Saturday, November 30, 2019

Slice of Heaven 11/30/2019

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/Thanksgiving perseverer Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Thanksgiving is done. Black Friday is done. My puppy executive team and I were able to have a somewhat pleasant enough time as Uncle Billy Bob ended up arriving to our family event completely blottoed and was unable to voice any of the usual Faux News “truths” he has been steadily indoctrinated with over the past decade and a half. Anyhow, take a breath, let your shoulders relax, grab a drink (you deserve it…unless that’s not your thing) and see if you can dig up some of those dark chocolate and mint cookies from Trader Joes, sit back, and afterward check out some great comics. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magics 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***

Friday Slice of Heaven

Ascender #7

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, edited by Will Dennis, published by Image Comics)
I LOVE this fantasy adventure series every bit as much as I love Lemire and Nguyen’s first half in their saga, the epic space opera Descender. We’ve been following the blue-skinned, fiery-haired Telsa since the very beginning years ago, and we’ve only just been introduced to Private Second Class, Helda Donnis who by the end of the issue is one of my favorite characters of the series. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise to Descender/Ascender fans; we can’t help but love nearly every character we meet. This month, the creators take us back to Telsa and Dr. Quon’s escape after the destruction wrought by the Descenders who have seemingly vanished forever. The pair disagree on what to do next and go their separate ways. Telsa later comes across former UGC member Helda and the pair team up over the years and witness the collapse of technology, the rise of vampires and other monsters, and they begin a new life sailing the seas…one of the few truly free places remaining. In a short span, we see their relationship grow while learning that Helda is a tremendous and fearless badass of the highest order. Although we barely see Mila, and Andy and Bandit are nowhere to be found, this gorgeously watercolored issue had me whipping through the pages and whispering “no” by the time I reached the end and knew there was nothing I could do about the long, painful, month-long wait until the next issue. Ascender continues to be my favorite comic on the shelves as Descender had been for the past few years. You will be hardpressed to find a comic with both a compelling story and transcendent art as this dang-fine saga.

Venom #20

(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Iban Coello and Zé Carlos, colored by Rain Beredo, lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles, published by Marvel Comics)
Absolute Carnage might have ended, but this “tie-in” wraps things up on that event, while laying the groundwork of what’s to come. Here, we see Dylan Brock, who has just learned that Eddie Brock (aka Venom) is not his brother but rather his father. The whole sequence is only a few pages, but the rest of the issue—aside from some “previously” expository material and a one-page reveal as to the secret nature of the symbiotes, including Dylan’s revealed abilities—belongs to the Maker and those who he reports to. I will say that I am happy to see Venom’s story return to being contained in its own series as opposed to events/tie-ins/crossovers/guest-appearances/guest-writers/etc and with Knull traveling toward Earth I can’t wait to see what happens next. I’m not sure where we’re headed with Venom, but as long as Cates continues to write and Stegman continues to be the main artist, I’m firmly on board…I just hope there aren’t any other events for a good long while to muddy the flow of the story. You can easily catch up with Venom through the two available trades and the Absolute Carnage trade (released early 2020) as well.

Lazarus: Risen #3

(Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Michael Lark, colored by Santi Arcas with Tyler Boss, lettered by Simon Bowland, published by Image Comics)
In their previous encounter with Family Vassalovka’s Lazarus, the homicidal monster known as the Zmey, Forever Carlyle and Sonja Bitner were soundly defeated, while a couple of Lazarus allies were killed and many soldiers lost. Today, the Zmey is on the hunt to end the life of a Vassalovka defector, but Forever and Sonja are ready for him. All this while the 14-year-old Forever clone struggles with her place in the world, but her trainer Marisol and her sister Johanna Carlyle look to open up the world to the exceedingly deadly girl. We might only be getting three issues a year, but when they have double the amount of pages and the story and art continue to deliver such high stakes and tension throughout, I’m happy to take what I can get. I strongly suggest reading through the five original series trades first before jumping into Lazarus: Risen to become better acquainted with this grim world and the characters within it. This timely and all too relevant series needs to find its way into your hands before the television series drops on Amazon Prime at some point in the future.

