Sad news: Anita Rowland passed away today, after a long fight with cancer.
Anita started her journal a few months before I started mine, and we read each other and exchanged e-mails from time to time for several years. She was part of the second wave of web journals, like I was. We met at a few conventions, and though I didn’t know her well, I always think of her as friendly and smiling and helpful.
I hadn’t heard she’d been this sick, though arguably I hadn’t been paying attention. She hadn’t updated her journal in quite a while; I guess she’d migrated over to Twitter which isn’t my thing – her last post there was on December 1.
Lots of people who knew her better than I did thought she was terrific, and I know they thought so even before reading today’s memorial comments. I’m sorry she’s gone.
Comic books I bought the week of 5 December 2007.
Okay, last week’s haul. I’ve gotta stop being so busy on Thursdays-through-Sundays…
- The Brave and the Bold: The Lords of Luck vol 1 HC, by Mark Waid, George Pérez & Bob Wiacek (DC)
- Countdown to Final Crisis #21 of 52 (backwards), by Paul Dini, Sean McKeever, Keith Giffen, Jamal Igle & Mark McKenna (DC)
- Justice Society of America #11, by Geoff Johns, Alex Ross, Dale Eaglesham, Ruy Jose & Drew Geraci (DC)
- Annihilation Conquest #2 of 6, by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Tom Raney & Scott Hanna (Marvel)
- Marvel Masterworks: Spider-Man vol 86 HC, collecting Amazing Spider-Man #78-87, by Stan Lee, John Romita, John Buscema & Jim Mooney (Marvel)
- Invincible #47, by Robert Kirkman & Ryan Ottley (Image)
- Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus #4 of 5, by Mike Mignola & Jason Armstrong (Dark Horse)
- Rex Mundi: Crown and Sword vol 4 TPB, by Arvid Nelson & Juan Ferreyra (Dark Horse)
- Atomic Robo #3 of 6, by Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener & Joshua Ross (Red 5)
Although I’ve been down on the two most recent issues of The Brave and the Bold, the first 6-issue story arc was killer: Batman and Green Lantern in Las Vegas, Green Lantern, Supergirl and Lobo in space, the Book of Destiny, the Lords of Luck, the Fatal Five, and Batman outsmarting the whole Legion of Super-Heroes. And of course that gorgeous George Pérez artwork. Now you can own the whole story in a spiffy hardcover collection with a few pages of annotations by writer Mark Waid.
Or you can wait for the inevitable paperback edition. But I didn’t.
Rex Mundi seems to be coming together – at last – with this latest volume. Juan Ferreyra’s a good artist, although maybe not detail-oriented enough for my tastes (lots of panels relying more on coloring than linework for their backgrounds, for instance), but the range of facial expressions he draws is impressive. Mainly, though, Arvid Nelson’s story is finally really moving. To recap, the story takes place in an alternate Europe in 1933 in which the Protestant Revolution failed, and sorcery works. Our hero, Dr. Julien Saunière, is seeking the answers to a centuries-old mystery about the Catholic Church and the kings of France. With both the Church and the Duke Lorraine following his every move, he seems to be getting closer, even as the fecal matter hits the fan in the form of war breaking out across Europe. Nelson turns the Axis/Allies alliances on their heads, although the Axis in this setting bears little relationship to the one from our World War II.
So my interest has been revived in the story. I think it would wear a bit better if the story were more character-oriented, although if Nelson has a bang-up ending in mind for the overall story then it could be just fine. I tend to be rather cynical when it comes to ongoing comic books, since it seems like nothing ever gets resolved (I have this problem in spades with TV shows, too), and it’s hard to see the current story going on for more than 2 or 3 more volumes. Nelson could throw a wrench in the works and send the story off in some substantially different direction, but that would be odd since so far the story has tracked steadily in a single direction. But it could happen.
There’s something about Atomic Robo that I don’t get.
The problem might be that it’s just one of several books being published today with the general theme of “adventurers with nonhuman backgrounds who tackle scientific/supernatural threats”. The best-known of these is the burgeoning Hellboy franchise at Dark Horse, of course. But Burlyman’s Doc Frankenstein is right in there, as are The Perhapanauts and The Umbrella Academy. All of these books have more of a pulp-magazine adventure feel than a superhero feel, and the characters often act on their own or outside of the public eye. I think Hellboy is the most popular mainly because he predates the rest of the current generation by a decade or so (plus he’s been in a feature film).
But Atomic Robo doesn’t really stand out. It seems to focus on the outright mayhem part of the adventures more than the other titles, but that doesn’t leave a lot of room for characterization, and the plots are very simplistic.
Robo himself is a smartass, and a little melancholy about some elements in his past, but that’s about all I’ve gleaned about the long-lived protagonist of the series, who was constructed by Nikola Tesla in the early 20th century. The stories don’t have much of a period feel, and this issue – about a mobile pyramid threatening Egypt – takes place in the present day. (It also ends with a big explosion, so abruptly I wondered there were pages missing.) We’re getting very brief vignettes about Robo, but not much depth. I think the creators have greater plans for the character, but I don’t think they’ve led with their best foot forward in this mini-series.
Still, with three issues to go there’s still time for that to change.