Monday, May 31, 2010

hockey, anyone?

I know that I've been slacking on the blogging, but that's going to continue as I whirl away from the end of the school year to a vacation in Denver and a little bit of an attempt to avoid real life for a while.

In the meantime, enjoy these semi-confused thoughts on hockey from someone who knows next to nothing about the sport.

I keep meaning to write about LOST, and I missed comics from last week, and I've got another column due this week, but I don't know how much will be coming. Meh?

Monday, May 24, 2010

hulk smash.

I'm writing this on Saturday, planning it to post on Monday, as I presume I'll be too emotionally exhausted by the LOST finale to really delve into it. But I plan on getting some thoughts out on the whole matter tomorrow, so, for now, check the link for my thoughts in the Alibi on the Celtics and how they are, essentially, the Incredible Hulk at this point. Even though I bet on them to lose on Saturday night, I'm sure they didn't. Man. I hate them.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

comics for the week of 05/19/10.

Sorry for the lateness again, I've got no excuses.

Avengers 1 - I'm neither a Bendis lover (or apologist) nor a hater, but I just can't shake the feeling that he's sacrificing better things (Powers) for this fanboy obsession with the Avengers. This book wasn't bad and I can certainly see the baselines of a real story here, one that looks like it'll be good, but I'm not sure that I care. Steve Rogers as the new top cop is cool, it gives him a function beyond just being back, and the team chemistry with Iron Man there will be a fun thing to watch. However, if this is the start of the Heroic Age, it's off to a weak start. Both Spider-Man and Wolverine, if I'm looking at my preview images correctly, appear to be part of the New Avengers, and we're going to have a Secret Avengers team, and a Young Avengers team (but they won't call them that) and...well, I just don't care. Romita's pencils, which I consistently defend to my friends, fell flat here, and he doesn't appear to be a good fit for the book. Unimpressed and unenthused.

Ex Machina 49 - On the other hand, here's a book that's well-written and pencilled like nobody's business. What happened in this book will only be vaguely alluded to, as I don't want to spoil anyone, but suffice it to say that I did not expect it and I'm now curious as to what they're going to do with the final issue. Things are looking pretty good in general for the book, but all of the characters have at least one significant hurdle to get through before we can anything approaching a happy ending. This book has been excellent from start to finish, and I look forward to seeing how the actual conclusion wraps things up.

Legion of Superheroes 1 - A better first issue than Avengers, but that's not saying much. It just seems that, these days, DC is almost always on better footing than Marvel. Levitz does a pretty good job of spreading the story around (always a concern in a book with this large of an ensemble cast) and I love the fact that we're picking up story threads from as many different places as possible! (Main Superman book, the Legion of 3 worlds mini, and probably a couple more that I didn't read.) I'm glad that something is changing in regards to the story concerning Sodom Yat, because I hate the idea of emo Yat simply being alone while so much superheroics is still going on. I'm intrigued by the new Mogo and his relevance to Earth Man, and I always care about the Big Three of the Legion. This one might be a keeper.

Unwritten 13 - The Unwritten is so weird. But in the best way possible. This might honestly be the best book being published right now. It's working on a lot of levels and reminds me a lot of the Sandman when the Sandman was fresh on the scene. However, I do have some concerns if this is just going to be another book that's pumped and pumped until it's way past the point when it should have been over. I'd be super-elated if it was announced by Vertigo, or Carey himself, that this book has a set endpoint and that there is a definite story being told. It seems as though it has to, especially with the Harry Potter homages, and the way things are being revealed about the connections that the various characters have, but that's not always the case. Seeing as it's a Vertigo title, I'm going to have a whole lot of patience with it, though. Regardless, this issue takes us out of the rabbit tales that we got last month, and back to London, where the 13th Tommy Taylor book is going to be released. Tom, of course, wants to confront his father and so he's returned. We learn that his dad (probably) had nothing to do with the book, and we're all set up for a pretty massive showdown in the next issue, involving even more parties than we had a right to expect.