The Last God #2

(Written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, illustrated by Ricardo Federici, colored by Sunny Gho with Dean White, lettered by Tom Napolitano, cartography by Jared Brando, published by DC Comics)
Okay, I think I need to go back and reread the first issue of The Last God as I was a tad bit lost as to what was going on. Despite that, I loved every painstakingly detailed and gorgeously colored illustration in this recently released fantasy series that looks to be an epic in the making. This issue follows Cyanthe and looks at her historical introduction to the Plague of Flowers and the person she becomes 30 years later. Horrors abound afflict the world of Cain Anuun but even those are positively stunning when illustrated by Federici’s delicate pencils and brought to life by Gho’s otherworldly color palette. If you are looking for something to fill the fantasy void left by Game of Thrones, then look no further than the fascinating new world found in the pages of The Last God.

East of West #44

(Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Nick Dragotta, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics)
Why, oh, why do Hickman and Dragotta have to mess around with the eyes? I mean, there were some earlier issues from a few years ago where we meet an oracle and her creepy-crawly eyeballs…let’s just say that stuff unnerves me somethin’ fierce. Anyway, Mao Xiaolian and her Dragons and Widowmakers are losing the war and when all hope seems lost, a horrifying creature—one we have not seen for a while—appears to change the tide. The three horsemen talk with Babylon about how to handle the boy’s father, and Death <gulp> meets the Oracle again where gnarly eye stuff goes down; you’ve been warned. So, two issues remain in this complex, post-apocalyptic tale where there are no good guys and although we’ve seen some lengthy delays between issues and although I honestly can’t tell you what happened ten issues prior, East of West continues to be a great comic and one I will need to binge after the final two issues have finally released. You can experience this incredible series through the trades or the hardcovers and catch up before it all comes to a tragic end.

That’s it for this week, Denizens. I hope you’re recovering from eating too much food, drinking too much holiday spirits, and finally getting your version of Uncle Billy Bob out the door and on his way out of your life and back to his Faux News brainwashing. You did it. You made it. Might as well celebrate with some great comics. See you next time.


Sunday, November 24, 2019

Slice of Heaven 11/24/2019

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/turkey taster Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). It’s upon us. The holidays are here to stress out, depress, and inconvenience us all, but thank goodness we have plenty of comics to help us through these potentially trying days. Now, with that comment, you might be thinking Donist, are you okay? Do you need help? Don’t worry about me, I’m totally fine. I just know how difficult the holidays can be for many people. Anyhow, take a breath, let your shoulders relax, grab a refreshing water (or a beer or two) and some kale chips (or delicious tortilla chips and salsa), sit back, and afterward check out some great comics. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magics 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***

Friday Slice of Heaven

X-Men #2

(Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Leinel Francis Yu, inked by Gerry Alanguilan, colored by Sunny Gho, lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles, designed by Tom Muller, published by Marvel Comics)
A mostly-absent father decides to become more involved in his children’s lives by taking them on a grand adventure to a remote island. I know, it sounds like a holiday special that you would find on the Hallmark Channel, but I promise you we are indeed talking about the latest issue of X-Men. Here Cyclops enlists his children—Cable (not sure why he’s now younger) and Rachel (now called “Prestige?”—to investigate an island that has appeared and which has attracted the attention of Krakoa. On the island, strange monsters roam the land but the strangest inhabitant of all is an alabaster-white, naked, mutant who can call the creatures forth to protect what is theirs. Misunderstandings occur and a fight breaks out, but the Summers family uses the voice of reason to calm the situation, but this strange “Summoner” shares a link to Apocalypse that is sure to play out in future issues. After the seriousness of the amazing House of X/Powers of X event, Hickman lightens the mood with added humor and witty banter between the Summers family members that had me laughing throughout the issue while also keeping me on edge with the high stakes. I may not have a clue of where this series is headed, but if Hickman and Yu maintain the vibe of the first two issues, then I can see myself reading this X-book for a good long while.

Black Hammer/Justice League: Hammer of Justice #4

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Michael Walsh, lettered by Nate Piekos, published by DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics)
On a whole, I really enjoyed this cross-company crossover event between the Justice League and the heroes of the Black Hammmerverse but the ending did not quite hit with the oomph I was hoping for. This is not to say that it was bad, but rather the ending seemed a shade rushed for my liking. I guess I would have preferred to have seen more of the characters adjusting to their new surroundings and interacting with the new locals with the story proceeding at more of the pace found in the main Black Hammer title. Still, the whole event has been loads of fun and if the final page is an accurate indicator, we hopefully haven’t seen the end of these two worlds colliding.

