Monday, December 31, 2012

comic for the week of 12/26/12.

Sticking to my word, I'm not going to talk about Amazing Spider-Man in this space. But I've been thinking about it a lot and talking about it in person with a few folks, so it might get its own entry sometime later. For now, just one comic during this holiday season.

Before Watchmen: Nite Owl 4 - A great conclusion to a good book. Nice to see a revelation about Nite Owl II, and cool to see this angle of the dissolution of he and Rorschach's partnership. I'd also be interested in learning exactly how much time is supposed to have passed since the events of Rorschach's book to this one. Loved the tie-ins with Dan and his weakness for women, as well as the notes on Hollis and Under the Hood. This book felt like the most completely circular of all the books that have finished already, which is a nice touch for the Watchmen line.

Again, I don't give out BOTW for one-book weeks, so go pick up something completely off the wall, give it a chance.

Monday, December 24, 2012

comics for the week of 12/19/12.

What a hell of a damn week. First of all, let's focus on the positive. Phil Noto is ending this epic X-Force run, and it's really making me regret not picking up the book from the get go. I mean, it's been amazing the whole time (aside from that wackass Otherworld arc, with its terrible art) and this has been the greatest ending. I've never given it its own review, because I haven't bought it, but it gets its own below. Plus, There are so many great indie books out this week (although, at this point, it's hard to classify Whedeonverse via Dark Horse or Terry Moore or BKV as truly indie, but the fact of the matter is they don't have the massive marketing push behind them that Marvel and DC do. And that brings us to the worst news of the week: Amazing Spider-Man 700. I'm not going to pile on too hard, because I'm sure that other people are tripping just as hard as I did when I read it, but I'm just going to leave it at this: I will remain grateful forever that I jumped off this book with Brand New Day. No matter how good some of my friends told me some of the stories were, if I had continued to invest myself in Peter Parker and Spider-Man, I'm pretty sure this issue would have broken my spirit. I know that sounds ridiculously drastic, but when we're talking about Spidey, we're talking about me as a kid. It shouldn't surprise anyone that the reactions we have to to the things we love as children come across as more than a touch juvenile.

Angel and Faith 17 – Hahaha. What a great start. To see Giles introduce himself as Ripper? Shit, we knew right off the bat that this was going to be something special. And it was...but mainly just the old Giles parts. The current story, while finally giving some answers, is just about par. The return of Eyghon is predictable if not exciting, and the pseudo-appearance of Ethan Rayne is another good ingredient. The sisters are characters who are still developing, so I'm willing to let them kind of just muddle along. But Faith? She's supposed to be better than this ridiculous pendulum swing from super committed to super upset. She didn't realize this was going to be the end result if her gang of ex-Slayers found out who she was working with? Please. She's come so much farther than that. She's not that stupid, definitely not now, and she might never have even been. Angel's final battle is going to be something to see, though, with the power that Eyghon seems to have accrued.

Batwoman 15 – JH is progressing as a (words-only) storyteller, but it's still a disappointment when he's not on art, whether it's planned or not. This one turns out better than the others from the past, though, because Maggie is our sole focus here. Great way to break up the chapters, and good to get inside her head, too. She's a great character. It's interesting to see the ways that the different characters of different gay persuasions have been raised, the ways their families responded, etc. The all-consuming nature of Maggie in regards to her job really makes it clear why she's attracted to Kate. Their relationship, while amazing, doesn't seem like it's going to blossom, though, with their mutual obsessions. That's a shame, but it's not something that's going to derail the book, either. Next issue: the end of this arc? Let's finish with a bang!

Fables 124 – Just what the Bufkin saga needed: a bit more length. I know it was still divided into those short chapters (which makes me think it was supposed to run as a backup more than a couple more times) but to have that continuity was great. Shawn McManus' art was great, as usual. Maybe it even benefitted from the continuity too? Bufkin's story is told, even the Happily Ever After. It ends exactly as you'd both expect and hope. Nothing wrong with that, quite enjoyable.

Green Lantern 15 – Well, it's still plugging away, but if Johns' writing is going to continue slipping at this rate, Doug Mahnke's art is really going to have to improve. This is as bad as I can remember it ever looking. The story with Baz has taken enough (justifiable) heat, so I'm thrilled that we got a whole one page on the Hal/Sinestro storyline. The ending, of course, promises that we'll get a bit more next issue, but who knows if that's really gonna be the case. For now, the federal agent is on Baz's side, the Third Army is near, the First Lantern is definitely going to be making a move soon and none of it is compelling.

Locke and Key: Omega 2 – Jesus. This book is something else. The single page splash of Kinsey in her dress was beautiful, the bifurcated pages of Rufus' imagination versus the real world was brilliant, the ghost of Bode was something I wasn't anticipating, and the overall tone of the book was soooo happy. I mean, everyone's got what they want! The bad guy's gonna win, he's so confident. The good guys have no idea, they're blissfully content. And apparently, as Bode tells Rufus, this whole arc is going to take place over the course of one day; Dodge's plan is set for the night of the Prom! (A cliché turned on its head. Another sign of Joe Hill's being raised in a bright literary family. I love it.) The part in the mental hospital and getting to see the old characters all coming back around is part of what's going to make this a true epic. There are no mistakes here.

Rachel Rising 13 – Yep. This book. It's truly strange. I don't know how to react to the small chunks that we get anymore. I've always loved Terry Moore, but I might be starting to think about getting my doses of him in trade paperback form. I want to support the indie books, but it's just so dissatisfying to see so little of the actual story. Here we get the three witches working together against the town and Rachel. Rachel is finding out more about herself. The freak goes to see Jet's body and he talks about the origin of the story of Sleeping Beauty. Last but not least, Harold (is that his name?) takes Jet's body to Rachel. He's gonna try keeping her out of cold storage and see what effect that'll have on her body. I'm not sure what it will, seeing as she should, honestly, be dead. I love this book and I love how genuinely creepy it is. I might not buy singles anymore (we'll see about that, though) but I'll stay with this story through its end.

Saga 8 – Alana's back story gets a little focus and Hazel's narration is still spot-on. The disparity between Marko's parents gets cleared up a little bit, but the focus here is on his dying father. The simultaneous nature of backstory, current story and future narration (via the aforementioned grown-up Hazel) is a neat trick. BKV is a genius. Has this been done before? The layering that's happening puts him above most of the so-called adult novels that people rush to fawn over. The last page cliffhanger? Just another example. Gwendolyn isn't just some abstract concept, she's a character who's important. There's a reason she's been mentioned. (This is going to come back into play with The Will [cool concept with all the freelancers being called The Something, too] and his...personal issues, obviously.) This book is just getting its wings, but it's already showing the heights it's going to soar to.

Uncanny X-Force 35 – Remender called his last page “self-indulgent yakking” but if anyone deserves it, it's him, for this series. He took Wolverine and a series of progressively pathetic characters and turned them into one of the most compelling teams in the last decade or so. The moral ambiguity never left the series. There were some fortuitous drops (AOA Nightcrawler is a get, no matter how you slice it) and some missteps (I'm not going to defend the Otherworld storyline) but overall, he took a character that Grant Morrison created and made him into something completely new. That's talent right there. He also revitalized one of the oldest characters in the X-Universe, Warren Worthington, and provided a cap for the relationship between he and Psylocke. Wolverine was the rock, but Deadpool was the draw. Always a shitty character, Remender made him hilarious in the best way. The cloned child Apocalypse angle could have gone as poorly as the kiddie Hellfire Club has, but it was always genuine. Ditto for the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Sabertooth is an asshole. Daken is dead. (For now.) This book gave us the best possible ending for a book that was so dark in tone the whole time. Fade out to a snowy, happy Merry Christmas.

