Wednesday, June 30, 2010

the need for changes in the officiating process.

FIFA Needs To Catch Up To The Rest of the Sporting World

As the 2010 World Cup builds toward its finale, one fact has stood head and shoulders above the rest, in regards to the game and the way it’s played around the world: FIFA must institute some kind of goal-line technology, if not instant replay and/or referee accountability. This obviously means different things to different sports in America – challenges from a coach in football, reviewing whether a ball is fair or foul in baseball, the afore-mentioned goal-line technology in hockey, and out-of-bounds calls in basketball – and it’s hard to predict how it would ultimately occur in soccer. The need, however, is not difficult to see.

This is far from a homer issue, as Team USA, viciously robbed of two separate goals in two separate games, ultimately won their group in the first stage of World Cup play. Those goals, amazingly, turned out to be superfluous. However, in the Round of 16, Team USA was one of the teams that weren’t victims of poor officiating changing the course of those games and, perhaps, the rest of the Tournament. (Brazil dominated Chile and Paraguay defeated Japan on penalty kicks, in the only real snoozers of the Round of 16.) England lost their match 4-1, but lost a goal that would have made the game 2-2 and could have affected momentum. On the other hand, Argentina’s first goal over Mexico was scored by Carlos Tevez, who clearly appeared to be offside. With these mistakes being made in crystal-clear HD and being analyzed over and over on ESPN, it might seem as though FIFA has no choice but to revisit these issues. When Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA, addressed the issue, though, he made clear that the only thing that would be discussed in the aftermath of the World Cup would be goal-line technology. This is a good start, but it’s not good enough.

The bottom line is that, as long as the world is watching, as long as soccer is the most popular sport in the world, there will be a need for change. FIFA can start with the promised look at goal-line technology, but there needs to be more transparency in the officiating process, and some kind of checks-and-balances in place for blatant rule-breaking that isn’t seen in the first place.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

in stoppage time.

For what it's worth, I'm just going to post this here, now. I'll relink on Twitter when the Alibi puts their copy up, but it's fresh now.

The United States Men's Soccer team won their group in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, thanks to a dramatic 1-0 victory over Algeria. After a scoreless regulation game, with plenty of chances on both sides, Landon Donovan was able to find the back of the net in the ninety-first minute, off a rebound from the Algerian goalkeeper resulting from a great run by Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore. With this win, the team accomplishes one of its goals for this World Cup, advancing beyond the pool play stage. When the group was revealed, many critics said that if the United States did not advance, it would be seen as a failure on our national team's part. Mission accomplished.

This team did not lose a game in pool play. They overcame two disallowed goals in two consecutive games that have been roundly proclaimed, by announcers from multiple countries, to have been fair goals. They went down early in both of their first two games, against England and Slovenia, and narrowly avoided doing the same in the last game. They continued to fight when other teams would have given up, and when other teams, historically, have done so.

With this victory, the USA finishes pool play with 5 points, the same total as England. However, because of the goal differential, Team USA wins the group. This is the first time USA has won the group since 1930, when the first World Cup took place. The 1930 World Cup was also the timing of Team USA's best finish, when we captured third place. Worth noting, though, is that only 13 teams competed in that World Cup, as opposed to the 32 that compete in the modern tournament.

Team USA now awaits the runner-up from Group D, which could be any one of the teams from the entire group: Ghana, Germany, Australia or Serbia.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

comics for the week of 06/16/10.

Nothing to report other than there's nothing to report.

Fables 96 - It feels like the story of Rose Red and Snow White's childhood is finally picking up steam. Fables in consistently great, but I'll be honest when I say that I haven't really been feeling this arc. Too much ground to cover and it felt like it was going to have little to no payoff. However, with this issue, both of those began to change, at least a little bit. We see some background on Snow and Rose's mother, and the relationship that she had with the ruler(s) of the kingdom. We see some more of the magical power of promises and we see Snow White growing up - this entails both good things (she gets to marry a prince, as we knew she would) and bad (she encounters the seven dwarfs and Willingham and Buckingham change them drastically from the Disney version). We also see some great hints at storylines, with all the magic that passes up Rose during this time. (The turtle was my favorite.) The issue ends on a great note, but not one that we didn't know was coming.

