(Sung to the tune of The Sound of Music's “My Favorite Things”)
Gamma-ray monsters brawlin’ enthrallin’
Conspiracies turned real is kinda appallin’
Dig Wonder Woman and the hope that she brings
These are a few of my favorite things
Evil god glowers bring the Plague of flowers
Worst candidate Scumbag gains superpowers
Strange mystic academies with magical beings
These are a few of my favorite things
A costumed crusader and a blot-masked vigilante
Robots and magic combine beautifully, not too shabby
Adventures so strange for the fences it swings
These are a few of my favorite things
Then my beer spills
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad
Slice of Heaven For the Year!
“Where the hell have you been, Donist?!”
Yup, that is a fair question, Denizens. For most of Donist World’s existence, I have published something weekly. Then, in 2019 I relaxed a little on that because of work stuff, moving, and a host of other things happening in my life, but I was still putting up posts on the somewhat regular; then came 2020. Well, 2020 was awful on a scale that no one other than any sane, rational, non-cultist human being could have ever predicted: We were besieged by a pandemic that continues to worsen, sicken, and kill people; we had “leadership” that ignored COVID-19, profited off of it, denied its existence, politicized it, and called upon its cult members to shun masks; science was under attack (like always); education was under attack (like always); big-bad SOCIALISM was thrown around (like always); Trump lost the election legitimately and substantially both electorally and popularly (one of the few beacons of hope in 2020) only to see the results continuously questioned and denied by the predictable bands of deplorable scum within the GOP; John Lewis died; Ruth Bader Ginsberg died; Chadwick Boseman died; Kobe Bryant died; Eddie Van Halen died; Kenny Rogers died; Neil Peart died; anti-maskers flouted concerns (at times aggressively) for themselves, their loved ones, or the public at large; predominantly-peaceful Black Lives Matter protests were vilified and tear-gassed so Trump could have a photo op while holding a bible upside down; the inaction of social media to take down or moderate the deluge of damaging lies that have led us to where we are in 2021 (not going into that today); and so very, very, very much more.
So, where was I? I was at home. My job took the coronavirus very seriously and we went fully remote which is commendable and one I know many simply cannot do, but this shift created a ton of work and priority adjustments that has kept me dreadfully busy. So, where did I find the time for creativity? The truth is that I didn’t. I let that go. I just couldn’t manage the brainpower or energy to squeeze in an hour or two here or there to write as the world fell to pieces around me. I did far too much “doomscrolling” as Amy the Intern (my wife) and I frantically tried to find additional safety measures for her to take in the event the schools foolishly reopened. It was all so very exhausting. One thing I did do, however, was read and I read a ton of fantastic comics. Let’s have a look at my favorites of 2020.
***Probably NOT spoilers below***
If you have a moment, check out our past Slice of Heaven Year-End Roundups to see what’s stayed the same and what’s changed over the years. I had quite a few pleasant surprises this year, so let’s get to it!
Donist World Top 10 Favorite Comic Series of 2020 (In No Particular Order)
Descender, launched so many years ago, this heavenly series has held the top spot of every Year-End Roundup. Descender is a series that follows TIM-21, a boy robot who awakens after the Harvesters (monstrous robots) suddenly appeared, laid waste to the nine planets of the UGC (United Galactic Council), and vanished once they had completed their grim mission. It is a sci-fi story bursting with characters you immediately fall in love with and one that is mysterious, thrilling, heartbreaking, and one I reread often over the course of its six trade paperbacks. Then, as the ending occurred and I was left wanting to shout, “What?! What?! What?!,” I saw the ad for Ascender.
Ascender picks up ten years after the devastating events of the first part but this time, robots are no more and Lemire and Nguyen have exchanged sci-fi for fantasy. Here, we have a universe where magic flourishes…at least it would if not for the tyrannical grip that “Mother” and her deadly vampiric army holds over everyone. Two of the main characters from Descender have had a child since the War of the Robots and that child and everyone’s lives take a dramatic turn when a much-loved robot from the first series appears in a universe that is now void of such things. Nguyen’s stunning, watercolored art is as striking as ever and Lemire continues to have me actively cheering at moments, cringing at others, and gasping at the shock of what happens to some of these characters along the way. (I still hold out hope for one character thought lost from Descender, but we will see.) Now, you could read Ascender without having read Descender but it is the opinion of this humble Donist that you would do yourself an immense disservice of missing out on the amazing events of the first part of the story and the deep love you will develop for most of the characters within. Sadly, Ascender is said to be ending with issue 18 and I would not bet against this heavenly Donist World darling showing up on 2021’s Year-End Roundup. Get it. Buy it. Love it.
