Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Comics Lust 3/1/2020

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 and just about everything else going on in my life, but I was finally able to find some time to let y’all know about something grand. 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***

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 3)

Given a new Netflix show recently made its debut, I decided it was high time I returned to a series that isn’t just one of the best comic books series of the past decade (read about our “Favorite Comics of the Past Decade”), it is one of the best comic book series period. It shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to guess which series I’m talking about, but if you need me to spell it out for you, the book is…

Locke & Key (2008–2013)

(Written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, colored by Jay Fotos, lettered by Robbie Robbins, published by IDW publishing)
IDW is a publisher for which I have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to their many offerings. Their G.I. Joe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Transformers offerings are enticing, but the volume of material available makes diving in an insurmountable task without the aid of a comic Sherpa to guide you through the quagmires of those licensed properties. But then, every so often, the publisher releases something different, something new, something that has a beginning, middle, and an end (sorta, more of that later) that is accessible not just to comic book fans, but also fans of fantastic stories.
Thus we have Locke & Key.
Back in 2008, after the first few issues of the first chapter of Locke & Key had seen release, I had heard rumblings about the series across various podcasts and review sites, but I didn’t take the plunge; I even remember seeing the iconic cover of the first issue depicting the Ghost Key, yet I didn’t pick it up. It wasn’t until I started catching on to the new digital app offerings that had recently surfaced that I decided to finally give the book a try after the IDW app featured the first issue for $.99 or it might have even been free, I’m not certain, but what I do know was that the book was too cheap to not take a look. So, I threw it in my cart, purchased it, and then sat on it for a long while. Many months later, the “Welcome to Lovecraft” arc had ended and “Headgames” was an issue or two underway and I decided to finally give my digital copy a read. When I finished that one issue, I bought the other five digital versions of the first chapter and was totally blown away by what I had just read. I then ordered the hardcover collection of “Welcome to Lovecraft” and resolved to buy the hardcovers of everything the creators would throw at me over the next few years.
The story involves the surviving members of the Locke family (Tyler, the older brother; Kinsey, the sister; Bode, the youngest brother; and Nina, the children’s mother) moving from the west coast to a family home in Lovecraft, Massachusettes after the brutal murder of Wendell Locke, their father/husband, at the hands of two deranged highschoolers. The east coast mansion—known as Keyhouse—appears to be somewhat of a haunted mansion, but it is a fresh start away from the tragedy of a few months prior and the hope for a return to some semblance of normalcy; Keyhouse is anything BUT normal. Shortly upon settling in, young Bode finds a mysterious key that allows him to turn into a ghost and to roam the property unseen. He also discovers the well-house where a beautiful woman in a black gown lives and talks to him via echoes, begging the boy to do her a favor. From there, the horror the Locke’s sought so desperately to leave behind rises anew as the woman in the well makes succeeds in escaping her confines. Things then take a turn for the weird, as magic and wonder present themselves in the form of even more mysterious keys that each hold a special power when used on the right door or lock. But will the keys be enough to ward off both the lady in the well and their father’s killer, Sam Lesser, who recently escaped prison and is making his way to Lovecraft?
One thing I did not realize for the first year or so of reading this heavenly series was that writer Joe Hill is the son of famed novelist Stephen King. Had I known this at the time, then it’s safe to say that the name recognition of the man’s father might have pulled my attention to the book a bit sooner, but then that’s possibly why Hill goes by “Hill” to stand on the merits of his own work. And what a mighty work it is indeed. Hill immediately pulls you into the story through a flashback as you quickly learn all is not going to be well for Mrs. Locke upon the arrival of Sam Lesser and Al Grubb and the reveal of the dead body in the back of young men’s stolen truck. Then we meet the Locke children in the present, at the Keystone house in Maine, wherein two pages we are introduced to Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode and I was instantly charmed by them and pulled into their plight as another flashback, this time at the funeral for their father, sealed the deal and had me desperate to know more about them. The tragedy that has been forced upon these kids and the manner in which they each try to cope is heartbreaking and endeared them to me completely. With just over half of the first issue, Hill introduced me to the Locke family and the awfulness of their situation and I was completely absorbed into the tremendous story that was about to unfold. But it was the introduction of that first key and the hint of the lady in the well-house, that left little doubt that there was to be a strong supernatural element to this tale, that I knew I had what was destined to be a great experience ahead of me, and to be honest, I underestimated just how fantastic this series is and just how phenomenally it sticks the landing with the final two issues.
But it isn’t just Hill’s writing that makes Locke & Key such a thoroughly captivating read. Coupled with Rodriguez’s positively stunning storytelling, character design and acting, and elaborate backgrounds, you have a comic that has you thoroughly torn between rushing page to page to see what happens next and lingering on every panel to thoroughly breathe in the visuals. Rodriguez uses a thick line to add visual impact to each character while using a thinner line on their facial features to convey their feelings, whether they are openly upset, or struggling to keep their emotions under their control. Rodriguez also gives the characters and the environments an open, more upbeat style that avoids the shortcut/cheat of deep shadows, and allows you to see everything that is happening in a scene from slight facial feature changes to added intricate details in the stones and wood of the surroundings, with the end result being a simply gorgeous book whose visuals every bit match and complement the rich story.
So, yes, one issue was all it took to convince me that Locke & Key was something special. After the first arc of six issues, I knew digital was not the way to go, but rather I needed to go big with the hardcover collections that were available at the time. To read this fine series, you have the following options available to you:
  • Locke & Key Master Edition Volume 1–3 - Slightly oversized and probably the choice I would make were I to buy it today
  • Locke & Key Hardcover Volume 1–6 - This was how I read the series, but beware that volume one and four did not have a ribbon bookmark and that this will forever haunt me. I manage. These, unfortunately, appear to be out-of-print
  • Locke & Key Trade Paperback Volume 1–6 - These look to be readily available
Thankfully, although we have a complete and masterfully-told story that more than stands on its own, the creators have released and continue to release a series of one-shots expanding the universe that I have not yet read (a travesty, I know) and that are now firmly on my radar:
  • Locke & Key: Guide to the Known Keys (2011) - also contains the short story “Open the Moon”
  • Locke & Key: Grindhouse (2012)
  • Locke & Key: Small World (2016)
  • Locke & Key: Nailed It (2019) - a San Diego Comic-Con Exclusive
  • Locke & Key: Dog Days (2019) - Contains the new story “Dog Days” and the impossible to find “Nailed It”
  • Locke & Key: World War Key: Battalions #1 (2020) - Not out yet
  • Locke & Key: World War Key: Revolution #1–6 (2020) - Not out yet. This series will follow the one-shot.
  • Locke & Key: Hell & Gone (?) - A crossover with DC Comics’s Sandman Universe, and one that seemingly takes place during the “Seasons of Mists” storyline
Given that these one-shots might be a tad on the difficult side to track down, IDW currently offers these hardcovers (and soon-to-be trades):
So, yes, there is a lot of extra material to be found surrounding this enchanting world once you complete the main story, which I am certain will not only be a jewel in your collection but one of those series that you will return to every year or two. Locke & Key is a bingeworthy read of the tallest order and one that I had difficulty putting down to do things like sleep, go to work, or engage with the outside world. It is a masterpiece of a comic that seasoned comic collectors and new readers alike can enjoy.