The Last God #1

(Written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, illustrated by Ricardo Federici, colored by Sunny Gho with Dean White, lettered by Tom Napolitano, cartography by Jared Brando, published by DC Comics)
I missed this title on new comic day a few weeks ago, but my LCS loves me and was able to finally track down a copy. I am so glad they did. Our comic stores need way more fantasy titles on the shelves and this new Black Label title looks to fill that void. The Plague of Flowers once ravaged the world of Cain Anuun, turning the living into terrifying monstrosities until the day a group of godlike heroes stood against the God of the Void, but it was a mortal man who slew the God and who has ruled as king these past 30 years. Unfortunately, the lore surrounding the eradication of the Plague of Flowers might not necessarily be completely accurate. Gods, warriors, monsters, battles, and a rich new world brought to life by Federici’s oh-so-lovely artwork left me excited for more and reminded me of the best fantasy stories of the ’70s and ’80s. The good thing about getting ahold of this issue so late is that the next one will be available to read all the sooner. I can’t wait to see what comes next for what is one hell of a good start to a new fantasy title. This series was absolutely made for me.

Absolute Carnage #5

(Written by Donny Cates; illustrated by Ryan Stegman; inked by JP Mayer and Jay Leisten; colored by Frank Martin, lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles, published by Marvel Comics)
Ok. That was a quick five issues. I was definitely hesitant to jump on board with this event once it became clear that it was going to not only run alongside Venom but that it was going to spill over into a mess of one-shots and miniseries in a way similar to what drove me away from event comics in the first place so many years ago. I didn’t pick up anything other than this and Venom and, thankfully, I was able to follow along with the whole event no problem. Overall, it was fun. However, Absolute Carnage would have been better served as a 12 or 18 issue story that was allowed to breathe and one that played out only in Venom with “guest-appearances” limited to just the Peter Parker and Miles Morales Spider-Mans. Cletus Kasady is a terrifying villain and given his new, horrid makeover (is he on the Keto diet? Dang, that waistline!) it would have been so cool to have seen him lurk in the background for a while as disturbing things happened to those with a symbiote codex and Brock tried to solve the mystery of who was committing the gruesome murders. Anyhow, Carnage looks to be toast—at least for a little while—and everything appears to be relatively back to normal as if…nothing…ever…happened. Still, I’m glad I read it.

The Immortal Hulk #27

(Written by Al Ewing; illustrated by Joe Bennett; inked by—here we go—Ruy José, Belardino Brabo, Marc Deering, and Sean Parsons; colored by Paul Mounts; lettered by VC’s Cory Petit; published by Marvel Comics)
This was the last comic I read on New Comic Wednesday before going to bed. My eyes were heavy before I even picked up the book and I was passing out while reading it. By the time I got to the end, I had no idea what I read and I was shocked that I thought I didn’t like the issue. The next morning, I got up and reread the issue with new eyes. Boom! It was as amazing as ever. It just goes to show you that a fresh mind makes all the difference. This issue is three stories occurring through a six-panel layout: Roxxon corporate headquarters with the Minotaur at a board meeting, The Hulk at Shadow Base, Roxxon West Data Center where one guard tests the loyalty of another. The craziest part is when the Hulk teleports to the Data Center and two of the three stories collide with Bennett’s highly structured layout falling to chaos as the panels are broken and disjointed with the tremendous fight. Ewing’s story is compelling and Bennett’s art (with its four inkers…ay caramba!) and the tension rattling layouts is absolutely stunning in another great issue of this fantastic series; just be sure you are awake enough when you start reading The Immortal Hulk to enjoy it properly.

Family Tree #1

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Phil Hester, inked by Eric Gapstur, colored by Ryan Cody, lettered by Steve Wands, edited by Will Dennis, published by Image Comics)
How could I ever pass on a new Image book from Jeff Lemire? Family Tree follows the Hayes family: single mother Loretta, her high schooler Josh, and her young daughter Meg. Loretta works hard at her low-wage job and has to frequently deal with Josh getting in trouble at school, but life goes from difficult to startlingly strange when her daughter starts growing bark on her skin and branches start to grow off of her body. And the weirdness doesn’t stop there, as a group of creepy bald men armed with blades tries to abduct the family only to be stopped by someone Loretta has not seen for a long while. Dang, Denizens, am I glad I didn’t pass on this one. If you are a fan of Lemire and/or slow-burn horror stories, then jump on now for what is sure to be a wild ride.