New Avengers 1 - This issue, on the other hand, didn't need much running room to pick up speed. We have a whole bunch of things going on in here, including Wolverine with a great sidenote about how he's on the X-Men, the other Avengers team, and this one. It's a nice nod to the reader. I didn't think I was going to buy this book, but at this point, with Doctor Strange taking a prominent role, Doctor Voodoo getting his due (no pun intended) here and seemingly nowhere else (I don't believe he's dead for half a second), it looks like I might drop the regular Avengers book and just roll with this one. I love Luke Cage, I need my Spider-Man fix, as I haven't read Amazing since One More Day, and I'm intrigued by the Thing being a part of this group. I'm glad that Bendis isn't just abandoning these changes that he brought to characters, dumping them on another writer. It feels like this book will have a lot of his personality, and it'll work well. Mockingbird and Hawkeye can't be ignored, either. A solid debut issue that sold me on at least buying the first arc.

No matter how impressive the House of Ideas is, the book of the week has to go to Fables. I'm feeling like this Rose and Snow arc is maybe just a stopgap before some intense buildup to 100, but even if it's not, the book continues to impress with every single page.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

eminem's recovery.

Yesterday was Drake Day so I spent all day protesting by listening to my copy of Recovery. At this point, I've listened to it at least five full times, and thus, feel good about making some broad statements.

First of all, this is a good album. Eminem finally comes out and makes a real rap record, like people have been waiting more than half a decade for. On the other hand, there are definitely some missteps. The fact that "Cold Wind Blows" opens this album and not "Talkin' 2 Myself" feels like the opposite of what should have been done. "Talkin' 2 Myself" is the perfect opening track. I mean, pitch perfect. "Cold Wind Blows", though, turns into a decent track after the first 30-second intro, which is bizarrely off-putting. That's the first thing he wanted people to hear on his new album? It makes no sense!

After that, though, things start to get great. "On Fire" has got some great combination of old Slim Shady and new Eminem. He jokingly talks about his heat in the rap game, but it's not really a joke. He knows that he's produced some shit in the last few years (the great references to Relapse on this album have to be one of the most honest things that have ever come out of his mouth) but unlike on Relapse, he's not obsessing about it. It's a few quick acknowledgments, and then moving on. Another great thing about "On Fire" as well as the whole album is the numerous comic book references. He's always been on those lines, but it feels like he's more comfortable talking about comics now that they're mega-popular. But that's just me.

"Won't Back Down" isn't nearly as bad as it sounded when it was first leaked, with Pink pulling major duty as the gruff hook singer. I've already heard this song taking its place in commercials, replacing the earlier "Till I Collapse" as the default pump-up jam for shooting people on TV. I expect I'll hear this on warm-up mixes of the basketball teams next year. And that's not a bad thing for what it is. (Plus, Em gets credit for refusing to ride the Drake train of dropping words. He's putting in maybe more than needed, but it's still better. For instance, see: "Listen garden tool, don't make me introduce you to my power tool, you know the fuckin' drill" and "I gave Bruce Wayne a Valium and said settle your fucking ass down, I'm ready for combat, man. Get it? Com-Bat-Man?")

"W.T.P." is another banger that doesn't say a lot, other than a re-affirmation that Eminem is a solid rapper, putting together words in a way that few of his peers can match. It feels like Em's attempt to get a record other than a single played in a club, and I could see it succeeding, but I wouldn't particularly love that. It's a solid song, but not noteworthy.