Locke & Key (Television Show on Netflix)

Okay, I’m going to keep this brief. I have currently watched seven of the ten episodes of the first season of Locke & Key. I like it, but I don’t love it. The actors who portray the Locke kids are fantastic in their roles but the story itself plays much too safe in an effort to appeal to a broader demographic, which is Donist Kryptonite. Sure, the comic series has some laugh-out-loud moments and at times can be whimsical, but there are some much darker and traumatizing sequences in the comic whose repercussions carry through to the end. The television show, however, completely omits things like what happened to Nina, Nina’s alcoholism (although the end of the seventh episode looks to introduce that), what happened to Al Grubb, including Al Grubb in the story at all, certain circumstances surrounding Dodge, Uncle Duncan’s husband/boyfriend, among other things. The show also changes up how the keys manifest their powers, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I LOVE how the Head key gives the user/victim their ideal place (Bode a Chuck E Cheese type location, and Kinsey an amazing MC Escher style mall) to store their memories. The comic is leaps and bounds greater than the show, but if you look at it as a completely separate beast and ignore the fact that the writers could have taken a few more risks (to be fair, they were probably instructed to lighten things up by the head honchos), then you will probably enjoy this good show that had the potential to be great.


Monday, February 17, 2020

Slice of Heaven 2/17/2020

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/anti-corruption hero Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). My puppy executive team and I are off to luxuriate in the hot tub, with some beer and nachos. 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***

Slice of Heaven

(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Tradd Moore, colored by Dave Stewart, lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles, published by Marvel Comics)
You heard me speak on each issue of Silver Surfer: Black as they released. You reeled before the ferocity of my love during the “Donist World 2019 Year-End Roundup! (Part One).” You called the cops on me as I screamed at passerbys from the roof of my two-story building, demanding they rush out and scoop up all-five issues so they too might bask in the glory of the visually-stunning artwork and luxuriate in the cosmically-cool, refreshing waters of the story I revered in our “Favorite Comics of the Past Decade” segment. Now, the birds have fled their roost, the crickets’ voices or rubbing legs or whatever the hell it is they do to make such a terrible racket have been stilled, and that weird guy who’s always lurking in the dry creekbed has up and left and for a dang good reason: I finally received my copy of Silver Surfer: Black Treasury Edition.
As much as I would love to do a page-by-page, panel-by-panel breakdown of this comic that is so vastly different from what you would normally expect to see from the “House of Ideas,” we’re not going to do that. You already know how much I adore this series. Instead, we are looking at the actual presentation of this particular collection. As wonderful a story as Cates has crafted throughout Silver Surfer: Black, the biggest draw is going to be Moore’s mesmerizing artwork and Stewart’s enchanting and mind-elevating colors. So, why would anyone not want to see this lovely book in a form factor that is much larger than that of the original source material? Here, instead of the standard-sized comic book, we have a superior 8.6" x 13.2" size to better bask in the glory of this book’s beauty (check out the side-by-side comparison of the comic and the collection). The cover is a black matte with a lovely—and expensive—spot varnish on the Silver Surfer on both the front and back. Inside, you get all five issues at a larger size to tantalize your peepers as well as some back matter such as the many alternate covers and a few examples of Moore’s roughs to inks. My only criticism of this must-see, must-own collection is that I would have liked to have seen MUCH more in the way of Moore’s roughs and finals as well as some of Stewart’s colors and possibly some flats without the boundaries of the linework. The inclusion of such additional material would have vaulted this excellent collection from treasury to treasure. Regardless, though, you must get this gorgeous edition into your mitts as soon as possible.

Terror Assaulter: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War on Terror)

(Everythinged by Benjamin Marra, published by Fantagraphics Books)
Oh, my lordy, lordy, lordy, lordy. Lock up your children, Denizens, send you significant other to the nail salon, and make sure your pets are asleep. Throw out the tofu, tell the neighbor kids to get off your damn lawn, and close ALL of the blinds on every window in the dang house. You see, you’re about to read Terror Assaulter: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War on Terror) and you want to be damn well certain those with delicate sensibilities are not about to see what you are about to behold. Got it? Okay. Let me spell this out for you: NSFW. Yup, NSFW. Holy guacamole this book is so very 100% NSFW. Woooooo! This is NSFW. Alrighty, then…let’s just say I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into when I ordered this 112-page collection. The gist of the story is that George W. Bush created the Terror Assaulters as a response to the events of 9-11, and this book follows the One Man War on Terror as he fights, well, terror. Terror can be in the board room, on a plane, at a mall parking lot…anywhere. The Terror Assaulter will fight and kill anyone who seeks to perpetuate terror and if innocent bystanders get in the way, by golly, that’s just the cost of stopping, you know, terror. The TA also gets busy—and by “gets busy,” I mean goes full-on sex person—with anyone who wishes to express thanks for being saved from—you guessed it—terror (and by anyone, I mean anyone: women, men, and even a former Terror Assaulter who becomes a terrorist and goes to prison and transitions to a woman, and and and). Again, NSFW as these scenes are not even remotely suggestive, they are full-on XXX.
Which brings me to the art.
If you add a dash of Paul Gulacy to a whole heaping helping of an adolescent drawing their own comic that they definitely do not want their parents to find, you get this book. Characters are stiff and occasionally of disproportionate builds, but this is completely by design. Marra knows what he is doing both in the storytelling of the art and when laying down perspective of buildings, tables, plane seating, etc. As a throwback to ’70s comics, he also has many moments when characters tell you exactly what is happening as you see it happening. For instance, a man gets chopped in the neck, and the man says, “you chopped my neck.” In the next panel, the man is holding his throat and says, “‘Choke’ I’m choking.” You get the picture. So, yup, be ready for some intentionally rough dialogue, but that is part of the book’s charm. 
Terror Assaulter: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War on Terror) is the comic you wish you could have made when you were a kid home sick from school. It had sex, it had violence, and it had completely unrealistic action sequences, only here it is done by a grown-ass man who wholeheartedly knows his shit. This book is offensive. It is shocking. I was left speechless. Upon finishing it, I was so thoroughly appalled that I immediately ordered another or Marra’s books (see next). Oh, yeah, again, seriously, NSFW.

Night Business

(Everythinged by Benjamin Marra, published by Fantagraphics Books)
Hot damn, Denizens! Although not XXX rated like Terror Assaulter: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War on Terror), Night Business is definitely NSFW as well. This is Marra’s love letter to the excesses of ’80s movies and television. It has it all: serial killers, strippers, cops on the edge, drug dealers, T&A, guns, motorcycles, cults, and a hero with both a dark side and a heart of gold with two first names (Johnny Timothy to be exact) who kicks all sorts of ass. That’s right, folks, it’s Night Business (imagine here a breathy ’80s woman with tons of makeup and a pound and a half of Aquanet in her massive hair whispering Night Business as a sax solo pervades the grime-ridden streets). Anyhow, you get a lot more book with this hardcover gem of 240 black and white amazing pages. You also get a mashup of so many different types of ’80s movies that Marra somehow manages to pull together in a cohesive story that is ridiculously fun and well-told. The art is much more polished and detailed than Terror Assaulter while still retaining some of that lovely Gulacy vibe and paying homage to the gritty indie comics of the early ’90s. I loved everything about this beautifully presented collection from the story to the art to the nostalgia trip I’ve been riding for some time now. So, put on some retrowave music, grab yourself a fifth bourbon to serve on the rocks, and settle into one helluva crime comic. Settle in for some…Night Business!
Again, I am so offended by this collection that I am now hunting down my next Marra book, which will probably be American Blood; I can’t wait!

One Sentence Reviews

Ascender #9

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics)
We finally take a look into Mother’s past and see what made her such a diabolical witch.

Thor #3

(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Nic Klein, colored by Matt Wilson, lettered and designed by VC’s Joe Sabino, published by Marvel Comics)
It’s Thor God of Thunder, King of Asgard, Herald of Galactus versus Beta Ray Bill; it will not be a fair fight but it is definitely a shocking one.

