Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Donist World 2019 Year-End Roundup! (Part 1)

(Sung to the tune of The Sound of Music's “My Favorite Things”)

Scores of cool mutants Xavier must wrangle
Blue skinned man’s junk before Supes it does dangle
Little Bird’s knife blade deep cuts as it swings
These are a few of my favorite things

Robotic doggies unleash devastation
Infected surfers witness maker’s creation
Shredding hot metal Murder Falcon he brings
These are a few of my favorite things

The Princess of Power’s world it does shatter
Green-skinned goliath pursues causes that matter
Horrific Black Barns the madness bell rings
These are a few of my favorite things

Diamond misships
Then my beer spills
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

Slice of Heaven For the Year!

Happy holidays, Denizens! What a crazy year 2019 has been. It was markedly better than the awfulness that was 2018 for this here Donist, but it definitely had its stressors: selling a house, buying a new place, packing and moving, and dealing with a seemingly unending array of repairs both expected and unexpected. I had some grand expectations for myself with a new position I took at work and I am fairly happy with the way things are going on that front. I also got some vindication around some 2018 nonsense, but it’s best not to go into that. Amy the Intern (my wife) had some health setbacks, but she is on the mend and the coming year should hopefully be better for her. I work with an amazing group of people at my day job, my puppy executive team at Donist World is without compare, and I am thankful for all of the Denizens who continue to read Donist World. I wish the best for you all in 2020. I also have high hopes to see a certain Dotard and his co-conspirators behind bars where they all belong...fingers crossed.

***Probably NOT spoilers below***

If you have a moment, check out our past Slice of Heaven Year-End Roundups to see what’s stayed the same and what’s changed over the years. I had quite a few pleasant surprises this year, so let’s get to it!

Donist World Top 10 Favorite Comic Series of 2019 (In No Particular Order)


(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, published by Image Comics)
After three or four years of seeing Descender at the top spot of the Year-End Roundup, it is finally supplanted by a new contender, a brand new…wait a minute…Descender wasn’t removed from the list because of any storytelling grievances. Nope. That first half of Lemire and Nguyen’s phenomenal space opera ended in 2018 and the second half, Ascender, kicked off in early 2019. Whereas Descender was a sci-fi extravaganza that saw monstrous robots (the Harvesters) appear to rain death and destruction upon the nine planets of the UGC (United Galactic Council) and focused primarily on TIM-21, a robotic boy who held the key to the Harvesters, Ascender shifts to the fantasy side of things, with witches, monsters, vampires, and galaxies void of technology. Now, the key to escaping the oppressive reign of the ruthless sorceress known as Mother might lie in TIM-21’s human “brother“ Andy—now a father of a young girl named Mila—getting off-planet, rediscovering technology. and learning of TIM-21’s true fate after the War of the Robots. Thankfully, Andy’s robotic dog, Bandit, appeared out of nowhere and with some serious weaponized upgrades. If you are a Descender fan like me, then Ascender continues the compelling saga without missing a beat while delivering Nguyen’s stunning watercolored artwork and delivering characters you have no choice but to fall in love with. Can you read Ascender without having read Descender? I suppose, but doing so will cause you to miss out on vital backstory and crucial character moments that will make Ascender that much more impactful. You will cheer characters as they reappear into the story and have your heart crushed to learn the fate of others, but most importantly you will be unable to put this book down as you become part of the story and fall in love with the various characters like Andy, Bandit, Telsa, and the others. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ascender at the top of next year’s Roundup.

