Saturday, December 8, 2018

Comics Lust 12/8/2018

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/taco connoisseur Tulip. Oh…my…god, Denizens. I had the most amazing food at Corazón Cocina today: a short rib taco and a chorizo with potato taco alongside their chips and guacamole. I tried to refrain from telling my puppy executive team about it, but I just couldn’t help myself. They are so mad that I didn’t bring them back anything that they stopped talking to me. I later told them that I also had the “Restraint” brown ale from Institution Ale Company and…I guess you can say they are upset as Reverse Obie calmly walked over to the corner of the meeting room of our corporate office (Mom’s basement) and peed. Care to make a guess as to who is running downtown to pick them up some tacos and pick up some brewskis on the way? Anyhow, be kind to each other, mind your health and sanity, treat your friends to 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: Ed Brubaker (Part 1)

When you think of modern crime comics, the first name that should come to mind is Ed Brubaker, followed by his longtime collaborator, illustrator Sean Phillips, and rightfully so on both accounts. However, despite Brubaker currently focusing entirely on his creator-owned series, it’s worth mentioning some of his past phenomenal runs at the Big Two, where he successfully tackled some of their most prominent characters. Today, we’ll take a shotgun approach to his broad stable of comics.


(Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips, originally published in 2003 by Wildstorm, a DC Comics imprint)
I don’t know what put the first trade in my hands—maybe it was a review I read somewhere, maybe it was my love of his work on a certain Marvel superhero book I adore—but whatever prompted me to buy this series, I was in no way prepared for the fantastic, intense story that would ultimately pull me in deep. Holden Carver is a sleeper agent deep undercover within a massive crime organization run by the criminal mastermind Tao. Every day is a balancing act to keep from being discovered and keeping himself in the good graces of those whose service looks to corrupt his soul. But Holden’s nearly completed his mission. It’s almost time to come out of the cold after all this time. But there’s a problem: his handler, the only person who knows he is on the side of good, lies in a deep coma and may never awaken. Now, Holden has to avoid former colleagues who see him as a traitor while trying not to plummet ever-deeper into a world of evil and treachery. If this isn’t enough to grab your attention, you should also know there’s a subtle element of superpowers that some of the characters rely upon. Again, this book caught me by surprise and both season one and two (24 issues in total, and each collected in their own trade) are must-read comics. This was also my first exposure to Phillips’s work, whose exceptional storytelling, and ability to use heavy shadows to impart a crucial noirish tone to perfectly complement Brubaker’s words make this grossly underrated series something that should be on everyone’s favorite bookshelf. Oh...there’s also a prequel titled Point Blank (written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Colin Wilson) that I have not yet read, but will do so in the very near future; the latest Sleeper: Season One trade contains the five issues of this story as well as the first 12 issues of Sleeper. A new printing of Sleeper: Season Two comes out in early 2019!

The Immortal Iron Fist

(Written by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction, illustrated by David Aja and others, originally published in 2006 by Marvel Comics)
I’m pretty sure The Immortal Iron Fist was my first exposure to Brubaker’s writing. So, yeah, I was a little late to the party on his older titles, but that just meant I had a bank of material to quickly catch up on. I’ve been an Iron Fist fan for most of my life, which mixed with the buzz about this comic made the purchase a no-brainer. I was blown away by what I read. Danny Rand fighting Hydra goons, a resurrected Steel Serpent, a second Iron Fist named Orson Randall (who is freaking badass), appearances by Luke Cage and the Daughters of the Dragon, and seven mystical cities that participate in Kung-Fu tournaments, made this book everything I could ever want. Plus, it’s all gorgeously illustrated by Aja whose thrilling action scenes draw particular attention to critical blows with magical names like the “Palm of Forty Sorrows” and “Good Fortune Thunder Kick.” I hadn’t even finished the first issue and I was head over heels in love…I only wish the team’s run lasted longer than sixteen issues but, hey, I’ll take what I can get. If you love Brubaker, you need this. If you love the character of Iron Fist, you need this. Straight up, you need this. Want to read it all in one shebang? Then check out The Immortal Iron Fist: The Complete Collection Volume 1.