X-Men #6

(Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Matteo Buffagni, colored by Sunny Gho, lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles, designed by Tom Muller, published by Marvel Comics)
Mystique is on a secret mission, but can she be trusted and can she trust Xavier and Magneto?

The Immortal Hulk #31

(Written by Al Ewing; illustrated by Joe Bennett; inked by Ruy José, Belardino Brabo, and Cam Smith; colored by Paul Mounts; lettered by VC’s Cory Petit; secondary story illustrated and colored by Javier Rodríguez with inks by Álvaro López; published by Marvel Comics)
The Hulk takes on the weird, furry, alien monster known as Xemnu (who I am now curious about) and things do not go his way.

The Green Lantern: Season 2 #1

(Written by Grant Morrison, illustrated by Liam Sharp, colored by Steve Oliff, lettered by Tom Orzechowski, published by DC Comics)
Hal Jordan is back and training a potential new recruit as brought to stunning life by Sharp’s phenomenal art.

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


Sunday, February 2, 2020

Slice of Heaven 2/2/2020

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/whistleblower Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). My puppy executive team and I are cutting this intro a tad short as it is well into lunchtime and I have a basket of chips and salsa calling my name. We also have a huge footieball game that we have to not watch as we really could care less about the whole affair, we just love that bars and restaurants that don’t have television sets will be mostly empty; the world is our oyster. 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

Guardians of the Galaxy #1

(Written by Al Ewing, illustrated by Juan Cabal, colored by Federico Blee, lettered by VC’s Cory Petit, published by Marvel Comics)
My copy of this latest restart of Guardians of the Galaxy somehow liberated itself from my pull at the comic shop. This clearly was not supposed to have happened, as two of the workers at my LCS got into a tiff as to why it was missing in the first place. Clearly, the store underordered the books and someone gave my copy to someone else who happened to get to the store before me and begged them to “find” a copy for them. Not cool. Thankfully, I only had to wait an extra week, and boy-howdy was the wait worth it!
Here we have a new iteration—this is the sixth #1 issue in eleven years— of the Guardians as they square off against resurrected/reborn Greek Gods who travel on a warping space-based Olympus to wreak havoc upon unsuspecting planets, like the Utopian Kree faction living on the planet colony Elysion-3. This act of violence rallies Nova, Star-Lord, Moondragon, Phyla-Vell, Rocket Racoon, and Marvel Boy to attempt to put a stop to the Gods’ rampage. What has Nova been up to? What the heck is up with this groovy Phyla-Vell character and why is she blue? What are Phyla-Vell’s powers? What is Marvel Boy’s deal, again? Will Gamora, Drax (how did he come back to them, again? Was that the previous volume?), and Groot meet up with the rest of the team? How and when did the Greek gods all die and become reborn with more powerful forms? I have no idea and it really doesn’t matter. Ewing immediately throws you in the thick of things and in one page establishes the Guardians as a self-established family whose odd dynamic is believable and heartfelt. But their other calling, that of being heroes, is impossible to ignore. Ewing somewhat answers some of my questions concerning what has been happening over the past year and beyond with some clever exposition and Cabal brings all of the characters to life in a way that is more upbeat than what we have been used to seeing with a focus on fine linework and an avoidance of shadows; Blee compounds this with a vibrant color palette that makes space and the cosmic beings who reside there truly magical. I loved absolutely everything about this issue.
We all know that Ewing’s run on The Immortal Hulk has been a simply amazing journey into the realms of horror, while his take on Guardians of the Galaxy looks to embrace adventure, humor, and the space opera genre I love so very much. If the Fantastic Four is Marvel’s first family, then the Guardians of the Galaxy are definitely its second and the one I hope to be reading for many issues to come.

X-Men #5

(Written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by R.B. Silva, colored by Marte Gracia, lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles, designed by Tom Muller, published by Marvel Comics)
Although I am still absolutely loving X-Men, my Donist-Sense is tingling given that there are 237 new X-Titles on the stand (or roughly thereabouts) and I have heard rumblings of an X-Event slated for later in the year that will “Forever change the lives of the children of the atom.” I can see it now, a cavalcade of connected titles that you “don’t have to read them all, even though you kind of do” and at which point I will probably bounce from the X-Verse yet again, but for now, I’m still loving this particular title. In this issue, Serafina (wasn’t she in the first issue?) has escaped and it will be up to the unique abilities of Synch (who?), Darwin (kinda know of this guy), and X-23 (sorta know about her but not really) to infiltrate a temporal nightmare known as The Vault. I loved seeing the X-Men set up a diversion and describe how the small strike team could use their abilities to survive an aggressive timestream defense system. The issue ends on a great cliffhanger, one that I really hope plays out in the next issue and NOT a different title, which would probably be enough to chase me away once again. Time will tell, but on its own, this issue is as fantastic as those that came before it.

Thor #2

(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Nic Klein, colored by Matt Wilson, lettered and designed by VC’s Joe Sabino, published by Marvel Comics)
Dang. Because of the timing of its release amidst the Donist World Year-End Roundups, I didn’t get a chance to talk about the latest reboot/renumbering of Thor. Bottom line: LOVED IT! Although I enjoyed Cates’s recent 12-issue run on Guardians of the Galaxy, it didn’t blow me away as much as his work on Silver Surfer: Black or Thanos (which includes Thanos Wins and Cosmic Ghost Rider), but this fresh start that sets Thor up as the newest Herald of Galactus has brought me right back into the cosmic love fold. With this latest issue, after some Galactus/Thor squabbling and outright fighting, the glimpse of a fan-favorite character born from the pages of The Mighty Thor roughly three decades ago, promises next issue is going to be a blast and a half, a face-full of hammer, and a calamity of cosmic craziness for which I cannot wait! Klein’s storytelling and character acting are great, but dang those Thor versus Galactus moments will get the blood pumping. Thor’s new costume/design are cool and Cate’s added touch of having the hammer grow ever heavier adds a sense of mystery that should play out well for issues to come. Cates and Klein’s Thor is a fantastic (re)start and to continue the roll of greatness begun way back when Jason Aaron brought some much-needed life to the God of Thunder.

The Immortal Hulk #30

(Written by Al Ewing; illustrated by Joe Bennett; inked by Ruy José, Belardino Brabo, and Cam Smith; colored by Paul Mounts, lettered by VC’s Cory Petit; published by Marvel Comics)
“I was reading this issue, late one night when my eyes beheld a glorious sight. A green-skinned goliath through a gullet did rise and suddenly to my surprise…He did the Smash, he did the monster smash. The monster smash, it was a stomach worm mash. Hulk did the Smash, Rick Jones too with a flash. Hulk did the Smash, and Doc Samson did bash.” Now that was fun! The Gamma Team fighting off three different kaiju in their own unique way, especially Rick Jones, who looks a little bit less like a skeleton these days and floats around in glowing green orb for some reason. Who cares as to why or how it’s just cool that he does. Couple all of this with white-furred Wilford Brimley showing up at the end to cause havoc (I’m hoping) next issue and I’m all about it. Anyhow, Bennett crushes it this issue with page after page of mindless monsters versus gamma monsters that are all gorgeously rendered and pleasantly horrific. Hulk continues to be a great read with every issue, and if you haven’t been reading this highly-praised and deservedly so comic, then you best pick up the lovely hardcover collection to see why the Hulk is once again a must-read series.

The Last God #4

(Written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, illustrated by Ricardo Federici, colored by Sunny Gho, lettered by Tom Napolitano, cartography by Jared Blando, published by DC Comics on their Black Label)
Okay, I have a little bit better of an idea as to what the heck is going on in this series. You mostly need to know that it tells two tales—one set 30 years ago and one set in the present—both comprised of roughly the same individuals striving to reach the Black Stair so that they may defeat Mol Uhltep, the last living god and his army of flowering dead once and for all. The art is beautifully illustrated and painted and the story is epic and probably a bit easier to follow along with in a binge reading of the readily available issues. Please buy this book. I am loving it and DC should be rewarded for bringing something new, exciting, and different to the table. It’s also a great way to fill the void now that HBO’s Game of Thones is over.

