Saturday, March 17, 2018

Comics Lust 3/17/2018

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/dinner demander Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Okay. After a grueling day of maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company, my puppy executive team is demanding we leave the Donist World corporate office (Mom’s basement) and get something to eat. So, we’re cutting the intro short while we try to scout out the best dang tacos in town. Anyhow, be kind to each other, mind your health, drink plenty of water (maybe a beer or two), cherish the ones you love, 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 Twisted Worlds of Bruce Jones (Part 1)

As a kid, my mom would park my brother and me in the magazine and book section of the local Click store (later to become Acme) while she shopped—hey, it was the ‘70s, a different time…although Jeffrey Dahmer did two miles away from us, but whatever. Our routine was to entertain ourselves with the magazines, then head to the toy department, before hitting the upstairs pet section to check out the lizards, tarantulas, the occasional scorpion, and to stare at a large bag of “monkey chow” and wonder who the hell in Akron, Ohio actually owned a monkey and why. The important thing was what we found in the L-shaped magazine aisle.

Here we found the magazines Famous Monsters of Filmland and Starlog about movies and characters we adored, and also found Fangoria which revealed the movies and characters we absolutely were not allowed to see. Being huge comic book fans, we also gravitated to the comic magazines, the ones that were risqué and magical and terrifying all at the same time. How could I resist not sneaking a peek at the ever-scantily-clad vampiress in Vampirella or stare wide-eyed at the sci-fi wonder—and R-rated nudity—found in Heavy Metal? But the magazines we gravitated toward the most were Eerie, and Creepy which featured phenomenal artists like my favorite Bernie Wrightson. It was at Click that I first discovered Richard Corben’s art, but it was also there that I unknowingly, at the time, experienced my first Bruce Jones stories.

My exposure to Jones’s work didn’t stop there.

From the moment I walked into my first comic book specialty shop and all the way through to today, I not only found Jones’s stories in Eerie and Creepy but in actual comic books from publishers like Pacific and Eclipse and even in various Marvel and DC titles. But the stories that thrill me the most are the ones that you read at night when you’re home alone when the wind drags a branch across the roof, and the house creaks in a way that can’t be someone walking upstairs but must be the house settling. Or is it?

Creepy Presents…Bernie Wrightson

(Written by Bruce Jones and many others, illustrated by Bernie Wrightson, published by Dark Horse)
When I bought this book a few years back, it is what got me thinking about Jones after I was completely creeped out by his story “Jenifer.” It doesn’t hurt to have a master of illustration who also happens to be the person made me a fan of comic book art as the focus on the collection. As the title suggests, this slim but must-own hardcover focuses on the late Bernie Wrightson's work from Creepy and also from Eerie. Jones writes three additional spooky stories: “Clarice,” “Country Pie,” and “The Laughing Man.” Now, if the idea of picking up the numerous hardcover Creepy reprint collections fills your wallet and your bursting bookshelf with horror, and since there is unfortunately not yet a Creepy Presents...The Stories of Bruce Jones (you listening, Dark Horse!), then a quick, easy, no-risk way to gain exposure to Jones is in this beautiful collection.

Creepy Presents…Richard Corben

(Written by Bruce Jones and many others, illustrated by Richard Corben, published by Dark Horse)
I could not not own this book, which is about two and a half times the length of the beautiful Creepy Presents…Bernie Wrightson hardcover. Corben’s work—especially when it came to women—was one of the main draws to the Click magazine aisle in the first place, and although there are some truly amazing stories in the volume, Jones’s tales rank among the best. If you want weird science, dinosaurs, scantily-clad/naked people, and strange worlds, then you’ve come to the right place with the stories “Within You…Without You Part 1,” “Within You…Without You Part 2,” “You’re a Big Girl Now,” “Within You…Without You Part 3,” and “A Woman Scorned.” Again, we definitely need an “Eerie Presents…The Stories of Bruce Jones” collection as I believe he wrote enough stories to warrant a book for each magazine. This book needs to be on your favorite bookshelf.

Somerset Holmes #1–6

(Written by Bruce Jones and April Campbell, illustrated by Brent Anderson, published by Pacific Comics and then by Eclipse Comics from 1983–1984)
If you are thinking, didn’t you recently talk about this series already? then you are indeed correct. I did (see here). The cool thing about horror stories is that they don’t have to have werewolves or aliens or dinosaurs, but they can actually accompany a grand mystery based in reality where people are the true monsters. Such is the case with Somerset Holmes. When a woman wakes up on the side of a desolate country road with no recollection of who she is or how she got there, she quickly learns someone is out to kill her and all who cross her path and the only clue as to what is going on rests on what she finds hidden on her belt. A slow build, creepy as heck story that I will be rereading starting tonight. Unfortunately, this one is out of print, but you can hit the bargain bins or the online stores for the issues, the trade, or the hardcover and soon be settling in for a most unnerving evening.

Twisted Tales of Bruce Jones #1–4

(Everythinged by Bruce Jones, published by Eclipse in 1986)
It should be apparent from the first two books that I am a HUGE fan of the horror anthology format, but when you add sci-fi to the equation and the occasional dash of dark humor along with Bruce Jones handling both story and art, then you have a must-read series. Having just acquired and read these books over the past year, I’m happy to say they are well worth the effort to track down.

Twisted Tales #1–10

(Mostly written by Bruce Jones, illustrated by many artists, published by Pacific in 1982)
I have a couple of these issues, but like Pokemon, I gotta catch them all…eventually! If any book title was screaming hardcover collected collection, Twisted Tales is it! You also get some amazing artists on these pull-the-covers-over-your-head tales.

Twisted Tales #1

(Written by Bruce Jones, illustrated by many artists, published by Eclipse in 1988)
It bugs me that I don’t have this solitary issue that features Jones on writing with a different artist on each story. I will find this. I will own this. When is someone going to reprint these amazing Pacific and Eclipse comics? The world needs them!

Tales of Terror #1–13

(Written by Bruce Jones, Tim Truman, Scott Hampton, and many others; illustrated by Scott Hampton, John Bolton, Lee Weeks, and many others; published by Eclipse from 1985–1987)
Another horror anthology, but one I have not yet had a chance to read. Jones’s work appears in roughly a third of the series, but given the names attached to some of the stories, this is one I will be looking to get ahold of in the near future in its entirety.

Alien Worlds #1–9

(Mostly written by Bruce Jones, art by many, published by Pacific from 1982–1985)
You know what? I’m also a sucker for the weird science anthologies as well, and here we have a short-lived series that I remember seeing on the shelves and checking out, but ultimately never bought because of the dreaded “out of allowance money” syndrome. We need this reprinted, by golly!

Alien Worlds #1

(Written by Bruce Jones, illustrated by many, published by Eclipse in 1988)
This revival also only made it one issue over the transition from Pacific to Eclipse, but that doesn’t make this any less necessary to everyone’s collection.