Murder Falcon

(Everythinged by Daniel Warren Johnson, colored by Mike Spicer, published by Image Comics)
Yeah, speaking of heartbreak…this dang book, man. Okay, I’m fully aware that the premise might not grab your average comic book reader, but y’all need to trust me on this one’s absolute greatness. Okay…monsters exist and run rampant across the city with no one that can stop them. That is until Jake, a former heavy metal guitarist who gave up music after a tragic event, comes home to find his shattered guitar restored and a hulking falcon/Rambo-type creature with a mechanical arm standing in his living room and begging Jake to pick up the “Axe” once again. After some convincing, it all comes back to Jake as he shreds, Murder Falcon’s power grows and he is able to fight the monsters. I know, it sounds odd, but even not factoring in Johnson’s lovely art—he is my current favorite artist…DAMN, you need to see his character designs and how he expresses motion and speed…whoa, mama—the story is one that will take you by surprise and quickly upend what you think is happening, all while having you bang your head to the metal riffs the art invokes before leaving you wiping away the tears. It is a tale of perseverance and friendship and loss and one you will return to often. Murder Falcon is a remarkable achievement that once you give it a chance, you will be a DWJ convert.

Wonder Woman: Dead Earth

(Everythinged by Daniel Warren Johnson, colored by Mike Spicer, published by DC Comics on their Black Label)
I know, I know. “Only one issue of this four-issue limited series came out this year, so how the heck can you include it as one of your favorite comics for an entire year?!" Well, simple: my site, my rules, and I was honestly moved by this single comic. It was also another Johnson book that had some great monsters, battles, and backgrounds. Equal part mystery and post-apocalyptic nightmare, Wonder Woman awakens many years in the future to find the heroes of Earth are dead and/or gone and her powers are greatly diminished. Monsters roam the wastelands as the remnants of humanity continue their wicked ways and attempt to dominate one another as resources run scarce and hope dwindles. But with Diana’s return, humankind sees a sliver of light shining amidst the darkness as the Princess of Power encounters old friends/enemies as she attempts to understand how she became cryogenically frozen and what really happened to her world and its heroes. Not only does this oversized, double-length comic give you a form factor that allows you to see Johnson’s stunning art in all of its glory, but the story also pulls you in and won’t let you go until you reach its end. I’m fairly certain you will be seeing this comic featured in 2020’s Year-End Roundup this time next year.

Silver Surfer Black

(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Tradd Moore, colored by Dave Stewart, published by Marvel Comics)
Marvel is at their best when they take risks such as bringing us some non-standard comic book fare. Indeed, Silver Surfer Black is unlike any of Marvel’s other comics on the shelves thanks to the mind-bending beauty of Moore’s tripadelic art that is pushed to heavenly heights by Stewart’s gloriously flat and brilliantly vibrant colors. Even if the story was about something dumb like the Surfer delivering some lost mail across the galaxy, the art alone would make the five-issue miniseries a must-buy comic. Thankfully, the story is well worth the price of admission, too. Here, Cates has the Surfer confront Knull the God of the Symbiotes, travel back in time, weigh killing a destroyer of galaxies before he is even born, and teaming up with a young Ego the Living Planet all while the Surfer is slowly consumed by Knull’s darkness. This five-issue series was a wonderful surprise and one you should definitely pick up as the oversized Silver Surfer Black Treasury Edition which I am going to order later this afternoon so I can enjoy Moore’s art at an even larger scale. Dang, I hope hope hope these two join forces for a followup of some sort in 2020.

Little Bird

(Written by Darcy Van Poelgeest, illustrated by Ian Bertram, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Aditya Bidikar, designed by Ben Didier, published by Image Comics)
Another jaw-dropping limited series was the five-issue Little Bird from Image that positively blew me away. I stupidly passed on this title when I first saw it sitting at my LCS, but after some hype around the web, I knew I had made a grand mistake letting this one pass me by. Thankfully, a couple of weeks later, my store had a copy and I learned what all of the fuss was about. Having somewhat of a European comic vibe that you would expect to see in the pages of Heavy Metal Magazine, Little Bird is set in a dystopic future where the United Nations of America (a theocratically ruled US of A that I find positively horrifying) has recently decimated a village, killing all but a hidden child known as “Little Bird.” Seeking revenge, Little Bird looks to free a Canadian hero with enhanced abilities known as The Axe from a UNA prison so she can settle the score once and for all. Oh so gorgeously rendered by Bertram (and prompting me to seek out any and all things this man has illustrated) and expertly told by Van Poelgeest, Little Bird was a true surprise and one that had me rushing to my LCS to be sure I didn’t miss a single issue. The hardcover collection is definitely the way to go with this series, and I cannot wait to see the follow up that Van Poeleest mentioned he and Bertram were working on for release in 2020. Oh, my stars and garters, that one week that saw an issue of both Little Bird and Silver Surfer Black drop made for one helluva comic book brain bender of an evening.

