Friday, December 31, 2010

comics for the weeks of 12/22/10 and 12/29/10.

Skipped my trip last week due to the holidays, so I don't know which goes with what week, but I figure that's fine.

Action Comics 896 - Maybe I'm missing out on something here because I don't read Secret Six (and what a great line from Luthor about that name, when he knows about the group and there's seven of them! Best moment of the book) but it seemed a bit odd to me. Also, the situation with Vandal Savage was a little off to me. I didn't remember leaving Luthor in this situation at the end of the last book, but it played out all right. The best part of the book was the discussion between Lois (although does this mean that there are plural copies of her? Did we already know that?) and Mr. Mind. There's clearly something larger going on here, especially with Paul Cornell writing the book, and with the rapid approach to issue 900. I think we're going to see something huge, and I think the much-heralded appearance of Death will pale in comparison. (Certainly no pun intended.) I'm a little upset about having to buy and read Secret Six to get the conclusion to this story, but the next issue box with the Joker more than makes up for things! Also, the Jimmy Olson backup was awesome (again) this month, and I'll certainly be looking into buying his book when it drops.

Batman Incorporated 2 - A nice enough issue, continued well on the good things from issue 1, good enough art, a decent story from Morrison, with a satisfying conclusion, and, ultimately, the last issue of Batman Inc. that I'll buy. There's just no need, in my mind, for me to keep track of this book. This two-issue story was fine, but I can tell where the book's going, and I'm not interested. I'm not against the idea of Batman Inc. as it's been introduced to the Batman wold, but I'm not interested in breathlessly following it either. Give me Dick Grayson in Gotham, give me Bruce popping up in his life every once in a while, and give the me parenting of Damien. Alfred, of course, needs to be there. But honestly, despite how well-written this story was, there will never be a time when I truly care about the Batman of any other nation.

The Flash 8 - This was a sad issue for me, for more than just the continued lack of Francis Manapul's pencils. As I mentioned last time, it's clear that Kolins is going to be doing a good amount of work on this book, because Manapul just can't keep up the same pace as Geoff Johns. That being said, the book suffers because of it. Kolins is a more than capable artist, but it's just not as good. It's an unfortunate circumstance that he's always going to be compared, and he's always going to come out on the losing side of that comparison. As for the story itself, it started off by saying that Barry Allen was turned into the Flash in the 21st century, and it only got sloppier after that. The Reverse Flash is basically tracking through his own life, continually adjusting it so that he can be perfect, but it's a soulless tale because we didn't know any of this and don't have time to care about any of it. I don't care that he wipes his own brother from existence and I'm confused by the ending. Thawne becomes the Flash of the 25th century, due to the machinations of the Reverse Flash, (which is him, right?) who then ends the issue talking about how he'll never be Flash. Maybe I'm reading it too lazily, but I think it's confusing writing. Not up to expectations.

Green Lantern 61 - This issue, on the other hand, surpassed expectations. The appearance of the Butcher, some serious development of Atrocitus' character, and a throwdown between an entity and the Spectre! Everything in here was great, which really makes me wish that Johns would continue on this path, instead of the approach he's been taking to Green Lantern of telling at least five different stories in each issue. It's magnificent when he's able to concentrate on just one central thing, as he does here. The battle between the Butcher and the Spectre is littered with casual clues ("I warned you long ago") that are part of Johns' strength as a writer, and the aftermath, when Atrocitus sticks up for the bit character James Kim is a particularly strong moment in his development. I love the reference to the Holy War against Krona, as well. The buildup to the War of the Lanterns just got a lot stronger.

Invincible 76 - A depressingly great issue. The emotion that we get from the Regent Thragg over the destruction of his homeworld and the previous betrayal come out so strong here that I half-heartedly found myself rooting for him. Not hoping that he'd win, of course, but definitely empathizing. The way that almost literally all of the characters are taken down and out by the Viltrumites is depressing, especially given how carefully they were selected and trained for this war. Battle Beast is tossed aside, Tech Jacket looks like he's going to die, Allen is absolutely worked. Only Space Racer seems to truly understand, and when he pulls back in retreat, it seems as though Invincible and his father are doomed. However, the plan Thragg comes up with is a brutal one. I don't know if next issue is the conclusion to this arc, but it seems definite that we'll see a return to Earth for Invincible and the rest of his crew. It's gonna be devastating.