Bruce Jones’ Razor’s Edge

(Everythinged by Bruce Jones, published by Innovation 1993)
I have this sitting right next to me. It’s up after I finish rereading Somerset Holmes.

Bruce Jones’ Outer Edge

(Everythinged by Bruce Jones, published by Innovation 1993)
I just found out about this one and need to get it! Looks to be another sci-fi anthology comic. All Jones, all the time!

Silverheels #1–3

(Written by Bruce Jones, illustrated by Scott Hampton, published by Pacific from 1983–1984)
Okay, I have issues one through three of the comics, but no fourth issue ever came out. There is, however, a trade and a hardcover that collects the three issues and that contains the never-before-printed conclusion. That…I do not have. I’ve mentioned a few times that I am in love with Scott Hampton‘s graphic novella The Upturned Stone, so when you mix his art with Jones’s story, you have something I must own. Now, if only I could find out how it all ends. The brutal part is that I remember seeing the trade on the shelf at my LCS back in the day; I should have picked it up then.

Rip in Time #1–5

(Written by Bruce Jones, illustrated by Richard Corben, published by Fantagor from 1986–1987)
I want this. I want this. I want this! I love Jones’s story with Richard Corben in the Creepy Presents…Richard Corben titled “Within You…Without You Part 1, 2, and 3.” That story deals with time travel, nudity, and dinosaurs. Rip in Time deals with time travel, dinosaurs, and possibly nudity–I will know for sure on the nudity front when my order of this series gets here. The main difference is that a cop, a robber, and their girlfriends are the ones traveling through time. I prefer to see Corben’s mind-bending colors, but even in black and white, this series is certain to be magic.

House of Mystery

(Written by Bruce Jones and many, illustrated by many, published by DC Comics beginning in 1981)
Okay, an inexpensive collection of this amazing series needs to be released and I am 100% fine with it being done on cheap newsprint; that’s how it was done back in the day, and it is perfectly fine for today. Growing up, I had the odd issue or twenty of House of Mystery and its sister book House of Secrets floating around my collection and I simply adored them. Jones looks to have appeared in roughly 15 issues and it’s safe to say we need them.


(Everythinged by Bruce Jones, published by Marvel Comics in 1989)
To wrap up the Jones spooky-love-fest, I give you a treasure from the Marvel Graphic Novel line that ran from 1982–1992 and is a comic that I would NEVER expect Marvel to even consider publishing today or even in the last twenty years, for that matter. I just read this fantastic 64-page graphic novel a couple of days ago, and have to say I was completely riveted by the story which…I cannot tell you about without spoiling the completely out-there premise. What I can tell you is that it deals with a mother and daughter at odds with each other and their coming across some not-so-nice country folk. Brrrrr...I still get a case of the willies thinking about this fun, unnerving comic, and it is still very much on my mind days after putting it down. This one from back when Marvel was willing to take a risk is well worth seeking out.

Over the past year and a half, I have specifically been seeking out and rereading Jones’s work and falling in love with it all over again. Hopefully, whether you remember this writer-artist’s work as fondly as I do, or if you have never been exposed to him before today, you will start to hunt down some of his spine-tingling goodness; you owe it to yourself to do so.

This Week’s Reading List

Dang, it’s late. Gotta run. Just know that Mister Miracle #7, Mage #7, and Deadly Class #32 are all freakin’ fantastic. See you next time.


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Comics Lust 3/9/2018

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/consolation commander Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). And here I thought last week was bad. Oh, my stars and garters. Oh well, I won’t let it get me down! And how could I, when I have my puppy executive team to back me up and…guys? Guys? Tulip? Reverse Obie? Okay…it’s a crummy, rainy day—which I actually kind of love—and as I sit here organizing odds and ends, the dogs are upstairs, cozy in bed, drinking coffee, and watching some Jessica Jones Season 2. Come to think of it, that sounds like a pretty good idea to me. Anyhow, be kind to each other, mind your health, drink plenty of water (maybe a beer or two), cherish the ones you love, 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

Generation-Specific Tragedy-Ridden Martial-Arts-Trained Critters (Part 1)

The ‘80s were a magical time to be a comic book fan. Those lucky enough to grace comic book specialty shops during this glorious decade—now affectionately known as the Local Comic Shop (LCS)—got to experience such monumental new books as Watchmen, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, and Crisis on Infinite Earths while a shift in ongoing books such as The Uncanny X-Men (with its increasingly-popular character Wolverine), Daredevil, and The New Teen Titans gave comic readers much to be excited about. But the Big Two weren’t the only players in town. Publishers like Comico, First Comics, Eclipse Comics, and Pacific Comics saw huge success with their offerings, as did many even smaller publishers, but somewhere, in the midst of it all, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rocked not just the black and white indie comics scene, but the comic book industry as well. The deluge of books attempting to mimic that success, however, didn’t do the comics industry any favors as comics caught the eye of the dreaded speculators.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

(Everythinged by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, published by Mirage Studios beginning in 1984...originally)
I have to admit that my brother and my cousin were the ones who dragged me into the world of TMNT. I was reluctant and turned off by the ridiculous-sounding name; I was a serious comic fan. Then I read an issue, was instantly hooked, and scrambled to find whatever TMNT material I could. I initially started with the magazine-sized fourth issue and began pestering my comic shop for the ever-elusive #1 and #2. Road blocked, I then combed the mail order ads found in the pages of all the comics of the time and I was able to get a reprint of #1, the first printing of issue #3, and my prized second printing of issue #2. My brother and I loved the dark, gritty, and often violent comic that seemed to be a twisted expansion of Frank Miller’s Daredevil, which we positively loved. We madly sought everything and anything TMNT related that we could find for a few years before eventually drifting from our once favorite “heroes in a half-shell” upon the arrival of an overly-goofy animated television show. The Turtles had a roller coaster ride of a publishing history before IDW took up publication rights of old and new comics, but it’s the historical material that we are looking at today.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1–4 (Everythinged by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, published by Mirage Studios beginning in 1984) It all started with these magazine-sized black and white comics. There were multiple printings, many counterfeits, and all were—and still are—highly sought after. Here we meet Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Splinter, and the rest is history.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #5–62 (Story and art by MANY different people, publishing continued by Mirage Studios through 1993) Here is where the series went from magazine-size down to standard comic size. This run began with Eastman and Laird handling everything and ended with Eastman and Laird scripting with art by Jim Lawson. In between this was a flurry of creators including Richard Corben, Rick Veitch, Eric Talbot, Michael Zulli, Stan Sakai, and many others in an impressive series that launched cartoons, movies, toys, and all sorts of merchandise. The Turtles became a brand.
  • Raphael (Everythinged by Eastman and Laird, published by Mirage Studios in 1985) Part of the solo issues. This one is magazine-sized.
  • Michaelangelo (Everythinged by Eastman and Laird, published by Mirage Studios in 1985) Part of the solo issues.
  • How to Draw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Written by Allan J. Fromberg; illustrated by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, and Rich Buckler, published by Solson in 1985) Yeah...drawing is not as easy as they want you to believe.
  • Donatello (Everythinged by Eastman and Laird, published by Mirage Studios in 1986) Part of the solo issues.
  • Leonardo (Everythinged by Eastman and Laird, published by Mirage Studios in 1986) Part of the solo issues. Story continues in issue 10 of the main series.
  • Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1–7 (Written by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, art by Jim Lawson, published by Mirage Studios beginning in 1987) An anthology series that saw some hefty delays during its short publication.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1–3 (Written and illustrated by ?, published by Archie Comics in 1988) A three issue mini that adapted five episodes of the animated television show.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1–72 (Written and illustrated by a whole mess of people, published by Archie Comics from 1989–1992) This initially followed the goofy animated television show, but quickly dropped pizza munching camp in favor of becoming its own thing. There were also tons of specials, one-shots, and supporting character miniseries to keep fans busy.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe Sourcebook #1–3 (published by Archie comics from 1992–1994) If you love Marvel’s OHOTMU, then these are the books for you!
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1–13 (Everythinged by Jim Lawson, published by Mirage Studios beginning in 1993) This is the “Volume 2” in the Turtles saga before ending in 1995 to make the jump to the (fairly) new kid on the block publisher Image Comics.
  • Savage Dragon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (Written by Erik Larson and Michael Dooney, illustrated by Michael Dooney and Robert Jones, published by Image Comics 1993) They’re all green and they’re all mean! They later teamed up in 1995 with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Savage Dragon #1 but I’m not sure of the creators involved in this Mirage Studios publication.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Flaming Carrot #1–4 (Written and illustrated by ?, published by Mirage Studios 1993–1994) I never read The Flaming Carrot back in the day, but something tells me this miniseries is a trip and a half!
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1–23 (Written by Gary Carlson, illustrated by Frank Fosco, published by Image Comics 1996–1999) Volume three allegedly did not please Laird so he snatched the property back over to Mirage. R.I.P. volume number three.
  • Creed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (Everythinged by Trent Kaniuga, published by Lightning in 1996) I have never read Creed but I know the comic had a following at one point. Someday, I should check it out.
  • Bodycount #1–4 (Written by Kevin Eastman, illustrated by Simon Bisley, published by Image Comics in 1996) Wow. I almost missed this one completely as the title says nothing about TMNT anywhere on this four-issue miniseries. Looks to be crazy, violent adventure starring Raphael and Casey Jones, and it definitely fits the "Extreme!!!" trend that drove me out of comics in the mid-'90s, but dang I’m not curious to check it out. A hardcover collection looks to come out sometime in August 2018.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1–32 (Written by Peter Laird, illustrated by Jim Lawson, published by Mirage Studios from 2001–2014) This series pretty much ignores what happened during the Image years and picks up fifteen years after the end of volume 2. 32 issues over 13 years isn’t exactly the best of release schedules, but whatcha gonna do. To complicate matters, issue number 31 was never printed (it is available online), issue 32 came out four years after that with a “to be continued,” but your guess is as good as mine as to when, if ever, issue 33 ever sees the light of day…or your favorite LED screen for that matter.
  • Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1–70 (Created by many, published by Mirage Studios beginning from 2004–2010) This series focused on the unknown adventures of the Turtles and served to explain what happened during the 13 lost years between the second and fourth volumes of the main series. Ouch. Laird must have really not liked that third volume from Image. I guess this can step in as the in-canon third volume as far as the creator is concerned.
  • Tales of Leonardo: Blind Sight #1–4 (Everythinged by Jim Lawson, published by Mirage Studios in 2006) I had never even heard of this, but it is miniseries focusing on one character of a larger team, and I’m a lover of the miniseries wave of the ’80s (hello, Wolverine), so this sounds like fun.
  • Raphael: Bad Moon Rising #1–4 (Created by Jim Lawson and Eric Talbot, published by Mirage Studios in 2007) Werewolves and Vampires in a four-issue miniseries starring TMNT’s main tough guy? How did I not hear about this?
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Special #1 (Written and illustrated by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, colored by Steve Lavigne, published by Mirage Studios 2009) 25th anniversary of the first issue with a colored #1.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Brain Thief #1–4 (Everythinged by Jim Lawson, published by Mirage Studios in 2009) Another four-issue miniseries? I’m totally down for this.
As you can see, the Turtles have been around the block a few dozen or 100 times and I am sure I missed a bunch of other one-shots and minis, and I haven’t even touched anything after 2002, primarily IDW, which is where you should go if you are looking for some nice collections of the early material. I also remember having a Turtles “how-to” book that supposedly taught you martial arts and how to fight with things like a bo staff, none of which saved my ass during my junior high years. Anyhow, best not to dwell on that…

Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters

Okay, you kind of had to expect this kind of thing to happen after the explosive popularity of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brand. In looking into this comic, I was surprised to see the numerous disappearance and rebirths of this series over the years. I distinctly remember seeing my brother reading the first issue and I definitely gave him the stink eye for doing so, but I honestly never gave the book a chance. Who knows: I might be missing out something kinda cool.
After running through the various ARBBH titles, I have to say that I am rather interested in checking it out. Too bad there aren’t any trades readily available.

Pre-Teen Dirty-Gene Kung-Fu Kangaroos #1–3

(Everythinged by Lee Marrs, published by Blackthorne in 1986)
The crazy thing about this one is that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles briefly make an appearance in the comic (they are drawn by Peter Laird) and Howard the Duck is in there too…not sure if Howard’s appearance ushered in a lawsuit or not, but there you have it.

Naive Inter-Dimensional Commando Koalas #1

(Written by Sean Deming, illustrated by Dan Green, published by ICG in 1986)
Hey, the Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters make an appearance in this issue…so, cool?

Mildly Microwaved Pre-Pubescent Kung-Fu Gophers #1

(Written by George Macas, illustrated by Jim Molina and Jill Thompson, published by Just Imagine Graphix in 1986)
Jill Thompson?! This must be her first comic book work.

Cold Blooded Chameleon Commandos #1–5

(Written by William Clausen, illustrated by Michael Kelley, published by Blackthorne from 1986–1987)
Although I cannot determine the age group of the Cold Blooded Chameleon Commandos—I’m guessing they must be of enlistment age for a reptile—I decided to include them on the list because…well, because.

Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils #1–3

(Everythinged by Tony Basilicato, published by Planet X in 1986)
Please. Make it stop. Please make it stop!

When I revisit the subject of anthropomorphic comic book characters, I’ll be looking at bears, maybe some fish, and definitely a certain mammal from the order Tubuildentata. Until then, Turtles and Hamsters and Kangaroos, oh my!

