Sunday, January 30, 2022

Donist World 2021 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 2021 Year-End Roundup (Part 2)!

Hey there, Denizens, 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/vice president of hope for the New Year  Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). We hope you enjoy the top 20 heavenly things of 2021 while Reverse Obie, Tulip, and I take our past-due “long winter’s nap” before mapping out the course of our lives for the new 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 2021. Now, keep in mind that some of the items listed below might have come out before 2021, but 2021 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) 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 keep me running an extra block or two or three when I’m out exercising as I listen to their thoughts on my favorite comics so they can give me new ideas of what I need to read. 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.

2) Far Sector (Graphic Novel from DC Comics on their Young Animal label)

Talk about being COMPLETELY blown away by a comic. The writing. The art. The colors. The whole gosh darn enchilada, Denizens! I loved every page of this phenomenal sci-fi extravaganza. The great thing about this 12-issue collection is that even mainstream superhero-resistant readers can enjoy this series as Sojourner Mullein—a Green Lantern—is sent to the farthest reaches of the galaxies to investigate the first murder in over five hundred years on a planet inhabited by three alien races. The reason “peace” has persevered for so long is that the populace of the City Enduring has taken the “Emotion Exploit” the entire time and no one has ever been able to feel the emotions necessary to commit any sort of atrocity; thus Green Lantern Sojourner’s assignment to the planet of 20 billion inhabitants. As for superheroes…Sojourner is it. No other superheroes appear in this comic and she is pretty much a science-enabled detective and the story is its own thing without any bothersome continuity or crossovers or anything. You can just dive in cold. Jemisin brilliantly weaves into this world’s fabric the issues of injustice that currently face our country while Campbell’s gorgeous art and otherworldly colors pull you in refusing to let you turn away. Far Sector is one of the best comics I have read…ever…and I hope to see Jemisin join the likes of Tom King in releasing 12-issue powerhouse comics about Sojourner or whatever the hell she chooses…all I know is I will be there for it. *note: this should have been the oversized hardcover this series so very much deserves.
(Written by N.K. Jemisin, illustrated and colored by Jamal Campbell, lettered by Daron Bennett, published by DC Comics on Young Animal)

3) Infinity Train (Television Show on HBO Max)

Okay, I was very late to the game on this fascinating, fun, surprisingly deep, and emotional animated series, but the fourth—and sadly looks like final—season debuted in 2021, and although I only discovered this series in 2021, I hammered through all four seasons (40 episodes total) with total glee. The short of it is that Infinity Train is an anthology series that follows a different set of protagonists from one season to another, passengers find themselves on a mysterious train where each car is its own world with its own inhabitants and rules and the “guests” try to find their way off of the train. Great stories, great characters, a great score, and a general mood and tone that will keep you coming back for repeat viewings.

4) The Last Podcast on the Left (Podcast)

Rapidly approaching 500 episodes of cryptids, serial killers, conspiracy theories, reptilians (like Moscow Mitch McConnell), and all other assortments of odd subject matter, I have listened to every episode—some multiple times. Pre-Pandemic, I would listen to Ben, Henry, and Marcus at the office and there were more than a few times I had to press pause and “walk it off” because I was cracking up and starting to scare my coworkers; now, I can cackle and laugh to my heart’s content with only the sideways glances of the neighbors and the FedEx lady to worry about. 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. Be sure to check out The Last Book on the Left book! TLPotL is hands-down my favorite “crime” podcast.

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

2021. Yeah, like 2020, it too was a massive pile of dog doo of anti-vaxers, anti-maskers, an insurrection/coup, injustice, the errosion of Democracy, misinformation, the annihilation of voting and reproductive rights, corporate greed, voter/election fraud and lies of the previous administration/current GOP, and And AND…I need to stop, I’m getting bummed out all over again. It was one hell of a downer of a year, but John Oliver managed to bring some levity to the myriad of situations that steadily and repeatedly assailed those of us who can tell the difference between fact and fiction, reality and lies. Although every episode managed to bring a laugh here and there for this news-weary Donist, I did notice that even Oliver found it difficult at times to find the humor in the massive amounts of unnecessary hell being heaped upon the world over the course of the previous week. I cannot wait for the show’s return in mid-February 2022 as I strive to see some sort of light peer through the darkness that was 2021.