The Unwritten 44 – The title of this issue is “Halfway Through the Journey” - is this a not-so-subtle clue to the length of the overall story? Or is it merely referring to the current arc? Or is it both? When the War of the Words concluded, I really thought The Unwritten was going to be over sooner rather than later. At this point? I have no idea. Danny Armitage is clearly the coolest new character in this book and I can't really figure out the role he's going to play. But if Danny is the coolest new one, Mr. Bun is the coolest older character. There is a lot going on here, and it's consistently one of the greatest books that comes out monthly. It's going to read so much better as a whole, too, but it's got a LOT to offer people who go the monthly route, too. Tom is navigating the land of the dead, he's got some harpies to deal with, the Unicorn meets its ultimate end and the land of lost stories is still clearly in a bad spot. It's always darkest before the dawn? We'll see if this signals a turn for the better. I have a feeling that's not quite here just yet.

Ultimate Spider-Man 18 – This issue was great. I still haven't looked up Ultimate Spider-Woman, so I have no idea if I'm supposed to know her back story or not, but I'm glad to be in the dark, even if I'm not supposed to be. It's kind of more fun that way. The art, by Marquez, was great again, and the tone of the book just feels so right. Miles is a fun Spider-Man, a new one that's really learning the right way to be a good hero. His dad's dilemma seems like it's going to play out in a very strange way, so I'm not looking forward to that dynamic. But Ganke is awesome, Spider-Woman's place in the book is awesome, the fact that Bendis is making such a big deal out of Miles saving Cap is awesome, and last, but certainly not least, this is the best book in the Ultimate Universe right now. With X-Force going out, and the Marvel NOW! Initiative not doing anything for me (at all), this might be one of the last Marvel books that I stay as a regular on. I grew up as a Marvel kid, and it's sad to see that they're losing the battle so intensely. But if there were more books like this and Wolverine & the X-Men, maybe I'd have a reason to stay. Bottom line: I'm really riding for Miles Morales now, not just because of 616 Spidey, but also because Ultimate X-Men and the Ultimates fucking blow.

Wolverine and the X-Men 22 – Well, yeah, OK, this was cute. The book is still great, and I can see the progress that's already being made. We've always clamored for new mutants (even after they gave us a book called that) and Jason Aaron sure is bringing the heat in creating and maintaining some for the X Universe. But I'm just not interested in this Frankenstein evil carnival story. It feels like a cheap imitation of Something Wicked This Way Comes. (Will anyone ever be able to use an evil carnival again? Bradbury pretty much has that on lockdown, right?) But, I am interested in the story of William, as he appears to be the only real character in the new baby Hellfire Club, so here's to hoping that we get more of him, more Storm and Wolvie remembering who they are, and more of the kids standing up for themselves. Next month should finish this arc (right?) and then we can get back to the school dynamic that made this book such old school fun when it began.

Book of the week goes to Locke and Key. The feeling of dread that we get with every new issue, where it seems certain that the bad guy is going to win is so impressive for a book that comes out monthly at best. I mean, who can maintain mood like that?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

nfl playoffs start to take shape.

For the vast majority of the teams in the National Football League, the playoff picture is beginning to take shape. On the AFC side, things are relatively clear cut. The New England Patriots, the Houston Texans and the Denver Broncos have clinched the AFC East, South and West, respectively, and the Baltimore Ravens are making the playoffs in the AFC North.

The New York Jets, the ugly step-sister in the eyes of New Yorkers infatuated with their other team are out of the playoffs, and they've benched their quarterback. Their cousin, so to speak, the New York Giants, don't forget, won the Super Bowl last year in dramatic fashion.

On the NFC side of the football divisions, the Green Bay Packers have clinched their division, the North, as has become habit for the publicly-owned team. The Packers are looking as strong as ever, but perhaps not as strong as the San Francisco 49ers, who have clinched a playoff berth at least in the NFC West, and are well thought-of in at least the ESPN Power Rankings. The 49ers and the Packers both have favorable schedules to end the season.

The Atlanta Falcons have ruled the NFC South's roost so far and sent a bruising message last week to at least the Giants as well as, perhaps, the rest of the NFC East. But that's where things get confusing.

The Washington Redskins, the Dallas Cowboys and those champs from last year, the New York Giants are all tied at the top of the NFC East with records of 8-6. The only place with this knotting up, then, is in the NFC East. And with only two weeks of regular season games left to play, the schedule makers have done all football fans a huge favor by making sure that, even if next week is relatively calm, when Washington plays at Philly, New Orleans at Dallas and the New York Giants go to Baltimore, the last week of the regular season brings overhyped (and almost mathematically eliminated) Philly to the home of the Giants and, most importantly, Dallas to Washington. By scheduling these division rivalries at the end of the season, the NFL succeeds in two respects. First of all, neither the Cowboys nor the Redskins will be resting any players who should otherwise be playing. They'll want every able body to fight for playoff position. Secondly, we get super-compelling TV to watch, even when some of the other games that week - the Jets in Buffalo, anyone? - aren't going to be very interesting.

Monday, December 17, 2012

comics for the week of 12/12/12.

Marvel NOW! continues in its subpar nature, at least in my opinion. When there's a week like this, where I only get one indie book, I really feel like it's got the least potential, but Buffy made up for it.

Batman 15 – I really don't understand the people who say that Snyder has finally made the Joker scary again. He was always scary. But this story certainly is another step in the right direction. I'm not sure that I buy the angle that he knows who Batman is (and the rest of the family, for what it's worth) but it's clear that something is happening on another level here. The back up features, with the Penguin and now Riddler have been hinting at some next-level type of shenanigans that's right up my alley. The only real complaint for me, in this issue, was that Capullo's art felt a little sloppy. I think it's hard to draw Bruce, Dick, Tim, and Damian all next to each other, though, especially with the DCnU timeline in mind; I mean, they're all supposed to be essentially the same age. It really doesn't work. Thank God Jason had his hood (is that really what we're gonna be forced to call it, by the way? Helmet doesn't really work, what with his name and all...) on so he'd be spared having to draw yet another young, black-haired man. The idea of Bruce withholding this pretty vital bit of info on the Joker for all these years (although, again, I guess it's only been five) is really weird, though. It feels like a bit of a backward slide to the Tower of Babel Batman, but without any of the paranoid reasoning. I don't like it for now, but the story is still going strong. I'm a fan, and I have enough faith in Snyder to follow him on this one. I'm not reading any of the other Bat books, though, so tell me: am I missing out? Are there great chapters of this story happening in the family books? Would I get a more complete picture? For now, I'm only sticking with Batman.

Buffy 16 - Well, that was fun. (I mean, other than the forced inclusion of Billy and the needless death [maybe?] of a minor character that's not him.) Sure, it might have felt a bit forced at times and in places, but you really get the sense that they're trying. Anytime the writing gang at Buffyverse actually uses the word Scooby, you know there's something specific they're aiming for. So yeah, her new gang doesn't seem to be destined for greatness, but the good thing about replacements is that it reminds us that the originals are so good. And the cliffhanger? Yeah, that's just another sign. Does Buffy know nothing about this new version? I can't remember my TV history well enough to know if they ever crossed paths. Also, the evolving zompires is an interesting angle, and the Xander/Dawn relationship is clearly going to be a touchpoint in this arc. I'm looking forward to the tightening of all the different threads, because it's clear that's what's happening. Here's to a more successful resolution than we got with Season 8, and to something compelling to take us toward Season 10. (Is that confirmed yet? Looks like the answer is yes. Good news.)

Before Watchmen: Rorschach 3 – Haha. OK. That's a cute little touch with the Taxi Driver. But really, Lee Bermejo is the perfect artist for this book. The tone is superb, it's got the grit of the original Watchmen series and the writer/artist combo has never been better suited. When Azzarello took over Batman with his perpetual artist, I hated the result. But this book? It works. Even with the over the top nods to cinema. There was never a doubt, though, that Rorschach wasn't going to show up for his date. Now the only question is, how is he going to get away from the bad guys and who is the Bard going to turn out to be? It's interesting to think that the waitress knows him. That makes me think that I'll want to reread this series and see the clues that were dropped. I know this isn't a mystery series, though, so it'll be interesting to see how many there were. Good book, ready for the conclusion.

Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan 3 – Wow. I'll repeat my acclaim for this title from the last issue. I really didn't expect to like this book at all. JMS has never been one of my favorite writers. I liked his run on Spider-Man more than a lot of other people did, but that was more about my blind allegiance to Spider-Man than it was about him. And yeah, the beginning to Rising Stars was classic, but the end was shit. But with only one issue left in this section of the Before Watchmen line, it looks like JMS has done something unexpected: he's turned in a nifty story. This is the sort of dodge that I thought all the books were going to be like, so it's not like it's exquisite storytelling, or a compelling new narrative, like Minutemen. But if you're going to tell a story involving Dr. Manhattan, there's really only so much wiggle room. I like the angle that JMS chose to take and the art by Hughes certainly isn't hurting. The paradox from last issue is explained and we've got one issue to see some sort of lasting consequence. I don't really think there's going to be one, but it's an interesting wrinkle to think that Manhattan knew even from the very beginning what was going to happen with Ozymandias and the Comedian and Nite Owl and the whole gang. Because that's really what JMS is saying here, right? That he can see all angles of all things and he realizes what has to be done? We always knew Manhattan was a God, but this is hammering home his omnipotence. Even if there's nothing of real substance to the book when it's all said and done, I won't be upset that I read it, because it was fun and the art was gorgeous. I won't be picking up the trade, though, either.

Book of the week goes to Batman. Buffy was fun and all, but it doesn't have the carefree vibe that gives Buffy her greatness. Bats, on the other hand, was flawed, but I'll take a flawed revision on one of the top 3 protagonist/antagonist duos of all time, especially from Scott Snyder.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

nhl lockout deepens.

Over the weekend, the National Hockey League should have been entering its ninth week of the season. While ESPN's front page for the NHL touts their collaboration with EA Sports on an innovative simulation, no video game highlights package can cover up the fact that the NHL, having canceled their season through mid-Decmber's All Star Break is in a precipitous position.

When the NHL announced that it was canceling the All-Star Game, the season should have already been under way. In truth, this has been a long time coming. Some hockey fans might even claim that it's a leftover remnant from the last lockout.

The poll results on ESPN's article, although far from scientific, speak strongly to people's beliefs that there will not be a hockey season this year. The commissioner of the NHL, Gary Bettman, has taken his fair share of the blame for this lockout, but there will always be those who look at the situation from the outside and think any players refusing to play a game for thousands - or hundreds of thousands - of dollars are the greedy ones. With the NHLPA union chief, Donald Fehr claiming that the sides were close to working out a deal and the commissioner taking a hard line on the other side of the sand, though, it's hard to know what exactly is going to happen with this season.

Stars such as Sidney Crosby are reportedly looking into playing overseas which is a fantastic option to have if you're one of the most marketable names in the entire league, but doesn't help many more than the top ten percent of the NHL, at best. Having gone through the experience recently, NBA fans are familiar with, among others, JR Smith's delayed return from China and the troubles that might be associated with playing elsewhere.

The back and forth when it comes to hockey has been more of a constant than in other leagues, but that doesn't excuse the lack of progress by now. Bettman's palpable anger at the afore-mentioned press conference, where high school style sniping was reported on with trepidation, is merely the latest salvo in a war that's been waged since he took over as commissioner of the league. It's also a sharp reminder that the NHL is the only major sports league in America to ever lose an entire season - merely seven years ago, the entirety of the 2004-2005 season was lost to labor disputes. With rumors circulating on Monday morning that official confirmation could be expected as early as Monday afternoon that more games had been canceled, the NHL is teetering on the brink of, once again, furthering its own irrelevance and setting back most, if not all, of the gains that have been made since that lost season.

Monday, December 10, 2012

comics for the week of 12/5/12.

I'm still reading this All New X-Men book, but I'm deeply conflicted about it. The art is getting better, Dave will be happy to hear me admit, but the story still seems like a one-trick pony. I mean, how long can this plot actually be stretched out? (Knowing Bendis, I realize it can go on for well over four years and still not actually say anything. Thanks, decompressed storytelling.) But after that...I mean, no matter how long it goes... What from there?

Animal Man 15 - And Lemire brings in his pet project, Frankenstein! Of course he does! This is just great. The way these guys are getting to build their own little corners of the Universe is exactly as it should be. Especially with great writers like Lemire (and Snyder and Hickman, on the other side of the Big Two), give them free reign! This book runs a really nice chapter in the Red section of Rotworld's crossover. I'm liking Buddy's ragtag bunch more and more with every issue. Garfield is an obvious choice, and it's clear that Lemire loves Constantine. Steel makes sense given the Superman fakeout, and I'm curious about the last page cliffhanger. We knew it wasn't gonna be Supes, but this'll be interesting. Good stuff, especially the foreshadowing that Lemire is so good with, in Buddy's dream, where everything appears normal until Baker gets a look at his son. Maxine, for as powerful as she's destined to become, on the other hand, comes across as incredibly stupid. I guess she is a kid, after all, but it's still strange to see from someone that I don't expect that blatant stupidity from.

Avengers 1 - Hickman is a master plotter. Seriously. I'm not even genuinely interested in any of these heroes, but with Hickman at the helm, I will follow this story blindly! This was a great start, and I think the art did a good job complementing the overall tone. The clear lines helped, the way that Opena played with shadows, especially when it came to the scenes with the Hulk, was nice in particular. All that being said, we still don't truly have an introduction. I have no idea who's on this team, but I want to know. Hickman has already proved he can pull threads together like no other and Marvel is really giving him free reign with the Universe here, at least it looks that way.

Before Watchmen: Minutemen 5 - Darwyn Cooke reminds us all that he's in charge of the Before Watchmen ship. As good as the other books have been, this one is head and shoulders above them. The mix of sex and violence, the focus on Hollis and his book, the juxtaposition of the classic style of art with the truly horrendous things that these deeply flawed characters do all the time makes this a classic. The relationship between these older generation characters was always such a subtle darkness, and yeah, that's the way Moore wanted to leave it. But Cooke has dragged it, kicking and screaming out of those shadows and, at least in my opinion, he's improving on the original story. Could it have gone a hundred million different ways? Sure. And would some of those, at least, be better than this? Undoubtedly so. But just because something could have gone differently doesn't mean that we should discount this greatness we've got in front of us. We only have one more issue of Minutemen left, and the way things have gone so far, I'm expecting fireworks. It's been a car crash in slow motion and we're about to see the total devastation. Even if we didn't know what was coming, even if we were newbies who'd never read Watchmen, it's evident by this point. It's going to be beautiful in one of the worst ways possible, when Hooded Justice and Nite Owl get their final tango.

Invincible 98 - Well, this was a misleading title. But, it could still play out the way everyone's fearing. But I don't think it will. It was a welcome relief from the over-the-top meta-approach that Kirkman took to last issue and it was a relief to see Mark back in costume, taking control of his own book again. The dynamic between him and Dinosaurus is always a good one, and I have a feeling that this is going to be quite the clash, what with Dino's predilection for planning. Next issue some bombs should go off (not literally, although maybe) and I'm looking forward to a gnarly cliffhanger that maybe will and maybe won't get resolved in issue 100. But for now, this book is officially back on track. Always good to see.

Swamp Thing 15 - Ahhh! The old trick of a shitty guest artist with the normal artist on the cover! What a disappointment! By the second panel, I was already unhappy. This book is good enough, I like the angle of dystopian future, obviously, but it's just not sticking the way that Animal Man is. The surprise guest at the end of this issue might change things for me, though. As resentful as I am of the New 52 and the way they've blatantly manipulated Barbara Gordon, I have to believe that Scott Snyder is capable of doing great things with her. The way the art here tries to mimic Batwoman is a nice, glowing compliment to Williams, but it's nowhere near that level, and mainly just comes off as cheap tactics as opposed to an homage of any kind. Boston's gone, which is a drag, Abby's story is still being told and, ultimately, none of this is going to matter, because they're going to prevent it. It kind of feels like spinning our wheels.