Gotham Central

(Written by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka; illustrated Michael Lark, Stefan Gaudino, Greg Scott, Kano, and others, originally published in 2003 by DC Comics)
When the television show Gotham was announced, many in the comics community hoped the show would be based on Brubaker and Rucka’s cult-favorite comic Gotham Central; although there are traces of the much-revered comic book series in the show, it just isn’t the same thing. Thankfully, we got 40 fantastic issues to read and reread when we need one of the best crime dramas in comicdom. Essentially, this is the story of the Gotham City police department and trials they endure in the line of their work. The writers collaborated on the first story arc before splitting writing duties to where Rucka wrote about the police on the day shift with Brubaker taking the night shift. Stories dealt with cold/unsolved cases, run-ins with various costumed villains, corrupt cops, a lesbian officer being outed to the department, and so much more, with the Batman making only brief appearances yet his existence proving to be a major factor in the lives of everyone. This multiple-award-winning comic is the real deal and is something fans of crime procedurals and damn-fine comics absolutely must seek out. Four trades will get you sorted proper.

Kill or Be Killed

(Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips, originally published in 2016 by Image Comics)
Ever wonder what life would be like for an actual vigilante? The lies that person would have to tell to explain the lack of sleep, the steady stream of injuries, and the inevitable retreat from friends and family? The lengths this person would have to go through in the name of justice would surely be devastating to not just his victims but to many innocents no matter how tangentially they are connected to him. Meet Dylan: a depressed college student whose failed attempt at suicide leaves him making a bargain with a supposed demon who requires that the young man kill in order to continue living. But was the demon real or a delusion? Dylan only knows that his pain and illness stops the moment he kills his first “evildoer.” Thus, his journey begins and the lives of those around Dylan steadily begin to fall apart. A quick, 20-issue series that is as fascinating and addictive as it is bleak. Four trades collect it all, but as much as I enjoyed this comic, the granddaddy of all Brubaker and Phillips’s crime work is without a doubt…


(Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips, originally published in 2006 by Marvel Comics and currently being reprinted by Image Comics)
Criminal is a series of standalone story arcs that can cover anything from a bank heist to revenge to murder to gambling to drugs to sexual obsession. The beauty of this long-running series is that you can pick up any trade and be able to easily follow the story, but as you move from story arc to story arc, you begin to notice that characters flow in and out from time to time and are clearly all part of the same world, just from differing times. Criminal returns in 2019, but no need to wait as there are a bunch of compelling noir tales to keep you busy until then:

  • Criminal Vol. 1: Coward - The story that started it all. Leo is your go-to-guy if you need a heist carried out, but Leo will ONLY take the job if almost all of the risk can be mitigated. But sometimes, the reward—and a particularly convincing woman—is worth the risk.
  • Criminal Vol. 2: Lawless - The Lawless family name carries a certain weight and ruthlessness, and when Tracy Lawless returns home to find those who killed his kid brother, and no one better stand in his way.
  • Criminal Vol. 3: The Dead and the Dying - One story from three points of view weave and interlock together into a whole.
  • Criminal Vol. 4: Bad Night - Maybe Jacob’s life falling apart wasn’t enough. Maybe he needs to fall further as obsession and greed gnaw at his soul. One bad night is all it takes.
  • Criminal Vol. 5: The Sinners - One year after the events of “Lawless,” Tracy Lawless returns as crime bosses are dropping like flies and Tracy is tasked with finding out who is killing them.
  • Criminal Vol. 6: The Last of the Innocent - All seven Criminal trades are great, but this one is by far my favorite. Riley Richards is willing to throw away a life others would kill for, as he willingly returns to the seedy world he left behind and begins plotting murder. Nostalgia and a yearning for times past make “The Last of the Innocent” an absolute must-read.
  • Criminal Vol. 7: Wrong Time, Wrong Place - We return to the Lawless family as Teeg Lawless brings his son, a young Tracy, along on a hit job.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the immensely talented Brubaker, but this list should keep you good and busy until the next time. Take care.