6) Marvel Puzzle Quest (Video Game for iOS)

This game has steadily transitioned from being a casual pastime to something of an obsession. Every morning, before I get out of bed, I fire up the app and see what updates have been made, what new characters have arrived, and if there are new challenges to work my way through. Think of it as a marriage of Bejeweled and the MCU and you get the idea for the style of the game, but the fun revolves around acquiring new characters of varying power (one-star beginners and up to five-star powerhouses). Each character has three+ powers/abilities that you can use as well as supports, team abilities, and the hope for a good amount of luck for a favorable board. My current strongest lineup is Polaris (once she gets going she is unstoppable, four-stars), Kitty Pryde (she increases Polaris’s tiles every turn, five stars), and Medusa (she racks up color points and heals while stealing enemy strike tiles, four-stars); these ladies bring the smackdown! That said, Deadpool (Spirit of Vengeance) is a beast and a force to be reckoned with, and I hope to get my character fav Adam Warlock a little more powered up, but no telling what my favorite team might switch to being. This game is a blessing and a curse.

7) The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear (Novels)

Yes, I read a TON of comic books, but I also enjoy reading novels, but not since reading Ender’s Game a couple of decades ago have I been so taken by a novel as I was with The Name of the Wind. Supposedly, my wife has been mentioning this book to me for quite a while, but it wasn’t until my boss mentioned that she and her husband-to-be were reading it did I write the title down and slot it into my “Future Read” list. Well, it finally popped up to the top this summer, and I fell in love. The Name of the Wind (and equally stellar sequel The Wise Man’s Fear) is a fantasy series called “The Kingkiller Chronicle” about a man named Kvothe who is retelling the story of his life to a party of two: his friend, Bast, and a scribe known as Chronicler. We learn of magic, tragedy, abject poverty, cruelty, love, friendship, betrayal, and an undying perseverance to be more than what life throws at you. So very, very good, but proceed with caution knowing that it has been seven years since The Wise Man’s Fear was released with the third book coming “soon.” That’s cool. I can wait if I must. I guess I will have to read the novelette The Slow Regard of Silent Things next, a side story about a minor character from the main series.

8) Ninja Sex Party, TWRP, and Starbomb (Music)

Let’s face it...the past bunch of years has sucked. I mean really bad suckitude. Sure, I have all my old staples in the music world to lift my spirits, but there has never been a better time to rock your ass off and laugh while you are doing sp. Enter Ninja Sex Party, TWRP, and Starbomb. Anyhow, dear lord, how to explain this...okay, Ninja Sex Party has been around for just over a decade and they consist of the mightily awesome duo of Danny Sexbang and Ninja Brian, who sing songs of horniness, dragons, rock, no reason boners, being young and awkward and being cool with it, going on interesting/felonious first dates, having discussions of “who would you rather,” dinosaur Lazer fights, and just about everything under the sun. TWRP or Tupperware Remix Party are primarily musicians who dress up kind of like futuristic robots and a robot lion guy and trust me when I say that they are LEGIT in their music that ranges from rock to disco to dance to everything in-between. Starbomb is Ninja Sex Party with rapping sensation Egoraptor and they perform NSFW odes to everything videogames. All three tend to intermix wonderfully and tour together (from what I’ve seen on YouTube) with TWRP providing an opening set, Ninja Sex Party then joining them to perform their set, and occasionally Egoraptor comes out to perform some Starbomb songs. If you’ve never heard of these hilarious and immensely talented musicians/comedians, then definitely give them a listen...just be sure to pay close attention to every word. Start with “Danny Don’t You Know,” “Cool Patrol,” “6969,” “Regretroid,” “Bright Blue Sky,” “Starlight Brigade,” “The No Pants Dance,” and so on and so on...I’m stopping here as there is a WEALTH of stuff to check out, so do it, and remember that really weird feeling of what it is like to smile again. Dang, I hope to see most/all of them in concert someday in the future.

9) Once and Future (Graphic Novel from BOOM! Studios)

Museum curator Duncan McGuire’s quiet life is turned upside down when his grandmother, Bridgette McGuire, escapes from her retirement home and asks him to meet her in the woods, where she unveils a ridiculous amount of weapons. A monster appears, Duncan’s grandmother shoots him (only mildly, though, it’s okay), and King Arthur looks to have been raised from the dead by a bunch of extremists/fanatics. Once and Future is something I have been hearing about for quite some time and I am so glad I finally picked up this first volume that prompted me to pick up volumes two and three before I had even finished the first one. Gillen has written some great characters and instills humor into dire circumstances all while delivering one heck of a compelling read. Mora’s storytelling keeps you whipping through the pages while his creatures and character acting make you pause and take in the lovely scenery. Bring on volume four!
(Written by Kieron Gillen, illustrated by Dan Mora, colored by Tamra Bonvillain, lettered by Ed Dukeshire, published by BOOM! Studios)

10) 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 provides some degree of hope 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 and racism attempts to become normalized.

11) Reckless, Friend of the Devil, and Destroy All Monsters (Graphic Novels from Image Comics)

First off, if you have not read any of these, then go buy them. All three. Just buy them. I’ll wait. Okay, I was tempted to put each of these as its own separate entry and EACH deserves its own entry, I just had a bunch of stuff to talk about so I lumped them all together as one because they are all definitely part of a larger story and are all intertwined. Set in the ’80s, Reckless follows Ethan Reckless who is willing to help those in need, regardless of what their problem might be…for a reasonable fee: cheating spouse, missing person, missing money, etc. Unfortunately for Ethan, some problems belonging to others tend to become problems for him and those around him. As much as I was blown away by Far Sector (sci-fi comic) the equal can be said of Reckless (crime comic) which was released in late 2020, but I did not get to it until 2021. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips were masters of the crime genre comics before the release of Reckless, but with this series, they somehow manage to surpass all previously attained lofty heights. I cannot wait for the fourth Reckless book, The Ghost in You, to be released in mid-April. You MUST pick up this phenomenal series of gorgeous hardcovers ASAP.
(Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips, colored by Sean Phillips, published by Image Comics)

12) Resident Evil: The Village (Playstation 4 Video Game)

First of all, let’s call this game what it is: Resident Evil 8. I have always been a fan of the RE game franchise since the first PS1 release and I have played each of the series-proper releases over the past few years, including many of the re-issues, and RE8 falls in my top 3 of all time; along with Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 4. Don’t get me wrong, I like all of the offerings, but RE8 seemed a return to form, not necessarily in killing zombies, but in that the story is not too convoluted, you have quite a bit of control as to where you go, there are tons of hidden things, and you get to do that which matters most: wasting all manner of monsters in all sorts of creative ways while getting the bejebus scared out of you all along the carnage-filled way. It also has great replayability with the trophy points you save up after the first time through being used to open up stuff like infinite ammo weapons and the stressful-as-hell “The Mercenaries” extra. So much fun and I can’t wait to play through a third time.

13) Rick and Morty (Television Show on HBO Max)

You know what this is. If you are reading this site, then, as our staff statisticians can confirm, 93% of you love this show almost as much as I do. I was VERY late to the glorious party that is Rick and Morty. For those of you have no idea about this animated television series then I am both dismayed for you AND completely jealous that you can embark on five seasons of amazing, perverse fun for the very first time. Think of it as Back to the Future gone oh-so-gloriously wrong. Now, I am ashamed to admit that I am behind. I have only watched the first four seasons but I have watched each episode at least three times and I am currently counting the days until R&M season five appears on HBO Max, but I am also considering ordering the Blu-Ray (delivery by tomorrow) to avoid that horrendous wait. Watch it. Love it. Live it.

14) Rick and Morty Versus Dungeons & Dragons (Graphic Novel from Oni Press)

Okay, Denizens, what do you get when you cross the following bunch of my mostest favorite things: Rick and Morty, Dungeons & Dragons, comic books, Patrick Rothfuss, a beautifully designed hardcover (with a ribbon marker...something ALL hardcovers should have, dagnabbit!)? You get this here funny book and funny it is! Jim Zub, Rothfuss, and Troy Little had me rolling all the way through. This must-own treasure contains the first two limited series, the Meeseeks issue, and a host of extras that will keep you returning to this hilarious book that brings in the best of all worlds.
(Written by Patrick Rothfuss and Jim Zub, illustrated by Troy Little, colored by Leonardo Ito, lettered by Robbie Robbins and Crank!, published by Oni Press)