That’s it for this installment, Denizens. I’ll see you next time where I’ll talk about a MUST-OWN collection I just received yesterday and that is blowing my mind all over again…ooooooo…mysterious! Thank you for reading.


Monday, January 20, 2020

Comics Lust 1/20/2020

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/decade delighter Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). No intro this week, as there’s a TON of stuff to get through, so pour yourself some water (or a beer for a mostly-dry January), 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

Favorite Comics of the Last Decade

First off, this is not an original idea of ours. Nope. We have to give credit where credit is due as my pals at 11 O’Clock Comics (ummm…yeah, they don’t know me but I’ve known them for years now, so…pals?) recently had an episode (#646 to be exact) where they talked about their 20 favorite comics of the past decade. So, my puppy executive team and I got together over some beers and nachos and decided to totally ripoff expand upon that great idea. We began Donist World back in March 2010 and although we didn’t really begin reviewing and telling y’all about all of the wonderful comics consuming our brainwavages for a few months after our start date, nine and a half years easily rounds up to a decade of existence in our minds.

Being comic book nuts, we have to lay some ground rules as there always has to be rules around these sorts of things—it’s in our nature, why fight it? Anyhow, here are the rules and specifics:
  1. There will be 20 comics on the list
  2. The majority of the comic series, if not the entirety of them, needs to have been published within the 2010–2019 decade
  3. Original graphic novels (OGNs) definitely count
  4. If a 24-page one-shot blew our minds, then it can dang well be on the list
  5. The comic cannot be a reprint if the original material was released in an earlier decade
  6. I will provide links to the best/easiest ways to obtain a collection of the works whenever possible
  7. Trying to order these 20 titles into number one, number two, number three, etc. could quite possibly kill me, so, I’m giving them all equal weight and putting them in alphabetical order
  8. There are quite a few comics that started off strong, that would have been on this list, but for whatever reason, the creators just stopped making them. No explanations. No words of encouragement. Nothing. I will not be mentioning those books.
  9. There will be a bunch of “Honorable Mentions” because dropping many of the titles from the list caused me actual pain and y’all still need to know about them
That’s about it for the rules and disclosures, let’s get to our Favorite Comics of the Last Decade:

1) Black Hammer

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dean Ormston, published by Dark Horse Publishing beginning in 2016)
I totally regret not buying the first issue when I saw it on the stands. Oh well. Better late than never and the hardcover collection is the way to go. A bunch of heroes (Silver Age amalgamations of Marvel and DC heroes) defeat the greatest threat to all of humanity and vanish from the world to appear on a farm in a rural community from which they cannot escape. I also count Lemire’s various miniseries tie-ins (Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil and Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows) as part of the main series as those are every bit as spectacular as the main title.

2) Chew

(Written by John Layman, illustrated by Rob Guillory, published by Image Comics beginning in 2009 and ended in 2016)
Gross, disgusting, hilarious, touching, and thrilling, Chew is unlike any comic you will ever read. Detective Tony Chu is a Cibopath: one who takes on the memories/impressions of whatever he eats. If he consumes an apple, he will know where the apple came from and who picked it. If he consumes a little bite of a murder victim…well, he’ll know how that person met their end. Add in the threat of aliens, banned chicken consumption, a possible vampire, a whole mess of weirdos with food-based superpowers, and a murderous luchador chicken named “Poyo,” and you have one of the most creative and bonkers comic book series I have ever read. It’s also finger-licking amazing.

3) Daytripper

(Written and illustrated by Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon, published by DC/Vertigo Comics beginning in 2010)
Daytripper was very much outside of my wheelhouse at the time. Most of the comics I read back then gravitated toward superhero or horror comics but for some reason the unassuming image on the first issue cover of a man sitting on a bench with his dog caught my attention. What I found within the pages was a lyrical work of visual and written beauty around the life of an obituary writer named Brás de Olivia Domingos and his desire to be so much more than he is in his current station in life. That first issue ended and I was utterly floored. I had no idea what to expect in the second issue, and what followed exceeded everything I imagined. I desperately need to reread this work of pure beauty and I’m kind of getting choked up just thinking about it. So very good.

4) Descender/Ascender

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Ngyuen, published by Image Comics beginning in 2015)
Okay, you’ve been hearing me carry on and on and on about the heavenly Descender and its successor Ascender for over four years now. Without error, I mention this epic space opera in issue form, in collected form, at every year-end roundup. Basically, at every opportunity I can mention this gorgeously watercolored treasure, I am there to sing its praises. The first half is a sci-fi adventure where monstrous robots annihilate large swaths of the populace across the nine planets of the United Galactic Council, while the second half (still releasing) is a fantasy tale of witches, vampires, and a universe of limited tech. Combined, this is my favorite comic of the past four years.

5) Detective Comics

(Written by Greg Rucka and then Scott Snyder, illustrated by J.H. Williams III and then Jock and Francesco Francavilla, published by DC Comics beginning in 2009)
I might be cheating a bit with the Greg Rucka run as the majority of that landmark series that focused on the updated and amazing Batwoman first appeared in 2009, but following Kate Kane’s story as gorgeously illustrated by Williams III (one that would spawn a television show that I need to see and inspired girls, women, and this here Donist) within the same series was Snyder’s dark take on Dick Grayson taking up the mantle of the Bat. Very much a noir/serial killer tale, Jock and Francavilla (who became one of my all-time favorite artists after this comic) delivered a nervewracking Batman tale that brought the Dark Knight back onto my radar.

6) Extremity

(Everythinged by Daniel Warren Johnson, published by Image Comics beginning in 2017)
I had been hearing about this one for months before I dove into the first trade. It’s safe to say that this series changed me. Warren Johnson became my favorite artist within those first few pages and this insane Miyazaki film / Mad Max: Fury Road of a hybrid comic totally blew me away. I reached that final page of the first trade and I was desperate to see how it all ended in the second and final collection…which thankfully arrived two months later. Beautiful and kinetic illustrations with an impeccable story Extremity is one of those series I will read every other year for the rest of my life.

7) God Country

(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Geoff Shaw, originally published by Image Comics beginning in 2017)
 Another title to which I was very late to the party is the amazingly glorious God Country. With but six quick issues, you are in and out on this touching and epic tale of a man who is slowly wasting away from Alzheimer’s only to have his memories and self brought back to his grieving family when a god in the form of a sword appears in his hand to fight a great evil. Able to be both fantastic and down to Earth at the same time, God Country was a wonderful surprise that thrilled me just as much when I read it again yesterday as it did years ago.

8) Locke & Key

(Written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, published by IDW beginning in 2008 and ending in 2013)
Talk about barely making it onto the list, but the incomparable Locke & Key series saw the bulk of the issues release this past decade. What a series this is, Denizens. After a truly horrific turn of events that leaves their father dead and their mother traumatized, the Locke kids move to a mysterious mansion where strange, magical keys offer a host of experiences, but an evil lurks in the well house, whose influence knows no bounds and whose desperation to escape will torment the Lockes unless they can find a way to survive a new round of horrors. I cannot wait for the soon to arrive Netflix television series and I also cannot wait to reread one of the best horror comics not just of this decade, but of all time.

9) Mister Miracle

(Written by Tom King, illustrated by Mitch Gerads, published by DC Comics beginning in 2017)
If you read comics, then you already know how great this 12-issue series is. If you don’t read comics or you aren’t into superhero books or what have you, then please take my word on it that this is still a must-read book that you need to experience. Scott Free, the greatest escape artist of all time, a man who escaped the hellscapes of Apokolips has met his biggest challenge to date: escaping his own life. But something is not right and Scott must uncover what is real and what is not and whether escape is what he truly wants. Mister Miracle is a superhero book unlike any other and one that people will be talking about for years to come.

10) My Favorite Thing is Monsters

(Everythinged by Emil Ferris, published by Fantagraphics beginning in 2017)
This one came out of nowhere and completely rocked my world. Some things to keep in mind: this is Ferris’s first published work, she was in her 50s at the time of its creation, in her 40s she contracted West Nile fever and was paralyzed in her hands for a stretch of time, and My Favorite Thing is Monsters was drawn predominantly with ballpoint pens on notebook paper. Her art is unlike anything I have ever seen and given the unforgiving nature of ballpoint pens, it is something that few others could ever hope to accomplish. Couple this with the captivating mystery/slice of life story, and you have one of the best works of art ever created that just so happens to be in comic book format. You owe it to yourself to get this treasure before volume two drops in September of this year.

11) Prez

(Written by Mark Russell, illustrated by Ben Caldwell, published by DC Comics beginning in 2015)
Wait, didn’t I say I would not be mentioning comics that the creators never finished? Yes, I did, but this case is different. The creators wanted to finish the second half of this 12-issue series, but DC Comics pulled the rug out from under them with no explanation to the adoring masses. Prez offered a satirical look at politics/big business/big pharma and was a critical success that this Donist fell head over heels in love with. It is the story of Beth the “Corndog Girl” who through the power of social media and the stupidity of established and out-of-touch politicians becomes the President of the United States. I’m sure Prez’s sales numbers weren’t the best, but given the critical success and with a little marketing push during the leadup to the Dotard becoming our President, Prez could have been so much bigger than it was allowed to be. Although the tale is not complete—and may never be complete—it is well worth your time and you, too, will be dreaming of a world where “Corndog Girl” is the actual leader of the free world.

12) Saga

(Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, published by Image Comics beginning in 2012)
Saga changed everything by starting the Image boom with a flurry of new titles from immensely popular creators. Yes, The Walking Dead and Chew came before it, but Saga is one of the few to persevere and stick to an actual release schedule amongst the many titles that followed in its wake. This grand space opera has been described as “Romeo and Juliet in space” and is very much that. A magical man with horns falls in love with a technologically advanced woman with wings and they have a baby. The problem is that the wings and the horns have the strongest of enmities and the people of the galaxy must never know that peace, let alone love, is a possibility. Laugh out loud funny, laugh out loud uncomfortable, devastatingly tragic, impossibly uplifting, this series has it all and you are certain to fall completely in love with the myriad characters and there’s a good chance you will be sobbing at various points in this wonderful tale; once you start, you are in 100%. Hopefully, the creators return from their well-deserved break later this year. …I still want to know how Staples brings her stunning visuals to life.

13) Silver Surfer: Black

(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Tradd Moore, published by Marvel Comics beginning in 2019)
I love love love this comic. I’ve always been a Silver Surfer fan, but Cates brings a tale of cosmic adventure and insanity that ties the Surfer to the world of Venom with Knull the God of the Symbiotes in the best of ways. And trust me, the story enough is reason to buy Silver Surfer: Black, but wait until you feast your peepers on Moore’s art. Oh…my…glob…it is a tripadelic visual feast from which you will never want to escape that is launched into the realm of all things heavenly by Dave Stewart’s flat-yet-vibrant colors. Definitely get the Treasury Edition so you can see the art nice and large as it was meant to be seen.

14) Starlight

(Written by Mark Millar, illustrated by Goran Parloff, published by Image Comics beginning in 2015)
Duke McQueen was once a space-traveling hero. He saved kingdoms, rescued space queens, and fought dastardly aliens but he then came back to Earth, got married, and had kids. No one believes him when he mentions his exploits. Now, his wife has passed, his kids are too busy to bother, and his life looks to continue to be inconsequential…until allies from across the galaxy reach out, requiring his help. This. Is. So. Good. When many comics dwell on the dark and on lost hope, Starlight is a ray of sunshine that will have you cheering this former hero as he strives to save the day one last time.

15) Sweet Tooth

(Everythinged by Jeff Lemire, published by DC/Vertigo Comics beginning in 2009 and ending in 2013)
We recently binge-read this fantastic series a few weeks ago and talked about it here. As uplifting and positive as the previous book Starlight is, do not expect that with Sweet Tooth. Well, to be fair, there are a few points that are uplifting, but just be prepared to have your heart broken more than you catch yourself smiling. This is the story of Gus, a hybrid child, who is the cross between a boy and a deer who holds a devastating secret and possibly the answer to a world where humanity is on the brink of collapse and the world has become a harsh, cold place. Think The Road with slight fantastical bend and characters you can actually love. A definite must-read, but one you need to be ready for.

16) Thanos Wins

(Written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Geoff Shaw, published by Marvel Comics beginning in 2018)
You all know how much I love Jim Starlin’s take on Warlock and Thanos and how I frequently say that only he has been able to capture the majesty of those two characters. Right? Well, Cates came along with these six issues that show he is a definite exception to the rule. Here, Thanos faces off against his greatest foe (not spoiling) and we are also introduced to the Cosmic Ghost Rider whose origins (he has a few) will take you by surprise. I just finished rereading this compelling-as-hell book this morning and love it even more than my first time through. Shaw’s depictions of the Mad Titan, Cosmic Ghost Rider, and the “Silver” Surfer (once again, check out Silver Surfer: Black) are sure to tickle your cosmic awareness and you will understand why Cates is one of Marvel’s powerhouse creators.

17) The Fade Out

(Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips, published by Image Comics beginning in 2014)
A dead starlet, a writer with a possible career-ending secret, Hollywood blacklists, questionable studio head practices, and many, many other dark secrets lurk in this murder mystery of epic proportions. You have hopefully already been reading the masterful Criminal over the past couple of decades, but if you want a quick, 12-issue look into the seedy side of Hollywood, look no further than this noir tale of lies, corruption, and murder.

18) The Sixth Gun

(Written by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Brian Hurtt, published by Oni Press beginning in 2010)
What do you get if you combine The Lord of the Rings with a Western tale? Why, The Sixth Gun, of course. Here Drake Sinclair and Becky Montcrief come into possession of one of six devastatingly powerful guns that when combined can bring about a terrible new world of the owner’s choosing. Our heroes will face monsters, spirits, and all manner of foul beings changed by the power of the guns and it is up to Drake and Becky to end the vicious cycle once and for all. 50 fantastic issues and a host of miniseries comprise this grossly underrated adventure that will thrill from beginning to end.

19) The Vision

(Written by Tom King, illustrated by Gabriel Hernandez Walta, published by Marvel Comics beginning in 2015)
Before his hit, critically-acclaimed series Mister Miracle, Tom King had the hit, critically-acclaimed series The Vision, which is every bit as deserving of the accolades it has received. Yet another 12-issue comic that someone who is not a fan of superhero comics can get behind, The Vision follows the Avenger known as The Vision, who is a powerful synthezoid who longs to be more human and thus creates a wife, son, daughter, and even a dog to round out the family he so desperately desires. They move to a neighborhood and into house with a white picket fence, they meet their neighbors, and The Vision fights super villains when need be, but all is not well in the suburbs as something begins to go wrong with the members of his family and his wife’s dark secret starts to come to light. The Vision is a mind-bending look at what it is to be “normal” and one that will stay top of mind for a good long while after you finish it for the first time.

