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)”


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