This Week’s Reading List

Man, I gotta bow out here. I read a bunch of stuff this past couple of weeks, but this entry took forever to research and organize and write about, and every time I thought I was done, more comics and spoofs and spin-offs would pop-up to send back into digging. I will say that you should definitely check out the following amazing recent comics:

  • Gideon Falls #1 (Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, colored by Dave Stewart, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, edited by Will Dennis, published by Image Comics) This one had me at "New Lemire comic," but having Sorrentino on art made this a must-read-immediately. Gideon Falls is a horror comic that is certain to instill the willies and even though I have no idea what is going on yet, I am 100% on board. Get it. Read it. Be thrilled and chilled by it. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
  • The Terrifics #1 (Illustrated by Ivan Reis, written by Jeff Lemire, inked by Joe Prado, colored by Marcelo Maiolo, lettered by Tom Napolitano, published by DC Comics) Again, Lemire’s name brought me to this “fantastic” new series that definitely follows the “arrive late, leave early” style of storytelling. I was instantly drawn to the characters, wowed by the action, and loved every page of this “fantastic” book. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
  • Oblivion Song #1 (Written by Robert Kirkman, illustrated by Lorenzo De Felici, colored by Annalia Leoni, lettered by Rus Wooton, associate editor Arielle Basich, edited by Sean Mackiewicz, published by Image Comics) A new epic begins from Kirkman, and this time we are looking at a hard-sci-fi series where I am fairly certain no character will ever be safe. Alternate worlds, stranded humans, crazy monsters…it’s almost like this book was made for me. A heck of a great start. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
  • Saga #49 (Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, published by Image Comics) An issue of Saga is either really good or friggin’ great. This leans toward the latter. Still reading it. Still loving it. You should, too. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Saturday, March 3, 2018

Comics Lust 3/3/2018

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/task annihilator Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Criminy, Denizens. Thursday nearly took me out as I progressed through an 11-hour workday only to have the washing machine decide to freak out at the tail-end of the day. Friday wasn’t as bad, but for some reason, I am spending my Saturday folding Reverse Obie’s laundry...not really sure how that happened, but enough of that noise; let’s sit back and chill. Anyhow, be kind to each other, mind your health, drink plenty of water (maybe a beer or two), cherish the ones you love, 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

Dig If You Will an Image: Tough Worlds (Part 1)

After reading the first trade of the first comic listed below, I knew that whatever the topic was to be for this chapter, it had to include this amazing comic. So, I started thinking of all the possible categories and themes that could possibly encapsulate this book while not retreading any recent topics and leaving enough room to have, at the least, enough other titles for one post, and, at the most, open the door to having a follow up entry at some future date. After combing through my collection for a theme, it occurred to me that most of my comic book consumption over the past few years has leaned heavily on the Image Comics side of the spectrum. I then thought of my favorite Image titles and found that many of them focus on bleak, hopeless, harsh worlds where only the strong survive and sometimes even that is not enough to make it through. After that revelation, the Image titles came raining down, enough for a part one, a part two, and possibly a part three. To start off, I give you the mindblowing…


(Everythinged by Daniel Warren Johnson, colored by Mike Spicer, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics beginning in 2017) It’s safe to say that I’m generally easily entertained. It can also be said that it’s dang difficult to absolutely blow me away, which is precisely what this series did. Equal parts Game of Thrones, Mad Max: Fury Road, and mixed with the darker Studio Ghibli masterpieces—think Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Princess MononokeExtremity follows Thea of the Roto, said to be the greatest of artists until the day the Paznina arrive and brutally murder one of her family members and steals her greatest gift. Her heart filled with revenge, Thea gives herself over to her father’s thirst for revenge as her brother, Rollo, helplessly watches the artist he thought he knew slowly vanish. My goodness, Denizens, the imagery alone on this series has it all: floating plots of land, cool flying machines, strange creatures, intricate costuming, stunning character acting and drama, epically devastating battles, and an emotional weight that you absolutely do not want to shed. Matching the intensity of the visuals step for step is the powerful story. You can’t help but feel for the main characters, but just as you are ready to take up figurative arms alongside the Roto, Johnson unveils more details from the characters’ past and not everything is as black and white as previously believed. Yes, the Paznina’s actions are abhorrent—and extremely violent, to say the least—but there is a near-unbreakable cycle that drives all of the tribes, one that threatens to swallow Thea in its wake. Extremity is slated to be a 12-issue limited series, with the final, oversized issue coming out in the next week or two, and the final trade dropping in May; I will be there eagerly awaiting what is certain to be an amazing finale. This one took me by surprise, and I am already gearing up for a reread to see everything I missed. You simply must read this fantastic series.


(Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Michael Lark, colored by Santi Arcas, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics beginning in 2013)
Whenever I start to feel the crushing weight and despair of today’s toxic political and social climate, all I need to do is read the latest issue of Lazarus to really, really bring me down. Please understand that this is not a slight against the series, but rather high praise for the creators who seem to have predicted where we have been headed over the past four years ago. In Lazarus, the world is not divided by political or religious lines, but by economic ones with sixteen families laying claim to all. Members of each Family hold the highest power, those known as “Serfs” provide services in their Family’s name, while the “Waste” struggles to survive, ever hoping to lift themselves to “Serf” status. What makes the series unique is that each family has a protector known as a “Lazarus,” alone, nearly unstoppable being to terrify enemies, inspire Serfs, and met out their Family’s will. This series follows the Lazarus Forever Carlyle as she begins to gain thoughts of independence. Yes, this book is heavy. Yes, it usually leaves me with an increased level of anxiety. But, the levels of intrigue, the family machinations, Forever’s awakening, the handful of Waste who succeed in being lifted to Serf status, the subterfuge of Family members, and the slow steady glimpse into families outside of the family Carlyle all make this devastating-yet-powerful series a must-read comic. Soon to be an Amazon Prime exclusive television series, you can get ahead of the game with either the two available hardcovers or the five trades, and supplement that with Lazarus X+66 and the Lazarus: Sourcebook Collection. You might not be smiling as you read this series, but you’ll be glad you did.

Seven to Eternity

(Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Matteo Scalera with a dash of James Harren, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics beginning in 2016)
Rick Remender. That’s pretty much all I need to say, right? Given the man’s phenomenal stable of books, that’s all I need to give a comic a shot, but holy moly, when you see Jerome Opeña’s stunning artwork with its intricately detailed backgrounds and masterful character designs and acting, you’d have to be crazy to pass up this rich fantasy adventure series. The story follows Adam Osidis, a man dying of a disease and trying to protect his family from the God of Whispers, who Adam calls the Mud King, a monster who has enslaved most of the kingdom of Zhal’s populace to his will. Adam joins with the remnants of a powerful sect of mystical knights to save the world by capturing the Mud King and destroying him once and for all. The Mud King, however, has something Adam might not be able to resist: a cure. Remender and Opeña have created an immense world complete with a lush history, rules of magic unlike anything I have ever seen, different races of beings, religious systems, strange alternate dimensions, and amazing heroes and villains. Only nine issues have come out over the past year and a half, but work of this caliber takes time and I am happy to wait just so long as more of this gorgeous series is on the horizon. Heck, maybe even a few side miniseries or prequels to expand upon this massive world would be a great way to ease the time, but for now, you have two beautiful trades to tide you over until the series picks up again in the next couple of months.

