Author Archives: Todd

And Then I Read: GREEN LANTERNS #4

Image © DC Comics.

This issue is a pleasant surprise. Amid the carnage and confusion of a Red Lantern attack, rookie Green Lanterns Simon and Jessica spend most of this issue working on their personal issues, sharing their doubts and fears, and forging the beginnings of a real partnership. Character development is always more interesting to me than fighting, and there’s plenty of it here. Simon’s ring is almost depleted, but he can’t recharge it unless Jessica agrees, as they share a single power source. Jessica is, at first, overtaken by Red Lantern-infused rage, and then wants to quit the Corps altogether. Simon has to get real with her to make things work. Nicely done by writer Sam Humphries. The art on this issue is fine despite the tag-team collaborations of three pencilers and five inkers, a sign of desperate lateness. Worked okay here.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: WONDER WOMAN #7

Image © DC Comics.

I’m way behind on this and other DCU titles I’m reading, but will try to catch up some. This issue of WW is in the present day and presents the climax of the Cheetah story that’s been running in odd-numbered issues. Cheetah (Barbara Ann Minerva) has agreed to help Diana rescue Steve Trevor from the African warlord Cadulo, who is planning to sacrifice Trevor to revive an ancient evil god, Urzkartaga. There are also women imprisoned by Cadulo and his minions that Diana wants to rescue. It all takes place in an action-filled story written by Greg Rucka, with great art by Liam Sharp. With some writers, this kind of story becomes simply a slugfest, but Rucka goes for the deeper feelings and meanings that make for a much more satisfying read, in my opinion. His take on Wonder Woman is great, too.

Recommended.

CHICKEN SOUP FROM SCRATCH

I started making this a few years ago, and made it again yesterday. it’s become a holiday tradition for those meals when you’re busy with other things.

My version uses boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I think it has a lot more flavor than modern recipes that start with cooked chicken and store-bought broth, but is less complicated and messy than traditional recipes that start with a whole chicken. This is double my original recipe, but since it takes a few hours, might as well make lots and freeze some. Makes about 4 to 5 quarts of soup. Stock and soup can be made on different days.

STOCK:

2 pounds chicken breasts

2 carrots cut in large chunks

4 celery stalks cut in large chunks

2 medium yellow onions quartered

10 cloves garlic peeled and halved

Dozen stalks of fresh thyme

4 bay leaves

1 teaspoon peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients in large pot, chicken on the bottom, cover with cold water, about 3 quarts. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Add water if necessary to cover. Loosen chicken from bottom after it boils, otherwise this can simmer unattended.

Remove chicken to cutting board and allow to cool. Strain the rest and discard all but the broth. When chicken is cool enough to handle, cut and shred into small pieces.

SOUP:

1/4 cup olive oil

2 medium onion chopped

4 medium carrots sliced

4 celery stalks sliced

1/2 cup of fresh thyme leaves

2 bay leaves (remove after cooking)

Chicken stock just made

1 additional quart of bought chicken stock (more if wanted)

Cup of uncooked brown rice

Shredded chicken just made

1/2 cup of fresh parsley chopped fine

Cup of fresh kale chopped fine

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste (at least 1 tablespoon salt for me)

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat and add onion, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Saute and stir about 10 minutes until onion softens. Add all chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add rice, parsley and kale, and lower heat, simmer about 15 minutes, stirring and scraping bottom to keep rice from sticking. Add cooked chicken and simmer about 15 more minutes until rice and carrots are soft.

Rereading: NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman

Cover illustration by Robert McGinnis.

When “Neverwhere” was first published by BBC Books in 1996, Neil was kind enough to send me a signed copy.

Interesting to see his inscription included “Mind the Gap!” which almost made it onto the cover of the new paperback that I helped design. I read it at the time, and enjoyed it. I also got the DVD of the TV series and enjoyed that, though it was clearly a low-budget production, but well done.

In 2005 I lettered a comics adaptation written by Mike Carey with Neil’s approval. So, I’ve had lots of contact with this story, and didn’t plan to read it again until I opened my copy of the new paperback and saw Neil describe it as his preferred text, and a version not seen before. Good selling point, that, I now wanted to read it again!

Richard Mayhew is bumbling through a London life he doesn’t seem much good at or very interested in: a job in a cubicle, a girlfriend who abuses him emotionally, work friends who hardly know him. When an injured girl, Door, falls at his feet out of nowhere, Richard’s good heart tells him he must help her, and he does, even though it lands him in a world of trouble below London, one that most of us know nothing about. Door’s family has been murdered, and she’s likely to be next. Richard Mayhew is, at first, merely an obigation to her: she lets him tag along when it becomes clear to him he can never return to his old life. Richard, and we, are introduced to a rich and dangerous world where all the London Underground (subway) stations are real things of some sort rather than merely brick and mortar. Door gathers friends and allies around her, but danger is always nearby, and eventually Mayhew finds himself taking an important part in Door’s protection and survival, to the surprise of everyone.

I’ve just scratched the surface (no pun intended) of this highly imaginative dark fantasy. I had a great time rereading this version. I couldn’t say how it differs from the first one, but it certainly comes across here as a mature work in every way.

Highly recommended.

And Then I Read: FUTURE QUEST #6

Image © DC Comics and Hanna-Barbera.

Okay, this title is going off my reading list. It was fun for a while, but as I don’t have any vested interest in these characters, and the comic is now mainly fighting and plot development, I no longer find that it entertains me. The only thing that caught my interest here was a clever connection between the main story with too many characters and the backup story featuring The Impossibles. Otherwise it’s all A teaming with B to rescue C before villain X gets them. Not my cup of tea. Your mileage may vary, and if you watched the HB cartoon shows the characters are from, it’s much more likely to appeal to you, I’m sure.

Not recommended.