Book of the week goes to Ex Machina, even though Unwritten was probably better. As BKV is moving his book toward its conclusion, it seems like so much is coming into play, and he's doing a masterful job of wrapping things up, as opposed to just stopping. This is another book that clearly had a plan, set out to tell a story, and is being allowed to run its course, instead of being abnormally elongated or abruptly cut short. Kudos to the industry for letting that happen, and congratulations to Vaughn for doing a great job with it.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

comics for the week of 05/12/10.

Sorry it's late this week, but I was so underwhelmed by Siege, and so busy with school, and got such a bigger stack than I was used to, that comic book reading somehow fell by the wayside in the march of this week. Regardless, here's some thoughts on some of the books that dropped this week.

Batgirl 10 - The Flood continues, and it's getting wacky. The Calculator has unleashed a techno-organic virus that infects people through their text messages or the Internet, or some combination thereof, and he's targeting Oracle. Of course, Batgirl has a few things to say about it, and meanwhile, we're continuing to track Wendy (formerly of Wendy and Marvin, the Wonder Twins, of the Teen Titans) on her journey to figure out what everyone's connections are. We have a cute scene between Cassie and the detective boy (not that I'm excusing myself for forgetting his name, but he's totally nameless at this point, insofar as he's just the new guy, the token love interest, etc. He's cute, but not compelling.) and a disturbing scene between Calculator and his dead son, and the book continues to entertain. Not top shelf, but a solid addition. At this point, it might be the best Bat title, but that's not saying a lot.

Batman 699 - On the other hand, this book is terrible. I'm counting down the days until 700 drops and my OCD collector self can stop buying it. Here, we have the story of the Riddler continuing with the magician Sebastian Blackspell. There's something going on with a retcon, and Firefly is involved but none of it is good enough to make me interested, much less to care. The Joker may or may not turn up next issue? I don't know and I don't care. This book is bad, and it's a shame that Dick is being misused as Batman here (much less everywhere) as the powers that be at DC mercilessly pave the way for the return of Bruce Wayne, but, to be fair, it's not like Bruce's Batman didn't have some horridly shitty storylines and books to sift through in the 80s and 90s.

Booster Gold 32 - The Giffen/DeMatteis era begins and I, for one, am unenthused. I like the quirky way they write, but I can't help but feel that this issue had more words than the last three issues of Booster combined. Not that wordiness is necessarily a bad thing, but it just feels so over the top here. Booster begins in the future, where he's jumped to the wrong date and is thus having a lot more trouble than he should with a mission that was supposed to be a walk in the park. Later, when he gets back, he has a scene with Rip Hunter that I think was supposed to come off as funny (look, Rip's got bad hand-writing) but just came off as flat. The addition of a little girl feels like something Rip already knew about (for various, obvious reasons) but I don't care about her and don't see why I should, so I'm pretty sure that I'll be dropping this title.

Fables 95 - The story of young Rose Red and Snow White begins! We get lots of insights into how magical some of the old Fables worlds were, but we've seen that before. The real oomph of this issue is supposed to come from seeing Red and Snow together as kids, promising each other that they'll never leave one another's sides, and the emotional heft of knowing what's going to happen. Honestly, I didn't feel that much. We know that they split, we know it's probably for a reason that lies more in the domain of miscommunication and misunderstanding than any genuine conflict, but, more importantly, we already know that they talk it out and come back to friendly terms. This would have been a more powerful story if it had been told before they'd had a reconciliation. Not that I'm disliking it, it's good, but, not great.

Flash 2 - Manapul's are continues to be the single best thing about a really good book. I don't care at all about Barry Allen, as I've noted before, but Johns has got a voice, and Manapul's got such a talent, that I find myself enthralled by this book. The issue of the Rogues from the future is cool, but confusing. (The Reverse Flash Task Force? Something like that? All the future bad guys dedicated to continuing Flash's work? And we've never heard of them before?) I love Barry in a tie and hope they abandon the silly idea of returning him to a bow tie. I like Iris and her place in the book, and I like the recurring visual theme of using text messages. The forensics group still seems a little weak, but I'm hoping that Johns will build up the supporting cast, as he's done with Green Lantern and as I've heard that he did with Superman. This book is really, really good, but hasn't reached the great level yet.

