Saturday, September 15, 2018

Comics Lust 9/15/2018

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/Bibi Ji enthusiast Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Criminy, Denizens. We bigged it up last night by going to the amazing Bibi Ji restaurant, where I had the “Chef’s Tasting” along with the beer pairing. It was so much amazing and spicy Indian food, that I left the restaurant both floating on an endorphin rush and dragging from the volume of amazing food and beer I was able to sample. So, forgive me if I seem a little slow today. Anyhow, be kind to each other, mind your health and sanity, eat some tacos, 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.

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

Five Furious and Fast: Warren Ellis (Part 1)

When I talk about my all-time-favorite comic book series, say my top 25, or the books that would make life bearable on a deserted island, three of those series would be written by Warren Ellis. But if you take a look at say my top 50 or 100, you’re going to find a whole mess of other books by the prolific writer that are positively must-read material. Looking at just five? Yeah, seems kind of criminal, but don’t worry, we’ll return to the works of Ellis more than a few times in the near future. For now, let’s start with one of those three books I can’t live without.

Stormwatch V.1 #37–50, V.2 #1–11

(Written by Warren Ellis; illustrated by Tom Raney, Oscar Jimenez, Bryan Hitch; originally published in 1996 by Image Comics)
Aside from owning the random early issue or two of this early Image series, I never really paid attention to Stormwatch. But then, a few years later, I saw the cover of the fourth Stormwatch trade paperback by Warren Ellis called “A Finer World” featuring two new superheroes: Apollo and the Midnighter. They looked pretty cool. Then I saw them on the cover of some comic called The Authority. I needed to know more, but I had to do this right by starting from the beginning, or rather Ellis’s beginning. The story begins with a massive team of superheroes being called together by their commander, Henry Bendix, the Weatherman. The Weatherman promptly fires nearly all of the characters, not just from the team but from the series itself. In the pages of his first issue, Ellis then adds new characters of his own creation and sets up three strike teams of three people each: Stormwatch Prime to handle superhuman threats in warlike situations; Stormwatch Red to display the greatest destructive capabilities in an effort to deter hostile forces; Stormwatch Black for covert operations. Prime consists of Winter (Russian energy absorber), Hellstrike (a green, sentient gas energy projector), and Fuji (a Japanese, sentient energy powerhouse in a massive robotic suit). Red has Fahrenheit (fire creator), Flint (superstrengh and invulnerability), and Rose Tattoo (deadly assassin with a history clouded in mystery). And finally, Black consisting of Jenny Sparks (controls and projects electricity), Jack Hawksmoor (his strength and powers increase based on the size of the city he occupies), and Swift (winged, aerial tactician). I hammered through that first trade and quickly bought and read the other four, loving every exciting page as Ellis’s commentary on politics, the US government, and international relations set amidst an action/adventure/horror backdrop carried me into the even more amazing The Authority. The best way to catch up on these issues is through the fairly recent Stormwatch Volume One and Stormwatch Volume Two collections.

Global Frequency #1–12

(Written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by various artists, originally published in 2002 by Wildstorm Comics)
There are 1001 anonymous members of the Global Frequency, an intelligence agency designed to stop the machinations of malevolent individuals and organizations located around the world. The Global Frequency targets terrorists, cults, the paranormal, rogue operatives, and everything in between. Ellis wrote all 12 standalone issues of the series with each issue featuring a different artist. Global Frequency was supposedly written to be like a crime procedural show where you could pick up any single issue and be able to follow along with no problem, which is probably why this thrilling series has seen multiple attempts to bring it to the living room screen. The best way to read this amazing series is with the Vertigo Global Frequency collection. This has jumped to the top of my reread list.

Fell #1–9

(Written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Ben Templesmith, originally published in 2005 by Image Comics)
This one is going to hurt, Denizens, I’m not going to lie. You see, there are nine issues of this slow burn, creepy-as-hell, crime drama and that is all. Heck, I only recently learned of the existence of the ninth issue, as the solitary Fell collection contains only the first eight. Issue nine also came out over a decade ago with no progress on the concluding seven issues as a hard drive crash destroyed the scripts for the final six issues of the series and Image refused to print issue 10 unless Ellis and Templesmith also had completed scripts for issues 11 and 12. Fell was an experiment in producing a cheaper comic with a lower page count and received two Eisner Award nominations back in the day. The story follows homicide detective Richard Fell, who was banished to Snowtown, a city plagued with crime, poverty, and a police force of three and a half (you’ll have to read the book to get the joke) that has practically given up on their duties. Fell decides to fix Snowtown and vows to uncover the story of a strange, stocky person dressed in a nun’s habit and who wears a Richard Nixon mask while always appearing around areas they shouldn’t be in. The story is a dark, creepy, noirish, crime and character drama that saw the first issue go into six printings. I am dying to see how it all ends, but to be honest I don’t know if the series will ever finish. Don’t let the lack of an ending dissuade you, though, from checking out the glorious issues that have been released. Regardless of whatever happens, I will be here waiting patiently on the off chance we do get more.

Hellstorm: Prince of Lies #12–21

(Written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Leonardo Manco, originally published in 1994 by Marvel Comics)
I’ll start by saying that issues 1–20 weren’t all that bad. In fact, I quite enjoyed them, but things definitely kick into high gear once Ellis makes his American Marvel Comics debut with issue #12. The series follows that ’70s darling, the Son of Satan himself, Daimon Hellstrom. Heaven and Hell. Demons and the Gargoyle. Ex-wife Patsy “Hellcat” Walker. A series of mage murders. A mysterious woman named Jaine Cutter who has armor forged of iron from the River Styx and has a weapon called the Breathing Gun. Hellstorm: Prince of Lies has it all. Gone are the days of red and yellow tights and capes, and hair gelled up into makeshift horns. In are the days of true horrors and conflicts of light and darkness. As great as Ellis’s run was, it wasn’t enough to keep the series from being canceled with issue #21. If you don’t feel like back issue bin diving for these damn-fine issues, then you can pick up the Hellstorm by Warren Ellis Omnibus, which commands a prohibitive $75 retail price tag given that it contains only 10 issues of Hellstorm. Even the inclusion of the four issues of our next book might not be enough to prompt you to sell your soul to get ahold of a book that ought to only cost about half of what they’re charging. That even shorter-lived series is…

Druid #1–4

(Written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Leonardo Manco, originally published in 1995 by Marvel Comics)
Following the demise of Hellstorm: Prince of Lies was Druid, a comic that was originally meant to be a series, yet ended up only making it thru issue four, where it was wrapped up much too fast for my liking. This does not mean you shouldn’t read this horrific tale of a man who, tired of being a sorcerous joke, taps into a far greater power to become a major player—briefly—in the mystical Marvel U. In these four issues, we see Druid’s disturbing transformation into a taloned, tattooed, skinny, bearded powerhouse of nature who fights monstrosities of unseen worlds and demons and monsters only to fall into madness in his quest for ever more power. Yes, I was disappointed to see this chilling series brought to an early conclusion, but what we did get was simply magical. Seek these out as soon as you can, but if you do decide to pick up the Hellstorm by Warren Ellis Omnibus you can lessen the blow of the steep price tag knowing that the collection also contains two issues of the unpublished Satanna comic series by Ellis that never made it to a store shelf.

That’s it for this installment, Denizens. Now, go forth, collect, and read! Also, don’t worry, we’re not even close to being done with Mr. Ellis, so there’s more to come. See you next time!


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