This Week’s Haul

  • The Brave and the Bold #15, by Mark Waid & Scott Kolins (DC)
  • Legion of Super-Heroes #44, by Jim Shooter, Sanford Greene & Nathan Massengill (DC)
  • Madame Xanadu #2, by Matt Wagner & Amy Reeder Hadley (DC/Vertigo)
  • Sparks #2 of 6, by Christopher Folino & J.M. Ringuet (Catastrophic)
  • Invincible #51, by Robert Kirkman & Ryan Ottley (Image)
Legion of Super-Heroes #44 I haven’t been much of a fan of Francis Manapul’s artwork on Legion of Super-Heroes: The faces all look the same, the stylings are too Image-like for my tastes. It’s readable, but pretty blah.

This month’s issue features art by Sanford Greene & Nathan Massengill, and they’re a step down from Manapul’s art: Hardly any detail, sketchy renderings, generic faces which somehow also manage to be inconsistent from panel to panel – it’s not good, and not appropriate for the Legion, which ought to have a high-tech look, not a sketchy, rough look. What was the editor (Mike Marts) thinking? I hope they’re just a one-issue fill-in (maybe because the Dreaded Deadline Doom was creeping up and Marts just needed someone to get the job done) and not the new regular art team.

Meanwhile, Jim Shooter’s story continues to teeter between moments of embarrassing dialogue and sitcom-like scenarios, and decent action with decent characterization. It feels like if he just tried to be less hip and instead focused on making likable characters then it would be a fun adventure book. You know, like the Legion he wrote 30 and 40 years ago. Sure, the book’s moved on since then, but writing heroes doing heroic things isn’t really a dated idea.

Madame Xanadu #2 I was unimpressed by the first issue of Madame Xanadu, and the second issue is – surprise! – 100% better! The first issue was pure set-up, instilling in me a fear that we’d be in for several more issues of languid set-up with an uncertain payoff. Fortunately, writer Matt Wagner sets things moving in the second issue, with the fall of Camelot, Neume’s betrayal of Merlin, and her own downfall as a result, which makes me considerably more interested in seeing what happens next issue.

Why the heck can’t comics writers these days just jump right into the good stuff and fill in the set-up later? Isn’t that part of Storytelling 101? Wagner could have basically left out issue #1, or compressed the first two issues down to one. We’re still just covering the backstory of the character here, so the loss of dramatic impact would have been minimal, since the key point is to keep things moving.

Anyway, despite the misfire of a beginning, I’m not curious to see how it will play out. I hope it won’t turn out to be a “Madame Xanadu through the ages” sort of story, but that it will fairly quickly get us up to the present day and move the character forward rather than playing around in the past. But we’ll see.

Bugs Bug Me

No, not computer bugs. Okay, those bug me too, especially the ones I wrote myself and have to fix. (But at least they pay me for that.) No, I mean actual insects, which were the sources of some annoyance over the weekend.

First of all, we got the results of the termite inspection for our complex, and the inspector says he found signs of infestation in my unit, and recommends we tent and fumigate the building. This is weird because I was home when he came by, and he didn’t say anything to me about it. I’d have expected that he’d at least have called me over to see what he found and be able to recognize the infestation from first-hand experience. He apparently noted some issues with other buildings, too. However, in one case we think it was an infestation which was killed off years ago, but the damage (which was cosmetic) was never patched up. So now we’re not sure whether we’ve got an active infestation or not. So we’ll likely ask for clarification and/or get a second opinion.

Getting our place tented would be a big pain in the ass, mainly because of the cats, since we’d have to figure out where to put them while it’s going on, and how much cleaning up we’d have to do afterwards. The problem with cats is that you can’t really give them to your friends who already have cats, since cats and other cats often don’t mix. And friends without cats often don’t have cats for a good reason. So we might have to board them, which we’d like to avoid.

Still, termites are rampant in the valley, and as annoying as this would be, I’m sure there will be several house-tentings in my future while I live here. So I shouldn’t kvetch too much.

The other bugs vexing me this week is a colony of wasps which has taken up residence inside my redwood bench which also houses my vegetable planter. I see them crawling in and out through a single spot in the planter. Yesterday, one of them landed on my shoulder, rode me into the house, and stung me through my shirt. Ouchie! I killed it, and fortunately it didn’t leave its stinger in my arm, but it hurt like heck for an hour or so. Today I can barely tell I got stung, which I guess means I’m not allergic to wasp stings – good to know.

Anyway, the wasps are getting pretty annoying, so I want to find a way to take care of them – preferably without tearing the bench apart. So I’ll go to OSH after work and see what I can find.

These wasps have been lurking around the area for a couple of years, and their nests seem to move each year. I guess they die off over the winter and then come back and reestablish themselves. I don’t intrinsically object to their presence, since they do some useful things, but I don’t really want them taking up residence where they see me as a threat which needs to get stung. So I’ll see if I can encourage them to take up residence elsewhere.

Sigh. It’s always something.