Shield 5 - Man, the layers just keep getting piled on. This book is so confusing by this point that it's almost taking away my enjoyment of the series. I still love it, I love the big ideas, I love the art, I love the ambition and scope, but this might be a series that is best enjoyed in trade paperback. Here we've got the factioning of Shield between Leonardo da Vinci and Isaac Newton and we've got Howard Stark and Nathaniel Richards thrown into the future, trying to find a way home. Lots of heavy stuff. Meanwhile, Leonid is still being led around by Nostradamus, and we find out on the last page that the Night Machine (who's supposed to be Leonid's dad, right?) is none other than Nikola Tesla. It's such a crazy mishmash of brilliant ideas. Very post-modern. A good read, but, as I said, they might be losing my individual issues at the conclusion of this arc.

Book of the week goes to Green Lantern for the way that Geoff Johns makes even the most inhuman (and inhumane) characters into real people. Amazing work.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

i'd like to think so.

Here's to hoping the bottom quote in panel five describes my 2010. If not, here's to making 2011 a better attempt.




Dinosaur Comics can, of course, be found here.

Friday, December 24, 2010

end of the year review.

It's that time again - winter is in the air (everywhere except ABQ, apparently) and people are recounting what happened. What's the best when it comes to the media I consumed?

Books

This year, I read less than I did last year, but I still managed to get in some good ones. Other than the old stuff that I read for class (like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - good, a lot different than Blade Runner - and To Kill A Mockingbird - yup, I'd never read it before, and yes, it was as good as everyone said it was) I read a combination of stuff.

The Hunger Games Triology - When I was researching nonfiction for my class, John Green told me on Twitter that he believed these books predict the future and, thus, could be considered nonfiction. I certainly hope not, because I wouldn't survive the way Katniss Everdeen does. These books, however, deserve all the praise they get. They were great, engaging young adult novels that consistently pushed the boundaries of what could be considered appropriate for young adults, but in all the best ways. I really do think that Collins wrote part of the last one as a refutation to the Stephanie Meyer/Bella theory of women as servants. Strong characters, excellent plot line, these books were head and shoulders above everything else I read this year.

Charles and Emma - A great place for me to start in nonfiction, it proved to me that it didn't all have to be boring.

The Help - A book club selection that turned out to be a great novel, I loved most of the things about this novel. I also liked that I read it while it was popular, because it opened a lot of novel (pun!) conversations to me that I would have missed out on otherwise.

I also read Crank which seems like it's going to be really important (or has already been) to a certain subset of teenagers, and Replay, which had me thinking for a long time about what I'd do under the same circumstances. The Stand ultimately disappointed me.

As always, comic books win this category for me, but I honestly can't think of the best comics that I read this year, other than to keep harping on The Unwritten which is as close to perfection as I think we're going to get in this age.

Oh, shit! Yeah! The ending to Ex Machina! That's the one! Number one thing I read all year, definitely. With a bullet.

Movies

I watch a shitload less movies than I used to, but that's been a pretty consistent thing for a while now. Below, a ranking of the best new ones in 2010 movies that I did see and a few words on others as well.

4. Despicable Me - The best animated flick of the year. Cute storyline, immediately quoteable lines, and a winning job from a non-Pixar team that must get tired of getting slapped around.

3. Iron Man 2 - A solid sequel to what I think still might be my favorite comic book movie of all time. Moves things along nicely, uses its own story in the best way it can and sets things up for the future. Downey was born to play the part. Here's to hoping he gets to stick with it forever.

2. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - Did I say Iron Man was my favorite comic book movie of all time? I did, because this was more of a video game than anything else. That, however, is not a knock. I know it's based on a comic, trust me, but there's no denying that the comic (and this movie version) owe a tremendous debt to the world of video games. And it works. It's got heart, it's got comedy, it's got nerdy jokes at every level. The sound effects are what make the movie. Go see it.

