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…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.