Saturday, December 1, 2018

Comics Lust 12/1/2018

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/gingerbread gobbler Tulip. November was a crazy month, but time seemed to slow down for the past two weeks which is great as far as we’re concerned. My puppy executive team and I bonded as we chilled in the Holiday Bunker where we ate pumpkin pies, drank some good beer, and read some great comics. Now that it is December, we’ve vacated the Holiday Bunker to rub our eyes at the shock of real light while rejoicing in the feel of the sun on our skin/fur for a couple of weeks before we have to retreat back to bunker for the next round of holiday madness; we are prepared. 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

More Bang for Your Buck: The Omnibus (Part 2)

How are those muscles treating you, Denizens? A little sore? I’m sure you are, but that’s because you are building muscle mass and getting stronger after hefting all of those omnibus (omnibi?) around from last time. But don’t get too comfortable. Today, we’re going to work through the pain and we’ll be hefting even more omnibus collections around because if you stay at the same weight all the time you won’t continue to strengthen not just your body, but your mind. So best warm up with some light stretching and light cardio before tackling the books on this list. Be mindful of your form and lift with your legs. You got this.

Invincible Compendium Volume One

(Written by Robert Kirkman, illustrated at first by Cory Walker and primarily afterward by Ryan Ottley, series originally published in 2003 by Image Comics. This volume collects Invincible #1–47)
I’ve been on a journey for the past couple weeks, Denizens, which is definitely what started me on talking about this whole giant-sized collection thing. I originally joined the Invincible bandwagon right around the time the fifth trade had been released; after reading the first I was instantly hooked. Here we have a brand new superhero story unburdened by the continuity constraints of the Big Two, which made it not only accessible but fun and interesting. By the time I made it through the third trade when everything dramatically changes after Invincible and his father have the discussion, I was hopelessly hooked and continued to be hooked up until the amazing “Viltrumite War” which concluded with issue #78. The events of that book were brutal, thrilling, and utterly devastating. And then…I just never picked the remaining trades or issues; I’m not sure why. Thankfully, I ended up getting the three compendiums, which collect issues #1–144 but kept putting off starting the reread of the familiar material and diving into the new. That is until recently. I just finished issue #84 and this ol’ Invincible train is in no ways stopping until I reach station #144. The basics: Mark Grayson is your normal, everyday high schooler until the day he goes to take out the trash from his dead-end, fast food job and accidentally tosses the bag into orbit; his powers have finally kicked in. What the world at large does not know is that Mark is the son of the fiercely powerful superhero named Omni-Man, an alien from the planet Viltrum, and Mark is poised to become Earth’s newest protector, Invincible. I can’t begin to properly tell you how fantastic this bloody, violent, heartbreaking, and triumphant series is; you will just have to read it for yourself. I can tell you that Walker starts the series off with some great art, but Ottley quickly comes in and makes the series his own for the majority of Invincible’s epic run. The compendiums are all softcover and are a ridiculously inexpensive way to read this series that I am thrilled to have reread as I now dive into thrilling, uncharted territory. Each volume is 1000+ pages long. You MUST read this series. Oh, did you catch that this is written by that guy who wrote a little ol’ thing called The Walking Dead?

Werewolf by Night Omnibus

(Written by Gerry Conway, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Doug Moench, and others; illustrated by Mike Ploog, Don Perlin, and many others, series originally published in 1972 by Marvel Comics. Collects Werewolf by Night #1–43 and so much more!)
I bought this 1176-page book in 2017 as a birthday gift to myself; boy howdy, do I give the best gifts! You see, Werewolf by Night is one of the first comics I remember reading. Again, I have no idea who gave it to me or how I got a hold of it, but I would guess that I was around six or seven and that somehow Giant-Size Werewolf #5 somehow survived a year or two to find itself to my grubby little paws. It left quite an impression with the cool werewolf, the negative warrior with the weird rod thing, and the creepy magicians; I flipped through this comic until it disintegrated and had to be thrown away. Almost 40 years later, I read that story as well as the ones featuring Dracula and Iron Man (against the Tri-Animan) and it was an absolute trip and a half to re-experience something that blew my mind as a young boy. For decades, I had images and recollections of these comics in my mind, some of which were spot on, others that had somehow changed, and things I had forgotten came slamming back to the forefront of my mind. It was nuts. All self-reflection aside, this omnibus is freakin’ fantastic. You have Jack Russel (I know, I know, just roll with it) coming fully into the curse of the werewolf on his 18th birthday and from there you jump from horror stories to random weirdness to supervillains and even see the first appearance of Moon Knight. Ploog’s art is by far my favorite although there are plenty of lovely pages from other artists. I know I will be doing some tricep extensions with this beauty in a few years when I start it all over from the beginning.