1. Inception - I'm not going to waste my time reviewing this movie. You saw it. We all did. I know December always sees a bunch of Best Film contenders released and that I haven't seen most of those (yet) but try to remember how you felt when you walked out of this movie, after seeing it for the first time. This was the best movie of the year. Don't kid yourself.

I also saw Toy Story 3 (didn't think it was as good as everyone else did, and certainly not as good as 1 or 2) and Shutter Island (which didn't impress me) in the theaters.

Over the course of year, thanks to Netflix, I caught up on the following movies from last year, which I thought were just as good as almost everything on the list above, and I was happy to take in: Pirate Radio, Up in the Air, An Education, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and The Invention of Lying.

However, A Serious Man gets a special nod for being the worst movie I saw this year, especially after all the praise it got. I thought it was irredeemable.

Music

Music is always the hardest for me to rank and it's only getting harder. With me getting older and so much music being put out, it's a losing combination. However, there were some amazing albums put out this year. This is my list.

10. Eminem - Recovery
9. Harlem - Hippies
8. Deer Tick - The Black Dirt Sessions
7. Wale - More About Nothing
6. Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid
5. Maximum Balloon - Maximum Balloon
4. Matt & Kim - Sidewalks
3. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot, the Son of Chico Dusty
2. Broken Bells - Broken Bells
1. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Honorable Mentions go to The Gallery (I have no idea if they put out an album this year, but I loved their live show!), the Roots with How I Got Over, the Knux with Fuck You, Johnny Cash's American VI, She & Him's Volume II, Band of Horse's Infinite Arms, and Kings of Leon with Come Around Sundown. Artists that were on other lists that I haven't got to listen to yet include, but are not limited to, the National, Best Coast and the Walkmen. Artists that are on other lists that I didn't find all that impressive include, but aren't limited to, Beach House, Vampire Weekend, LCD Soundsystem, Robyn, Drake, the Arcade Fire, and Sleigh Bells.

As much as I tried to deny it, it's still Kanye's world for me. I really wanted to put Big Boi on top, but it would just be me trying to make myself contrarian. The songs, however, paint a somewhat different picture.

Songs of the Year

5. Kanye West - Runaway

4. Jay Electronica - Exhibit C

3. Big Boi - Shutterbugg

2. Lupe Fiasco - The Show Goes On

1. Cee-Lo - Fuck You!

What'd I miss?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

uconn.

When it comes to sports records, I'm honestly not sure if there's one more hallowed than the UCLA men's basketball team winning 88 games in a row from 1971-1973. The mark was set with the late legend John Wooden as coach and with Lew Alcindor doing work as a Bruin. Alcindor, of course, would go on to become known later as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and set the all-time points mark in the National Basketball Association. Winning a bunch of games in a row is certainly no easy task. The all-time mark in the NBA is 33. The all-time mark in the NFL is either 23 or 21, depending on playoff inclusion. The all-time mark in the NHL is a meager 17 and the number in the MLB is 26. These are professionals playing at the highest level possible, being paid a lot of money to win. The fact that a college program set the all-time winning record is amazing. It doesn't matter if it was UCLA, a beacon for talent in an era when talent wasn't exactly well-distributed. The mark stands head and shoulders above most of the other accomplishments that are celebrated in sports.

However, the University of Connecticut has a women's basketball program that you might have head of. Head coach Geno Auriemma has done a fantastic job of guiding his teams to championships, regular season wins, and respect among basketballers of all genders. Auriemma's been at UConn since 1985 and already had a mere 70 game win-streak earlier this decade. But 70 doesn't compare to what UConn did on Sunday and what they'll continue tonight: breaking the all-time win record of those UCLA teams. After absolutely handling Ohio State, the number 10 team in the nation, on Sunday, UConn is ready to face Florida State for the record. There's little doubt they'll come away with the win and so, after that point, the question becomes: how long can this streak be stretched?

Auriemma, always the great coach, has been loathe to talk about the streak as it's been going on, but as the monkey was (almost) finally lifted from his back on Sunday night, he let loose a little. It was refreshing to see, and it was honest in a way that some people will probably be uncomfortable with.

What most needs to be said is this: Cutting through the subtle tones of sexism, or even the not-so-subtle ones, what this UConn team is about to do tonight is most likely the most impressive sports record that will be set during my lifetime. It's something that I can't imagine another team doing, even though UConn's gotten near this level already. Given how rare it is for a men's college team to have even one undefeated season, the threat will not come from that side of the bracket. Given how quickly streaks are busted in most of the pro leagues these days, the threat will not emerge from their nation either. Unbelievable as it may seem, it appears as though the greatest threat to UConn's historical dominance, whenever it ends, will be themselves.

Elite high school players should (are do) trip over themselves to get into the halls of Connecticut. Britney Griner rules the roost at Baylor and Tennessee's coach Pat Summitt may have more championships than Auriemma (likely to change this season) but UConn is the Valhalla of women's college basketball. The win streak only enhances their recruiting ability, which didn't honestly need that much help.

Those points, however, are all long-term future. For now, tonight, there's only one thing that a sport-loving American can and should do: tune into ESPN at 5 PM local time to watch a historic feat officially become history. This will be one that is a trivia question for ages. We can debate which streak is greater and we can talk about when we think it's going to end, but everyone should take at least one night to savor the moment as it happens.

Monday, December 20, 2010

comics for the week of 12/15/10.

All DC again, if you include Vertigo as DC, which I know is somewhat weird, but it is technically correct.

Batman 705 - This book is getting better with each issue. I've already voiced my pleasure at seeing new characters (and now we're seeing that they're mixed with old characters, but that's fine) and I hope that it continues along this track. I didn't read 52 but there was enough of the backstory here that I could get things. (Although is Sensei supposed to be the father of Ras al Ghul?) The interweaving of the old and the new is a nice touch, and (usually) a safe way to introduce new characters. The ending, however, seems to put a kibosh on this. I thought we all realized that the trend of making new characters the literal (or metaphorical, I don't care) offspring of established villains and have them essentially be the same villain was a bad trend? The Riddler looks terrible (shots at Tony Daniel, but also, real talk on his hair and that terrible green overcoat) and his daughter looks even worse. Bad bad bad decision making. Here's to hoping there's not a too-many-villains problem with this book next issue where they just keep trying to push it over the top.

Batman and Robin 18 - The last page, with the Absence holding that huge pair of scissors? Classic! However, the best thing about this book was the art of Scott McDaniel. I don't know why it didn't make a bigger impression on me last issue, but with Cornell writing, and the new characters, and the diving into Morrison-inspired weirdness territory, I thought it was just a perfect mix. This book can continue along its Twin Peaks-style without Morrison, and I hope that this story proves that. It'll be a nice distraction from the regular books, other than the fact that Batman Incorporated looks like Morrison continuing this track, which will double up the kooky in a realm that doesn't necessarily need it.

Green Lantern 60 - Would have been the book of the week, if it weren't for the Unwritten. Green Lantern finally feels like it's picking up, turning around, and generally getting out from underneath the post-Blackest Night malaise. The Collector turns out to be Krona, to absolutely no geek's surprise (although my friends tell me that this is probably a surprise in the general population - really?) and he snags two more entities through devious trickery. The Sinestro line about Kyle Rayner, though, was definitely the highlight in my book: "Kyle Rayner couldn't free a snowflake from an avalanche." Ohhh, diss. Great art from Mahnke, as usual. Solid read.

The Unwritten 20 - First of all, I must have missed something in issue 19, because the way 20 began was pretty shocking to me. That being said, after the initial confusion, this was another superb issue. Tom's just like any other guy in love (in love? really? I don't know but that's how he seems) in so far as he's running far and away with something that Lizzie...well...it seems she's still got some reservations. It's an interesting match, especially with the different ways they remember their respective childhoods. I was glad to see Savoy come to terms with his vampirism, especially directly to Lizzie, because I think she'll deal with it most efficiently, as we see her doing almost immediately. And, of course, the end is a killer. I'd like to think that this will be a common theme. It won't really be his dad, of course, but little aspects of himself that he put into some of the greatest works.

Book of the week goes to The Unwritten, as it's amazing month after month after month. If you're not reading this book, seriously, there's not much more that I can say.

Friday, December 17, 2010

new mexico bowl!

