Sunday, November 11, 2018

Comics Lust 11/10/2018

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/still-acting-as-nurse Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). After two weeks of this stupid sickness, I think I’m about over it thanks to the diligence of my puppy executive team who’ve brought me tissues and cough drops and plenty of hot toddies to help work the ickiness out of my system. They queued up episodes of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, The Walking Dead S8, and the grand rewatching of Game of Thrones, and sat with me as we read through the massive The House of Secrets: The Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 1 tome they got me for my birthday. All of this, while tirelessly working to maintain our status as a Fortune 320,000 company. Not. Too. Shabby. 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

It Ain’t Over ’til This Comic Book Sings - Space Operas (Part 1)


Space Operas are my jam, my jelly, my peanuts, and my peanut butter. I love ’em, by golly, and I thank my stars and garters there’s no lack of material out there to keep me drawn in with happy reading for a good long while. Now, for those thinking, uh oh, here he goes again on that master of the space opera Jim Starlin, I’m sorry to disappoint, but I’m not going to go into Starlin’s work here. Nope. The guy already has his own section of adoration (see this post here), not to mention tons of mentions throughout “Comics Lust”, so we’re going to instead take a look at some other creators and their lovely, expansive worlds, galaxies, and universes, as well as the characters who traverse them.


Descender

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, originally published in 2015 by Image Comics)
Yes. I know. I have a tendency to extol the brilliance that is Lemire and Nguyen’s phenomenal Descender, and it is safe to say I’m not shy about my love of this series. The story begins on the day the nine planets of the United Galactic Council are devastated by massive robots called Harvesters that vanish as quickly as they arrived with no reason for the deaths they caused. This leads to any and all robots being hunted and destroyed by fierce Scrappers, but when a lone robot boy named TIM-21 awakens after being offline for ten years on a dead mining colony, everyone in the galaxy sets their sites on capturing him. TIM-21 might hold the key to learning the mystery of the Harvesters, but all TIM-21 wants is to survive and find his human brother Andy. There’s no shortage of robots, aliens, spaceships, or monsters in this compelling odyssey that will both thrill and at times break your heart as many secrets are slowly revealed in this 32-issue first chapter. Lemire’s writing alone breathes such life into the characters that you feel you know them by the end of the first issue, but when coupled with Nguyen’s lush, lovely, watercolored character designs and expansive backgrounds, you can’t help but have one of the best books on the stands. The series is currently on hiatus until early 2019 when the second—and very different—second chapter starts, so you have some time to pick up either the hardcover (another on the way?) or the six trades and get caught up on this stellar series.


Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War

(Written by Geoff Johns and Dave Gibbons; illustrated by Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Angel Unzeta, and Ethan Van Sciver, originally published in 2007 by DC Comics)
I can’t claim to have ever been a Green Lantern superfan. Don’t get me wrong, I always liked the guy and his goofy green creations as a kid, but I never really sought out comics about him. This changed the day I flipped through an issue of Green Lantern after seeing Sinestro’s striking new costume and the eye-catching “Sinestro Corps War” title on the cover. I totally knew who Sinestro was and always thought it was a cool idea to have an antagonist whose yellow ring countered Hal’s, but here he was on this cover, no longer the big-headed cornball I knew as a kid. No. Sinestro was now in his intimidating new outfit with his own fear-based army of monstrous evildoers; Green Lantern was now very much on my radar. But true to me being me, I couldn’t just dive in. I needed to know everything, so I picked up the first four Green Lantern trades and then bought the two Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War trades and was hooked by the promise of the new ring spectrums and the stakes of this monstrous new threat facing the galaxy. Johns made this series can’t-put-it-down great, and I stayed along for the ride through Blackest Night. With the mountain of spacefaring destruction and chaos out there in the Green Lanternverse—most of it tremendous, btw—“The Sinestro Corps War” stands strongest of them all. Dang, now I HAVE to reread them. If you’re a fan of space operas, you need to start this impressive journey from a decade ago ASAP. You can go my route by starting with Johns’s first issue on the character all the way through to the end of “The Sinestro Corps War” with the lovely Green Lantern by Geoff Johns Omnibus Vol. 1 or skip to the main course with the Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War all-in-one trade.