(Written by Al Ewing, illustrated by Joe Bennett, published by Marvel Comics)
The Immortal Hulk continues to be my favorite comic from Marvel Comics. Gone are the days of the childlike Hulk smashing the villain-of-the-month (not knocking those days, I actually love that Bronze Age stuff) and in its place is a series that focuses on the psychological, the mysterious, and, best of all, the horror that surrounds this being that cannot die. Events set in motion 10 or 20 issues ago surface and playout over the course of this series in complex and shocking ways as Ewing deftly navigates Bruce Banner’s fractured mind and the schemings of his most terrible foes (the Leader currently, and trust me, he is bone-chilling) as Bennet delivers the usual flawless storytelling combined with some of the most truly unnerving body horror imagery of the Hulk’s transformations. The Immortal Hulk has been outstanding since its debut and I have to commend Marvel for allowing the creators to do their thing and for not miring the series in any sort of “Event” books and instead opting to release one-shots to tell stories outside of the norm (some of which are amazing, btw). Ten years ago, I would have said you were crazy if you told me I would be reading and loving a Hulk comic. Now, I would say you are crazy for not reading The Immortal Hulk.
(Everythinged by Daniel Warren Johnson, colored by Mike Spicer, published by DC Comics on their Black Label)
(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)
(Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by various, colored by Moreno Dinisio, lettered by Rus Wooton, designed by Erika Schnatz, edited by Will Dennis, published by Image Comics)
(Written by James Tynion IV, art by Martin Simmonds, lettered by Aditya Bidikar, designed by Dylan Todd, edited by Steve Foxe, published by Image Comics)
a collection of the first five issues in March.
(Written by Scottie Young, illustrated by Humberto Ramos, colored by Edgar Delgado, lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles, published by Marvel Comics)
first trade arrives in February.
(Written by Tom King, illustrated by Jorge Fornés, colored by Dave Stewart, lettered by Clayton Cowles, published by DC Comics on their Black Label)
Watchmen, Rorschach is impossibly running around and trying to assassinate a candidate running against President Robert Redford, he had a masked accomplice (?). A detective is tasked with finding out the identity of this supposed Rorschach but in doing so he is led along a downward spiral of conspiracies and corruption. Of course, this is not going to be a happy-go-lucky gigglefest of a comic but King has me for the long haul on what I believe will be 12 issues once all is said and done. Fornés art is wonderful in its storytelling and a perfect style for this noirish tale and I especially love his imagery and the design of the retro-inspired covers. If you are a fan of King’s other 12-issue masterpieces (The Omega Men, The Vision, and Mister Miracle) then this is one you do not want to sleep on. Speaking of great 12-issue series by Tom King…
(Written by Tom King, illustrated by Mitch Gerads and Evan “Doc” Shaner, lettered by Clayton Cowles, published by DC Comics on their Black Label)
(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered by Steve Wands, published by DC Comics on their Black Label)
Gideon Falls (almost made it on the list and nearly a tie with this series) brings a disturbing, bone-chilling look into a force of nature that is best left undisturbed. This is one series that will leave you reluctant to turn those lights off before you go to sleep. So very creepy and good.
But wait, I’m sure there's more...
I'm sure there are plenty of other comics I somehow forgot to mention or have not yet bought or read in 2020. If there are any glaring omissions, please let me know. There's plenty of room at the Donist World corporate offices for more comics and...hold on a sec...actually, Amy the intern (my wife) has corrected me and said that "No, there is not plenty of room here." <psssttt...hey denizens, let me know anyways. I can totally sneak more comics in on the down-low. Just let me know. We can do this…>
Stay tuned next week for the “Donist World 2019 Year-End Roundup! (Part 2)”