The University of New Mexico football season may be done, but we still have one more thing to cross off our list before the new year arrives: the New Mexico Bowl! In the age of wildly proliferating bowls, I know it's not the honor it used to be. The fact remains, however, that we've got something of a special spot this year: the New Mexico Bowl is officially the first Bowl game and gets mentioned as such. Additionally, it'll be shown on ESPN, which is always nice for Albuquerque.

The NM Bowl pits Brigham Young University against University of Texas El Paso. While there's been some griping about the teams selected, at least they both sport .500 records. Much has been made of the fact that BYU and UTEP are headed in different directions but the New Mexico Bowl should be a decent game.

With the drought officially over thanks to the winter wonderland that's been pouring down here in Albuquerque, the New Mexico Bowl might actually resemble a football game in December, too. The game starts at noon, local time, and you can rest assured that tailgaters will be out in the parking lot of University Stadium as early as 8, no matter the weather. Tickets are still available so try to make it.

An interesting tidbit about the New Mexico Bowl is that it seems to be cursed: no team that's won it has had a winning season since. As we're now two years removed from our last appearance, perhaps this ominous statistic will provide some kind of cold comfort of hope for Lobo football next season.

Monday, December 13, 2010

comics for the week of 12/08/10.

Lots going on in the world, I'm trying to do more here than just sports and comics, but if I can't manage that, I'm just going to keep doing what I can.

Batgirl 16 - Finishing up the two-part Fugitive story. To be honest, I didn't feel a lot of pull from this issue, but it's still a good book. Nguyen's art fell a but flat after the delight of last issue and the story just wasn't that intriguing. It wasn't last issue, either, but there were some things that worked there that didn't really turn out here. The subplot with the policeman continues to be a nice little touch, though, and the last page was a good hook for the future.

Fables 100 - A monster. Frau Totenkinder battles the Dark Man one on one and it's clear from the moment that it gets started that it's going a bit too easy for her. It's a magnificent battle, though it would have been nice to see her accumulating all these ideas and some of the power. (As Ozma says, "She hid it so deftly, for so long.") The battle is really the whole thing. The subplot with Nurse Spratt seems odd and, while I'm glad to have Beauty and the Beast's baby, it seems like something that'll pay off much further down the road, as opposed to the way the Dark Man is still an immediate threat. The ways that both he and Totenkinder changed throughout their battle (and the book) was interesting, and the conclusion seemed inevitable, but satisfying nonetheless. The backups in the book were marvelous, and a big round of cheers goes to the creators involved in putting this issue out. They could have just done a 68-page special for the 100th issue, but bravo for aiming high and having the balls to put out a ten dollar 100th issue. It was worth every penny.

Flash 7 - With art by Scott Kolins, this wasn't bad at all, but I definitely missed Manapul. The focus on Boomerang, though, was a bit much for me, since I've never really cared for him, especially given the other characters in the Flash Rogue gallery. The idea of him breaking Zoom out to get information also seemed half-brained. Would he really go to those lengths for something so doubtful? All in all, not a bad issue, but filled with little details that made it somewhat unenjoyable.

New Avengers 7 - This book was the best of the bunch since this title's been relaunched. It felt exactly like I expected the New Avengers, written by Bendis, to feel. The banter between all the characters was top notch, the plot was a decent enough example of how real life can sometimes be just as nefarious as a super villain's plot to take over the world. I like the hint of something coming up between Squirrel Girl (hahahaha) and Wolverine. Pretty great stuff, and the panels of interviews made up one of the best double-page spreads I've recently seen. Wong's entrance at the end capped one of the most fun and funniest issues I've read in a long time.

Superboy 2 - This book continues to impress. The supporting character of Simon Valentine is one of the best parts of this young experiment. Also, we're getting some solid ground laid for Connor to have his own adventures instead of merely walking through younger Superman's footsteps. I'm happy with the art, with the writing, and the characters. The book needs some more time to grow, but it's off to a good start.

Book of the week goes to Fables 100, for the sheer scope of their ambition. Willingham and Buckingham should get more recognition, even if you don't think they're underrated. This book continues to tell its story on a phenomenal level and they're doing things on their terms. Success.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

i cannot have obama's back any more.