The New Avengers Finale One-Shot - A good-ish book, here we see the New Avengers group wrapping up the last thread of their storyline before the Heroic Age changes everything. The last thing Luke Cage says they need to do is hunt down the Hood and make sure that all of their loose ends are tied up. They do so pretty easily, even though he's camped out with Count Nefaria, who should be (theoretically) a tougher out. The Hood, the Count, Madam Masque and even the Hood's cousin all get taken out (after a tragicomically misplaced gay comment from one of the members of the Wrecking Crew [?] makes Bendis come across as way more homophobic than his man crush on Luke Cage reveals him to actually be) and deposited with the Shield gang. Then, at the end, we get some cheesy narration from Luke Cage that comes across way better than it could have, accompanied by some great two page splashes from various artists, as we bring this era of the New Avengers to a close. The last page, of course, is the best, and actually sounds like something that Luke has been saying for most of this run, wrapping things up in a nice manner. (My only beef with this ending is that we have a new beginning right away, it looks like it's going to be essentially the same, Wolverine and Spidey are on both the New and the Regular Avengers [?] and Marvel is just screwing me out of more money. No surprises.)

Siege 4 - And, finally, a book that I was genuinely excited for, that left such a poor taste in my mouth that it derailed my whole comic book reading for the week. Siege started out as one story, transformed into another one issue in, and then became yet another story in this issue. All of those stories were poorly told, rushed through in regards to pace, and, actually, didn't change anything, with one huge caveat. The art on Siege was preeeeeetty, but that's about all that I can say that was good about it. If the story was actually going to be about fighting the Sentry, I think there are better ways that it could have been done, but that's a discussion for another time. The big discussion on this issue has GOT to center around the fact that, while Bendis and Co. spent all of the last two issues convincing us how deadly and unbeatable the Sentry was, when the heroes finally get to the task of taking him out, it happens almost instantaneously, and with little to no fanfare. The Sentry goes out like a chump and, thanks to the wonderful scheduling of Marvel, there was 100% no doubt that this was going to be the outcome, because, sitting right next to Siege 4 was the epilogue to the story, The Sentry - Fallen Sun. Poor writing, poor scheduling, but most of all, poor storytelling. Siege ends up pulling in so many different directions that it winds up as less than the sum of its parts when it had the opportunity to be a magnificent capstone.

The Sentry Fallen Sun - This book, as I mentioned in the review above, was essentially worthless. Other than spoiling Siege 4 with its cover (although this is what almost literally everyone was guessing, regardless) it really did very little to enhance the mythos of the Sentry. Instead, we had a generic tribute to a hero that had started in this universe as a great idea, but quickly became the undoing of many of a good writer, because no one in the Marvel stable had any idea how to successfully incorporate such a character. I'm glad the Sentry is gone, because it was clear that he was misplaced in the Marvel universe, but I'm sad that Siege had to turn in such a weak performance in getting rid of him, and I'm disappointed that Jenkins (the guy who wrote the original, amazing mini that got the Sentry started) had to deliver this as the ending point for such a cool concept of a character.

The Sword 24 - Last but not least, this is how you end a book! The Sword has been going for two years now, and the Luna brothers have delivered another great product. In fact, I think their books are getting better. Ultra was kind of a neat twist on a generic concept, Girls was freakishly weird, and the Sword, now that it's wrapped up, is clearly the top of all three books. The story of Dara Brighton wraps up in pretty much the only way it could, but, at least in this case, with these guys, that doesn't mean that it's predictable or bad. After the revelation at the end of the last issue, we get Justin's account of how he actually came into Dara's life, starting at what he thought was the end of Phaistos' life. After a lot of exposition, none of it boring, we get a shock that's not terribly shocking, but seems very appropriate, and then we get a heart-wrenching conclusion. Great, great work from some promising young men, and I look forward to their next book.

Book of the week has got to be the Sword 24 for knowing how to go out with the absolute right mix of a bang, a tug at the heart strings, and a promise of better things to come. What'd I miss?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

when baseball gets unboring.

