So after several years of irregular rereading, I’m finally finished with Dorothy Sayers’ Peter Wimsey stories. LORD PETER collects all the short fiction in the series, though I’d read more than half of them in Lord Peter Views the Body. While I’m not a fan of her shorts as much as her novels, the last two in the collection stand out as they take place after Peter and Harriet marry in Busman’s Honeymoon. In The Haunted Policeman, the bobby of the title stumbles in on the Wimseys just after the birth of their first child; in Talboys we see them several years later living comfortably in the eponymous country home, coping with children and cracking the mystery of who stole a neighbor’s peach crop. Despite the stock mockery of child psychologists (not that different from current parodies from the 1960s and 70s), it’s a really nice farewell to Lord Peter. As an added farewell, Doris Egan has a beautiful tribute to the series on her blog, which almost tempts me to read the non-Sayers continuation starting with Thrones, Dominions. It’s also a great example in how to be nostalgic for an earlier time without forgetting the drawbacks.
Don’t let this talk of sunlit boating parties deceive you; I very much doubt anybody wants to return to the 1920s or 30s. What we have here is a bit of a fairy tale; in which those in power happen to be noble in character and don’t abuse those under their thumb, and hardly anybody resents the class system, and people of color are almost entirely absent. (And when they do appear in British fiction of this era, they seem regarded as an entirely different species.)
ASTRO CITY: LOVERS QUARREL by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson (cover by Alex Ross, all rights to current holder) is set in Busiek’s Astro City (duuuh), the equivalent of New York in the Marvel Universe as where all the cool heroes hang out. As usual, Busiek’s stories take a look at familiar comics tropes — in the main story here, we get to know the super-hero Quarrel (who’s been around a while) who along with her lover Crackerjack has to figure out what to do when a non-superpowered hero hits fifty and the acrobatics don’t come as easy as they used to. This was a good story, up until the end — it settles for a romantic finish that doesn’t resolve any of the questions it raised about their future. That was hugely disappointing. But the follow-up two-parter, about a talking gorilla who wants to be a rock drummer, is utterly delightful.
BATMAN AND ROBIN: Robin Rises by Peter Tomasi and various artists starts off with a storyline in which Batman sneaks into Apokalips to save his son Damian, and winds up punching Darkseid in the face. From that point on, I had trouble taking this seriously (oh, for the days, when Batman confronting and defeating a being of godlike power was amazing instead of routine). What follows is an adequate but uninteresting story involving Damian and his dad coping with the powers he gained during the trip. I could have skipped this without any loss to be well-being.