The Immortal Hulk

(Written by Al Ewing, illustrated by Joe Bennett, published by Marvel Comics)
Once again, I have to commend Marvel for taking a chance by taking one of their most well-known characters and completely turning expectations on their head by making The Immortal Hulk a horror comic. Since the beginning of this award-winning series, The Hulk hunts the problems facing the Earth and confronts them in the harshest of ways. A human kills another human in a horrific manner? The Hulk deals with them. A gamma-irradiated monster lurks in the countryside? The Hulk deals with him. A multi-national company with a sociopathic CEO (who is also a minotaur) who devastates the climate in the name of profits? Oh, yeah, the Hulk deals with him, too. The thing is, the Hulk doesn’t seek to put the offensive parties in prison. No. He does what he does best: he smashes, he destroys, he obliterates. And it is all spectacular thanks to Bennett’s beautiful-yet-unnerving line work. You haven’t seen disturbing until you’ve seen the Hulk caught mid-transformation or the Abomination spitting acid on one of his victims and Ewing‘s story presses all of the right Donist buttons especially when the Hulk takes on corporate juggernauts. At 28 issues as of this writing, The Immortal Hulk only gets better and better and I hope to be reading Ewing and Bennett’s powerhouse comic for years to come.

House of X/Powers of X

(Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Pepe Laraz and R.B. Silva, published by Marvel Comics)
At the beginning of 2019, if you had told me that I would be not just enjoying but enthusiastically rushing to the comic book store for 12 weeks straight to buy an X-Men comic—an event no less!—I would have surely thought you were mad. Well, I was mad for not trusting in Hickman to bring me back to the mutants I used to love so much so many decades ago. In this event, House of X told the main story at a single point in time while Powers of X jumped back and forward (year one, year ten, year one hundred, and year one thousand). In this series, newly-revealed-to-be-a-mutant Moira MacTaggert attempts to help Charles Xavier and Magneto to ensure mutantkind is not eradicated by humanity. To do this, the trio develope some creative ways to help mutants thrive and never die out: they establish their own nation on Krakoa island, they develope pharmaceuticals to provide all of the money they will ever need, and they unite mutants by giving some of the X-Men’s past enemies a seat at the decision table. Hox/PoX wrapped near the beginning of October, and I still cannot stop thinking about Moira’s revealed power, or the revelations of keeping mutants alive and well (hint: It involves Goldballs), or the details of Xavier’s plans. This was a wholly satisfying event (something you almost never hear me say) and one that was expertly plotted and executed and ultimately did the impossible: it brought me back to the X-Men fold. The recently released collection is the way to go for this one, but I will say that I hope to see more of the “X2: Year One Hundred (The War)” mutants at some point in the future.


(Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Leinel Francis Yu, published by Marvel Comics)
It makes sense that the event that brought me back to the X-Men, also kept me glued for the inevitable release of the new X-Men comic. Only three issues of this ongoing series have been released thus far, but Hickman’s carefully plotted and expertly paced story have pulled me in while introducing me to newer characters and potential villains. I love that a sentient island is a prominent character and that Cyclops is no longer the punching bag he has been for the past decade or two. Along with this book came fiver or six other titles that I have not yet read, but I intend to look into at some point in the future, but for the time being, I intend to stay with X-Men for as long as Hickman is attached to the book. If you were as thrilled as I was by House of X/Powers of X as I was, then picking up the continuing story is an easy decision to make. I’m sure a trade or two will drop over the course of 2020.