"Going Through Changes" is one of the two most overt cuts on the album talking about Proof and what he meant to Mr. Mathers. Humanizing in a good way, with a great line about realizations that he's had since then about the drug dealers who were propping him up as yes men. After that, we get "Not Afraid", about which I think enough has been written, but if I can just add my two cents: this song is getting better and better with time. When it dropped, I was excited. When it comes on the album, I'm like, "Whoah." "Seduction", on the other hand, is just another volley in the Mariah Carey war, and, while there are some good parts to the beat and the song, it's essentially filler. I'm okay with that, really, since there are no skits on here, but the album would be stronger without this shit.

"No Love" was a real controversy in my head, though. First of all, let's get this out of the way: Em and Lil' Wayne together on a song equals destruction. They killed it on "Forever", the smashed on "Drop the World" and "No Love" is no different. Something about Wayne (probably what Slim acknowledged on "Talkin' 2 Myself"?) brings out the absolute best in Eminem. However, Just Blaze must have thought long and hard about the sample for this song. At the end of the day, it works out, but people might be turned off on first mention.

"Space Bound" and "Cinderella Man" seem grouped together for a reason, and it's kind of a weird one. These songs, really, to me, sound like what people might have thought of in the late '90s or early '00s when they thought, "Eminem in the future." They're different enough, yet retain that essential Eminem-quality of his confessionals to still be recognizable. "Space Bound" begins the explicit phase of the album where Em starts to get into the heartaches that have haunted his life, even aside from Proof. "Cinderella Man" talks about getting over those heartaches. They're a great duo.

"25 to Life" can really be seen as completing the afore-mentioned duo, I guess making it a trio, but Em pulls a dodge at the last second: instead of calling her Kim, he fakes that he's talking about hip-hop. This is okay (it certainly doesn't do anything terrible to the song, I mean, it's a jam, no doubt) not damning, but it belies the growth that he's shown us. When Encore dropped and everyone figured he was taking a bow goodbye, he denied it. If he's still denying things, he's still got room to grow. Not that that's a bad thing. All these shots shouldn't take away from the main point, though: this is one of the best tracks on the album.

"So Bad" brings Dre front and center! It's a perfect Dre and Em combo with the latter in ideal braggadocio mode. The beat that it starts with, that joking-Em voice he intros with, talking about his dad again, the metaphors and the sound effects are all vintage.

"Almost Famous" returns to the angry Slim Shady that we were once introduced to, with pretty good reason: he's recounting his journey. We have him talking about being a rapist, Slim Roethlisberger, and waving a chainsaw like a terrible towel. We have his honest recollections of how hard he worked to become the celebrity he is, and the chorus echoing every time we get a break, warning him of the consequences that he didn't see until it was too late. This is the basic character of Eminem: the two sides of him, wanting opposite things, fighting just as hard against himself as he does against everyone else.

"Love the Way You Lie" might be the best song Eminem's ever recorded. It seems like he heard Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind", realized what Rihanna could do for this song, and poured out his own emotional version. He's not singing an ode to a city, though, that has never been his style and never will be. Instead, we get this honest kind of reconciliation of the self-destructive relationship he and Kim always had. (Some of Eminem's best music has always been this acknowledgment ["Crazy in Love", "Soldier", "Kim", "'97 Bonnie & Clyde"] that he and Kim might actually kill each other, but not on purpose.) Their relationship was poison to each other, to themselves and to all of the people around them. But, sometimes, we can't help with whom we fall in love.

"Never Over" closes the album (kind of) by talking, again, directly, about Proof. The single best thing about Eminem's openness about his relationship with Proof and the way that he expresses it on this album is that he never once says pause or no homo. This is a guy who was with Marshall from the very beginning, who had his back when no one else really did and it's clear that losing him jacked Em up a lot more than he has acknowledged yet - even including this album.

"Here We Go" is untitled, but came tagged that way with my copy so that's what I'm calling it until I hear something different. This track, honestly, might be the best one on the entire album. It's reminiscent of "Rabbit Run" from the 8 Mile soundtrack in that he just sounds like he's got non-stop energy that could go all day every day. This is what I think of when I think of Eminem unleashed. I wish we could get an album of just this - Dre-produced (or at least sounding like it) bangers with Em just killing on top. Some pop references included, that's fine (great line about his car being a Mogwai and turning into a Gremlin and a reference to Troy Polamalu) but not much more.

Some general notes: 1. There are tons of mentions of Proof on this disc. That's a great thing, because it's a good way of showing people the pain that he felt over his best friend dying, without beating it into the ground, like he did on Recovery. I know I mentioned this already, but I'm proud of the so-called homophobe for putting all that out there without so much as a no homo. We need more honesty about the relationships between men without the fear. 2. Michael J. Fox has got to be his new Christopher Reeve obsession. (Which doesn't mean he's abandoned Superman.) 3. While I have absolutely, positively no problem with any of the beats and/or production on this album, it definitely felt like it was missing Dre. While "So Bad" definitely feels like Dre-approved material, it's telling that the track that most feels like it was produced by Dre is the untitled ("Here We Go"?) track that closes the album, which was actually done by Havoc. 4. I want that 'Lil Wayne and Kanye diss track.

Recovery marks a great new stage for Eminem. He's still much the same man he's always been, the one we've come to know who hates his fame, but wants the recognition for being one of the best in the game. I have no idea what he's going to do from here. (He needs to get Dre back in the studio and make sure Detox doesn't suck as bad as "Under Pressure" makes it seem like it's going to!) But if this is the last thing we get from him, it'll be a fitting capstone. If it's truly a new beginning, I'm excited to see what more he does.

Monday, June 14, 2010

the help by kathryn stockett.

A group of teachers at my work decided that we should do a semi-book club toward the end of the year, so that we'd have an excuse to get together for a party in the beginning of the summer. One of the ladies had heard some great things about Kathryn Stockett's debut novel, The Help and so we settled on that. I finished it today, after finally exorcising the non-fiction from my waiting list, and I have to say: it was a pretty darn good book.

The story is split in narration between three characters: Skeeter Phelan, a young, white woman, just returning to Jackson, Mississippi from college; Minny, a middle-aged, black maid, with many children and a drunk for a husband; and Aibileen, an older, black maid whose (pretty well-grown) son just recently died. As Stockett is a white woman, obviously, this narration can come off a bit tricky, as she acknowledges in a superbly blunt section at the end of the novel. The first chapter jumps right into the vernacular of a black maid from the 1960s and, admittedly, it's jarring at first. (At least it was for me.) But readers are able to make transitions quickly, and the novel does a good job of pulling the reader in. Clearly, to me, the character we relate to the most is Skeeter. (This could, obviously, change for other readers, but was definitely the case for me.) Skeeter is young, educated and full of hope that her ideas can make an impact on the world, much like most college graduates. (The more things change...) However, coming back home, she resigns herself to living with her parents, because she couldn't get the prestigious jobs she aimed for directly out of school, and she finds that the changes she wants, both in the world and for herself, are much slower to come than she ever thought. A big portion of the book is dedicated to Skeeter not having a boyfriend and the social price that she pays for this, which was surprising to me, given that we're dealing with the '60s and the struggle for African-American civil rights, not the suffragette movement. This is not a complaint, at all. The desire to get married, to find the right partner, never came off as inauthentic, but it was a surprise to me.

Skeeter find hope in the form of a semi-mentor, who takes time to personally respond to Skeeter's application, by way of a condescending and simultaneously hope-endowing letter, urging Skeeter to find something unique to write about, and spend time learning how to actually write. To this end, Skeeter applies for a job at the newspaper that she knows nothing about - the advice column on how to clean houses and the various things inside them. When she realizes that she knows nothing about this, she asks one of her friend's maids if she would share some advice for the column and a relationship begins.

Eventually, Skeeter comes up with the idea to write a book about the relationships between the black maids and the white families that employ them. Although this does, toward the end of the novel, mean that things take a turn toward the (almost ridiculous) self-referential, I feel that the novel is still able to treat its subject matter with the appropriate gravitas mainly because of the switch in narration. Whereas the book that Skeeter is writing focuses on interviews with the help, we get to experience their everyday occupations via first-person immediacy. Minny and Aibileen are not merely giving interviews to us, as readers - we are experiencing the minutiae of their lives in a way that is not boring and helps to refocus the energy of the story.

As the story progresses, we see temporal clues that help those of us who didn't grow up in Mississippi (or even though this time period at all) - the rise of JFK and Martin Luther King. References to Rosa Parks, the NAACP, the emergence of hippies, and the race to the moon. These things help with the frame of reference for the overall mood and pace of America, which is the macrocosm to Jackson's micro.

The Help tells a great story of the struggle to begin the interviews, with so much distrust on each side, and the constant battle to maintain the fragile balance the characters build. There are great minor characters who I would have loved to hear more about (Miss Celia and Johnny Foote are the two that spring most quickly to mind, although Louvenia and Miss Lou Anne really ratchet up a few notches toward the end of the novel) but I suppose that's why they call them minor characters. The book's ending ties together the three central characters in a way that I did not honestly expect, but I thought that it was about as close as they could ever really come, in hindsight. A solid debut novel, a high recommendation.

Friday, June 11, 2010

comics for the week of 06/09/10.

Decent stack this week, especially with the anniversary issue of Batman and its plus-size. Only bad thing about that was that I read it first, so it made everything else seem really short.

Batgirl 11 - The Flood part 3. Batgirl continues to impress, not only as a character, but as a book, too. In this issue, we see the Calculator confronting Barbara, and Cassie being joined by Wendy, who somehow escapes the inescapable cave that Babs set up for her. The issue was great, especially the beginning with Barbara and Dick in the dream world (those other boys were Damien and Jason and Tim, right? Were there three of them?) and Barbara's acknowledgment that she learned from the best. The only bad thing is that I read it immediately after Batman 700, so it felt extremely short. Can't wait for the conclusion next month.

Batman 700 - Time and the Batman. Morrison returns to the main title, and he writes a good story, but I can't help but feel that it's just another ... stop-gap. The story is a good one, like I said, but it didn't have that immediate, pull no punches feel of the previous anniversary issues. 600 was, of course, in the midst of the Murderer storyline (I guess Fugitive, really) which turned out well, in hindsight. 500 was the epic climax (maybe moving toward conclusion?) of the Knightfall storyline. This one was...well...a what-if continuation of 666? It was good, don't get me wrong, I liked the way the story tied together, and I love how Morrison continues to insist that he can do time-traveling or time-spanning stories well (he's almost right) but it just didn't have the punch that I would have expected. Except for seeing Damien as Batman again. I'll never get tired of that.

Booster Gold 33 - The search for Max Lord continues and this book continues to just kind of wallow in mediocrity. The characters seem stuck; no one's really matured or shown signs of growth. Booster did all his growing up in 52 and the first couple issues of this book. Rip tosses out clues, but not in any kind of mature fashion. Neither of them seems to have learned anything - not about each other, nor about themselves. They have the same fights that they did in the first arc. It's an entertaining book, but it doesn't impress me.

Daredevil 507 - Not as great a cover, but a good conclusion to the story of the Hand in Japan. With the revelation regarding the White Tiger last issue, I'm now left wondering about the Black Tarantula. Matt seems like he's still got good in his consciousness, but he's being swayed too easily. I'm looking forward to the Shadowland storyline and I think Diggle's still doing a good job writing the book.

Shield 2 - Man, this book is so intriguing, I read it even though I haven't got my copy of Shield 1 yet, and I was so glad that I did. I like what they're doing here. I like the idea of deep ret-cons like this that are handled well. Nothing infuriating, plenty of history (both real-world and 616) and a story that looks like it's actually going somewhere. The right way to do a book of this kind, even if I'm not exactly sure what "of this kind" means yet.