Batman by Neal Adams Omnibus
(Written by Neal Adams, Len Wein, Denny O’Neill, Marv Wolfman, and others; illustrated by Neal Adams; first issue in collection originally published in 1968 by DC Comics. Collects a whole mess of stuff!)
This was another treat I bought for myself at a price that couldn’t be beat. I’m so glad I got it. Adams is unquestionably a comic book master with much of his finest work covering none other than the Dark Knight. Some of the comics in this collection had originally made it to my kiddie hands in the past and subsequently died the death of pet dogs, sticky candy-coated fingers, and the general neglect one can expect from a child. Much of the material was new to me, including the Batshit craziness that is Batman: Odyssey…back to this in a sec. The main story that made me smile was the reprint of the Power Records Robin Meets Man-Bat which I read as a kid while the 45-rpm record played over and over again. The art is really something to behold, and many of the standalone stories are great representations of what the Bronze Age had to offer. As for Batman: Odyssey, I don’t want to give anything away, and I honestly can’t even really tell you what the story is about with any degree of confidence, but what I can tell you is that there are loads of cameos, Batman riding a giant bat, a caveman Batman, a dinosaur/humanoid robin, dinosaurs, Batman with guns, and…a pretty much naked, Playgirl-esque Bruce Wayne narrating the story in countless “come-hither” poses that were something to behold. I owe myself a reread of Batman: Odyssey in the near future, if not the entirety of this fantastic collection. The tons of comic covers at the end of this 1072-page behemoth are well worth checking out as well.

Stray Bullets: Uber Alles Edition

(Everythinged by David Lapham, series originally published in 1995 by El Capitan, and this collection published by Image Comics. Collects Stray Bullets #1–41)
Stray Bullets had a dedicated following in the mid-‘90s through the mid-2000s for its 40-issue run. The problem was that there was one final issue, #41, that did not come out until nine years later in 2014. This vignette crime comic series mostly featured standalone or stories that covered only a few issues and had an impressive roster of characters. The beauty of this oftentimes harsh series comes at the point where characters only touched upon in earlier issues come back around to have an aspect of their life told or when the paths of characters who have somehow managed to survive the violence of Lapham’s world intersect; sometimes it goes well for these characters, other times not so much. I missed out on this must-read-for-crime-junkies series the first time around but this beautiful, 1200-page collection quickly brought me up to speed and corrected a grievous mistake on my part. Lapham has since picked up where he left off so many years ago with Stray Bullets: The Killers #1–8 and Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses which is about to see its 42nd issue. Who knows, maybe we’ll get another lovely compendium in the near future. Beautiful art and beautiful—if not occasionally beautifully-tragic—stories that I can safely say make this a must-own book. Cool beans!

The Tomb of Dracula Omnibus Volume 1

(Written by Gerry Conway, Marv Wolfman, Archie Goodwin, Chris Claremont, and others; illustrated by Gene Colon, Mike Ploog, and Don Heck, series originally published in 1972 by Marvel Comics. Collects The Tomb of Dracula #1–31 and so much more!)
Weighing in at a measly 768 pages, what this omnibus lacks in comparative bulk, it more than makes up for with cult status. I don’t own this one. I need to own this one. I will also need to own the subsequent volume 2 and 3 that will someday soon see the reprinted light of the moon so we don’t have to seek out those pricey out of print tomes. Now, I had a bunch of issues for the series back in the day, but they have long since vanished from my collection. I guess we’ll be able to experience this one together. I can’t wait!

That’s it for now, but I’m sure we’ll return to the realm of must-read omnibus/compendiums the next time I feel like doing some heavy lifting. Take care.