That’s it for this installment as we head into a week of turkey, gawd-awful travel, and dealing with the psychological rollercoaster that is family; with any luck, Uncle Billy Bob and His “But Her EMAILS!!!” and “Climate change is a fabrication!!!” having ass decides to cancel. Best of luck, it will all be over soon…that is until Christmas rolls around. Thank goodness we have tons of great comics to read. See you next time.


Thursday, November 21, 2019

Comics Lust 11/19/2019

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/desperately need some R&R Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). I guess we need to accept the fact that we are probably not going to maintain an exactly weekly schedule with our posts, but we will continue to attempt to do so. Tulip and Reverse Obie will always be working behind the scenes to maintain Donist World’s standing as a Fortune 320,000 company. I, on the other hand, will continue to create content about our great passion (y’know…comic books) while juggling life, work, relationships, and creating my own works, including the follow up to Kibbles ’n’ Bots (which is done) as well as its follow up. Anyhow, take a breath, let your shoulders relax, grab a refreshing water (or a beer or two) and some kale chips (or delicious tortilla chips and salsa), sit back, and afterward check out some great comics. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magics 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***

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

Bingemode (Part 1)

It’s been a hot minute since I last posted to “Comics Lust” but I needed a bit of a break to come up with some new topics. This week happened to have some great new comics, but they were mostly ones that I’ve been talking about for months on end. Thus, I present “Bingemode!”
As comic book readers, that usually also means we identify as comic book collectors. We have our books on our desks, stashed in closets, many are bagged and boarded, some are grouped and sorted while others are like a deck of shuffled cards. Then there are the trades and hardcovers and, if you are like me, that fabled bookshelf, the granddaddy of them all, where you prominently display your most prized books, the ones that will be buried with you in your tomb as if you were a fancy-pants king/queen; who says you can’t take them with you, by golly?! Again, you are a collector…your wife/partner/friends/colleagues/etc think so, too, only the word they use is “hoarder.” That’s cool. As long as they leave the sacred organizational system alone we’re all good; that Ms. Tree One Mean Mother TPB is sitting there for a perfectly good reason, don’t touch it.
Then Wednesday arrives.
With each Wednesday comes a new assortment of comics and the collection grows. We usually read those new comics over the next couple of days, but that leaves a bunch of days in the week with no new comics to read. Whatever is a comic fan to do? Why, reread those favorites from the past, of course! Yes, there are certain comic series that I read on an every-other-year (or so) cadence (The Micronauts, Preacher, Miracleman, Swamp Thing, etc), but there are others that see a much greater expanse of time pass before I revisit them. It’s those comics that I will touch upon in these installments as I pick a series and hammer through from beginning to end. Do they hold up? Do they thrill as much as they did the first time through? Did I notice anything new? Time will tell, so let’s get our Bingemode on.