Ultimates 18.1 - Well, the point one issue of this title sucked. There's just no getting around it. I liked the angle the Ultimate Universe was taking, coming together as a cohesive whole, and I still think it's a good one, but the drastic realigning to make it seem closer to the Cinematic Universe is a mistake. The Tony brain tumor is such a great little thread, but really, all he's gonna come up with is Iron Patriot? Weak. The art was good, if a bit outside my most-loved realm. Thor looks good, but Cap looks kind of generic. The civil war angle that's still running through all the books is an example of a great idea, held on to for too long, that now feels forced. (I guess this is how people thought of the Clone Saga?) It would work if there was some kind of Hickman-esque master storyteller behind it and we had confidence that it was building to something that was planned long, long ago, but more and more it just feels like they're making it up as they go along. There's nothing wrong with that, per se, there are plenty of fun comics written that way, but it's my opinion that longterm arcs don't work well that way.

Book of the week goes to Minutemen. Nothing can compete with something that's going to be recorded as a classic. We're getting to see something unfold right in front of our eyes that future generations are going to talk about in reverential tones. Put aside the Moore-loyalty and appreciate it for the great tale that it is.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

beckham's departure hangs over galaxy win.

Major League Soccer has officially put the 2012 season to bed. In a rematch of last year's finals, the Los Angeles Galaxy beat the Houston Dynamos, 3-1. They scored all three of their goals in the second half, two off penalty kicks.

The game, of course, was a fitting cap to David Beckham's career, which is all anyone can talk about when it comes to soccer. In America, we're still waiting for a transcendant star to break the glass ceiling of soccer's appeal to the masses. Plenty of people thought it was going to be Beckham, but while plenty are finding reason to celebrate in his going out on top, there were lots of rough patches in his MLS career, too.

The simple truth is that soccer, even at its post-Beckham level, is nowhere near the popularity of the four major sports in America. Football is king. There are myriad basketball and baseball purists. Even hockey, a virtually unheralded sport in New Mexico, has regional swells of popularity. By pure television rankings of their championship events, the Super Bowl crushes all the sports combined. An estimated 111 million Americans tuned in to the big game in February. The last baseball championship, where the San Francisco Giants swept the Detroit Tigers managed 15.5 million viewers for Game 4. The Miami Heat getting over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 nabbed 18.4 million viewers. When the Los Angeles Kings beat the New Jersey Devils (two major television markets!) in Game 6, the NHL only wrangled 5 million viewers. This year's MLS Cup meanwhile, backtracked on the progress they'd made last year, managing only a 0.7 Nielsen rating. This translates to just over a million viewers.

There are suggestions about how to improve the ratings, but the simple fact is that soccer is averaging significantly fewer viewers for its championship game than the NCAA women's college basketball championship game, which is dismissed by many outright. It seems to be a chicken or egg problem: sponsors aren't going to spend money supporting a game that isn't bringing sets of eyes to the tube, but without that money and/or hype, how will people be attracted?

David Beckham was going to be that answer. For now, the question remains unsolved. But don't feel bad for Beckham. He's going to play for another year somewhere, before returning to MLS, in some sort of managerial or ownership role. And don't pity the Los Angeles Galaxy. Joining the NHL Kings, they're now the reigning champs of a sport that few might be tuning in to, but which allows plenty of room for growth.

Monday, December 3, 2012

comics for the week of 11/28/12.

I also read Uncanny Avengers and I suspect this is going to be an unpopular thing to hear but...Cassaday has really fallen off. I thought I'd be willing to give this a try for Remender's writing, but...it's bad. All New X-Men? The same. Very, very bad writing. Immonen's art is good, better than Cassaday, but it's just not enough. This is not a good time for Marvel.

Angel and Faith 16 - Whoah. Killer last page. Gotta be a misdirect, right? I mean...there's no way. But once again, the minor characters in the Buffyverse get it right. Angel and Faith (and even the lesser Slayers) feel so much more authentic than Buffy does in her own book. The letters all mentioned Spike, the previews are for Willow....why is Buffy the subpar star in her own world? I know there are people who have complained about this since the TV show, but I'm not one of them. It certainly feels true here, though. Regardless, another strong issue for the over-the-pond side of the crew. Faith and Angel certainly seem as though they're close to bringing Giles back, and the other Slayers have heard what they're up to. They come not for vengeance but to twist Angel's methods to their own desires. Also, we get to see some nice flashbacks of Faith. Good times all the way around.

Before Watchmen: Ozymandias 4 - Another masterpiece from Jae Lee. It would be amazing even if the story was shit, but this one's got it all. Adrian gets to meet JFK, sees the Comedian, continues to narrate his life story, and we get to see some of the political side of Veidt's life. Interesting to see how this one is fitting with the Comedian's book, but I dropped that one like a bad habit and I'm not sure there's any recommendation that could make me look at it again. Great to see the culmination of the JFK presidency presented from the side of the smartest man in the world, as well as the exact same scene we see in Silk Spectre's book with Ozymandias in charge this time. Comedian is still central, as he should be, with his paper up. It's funny to see the resolution, because I honestly figured that he was already planning his coup de grace. But if it turns into this meeting being his inciting event, I can see a few people not digging that. Oh well. Good stuff, no doubt.

Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre 4 - So, the first one to end? I'm only reading a few of the BW books now, and I'm glad this one is over. It was nice to see this little distraction tale, and the art of Amanda Conner never hurts, but in the end, that's really all it felt like - a distraction. It doesn't have any of the gravitas of the other tales (Ozymandias and Minutemen, even Rorschach to a degree) that really make these series worth it. Not every book has to be that way, though, and the Silk Spectre was never the centerpiece of the Watchmen Universe anyway, so this was good for what it was. Be glad if you didn't buy it in singles and consider even skipping the trade, unless you love Conner's art.

Book of the week goes to Ozymandias. In a week of pretty lackluster competition, Jae Lee's art is more than enough to grab the lion's share.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

lobos soccer loses to uconn in sweet sixteen.

The University of New Mexico's men's soccer team began the season as the second ranked team in the country. Their season ended on Sunday, in Storrs, Connecticut, as the 13th ranked team, to number 4 University of Connecticut. The Lobos scored the lone goal of the first half in the 32nd minute, but gave up an equalizer in the second half. UConn's Mamadou Diouf put a header in the back of the net in the 76th minute to knot things up. Despite coming out of the second half break on fire, UNM never found the right mix, even missing a point blank shot with only two minutes left in regulation.

Heading into the overtime periods, the rules change from the regular season, and the Lobos had to fight for every inch, knowing that the golden goal would send whichever team scored first to the Elite Eight. Both teams only managed one shot on goal, UNM in the first OT, but it was UConn's, in the second OT period, in the 105th minute, that sealed the deal.

UConn will play in Storrs again next weekend, as they will be facing Creighton, who beat Akron with a 5-4 penalty count, after 2 scoreless overtime periods. That game will be played at 11 MST, to determine who's going to make the trip to the Final Four.

UNM ends their season in the Sweet Sixteen for the second consecutive year, disappointing fans who were looking for improvement on last year's incredible, undefeated season. The bitter taste is sure to hang heavily on senior Devon Sandoval, who played a phenomenal game and had an excellent season. Sandoval, one of six seniors on the team, recorded fifteen goals for the season and was consistently mentioned as one of the top players in the country. He's been mentioned all season as one of the top seniors in the nation, and as a possible draft pick in Major League Soccer's draw. Although Sandoval stands out as the senior with the most prospects for soccer in the future, and the Lobos are heading home earlier than both they and their fans would like, it should be noted that the six seniors helped the team equal a record that the 2004-2005 Lobos set: 35 wins over a combined two seasons. The net result of those teams? A national runner-up spot in 2005, losing to Maryland in the final game of the season. The lesson here: Lobo soccer is back. Losing six seniors will hurt, but this team should be a force to reckon with for some time.

Monday, November 26, 2012

comics for the week of 11/21/12.

Phil Noto's art on this penultimate issue of Uncanny X-Force was perfect. And what a sad ending it was, too. Here's to one more issue.