20) Thor by Jason Aaron

(Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated by many, published by Marvel Comics beginning in 2012)
After being one of my favorite characters growing up, I had given up on Thor for a few decades until I saw that Jason Aaron was about to bring him back to prominence. He did so beyond my greatest of hopes. We got the God Butcher, Malekith the Dark Elf’s return, Mangog, and a new Thor that had those of small mind screaming in rage and those open to new and great stories cheering to the halls of Valhalla. The entirety of Aaron’s run is a quest of epic proportions that fans of Odinson and newly minted fans of Jane Foster will be reading for years to come.

Honorable Mentions:

  1. Amulet (Everythinged by Kazu Kibuishi, published by Graphix)
  2. Deadly Class (Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, published by Image Comics)
  3. The Flintstones (Written by Mark Russel, illustrated by Steve Pugh, published by DC Comics)
  4. Hawkeye (Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by David Aja, published by Marvel Comics)
  5. The Immortal Hulk (Written by Al Ewing, illustrated by Joe Bennett, published by Marvel Comics)
  6. Manifest Destiny (Written by Chris Dingess, illustrated by Matthew Roberts, published by Image Comics)
  7. Rachel Rising (Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio)
  8. Secret Six (Written by Gail Simone, illustrated by Dale Eaglesham, published by DC Comics)
  9. The Omega Men (Written by Tom King, illustrated by Barnaby Bagenda, published by DC Comics)
  10. The Private Eye (Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Marcos Martin, published by Panel Syndicate)

Thank you for following me these past ten years. I will see you next time!


Saturday, January 11, 2020

Donist World 2019 Year-End Roundup! (Part 2)

(Sung to the tune of Enigma’s “Sadeness”)

Chanting. Ummm…yeah, uh…a bunch of Latin-sounding stuff that I don’t understand, but the perfect soundtrack for contemplating the things we love. Welcome to…

Donist World 2019 Year-End Roundup (Part 2)!

Hey there, Denizens, and a soon to be Happy New Year! I am joined as ever by CFO Reverse Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier, whose surly attitude changed for the better after his fur colors swapped when a corrupt businessman’s curse backfired) and by marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/New Year health fanatic Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). We hope you enjoy the top 20 heavenly things of 2019 while Reverse Obie, Tulip, and I take our past-due “long winter’s nap” before mapping out the course of our lives for the coming year.

***Probably NOT Spoilers Below***

If you have a moment, check out our past FSoH/SitW Year-End Roundups to see all things heavenly including Part 1 for 2019. Now, keep in mind that some of the items listed below might have come out before 2019, but 2019 was the year that we read, watched, drank, or ate them, thus their inclusion here. We at Donist World, thank you for reading and hope you enjoy our selections as much as we do.

Donist World 20 Heavenly Things (In No Particular Order)

1) ’80s Anime (Television and Movies)

As comic book and sci-fi fans (i.e. nerds), especially those of us creeping on in years, we tend to gravitate toward the nostalgic and our remembrances of things from our youth, things that really created a lasting impression. Returning to these things as adults, well, sometimes our fond memories just don’t stand up to the test of time (the original Star Wars trilogy, for instance…simmer down, simmer down, they just don’t thrill me the same way as when I was a kid, I still love them, though). The great thing is that some shows that wowed me back in the day actually do stand up to how I remember them and such is the case with much of the ’80s anime I loved so much. Here are some I revisited in 2019:
  • Riding Bean - An Original Video Animation (OVA) from 1989 that you can watch by subscribing to the Night Flight service or by buying the available DVD. The story is fairly simple, but thrilling: Bean Bandit is a driver with his gun-toting sidekick Rally Vincent getting into all sorts of trouble. Trailer
  • Bubblegum Crisis - Eight episodes of OVA fun from 1987 with armored woman protecting the city from the menace of rogue “Boomers,” robotic workers that get twisted and go insane. Also on Night Flight and a Blu-ray is available. Trailer
  • Gunbuster - Released in 1988–1989, Gunbuster is one of my all-time favorite anime series. Everyone who likes anime must check it out, but I am sorry to say that the DVD and Blu-rays are OOP and I don’t believe these six tremendous episodes are streaming anywhere as of now. Sorry. Trailer
  • Fist of the North Star - The movie released in 1986 alongside the regular television series (which I have not seen). This “beat ’em up” spectacular gets a little wonky on the making sense side of things but, hey, grab a beer and go for it. I watched it on Prime, but I don’t think it is currently streaming there. Trailer
  • Lily C.A.T. - 1987’s Lily C.A.T. is one that I forgot I had seen before, but stumbled upon while searching Amazon Prime. An anime homage to the movie Alien, this short, fun, and oftentimes scary movie was totally thrilling and a heck of a lot of fun. Fan-made trailer
  • Space Adventure Cobra - When a space pirate seemingly returns from the dead—along with his psycho-gun arm—he falls for a beautiful bounty hunter who wants to collect on his head. So much fun and a trip and a half with some truly experimental visuals on this 1982 treasure. There’s also a television series that I need to find and watch. The movie is available on Amazon Prime. Fan-made trailer
There are a ton of other movies and television anime out there that I need to reacquaint myself with including Robotech: The Macross Saga and hopefully Starblazers/Space Battleship Yamato (if I can track them down).

2) Avengers: Endgame (Movie/Blu-ray)

Oh, my stars and garters! If I had seen this as a kid, it probably would have killed me. To see most of my favorite heroes (sorry, Adam Warlock) fighting Thanos would have been more awesomeness than my short, pudgy frame could have handled. After 11 years of buildup after the release of Iron Man—a movie, at the time, I never dreamed would exist—Marvel actually succeeded in pulling off the impossible with a thrilling movie that brought it all home, especially after the devasting events from the previous year’s Avengers: Infinity War. Dang, I think I need to watch it all over again…for the third time.

3) Danger 5 (Television)

Okay, yeah. I know. Danger 5 came out a while ago, and I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned my love of this hilarious, Australian-produced spoof on American spy shows from the ’60s/’70s that focused on World War II (for the first season) and of the dark, gritty action shows that encapsulated much of the ’80s (for the second season). In fact, this is probably the third or fourth time I’ve watched and laughed my way through Danger 5. Basically, Danger 5 are comprised of five secret agents from five different countries: Jackson (US), Claire (UK), Tucker (Australia), Ilsa (Russia), and Pierre (From somewhere in Europe, no one knows). These secret agents are tasked with killing Hitler by Colonel Chestbridge, an eagle-headed military man who is not above whipping out the “Sit Down Gun” to keep his people in line. The Danger 5 face off against Nazi lizard men, weaponized dinosaurs, and weirdo Kaiju in their efforts to take out the Fuhrer, which they succeed in doing…or did they? Thus kicks off the second season, which contrasts the bright and cheery first season with a gritty ’80s feel that deals with cops, high school, shopping malls, ninjas, and…oh, yes, more dinosaurs. Basically, Danger 5 is batshit crazy and I absolutely love every dang episode. Unfortunately, it is no longer streaming on Netflix, but I was able to find low-res episodes on YouTube. Once you watch the first couple of bizarre episodes (with their model cities, planes with strings attached, and brutal overacting) I can guarantee you’ll be hooked. Just be sure you have your perfect cocktail recipe to read off to Pierre. Hurrah!

4) 11 O’Clock Comics (Podcast)

Yup, David, Jason, and Vince B. continue to produce my favorite podcast after all these years. This is not just my favorite comic book podcast, but my favorite podcast. Period. The boys and the occasional special guest make my work commute infinitely more tolerable as well as keep me running an extra block or two or three when I’m out exercising. They discuss everything from current mainstream comics, to lesser-known titles, to books of the past, to the comics industry as a whole, to other media, and regularly have comic creators take up the fourth chair. I’ve never met these cats, but they feel like family at this point and I simply adore their show.

