29 July 2016

Graphic Novel Round-Up

Quick round-up of trade collections I've read recently:

Ei8ht: Outcast written by Mike Johnson & Rafael Albuquerque & illus. by Rafael Albuquerque (Dark Horse Comics, 2015)
Man who is desperate to save his wife from the ravages of disease agrees to travel across space/time to The Meld, but when he gets there, he doesn't remember anything from before. And then he meets a girl and his memories start coming back. Does he know her? Will he know her? Oh, the timey-wimey of it all. Alas, the protagonist never developed for me -- found him consistently flat and uninteresting -- and much of the story felt like an unimaginative pastiche of science fiction elements. I guess I would best describe Ei8ht as a The Time Machine meets John Carter meets Mad Max mash-up with mad science, an intra-dimensional time-traveling Nazi, and dinosaurs. Looks like the next volume might have a Planet of the Apes vibe, too. Ehhh.

Groot written by Jeff Loveness & illus. by Brian Kesinger (Marvel Comics, 2016)
I know nothing about Groot except what I saw in Guardians of the Galaxy so I did not know what to expect from this trade but ... it is so astonishingly sweet and fun. I actually had tears in my eyes at the end. And all this caused by a hero whose only spoken line is "I am Groot." There's lots of references to other Marvel comics, many of which flew right over my head, but that didn't detract from the story at all! Essentially, a fun all-ages comic with colorful and frequently adorable illustrations and a strong "moral" story about friendship and being true to yourself.

Kaptara, Volume 1: Fear Not, Tiny Alien written by Chip Zdarsky & illus. by Kagan Mcleod (Image Comics, 2015
A space ship, on its way to Mars, encounters a strange anomaly which destroys the ship and manages, somehow, to deposit the crew's escape pods on the unknown planet, Kaptara. A planet that is a weird, frequently unfunny mash-up of Masters of the Universe, ThunderCats, and the Smurfs. The characters are largely one-dimensional and Keith, our protagonist, is a whiny git. The illustrative style is fun though, in an 80s-cartoons-on-acid way, and I enjoyed the look of the comic even if the story did nothing for me.

Rivers of London: Body Work by Ben Aaronovitch et al (Titan Comics, 2015)
Have been meaning to read Aaronovitch's PC Peter Grant (Rivers of London, etc) series for a few years now, so was happy to grab what I thought was a graphic adaptation ... but it isn't. Body Work slots in between the novels Broken Homes and Foxglove Summer and, I suspect, is most enjoyable if you've read the preceding novels. The story seemed very disjointed and I never developed a "feel" for any of the characters. Also the whole "possessed-car" schtick just seemed silly. Regardless, Body Work showed promise and I will read Rivers of London. One day.

27 July 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Butterfly Weed

Butterfly weed isn't just for flutterbys -- hummingbirds, bees and other insects also enjoy it.

25 July 2016

Asparagus & Tomatoes; Or, What Needs Eating Up?

Had a package of campari tomatoes lurking in the vegetable drawer since before my surgery (I don't usually refrigerate tomatoes, but there wasn't time to use them up, so I stuffed them in the fridge to help them "last") and they've gone a bit wrinkly and soft.

My nurse friend Kelly, who stayed with me my first night home, had done a grocery run and, among other things, bought us a bunch of asparagus. Obviously, I wasn't up to cooking at the time and The Husband doesn't really care for asparagus enough to try cooking it ... so it's been hanging out with the tomatoes.

Usually, in a case like this where there are vegetables that need using up, I'd simply toss them with olive oil, garlic, and herbs and roast them until delicious. But. Hot oven + still not very bendy body + wound vac sounded like a risky combination and I decided to use the cooktop, instead.

Sautéed Asparagus & Tomatoes

Serves: 2, generously


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 oz coarsely chopped red onion
  • ½ lb fresh asparagus, trimmed & cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 campari tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper, as desired


  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and asparagus and cook for 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent and very fragrant.
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 more minutes or until the tomatoes have gone soft.
  4. Splash with balsamic vinegar and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste.