This Week’s Haul

Comic books I bought the week of 10 January 2007.

Okay, at this point this is last week’s haul, but I’ve been a little busy!

I think Graeme McMillan’s review of JSA #2 (scroll down a bit on the other side of the link to find it) says everything I could say about it, and more succinctly.

I’m only halfway through the second Manhunter volume, which is (or at least starts with) one extended story. It’s pretty good, better than the first volume. The characterization is still not too deep, but the book as a whole is feeling more fully-realized.

I mentioned Jack Staff last week in connection with Paul Grist’s other series, Kane. Thumbing through this one again, I notice just how disconnected so much of the story is: Threads which seem barely connected, extremely nonlinear storytelling, etc. While I enjoy Grist’s sense of humor, I wish he could streamline his storytelling somewhat. Characterization really suffers, and it becomes difficult to care about all the little plot threads.

I think the fundamental problem with Jack Staff, though, is that its lead character is a World War II superhero (who resembles Marvel’s Union Jack). He’s very long-lived, his secret identity is a general contractor, and his motives and personality are really basically unknown. I keep expecting all of this backstory to go somewhere, but it never really does. I think that’s what makes Kane the better series: Despite being similarly disjointed, Kane is haunted by his past, and it colors everything he does in the present, and therefore despite all the side issues, it works as a portrait of a man trying to overcome the demons of his past (made all the harder by the fact that he feels his actions were justified, even if others don’t). Jack Staff is just this quirky enigma of a superhero.

Either that or I’m really missing something. (If it’s just supposed to be a loving tribute to some old British comic book characters then, well, shrug.)

A Little Party

Saturday night I threw my almost-annual birthday party (which means every few years I don’t have the energy and I don’t throw one). I get later and later each year with sending out invitations, and this year I didn’t send them until last Monday. This means a lot of people already have plans, but on the other hand the holidays leave me not too movitated to plan until after New Year’s.

Anyway, we had a small group this year, but it was a lot of fun anyway. Debbi and I spent most of Saturday shopping and cleaning the house. As usual, I bought cakes from The Prolific Oven.

The crowd this year included:

  • Me and Debbi
  • Josh
  • Susan and Subrata
  • Chad
  • James

(Several people didn’t view the Evite I sent out, making me wonder if it ended up in their junk mailboxes. Oh, well!)

Josh showed up first, and handed me a bag and said “This isn’t exactly a present for you…”, and I looked inside and it was a pair of cat toys: One a catnip sock and the other a cigar-sized potent catnip toy. We put the sock on the living room floor, and all the cats took turns licking it, grabbing it, rat-kicking it, and dragging it around. It’s their new favorite toy! They’re surprisingly egalitarian about it, taking turns with playing with it. Even Jefferson, who is not the most active cat in the world, enjoys rolling around with it! (It interacts well with the cat tunnel Mom gave us, as it gives them a target when running through the tunnel.)_

We haven’t left the cigar out much yet, since we don’t want to overload their poor little brains without supervision!

Chad gave me a Thumb Thing, which actually looks like it will be really useful for reading my mass market paperbacks.

We had a fun evening chatting, and then playing Apples to Apples, which Debbi gave me for Christmas. There’s a game that’s guaranteed to get a lot of laughs during a party!

I gave James one of my copies of Jack McDevitt’s novel A Talent for War, which is one of my favorite books. I own several copies because it had not been reprinted until last year, so I had horded a couple of the paperbacks. Even that was rendered kind of moot when I happened on a copy of the U.K. hardcover edition (geek geek). But I was happy to give it to him, especially since he’d already read and enjoyed its nominal sequels, Polaris and Seeker, and Talent is much better than either of those!

The cake always goes over well, but this year we decided – through happenstance, really, since drove past it while prepping for the party – to get ice cream from Rick’s Rather Rich Ice Cream – and it went over amazingly well. Several people got that “I’ll have to go check them out” gleam in their eye while eating the ice cream (which was just plain ol’ chocolate chip!), and Debbi gave me a hard time for only buying one quart for the party (she’d been pushing for two quarts). So that ought to push a little more business their way. CJ and David introduced me to Rick’s back when I first moved here, and then I forgot where it was until I passed it a few years later.

The fringe benefit of throwing a party is that now our house is cleaner than it’s been in months!

I really, really need to try to throw a party or two this year during the warmer months. Especially since several of my best friends (including Subrata) are allergic to cats, so being able to congregate on the patio would let them stay longer.

But as always it was a lot of fun to have this one, and it was worth all the effort!