5) Game of Thrones (Television Show on HBO)

Yes, the show that had captivated pretty much everyone I know in both my personal and professional lives finally came to an end with the eighth season. Did it end how I hoped it would end? Not quite, but I still greatly enjoyed it and it is still very much something all fans of fantasy need to experience. Do I wish the creators would have drawn out various moments (Daenerys losing her cool or her and Jon Snow drifting apart after being one hell of a power couple) and wrapped up other plot lines/moments more quickly (episodes where people hung around chit-chatting that didn’t serve much of a purpose)? That “Long Night” episode with the Night Walkers, though, dang…that was freaking intense and awesome.

6) House of Mystery: The Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 1 (Graphic Novel from DC Comics)

I love these beastly books. Over five pounds and filled with 26 issues of pure ’70s horror brought to you by such greats as Bernie Wrightson, Jack Kirby, Len Wein, Wally Wood, Neal Adams, Alex Toth and so many more. Individual stories can run anywhere from one page to eight and all are geared toward the creepy side of the spectrum. You might need a spotter to heft this monster and you will definitely want to pick it up on sale, but most of the stories in this massive tome are total gems that will thrill, chill, and give you your fill…of the heeby-jeebies, that is. Oh, and lookie there, I just received the latest volume of this book’s sister title: House of Secrets: The Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 2!

7) The Last Podcast on the Left (Podcast)

At almost 400 episodes of cryptids, serial killers, conspiracy theories, reptilians (like Moscow Mitch McConnell), and all other assortments of oddity subject matter, I have listened to every episode—some multiple times. I generally listen to Ben, Henry, and Marcus at work and there have actually been a few times I had to press pause and “walk it off” because I was cracking up and starting to scare my coworkers. Give ’em three episodes or so on something you’re interested in like Jeffrey Dahmer (icky!) or Albert Fish (brrrrrrr) and you will be hooked. I also love having random people say “Hail Yourself!” when I’m wearing my TLPotL t-shirt. I also can't wait for their book The Last Book on the Left to come out.

8) Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (Television Show on HBO)

It’s a shame that in order to get to the heart of what is actually happening in the world that we have to turn away from regular news sources (and no, Faux News is not a credible source of news or an example of journalism in any sense of the word) and turn to a comedy show filled with f-bombs to get to the truth. Oliver makes me laugh when my heart is racing at the latest awfulness being enacted/enabled by our criminal of a President and the GOP. It’s going to be a long wait until Oliver returns in February when I’m sure we will be needing our spirits lifted from whatever shitshow Drumpf is enacting upon the world at that particular moment.

9) Man-Wolf: The Complete Collection (Graphic Novel from Marvel Comics)

Did you know that J. Jonah Jameson has a son? How about that he was an astronaut? No? Well, he does and he’s all sortsa dreamy. John Jameson also recently came back from a trip to the moon where he brought back a mysterious, groovy red gem that he, in turn, swiped from his job. Long story short, he’s a man-wolf now. Yup. Goes around attacking people, causing, mayhem, and fighting the likes of Spider-Man and Frankenstein’s monster. Some might call it a curse. All kidding aside, I loved this collection that brought back some fond memories of listening to the Power Records 45 rpm/comic over and over and over again. I also had a smattering of issues from the ’70s featuring Man-Wolf that I loved and this wonderful collection brought it all back while also introducing me to the insane issues where Man-Wolf goes from savage beast to swashbuckling fantasy hero. Man-Wolf: The Complete Collection stands up to the test of time and is well worth seeking out for some weirdness from the likes of Gerry Conway, Marv Wolfman, Doug Moench, John Byrne, John Romita, and many more.
Also, bonus points if you know what the hell is going on in this panel from the book...wow…just wow.

10) Ms. Tree: One Mean Mother (Graphic Novel from Titan Comics)

Sadly, Ms. Tree is a crime comic from the ’80s that I somehow missed the first time around that survived a few publisher jumps and lasted until the early ’90s. Michael Tree—yes, her name is Michael, don’t call her Michelle—is a female private detective who after the murder of her husband takes over the successful private detective business and finds herself in all sorts of dangerous situations. Written by Max Collins and illustrated by co-creator Terry Beatty. Ms. Tree began a 50-issue run that began in 1983 at Eclipse Comics, then went to Aardvark-Vanaheim, then to Renegade Press. During that time there was a Summer Special, a 3-D comic, another 3-D comic, a three-issue crossover at First Publishing called The P.I.’s: Michael Mauser and Ms. Tree, and finally a 10-issue run at DC Comics for the Ms. Tree Quarterly which was an 80-page noir spectacular in each issue. The first Ms. Tree collection from Titan Comics opts to not go chronologically and reprints a few stories from Ms. Tree Quarterly and boy howdy are they great. You don’t need to start at the beginning as this collection throws you in the deep end and you hit the ground running with no trouble at all. I can’t wait to get the next volume this summer.

11) Pod Save America (Podcast)

It’s kind of hard to say that I “enjoy” this podcast as it is a response to the horror/shit show that is everything Trump and the GOP. Former aides of President Obama, Jon Favreau—Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer, and Tommy Vietor—recap the week’s calamities, bringing actual facts and insights into the world of politics. Yes, they skew to the “Left,” but that just means they are critical of both sides (god, I hate those words…both sides, ugh) and call out where the crimes, lies, and injustices are taking place. Pod Save America cheers me up when the news of the world is so damn horrendous and political criminals seem to get away with robbing us of our money, our healthcare, our retirement, and our rights as the uber-wealthy get richer and richer.

12) Resident Evil 2 (Playstation 4 Video Game)

This is the remake of the Playstation 2 game that blew me away so many years ago with its combination of zombies, corporate conspiracies, puzzles, nigh-unstoppable monsters, and limited resources. The main differences: some majorly kicked up graphics, tweaks to the actual story, and I believe some end-of-game extras…provided you didn’t die a whole bunch like I did. Oh, well, that’s okay, I’ll just have to play the game again, only this time I will start with Claire instead of Leon to get some slightly different cut scenes. Whether you played the first Resident Evil 2 back in the day or not, this remake is well worth your time if you are a fan of survival horror games and it’s pretty darn cheap nowadays, too. I will say this, there ain’t no better feelin’ than launching an incendiary round straight into a plant-man’s face. Prepare to be scared!

13) Stranger Things (Television Show on Netflix)

If you’ve been reading Donist World for any length of time, then you know I LOVE LOVE LOVE me some Stranger Things. Between the ’80s nostalgia kick, the amazing and loveable characters, the creepy monsters, secret agencies and special powers, the phenomenal soundtrack and score, and so much more, the first season blew my mind even more than Game of Thrones at the time, as did the second and the third seasons; the title credits alone are something I never get tired of experiencing. Scary and unnerving, laugh-out-loud funny, and oftentimes heartwarming, this show hit pretty much ALL of the Donist buttons in the best of ways. Now, with news of the fourth season beginning production just a few days ago, I’m going to be biting my nails until it releases (hopefully) much later this year. I guess I’ll just have to head out to the mall, play some Space Invaders at the Gold Mine, and drink Orange Julius drinks until I’m sick in order to pass the time. I think what this Donist needs is a bingemode rewatch of epic proportions. *side note—I REALLY want this Lego set.