The Unwritten 14 - Tommy Taylor book 14 still isn't released, but everyone's moving in their own direction, which, curiously, no longer means together. Lizzie abandons Tom (although I suspect she'll be back) and we have these great, tiny revelations about the shadow group, how Lizzie contacts Wilson (if it's really him that she's speaking to) and the relationship between Count Ambrosia and Savoy - but not nearly enough on that last one! This book is still one of the best on the market every month and it seems clear that Carey and Gross are putting quite a bit into it.

Book of the week goes to the Unwritten for continuing down the great path and being unafraid to do different stuff.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

showing the world cup some love.

I'm excited for the World Cup, and if you're not, you should be. England vs. USA is really just one of the stories, though; there are a million to get amped about. Choose one, follow along in glorious HD and maybe learn something about the beautiful game.

Monday, June 7, 2010

charles and emma: the darwins' leap of faith.

Last night I finished up Deborah Heiligman's non-fiction account of the love story between Charles Darwin and his wife. It was fantastic.

I originally started reading this book as research for a non-fiction unit that I wanted my students to do, thinking that I'd have them all read this one, as long as I could bang it out real quick before they got to it, but I just got so caught up with the end of school and other various personal matters that I couldn't finish it in time to honestly assign it for them to read. However, every time that I did have a bit of time for leisure reading, I was able to knock out a significant portion of this book - the pages turn a lot quicker than I ever would have thought a non-fiction book could manage. I'll be honest when I say that non-fiction isn't my cup of tea and I can't think of many (any?) other books in the genre I've read. However, after thoroughly enjoying this one, I can see myself devouring a few more.

The book basically tells the story of Charles and Emma, who marry despite some serious reservations on Charles' part - not about her, but about marriage in general as well as their conflicting religious beliefs. Charles, of course, will go on to write the Origin of the Species, which didn't fly very well with the religious nature of society at that time. Emma, on the other hand, had turned fiercely toward God when one of her sisters died, clinging to the belief that, if God was real, she could at least be reunited with her sister in the afterlife. This was not a trivial matter, not in the eyes of society at the time, and not between two intelligent people, like Charles and Emma were. The novel, though, details the ways in which their relationship overcame this huge barrier, and the ways in which they constantly tested one another, Emma trying to get Charles to pray, and Charles leaving a manuscript with Emma that he asked her to publish in case of his death, even though he knew that she was strongly against the conclusions it would lead people toward.

The book has tons of quotations which definitely struck the correct chord with me, as it's supposed to be an honest representation of the subject matter and not too much of an interpretation. The author, however, does inject her voice at times, but I didn't find it distracting ever. It's clear throughout the book that Heiligman loved her subjects and that becomes even more evident at the end in her acknowledgments. I can only hope that the next non-fiction book I read will have an author so devoted to the subject(s) that I can find myself immersed.

One key, as a kind of post-script, that I think was integral: Despite knowing who Darwin was, and plenty about evolution in general, I didn't really know anything about Charles, and certainly nothing about Emma. I think this was a boon in dealing with my first bout of non-fiction and I'll be looking for something similar that can sneak up on me when I explore the genre further.

If you're at all interested in the conflict between religion and science and how Darwin handled the societal pressure versus his instinct to publish and, most of all, how two people with such disparate views can have a successful relationship, I'd highly suggest this book.

Friday, June 4, 2010

comics for the week of 06/02/10.

Surprisingly great for such a short stack.

Invincible 72 - The Viltrumite War continues! And man, it's good. We have the return of Conquest, which we saw at the end of last issue, and he and Invincible have quite the fight. It's amazing to see. Nolan and Allen have great bit parts, but Oliver continues to annoy in a troubling way. It's not just that he's annoying in a little brother manner, it's that I think Kirkman is setting him up to be a bad guy later. I don't think that takes a lot of deep analysis to see that, but I'm still troubled by it. I'm interested to see if we're going to get any glimpses of what's going on back on Earth while all this is going to be happening in space. Invincible continues to be a great superhero comic book.

