Sunday, October 14, 2018

Comics Lust 10/13/2018

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/enough-bad-news specialist Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Keeping this short as I’m already late and the gut punches of the last 12 months just keep coming. Put it this way…my grandma died, my uncle died, Tulip was attacked by three dogs, a whole mess of personal and professional nonsense, and now my other uncle just had a massive heart attack and it doesn't look good. Couple all of this with the evils of Drumpf, the moral bankruptcy of the GOP, a proven serial perjurer and alleged sexual assaulter (multiple allegations) on the Supreme Court, and…well, I could go on for a good LONG while on this, but let’s try to keep things chill and find something positive. 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

Monster Mash (Part 2)

Way back at the start of “Comics Lust,” we talked about our favorite classic monsters, or rather, those based on the Universal Monsters like Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula, and the Wolfman; all of the ones we looked at came from Marvel’s stable of books. But they weren’t the only ones dabbling in the mythos immortalized by the classic black and films of way back when. The other half of the Big Two, DC Comics, had their share of titles about vampires, man-made monsters, and other things that go bump in the night, and that is what we are looking at here today.

Now, Marvel had their werewolf book (Werewolf by Night), they had their vampire book (Tomb of Dracula), the had their Frankenstein’s monster book (The Monster of Frankenstein), they had their mummy book (Supernatural Thrillers Starring the Living Mummy), and they had their zombie book (Tales of the Zombie), but DC thought better of having multiple monster titles on the shelf and asked themselves why not put a bunch of monsters in one book? Thus the Creature Commandos were born.
Originally appearing in 1980 in the pages of Weird War Tales #93 (written by J.M. DeMatteis and others, and illustrated by Pat Broderick and many others), the Creature Commandos were created to aid in the more supernatural aspects of World War II, and had the following lineup:

  • Warren Griffith (a werewolf)
  • Pvt. Elliot “Lucky” Taylor (Frankenstein’s monster)
  • Sgt. Vincent Velcro (a vampire)
  • Dr. Myrna Rhodes (a gorgon…aka Dr. Medusa)
  • Lt. Matthew Shrieve (a normal, red-blooded, all-American soldier)
  • J.A.K.E. (Aka the G.I. Robot, who joined later)

Back when I was a kid, I had a bunch of Weird War Tales issues that someone gave to me as my starter comic book collection, but I only ended up with a couple of the issues that featured the Creature Commandos as you never really knew when they would pop up again. Dang, though, I really wanted all of them, and who in their right mind wouldn’t want them? You had monsters fighting monsters, monsters fighting human monsters (ie. Nazi scum), dinosaurs on Dinosaur Island, and they even battled Atlantian robots. Thankfully, you don’t need to track down the miscellaneous issues (Weird War Tales #93, 97, 100, 102, 105, 108–112, 114–119, 121, and 124) but you can instead pick up The Creature Commandos TPB and get them all in one fell swoop!

This, however, was not the end of the Creature Commandos, Denizens, not by a longshot…

In 2000, Timothy Truman along with the art team of Scot Eaton and Ray Kryssing, brought back our favorite wartime monsters in the pages of the eight-issue Creature Commandos…which is news to me. For this series, the commandos are found by Superman aboard Brainiac’s ship and brought back to Earth where they continue the good fight. This time, Shrieve is not in the picture, the surviving members have cool code names, and they are joined by a few new members:

  • Aten (a mummy communications specialist)
  • The Bogman (the Creature from the Black Lagoon)
  • Gunner Mackey ( a cyborg of a man who died in WWII)
  • Captain. Lucius Hunter (the new normal, red-blooded, all-American leader)

Unfortunately, there is no trade for this series and you need to hit the back issue bins to find them, but you best get to them before I do, as I am quite interested in picking them up.

Eleven years later, during the Flashpoint event, Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #1–3 arrived with a both familiar and new cast of characters to thrill and chill, including the Bride of Frankenstein and a female amphibian creature. Some members die, some lose their powers, and others go on to fight in the Atlantis/Amazon war. The series was written by Donist World favorite Jeff Lemire in 2011 and had three different sets of artists for three issues, which is kind of mind-boggling, but it is still one heck of a read. The great thing is that although you might be bummed about the various deaths by the end, you don’t need to worry your pretty little head about the state of some of the monsters, because things get reset in…

Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. also appeared in 2011 as part of the New 52 and was also written by Jeff Lemire for issues #1–9 and by Matt Kindt for issues #0, 10–16 with a luckier go of an artist this time around with Alberto Ponticelli illustrating every issue. Here the Creature Commandos are special agents of S.H.A.D.E. (Super Human Advanced Defense Executive), a group comprised of mostly monsters who protect the world while remaining hidden in the shadows. This time around, we have Frankenstein (no longer called Frankenstein’s monster and taking on the shorter name of Frankenstein), the Bride (Bride of Frankenstein), Vincent Velcoro (the vampire), Warren Griffith (the werewolf), Dr. Mina Mazursky (female amphibian woman), Khalis (a mysterious mummy medic), and Dr. Ray Palmer (the Atom, and resident scientist). The monster-stomping exploits of this monstrous team can be found in single issues or in the two trades.

