A Most Busy Week

This week Debbi joined me in the over-forty club. She’s pretty happy about it. I was rather blasé about it until I started having my neck pains and so forth. Now I’m kind of annoyed at it. But, that’s me.

For her birthday we went down to Disneyland with several of our friends, including her high school friend Lisa who flew out from Milwaukee and who’s as big a Disney nut as Debbi and her other friend Lisa. We went into the park for Sunday night, and then on Monday and Tuesday, and last two of which were under the restricted 10 am – 8 pm hours for the season. Aside from the massive remodeling job on California Adventure (the ferris wheel opened while we were there), things were pretty much the same. Debbi was delighted: She got to see fireworks and go on every ride she wanted, and had a whole bunch of her friends there, and it all went pretty smoothly considering there were seven of us.

For her birthday I bought her a digital camera, and bought her (well, really us) a new coffee maker, since ours was on its last legs. I actually bought a new one of the exact same model we had, a Black & Decker TCM700 which makes the right amount of coffee for the two of us, and the thermal carafe works really well. (I decided the TCM830 10-cup model was perhaps more than we needed.)

In addition to those celebrations, we had our 8-year anniversary last Thursday, and went for our annual dinner to celebrate. And then on Saturday we went to our friends Josh & Lisa’s wedding, which was a nice ceremony at Thomas Fogarty Winery. I got to wear my new suit (with the lavender shirt) and we had fun hanging out with our friends there. The couple were very happy indeed, and are now off for a fun and relaxing honeymoon.

Fortunately thing didn’t back up too much at work, and I’m now trying to slide back into things. Today has been a little stressful, but I think it’ll even out tomorrow.

This Week’s Haul

You’d think this was the all-Geoff-Johns week given what I picked up:

  • Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #4 of 5, by Geoff Johns, George Pérez & Scott Koblish (DC)
  • Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War TPB vol 1, by Geoff Johns, Dave Gibbons, Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason & Ethan Van Sciver (DC)
  • Green Lantern #40, by Geoff Johns, Philip Tan & Jonathan Glapion (DC)
  • Justice Society of America #26, by Geoff Johns, Dale Eaglesham & Nathan Massengill (DC)
  • The Literals #1, by Bill Willingham, Matt Sturges, Mark Buckingham & Andrew Pepoy (DC/Vertigo)
  • Madame Xanadu #10, by Matt Wagner, Amy Reeder Hadley & Richard Friend (DC/Vertigo)
  • Avengers/Invaders #10 of 12, by Alex Ross, Jim Kruger, Steve Sadowski & Patrick Berkenkotter (Marvel)
  • Nova #24, by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning & Andrea Divito (Marvel)
  • RASL #4, by Jeff Smith (Cartoon)
  • Invincible: Ultimate Collection HC vol 4, by Robert Kirkman & Ryan Ottley (Image)
  • Atomic Robo: Shadow From Beyond Time #1 of 5, by Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener & Lauren Pettapiece (Red 5)
Justice Society of America #26 Geoff Johns ends his run on JSA with a charming issue focusing on Stargirl’s birthday, which the whole team celebrates over at her house. No fights, just a lot of talk and a cute little ending. And a three-cover painting by Alex Ross that you can view in its entirety here.

Despite this issue being a pleasant surprise, Johns’ run on the series has been shaky: The team is too big and has too many marginal characters to really work as a team book. Character development has been nearly nonexistent. The story arc “Thy Kingdom Come” had some good bits, but it also stretched itself too thin (the Power Girl/Earth 2 stuff was a big disappointment), and the climax was rather a big nothing. The series has pretensions of being about a big family, but the strength of character just isn’t there for it to work (or matter). Of course, it’s living in the shadow of the outstanding All-Star Comics run of the 1970s, which did everything this series did, but better, but Johns never seems able to give the book its own identity. I think he’s just not very strong at managing a large cast of characters (which admittedly is one of the toughest tasks in comic books).

Bill Willingham takes over the writing duties soon. I generally enjoy his work, although it might be too dark or cynical for this team. Then again, after this series and the previous one, a change-up is probably just what the series needs.

The Literals #1 Speaking of Willingham, this year’s first entry into “least necessary event” is “The Great Fables Crossover”, which this week is into its third part of nine in the first issue of The Literals. The premise is that a guy named Kevin Thorn is able to change the world by writing in his book, and he wants to re-write the whole world, but he’s not sure what he should write. The titular character in Jack of Fables contacts the other Fables so they can try to stop him. Unfortunately after three issues the story’s barely budged, and boy howdy is it hard to care about Jack at all (which is why I dropped his book in the first place). It’s not nearly as good as what’s been going on in Fables recently, so the distraction is not welcome.

I guess the Literals themselves are the embodiments of various genres which Kevin brings into existence here. An ignominious beginning of so: Shoved into a supporting role in the first issue of their own comic.

Nice artwork by mark Buckingham, as usual. That’s hardly enough, though.

Atomic Robo: Shadow From Beyond Time #1 I really want to like – even love – Atomic Robo, but it’s just been so hit-or-miss thus far: It’s got a fun-loving, goofy attitude, but the stories are the lightest fluff, and the characters only slightly thicker than tissue paper. The premise is that Robo was Nikola Tesla‘s greatest invention, a robot created in the 1920s and who since that time has been a scholar but has mostly fought weird menaces, such as giant robotic mummies. That and a lot of punching sums up the first two mini-series: If you like a lot of punching and things like giant robot mummies, then Atomic Robo is for you. Myself, I’m looking for more than that.

This third series gets off to a promising start, though: Charles Fort and H.P. Lovecraft show up on Tesla’s doorstep in 1926 hoping for Tesla’s help to deal with a terror they’d fought years before, but only Robo is there, and he has no idea what’s going on. Clevinger plays the whole thing for comedy, so the reader overlooks the fact that a conversation that should have lasted a few sentences instead goes on for pages, before Robo finally learns what the threat is. It works fairly well, and makes me encouraged that the rest of the series will be as weirdly amusing as this one.

What the series really needs is to stay focused for a whole story, and not go spinning off into tangents like the second series did at the end. Hopefully this series can hold itself together, stay focused, and have a big finish; that would go a long way to making Atomic Robo feel like more than disposable fluff.

(Robo is one of Greg Burgas’ favorite series, so it’s no surprise that he likes this issue more than I do.)