Sweet Tooth

(Mostly everythinged by Jeff Lemire with guest-artists Matt Kindt, Nate Powell, Emi Lenox; colored mostly by Jose Villarrubia and Jeff Lemire; lettered by Pat Brosseau; published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint)
I’m fairly certain that Sweet Tooth was my introduction to Lemire’s work, but I was initially hesitant to dive in. In 2009, Vertigo had already lost much of its allure for me in the wake of Preacher ending nearly nine years earlier. I remember seeing Sweet Tooth #1 on the shelf at my LCS on the day it came out and the Vertigo label caught my attention. Here was a brand new Vertigo series and it was only $1. I didn’t recognize the name of the creator and after flipping through, I decided it was a pass. Within a few months, it began to settle in exactly how big a mistake I had made as podcasts, review sites, and LCS workers sung Sweet Tooth’s praises. So, I bought the first trade.
Yes, I’m ashamed to admit that Lemire’s art did not capture me at first glance, but by the fifth or sixth page, it clicked. Lemire is a master storyteller and you cannot help but empathize with his characters. When Gus is alone and afraid, you feel that very same isolation. When Jepperd’s eyes burn with fury, you feel that great, seething anger build, but most importantly, when those angry, hate-filled eyes meet Gus’s in the second issue and they soften for what must be the first time in years, you can’t help but lose yourself in the characters, the world, and the masterfully told story. I had initially dismissed this comic as looking overly simplistic, rough, and even rushed, but that is not the case. Lemire’s style with its economy of line tells you everything you need to know about what is happening on the page through both action and drama. Oftentimes, you don’t need words to follow along with the story. Your eye flows from moment to moment as you absorb the emotions of the scene, but it’s the words…the words are what will move you through intense imagery to utter fear for a character’s wellbeing, or from the sadness of a panel to complete and utter heartbreak; Lemire’s books often bring this Donist to tears, which is not an easy thing to do, and I absolutely love him for it all the more.
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world wherein much of the population has succumbed to the Affliction, an incurable, fast-spreading disease that will eventually claim the rest of humanity that has somehow survived the past seven years. But that is not all that the Affliction has done. All births from the time of its arrival and ever since has resulted in the birth of animal/human hybrid babies. Enter Gus. Gus looks like an average young boy, perhaps a bit skinny, but were it not for the slope of his nose, the long horizontal ears, and the nearly foot-long antlers jutting from his temples, he would pass as human. Sadly, Gus’s father has died of the Affliction and the boy soon ignores his warnings of venturing too far away from their isolated cabin. Inevitably, Gus catches the attention of some poachers desperate to trade him for food, bullets, or whatever they can get. When all seems lost, a mountain of a man named Jepperd arrives and easily kills the poachers and promises to take Gus to The Preserve, a place of safety for all animal hybrid children. But neither Jepperd or Gus knows that Gus just might hold the key to what caused the Affliction and his body might possibly hold the cure. Their journey leads them across the country where they meet terrifying enemies, other hybrid children (both friendly and deadly), conflicted scientists, monstrous men, new friends, shocking secrets, and hidden histories.
Sweet Tooth ran for forty issues with no annuals or one-shots or crossovers of any kind, ending in early 2013. Every issue was written by Lemire with most of them illustrated by him as well. A handful of issues see other artists fill in and expand the world with those issues focusing on providing key background stories on the main characters of the series and end up being crucial to the experience as a whole. Returning to this phenomenal, heartbreaking yet uplifting tale was an incredible experience that was only heightened by the six and a half years it took me to once again pick up that first trade and read all 40 issues back to back. I at no time wanted to put the book down or “take a break” and found myself wanting nothing more than to read the entirety of the series in one sitting and ignore the demands of work, sleep, food, or what have you. I still got tearful with the end of issue 39 and was held in awe of the final issue as it continues the story, leaps into the future, and leaps again even further in time. With the final page I was again tearful but for very different reasons as the story definitively concluded, leading me with a sense of wonder and hope in the face of the great tragedy of the Affliction.
Sweet Tooth is a powerful comic book series and one that I will return to often, not necessarily every year or two, but probably every five or six or so. Fans of Lemire, post-apocalyptic stories, and good stories in general MUST read this beautiful and compelling book. You will love almost every character you meet within the pages of this can’t-put-it-down treasure, including many of the most monstrous ones once you learn their history and motivations…or at least you will understand them. There are currently four ways to experience this must-read series:
I didn’t realize how much I had missed Gus, Jepperd, Wendy, Bobby, and the rest of the characters from this harsh world, but I am so happy to have reconnected with them after all this time. Sweet Tooth Not only aged well, it was better than I remembered. This brilliant, beautiful series simply must be part of your collection.

That’s it for this installment, Denizens, and I will see you next time. Thank you for reading.