15) Something is Killing the Children (Graphic Novel from BOOM! Studios)

Erica Slaughter kills monsters. In fact, she is one of the very few adults who can see them. Children, however, can see the monsters just fine and as more and more children disappear in the small town of Archer’s Peak, only Erica believes the tales surviving children tell of horrendous things that live in the shadows and that prey upon them.
I believe the second trade came out at the end of 2020, but volume three came out in 2021 and I bought it day and date and read it immediately. I also believe the original plan—for what is yet another James Tynion IV masterwork deserving of your immediate attention—was for the series to effectively end with the third trade…but you can’t keep an amazing f_ing comic down. I also bought and read the fourth trade in 2022, so it’s safe to assume you will see this creepy as all heck series on next year’s roundup, as well. Lucky for you all, there is a hardcover compendium of the first three trades for you to melt your peepers with.
(Written by James Tynion IV, illustrated by Werther Dell’Edera, colored by Miquel Muerto, published by BOOM! Studios) 

16) Squid Game (Television Show on Netflix)

This one is going to be very short so as not to spoil anything. Squid Game is exclusively on Netflix and is a nine-episode done-in-one-season series (for now at least) about 456 deeply in debt people competing in deadly games for a massive cash prize. That’s it. That’s all I am going to say about it other than you need to watch this compelling, horrifying show that says so much about the “haves and the have nots,” and what it means to be human. Once you finish, you will be thinking about it for months to come.

17) Stone Brewing’s “Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA” (Beer)

This was one of my all-time favorite beers until Stone decided to retire it in 2015. Let’s just say I was devastated. But then, every once in a while, over the past six years, Stone would include it in a 12-pack mix box with a bunch of other stuff that was good…but I wanted a 12-pack of Sublimely. In fact, I wanted many cases of the most wonderful black IPA I have ever had. Then the six-pack bottled release came back at the beginning of 2021 and I was back in hoppy heaven. If you have not tried this beer, or any black IPA if that is the case, then seek out the 2022 seasonal release that JUST came out before it vanishes once again until next year. Oh, the richly roasted malts and wonderful hop characters (Chinook, Simcoe, and Amarillo) are…dang, now I want one…

18) Ted Lasso (Television Show on Apple+)

I had heard about Ted Lasso for about a year, but the idea of watching a show about an American football coach moving to the UK to be a football (soccer) coach there just didn’t do it for me, mostly on account of my not giving any fucks about any sort of sportsball. Thankfully, Amy’s cousin told her how great the show is and how it made him want to be a better person. We subscribed to Apple+, watched the first episode of the first season, and fell in love. Everything about this show is phenomenal but most of all it is the characters who are all vastly unique and make you care for them immediately. I, of course, love Coach Lasso, and Coach Beard, and Keeley, and Rebecca, and Danny Rojas, and…well, I kind of have to name every single character on the show; I love every one of them. But most of all is Roy Kent, who someone mentioned is not a nice person, but he is a kind person, and watching this show wholeheartedly makes me want to be a kinder, better human being. 

19) The Witcher (Television Show on Netflix)

What in the name of all that is sacred (Comic Books, Godzilla, Hammer Horror, and beer) kept me from watching this for so long?! You have a badass magical warrior, monsters, n-u-d-i-t-y abounds!, gnarley magic users, prophecies, strong women, fantastic fight scenes, more monsters, and a lead (Henry Cavil) who is exactly like this here Donist…aside from the muscles, charm, hella good looks, badassedness to the nth degree, but everything else, yes, he is exactly like me. The Witcher is everything young Donist and current Donist ever wanted in a show and Amy and I powered through both seasons throughout December and loved every thrilling episode. Amy even thinks I am like Henry Cavill…at least I keep telling her she thinks I am; someday it will stick. I cannot wait for season three and I'm excited for the prequel thing that’s coming out soon. Now I just need to read all of the books, get the Witcher game for the PS4, and watch the animated movie that is currently on Netflix, too. So much fun!