The Omega Men

(Written by Tom King, illustrated by Barnaby Bagenda and others, originally published in 2015 by DC Comics)
The Omega Men was the second book written by Tom King that I was exposed to. Or rather it was the first book of his I read that was written solely by him; Grayson, co-written with Tim Seeley, was my first. After that I hammered through his other work, especially loving both of his critically acclaimed, must-read  The Vision and Mister Miracle series. The Omega Men, however, is equally deserving of praise as this planet-hopping statement on extremism, propaganda, terrorism, media optics, and so much more is one of the favorites of my collection. Here, the terrorists known as The Omega Men, have captured the White Lantern Kyle Raynor (formerly a Green Lantern) and on live television seemingly execute him. Never fear, Denizens, Kyle’s fine…sort of. Rather he is the Omega Men’s prisoner and they mean to bring him over to their cause of destroying the totalitarian Citadel and its tyrannical ruler Viceroy. The White Lantern will have to decide not only if the horrors committed by the Citadel are worth breaking his oath of non-interference, but if adopting the Omega Men’s methods will destroy the man he believes himself to be. I always wanted to read the original The Omega Men from way back in the day, but never got around to it. That said, you don’t need to know what happened in that series to completely lose yourself in this intense, political, space opera that must be part of your collection. The all-in-one trade is what you want to get, and let’s hope we someday get a hardcover of this impressive masterpiece.


Saga

(Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, originally published in 2012 by Image Comics)
The title alone lets you know you’re in for something truly epic. The original solicits gave the logline of “Romeo and Juliet in space,” which is spot on as far as descriptions go. Mario and Alana are of differing, warring races: one whose people has horns and possess great magic abilities, and another whose people are winged and have access to deadly technologies. Despite their people’s intense hatred for one another, the two fall in love, go on the run, and have a baby girl, Hazel, who has both horns and wings. The fact that peace and love can exist together must never get out to the warring masses and the new family must evade assassins and bounty hunters, and all sorts of malcontents as they travel the galaxy in search of somewhere, anywhere, to live without fear or war or being discovered. Unfortunately, family, robots with TVs for heads, angry ex-girlfriends, and money woes pose just as much of a threat of tearing them apart as the war. I must warn you, Denizens, that you will fall in love with these characters. You will love them and get pissed off at them when they screw up. You will laugh out loud, you will be disgusted and shocked in the best of ways, you will cheer at the various characters’ victories, and sympathize with their setbacks. You will also have your heart and soul crushed by various events throughout the 54-issue first season. Vaughan’s story and characterization are enchanting, and Staples’s unique art style gives an almost painterly quality that has always confounded me as to how she does what she does and she makes every page worth lingering over. Saga is a beautiful thing, Denizens, and I can honestly say no comic has elicited so many emotions in me as I accompanied Marco, Alana, and Hazel on this wonderful journey. The book looks to be on hiatus until probably late 2019, so now is the time to get caught up with the two hardcovers (third on the way?) or the nine readily-available trades. Saga is a phenomenal story on all fronts and very much deserving of your time, just be ready for one hell of an emotionally tumultuous ride.


Dang, I love this genre, and can’t wait to (re)introduce you to even more of these fantastic space opera comic books. I’m excited to dig into some more, but that’s for next time.



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Saturday, November 3, 2018

Comics Lust 11/3/2018

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/nurse Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). The crud done struck me low, Denizens. Last Saturday, after posting last week’s “Comics Lust,” I sneezed and knew that I was done for. You know that type of sneeze, the one where you have a slight ache in your throat and no amount of rye is going to burn the germs away. Long story short, I’m finally on the mend, but still reeling from the illness. Thankfully, my puppy executive team was there to hand me plenty of hot toddies to burn away the ickiness…at least temporarily. And to think, I was really hoping to make it a full year without getting sick. Yeah, better luck next year. Anyhow, be kind to each other, VOTE!, mind your health and sanity, eat some tacos, keep your pets safe, cherish the ones you love, hydrate, and read some great comics before checking out Daredevil Season 3 on Netflix. 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: Jim Starlin (Part 1)


It’s no secret that Jim Starlin is one of my heroes. His space opera work for Marvel is high up on my top-five list of comics that would need to accompany me on a long stint on a deserted island. Heck, if I had Warlock by Jim Starlin: The Complete Collection and Captain Marvel by Jim Starlin: The Complete Collection, I think I would be good to go for a good, long while—provided I was stranded with a crate of assorted IPAs as well, of course. But I’m not going to go into the man’s work with Marvel. Nope. I’ve done that a hundred times. My love of everything Warlock, Thanos, and Captain Marvel should be something firmly felt in the bones of all Denizens. Instead, we are going to look at some of his other amazing work—yes, there is much goodness to go around as you will see in…

