And Then I Read: SWAMP THING 39

ST39Image © DC Comics, Inc.

The ride that writer Charles Soule has taken Swamp Thing on continues to surprise and entertain me. Every time Alec Holland seems to have a handle on his problems, things change again for the worse. Right now, the former avatar of the Green, Lady Weeds, now avatar of Machines, is making his existence miserable, and even his allies like Abigail Arcane and John Constantine can’t seem to help him put things to rights. And despite the grim situations, Soule manages to find moments of humor and real emotion that are so often missing from comics these days. The art by Jesus Saiz is excellent, making this one of my favorite comics right now.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: GREEN LANTERN 39

GL39Image © DC Comics, Inc.

This is one of those between-crisis issues that I usually enjoy, as it allows for some character development. Hal Jordan as been so well explored that there’s not much new to say about him, though he is surprised when he hears what the Guardians have to tell him this time. A few minor characters get some space, and the ongoing issue of the Corps’ bad name in the universe is carried further. And, of course, another crisis is developing. Not a great issue, but not bad.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: THE SILVER AGE OF DC COMICS by Paul Levitz

SilverAgeFCImages © DC Comics.

The second volume by Paul on DC history (drawn from and expanding on the even more massive “75 Years of DC Comics”) covers 1956-70, and encompasses the comics of my childhood, at least those put out by DC. If you were a comics reader in this period, you’ll enjoy all the wonderful pictures of the covers, interior pages and descriptions of the series, genres, editors, writers, and of course the artists. I liked the fact that some of the comics covers were worn and well-read, rather than all the best possible pristine copies. Some of the more important creators get a spotlight of several pages, others just a paragraph, but it’s a large subject, and even with 400 pages to fill, not everything can be covered in depth. I was already familiar with most of the subject matter, so there wasn’t as much new material for me here, though I did miss plenty of the comics from the time, and it was fun to see so many of them represented. Continue reading

Rereading: THE TOUGH WINTER by Robert Lawson

ToughWinterImage © estate of Robert Lawson.

About a month ago, when Winter was getting me down, I found rereading this childhood favorite a good antidote. One of writer/illustrator Lawson’s best and best known books is “Rabbit Hill,” but this sequel is nearly as good. The setting is Lawson’s actual home in Westport, Connecticut, but the talking animals are pure whimsy. Very entertaining all the same. When Lawson and his wife head south for the winter, they hire a house-sitter who is a very poor replacement in the eyes of the many animals on and around the property, who Lawson has been feeding regularly. When the caretaker arrives, that’s clearly over, and the caretaker’s foolish dog, while no real threat to the wise country critters, is still very annoying. Winter hits hard with lots of snow, and while young Georgie Rabbit and his friend Willie Fieldmouse find it all a great adventure, many residents are forced to move to other farms and homes where they can find food. Even Georgie’s mother is sent off to relatives while Georgie’s father and Uncle Analdas decide to tough it out. Before long they’re starving and desperate, but the younger creatures manage to keep the fun in their winter travails, as can be seen in the cover picture above. Lawson’s illustrations for this book are in lush and detailed pencil, only colored on the cover, but there are lots of them, and they’re wonderful. Yes, the animals act more like people much of the time, foibles and all, but that’s part of the charm of this delightful story.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: SUPERMAN 38

Sup38Image © DC Comics, Inc.

Superman has been trying to help Ulysses, but things went very wrong, and now Ulysses is out to destroy Superman and Earth, even though it’s the home of his own parents. This is a setup for major melodrama, but the fine writing of Geoff Johns keeps it real and believable, even though of course it’s unbelievable how two such powerful beings go at each other. There are many effective character moments among the blasting and explosions, including an appearance by Batman, Clark Kent back to work at The Daily Planet, Ulysses and his parents, and my favorite, the closing scene with Jimmy Olsen setting up the return of Jimmy’s best role.

Recommended.