Saturday, August 4, 2018

Comics Lust 8/4/2018

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/leaning towards lunch Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Greetings, Denizens. Again, I’m keeping this short as this Donist needs a shower and a burrito ASAP. Anyhow, keep cool, be kind to each other, mind your health, keep your pets safe, cherish the ones you love, hydrate, 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.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Comics Lust

Everythinged…The Writer-Artist: Superhero Comics (Part 1)

Most comic book creators either write or they draw. Oftentimes, they have additional team members who can do anything from inks, to flats, to color rendering, to lettering, to design, to editing. But when you find someone who can both write and draw a comic…well, that’s something rare, something you definitely don’t see every day. Those writer-artists are what I call everythingers—the comic book equivalent of a unicorn—and when they strike gold with a truly fantastic series, it is cause to rejoice.

X-Men: Grand Design

(Everythinged by Ed Piskor, originally published in 2017 by Marvel Comics)
I honestly can’t believe we have this treasure gracing the shelves of our LCS. It’s more along the lines of something you would see back in the day when Marvel was a pre-publicly traded company and hadn’t yet been purchased by the “Mouse.” X-Men: Grand Design has the look and feel of the special, experimental comics of the ’80s when you had the rise of the miniseries, the introduction of the larger form factor Graphic Novels, and the super-rare Big Two crossover comics. The difference being that this six-issue limited series is not just a love letter to that industry-changing time from over three decades ago, but it serves to introduce—and perhaps reintroduce—readers to the world of the X-Men. And here’s the crazy thing: Piskor takes the term everythinger to the extreme. He not only wrote (more on this in a moment), illustrated, inked, colored, lettered, and designed this masterwork of a comic, he also chose the particular paper it is printed upon and the printing process of well. Outside of hand delivering these dang-fine books to the distributor, he did everything. Everything! Each issue is 48-pages printed on a marbled, yellowed, non-glossy, high-weight paper stock with heft and texture you notice the moment you pick up this must-own book. The design and packaging alone are worth the $5.99 price of admission, but once you actually read the comic from page one through to the end, that is when you are completely hooked.
X-Men: Grand Design is a summary of all things X-Men, from times before the first X-Men comic saw the light of day (X-Men: Grand Design #1–2), to the Chris Claremont days that cemented this Donist as an X-Men fanatic (X-Men: Grand Design - Second Genesis #1–2), and finally to the as-yet-to-be-titled-as-of-this-writing third chapter of two issues. So, basically, when all is said and done we will have 288 Piskor everythinged pages that cover at least 500 issues of X-Men comics spanning over 50 years of material and convoluted continuity and presented in a way that makes sense of our favorite Marvel mutants. It’s also a pure joy to read. Criminy! I imagine Piskor’s home looking like a True Detective-esque wallboard of characters, times, and places all connected by crisscrossed, multi-colored string; someone should probably check on the guy to make sure he’s okay...maybe take him a burrito and make sure he’s getting his vitamins. All joking aside, Piskor took a Herculean, nigh-impossible task and not only made it seem easy, he also presented the work in one heck of a gorgeous package; this doesn’t even take into account the oversized “Treasury Edition” (collecting the first two issues) that matches the format of his equally impressive Hip Hop Family Tree collections. X-Men: Grand Design is the real deal. You need this.

The Mighty Thor

(Everythinged by Walter Simonson, originally published in 1983 by Marvel comics)
I have loved Marvel’s Thor ever since I was a kid. I was there gleefully reading along as the Norse God of Thunder fought Jack Kirby’s beautifully designed Destroyer and Mangog. I was thrilled by Mark Gruenwald’s “The Eternals Saga” conclusion and his collaborative efforts with Ralph Macchio that brought in the heralds of Galactus into the fray. I, of course, enjoyed the weirdness of the Doug Moench issues as well. But…the day I saw issue #337 I knew my world was about to be rocked to its core. Here we have a monstrous being dressed in the regalia of Thor, God of Thunder. Not only that, this creature holds Mjolnir which he uses to obliterate the book’s title with one deadly swing. Holy-freakin' moly. Jump to the first three pages of this issue and you see a veiled blacksmith taking the remnants of a star to forge it into something sinister with thunderous strikes of “DOOM” ringing across the cosmos. This is the introduction of not just Beta Ray Bill to the Marvel Universe, but of Simonson as an everythinger on one of the most celebrated Thor runs of all time. Gods and Goddesses. Dark elves and demons. Aliens and dragons. Family strife and Ragnarok. This run has it all with both an epic story and Simonson’s trademark style. I return to this influential run every year or two and continue to fall in love with this grand work again and again. Go for broke with the Thor by Walter Simonson Omnibus or you can grab the three recently released trade paperbacks with a fourth releasing soon.