20) The Wheel of Time (Television Show on Amazon Prime)

Dagnabbit, Denizens, I know. I have you going to practically every single streaming service there is already and now I’m sending you to the magical world of The Wheel of Time which is on Amazon Prime. Basically, a strange woman arrives at a village to tell five youngsters that one of them possesses powers that can tip the balance between Light and Dark and hopefully stop the “Dark One” before he can escape from his prison. Beautiful cinematography, very cool characters, monsters, magic, and battles make me eager to see what comes next; I also need to get started on reading the books pronto! Oh, and ignore all of the one-star review bombs, especially the ones that throw around words like “inclusivity,” “PC,” and “woke,” which is pretty much all of the one-star reviews. Immerse yourself in yet another wonderful fantasy world that is well worth your time. 

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 2021 and I wish you all the best for 2022! Thank you for reading.


Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Donist World 2021 Year-End Roundup! (Part 1)

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

Gamma-ray greatness has reached its conclusion
Truthful departments sow so much confusion
A nice lakeside home and the doom portents it brings
These are a few of my favorite things

Beta Ray Bill is in need of a hammer 
Robots and magic collide in a clamour
Rot, Red, Green team-up it certainly stings
These are a few of my favorite things

Fantastic landscapes and wizards of terror
Ink blots and strangeness and targets you know are
Three super books from the mind that’s Tom King’s
These are a few of my favorite things

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

Slice of Heaven For the Year!

As some of you said just over a year ago, “Where the hell have you been, Donist?!”
Same ol’, same ol’ as last year, Denizens: being lazy. Well, that's not quite true. I guess most of 2021 was spent working myself (physically and mentally) into a state of anxiety and to such a degree of exhaustion that the very thought of doing anything that could be considered “normal”—washing dishes; going outside; exercising; seeing friends and family; engaging in artistic endeavors I normally enjoy, like writing; speaking to other human beings with, like, words and stuff—seemed like the most herculean of tasks. Seriously, it’s been to the point where if anyone tried to get me to do something, anything, my blood pressure would rise and I would become nervous/depressed/angry. Now, granted, some of my anger/irritation was justified—pressure to attend large indoor dining events in the midst of a pandemic, people trying to shift their drama my direction, etc.—but most of my lack of creative output can be attributed to exhaustion in the face of teeny-weenie little things like COVID-19, anti-mask/anti-vax cultists, watching teachers’ lives and safety be routinely disregarded, the higher level insurrectionists still not be brought to justice, assaults on our democracy, voting rights being decimated, and so on and so forth. Basically, all of the same crap from 2020 continued to bring this Donist down in 2021. There have been days where we are invited to go out to a very safe, outdoor beer garden for IPAs and Stouts, French fries, and burgers and my kneejerk reaction is “How DARE you try to get me to do something that I absolutely love?! How DARE you, sir!” But I’m getting through it. I've been trying to focus on all of the “mindfulness” and “self-care” stuff that I can, which for me means reading a metric ton of comics and graphic novels and journeying down epic re-reads of some tremendous series. This post, however, is about the comics I read in issue form that were released in 2021 and that made everything, somehow, a little bit better for a while
Let’s have a look at my favorites of 2021.

***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 2021 (In No Particular Order)


(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, published by Image Comics)
I have been singing the praises of Lemire and Nguyen’s Descender/Ascender sci-fi/fantasy series since the first issue and this will be the last Year-End Roundup that I feature the series as it came to its phenomenal conclusion. As with anything written by Lemire, there were emotional highs that soared and dang near made this Donist weep with joy and some heartbreaking lows that made me want to break out sobbing. Descender/Ascender has everything I want in a story: characters who I genuinely love and hold dear to my heart, action, adventure, drama, heartbreak, triumph, robots, dragons, witches, vampires, political intrigue, friendship…the list goes on and on. Every new issue of Ascender instantly went to the top of the reading stack and I often went back through each before moving on to the next fantastic-but-not-Ascender comic. My only gripe for this series, and it is a small and greedy gripe, is that it felt as if we needed one bridging story arc before this lovely conclusion, but that might just be me wanting to spend more time with Mila, TIM-21, Andy, Effie, Telsa, Bandit, Helda, Driller, and the rest. I don’t doubt that a compendium/omnibus sorta collection comes out at some point, but I’m hoping for an over-sized hardcover collection that I can feature prominently on the bookshelf to display what is one of the best comic series of all time. Get it. Buy it. Love it.