The Creature Commandos also had a bunch of appearances in other titles over the years, including in 2006’s Seven Soldiers Frankenstein (written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Doug Mahnke), which I sadly have to admit to not yet having read, which is something I will remedy in the near future with the lovely omnibus!

And speaking of vampires…

The “I…Vampire” storyline was originally serialized in the pages of House of Mystery #290, 291, 293, 295, 297, 299, 302, 304–319, and Brave and the Bold #195. I…Vampire was also created by J.M. DeMatteis with help along the way from other writers and a whole mess of artists. I had a couple of these issues, but never enough to have any idea of what the heck was going on. Thankfully, the recently collected trade made it possible to read the entire story. I…Vampire follows the vampiric Andrew Bennett and an assortment of human sympathizers as they track down the evil vampiress Mary Seward, Andrew’s former love. Can Andrew save Mary from herself? You’ll have to read it to see.

Then, in 2011, also part of the New 52, was I, Vampire, written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino. Trust me when I say that I LOVED this series when it first started, Denizens, but alas it was canceled and rushed to a hasty conclusion. I knew things were going to get rocky when Constantine showed up in issue four, Batman in issues five and six, and then a crossover with another series in issues seven and eight. Dang. I can only imagine the story we could have had if Fialkov and Sorrentino—this was my first exposure to his gorgeous art—had been allowed to tell the story they wanted to tell without the interference of guest appearances and crossovers. That said, even though the series ended way before I wanted it to, I still greatly enjoyed issues 0–19, and you can as well with the three trades. Again, Sorrentino’s art is stunning and Fialkov’s story compelling as this rebooted version of Andrew Bennett and Mary (now called Mary Queen of Blood)
Seward’s tragic conflict of love and hate.

That’s it for this installment. Thank you for reading and see you next time.


Saturday, October 6, 2018

Comics Lust 10/06/2018

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/birthday planning committee specialist Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Well, yes, it was my birthday yesterday. It was fine, I had to work, but my coworkers got me a couple of beers and some chocolates that are currently calling to me, which was very nice, and I got a ton of “Happy Birthday” wishes. Then that evening, Amy the intern (my wife) took me out to Bibi Ji for dinner, which is freaking amazeballs and I super-sized the experience with a beer pairing. Ah…Bibi Ji…I love you. We then went home where my puppy executive team had a bottle of Dragon’s Milk warming to cellar temperature and the next episode for our rewatch of the first season of Game of Thrones queued up despite getting us to the part that really upsets Reverse Obie—he still watched it, though. 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

The (Number) Ones that Started it All (Part 2)

All it takes is one tremendous comic issue to pull you wholeheartedly into a series. I’ve read plenty of comics where I like what I read month(ish) in and month(ish) out, but then something happens along the way that gives you that “whoa!” feeling, that decisive moment that changes a series from one you enjoy reading, to one you can’t live without. But sometimes, every once in a while, a debut issue arrives that so thoroughly affects you, that you skip the like stage and go immediately to the love stage. Here, we celebrate some first issues that will make you a believer before you even get to the final page of the book.

Preacher #1

(Written by Garth Ennis, illustrated by Steve Dillon, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Clem Robbins, originally published in 1995 by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint)
I honestly can’t tell you what compelled me to pick up this issue. Glenn Fabry’s cover is striking but doesn’t tell you all that much other than the comic will touch on religion somehow. It had the Vertigo stamp of Donist approval, which carried a fair amount of goodwill at the time. Or, it might have been a slow comic week for me and I had a few extra dollars weighing me down. All I know is that I had something special once I started reading, something truly unique that took only a few pages to suck me in completely. Actually, it only took three pages for Ennis and Dillon to thoroughly capture my attention. It’s their characters that did it: Tulip, the ex-girlfriend with a gun; Jesse, the one who left her and who became a preacher only to kill a town; and Cassidy, a foul-mouthed, carefree and careless Irishman who’s more than he seems. The kicker is that all they do for those three pages is calmly talk about literally finding God. In those pages, Ennis’s dialogue brings such life to the characters that you get a strong sense of who they are and what they’re about. You also know they each have a story to tell, and boy howdy are those stories a doozy. Angels, Demons, new beings, a missing god, the Saint of Killers, murder, and mayhem all contribute to what will probably always be my favorite comic series of all time. The crazy thing, Denizens…it only gets better and better from here. Get the trades or get the hardcovers, just be sure you read this series.