Saturday, November 9, 2019

Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 11/08/2019

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/too much happenin’ all the time Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Cutting the intro short as we missed last week’s post because of a wedding party up north we had to attend. But my puppy executive team and I are back with monster-sized post! Anyhow, take a breath, let your shoulders relax, grab a refreshing water (or a beer or two) and some kale chips (or delicious tortilla chips and salsa), sit back, and afterward check out some great comics. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magics 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***

Friday Slice of Heaven

Silver Surfer Black #5

(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Tradd Moore, colored by Dave Stewart, lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles, published by Marvel Comics)
No doubt, this is the stuff that transcendent comics are made of. From the start, Silver Surfer Black has been a trip and a half from beginning to end in both story and oh-so-gorgeous art. Cates gives us a time-traveling jaunt that sends the Surfer, who is quickly being consumed by poisonous darkness, billions of years into the past where he enlists a young Ego the Living Planet in a desperate battle against Knull, god of the symbiotes. Norrin Radd is even forced to decide whether or not to end the life of an incubating Galactus before he transitions into the devourer of worlds. Without art, this story is an experimental success the likes of which I hope to see much more of from the House of Ideas, but with art…oh…my…stars…and…garters. Moore’s trippadelic imagery—beautifully pushed to heavenly realms by Stewart’s vibrant, flat colors—is what will catch your eye and keep you transfixed for every single stunning page of this tangentially Mike Hinge-esque work. The five-issue miniseries is over, which is 95-issues short of what I wish we could have, but, hey, I will take what I can get. I am definitely excited to get ahold of the Treasury Edition that drops late December, but even this enlarged form factor is not going to be enough for this magnificent, must-own work of art, but I guess a book the size of a door would be a bit unwieldy.

Fantastic Four Grand Design #1

(Everythinged by Tom Scioli, published by Marvel Comics)
I’m gonna go ahead and say that I’m already bummed that we’re only going get two of this. At least Ed Piskor’s recent X-Men Grand Design series saw six lovely oversized issues, but the Fantastic Four definitely has a history that is as rich as that of everyone’s favorite mutants. But whatchagonnado. Here, Scioli utilizes a 25-panel grid layout to relay much of the beginnings of not only Marvel’s first family but also Galactus, the Inhumans, Namor, and others from the very early years. Even with smaller-than-you’re-used-to-seeing panels, Scioli delivers a beautiful look that is equal parts a love letter to Kirby and a style that is his own. As for how Scioli intends to wrap up the remaining 40 years of FF history in one 48-page comic is beyond me, but I will 100% be there to see how it goes. My only gripe for this book is that the cool marbled paper was a bit too dark in places, making the art and lettering a little difficult to read. Regardless of my printing quibble, this wonderful experimental comic (Yay, Marvel! Keep it up!) comes…

Undiscovered Country #1

(Written by Scott Snyder and Charles Soule, illustrated by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Daniele Orlandini, colored by Matt Wilson, lettered by Crank!, published by Image Comics)
A few years ago, Image seemed to put out a monumental new series every other week, but for the last year or so, fewer new titles have grabbed my attention. Undiscovered Country, however, spoke to me. In this world, we step in three decades after the United States literally walled itself off from everyone and ceased all communications. The rest of the world continued on, but all seems lost when a recent deadly plague threatens to kill them all, until the long-dormant US reaches out to offer a cure as well as permission for a select group to come inside its mysterious borders. What could possibly go wrong? The story immediately sucked me in and the storytelling of the art kept me whipping through the pages. Most importantly, this outstanding first issue did its job perfectly: it left me desperate for more more more. Undiscovered Country is the dystopic comic for those who want to torture themselves and who are nervous about the direction our Dumbass-In-Chief and his lackeys seemingly want to drive us toward.

Venom #19

(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Iban Coello, colored by Rain Beredo, lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles, published by Marvel Comics)
The “Absolute Carnage” event continues as we get a few pages of flashback—for those not buying Absolute Carnage— and some fight stuff that is cool as some heroes faceoff against the symbiote-infected Maker, but the main draw of this issue is the mystery of who and what Dylan actually is. We also finally get to see a bit more of Sleeper, which is exciting. I’m still enjoying the event playing out over these two titles, but I will say that I am eager to see Knull return to cause some havoc.

Conan the Barbarian #10

(Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated by Mahmud Asrar, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by VC’s Travis Lanham, published by Marvel Comics)
We have been teased with the b-story of Conan’s death to appease a death god since the first issue and now we finally begin to see it all play out as the “B” becomes the “A.” The Crimson Witch and her diabolical brood are fairly horrific, especially as Conan battles the evil woman with her head barely affixed to her body by grotesque sinew. Yup, it’s pretty disgusting and I love every panel of it. Aaron and Asrar continue to make Conan the Barbarian a compelling read as heck read.