(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)
Maybe reading this amazing series centered around conspiracy theories made real by the collective unconsciousness (or consciously created in some instances) is not the healthiest option I could choose to read given just how prevalent these things are in the unwonderful world of make-believe that far too many individuals in the US currently exist. Thankfully, we have Cole Turner and his colleagues within the Department of Truth to stop these deliberate falsehoods from manifesting into reality…that is if his colleagues are to be trusted. DANG if I do not love everything about this all-too-relevant comic. It is one of the smartest, most compelling series I have read in some time and has been right up there with Ascender as one of my most anticipated reads every month or so. The ’80s Satanic Panic and the Sasquatch storylines are still my favorites, but everything about this smash hit deserves your attention and definitely warrants multiple readings to uncover all of the little bits and pieces you may have missed the first time through. This is currently one of the best comics on the stand.

(Written by Tom King, illustrated by Jorge Fornés, colored by Dave Stewart, lettered by Clayton Cowles, published by DC Comics on their Black Label)
After his death 35 years ago, Rorschach (or someone dressed like him) is running around and attempting to assassinate a candidate running against President Robert Redford. A detective is hired to find the identities of this supposed Rorschach and the young woman with the six-shooters and the domino mask who accompanied him. Political intrigue and a deep mystery will pull you in for a tale that had me hanging on every page turn with Fornés’s art style and Stewart’s colors beautifully delivering the look and feel of a ’70s spy thriller. If it’s a limited series and Tom King is attached, just do yourself the favor and buy it. Fans of King’s fantastic The Omega MenThe Vision, and Mister Miracle should not miss this smart, complex series that is rapidly moving its way up my re-read stack so I can experience the glory in one grand sitting. I think I'm going to need the lovely hardcover for my favorite bookshelf.

(Written by Tom King, illustrated by Mitch Gerads and Evan “Doc” Shaner, lettered by Clayton Cowles, published by DC Comics on their Black Label)
You will probably notice a theme for the 2021 Year-End Roundup in that Tom King’s name appears more than once and for dang good reason. This time, we have a shift to the more vibrant and more overtly superhero side of things with Adam Strange, hero of the distant planet Rann, vanquisher of the dreadful alien race known as the Pykkts. But there was a cost: the life of his daughter, Aleea. Now, living on Earth with his wife Alanna, Strange's life and his recounting of the Rann-Pykkt war are called into question after the death of an activist and the arrival of the hero Mr. Terrific who looks to uncover the truth of what really happened during Strange’s war. This wonderful, yet shocking mystery is brought to life via Shaner’s heroic segments that look at the events of the past and Gerads’s somewhat grittier look at the present. Much like Rorschach, this one will require a one-sitting re-read to pick up on all of the clues missed during its every-other-month(ish) release. Looks like I will be double-dipping on the hardcover collection for this one as well. So very, very good.

(Written by Tom King, illustrated by Greg Smallwood, lettered by Clayton Cowles, published by DC Comics on their Black Label)
Sure, let’s just make almost all of the comics on the roundup by Tom King...don’t be delirious, Denizens, King didn’t write ten comics in 2021. If he had, then that could have been a possibility...I’m already painfully aware of a fourth miniseries that he wrote that somehow missed my pull, but I'm sure it will be rocking my world in 2022. Anyhow, The Human Target…holy moly, I love everything about this series. Christopher Chance hires himself out to impersonate his clients: high-profile individuals who are targeted for assassination. A fairly dangerous line of work, especially given that his recent gig posing as Lex Luthor will succeed in killing him in 12 days’ time. Now it’s up to Chance to solve his own impending murder and the list of suspects points to some rather prominent heroes. King brings a ’50s noir style of intrigue to the story and Smallwood’s oh-so-gorgeous art reminds me of a mix of the style of Robert E. McGinnis that had to have influenced the great Mad Men series. After falling in love with Smallwood’s art I now also have a crush on Ice. I cannot wait to see how this all plays out.

The Nice House on the Lake

(Written by James Tynion IV, illustrated by Álvaro Martínez Bueno, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettered by Andworld Design, published by DC Comics on their Black Label)
Tynion IV has also been rocking our socks off with his horror series, the captivatingly eerie, The Nice House on the Lake. In this 12-issue maxi-series, everyone who has had Walter in their life knew him to be one of their dearest friends and felt like they were the center of his universe. But, college ends, life paths change, and people move on. Then, after many years, each of Walter’s friends accepts an invite for a vacation in a luxurious home overlooking a gorgeous lake. With everyone in attendance, and no one really remembering how they arrived at the nice house on the lake, the news starts to play… One issue. That is all it took to completely pull me in for this haunting and mysterious ride that leaves so many questions with answers that are sure to not be what the characters hope to discover. A trade of the first half releases in March 2022, right before the second half of this phenomenal series kicks off.