Batman: Year 100

(Everythinged by Paul Pope, originally published in 2006 by DC Comics)
It has been far too long since I read this story and I am definitely due for a reread. For those not familiar with Pope’s intricate detailing and flowing-yet-precise line work and character acting, you should check out his Heavy Liquid, 100%, and Battling Boy comics/graphic novels…after you read this sci-fi Batman tale, of course. In the year 2039, Gotham is still a dystopian city engulfed in violence and cruelty, but there is hope: that hope is the Batman and Detective Gordon. But this is the future, and those heroes we know and love are long gone. This Gordon is the grandson of Jim Gordon, and this Batman is…somewhat of a mystery. This is problematic in a world that no longer has secrets, where everything is known and at the waiting for exploitation; all except the Batman. You can readily pick this up in the recent hardcover or the older trade collections.

DC: The New Frontier

(Everythinged by Darwyn Cooke, originally published in 2004 by DC Comics)
2016 was a shitty year for comics and music…among other things. Many of my real-life heroes died as many real-life villains came to power and influence. One death that hit hard for many was that of Darwyn Cooke. Cooke was a master writer-artist whether he was working on spectacular crime comics like his Richard Stark’s Parker graphic novels or whether he was immortalizing Batman or Catwoman. His greatest, most lauded superhero work can be found in the six issues of DC: The New Frontier. This series retells the origin stories of some of DC’s still popular Golden Age heroes as they leap into the Silver Age. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman come to meet the newer heroes of the ’50s like The Flash, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, and others ultimately leading them to work together against a grand menace. Beautifully told, masterfully illustrated, and a chronicle of both comic book superhero and world history, DC: The New Frontier is readily available in trade format, as well as an animated feature film for you to celebrate this pillar of comic book excellence.

Machine Man

(Everythinged by Jack Kirby, originally published in 1978 by Marvel Comics)
You’re probably wondering why I haven’t yet talked about any of Jack “King” Kirby’s works before now (with the possible exception of my much-loved The Demon). The truth is that writing about Kirby is kind of a daunting and intimidating thing. Here we have the guy whose work was all over my ever-expanding comic book collection as a kid, whether it was The New Gods, Omac, Devil Dinosaur, or the tons of other titles. No matter what book you were reading, if it was drawn by Kirby, you had something heavenly in your hands. His work was always there to excite you with wide-eyed men screaming as they reached off the page toward you while some of the coolest and most inventive monsters and robots you have ever seen threatened to destroy the world amidst a backdrop of gorgeous “Kirby Krackle”. So, when you have one of those insane robots end up being not just a ’70s superhero but a veritable Swiss Army Knife of gadgets and weaponry, you have a character that had young-Donist trembling with excitement to learn all about him. I was not disappointed. Machine Man is the last surviving X-51 robot and everyone is after him. With telescoping limbs, fire knuckles, and a whole host of other weaponry, Machine Man the Living Robot, takes on the Army and alien robots while trying to protect his human friends and establish his own identity in the world. More importantly, HE TURNS INTO A DANG MOTORCYCLE! I love all nine of Kirby’s issues and now need to get ahold of issues 10–19, which were written by Tom DeFalco and Marv Wolfman and illustrated by none other than Steve Ditko. Thankfully, you can get the whole kit and kaboodle in the recently released Machine Man: The Complete Collection.

That’s it for now, but there’s definitely much more to cover in future installments of “Everythinged…The Writer-Artist: Superhero Comics.” See you next time.

This Week’s Reading List

I had eight books in my pull this week and I have only read the below four thus far. I’m out of time, I need a shower, and I dang-well need to eat something. Here's what I have read thus far:

  • Seven to Eternity #10
    Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Jerome Opeña, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics)
    Man, I don’t even remember the last time this book came out, but I’m glad it’s back. The God of Whispers and Adam Osidis travel Zhal and are getting along a little bit too well. Stunning, gorgeous art, and a thrilling story that is well worth the wait.
  • Mister Miracle #10(Written by Tom King, illustrated by Mitch Gerads, lettered by Clayton Cowles, published by DC Comics)
    Not much happens this issue in the way of action, but that is 100% fine as Big Barda and Mister Miracle struggle with Darkseid’s conditions to end the war.
  • Cosmic Ghost Rider #2(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Dylan Burnett, colored by Antonio Fabela, lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles, published by Marvel Comics)
    Hot off the presses, following the fantastic Thanos Wins, Cosmic Ghost Rider is back with a toddler Thanos involuntarily by his side. We get a bit more history behind Frank and Galactus’s partnership, and the cliffhanger ending promises to keep things good and weird.
  • Death of the Inhumans #2(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Ariel Olivetti, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles, published by Marvel Comics)
    I dropped off the Inhumans side of things a long time ago, but Cates and Olivetti deliver an intense rollercoaster ride that succeeds in making me a Black Bolt fan. The cliffhanger is a shocker and I desperately need to see what happens next.
Peace out, Denizens!


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