Last week was a disgusting week.

When we should have been talking about Elizabeth Edwards and her courageous approach to her battle with cancer ending in its inevitable manner, we were sold out by the guy who was supposed to be the change that we sought. Joey sums up a few nice points from this TPM post but I feel the need to add a couple of my own cents.

Firstly, I've been a pretty frantic Obama-defender. Even when people were criticizing the Health Care Bill, even when he fought to keep Don't Ask, Don't Tell after pledging that he'd get rid of it, even after he refused to go hard after the Republicans that were telling outright lies.

I read this Rolling Stone piece and I thought, "Ah, there are other people who get it. It's a hard job. He's doing some significant work." I thought that, even if he wasn't perfect, he was significantly better than our other options in 2008 (and I still stand by that, obviously) and he was making some headway.

I am not sure I believe that anymore.

After Obama held his press conference to attack his fellow liberal for daring to stand up to him, I wondered why I'd never heard this sort of tone and anger with the Republicans, or the Tea Party, or Fox News, or anyone he promised he'd fight against!

Secondly, I'm not about to use this space to criticize the hypocritical Tea Party. They've been consistently outed as fools and lunatics, so I don't think it's worth the time to note their lack of protests in this case.

Third, this is probably the straw that breaks my allegiance to Obama. It might sound odd that I've accepted all the other things and defended him so vociferously and am able to turn on a dime, but this is a clear-cut issue. This is no room for debate here. There is no gray. This is a place and a time where he could have and should have drawn a line in the sand and said, "This is the wrong thing to do. I will stand over here, and if you are on the side of doing the right thing, you will join me."

Instead, he sold out every single person who contributed less than 1,000 dollars to his campaign. (All those donors that Obama for America bragged about who made small contributions are the ones who will pay the highest price for this farce.) And then, Bernie Sanders made a bigger deal of this and it went virtually ignored by the mainstream media.

While David Alexrod is out trying to spin shit into gold, the Obama administration is losing not only the battle for the hearts of minds of their most ardent supporters. Satire starts to look more and more likely when our president would rather compromise with people who would rather die than compromise with him and his party than stand up for the people who got him to his position.

Bill Clinton should know better than to get involved in this mess. This is a stabbing in the back. Meanwhile, John Edwards has suffered yet again and, because of the twisted values of our country, where it's more important to appear faithful in a marriage than actually know how to do your job, he's banished from the arena of politics, where he would show considerable more spine than we've seen from any of our leaders in the last two weeks.

It's an unbelievable betrayal for Barack Obama to try to portray this as a compromise or as what's best for the country. And it's a flat out lie to say that he's got our best interests at heart at this point.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

all politics is local - so are sports?

Here's an article I wrote about some bad times at a local high school. This is me not mentioning any specifics of the story or the school, hoping that I won't be Google-stalked by the students.

Enjoy.

Monday, December 6, 2010

comics for the week of 12/01/10.

Man. What a weird week. This time around, an old standby disappointed and Daredevil finally let me down, just like everyone had been telling me that it inevitably would.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 39 - The cover was the key. But, to be honest, this issue fell flat for me. I didn't get the sense of urgency here that I expect to get from the second-to-last issue of my favorite series in a long time. Buffy, Angel, Spike, the Master, Willow, the fate of the world...everything was in place! Maybe I haven't been reading carefully enough, because I'm not going to sit here and claim that I understand everything with Twilight and the Seed, etc. but I will say this: the major events of this issue didn't feel like they were real. They didn't have gravity. Maybe that's because of shock, and maybe next month, with issue 40, I'll feel differently, but for now, this was a bit of a let down.

Daredevil 512 - Somewhat pointless. If you read Shadowland 5, which it told you to do before you read this, there wasn't anything in DD 512 that you didn't already know. Black Panther will be taking over as the Man Without Fear for a bit. Matt has a beard and is on the road again, trying to find himself. The one-shot will be called Reborn, in another attempt to always tie everything in this book to Born Again. I've loved DD since it's been relaunched. I've bought almost every single issue since that relaunch and I've got to say that I've never been more confident about the fact that I'll be dropping the book. It's been a great run, and I liked Shadowland well enough, but I'll voice my concerns a bit more below.