Batwoman 14 - There are so many times during a JH Williams-pencilled issue that I just want to stand up and shout, "OK, Jesus! We get it, JH! You are the best! Ever!" Fuck. The backgrounds with the vultures pay off with the vulture eating the lizard, and the Pegasus bit at the beginning is just insanely great. The details that Batwoman sees show the kind of woman she is. The two masterpieces of this issue, though, are at the beginning and the end. The casualness with which Wonder Woman kills Pegasus will show up in her book if the writer over there is worth anything at all, but even if it doesn't Williams has already single-handedly upped the ante of the New 52. This WW is a cold killer. And the transformation of Killer Croc into the Hydra is a once-in-a-lifetime drop-your-jaw page. I mean, how many times are we going to get to see something that epic in scale in a book that doesn't have 100 variant, chromium covers? The casual brilliance of Williams is outstanding.

Fables 123 - Another great guest chapter with Gene Ha on the pencils finishes up the story of Bigby's fate with a great twist at the end. We already knew who was writing his story, but to see his wife... Well, that was perfect. The Oz back-up had another peak, which is always appreciated, but I pray to God that the tag at the end didn't mean that the entirety of the next issue is going to be dedicated to that story. Ugh. I'll be happy to get back to the main timeline and see what's happening with all the characters we've come up with, especially in light of all the new revelations about the Wolf kids. Very cool times ahead. And it was nice to see the fate reversal pencilled out so well in that battle by Ha. Seriously. Good stuff.

Spike 4 - The tone still hits a perfect pitch and Spike is definitely alive. He's most in-tune with his character as we saw it in the TV series out of all the characters in the Buffyverse. I know that they've said that things are wrapping up and that everything's going to tie together, but I'm not sure how this story is going to play into it, other than that they're still all stuck on a world without magic. All that being said, I don't mind. Spike's voice is a great one. The art and the story are worth spending time on, unlike the mainline Buffy book right now, and I'd rather read this fluff twice before reading worthlessness anyway. All the side characters right now are absolutely killing Buffy, here's to hoping the end of Season 9 will wrap them back together and give Buffy some of their mojo. Here, Spike gets to the other Hellmouth, the succubus is revealed for what she really is and we have a battle brewing for the last issue of this series. Good stuff. And the bugs are fun.

Unwritten 43 - There have been many points where I've said the following words about Unwritten, but once again, they bear repeating: This is a deep story, where the layers never stop building! What a great issue. Tom goes into Leviathan once again and finds all of the fictional characters he's met before and then some, fighting for their very survival. I'd already looked forward to the inevitable compendium that would be released when this story is done telling us who each character is and where they come from, but this issue only increases that desire. It's incredible what Mike Carey is doing with this story, and the fact that Tommy inadvertently finds his way to the Land of the Dead fits perfectly. The only bad note? (I originally wrote disturbing there, but there were so many disturbing things in this issue.) The death of the unicorn. Maybe this portends a return of the cat? Frankenstein is gone, I'm pretty sure, but Tommy needs some sort of magical helper with him, and as cool as Savoy is, I'm not sure he's the one.

Ultimate Spider-Man 17 - Cute little story, to see the battle from Miles' point of view, but the big part of this issue is the Spider-Woman connection. I don't remember what her deal is in the Ultimate Universe and I'm tempted not to look it up at all, so that I can enjoy the revelation with Mr. Morales. The side story with his dad didn't go the way I thought it would, but I'm still interested to see when they figure out, because they have to, right? I mean, they're smart... Here's to hoping.

Book of the week goes to Batwoman. All is right in the comic book world, once again. (Except for the 616 Spider-Man. Don't get me started.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

lobos soccer defeats virginia.

The University of New Mexico Lobos defeated the University of Virginia Cavaliers on Sunday evening, advancing to their second consecutive Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament for men's soccer. With a final score of 3-1, UNM will advance to play the University of Connecticut Huskies at UConn next Sunday.

The Lobos got started quickly in this game, playing an aggressive style that has been one of their calling cards all season. The cherry and silver team managed a quick three corner kicks in the first six minutes, and Kyle Venter scored off a header from Michael Calderon in the sixth minute. The Lobos finished the first half having taken 14 shots, to UVA's meager 4 and needing only one save from keeper Patrick Poblete.

However, the second half was played in a bit looser fashion, and it showed immediately, when the Cavaliers squeezed out an equalizer goal in just the third minute of the second half. The Lobos would manage a pedestrian - compared to their blistering first half pace - six shots in the second half, but they were far more efficient shots, since two of them resulted in goals. Calderon assisted James Rogers in the 58th minute, and had his own garbage time insurance goal just twenty seconds before the match was over.

The Lobos played with great grit, especially given their lackluster second half last week, in losing the MPSF championship to Air Force, who, not for nothing, has already been eliminated from the tournament by Washington.

Next up is the University of Connecticut, who claimed a 1-0 victory over Northeastern at home on Sunday night as well. The Huskies are particularly impressive at home, as they haven't lost a match there in 37 games, dating back to 2009. The Lobos will come into Storrs looking to push the pace and play their style of soccer, no matter where the match is being held.

There are conflicting reports of what time the match will take place, but it will be on Sunday the 25th, and various bars, especially Coaches Sports Bar and Grill, will almost assuredly be broadcasting it no matter the time. Turn out on Sunday and support the Lobos as they move through the NCAA Tournament.

Updates on 2 fronts: The game will be at 11 MST and you can stream it on the Lobos website. Also, Coaches is closing so I'm not confident they'll be broadcasting the game on their last day of business. Here's to hoping!

Monday, November 19, 2012

comics for the week of 11/14/12.

As my buddy Dave Jordan put it: this might be the best week of comics ever. For real. The only weak point was Buffy (unusual) but I forgot Willow last week, read it this week, and loved it, so that more than made up for it.

Batman 14 - Joker is back in a huge way and, though I'm not sure if I believe that he knows who the Bat-family really are, I do think that he's dead set on getting rid of them. This is an interesting story, especially for those of us with Bat-history. There was a long period (Hell, there have been a couple of them) where the writers decided that the Bat family was weakening the main character and had him act out to get rid of them in various passive-aggressive manners. But this is the first time where an enemy has decided to do the same, for the same reason. Mostly, they've wanted to remove their support to make their jobs easier. Joker seems to have passed this final point, he's talking about Batman as a God and as a King, and he's gone past threatening people to just murdering them, saving the set up as an introduction and skipping past the climax. It's inspiring to see how a true supervillain would act. And scary. Here's to hoping that I can get the whole story just by reading Batman, though, cuz I'm not gonna dive into the others.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 15 - Ugh. Proselytizing, even when it comes from a side I agree with, is still annoying. I said enough bad things about this story last month, but it didn't get any better. The last page was all that needed to be said. Enough, let's get back to the real story.

Invincible 97 - Well done. The light situation of the replacement Invincible gets starkly real, and things go into hyperdrive. We have a half-second of comedic relief wherein Krikman reaffirms that he does, in fact, know how to poke fun at himself, and then we see the dramatic tension turn in the most positive way imaginable for Mark and Eve. That'll be a fun development for next issue. Good all the way around, even if it felt like quite a leap that Carla would conk the mom that hard. Zandale does the only thing he knows how to do in cleaning up the mess.

Locke and Key: Omega 1 - Holy poop. First of all, just the fact that it's here. This isn't a book that's suffered from tremendous delays, but it does its breaks in the right way and it totally snuck up on me. Secondly, the story. Holy... Joe Hill knows how to do climaxes. For real. And he must have learned it from that guy who's carrying Kinsey on the gurney (is that the right word for someone who's not dead?) into the ambulance. Well played, Gabriel Rodriguez! Besides the little jokes, this is one serious story. Dodge sums it up well at the end (no spoilers) by saying, "Well, that's that. I win." Jesus. This is gonna be one hell of a story. I can't wait for the little surprise that we see twice in this issue. There are gonna be some tears, though, I'm predicting, for the Locke family, no matter how this turns out.

Saga 7 - Wow is the only appropriate response. I try to stack my books so that I read the best first and last. Locke & Key was obviously first this week, but I saved Batman for last on the premise that I've always been more of a superhero guy and less of an indie guy. But this book...BKV...it's just...it's better than anything else. It's so epic. It's so well-crafted. It's so real. The characters feel like they're a real family. The drama that exists between Marko and his mom and his dad is incredible. The brief history we get is fascinating. The narration from Hazel continues to be one of the high points of this book, and the thing that Marko is protecting his mother from seeing? Well, that honestly made me laugh out loud. The secret that his dad uses to jumpstart his spell is obviously going to be the huge news over the next arc, but this book, it's just so good that I don't know if anything is going to top it.