Gideon Falls

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, published by Image Comics)
Lemire and Sorrentino, the same creators who brought The Green ArrowOld Man Logan, and Joker: Killer Smile (which would be #11 on this list!) to life, join together to bring a comic series that can be likened to a more horror-tinged Twin Peaks. A couple issues in and this creepy-as-all-get-out story was optioned for television after a bidding war. Gideon Falls tells the tale of a priest with a mysterious past who moves to the countryside after his predecessor's bewildering death and a presumably mentally ill man in the city who hunts through the area’s trash for fragments of the Black Barn, a mysterious structure that causes death and despair whenever it appears. Even more alarming is the terrifying Laughing Man, who has escaped the confines of the Black Barn to rain murder and mayhem against all who cross his path. Parallel worlds, infernal machines, secret societies, and an unrelenting evil make this series one of my most disturbing and anticipated reads with every new release. There’re currently three trades available with a fourth dropping in April 2020.

Doomsday Clock

(Written by Geoff Johns, illustrated by Gary Frank, published by DC Comics)
Okay, I have a sneaking suspicion that the story Johns and Frank initially set out to tell morphed into the thing that we ultimately got. That’s okay, though, I still thoroughly enjoyed Doomsday Clock as it was the comic I never thought I would ever see: a meeting of the DCU with that of Alan Moore’s Watchmen. Does this mean that we will soon see the Mime and the Marionette tormenting Batwoman? Or Rorschach investigating a conspiracy as The Question attempts to capture the deranged vigilante? Or Ozymandias creating a shell corporation to take over Queen Industries and aggressively attacking the oil industry? I have no idea, but I hope so. I honestly don’t really even know what the ending of this story holds for the DCU or the world of Watchmen going forward, but, again, that’s okay. The creators had some hefty shoes to fill and they did so brilliantly, creating a style and tone consistent with the original work and expanding upon it to create an interesting, ominous, and at times exciting story that fans of both Watchmen and the DC heroes can enjoy provided they give it a chance. I look forward to rereading Doomsday Clock in one fell swoop—without the story flow damaging, lengthy delays—to see all of the finer points I missed the first time through. Still, I hope to hear what Johns and Frank’s original vision was for the series, but as long as we get more Mime and Marionette, I will be a happy camper.

But wait, I’m sure there's more...

I'm sure there are plenty of other comics I somehow forgot to mention or have not yet bought or read in 2019. If there are any glaring omissions, please let me know. There's plenty of room at the Donist World corporate offices for more comics and...hold on a sec...actually, Amy the intern (my wife) has corrected me and said that "No, there is not plenty of room here." <psssttt...hey denizens, let me know anyways. I can totally sneak more comics in on the down-low. Just let me know. We can do this…>

Stay tuned next week for the “Donist World 2019 Year-End Roundup! (Part 2)”


Sunday, December 22, 2019

Slice of Heaven 12/22/2019

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/devourer of comics Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Keeping this one short as there’s a ton of books to go over and I now have some work-work to do. Tulip and Reverse Obie also have some planning to be sure we remain a Fortune 320,000 company in the year 2020…they’re also hitting me up for some petty cash to fund some “research” they say they need to do at the local taco shop, which kinda sounds like a good idea. 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

Wonder Woman: Dead Earth #1

(Most everythinged by Daniel Warren Johnson, colored by Mike Spicer, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by DC Comics on their Black Label)
After being blown away by the must-own Extremity, Murder Falcon, Space Mullet, and his art on Ghost Fleet over the past couple of years, Daniel Warren Johnson's new comic miniseries looks to continue rocking this Donist’s world with a beautifully paced, gloriously illustrated, and ultimately thrilling Black Label Wonder Woman comic. When Murder Falcon ended earlier this year, I immediately hit the interwebs to find what Johnson’s next project would be. If it ended up being a creator-owned comic about the Housewives of Some City, I would have gleefully picked it up and because of this man’s compelling writing and his stunning, kinetically-charged art, I would have loved it. Thankfully, that’s not what we got this week. I only just read the solicit about this Elseworlds-esque title a month or two ago and made an audible “Ooooooooooooo” at the cover and preview pages for what will ultimately be a four-issue miniseries.
Here, Wonder Woman awakens to a world devastated by a nuclear bomb. She has no idea how she ended up in a state of suspended animation, but she has little time to consider her situation as a horrific monster known as a Haedra attacks her and the young scavengers who accidentally released her from her state of near-death. Wonder Woman defeats the terrifying creature but quickly realizes her strength is greatly diminished and her protective bracers are gone. Infinitely worse, what remains of the planet is on the verge of extinction as resources dwindle and the haedras ravage all in their path. Fighting monsters and attempting to restore hope to those who have none, the Princess of Power must use what remaining might she has and a lifetime of skills to save what remains of humanity.
Love this, love this, love this! Johnson may as well have created this comic specifically for me: Wonder Woman, post-apocalyptic landscapes, monsters, old villains/allies mutated by radiation, incredible stakes, this comic has it all. Couple that with stunning visuals from my favorite artist of the past couple of years and there is no way I would miss this exciting adventure. What’s even better is that this “Prestige Plus” format book is about twice as long, magazine-sized, and printed on a higher quality paper. Sure it retails for $6.99, but with these specs and such an amazing story and such heavenly artwork—complete with thrilling fight scenes, sound effects you can feel in your bones, and masterful storytelling—Wonder Woman: Dead Earth is the superhero comic of the holiday season that you need the most.

Joker: Killer Smile #2

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered by Steve Wands, published by DC Comics on their Black Label)
May as well continue on the DC Black Label train with the second installment of Joker: Killer Smile. The interesting thing about this fascinating look into the detrimental effect sustained exposure to the Joker’s presence can have on a person is that the Joker is not the main character of the book. The protagonist is actually Dr. Ben Arnell, a psychotherapist who seeks to cure the Clown Prince of Crime of his maladies. The Joker only appears on a handful of pages, but Lemire and Sorrentino channel the creeping, foreboding sense of dread they bring to their Image Comics title Gideon Falls and the Joker’s presence and influence oozes into nearly every panel of every page. It’s all rather disturbing in the best of ways for this psychological thriller. I’m not certain if this is a three or four-issue miniseries, I just know that I’m aboard for the entire unnerving ride.

Gideon Falls #19

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, colored by Dave Stewart, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics)
While we are on the subject of Lemire and Sorrentino, Gideon Falls continues to be a spine-tingling mind trip as the lead characters travel between parallel worlds (I think that’s whats going on) as they attempt to discover the secrets of the Black Barn and to stop its evil from affecting the world(s). Unfortunately, the “Smiling Man” walks the Earth and death follows in his wake with only the Ploughmen to either kill the evil entity or put it back in the Black Barn forever. Gideon Falls will someday soon become a television series and you should definitely get caught up with the soon to be three available trades worth of mindbending and awesome horror.

The Last God #3

(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 on their Black Label)
Okay, I’m not as lost as to what is going on in this exciting new fantasy series as I was last time but I should reread all three of the currently available issues so I can get a better grasp on the key players and to help things make a tad bit more sense. That said, I love this gorgeously illustrated comic of myth, magic, monsters, and mayhem. If you are a fan of fantasy/adventure regardless of what form it takes—comics/novels/movies/television—then you need to be buying this series and showing DC that taking a step outside of their comfort zone is worth their risk so we can continue to see more of the like of this great series.

Family Tree #2

(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)
If you had told me I was going to be reading a comic book about a little girl who is steadily transforming into a tree, I wouldn’t have believed you. But add that the girl is being hunted by a bunch of bald, weirdo, white guys and that her absent grandfather would return with a wooden hand to protect his family, then my curiosity would be peaked but probably not enough to pick up the book. All it takes is to mention Lemire as the writer and Hester as the artist and this comic jumps firmly into my pull list. At two issues in, the mystery as to what is going on deepens and Lemire’s incredible character development seals the deal that this is yet another of his comics we all need to be reading. I’m excited to see where this goes.

Deadly Class #42

(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)
A house party in the middle of snow-covered nowhere with many of the students of King’s Dominion Atelier? What could possibly go wrong? Who’s hooking up with whom? Who’s heart is going to be broken? Who’s going to do some experimenting? Who’s going to get straight-up murdered? Find out in this kickass new issue. 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.

Undiscovered Country #2

(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)
I’m still excited about this series despite not fully knowing who all the players are in this dystopic, futuristic adventure comic, but I’m sure they will all start to click as the series progresses. What grabs me the most is the premise and mystery behind what happens when the United States builds a wall around the entire country and shuts down all forms of communication to the outside world for 30 years…until now. This one is going to be intense. I can’t wait to see what the creators have in store for us.

The Immortal Hulk #28

(Written by Al Ewing, art by Tom Reilly and Matías Bergara, colored by Chris O'Halloran, lettered by VC’s Cory Petit, published by Marvel Comics)
Even with a guest-artist, The Immortal Hulk continues to be the best, most consistent comic Marvel has been putting out in some time. Although mostly a stand-alone issue, there are moments that show Dario Agger (the Minotaur) acting as you would expect your typical CEO to act (ohhhhh, burn!) and coming to a plan of how to deal with his Hulk problem. The rest of the issue follows a security guard who is fed a steady stream of steamin’ hot right-wing radio/Faux News bullshit that has turned this once happy man into a fear-ridden, hate-filled husk who talks of the “Deep State” and knows all too well what it means to “stand your ground.” When a bunch of Roxxon protestors wearing plastic Hulk masks arrive at his facility, this Roxxon security guard thinks he knows what to do next. I can already hear a few chants of “why’d they have to go and make things political?!?!” My answer: because it fits the Hulk’s mission, it is relevant to the times, and it’s one helluva story. You all need to be reading this incredible horror/superhero title, which you can do with the beautiful hardcover or via the readily available trades.

Guardians of the Galaxy #12

(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Cory Smith and a bunch of guest artists, inked by Victor Olazaba, colored by David Curial, lettered by VC’s Cory Petit, published by Marvel Comics)
And with that, Cates’s run on Guardians of the Galaxy comes to an end. As Rocket’s strength slowly fades and death draws ever closer, he shows the Church of Universal truth why he is never to be underestimated. This issue is a fitting close to this series as it pays homage to the exciting cosmic stories of the past few years, while opening the door to the next Guardians run that will be helmed by Al Ewing (yup, that Al Ewing). You might also get a bit teary-eyed with the ending Rocket sequence…I’ll leave it at that.

Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child

(Written by Frank Miller, illustrated by Rafael Grampá, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered by John Workman and Deron Bennett, published by DC Comics on their Black Label)
Yup…“Why’d they have to make it political?!?!” To which I say, “Sigh, this is not for you, none of the good/great comics are.” Anyways, I will do full disclosure that I have not read any of Miller’s Dark Knight books since Dark Knight Strikes Again, so I don’t know anything about the main stars of this series other than Carrie Kelley is now Batwoman and a kickass one at that. I don’t know what happened to Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent, and Clark’s kids—Lara and Jonathan—appear to be a couple of the new heroes of this future world. Lara struggles to understand why she should bother saving humanity, while Jonathan maintains more of his father’s ideals. Here, Darkseid has joined with the Joker (a Joker? the original Joker only younger? no idea) and the pair seek to get a Trump-style stooge elected via good-ol’-fashioned GOP voter suppression. It’s the Trump-supporting Jokers versus the anti-fascists Bat mob and I loved every second of it even though I was a shade lost at times from not having read DKIII: The Master Race, although it wasn’t too difficult to fill in the blanks. Again, full disclosure, I probably would not have picked up this book if not for the fact that Grampá (if you can find it, check out his hard-to-find-but-worth-the-search Mesmo Delivery Service) was providing the oh-so-gooey-gorgeous art, but after reading this fun one-shot, it is safe to say that I definitely want to see more more more of these creators tackling this rich world.