Rumble #1

(Written by John Arcudi, illustrated by James Harren, colored by Dave Stewart, lettered by Chris Eliopoulos, designed by Vincent Kukua, originally published in 2014 by Image Comics)
I’ve always had a soft spot for scarecrows. Not the Wizard of Oz goofy kind of scarecrow, but the kind you find at Halloween, or in horror films, or real life creepy ones presiding over a field of corn in the Midwest. So, when I heard of a comic with a scarecrow warrior god that fights monsters…there was really no decision to be made as to whether or not I was going to buy it. The story opens with a bartender at closing time talking to the final patron for the evening. The patron leaves only to run into a scarecrow with a massive sword who then chops off the patron’s arm and chases him back into the bar. From there…things get weird in the best of ways. Harren’s exaggerated motions and speed lines are so thrilling and keep you whipping through the book until you sadly realize you are at the cliffhanger ending; there’s no way you won’t return to see what happens next. At four trades released to date, you too will eagerly be awaiting the fifth to see what happens to Rathraq, Bobby, Del, and Timah.

Extremity #1

(Everythinged by Daniel Warren Johnson, colored by Mike Spicer, lettered by Rus Wooton, originally published in 2017 by Image Comics)
This one hooked me almost as much Preacher, which is high praise indeed. A mixture of Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Mad Max: Fury Road this brutal look at the dark path of revenge follows a young woman, Thea, whose purpose in life was viciously taken from her along with the life of her mother and her home. Now a nomad along with her brother, father, and the rest of her tribe, Thea seeks to brutally payback those who hurt them and is at risk of corrupting her soul. Exciting battles mixed with endearing moments and amazing character and monster designs with intricate backgrounds and dynamic sound effects instantly made me a fan of DWJ and had me seeking out his other works—like the tremendous Ghost Fleet and Space Mullet. The thing is that it’s not just the amazing art that makes Extremity so compelling, but the story and characters are equally so; DWJ is the real deal. Now I just need to figure out how to get a commission from this amazing talent as I wait for the soon-to-be-released Murder Falcon. Two trades are readily available, but I think we all deserve a comprehensive, oversized hardcover to do this series justice. Maybe someday…

Locke and Key #1

(Written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, colored by Jay Fotos, lettered by Robbie Robins, originally published in 2008 by IDW)
I lagged and I lagged and I lagged on Locke and Key. I repeatedly heard of how amazing a series it is and how everyone must read it, but still, I didn’t pick it up. But around the time the third hardcover and trade had released, I finally ordered a digital copy of the first issue for $.99. It was amazing and I ordered the first hardcover, “Welcome to Lovecraft.” I hammered through that beautifully designed treasure, ordered the next two hardcovers, and prepared for a long, cold wait until the fourth, which I knew I would have to own. You need to be prepared for the fact that this is a horror title and that the first issue is going to be rough—my goodness, it is rough—as we join the Locke children (Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode) at the funeral for their father who was brutally murdered. We then see what happened to the father, their mother, and to them and it is truly devastating. After the survivors move to their family mansion on the East Coast, the youngest, Bode, finds a mysterious key that grants him a strange ability. There are six volumes, both hardcover and trade, or even better, the three Locke & Key Master Edition volumes, in total and I suspect that it will only take the first issue to convince you to pick up the whole shebang, which I strongly encourage you to do. Dang, this book is a masterwork that will put your emotions through the paces, but you will be thankful for how it affects you; I think I need to dive back in soon.

Chew #1

(Written and lettered by John Layman, illustrated and colored by Rob Guillory, originally published in 2009 by Image Comics)
What happens when the avian flu wipes out millions of people in America? The government outlaws poultry and the FDA becomes one of the most powerful agencies in the world. What happens when FDA Agent Tony Chu, a Cibopath, gets put on the case to stop an illegal fried chicken joint only to discover one of the chefs is a serial killer? To answer that question, you probably need to know what the heck a Cibopath actually is. Well, a Cibopath is a person who gains a psychic impression from everything he eats—except for beets—which means if Tony eats an apple he learns about the orchard and the person who picked it. But if he eats meat he gets a less favorable impression of what happened to the poor animal. If he’s on a case where a murderer dies...then one or two little bites might just help find where the killer’s victims are located. Yeah, Chew is the most unique book I have ever read, which is saying a lot. But here’s the thing: Chew might sound like a horror book, but believe me when I say it is much more a crazy comedy than it is scary. Throughout its 60 issue run and multiple one-shots, Layman and Guillory had me laughing out loud from the humorous dialogue, absurd situations, and food-based powers as well as from Guillory’s amazing cartooning and countless sight gags hidden throughout almost every panel. You can read Chew as trades, hardcover Omnivore editions, or the super-hard-to-find-and-pricy Smorgasbord editions, just be prepared to laugh, to be grossed out, to cry, and to never ever know what to expect from this nutty but brilliantly created series.

That’s it for this chapter. No idea what the subject will be next week, but we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it. See you then.