And Then I Read: SWAMP THING 35

ST35Image © DC Comics, Inc.

Swamp Thing butts heads with the avatar of a realm previously unknown to him, that of metal and machines. It occurs to me that this is kind of going the route of the Green Lantern franchise with their rainbow of rings, here we have an expanding number of “realms.” Writer Charles Soule makes it quite entertaining, though, so I’m for it thus far. The machine avatar has an interesting proposal for Alec Holland: he wants to “manage” The Green for him, freeing him to attend to other business. Alec is not buying this, and decides to investigate further. The art by Jesus Saiz is excellent, as ever, and the colors by Matt Hollingsworth and letters by Travis Lanham all help make this a winning package.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: AQUAMAN AND THE OTHERS 6

AqOthers6Image © DC Comics, Inc.

A new story arc begins with the team sorting things out with the “new” Vostok and then splitting to catch up with other responsibilities. An interesting breather, a chance to get to know the characters a bit better, and to see their new floating headquarters. This book still feels completely unconnected to the regular Aquaman title, but that’s not such a bad thing. The writing by Jurgens is fine, the art by Medina and Martinez looks good, there’s enough action to move things along, and of course a new threat arises toward the end. A slightly old-school team book, which is okay with me.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: JUSTICE LEAGUE 34

JL34Image © DC Comics, Inc.

Rather than a large threat or battle, this issue has lots of small interesting character moments and interactions, my favorite sort. It begins with Captain Cold dealing with his new job as Lex Luthor’s security chief, then Superman and Luthor battling Gorilla Grodd, Shazam and Cyborg at S.T.A.R. Labs, Flash and the female Green Lantern at the JL Watchtower trying to work out how to deal with her evil power ring, Wonder Woman and Luthor delivering food aid in Africa, and Luthor and Bruce Wayne continuing their verbal sparring and counter-plotting. Great writing by Geoff Johns. I found the art by Scott Kolins not as effective, sometimes his sparse line work on the figures has them looking doll-like, but it wasn’t enough to pull me out of the story much.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: G.I. ZOMBIE FUTURE’S END 1

GIZFEImage © DC Comics, Inc.

The trouble with a line-wide event is that some books won’t fit into it well, and this is an example. G.I. Zombie has had two issues out. Here the writers and artist present what they suggest might happen to the series in five years. There hasn’t been enough time and story for me to know the characters well and/or care about them for that to work for me. Scott Hampton’s art looks great, and there’s lots of action, but connecting with all the new situations emotionally is too big a stretch. The final scene of the male and female lead characters saying goodbye comes closest to working, but it ends abruptly as if even the writers had a hard time with it. We’ve hardly said hello, it’s too soon for goodbye. I’ll put this comic aside and look for more of the regular story.

Not recommended.

Higbee in October

Higbee1This fall has been busy for me, with visits to Baltimore and New York for comics conventions, two trips to north Jersey to visit family, and lots of work. I haven’t had much time for birding, but today my schedule cleared, the weather was ideal, and I had a nice morning walk at Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area near Cape May. The fields and woods were full of fall colors, and the early sun made it glow.

FlickerThere were lots of birds to see, not as many species as you might find in September, but large numbers of Northern Flickers (above) and Blue Jays, and small numbers of about thirty other species, some migrating, some full-time residents, some arriving to stay for the winter. It hasn’t been a great fall for migrating songbirds because the weather has not cooperated very often to bring them to the coast, but last night’s cold front did the trick.

Higbee2You might think from these photos that I had the place to myself, but there were probably 100 birders around the five fields and many trails, some in groups lead by New Jersey Audubon staff and volunteers, some on their own. Everyone had a great time this morning, I didn’t hear a single complaint.

Monarchs After my walk I had a second breakfast, then reported to the Cape May Bird Observatory for my weekly volunteer time. My task this year has been keeping the used book shelves stocked and catalogued. In line with the center’s focus, the books are all bird or nature related, donated by members. While there, I enjoyed seeing some of the captive Monarch butterflies emerging from their chrysalis’s in one of three terrariums they have set up for them. CMBO helps run a Monarch tagging and tracking program, and if the taggers find any Monarch caterpillars on their rounds, they bring them in (with milkweed leaves to feed on) and keep them on display for visitors. When the caterpillars go into chrysalis, they usually try to climb to a high point, which in this case is the screen on the top of the terrarium, so that’s where they end up. After they emerge and are ready to fly, a process that can take a few hours, they’re tagged and released. It’s hard to imagine these tiny creatures flying all the way to their wintering grounds in Mexico, but several Monarchs tagged in Cape May have been recovered there.

MonarchTaggingIn case you’re wondering what a Monarch tag looks like, it’s a small round sticker that doesn’t bother the butterfly at all. Here’s one just tagged by Lindsey Brendel. If you should ever find a dead Monarch with a tag, the tag has info that tells you how to report it. It’s a cool project that’s been going on for many years. You can read more on their BLOG.