Bitch Planet

(Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, illustrated by Valentine De Landro, colored by Chris Peter, lettered by Clayton Cowles published by Image Comics beginning in 2014)
Disclaimer time: Only 10 issues of the main series have been published over the past three years and three months. Yeah, not very much, but there is also a supplemental five-issue series of side stories titled Bitch Planet: Triple Feature to tide you over until things pick back up again…whenever that may be. That said, Bitch Planet is very much worth your time and is sadly all too relevant given today’s terrible—and oftentimes misogynistic—political climate. The series embraces the look and feel of the ‘70s most notorious sexploitation films, especially the “girls in prison” genre while having a strong, feminist, pro-LGBTQ+ message. In Bitch Planet, most of the planet is ruled by a patriarchy that determines if women adhere to the rules they set forth. If a woman does not do what is expected, or fails to smile, or talks back, or eats too much, or does not dress appropriately, or does not maintain her looks, or or or…she can be shipped off-world to an inescapable prison men jokingly call “Bitch Planet.” Kamau takes the lead in an expansive roster of women imprisoned on all sorts of ridiculous “crimes,” and we quickly learn that Kamau wanted to be taken to Bitch Planet for a very particular reason. When the patriarchy gets the idea to involve the women in a televised sporting event to keep the masses content and to enrich themselves, Kamau sees other possibilities. The series is very well done and the story and art engaging, but Peter’s mostly flat colors with their occasional halftone dots set a tone of both despair and hope in this great, progressive comic. If you’re as sick of the old white men in charge as many of us are, if you stand by the #metoo movement, if you want to see changes in this corrupt world, then Bitch Planet is a book you need to be reading. Now, if only we could get some more issues…

The Walking Dead

(Written by Robert Kirkman, illustrated Charlie Adlard with the first few issues by Tony Moore, published by Image Comics beginning in 2003)
Alright, I absolutely have to mention the leviathan in the room that is The Walking Dead. The world doesn’t get any tougher than in this series, and I don’t mean the zombies. Yes, the zombies are an ever-present threat, but the most terrifying aspect of this series is what becomes of what remains of humanity. Other people is the fear that haunts main characters such as Rick, Michonne, Carl, Maggie, Andrea, and the other main characters, and fear they should after so many of the supporting cast have died…horribly. To put it mildly, my wife almost made it to the fifty issue mark, but she had to tap out at around issue #45 because of how stressed out the comic made her—imagine how bad things would have been for her if she had made it to issue #46 and#47! Fans of the television show who have not delved into the comics really need to read the source material. It’s very different, there are new characters, there are characters killed on the show who are still around, and it is shockingly bleaker. It’s also been around for 178 issues and still going strong. You can jump in with the three compendiums, the hardcovers, or the regular ol’ trades.

I am still completely pumped about Extremity and also want to go back to Seven to Eternity in the near future, and that The Walking Dead reread I’ve been promising myself is also calling my name, so I’ll leave things here. Until next time.

This Week’s Reading List

I’m out of time, and have only read two of my comics, but they are ones I definitely hope to touch on next week! See you then.


Saturday, February 24, 2018

Comics Lust 2/24/2018

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/Wakanda warrior Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). I’m running late, as usual, so let’s keep it short. Tulip, Reverse Obie, and I want you to go see Black Panther in the theater and support this dang fine film! Man, it is good. Also, stretch and get yourself all limber-like for Jessica Jones Season 2 which comes out next month. Then, treat yourself to some pollo molcajetes (covered by the Real Food Challenge) with some corn tortillas (not part of the Real Food Challenge) and some tortilla chips (also not part of the Real Food Challenge)…let’s not think about the beer. Anyhow, be kind to each other, mind your health, drink plenty of water (maybe a beer or two, I’m allowed dagnabbit), cherish the ones you love, 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

Alone Again Or: Non-Big-Two, Solo Superheroes (Part 1)

In a past chapter, I looked at some non-Big-Two comics that focused on superhero teams, but there are plenty of superhero comics out there that focus more on the struggles and wins of the individual. That’s what we will begin looking at here today.


(Written by Robert Kirkman, illustrated by Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley, colored by Bill Crabtree, published by Image Comics beginning in 2003)
Invincible just finished its massive 144 issue run, and I have to admit that I am woefully behind on this spectacular series; something which I fully intend to correct this year. To be honest, I’m only about halfway through the series (Volume 14 is the last trade I read), but this is only the result of losing track of this marvelous accomplishment from Kirkman, Walker, and Ottley, and not a statement on the material itself. Invincible tells the story of Mark Grayson, a senior in high school with a lame fast food job, whose life is otherwise unremarkable…until after a frustrating day on the job he tosses a bag garbage into the next county. Life’s about to change for Mark as he struggles to understand the rapidly developing powers he inherited from his superhero father. But with great power comes great responsibility and that responsibility becomes a crushing burden as Mark’s life completely falls apart in the wake of a family tragedy. Thankfully, Mark finds others like him to help him through the tough times, especially one particularly interesting girl. Just writing this little blurb makes me want to start from the beginning and work my way through the entire saga of this very adult-oriented comic. Yes, the art style and colors suggest a happy-go-lucky superhero fest, but be warned: Invincible deals with some highly personal subject matter and is incredibly violent and bloody. This comic is harsh, but it does have the occasional lighthearted and humorous moments to lift your spirits and keep you loving the main characters. So, with 144 issues, you got your work cut out for you and it is definitely worth starting at the beginning with issue #1. But also keep in mind that once you’re sucked in you can delve even deeper into the Invincibleverse with the side books Official Handbook of the Invincible Universe #1–2 (2006), Invincible Presents: Atom Eve #1–2 (2007), Invincible Presents: Atom Eve and Rex Plode #1–3 (2009), Invincible Returns #1Invincible Universe #1–12 (2013), It might seem like a hefty undertaking to dive into Invincible, but once you get started I suspect you’ll have no problem plowing through this great comic.

The Black Beetle

(Everythinged by Francesco Francavilla, published by Dark Horse beginning in 2012)
The biggest gripe I have with The Black Beetle is that there simply isn’t enough of it…yet. For anyone who’s followed Donist World for a while, you know that I positively love Francavilla’s work; I’m sitting on my couch and looking at a poster of a particularly stunning alternate cover he did for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #2 as I write this. His line work is minimalist, his storytelling masterful, and his otherworldly colors are unlike anything I have ever seen, so imagine my joy when I learned that he was both writing and illustrating his own love letter to pulpy costumed heroes. The Black Beetle is Colt City’s self-proclaimed protector who seeks to thwart both the underworld threats of seedy crime bosses and bizarre, costumed freaks alike. Armed with an array of impressive weapons and vehicles, the Black Beetle must use his wits and fists to keep his city safe from the secret threats few know exists. With any luck, we will one day see the long-rumored The Black Beetle: Necrologue, but for the time being, you can feast your eyes on Francavilla’s two gorgeous hardcover books: The Black Beetle: No Way Out (2013), and The Black Beetle: Kara Böcek (2017).