Doomsday Clock #12

(Written by Geoff Johns, illustrated by Gary Frank, colored by Brad Anderson, lettered by Rob Leigh, published by DC Comics)
I’m going to need to read this one from beginning to end in one fell swoop. The lengthy delays between issues greatly affected the story flow, but now that this one-year event that took almost two years to come out is done, I’m sure it will make a heck of a lot more sense. I also have a suspicion that the story Johns and Frank set out to tell was altered midway through per some sort of editorial edict, but regardless of what did/did not happen, I still enjoyed this ambitious project and see it as a win. I love the whole Superman “versus” Dr. Manhattan angle and how various pieces are put back in place while others appear to be left on the board for future stories. Frank’s art is lovely as ever, especially on a couple of double-page spreads that need to be seen to be believed. I never thought a story like this would ever see the light of day, but I’m glad it did. Whether or not the end product is what the creators originally intended, Doomsday Clock still rocked this Donist’s world.

Whoa, Nelly. That about does it for this installment. Have a happy holiday season and I hope to see you next time. 


Sunday, December 15, 2019

Comics Lust 12/12/2019

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/holiday cookie hoarder Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). It’s been a crazy week for work holiday parties and get-togethers, and the same is true of my puppy executive team and me. We too had a Donist World shindig of a holiday party where we listened to Prince songs between Christmas classics and sipped on mint-tinged hot chocolate with marshmallows and enjoyed frosted cookies after some carnitas tacos; it was all rather lovely. For those concerned, Tulip and Reverse Obie did not have any of the hot chocolate (you know, poison to dogs and all) but instead, each dog had mugs of beef bone broth topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with lamb-flavored kibble. Ghastly, I know, I tried it after they dared me to take a sip. Let’s just say I’ll stick to hot chocolate. Anyhow, take a breath, the end of the holidays is nigh, let your shoulders relax, grab some hot chocolate (add a shot of somethin’-somethin’ to it if that’s your thing), buy and hoard as many boxes of Trader Joe's “Dark Chocolate and Mint Stars” cookies as you can fit into your house, 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 2)

For the “Bingemode” series of posts, I’ve been thinking of what constitutes binging a comic book series: how many issues qualify a comic as being a binge read, do I binge a specific title or does a binge reading cover a character across multiple titles, can a title/character cover multiple publishers, or can a binge cover multiple works by a particular creator. Now, I’ve pretty much been reading large-run, single series over the past year, but here’s what I’m thinking:
  • Binging a comic has to be greater than 12 issues (sorry, Squadron Supreme by Mark Gruenwald and Bob Hall)
  • But, if I toss in the related Squadron Supreme Death of a Universe graphic novel, then that puts it in the running. (Dang, now I can’t wait to read those)
  • Some creators have a large body of work in shorter form factors. I’m thinking Jeff Lemire, or a bunch of Alan Moore stories, or whatever, just so long as those works exceed the equivalent of 12 issues
  • It probably won’t be a series you can read in a single weekend…unless you get sick or commit to doing nothing but hammering through a grip of comics
  • Heck, it can even be theme-based or something. Perhaps something like reading every comic book in existence that had an ostrich as the main character and I’m gonna tell y’all about it
Those are some basic rules that I will pretty much stick to. So, by all means, let’s proceed with “Bingemode”!