Just another unloading of a link, with a brief comment on the great headline change from the Editor. I'm lucky enough to have picked up this semi-gig, and even just two articles in, I'm learning a lot. Enjoy a little baseball snark from an undisputed basketball snob.

Friday, May 7, 2010

comics for the week of 05/05/10.

Again, the small stack, but at least I've got as full diversity as you'll ever see from me.

Batman and Robin 12 - First of all, this has the weakest Quitely cover of the entire run thus far, and I thought Andy Clarke's art inside was way better than Frank's would have been. Which is weird for me to say, given how full circle I've now gone on his art. Regardless, the comic itself was fantastic. This, again, is surprising to say, since I've been smack-talking on all the Bat books for months now. Grant Morrison, however, has come through in this case, and given us something other than his typical routine of it's-so-obvious-and-that's-why-it'll-shock-them. The Return of Bruce Wayne is a torturous point for me, because I firmly believe that people should die in comics and stay dead, but Bruce is such a damn cool character. Dick has toiled in Nightwing-obscurity for long enough now, he deserves to be the Batman, and he's done a dang good job of it. Lastly, Damian is finally progressing as a character enough that I don't want him to die every single time I see him. This, to me, is a sign that Grant Morrison hasn't completely lost it as a writer and I expect good things from this book in the next year or so. (As long as we can steer clear of any of the obvious, ridiculous, nonsensical pandering that the mini-series The Return of Bruce Wayne looks like it's going to be.)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 35 - My love for Buffy knows no end. My love for Buffy and Angel used to know no end, but, recently, when I went through the whole series again, I didn't feel as passionately about Angel and his involvement in her life, as I had previously. (The same thing [in reverse] happened with Xander: the first time I watched the series, I remember staying absolutely furious with Xander through the entire run of the show. This time, I cut him a lot more slack, and found him a much more rounded, well-developed character. I think the two are probably related.) Anyway, I've loved the fact that Angel's been back and I love the weird things that are happening in the universe. However, all this being said, as Buffy was explaining to him why she had to go back and save her friends, I completely expected him to say no, and turn out to be the bad guy, either though misguided determination, or because he'd been lying previously, or even by way of turning out to actually be someone else. But then, he didn't. And he went with her. And now I remain confused on the whole Twilight thing. I don't get it at all. Luckily, the super secret, super special guest star shows up at the end to promise to clear it all up. Unfortunately, that clearing up is going to have to wait at least another two months? I understand comics don't write or draw themselves, but damn, this is worse than watching a TV show live!

The Spectacular Spider-Girl 1 (of 4) - An impulse buy, but I always feel good when I buy comics where Peter is still married to Mary Jane. I've been a Spider-Man fan my entire life, and when One More Day left me without Spider-Man, I started picking up Spider-Girl's previous series. I was a bit too late. It was canceled, and so, no more Spidey in my life. So when I see Mayday on the stands, I feel like it's almost an obligation that I pick up the book. The M2 Universe as a whole never hold much (any) sway with me, and I wasn't enthused to see the story begin with the Punisher of that world, nor did I care at all about the American Dream backup feature. However, the continuation of the Mayday vs. Mayhem (in a way) storyline, from the main book, made this feel like the series was still very much alive. If they put out a mini-series like this two or three times a year, it'll probably be just as good as keeping the book alive. And I'd be psyched to buy it. Kaine's progressed, Normie's progressed, everything feels very much in line, in continuity, it's just not getting published as a regular monthly. Hopefully, the sales on this will be good, and will encourage Marvel to shop some good stories around, and let various people take some cracks at writing Peter, Mary Jane and the rest of the Spider mythos as they should be currently written: as real people that make real decisions and stand by those consequences.

Book of the week goes to Spider-Girl, despite my fanboyish devotion to Buffy, because I think it's important that people acknowledge Peter Parker as married to Mary Jane Watson.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

link of the day.

I got picked up for a tiny sports column by my local weekly alternative paper and I figure my own blog is the best place to promote myself. It's obviously basketball-centric at this point. That will, presumably, change.