(Written by Alan Moore and later by Neil Gaiman; illustrated by Gary Leach, Alan Davis, John Ridgeway, Rick Veitch, John Totleben, and Mark Buckingham; published by Eclipse Comics beginning in 1985)
Okay, okay, simmer down, Denizens. At least simmer down if you were about to shout, “But Marvel recently put out those individual issues and hardcover collections.” To this I need to remind everyone that Miracleman was originally published back in the days by Eclipse, who went out of business, whose rights were bought up dirt cheap by none other than Todd McFarlane, who held onto those rights intending to put Miracleman into his Spawn comic, who then was locked for years in a legal battle with Neil Gaiman, Marvel then joined the fray on Gaiman’s side to ultimately win publishing rights back, Marvel then put out all of the previously published material in issues and hardcover collections with new colors and letters, and then…nothing. Nothing. Marvel and Gaiman talked up finally finishing the tale that halted abruptly back in 1993, but three years after the last reprint debuted, we’re all still waiting to see what happens next. But, this should not stop you from reading Moore’s revamp of the long gone Marvelman character from the ‘50s. Published between Moore’s deconstruction of Swamp Thing and the industry-defining Watchmen, Miracleman follows Michael Moran, an average-joe type character who gets caught up in a crime scene and suddenly realizes there’s more, much more, to him than he or his wife could ever have imagined. Bristling with newfound (or rather long-forgotten) powers, Miracleman learns that another of the “Miracleman Family” yet lives and that is when everything goes from good to far, far worse. To say this series is one of the comics that affected me the most in my life is a vast understatement. Beautiful, tragic, grotesque, traumatic, hopeful, this series has it all, especially when you get to the issues magnificently illustrated by Totleben. Issue #15, in particular, features some of the most horrifying images of what happens when a deranged and nigh-unstoppable superhuman decides to go on a rampage. Moore spends 16 issues tearing Mike Moran’s world apart and putting it back together again ultimately solving all the world’s problems before handing the series off to Gaiman, who then wrote eight impressive issues as well as contributing to a three-issue anthology titled Miracleman: Apocrypha (1991), which unfortunately might be a challenge to get ahold of as it has not yet been reprinted. I won’t lie to you, Denizens, Miracleman is going to be an emotionally rough book to read, but stick with it, it is WELL worth the turmoil you will put yourself through.


(Written by Mark Waid, illustrated by Peter Krause and Diego Barreto, published by Boom! Studios beginning in 2009)
What do you do when the most powerful hero in the world, The Plutonian, goes mad and starts killing villains and former team members indiscriminately? What could turn a peaceful, benevolent being into such a horrific monster? Such are the questions raised in Irredeemable. Okay, technically, this comic is about a former hero of the Earth going hardcore evil, but, hey, he was technically a hero to start with before becoming the worst and deadliest villain of all time. A bit of a stretch for this topic, but it came to mind and I remembered just how addictive the series was. Irredeemable ran for 37 issues and one special, but also had a sister book, Incorruptible, that was published at the same time and focused on one of the Plutonian’s greatest villains, Max Damage, who decides to change his wicked ways and become a hero. I never read the thirty-issue Incorruptible—something I fully intend to remedy at some point this year—but Irredeemable is a compelling story that I definitely need to read again in the near future.

There are plenty more superhero solo adventures to talk about, but those are for another day. Plus, you have 144 issues of Invincible to get to.

This Week’s Reading List

Descender #27

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics)
After the amazing “Rise of the Robots” arc, Descender is back with what looks to be the origin of the dreaded Harvesters as we travel back 4000 years in the past with two new characters. Yes, I want to get back to TIM-21 and Telsa, but as long as we explore more of this fascinating world I'm as happy as can be. Gorgeous art and an immersive story continue to make this series my favorite comic being published for going on three years now. The next issue cannot come soon enough. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Mage: The Hero Denied #6

(Written and illustrated by Matt Wagner, colored by Brennan Wagner, lettered by Dave Lanphear, consulting editor Diana Schutz, design and production by Steven Birch, published by Image Comics)
Kevin becomes obsessed with finding the questing beast. Magda just wants to live a fairly normal life, but even she may not be able to resist the pull of forces beyond her control. Oh, the stresses family creates. Plus, the Umbra Sprite will stop at nothing to get the Fisher King. Still loving this awesome series. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Lazarus X+66 #6

(Written by Greg Rucka and Erik Trautmann, illustrated by Tristan Jones, colored by Santi Arcas, lettered by Jodi Wynne, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics)
The miniseries comes to an end, and what a truly terrifying ending it is. This issue shows us the history and current abode on the deadliest Lazarus of all: The Zmey—also known as “the dragon” and “the Beast”. Not only did the Zmey easily murder one of Forever Carlyle’s Lazarus teammates, he also nearly killed her, Sonja, and Joacquim as well. After learning a bit more about this man-made monster, it’s easy to see why the Zmey is so very feared. Now, I’m good and ready for the series proper to return in April. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Saturday, February 17, 2018

Comics Lust 2/17/2018

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/workin’ for the weekend Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Three day weekend, y’all, and dang if we don’t need it. Have you ever noticed how hard you work right before a vacation or time off to make dang sure all of your bases are covered and there will be no surprises while you are away or when you get back? Yeah, it’s been one of those weeks around the Donist World corporate office (Mom’s basement), but dagnabbit are we ready to actively relax or what? We are. Anyhow, be kind to each other, mind your health, drink plenty of water (maybe a beer or two, I’m five weeks into a six-week Real Food Challenge and I’m allowed…I think), cherish the ones you love, 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 Whole Story (Part 1)

For both new and seasoned comic book aficionados, deciding where to hop in on many of the more popular titles can seem like a daunting task—see my previous post, “A Valiant Effort (Part 1)”. We all want strong stories told through beautiful art, but if you want to get into Iron Man, or the Hulk, or Superman, or—heaven help you—Batman, then there are going to be characters, backstory, and continuity that inevitably pops up requiring you to do some digging to fully understand what is going on. But what if someone wants to get a clean in-and-out on a series with a beginning, middle, and end? One with all new characters and places? The good news: there are tons of offerings out there in the comic book wild. Yes, there’s a treasure trove of OGNs (original graphic novels) gracing store shelves—we’ll get to some those another day. I’m talking about books that came out on a monthly(ish) basis, with twelve or fewer issues in the whole series. I’m happy to tell you, there are plenty of those, too.


(Written by Alan Moore, illustrated by Dave Gibbons, published by DC Comics beginning in 1986)
I know, I know, there is a Before Watchmen event from 2012 (I need to get around to reading that someday), and there are thus far three amazing issues of Doomsday Clock that began in 2017. Also, there is a divisive movie and plans to make an HBO series of Watchmen in the near future, but when Moore and Gibbons originally created this industry-defining series, it was a 12-issue endeavor and that was supposed to be it. Regardless of your feelings on the prequel and the sequel, you still can read this monumental series and be as wowed, thrilled, chilled, and as mentally and emotionally messed up as I was after reading this series back in 1986. Watchmen is Moore’s response to the slow yet startling change in politics and American attitudes from the time of World War II through to the Cold War when the threat of nuclear war was a legitimate concern. It is within this setting that the creators added superheroes and how they too changed with the times, becoming increasingly more dangerous and tools the government could exploit to win wars, namely the Vietnam War. Then, a former “superhero,” the Comedian, is killed and a lone vigilante, Rorschach, sets out to solve the murder despite the illegality of roaming the streets in a costume and dishing out justice. What Rorschach begins to uncover is something much more than anyone could have ever predicted as the Doomsday Clock clicks ever closer to the world’s demise. I won’t say anything more than this comic messed up sixteen-year-old Donist something fierce, and I was the better for it. Watchmen should be required reading for everyone, not just the college students who have this hallmark of comic book excellence required in their studies. “Who watches the Watchmen?” You should, that’s who.


(Written by Mark Millar, illustrated by Goran Parlov, published by Image Comics beginning in 2014)
Wow. I don’t know about you, but after Watchmen, I could definitely use a pick me up. Starlight is definitely the book to do just that. With only six issues in this fantastic, uplifting story, but with the possibility of prequels and sequels that may or may not surface someday, Starlight is a love letter to the pulp sci-fi stories of yesteryear. Even if you never read a Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers comic strip in your life, there is plenty to embrace in this beautiful and exciting series of love, loss, purpose, and a life well-lived. Starlight follows the elderly Duke McQueen, a recent widower whose kids have never really believed that Duke was once a spacefaring adventurer who fought and won intergalactic wars. No one believes the fantastic quests Duke undertook before giving it all up forty years ago so he could spend the rest of his days with his beloved wife. More alone than ever, Duke’s life changes the day a former ally from another world and a lifelong thought past arrives seeking Duke’s help. Dang. Just writing this brief intro is bringing tears to my eyes, but not of sorrow. No. Rather, it’s the touching joy of following Duke on what may be his final exploit that reminds him of why he matters. Couple this with Parlov’s Moebius-esque illustrated tapestries and I know exactly what’s up next on my reread list. My goodness, this series is beautiful.


(Written by Grant Morrison, illustrated by Frank Quitely, published Vertigo/DC beginning in 2004)
I love animals, especially dogs, which makes this next three-issue comic book series somewhat of a challenge, but one completely worth embarking upon. So, yeah, I’m basically saying let’s bring the mood back down into the realm of anxious despair …with a side of hope. We3 tells of what happens when the government decides to replace human soldiers with weaponized pets. Bandit (a dog), Tinker (a cat), and Pirate (a rabbit) have all been outfitted with an impressive exoskeleton that not only allows them to speak, it arms them with massive strength and a lethal barrage of guns, missiles, blades, and everything that turns each of them into weapons of mass destruction. But when the three see an opportunity to break from their human oppressors, they make a dash to find their way home. Unfortunately, the government does not like its property leaving unannounced and will stop at nothing to get the three back. Again, this story is brutal in parts, but it is compelling throughout and thrilling to say the least, especially given Quitely’s oh-so-gorgeous line work. You can easily finish We3 in one sitting, but I suspect you’ll be thinking about it for days and weeks afterward.

Tokyo Ghost

(Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Sean Gordon Murphy, published by Image Comics beginning in 2015)
The year is 2089. Led Dent and Debbie Decay are constables enforcing the laws created by entertainment gangsters to instill upon a hopelessly tech-addicted society that will stop at nothing to get their next fix. Debbie is a tech “virgin” having no implants whatsoever, but Led is loaded with the stuff to the point of loving the virtual over reality. When the opportunity arises to purge Led of his tech to better infiltrate the Garden Nation of Tokyo, a tech-less society, Debbie sees a chance to escape the iron grip of their bosses, make a run for their freedom, and a return to the love the couple once shared. Okay, Denizens, this one’s going to be a bit rough, too, but the world of Tokyo Ghost is one well worth immersing yourself in. It should be clear by now that Rick Remender is one of my favorite comic book writers, and this 10-issue commentary of the perils of too much connectivity and where we all might be headed is one that may as well have been tailor-made for me. We have hopelessness and hope, beauty and decay, oppression and freedom, love and codependency all presented through Murphy’s stunning vision of both dystopian and utopian societies. Although a mostly serious comic, Tokyo Ghost has its humorous moments and the lovely art is oftentimes loaded with sight gags and social commentary. You get a beginning, middle, and end, but I can’t help wishing there was more to go around of this grand story.

The Private Eye

(Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Marcos Martin, published by Panel Syndicate beginning in 2013)
Speaking of the digital age…not all comics begin their life on the printed page, bound by two staples through the middle, and folded, oftentimes with a cover of differing paper stock. In the age of retina displays and iPads, comics can come alive on the screen way before they appear—if they ever do—in a store. Such is the case with Panel Syndicate, which released all 10 issues of The Private Eye as free downloads. Now, only a heartless monster would take such amazing comics and not kick down some cold hard cash for the privilege, and Vaughan and Martin give downloaders the option to give a voluntary contribution; I gave them a minimum of $4.00 per issue, of which they pocket the majority of the proceeds. If you know a little about comics, then you should be aware of Vaughan as he writes some amazing comics (Y the Last Man, Saga, Paper Girls) and The Private Eye deserves its place amongst the best of his creations. Set in the future, at a time after everyone’s private information is exposed for all to see, privacy becomes one of the most sacred of rights. Everyone is disguised and there is no longer such a thing as the internet. P.I., a private eye who exposes secrets if the price is right, is hired to investigate a murder but stumbles upon much more than he ever bargained for. Timely, predictive, action-packed, The Private Eye is a wonderful sci-fi adventure certain to thrill and to leave you wondering just how long we have before the events of the comic actually come to pass. Don’t worry though. If you hate reading on a screen, there’s a hardcover, landscape-formatted version of this must-read tale waiting for you at your LCS. Pick it up before our tech-addled society crumbles.

This Week’s Reading List

I’m out of time, and I haven't even had a chance to make it to my LCS this week. I’m also not quite ready to mention the biggie I'm close to finishing, but maybe that will be the topic for next week. Hmmmmm. See you next week.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Comics Lust 2/11/2018

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/stress denier Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). The weeks continue to be nutty, but mostly in a good way. That said, my puppy executive team and I could sure use some downtime. We definitely need to do some reading,  TV watching, and maybe spend some hours putting together a puzzle; heaven forbid we take a moment to breathe and smell the hypoallergenic flowers. We are committed to embracing our inner chill. Anyhow, be kind to each other, mind your health, drink plenty of water (no beer, I’m four weeks into a six-week Real Food Challenge), cherish the ones you love, 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

A Valiant Effort (Part 1)

So many comics, so little time. But as lovers of the medium, we not only have a reverence for the old—that which we have read, reread, and hold to the highest esteem—we also tend to stick with the things we love. We want to check in with what Batman is up to, or what’s currently going on with all things cosmic in the Marvel Universe. But we also have a need to experience something new, something different and thrilling. There’s definitely more out there than just the Big Two, which I have found with the “indie” publishers like Image—who receives most of my money month in and month out—and, to a lesser extent, Dark Horse. Still, there are many other worlds to explore.