Dreadstar

(Everythinged by Jim Starlin, originally published in 1980 by Marvel Comics)
I know, I know, I’m leading with a book that I have only partially read, but you will see in a moment why I have this gap given the convoluted publishing history. Dreadstar is a grand space opera that surrounds the character of Vance Dreadstar, the sole survivor of the destroyed Milky Way galaxy, and his crew: Sysygy Darklock, a sorcerer of great power; Willow, a telepath; Skeevo Phlatus, a mercenary; Oed, a cat person; and Rainbow, Willow’s pet. The team finds themselves caught between the two less-than-savory forces of the Monarchy and the Instrumetality (a theocracy), but they end up forming a tenuous relationship with the Monarchy. Thereabout ends my experience with Dreadstar with issues 1–12 of the Epic Comics series. However, the epic story and the oh-so-gorgeous Starlin art has always left me wanting more more more, as his all-too-brief introduction to this expansive world touches on the familiar themes of corrupt and oppressive religions and regimes found in books like Warlock. But where Starlin’s run on that series ran far too short for my liking, Dreadstar delves so much deeper. A couple years before the particular issues I read, Starlin began this universe in the pages of Epic Illustrated #1 with what is known as part one of “The Metamorphosis Odyssey,” and which only featured Vanth Dreadstar briefly in issue #3. Instead, this chapter follows the Orsirosian named Ahknaton, who had a decidedly Egyptian deity look about him…and I distinctly remember a very beautiful and very naked woman with an Afro gracing the pages, but no big surprise as to what sticks in the mind of a kid. Anyhow, if you want the full Starlin Dreadstar experience, here is the chronology of material; best hold onto your hats:

  • Epic Illustrated #1–9 (Published in 1980 by Marvel Comics) These stories comprise the first part of “The Metamorphosis Odyssey” storyline and was painted with grays but eventually shifted to colors.
  • The Price (Published in 1981 by Eclipse Comics) Part two of “The Metamorphosis Odyssey” and is a black and white graphic novel that follows the sorcerer known as Sysygy Darklock and is meant to be read alongside…
  • Marvel Graphic Novel #3: Dreadstar: The Metamorphosis Odyssey Part 3 (Published in 1982 by Marvel Comics). A beautifully painted story that I remember flipping through many times, yet never had enough allowance to buy.
  • Epic Illustrated #15 (Published in 1982 by Marvel Comics) Features an untitled Dreadstar story that is a lead-in to the character’s own series…
  • Dreadstar #1–26 (Published in 1982 by Epic Comics) All stories written and illustrated by Jim Starlin.
  • Dreadstar Annual #1 (Published in 1983 by Epic Comics) A colored reprinting of The Price and an all around cheaper way to experience the story...if you can find a copy.
  • Dreadstar #27–40 (Published in 1986 by First Publishing) A jump to a new publisher with Starlin as writer/artist on 27–32, and as writer only from 33–40.
  • Dreadstar #41–64 (Published in 1989 by First Publishing) Peter David picks up as writer.

Boy howdy is this publication history a mess, but you can avoid hunting down a good chunk of the material by first reading Dreadstar: The Beginning (published by Dynamite Entertainment and which contains all three parts of “The Metamorphosis Odyssey”) and then reading Dreadstar Omnibus (published by Dynamite Entertainment and which reprints issues 1–12 of the Epic Comics run). After that, you’ll be in the same boat as I as we scramble for the rest of the individual issues.


Cosmic Odyssey

(Written by Jim Starlin, illustrated by Mike Mignola, originally published in 1988 by DC Comics)
Originally published as four, prestige-format, 48-page issues, Cosmic Odyssey brought DC Comics a Starlin space opera that intermixed their impressive stable of superheroes with that of Jack Kirby’s New Gods as illustrated by a pre-Hellboy Mignola. In this tale, Darkseid finds a nearly-dead Metron and with the help of New Genesis’s Highfather discovers that the Anti-Life Equation has come to life and split into four aspects that have gone to four worlds to destroy them. These aspects are enough to cause Darkseid and Highfather concern and they reach out to some of Earth’s mightiest heroes to aid in stopping each aspect before all succumb to the power of the Anti-Life Equation. The road will not be easy. And neither was my road to reading this series, as I did not pick it up back in the day and rather first read the comics roughly six years ago. The story is thrilling with a real sense of stakes and although I would have preferred to see Starlin also illustrate the series, Mignola’s take is a great precursor to his style on his creator-owned Hellboy. With shocks and surprise characters and alliances abound, Cosmic Odyssey is a series worth checking out, which is easy enough to do with the latest Cosmic Odyssey: Deluxe Edition hardcover collection.