Red Hood - The Lost Days 1 (of 6) - Winnick writes what seems to me like one of his favorite characters - Jason Todd. Although, to be fair, in this issue, it certainly seems like we get way more out of Talia than we do out of Jason, for reasons that are pretty explicitly spelled out - nothing wrong with that. I don't know if they've talked about this chapter of Jason's life (different word?) up to this point, or if this is a fresh revelation - the presence of the Al Ghul's - but it feels great. It feels natural, it feels mysterious in a good way, and the characterization of Ra's and his daughter is spot on. I'm curious to see where this is going, not least of all because Jason was such a great character and his resurrection was handled so great, but then, in the last few years and arcs, he's just been massacred completely. I'm hoping that this is the first step to getting him back on the road to being what he had the promise of being.

The Spectacular Spider-Girl 2 (of 4) - The Punisher storyline continues to be just all right, but the book has that great Spider-Man feel. The interaction between April and May (did I seriously just get that for the first time?) is great, and I love the fact that May has a real supporting cast. This book honestly feels like the Spider-Man books that I used to read when I was a lot younger, which is a huge compliment, in my mind. To be fair, though, we're taking quite a while to ramp up the action and if next issue isn't jam-packed, I'm going to worry that they're going to have too much to take care of in just the one issue that'll be left. I really wish Spider-Girl was still an ongoing book, because I'd love to get this kind of flavor every month.

Book of the week goes to Invincible, not just because of the fight but because, month in and month out, this book is good. That takes serious work and Kirkman and Co. should be congratulated.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

celtics. lakers. today.

Not that anyone needs any reminder, but this is the best of the best. If you had any other plans tonight, cancel them.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

comics for the week of 05/26/10.

Again, I know this is late, and I know that it's minimal. That's OK?

Green Lantern 54 - A great piece with Sinestro, Carol and Hal talking about the White Lantern as the sword in the stone (which Sinestro doesn't understand) and then we get a flash of all the people the White Lantern brought back, followed by a glimpse at all the avatars as well as the names of the ones we hadn't known yet. The section with Sodam Yat was confusing to me, because, technically, he should be dead once the uber-Guardian took the Ion entity away, right? Lead poisoning, not to mention being in the middle of a sun? But, instead, he's just dropped down to the planet, which looks to be in big trouble now that the sun has changed back. That's going to be an issue. And last but not least, we have the end of the issue which continues the brief intro from the beginning with Atrocitus, who's searching for the entities. He sees them on a map, with locations that have probably already been surmised by people on the Internet who care way more than me, and then he meets up with Hal, Carol, and Sinestro, who are all going to (apparently) go on this search for the entities. (But not before a bizarro appearance by Lobo, which promises to waste some time.) The only thing about this is...well, Atrocitus is supposed to be on Ysmault (see the GLC review below) and hopping around with Guy and Ganthet. What's the deal with the lack of communication between the two books? Overall, though, obviously a good book, with Johns at the helm not much can go wrong and Mahnke continues to be the exact right penciller for this book.

Green Lantern Corps 48 - On the other hand, this book was all over the place. We start with the meeting that we've already seen, then Ganthet goes to quit the Guardians, we get a cool sequence of him making his own ring, but then we spend some time on the Alpha Lanterns, whom I've never cared about, and they're working with John Stewart, whom I care even less about. This book seems destined to get better, it's got a great cast, but right now it's floundering. They need to decided who they want to focus on, what Ganthet's role is going to be, and do a better job of evening out the storylines. I'm thinking that issue 50 will jumpstart the Emerald Warriors book, and maybe some of the characters in here will jump over there, giving the writers a little less to work with, which will probably be a good thing. Here's to hoping.

Book of the week goes to Green Lantern, which continues to dominate the central storytelling of Geoff Johns' DC Universe experiment. If he can run the whole universe out of this book, why shouldn't he? He's done a great job so far.