Now, I bought a couple issues from the newly spawned Valiant back in the ‘90s, but that was at a time when I was growing weary of gimmick covers, variant covers, and a marketing-over-content and the “EXTREMEizing” of the comic book publishing world. Frustrated, I abandoned comics altogether for about five years. After the speculative bubble burst, consuming many publishers in its wake including Valiant, I returned to an industry desperate to stay alive and one with a renewed interest in telling great stories. In 2012, Valiant rose from the ashes bringing back most of their properties beginning with X-O ManowarMagnus Robot Fighter and Solar Man of the Atom, both originally Gold Key properties, were scooped up by Dark Horse, end ended up with Dynamite. After a few years of hearing some great buzz around many of the titles in Valiant Entertainment’s resurrection, and along with a need to try something new, I dipped my toe into the Valiant pool.

Archer & Armstrong (First Published May 2013)
Going in order of my reading beginning in August 2015, Archer & Armstrong was my first real foray into the Valiant Universe. A digital sale prompted me to drop some coin on Archer & Armstrong #1–25 and the special Archer & Armstrong: The 1% #1, which I quickly blew through after loving the first issue. Basically, Armstrong is an immortal poet and lover of life (ie, a drunk) who has been targeted by a cult (the Sect) for assassination by an impressionable young man, Archer, who is the near opposite of Armstrong in every possible way. Archer soon learns his life and upbringing were a lie, and the two become quick friends committed to stopping the Sect once and for all. The book is essentially a humorous “buddy cop” story with heart that immediately makes you fall in love with the title characters and cheer them along on their many adventures. Other characters from the Valiant Universe come in and out of the series (including Geomancer, Bloodshot, and Armstrong’s brother, Gilad, the Eternal Warrior) and although it was slightly confusing not knowing too much about the series guest stars, I just went with the flow and everything worked out just fine. Archer & Armstrong is mostly written by Fred Van Lente and features a host of artists, but as much as I loved this series, the act of jumping into the rest of Valiant’s offerings seemed a bit daunting…until a particular writer prompted me to give it a shot two years later.

The Valiant (First Published December 2014)
In late 2017, Valiant had another digital sale that caught my eye, but it was the fact that my current favorite creator, Jeff Lemire (Descender, and Royal City) had actively been working with the company which was all the excuse I needed to dive back into this publisher. Co-written with Matt Kindt and illustrated by Paolo Rivera, and featuring the character of Bloodshot on the cover—who I remembered from back in the ‘90s—I decided this was the book to start with. Now, The Valiant is pretty much an event miniseries that at various points brings in most of the Valiant characters, and it is safe to say I knew practically none of them. That’s fine. The writers do a decent job of mostly letting you know who is who as they thrust you right into the action. The story opens with The Eternal Warrior, Gilad (the guy who appeared in many issues of Archer & Armstrong as he fights The Immortal Enemy across 10,000 years). Gilad has failed to stop the ever-evolving creature only three times, but each time resulted in the death of the Earth’s Geomancer. Now, The Immortal Enemy has returned and even though Gilad has the aid of Bloodshot and many other heroes, it might not be enough to stop the monster. This series is definitely accessible to new readers and it successfully roped me in within the first few pages. I dug the main characters, was interested in knowing more about the others, and with the brutal ending knew I had to jump directly into…

Bloodshot: Reborn V.1–4 (First Published May 2015)
Bloodshot: USA V.1 (First Published October 2016)
Picking up where The Valiant left off, Bloodshot: Reborn finds Bloodshot a shell of the unstoppable killing machine he used to be. He has a dead-end job, he’s taking drugs, he’s boozing it up. He’s also starting to see things. He’s without purpose until the day he sees news footage of a ghost-white man with a blood-red circle on his chest mercilessly slaughtering innocent bystanders. Jeff Lemire is the sole writer on this exciting and thrilling series that shows exactly why Bloodshot is one of Valiant’s main heavy hitters. The character is reminiscent of the Punisher only with nanites flowing through his blood that heal him from most any wound no matter how grievous. You have the shadowy organization that created him, lost love, new love, camaraderie, betrayal, post-apocalyptic awesomeness, and further glimpses into other characters within the Valiant Universe. To put it mildly, Bloodshot: Reborn is fantastic as is the follow-up, Bloodshot: USA, and I fully intend to dive into the currently ongoing Bloodshot: Salvation. If you’re new to Valiant, then getting your bearings with The Valiant and diving in with the amazing Bloodshot: Reborn run is definitely enough to get you hooked.
*Note: In the ’90s, Bloodshot ran for 52 issues (#0–51), then, after Acclaim Entertainment bought Valiant, Bloodshot returned for 16 issues before the company filed for bankruptcy. In 2012, after Valiant had returned to the world of comics, Bloodshot saw new life with a 26-issue series (#0–25) before appearing in The Valiant, where I decided to begin.

Secret Weapons (First Published June 2017)
Secret Weapons is the most recent comic from Valiant and is one that has had much buzz. Written by Eric Heisserer, the screenwriter of the hit sci-fi film Arrival, and illustrated by Raul Allen and Patricia Martin, the comic focuses on three characters with abilities that some might call worthless, but to Livewire—one of Valiant’s toughest characters—these three have much more potential than anyone ever gave them credit for, which is probably why the youngsters are in the crosshairs of a murderous beast known as Rexo. Let’s just say, I freaking love this series, but I have to admit having almost no knowledge of Livewire other than her brief appearances in The Valiant and Bloodshot: Reborn. I’m honestly still a bit confused about her as I’m sure those who have read Harbinger and Unity fully understand the character and her powers, but with Secret Weapons she is somewhat enigmatic…and someone I definitely want to know more about. It also seems as if the three main kids of the series have appeared previously, but I’m not certain where; looks like Harbinger and Unity might be the next place to look? Still, despite not fully knowing the histories of the pivotal characters, Secret Weapons is a fun, thrilling, intense comic that has me hoping for more and wanting to read the recently released zero issue, as well.

Everything I have read from Valiant thus far has been great. I definitely want to read more, but I’m not sure if I will first immerse myself in the mythos of the epic X-O Manowar, or check out Harbinger and Unity, or go super cosmic with the three Divinity miniseries. Knowing me, I’m pretty sure the answer will be “all of the above,” and I’ll be discussing them in “A Valiant Effort (Part 2)” at some point down the road. Bottom line: Valiant is very much deserving of your attention. You should give it to them.

This Week’s Reading List

I’m out of time, but then again I only had two items in my pull this week, and I’m not yet ready to mention the biggie I am close to finishing. See you next week.