics, 2001) is pretty dang close to the television material with some intriguing expansive looks into the character. One of my all-time-favorite superhero stories is The Immortal Iron Fist (Written by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction, illustrated by David Aja and others, published by Marvel Comics, 2006) and offers not just Aja’s freaking stunning artwork but a cool and exciting take on Danny Rand and what it means to be an Iron Fist; man, I love this run. For Luke Cage, Power Man and Iron Fist (Written by Chris Claremont, illustrated by John Byrne and Dan Green, published by Marvel Comics, 1978) goes to show just how awesome a Heroes for Hire type show could be and solidifies how bad-ass Luke Cage is on his own or as a member of a heroic duo.

There you have it. Plenty of material to covert those you care for into fellow weekly LCS visitors, and possibly some stuff you need to reunite with yourself. Enjoy.

This Week’s Reading List

Doomsday Clock #1 (Written by Geoff Johns; illustrated by Gary Frank, colored by Brad Anderson, lettered by Rob Leigh, published by DC Comics) I know I’m a week late in reading this issue. I honestly had no intention of buying it. But after many positive reviews and an otherwise mellow week, I decided to pull the trigger; I’m so glad I did. I know many would call it sacrilege that this new 12-issue expansion of the industry-changing Watchmen (Written by Alan Moore, illustrated by Dave Gibbons, published by DC Comics, 1986) even exists, I will say that at one issue in I am sold and eager to see what happens next. It’s difficult to avoid spoiling anything so I won’t even go into any story elements, but just know there are some definite cool twists to what happens after the events in Moore’s masterwork. Johns beautifully tells the story and Frank and his fantastic art and adherence to the nine-panel grid used in Watchmen made me feel right at home. My main concern—as with all events—is the merging of one world with another: the Watchmen universe is going to crossover with the DC superhero universe as seen with a couple of pages featuring Clark Kent. This event book is not going to be an easy thing to pull off, but with Johns and Frank at the helm, my confidence in the success of Doomsday Clock is pretty high. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Swords of the Swashbucklers (Written by Bill Mantlo, illustrated by Jackson “”Butch” Guice and others, published by Dynamite Comics). Swords of the Swashbucklers is one of those series I’ve wanted to read since I saw my first issue back in the late ’80s, but never had enough money leftover to give it a try. Then this series vanished for a couple of decades. Now, thanks to the hard work of Jackson Guice, a successful Kickstarter campaign, and my digital reward, I was finally able to read yet another treasure from my personal writing hero: Bill Mantlo. The collection contains both the 1984 Marvel graphic novel and the original twelve issues of the series that followed until its cancellation in 1987. It has everything I could want in a series: Mantlo, Guice, pirates, outer space adventures, a lovely hero, a cool new hero with superpowers, aliens, epic battles, monsters, and an engaging story that springs from actual historical characters. I loved every bit of this collection with the exception of the rushed ending (as I mentioned it was canceled, not the creators’ fault), but Guice has mentioned there might be further tales to tell of the space pirates known as the Swashbucklers. I truly hope to one day see them sail the stars again. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!