Mystery in Space

(Written by Jim Starlin; illustrated by Jim Starlin, Shane Davis, Ron Lim, and later by Bernie Wrightson; originally published in 1988 and 2006)
Okay, this one might seem a little…weird…get it? No, okay, you will in a sec. Anyhow, Mystery in Space is an eight-issue limited series from 2006 that that focuses on two characters: Captain Comet and The Weird. Each issue is 48-pages long with the first part covering Captain Comet and written by Jim Starlin with Shane Davis illustrating. The second part is everythinged by Starlin and covers his weird character, The Weird, who looks somewhat like a misshapen ninja with a sash, thus earning his name. If you are wondering who The Weird is, then you will need to go back to 1988 to read Starlin and Bernie Wrightson’s four-issue limited series titled—you guessed it—The Weird which introduces the immensely powerful character to both the Justice League and comicdom at large. With this setup, Mystery in Space follows the return of both Captain Comet (after the events of 52, which you don’t have to have read to follow this story) and The Weird as they both try to uncover the mystery of why they are alive. Davis’s art is somewhat reminiscent of Jim Lee’s style and he does a fantastic job of covering the cosmos and its myriad aliens (as well as a super-cute bulldog!), while Starlin brings the gorgeous, expansive, mind-bending, cosmic greatness that reignites my love for his work again and again. It’s been years since I read either series, and I honestly couldn’t tell you anything at all other than I loved them at the time. I guess this one gets shuffled up near the top of the reread stack. Lucky for you though, if you pick up the two trades (if you can find them) you get the first five issues of Mystery in Space in volume one and the final three issues plus The Weird #1–4 in volume two. That there’s the whole enchilada, Denizens!


Gilgamesh II

(Everythinged by Jim Starlin, originally published in 1989 by DC Comics)
Gilgamesh II is what you get when you allow Starlin to tell his own story outside of the confines of superheroes and licensed characters. Written and illustrated by Starlin, this four-issue, prestige-format miniseries tells the story of an alien baby whose ship crashes on Earth to be found by a hippie couple—whose pot farm burns down in the process— and the child eventually becomes the most powerful being in the world. Sound kind of familiar? Yes, but the twist is that this baby, Gilgamesh, believes himself to be unique. He is not. What he fails to realize is that another baby, Otto, crash landed in South America and grew up having all of the same abilities as Gilgamesh, but where one uses his vast strength for personal gain, Otto grows up to become the protector of the rainforest. The two eventually meet in combat, cause massive destruction, but instead of killing one another, they realize they are brothers and become friends. Thus, the adventure begins in this reimagining of both Superman and the myth of Enkidu and Gilgamesh. This series is a heck of a ride, but unfortunately, there are no trades available as of this writing and you are going to have to hunt down the issues to get this great story.


Batman: The Cult

(Written by Jim Starlin, illustrated by Bernie Wrightson, originally published in by DC Comics)
Hot off the heels of The Weird, Starlin and Wrightson joined forces once again for the four-issue, prestige-format miniseries. (Dang, he loves those prestige books!) The Bat takes on the mysterious Deacon Joseph Blackfire and his cult of axe-wielding, homeless maniacs…and loses. Captured by Blackfire, the Dark Knight is starved, drugged, and brainwashed to the point of becoming one of Blackfire’s minions. But has Batman truly been broken, or will he break free of Blackfire’s influence and discover what the cult leader is truly up to? I bought this one as it came out back in the day and loved it as much then as I do now. Starlin weaves a dang-creepy story that Wrightson’s art brings to life in a satisfying Batman tale for the ages. There was a collection not too long ago, but it looks to have gone out of print; hopefully, it comes back soon so everyone can enjoy this outstanding standalone series.

That’s it for this installment, but we’ll return to my hero Starlin later—come in close as I whisper this, Denizens, as I’m going to floor you by admitting this—after I finally read Batman: A Death in the Family. I know. I know. I’m ashamed to admit it myself, but I’m getting to it. There are a few other gaping holes in my Starlin reading, which I fully intend to fix over the next year as well. See you next time.



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