Ex Machina

(Written by Brian K. Vaughan, mostly illustrated by Tony Harris; inked by Tom Feister, colored mostly by JD Mettler; lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, published by Wildstorm Productions, a DC Comics imprint)
Almost exactly nine years ago I talked about the release of the tenth and final volume of the amazing—and sadly all too politically relevant in today’s world—Ex Machina. I had started Donist World in March of 2010 and I reviewed Ex Machina, Volume 10: Term Limits by the end of that year. I had been reading the series in trade form since the release of the first volume back in 2005, and I loved each installment when it dropped. I remember the ache of the long wait between releases, and my satisfaction at reading that final page before sliding the book alongside its brothers and sisters on the bookshelf stashed away in the “Closet of Doom.” And there it sat for eight and a half years until we moved this past summer.
After packing and moving a ton of books (literally?) and organizing my trades onto some new shelves that were not situated in a scary, hidden, dark cave of a closet but were now situated in plain view, I knew Vaughan and Harris’s compelling series was at the top of my reread pile. So, with a beer in hand, a patio lounge chair, and a large umbrella to break up the heat, I settled in for what ended up being a two-week journey.
Ex Machina is the story of Mitchell Hundred, a civil engineer in New York who is lead to a mysterious, green, glowing artifact affixed underwater to the Brooklyn Bridge. The item explodes, tearing away Hundred’s left ear and scarring much of the left side of his face. But the horror doesn’t stop there. Hundred immediately begins to hear the machines of the city talking to him and overwhelmed by trauma and the mechanical voices, he screams for them to stop, which they do as the entire city goes dark. Fast forward a little while later, Hundred has recovered from his injuries and after some plastic surgery is made to appear somewhat normal aside from a few strands a glowing, green circuitry clinging to the side of his head. Together with his friend Bradbury (the harbor patrolman who brought Hundred to the artifact) and his childhood father figure “Kremlin” (a surly, Russian immigrant and friend of the family who encourages Hundred’s use of his newfound abilities), he decides to become “The Great Machine,” a costumed superhero devoted to keeping the city safe for all. Unfortunately, superheroing is much more difficult than he ever could have imagined; he kind of sucks at it. Despite his troubles in the field, Hundred creates some truly spectacular sci-fi gadgets that come to him in his dreams but even having those at his disposal barely manages to keep him alive when bank robbers shoot his flight pack, or he tries to fly while carrying someone, or just straight misreads a tense situation. But everything changes after Hundred manages to save one of the twin towers after the 9/11 attack and he decides to run as an independent for mayor, which he wins. He trades in the helmet, leather, and flight pack for a suit and tie and a staff of aides as he combats union strikes, freedom of speech at an art exhibit, clashes with political opponents, attempts to calm panic over a killer roaming the streets, and everything else that might keep an elected official (at least the good ones) awake at night. Unfortunately, Hundred’s old life keeps calling as bizarre threats come out of the woodwork and attempt to claw him back into the quagmire.
Although I remembered very little about this phenomenal series, picking it up and reading the first volume instantly reminded me of what a fantastic series this is. Much like he had done with Y the Last Man (definitely a future “Bingemode” installment), Vaughan instantly pulls you into the characters of the series and makes you love them, even when they make shockingly bad decisions or they fall victim to the whims of madmen. You feel the pain of not just an interesting character’s death, but the pain of those who loved that character; you know their loss. By the time you reach the final page of the final issue, it is safe to say you will gasp at the revelations as certain character arcs come to an end and you realize it was all rather inevitable as much as it all hurts. Harris’s photo referenced art (despite some of his questionable actions over the past few years) on both the interiors and covers is stunning and provides life and drama to this political thriller.
I will say that binging this phenomenal series is the way to go as it keeps the narrative rolling and the intense and complicated situations top of mind as opposed to reading with lengthy gaps between releases. It also helps in that I did not want to put the book down to go to work or go to sleep or what have you. If I could have managed it, I would have read all ten volumes in one sitting, it just wasn’t physically possible. Given the dastardly turn of US and world politics, binging Ex Machina was an easy thing to do and had me shaking my head in disgust at some of the topics and subject matter that Vaughan thankfully does not shy away from.
Now, to read this fine, must-read series you have quite a few options:


Hardcover Collections

Trade Paperback Collections

And there you have it, Denizens. Ex Machina not only stood up to the test of time, it greatly surpassed my expectations and is one I want Amy the Intern (my wife) to read so we can talk about it. Touching upon racism, gay marriage, abortion, sexism, and many other important topics, it is a superhero comic that greatly downplays the superhero aspects for that of a man trying to make the world a better place while trying not to sell his soul to obtain that which is greater than his ability to talk to machines: political power. For those who frequently utter the phrase why’d he have to go and make this political, this book is not for you…actually, very few of the best comic book series are. But for those with the intelligence (mental and emotional), the patience, and the love of a brilliant political drama, then Ex Machina is one you are going to want to own, place upon your favorite bookshelf, and return to often over the years. You simply must read this damn fine series.

See you next time.