14) Swamp Thing by Alan Moore Absolute Edition Vol. 1 (Graphic Novel from DC Comics)

Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing is one of my top-three comics of all time. It never gets old for me and it is one I read every other year. It makes me want to be a better writer and it took my love of the original series (check the next item) that I have loved since the age of five or six and compounded it countless times over. I have all of the original issues, the first round of trades, and now this glorious deluxe hardcover. This gorgeous, slipcased edition holds an oversized, velvet wrapped hardcover with metallic inks and a ribbon bookmark and boasts recolored artwork that is stunning and vibrant—as the Green should be—but I will say that I still hold a place in my heart for the original colors. This beast of a collector’s treasure trove is a must-own collection, but it is damn expensive given that it only contains issues 20–34 and Annual #2. That said, it does have a substantial amount of backmatter including additional stunning art from Stephen Bissette, John Totleben, and others that make this well worth the price. I love this book and I can’t wait for the second volume that drops in August of 2020.

15) Swamp Thing: The Bronze Age Omnibus (Graphic Novel from DC Comics)

As I have said countless times over the years, Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson’s Swamp Thing is the series that showed me not all comics are created equal. It was with Swamp Thing #10—damn, I love this issue!—that Wrightson’s stunning art changed the way I looked at comic books with his depiction of the horrific Anton Arcane battling my favorite swamp monster as the moon blazed through the trees and deep, sprawling shadows lined the combating monsters, their muscle definition conveying the toll each of their blows was taking. But there was also a solid story, that even though my reading was limited at such a young age, to which I was able to follow along. Un-Men resurrecting the “deceased” Anton Arcane, escaped murderers in chains, the horrors of slavery, hauntings, and the deepest and darkest of evils all came through loud and clear as I lingered on each lovely page. I read that issue until it literally fell apart, but with this must-own omnibus, you get it all. This collection contains The House of Secrets #92 (first appearance of the Swamp Thing…or at least an early version of him), Swamp Thing #1–24 (with the incredible run from Wein and Wrightson as well as some…interesting…later issues from other creators), Saga of the Swamp Thing #1–19 (which preceded Alan Moore’s life-changing run and that had plenty of fantastic issues from Martin Pasko and Tom Yeates), and Swamp Thing Annual #1. Fans of Moore’s issues should definitely check out Alec Holland’s original roots and fans of the character cannot do without this historic book.

16) Unnatural (Graphic Novel from Image Comics)

2020 saw the release of the “final” two trade collections of Mirka Andolfo’s gorgeously painted, infinitely sexy, don’t-let-your-coworkers-see-what-you’re-reading, NSFW (get the hint?) adventure/supernatural/erotic comic book series. The story follows Leslie, an anthropomorphic pig girl, who has a power growing within her linked to a long-passed big, bad wolf who gives her all manner of dreams. Couple this with a mysterious cult who seems to know of her power and seeks to take it from her by any means necessary and Leslie’s once-normal life becomes a fight for survival. Always looming in the background, however, are the ultra-rightwing laws that prohibit inter-species as well as same-sex relationships among the populace and forced “racial purity” by requiring young adults to find, date, marry, and procreate only with a member of their own species of the opposite sex after a certain age. Unnatural is a wonderful series that is something to behold and one that I hope to see more of following the hint that there is more to come. I will definitely be following Andolfo to whatever she does next. Did I mention this series is NSFW? Whoa, spicey!

17) Us (Movie)

If you had told me that Jordan Peele of the hilarious Key & Peele television show was going to direct/produce/write two of the best horror movies of the past couple of decades, I would have said you were nuts. I’m so glad to be wrong. After the phenomenal Get Out, Peele delivers Us, a taut, psychological horror about a family on vacation who is tormented by a family of twisted doppelgangers. That’s all I’m going to say about it other than you need to see this masterfully written and directed movie that had me checking under the bed and nervous to open the door to the outside world.

18) Watchmen (Television Show on HBO)

They said it couldn’t be done. I didn’t believe it could be done. But HBO and Damon Lindelof actually pulled off a continuation of the industry-disrupting, masterpiece Watchmen (written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons, DC Comics, 1986) comic book with nine brilliant episodes that completely drew me in from the first episode all the way through to the end. The television show, set thirty years after the events of the comic, provides the next logical path for the surviving characters while introducing a host of new characters into a world that is once again on the brink of collapse, only this time there’s the double-sided threat of the white supremacist, Rorschach-identifying, Seventh Kavalry and the corporate juggernaut that is Trieu Enterprises. Thrilling, humorous, freaking weird, and with continually building mysteries to which you eventually receive answers, Watchmen—like Stranger Things S3 and Game of Thrones S8—had me anticipating and celebrating every moment I was able to watch the next enthralling episode. If you have not read the original comic, then you should be able to follow the story of the television show—plenty of people have been able to do so—but you will definitely get more out of this exceptional television show after reading what is the greatest comic book series of all time.

19) Weapon Brown (Graphic Novel from Death Ray Graphics)

First up: Just rush out and buy this. Do it. This is a must-read comic of epic proportions that completely took my breath away this summer after I had heard about it from Jason Wood on the 11 O’Clock Comics podcast. Everythinged by creator Jason Yungbluth, this is what happens when you take Charlie Brown and Snoopy from the “Peanuts” comic strip, put them in a post-apocalyptic world, change their names to Chuck and Snoop, give Chuck a deadly robotic arm, and have them cross paths with other popular strip characters like Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield, Little Orphan Annie, Popeye, and tons of others. Not only that, throw in some harsh language, sex, nudity, violence, and some of the most creatively insane ideas I have ever witnessed on the page, and you get Weapon Brown. It is true that this 400+ monster of a heavenliness released a few years ago, but it sure as heck is new to me, thus the addition to the Year-End Roundup. I REALLY hope to see a return to this gem of a comic at some point in the near future.

20) Beer

As indicated by the extra eight pounds I put on toward the latter part of the year, beer doesn’t really appear to be loving me as much as I love beer, thus my 2020 resolution to greatly dial back my beer and alcohol consumption. That said, I do need to mention some of the outstanding beers/breweries that rocked my world in 2019, that will probably sneak into many a pint glass in 2020 when I consciously decide to indulge:
  • Alvarado Street Brewery (Brewery) - My friend introduced me to this brewery back in the fall, when their offerings began appearing in select places around Santa Barbara. They release tons of mind-blowing Hazy IPAs in ’80s-inspired, beautifully-designed, individual, 16-ounce cans. And when I say “tons,” I mean if you find a beer you love (VERY likely), don’t expect to find it on the shelves the following week. The good news is that whatever offering happens to be available at any given time, it is sure to be at worst better than everything else and at best something life-changing.
  • Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) (Imperial stout aged in Bourbon Barrels from Founders Brewing Co.) - At least I have four bottles left until this tried and true Donist World darling returns.
  • w00tstout 2019 (Imperial stout from Stone Brewing) - Hells yes! They put this out in six-pack cans with box and can art by none other than comic great Alan Davis! Hells no! I only got one six-pack in reserve left. You came and went too fast w00t, much too fast.
  • Celebration Fresh Hop IPA (IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.) - Speaking of great holiday beers, this classic never gets old…especially since it’s about to vanish from store shelves until next year. Time to get some more.
  • Big Bad Baptista (Imperial stout from Epic Brewing Co.) - A super-duper stout aged in whiskey barrels with vanilla, cinnamon, Mexican coffee, and cacao nibs that is now readily available after Epic’s acquisition of Santa Barbara’s own Telegraphy Brewery which is within walking distance. Damn, this one’s good.
  • Modern Times Brewery (Brewery) - Modern Times just opened a location on State Street and if I’m in the mood to sample a bunch of fantastic Hazy IPAs or barrel-aged stouts, then heaven is but a short drive away.

That wraps up this year’s roundup. If you think of anything I should be reading, watching, playing, or drinking, then please let me know. I hope you had a fantastic 2019 and I wish you all the best for 2020! Thank you for reading.