Book of the week goes to ... Saga. That's right. I tried to break y'all in softly. I know that I've gone on record as saying that Locke and Key is the best comic book ever, but with this issue, I really do feel like the weight and momentum is behind Saga. Plus, I'm sure Locke and Key's conclusion is still gonna have some crazy issues and I'm positive that it'll get one of these before it's done. For the incredible job that Brian K. Vaughn is doing, he deserves a weighty reward.

Monday, November 12, 2012

lobos soccer misses out on mpsf championship.

On Sunday afternoon, the University of New Mexico men's soccer team could not overcome their mental handicap against the Air Force Falcons, losing the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation division title, to the team that has now contributed three of the Lobos four losses this entire season. (Of course, Lobo fans are familiar with the official ruling of the record: Despite losing this game in penalty kicks, the game is officially recorded as a tie, an oddity of a rule which allowed our team to exit the NCAA Tournament two years ago in disappointing fashion, but with an undefeated record.) The Lobos, despite starting the soccer season ranked number two in the country - and sitting at number nine when the game started - had never been able to get over the hump when it came to their division rivals, and closed out the conference tournament with another loss to the little team from Colorado that could.

With the loss, the Lobos will miss out on the automatic bid into the postseason tournament, and will be anxiously watching the televisions at Coaches Bar & Grill on Monday at 3:30 PM. After starting the first half in their traditional, aggressive style, the Lobos were rewarded with a goal from freshman Ben McKendry in the 30th minute. However, when the Lobos returned to the field after halftime, they had a brief hot start, but then played a sluggish, slow-paced game, managing only one less shot than in the first half, but allowing 2 for Air Force when none had been attempted in the first half. With a mere 16 seconds left in the match, Kevin Durr blasted one into the back of the net for the Falcons and the game was sent to overtime.

In the overtime periods, the Lobos continued their tired play, allowing three shots and only forcing one save. Goalkeeper Patrick Poblete, in fact, had his hands full in the overtime periods, having to save two shots, which he successfully did. However, when the overtimes were finished, the score still read 1-1, so the game moved to penalty kicks, the bane of every soccer fan's existence. Nobody likes a game to be decided on PKs and although the Falcons will gratefully take the win, surely they'd rather have decided the game during the match.

There were plenty of opportunities to do so, though, for both sides, and no team lost for lack of effort. While the Lobos appeared tired, Air Force had played three games in four days and clearly wanted the win more, playing out to the very end of the clock and being rewarded with that spectacular equalizer just moments before they were out of time.

Aire Force will receive the automatic bid, but coach Jeremy Fishbein says that he still expects the Lobos to host one or two home matches in the NCAA Tournament. It's unthinkable that the Lobos wouldn't get in, but where they'll play and who they'll play is now very much up for grabs.

comics for week of 11/7/12.

Another all DC-week, in the aftermath of my saying that I was falling off with them, proves to be worse than subpar. The one Marvel book I read, Uncanny X-Force, was better than all of these books (plus: that cover!). Sad times for my favorite addiction.

Animal Man 14 - Well, after praising it for so long, this book was bound to fall off at least a little bit. The problem with the DCnU is that there are only a handful of truly interesting characters, but the editors of the Universe as a whole seem intent on crossing over in as many ways as possible. While Animal Man and Swamp Thing have a natural (and great!) connection, this assembly of motley characters does nothing to interest me in the story of Rotworld. The parallels between Swampy and Abigail and Buddy's daughter Maxine and her new friend William are lazy, the dialogue between the pseudo-JLA that Animal Man is hanging out with is forced and the art is way below its normal level. This crossover is fading fast and it doesn't look like it's going to get any better next issue with the forced entry of Grodd. (Remember when DC was briefly obsessed with apes and made that their monthly theme? Ugh.) Here's to hoping we can wrap this up quickly.

Before Watchmen: Moloch 1 - Reading this one was interesting. The combination of sex and violence has always been one of the hallmarks of Watchmen, but they're really, really pushing that angle with all of these prelude books. It's not a bad thing, but it's odd to read 7 different stories pushing that angle so hard when so few other books ever have. Moloch has always been a bit character in the Watchmen universe, so I was surprised to read that he was getting his own book, but this one worked. I've never been a huge fan of Risso's art, and that continued in this issue, but JMS' writing seemed to almost hit the spot. The story of the freak growing up, finding his way, and hurting the world over his angsty childhood is a cliche one, but that doesn't make it any less good, and this was definitely believable. The tone of the second issue is going to be really good, cuz it'll have a lot of the morally ambiguous Ozymandias that we're all used to. I'll go with this.

Green Lantern 14 - Meh. Baz's story is still lackluster, but the real oof in this story was seeing the JLA, bastardized, parody versions of themselves in the DCnU. Overall, the New 52 is so inconsequential to me that it doesn't even feel worth complaining about. But with the success of Animal Man and Swamp Thing, and with GL so deftly avoiding this reboot, and Batman halfway doing so, it really does feel, to me, like it never happened. Other than when I have to see the other characters guesting in books that I'm reading, I never really encounter them. I'm interested in Johns' longterm vision for the Guardians (looks like there's going to be a change of the...guard? /pun) and whether the Third Army will stick around or not. Also, it's really interesting to me how involved Black Hand is with this story. Would have thought he'd run his course, but it's nice to see how, even though he's lost his golden touch, Geoff Johns is still able to construct a long-term narrative. Something that's really being embraced nowadays, and I think it's a good thing.

Swamp Thing 14 - This was, by far, the better of the two Rotworld books this week, but that's not a huge surprise. While Animal Man and Swamp Thing may have taken turns being the better book, it's a huge help to have normal penciller Yanick Paquette on regular duties and to have fewer guest stars in the book. Deadman is a solid character and he's the only one who's in here the whole time. Poison Ivy does her job and then is relegated to the background, and Swamp Thing is the main character (as he should be) the whole time. It was also nice how this worked with last week's Annual in a supplementary fashion. Swampy voyages from the Parliament towards Gotham in search of a weapon to defeat the Rot, but on the way he runs into William, who's got Aquaman's trident with him. It's going to be a fight next month, but I'm confident in Swampy's (reduced) powers. The more interesting side of the story is what's going on with Abigail. Alec feels that she's alive, and I've no doubt that she is, but is he going to want to see what she's (inevitably) become?

Book of the week goes to Swamp Thing. It was a bad week overall, but this book was still above the rest, even if the bar wasn't set too high.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

#NBABack

The National Basketball Association is back for a full season and in its first week, we've seen the previously-well-thought-of Los Angeles Lakers tumble out of the gates in an 0-3 start - though they currently sit at 1-3 - and their presumed opponents, and reigning NBA champions, Miami Heat continue their number one position in at least one poll.

The Oklahoma City Thunder, seemingly overlooked when the Lakers traded for Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, made shockwaves of their own, even before the NBA season began: by trading away James Harden a mere three days before Opening Day, the Thunder seemed to give up their prime position in a loaded Western Conference. Many analysts were confused why OKC would let such a great piece go, and the blistering pace of Harden's scoring in his new home with the Houston Rockets has increased that doubt. All that being said, the doubters can doubt, but the fact remains: Oklahoma City has looked impressive in merely one game of three, losing to San Antonio on a terrible misread on an end of game situation, and getting outplayed consistently by the Atlanta Hawks.

The flipside to OKC's youth in the Western Conference is San Antonio. The Spurs have one of three perfect records in the NBA currently, and have demonstrated their usual remarkable tenacity in the face of critics writing them off as too old to win it all. Tony Parker had a last-second shot go in for the win against Oklahoma City and the Spurs are second in the league in assists per game. Their fundamentals are going to be tested in a Western Conference that is loaded with power, but it looks like the Spurs are loading up again for another run, marking them as one of the most durable powers in the last decade plus.