Joker: Killer Smile

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered by Steve Wands, published by DC Comics)
This is my first DC Black Label comic and I’m not going to ding it for being $5.99 and only 32 pages; some regular issues are still $2.99 (I think) and those have 20 pages each, so…math. Yes, it’s a bigger form factor so you get to see some bigger art and the coverstock is thicker, but the story is going to have to be good to pull me in. Thankfully, it is. I trust the Lemire/Sorrentino team (Green Arrow and Gideon Falls) to deliver and they definitely do so on this first issue in a three-issue miniseries about a psychiatrist who thinks he can cure the Joker. Because of these two creators and the slow-burn, unease they bring to this crime/horror psychological thriller I will see it through to the end and can say it comes…

Green Lantern: Blackstars #1

(Written by Grant Morrison, illustrated by Xermanico, colored by Steve Orliff, lettered by Steve Wands, published by DC Comics)
Much like The Green Lantern, which I adore primarily because of Liam Sharp’s glorious art, Morrison’s story leaves me scratching my head often as events jump around and omit possibly cool things like seeing the Blackstars bring Mongul to his knees. Oh well, seeing Paralax and the unnervingly sexy Belzebeth take down a tongue-headed monster will bring me back for the next issue. If you are a fan of The Green Lantern, then you need to jump in on this three-issue miniseries as it is a bridge between the “first season” and “second season” of that weird and visually stunning Green Lantern title.

Death or Glory #6

(Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Bengal, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Briah Skelly, published by Image Comics)
I think it’s been just over a year since we last saw an issue of Death or Glory but the creators waste little time in bringing us back up to speed as Glory Owen—whose family and friends live “off the grid”—seeks to get her uninsured father into Mexico so he can receive a desperately needed liver transplant. Unfortunately, the organ smugglers who previously “owned” said liver want revenge and send a germaphobe assassin, a luchador death dealer, and two Dutch murder twins after them. Remender’s story is thrilling and Bengal’s art is equally beautiful whether depicting the characters, the vehicles, or the intricate backgrounds. A very welcome return indeed.

Grendel: Devil’s Odyssey #2

(Everythinged by Matt Wagner, except colored by Brennan Wagner, lettered by Dave Lanphear, published by Dark Horse Comics)
Oh. Dang. I never covered the first issue of this exciting eight-issue series from Donist World Darling Matt Wagner, but let’s briefly correct that by saying if you are a Wagner fan and have previously steeped yourself in the darkest reaches of his Grendelverse, then this title is a no-brainer. Grendel Prime, a deadly cyborg, has headed off into space in an attempt to find a new planet for humanity’s dwindling populace to reestablish itself. Unfortunately, Grendel Prime is the equivalent of using a sledgehammer to hang a picture frame when it comes to building relations with a planet’s current inhabitants. Seeing Wagner bring his creation back into the spotlight with his beautiful linework and designs is a joy. Although this series reads well enough on its own, you’ll be happier if you catch up with Grendel through the four Omnibus editions.

The Immortal Hulk #26

(Written by Al Ewing, illustrated by Joe Bennett; inked by Ruy Jose, colored by Paul Mounts, lettered by VC’s Cory Petit, published by Marvel Comics)
Hot DANG! That’s what I’m talking about! This dang series, Denizens. I don’t know what’s going on after the cosmic weirdness of the previous issue, but here we have an incredible issue that is all talking and not a single punch is thrown. Heck, Ewing and Bennett made this an amazing issue with the first-page splash where Bruce Banner states to the world what almost happened to him and who was responsible and then states problems brought about by our government and how the Hulk means to set things right, in other words, Hulk Smash the corporations! The Immortal Hulk just keeps getting better and better.

Deadly Class #41

(Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, colored by Justin Boyd, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Briah Skelly, production by Erika Schnatz, published by Image Comics)
I am definitely still loving this series. This month, Saya is brought back to the school and is labeled a “Rat” which looks to make everyone’s life more difficult. I’m still pissed that the television show was not given the chance it so richly deserved, but we thankfully have this excellent series everyone should be reading. If you are interested in a story about the students who attend a high school for assassins then you should definitely check out the eight trades or the two oversized hardcovers.

<Phew!> That’s it for this whopper of an installment. Donist needs food. Badly. See you next time. Thank you for reading.