Beta Ray Bill: Argent Star

(Everythinged by Daniel Warren Johnson, colored by Mike Spicer, lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino, published by Marvel Comics)
Beta Ray Bill’s life is not what it was now that he no longer has the might and power of Stormbreaker to help him transform back into his original form, instead of the monstrous one the Korbonite people, his people, gave him to save them. Now, Bill needs a new weapon, one that will make him whole, but to do so, he will need the help of Skurge the Executioner, Pip the Troll, and his sentient ship, Scuttlebutt. Now, Denizens, I would have been on board for this thrilling five-issue limited series, but with DWJ leading the charge, I would have fought with the fury of a million suns to snag the last copy at my local comic shop. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that. Beta Ray Bill is everything I hope and look for in a book by my favorite everythinger, and it does not miss a single mark. Action, adventure, heartbreak, and lovely art, even if you are not familiar with DWJ’s work, this is the perfect icebreaker before you scramble to acquire every single other glorious series he has ever done.

The Immortal Hulk

(Written by Al Ewing, illustrated by Joe Bennett, published by Marvel Comics)
Alright, not much I can do at this point if you have not already read the recently completed The Immortal Hulk series than to kindly request you right this grievous wrong as soon as possible. All while this series was coming out I remarked how I could not believe I was reading and loving a Hulk comic after not doing so for over 30 years. It was Ewing’s brilliant horror twist to the Green Goliath that hooked me all the way from issue 1 to the concluding issue 50 and the same was true for most of the one-shots that came along the way, whether by Ewing, Alan Davis, Jeff Lemire, Mike Del Mundo, or Declan Shalvey. The Immortal Hulk was NOT your average Marvel comic and not your average Hulk comic, but something special and weird in the best of ways. I will be rereading this from the beginning at some point later this year.

(Written by W. Haden Blackman and J. H. Williams III, art and design by J.H. Williams III, colored by Dave Stewart, lettered by Rod Klein, additional design by Drew Gill, published by Image Comics)
Anytime J.H. Williams III illustrates a comic it is cause for celebration and no better reason than with the tremendous Echolands series. Hope Redhood has stolen something from the world’s cruelest wizard who has unleashed his unstoppable “daughter” upon Hope and her friends in an effort to get it back. Williams III utilizes many different art styles—often on the same gorgeous double-page spread—that takes into account the era that influences each character: a gangster-like man looks like someone out of a Dick Tracy story, a gladatorial sci-fi demigod looks like a Jack Kirby creation, vampires and Frankenstein’s monster-type characters are in black and white, while Hope’s style fits a more modern look. Not only is the comic stunning to behold but Williams III and Blackman have a grand adventure that despite taking me a moment to fully understand sucked me in completely. Also worth mentioning is that this comic is in the landscape format and will also see a hardcover collection (June 2022) that I will definitely be picking up, especially if it is oversized.

Swamp Thing: Green Hell

(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Doug Mahnke, colored by David Baron, lettered by Steve Wands, published by DC Comics on their Black Label)
In the (depressingly…see the intro to this year’s post) not so distant future, climate change has decimated much of the world. Sea levels have risen to devastating heights and acquiring food is quite difficult. The Red, the Rot, and the Green have had enough and the Green creates a new avatar to wipe what remains of the human scourge from the planet. In a last act of desperation an old man and a young girl venture to an isolated lighthouse whose inhabitant might hold the key to saving what remains of the human race. This issue came out on 12/28/2021, just in time to make this year’s roundup and believe me when I say it left quite an impact. Lemire’s story left me wanting to shout “See what could happen?!” and had me nervously biting my nails as Mahnke’s beautifully harsh and gruesome-at-times art left me not wanting the book to ever end. I cannot recommend this one highly enough and I am counting the days until issue #2 is in my grubby mitts. I already anticipate picking up the hardcover collection, whenever it comes out.

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 2021. 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 2021 Year-End Roundup! (Part 2)”