Two years ago, the Dallas Mavericks won it all, but their season ended in ignominy last year, being swept by the Thunder in the first round. This year hasn't been predicted to be much better for them and they're beginning the season sans star Dirk Nowitzki, who's sidelined for the first 6 weeks of the season due to knee surgery. However, the Mavs surprised the NBA world when they took the Lakers down in their first game, and then lost to the on-the-cusp Utah Jazz. Since then, they've slapped around the Charlotte Bobcats and the Portland Trailblazers, two teams that are not currently thought of as playoff-teams. The Mavericks, then, might have a better season than some were guessing.

The other regional teams to root for are a tale of two cities: When the Phoenix Suns traded Steve Nash to the Lakers, it was a clear sign that this would be a rebuilding year for them. Three games into the short season, they've only won a single game, and the confidence in the team doesn't seem to be mounting. That being said, they do get to take on those same Bobcats the Mavs slaughtered, so maybe it'll be a confidence booster for this young team.

The other side of the coin is in Denver, where the Nuggets are one of the most talked-about teams in the league. Cries that they're the deepest team, they're a true threat to the powers in the West and even cursory talk of a Finals run are probably premature, but on paper, they do look like a lot of fun. They'll undoubtedly have one of the deepest teams in the league and they're sure to make plenty of highlight reels with the high-flying Andre Iguodala joining fan favorite Kenneth Faried and center JaVale McGee. All that praise aside, they've started the season in the same bade shape as the Suns, whom everyone predicted were going to be hard on their luck while they were singing the praises of Denver. The Nuggets sit at 1-3.

On the other side of the country, far from the not-so critical gaze of Albuquerque fandom, reside the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference, the team that Dwight Howard held hostage. The Magic were pegged as shoe-ins as one of the worst teams, but they only lost their first game last night. The Boston Celtics, a perennial challenger for the throne the last couple years, always seem to be forgotten about or dismissed as old - in this sense they have literally become the Spurs of the East - and this year promises to be no different. The Chicago Bulls are more than making do without superstar Derrick Rose, but the surprises of the Eastern Conference have to be the two other undefeated teams in the league, the New York Knicks and the conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks.

New York has seen a lot of the gloss taken off its team lately, with the arrival of Jay-Z's carnival at the Barclay's Center with the new-look Brooklyn Nets in tow. Despite resigning Deron Williams, though, the Nets have been perfectly mediocre in their two games so far, losing one and winning the other. They're last in the league in rebounds per game - they really wanted Dwight Howard - and they're 8th and 13th in points and assists per game, respectively.

The Nets may be a question mark, but the Knicks seem to be the answer. They've won both at home and on the road, against quality teams like the Miami Heat, as well as up and comers like the Philadelphia 76ers, both in Philly and at MSG. They're first in the league in points per game and, best of all, they have a travel-heavy schedule to begin the year, which means they'll have plenty of home games down the stretch.

Surprisingly, the backcourt duo of Brandon Jennings and Monte Ellis has proved perfect for the Bucks so far, guiding them to a record of 2-0. While some claimed the two would do too much hogging of the ball, they're leading the league in assits so far, and have played both the Celtics, representing the old guard, and the Cleveland Cavaliers, representing the up and comers. They won the two games by an average of 9 points, with the Cavs pushing them closer to an L. The Bucks look to make waves this year, crashing someone's dream in the Eastern Conference.

The NBA being back means the grind of an 82 game schedule, thanks to there not being a lockout this year. This can result in games being played in January, February, and, especially, March that people claim don't matter. But for all the teams that are hot now, there will be another team looking to make their push at that time. And for the teams that started out weak now, a few of them will have found their ways by then, and will be starting their march toward a strong postseason. Right now, despite all the back and forth, it looks like the title is Miami's to lose for the second year in a row.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

comics for the week of 10/31/12 (and 10/24/12).

First of all, I did read FF and it did make me tear up. This will surprise no one who knows me. Damn you Hickman! Can't wait for the Omnibus. It'll be a point of pride to have my nephew read it.

Fables 116 - Let's start with the cover! Goddamn, that is beautiful! (Although a bit ruined by that Arrow banner at the top.) Gene Ha's guest art starts out wonderfully and continues through the whole book. The reflection of the wolf in the marble floors is amazing, and the frame story device is great. The view of Hell was amazing! The turtle looked great! And the story he told...the way we see this going? Great, great book. The only drag was another lackluster Oz chapter as a backup, but I'm totally willing to overlook that.

Invincible 96 - Robert Kirkman knows comic books. The whole book was great. The interaction between Rex and Monster Girl finally stands resolved and that last page was a doozy. The battle was a relative matter in the overall story of the people behind it and that's how it should be. Really really good stuff here, where we also get some great play between Mark and Eve. I love to see the evolution of their relationship. To think that Kirkman is capable of writing in so many different ways is awe-inspiring and envy-inducing.

Mind MGMT 6 - Instant. Classic. It's not like we didn't know from issue one that this was going to be one of the all-time greats. But the last issue really solidifies that this is going to be a work of art. Matt Kindt is creating something here that is a love letter to the form, as well as an exemplar of what the form can be. The art is stunning: it's one of my life goals to own one of these pages. The text is packed so thickly that even after reading just a single issue, you pretty much want to go back and reread immediately. When the TPB comes out, it'll be the same. Here, we get Lyme confessing his life's crimes to Meru and we see a sort of a resolution with her. Although we might have seen some aspects of that resolution coming, it's still satisfying to see how well they play out and how long this has been going on and to anticipate what's coming next.

Ultimates 17 - Weak, don't care. Thor's son versus Cap. I have a feeling Cap will be OK. Cool to see Miles with the Ultimates as part of the team, but this storyline has stretched for too long already. Let's be done.

Unwritten 42 - Jesus, it is disgusting how good this book is. Every time I think I've run out of superlatives, there's an issue like this that takes it up a whole new level. Seriously. The weaving in and out of Australian whale myths with Savoy's embrace if vampirism, Lizzie being in Hades and the way that Didge and Armitage are starting to interact... I mean, this was already an intricate puzzle! It's just getting deeper and deeper. The cliffhanger ending is great, but come on! Let's talk about the middle, too. The art during the whale story was a highlight and I love how they've consistently used different displays (a cell phone here) to show different aspects of the story. The Unwritten is headed toward rarified air.

Book of last week wants to go to Mind MGMT. But I can't let my love for a story that's not nearly complete yet get in the way of the amazing issue of Unwritten that we got this week. Yep, I'm going there. Unwritten over Mind MGMT, for now.

And this week I'm really happy not to be reviewing Ultimate X-Men. It was a shit story and the art made me feel a bit ultra feminist insofar as the dress of all the characters was concerned. Really sad showing on Marvel's part.

Angel and Faith 15 - I love Whistler. He's one of the bit characters from this universe that I never thought got enough play. Well, now he is. He's back in a big way in this book, not just this issue, and I have a feeling that he's going to making some major moves. I loved his conversation with Angel, although it felt very stereotypical at times. I love that they're not trying to pave over the Twilight story, that they're trying to illuminate parts of it. And then...Pearl and Nash. That story was piss poor. But...the characters themselves have never been my favorites either. So it was doomed to failure with me. The change in pencils was not a good one. The best news from the back half of this book? The gorgeous David Mack cover to next week's Willow issue. Wow!

Rachel Rising 12 - Well, this one sure was a heartbreaker. Geez. A lot of character development, a lot of changing relationships, and a lot of deepening of the mythologies. But apart from that, I'm not sure that I can think of anything specific to comment on. Jet's body transfer was cool, if spooky. The priest is going to be a crazy character. And I feel bad for Earl.

Spike 3 - The book still has the irreverent tone of Spike, so I'm digging it, but I wasn't necessarily feeling this issue. Fine and dandy, I don't have to love every single note of a song to love that song, but it was weird to feel so off kilter when it had been so pitch perfect. The bugs are up to something and it feels really weird to me. Spike with the succubus felt weird to me. None of it was bad (including the flashback, which was quite good) but all of it was just half a beat off. I'm sticking it out, of course. Too much love for the Buffyverse.