Detective Comics 871 - As I said last week, the previews convinced me I was wrong not to pick this up, and I'm so glad I did. This book seems like it might be the best of the bunch! Jock puts up brilliant pencils and the story is way better than the little villains they're creating in other books. I know that I said that I like them, so it's not like I'm trying to knock the other books, but this one felt more like Batman. Dick seems extremely confident in this book and I hope that we continue to see less of Damien in this book, as he's getting his due in other places. He's a great character, but there's something to be said for Dick Grayson as Batman all on his own.

Shadowland 5 (of 5) - Ghost Rider triumphing over Daredevil on the cover is an example of a lie. In the actual book, Ghost Rider gets taken out in a little less than a page. But that's just one of the smallest ways in which this book failed. I knew that I shouldn't get my hopes up and think that they'd actually kill Matt Murdock, but it seemed like the only way this story could go. I should know better by now. Instead, we have the healing chi of Iron Fist waking up a fight inside Murdock, where he successfully fights off the Beast and then mysteriously vanishes at the end. It was a lot like the second and third Matrix movies: superb concept, almost guaranteed lead-in and miserable finish. There's little more that can be said other than Shadowland proves a fitting capstone to the run that was begun more than ten years ago by Quesada and Kevin Smith: they began this idea that Born Again could be only the beginning of destroying Matt's life, and that concept has fully run its course through his book for the duration since. If only they had killed him, it would have been an instant classic. As it stands, Shadowland is merely another story that attempts to do what Born Again did, in less issues, and more successfully.

Book of the week goes to...Detective Comics, even though it didn't even come out this week! Buffy was underwhelming, the Daredevil titles were the perfect example of how to go out with a whimper and not a band, so Tec wins by default. That's not to say that it's not its own great book. Check it out.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

lobo sports semester check in.

Almost everyone in Albuquerque knows that the Lobos sports programs aren't exactly in a great state. They can't help but know, with the Albuquerque Journal plastering coach Locksley's face and body all over the front of the sports section, not to mention his own place in the first section. If no news is good news, to the Albuquerque Journal, bad news must be the best news. Nobody's done a better job of stoking this fire under Locksley's bum than our local paper.

And to be fair, Locks deserves to be held accountable. You won't find a Lobos football apologist here. The team stinks. 2-22 over two years is not only pathetic, it's embarrassing. It's terrible having to talk football with out of town friends, and it's sad when our football team is in the national news for being so bad.

But...Locksley walked into a pretty bad situation, too. Sure, Rocky Long did better while he was here (a lot better!) but he wasn't going to do as well as he had previously if he was the coach these last two seasons. That's the simple truth.

But the real point here? If you focused on the headlines (and especially the national news media), the football team's woes would be the only thing you knew about Lobo sports. And there's so much more:

Our volleyball team just pulled down unparalleled honors in our conference. Coach Jeff Nelson has been rewarded for putting in long hours and tough work, and the women are getting ready to face the University of Southern California on Friday.

Even though we got beat pretty handily, our men's soccer team made a proud return to the NCAA Tournament. The game was especially meaningful because of the connection the Creighton coaches have to the Lobos soccer program. And, sure, the loss was a bad one, but it's a step in the right direction for a program that's been close to the top in recent history.

Of course, after the construction to the Pit last year, people were excited about the basketball team and the semi-new venue. Putting aside the so-called controversy about rich people not being allowed to booze it up, the new Pit seems a success. Similarly putting aside some of the early season jitters - and new big man Alex Kirk getting highlights he doesn't want the men's team looks to be in good shape, winning last night against Southern Illinois University.

These, of course, are not the only sports programs that are succeeding at UNM. The men's and women's cross country teams both did well at Nationals. The Lady Lobos basketball team has been uneven, but is incredibly young, and shows promise.

If Lobo football is getting the average Burqueno down, maybe it's time to try something else out. There's plenty of winning teams, and the best thing is that they're relatively unknown at this point - no accusations of bandwagoning for anyone who jumps on at this point. Support your local teams and you'll be pleasantly surprised when next football season rolls around and you're feeling up for another round.