This Week’s Haul

Comic books I bought the week of 28 March 2007.

Once again, really last week’s haul, but I haven’t had time to update ’til now:

Fables this month answers 11 questions from readers about little details from the series so far. It’s basically an excuse for Bill Willingham to be (by turns) snarky, funny, or cute. One of the series’ fluffier issues, but entertaining.

Novelist Jodi Picoult starts writing Wonder Woman with #6. (I’m not sure what’s going to happen to the conclusion originally slated for #5, which instead was a ill-in issue.) Although much-anticipated (perhaps because of the long delays that dogged her predecessor Allan Heinberg’s run), this issue is in its way just as heavy-handed as the fill-in. I appreciate that Picoult is bringing the focus back to Diana trying to learn what it’s like to live as a more-or-less normal person in America, but her complete ignorance of how things such as pumping gas work is just painful to read, and not at all fun. Plus it undercuts the growth she’s seen as a character since she was rebooted in the 80s under George Perez. The characterization of Nemesis is also pretty annoying: He’s crass and rather buffoonish. All of which makes me wonder whether the Department of Metahuman Affairs actually screens their employees at all.

Drew Johnson’s art is a little too cartoonish for my tastes, and unfortunately just lends more weight (as it were) to the heavy-handed elements of the story. This is the first issue of (I think) a 5-part story, so it ends on a cliffhanger involving Circe (again??). Unfortunately what I really wish is that they’d take the spy elements and make them the center of the story. An updating of the “Diana Rigg” Wonder Woman of the 1970s could be genuinely different compared to what she’s been recently. Instead this new series has been a muddle so far, and Picoult’s debut issue doesn’t indicate that it’s going to get any better. But at least it ought to be on time.

The Dabel Brothers are the publishers bringing us the adaptations of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, and the prequel to Stephen King’s Dark Tower. This doesn’t, to me, spell “artistically adventurous”, but something about Half Dead cause me to order this collection of the 5-issue series. Written by Barb Lien-Cooper and Park Cooper, it takes place in a world where vampires are real, and where they signed a detente with the world governments, and had their ability to create new vampires chemically neutralized. Of course, technology being what it is, they’ve figured out a way around this, and some groups are now creating the “half dead”, who are partly vampires. Our herone is Romany, a dancer who is turned into a half dead, and who is employed by the British government to hunt down and kill her own kind.

The book has a frenetic pace and is loaded with interesting little ideas, but it doesn’t explore them in much depth and doesn’t feel very consistent, instead going for the sudden dramatic turns of events. So it doesn’t hold together that well as a story, but it’s still fairly entertaining. Jimmy Bott’s artwork reminds me a lot of that of the Luna Brothers in its simple linework and frequently-nondramatic layouts (neither of which I think are bad, truth to tell). It’s not a top-notch book, but it’s not bad. If the writing improved, I’d consider buying a sequel.

I appreciate Dean Motter‘s existence in the industry: His graphic sensibility, his sparse approach to writing, he’s been both influential and novel. Unfortunately, Unique isn’t his best stuff: It’s a haphazard parallel-worlds story in which people who only exist in one world can sometimes move between worlds. But neither the concept nor the story seem to have much structure, and Dennis Calero’s art makes the book feel too dreamlike, with its sparse – often absent or at least generic – backgrounds. The first issue is pretty routine set-up material, so there’s not, as yet, any there there. I’m not sure I’ll stick around to see what’s there when we get there.

(For what it’s worth, I think Motter’s best work is Terminal City. It doesn’t hurt that I think Michael Lark is a terrific artist and did a better job of bringing Motter’s architectural vision to life than any of his collaborators on Mister X or Electropolis did.)

At the End of an Insane Month

My insane month of March is now over. Thank goodness. Even though it was mostly a lot of fun, it was so packed that I didn’t have a lot of wiggle room in what I had to do or much time to relax.

As I said, I spent most of last week preparing for my fantasy baseball draft. But before that, Subrata and I spent most of Saturday playing the final ultimate tournament of the season. It was warm and sunny (and windy, as the day wore on), and there was enough turnout for 2 games with enough subs to keep me reasonably rested. Only five people from our team turned out, so we merged with another team, and our team won 2 games out of 3!

I had a pretty good afternoon personally, making a couple of blocks and a few good throws. My game got more erratic as the day went on and I got more and more tired, but at least I was still running and not exhausted on the sideline by the end of the day! Then the league had a barbecue to finish off the season, and we all got our league disks for the year, as well as some other goodies (I got a bag for my cleats and a lanyard).

Boy, I sure was stiff afterwards, though. Even with doing some stretching!

And then Sunday I got up and Subrata and I headed over to our fantasy baseball draft. Our league has 16 owners, 6 of whom showed up locally, and everyone else drafted remotely over Internet chat. (Most of the others are on the east coast, especially around Boston.) We started promptly at 11 am Pacific, and made good time for the first 3 hours, and then bogged down considerably, and finally finished up around 9 pm. Yes, it was a long slog. But then, the second half usually is. I did my best to not be the guy slowing down the draft, and did better than in past years, I think.

I’ll likely post an entry about the team I drafted, but suffice to say that I think I executed my plan much better this year than I did last year. Things could still go wrong, but I think I have the potential to finish near the top of the league this year.

Finally, today I took my car in for its 75k service. It was also time to have my timing belt changed, which turns out to be a fairly pricy proposition for my 2000 Civic. But the car should be good for a number of years yet. Now I just need to get some new tires, which hopefully won’t be hard. I need to do that soon, so I can have everything in shape for when my Mom visits me later this month!

But for now, I’m just happy to have some unstructured time.

Because unstructured time is time I can spend watching baseball!