Swamp Thing Annual 1 - Weird that they jumped so far (not that far, I know) ahead of the story, but cool to get this old look. The art was great, the story was a perfect example of how to do a good retcon, and the interaction between Anton Arcane, Abby Arcane and Alec Holland is clearly far from over, no matter how many times they tell us she's dead. Great great stuff.

Ultimate Spider-Man 16 - Whoah. This was great. The whole book was great. But then the end? Whoah! That was really good! I loved Betty Brant, I think Urich was an asshole, but I agreed with him, and I LOVE this new JJJ! He's a great spinoff from the 616 version, I'm happy they're going in this direction. St. Peter is still ruling over much of this book, and I have a feeling that's not going to change with the upcoming arc, but it's got such a different tone, it really is its own book. Congrats to the new team, this is a solid pivot.

Wolverine and the X-Men 19 - Bradshaw does some great art (although his Peter Parker in a bow tie looks wack!) and Jason Aaron is back to telling a great story that kind of touches on the stupid AvX Phoenix storyline, but is mainly about the characters. This is the kind of book that he can make his bread and butter and I, for one, hope that he does so. The news about Broo was interesting, but I feel more bad about it than hopeful, because it's one of those comic book scenarios where you just know that something more terrible is gonna happen to the poor guy. The Husk situation, on the other hand, is just downright frightening. I love the seeds that are being planted there. Last but not least, still not a fan of the new Angel. Even here it seems beyond weird.

Book of this week goes to Ultimate Spider-Man. I'm really proud of how far Miles has come as a character and I'm really excited about the prospect of having more Spidey in my life after I thought I'd abandoned the character for good.

Monday, October 29, 2012

giants win the world series.

The San Francisco Giants swept the Detroit Tigers last night, to capture their second World Series championship in the last three years. Fittingly, in a series that ended with zero wins in the Tigers column, this one went to extra innings, in a last gasp from Detroit to wring some of the last bits of magic from their otherwise-remarkable season. The only way the extra innings were appropriate, though, is the false sense that it finally put the Giants against the wall. All through the post-season, San Francisco has fought and clung their way back from the brink, only to seemingly walk all over Detroit. So, when it went to extra innings, plenty of nervous baseball fans back in San Francisco were probably holding their collective breath. Would these Giants put themselves into a corner once again?

The worry, it turned out, was unfounded. However, after playing their way out of a hole in every series - coming back from a 1-3 hole in the League Championship Series against St. Louis and an 0-2 hole against the Cincinnati Reds - there was nothing easy about this march to the championship for the Giants. Therefore, the worry, even while being up 3-0 on a team that had just steamrolled the Yankees, seemed rational.

The doubt may have crept in to the minds of fans, but the Giants never let it creep into theirs - and if they did, they certainly never showed it. The team that has battled back over and over and over again this post-season never had to do so in the finals. They forced the Tigers into batting far worse than pedestrian .159 average during this World Series, and San Francisco looked every bit as mighty as the Tigers had previously felt, after vanquishing every opponent in their path. The questions that loom over the future of the Tigers will ensure some serious debate during the offseason, but this moment isn't about them.

This moment is about celebrating a team that pulled it all together and, in a rarity in this day and age of baseball, has their World Series championship before October is actually over. The San Francisco Giants went from a also-ran to champions of the baseball world in a whirlwind postseason that won't soon be forgot.

no comics this week.

Due to the Eid Al Adha holiday and my being in Sharm El Sheikh sans Internet, I've not gotten my comics for last week yet, much less read anything. I'll post last week's reviews a week from today, when I'll be reviewing Fables 116, Invincible 96, Mind MGMT 6, Ultimates 17 and Unwritten 42, as well as comics out two days from now: Angel and Faith 15, Mind MGMT 6, Rachel Rising 12 and Ultimate Spider-Man 16. Boom.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

world series is set!

October's chill is lingering everywhere in America, which means that it's time for baseball's biggest stage: the World Series starts on Wednesday night. It'll be the Detroit Tigers against the San Francisco Giants, after a stunning seven game series sent Giants to their second finals in three years. The Tigers, on the other hand, swept the heavily favored New York Yankees in dominating fashion and have to be seen as having the advantage in the World Series, depending on their ample rest time, as well as the momentum of giant-killers on their side.

The Detroit Tigers made the superstar Yankees look terribly mortal in their League Championship series. Playing the first two games in New York, the Yankees vaunted captain Derek Jeter fractured his ankle and once-invincible Alex Rodriguez was benched for his subpar hitting. The post-season disappointment was enough for General Manager Brian Cashman to declare that A Rod was no longer untouchable in an angry rant that surprised no one.

The Tigers didn't look this impressive in taking five games to dispatch the Oakland A's, but their consistency means that, despite New York garnering the headlines we expect from a metropolis, Detroit is the team that's still making waves for good reasons.

The Cardinals won it all last year, the Giants did the year before. It should have been expected that this would be a spectacular series, but when they split the opening games in San Francisco, some people doubted the resolve. Of course, we should have known this was coming according not only to their last two seasons, but also in regard to their regular seasons this year. Neither team knows how to quit.

Sadly, for St. Louis fans, game 7 in San Francisco brought an end to this epic series, in dramatic fashion. The Cardinals were rolled 9-0. Fortunately for Giants fans, their team will carry their victory with them as just the latest sign that they can never be counted out. The Tigers may have the larger momentum, but San Francisco has a deep-seated belief that they will never lose. They were down in the NLCS 1-3 and won games 5, 6 and 7, with the margin in this last closeout game being the largest of the series. The Giants have shown what it means to refuse to give up.

The World Series is the best time for the casual baseball fan to embrace one team getting their shot. Despite the Yankees still dominating the newspaper headlines, and their decorated history, baseball feels like a sport that has achieved true parity. In the last ten years, eight different teams have won. The repeaters: the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals.The Giants now have a chance to join that repeaters club. If they can get over the Detroit Tigers. It's going to be a fantastic battle.

Monday, October 22, 2012

comics for the week of 10/17/12.

My comic book collecting days are dwindling, I believe. I'm still gonna read a whole lot of them, but being overseas has really removed a lot of the impetus to keep up with the buying aspect. Good for me, bad for the industry? I do feel bad about it, but not that much.

Batwoman 13 - I mean, what more is there left to say with this book? It's entering Fables & Locke & Key territory, where every issue (with JH Williams on the pencils - an important caveat) is another superlative. There's not many more places Ican go with my over the top effusiveness. Here, we get to see another awesome shot at Wonder Woman, and I think it's way better than the first part. The way Williams is playing with the panels, the way that the mythos are overlapping, there's just so much happening on every page. This is something that you could go over with a microscope and still find stuff to be amazed about. This time around, the page that got me all wobbly was the mainly text page, with the silhouettes of the creatures on the double page spread. Just gorgeous, gorgeous stuff.

Before Watchmen: Minutemen 4 - Holy hell. This book is getting so deep. Darwyn Cooke is truly making some whole other level shit here. This Minutemen book is filled with the kind of agenda-filled writing that Watchmen was and if it's not as subtle, that doesn't make it not as good. The interactions that we're getting from the characters, the back stories that are being invented...these are SOLID developments. I can't really say it for any of the other Before Watchmen stuff, even the 2 other books that I personally really like, but this should be considered canon! Of course, we'll have to wait to see how it turns out, but if you're not reading this because you have some kind of stupid bias against the BW stuff, you are truly missing out. Here, Cooke weaves at least 4 tales that don't seem to be connected, but they all show how far the Minutemen have fallen. While Silhouette and Silk Spectre are tied together, so are Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis, as well as Hollis and Mothman, and finally, Sally and the Comedian, bringing the circle all the way back around on itself. This is superb storytelling and the tone is heartbreaking. It's incredible to see these characters fleshed out in such a thoughtful, provoking way.

Ultimate Spider-Man 16 - Nice to see an actual acknowledgment of the timeline overlap. The idea of Spidey being on the Ultimates, while not original, is a cool one and I'm glad to see the Ultimate Universe being more accepting in general of this Spider-Man. I have a feeling the situation with Miles' dad is going to work out in a way that I'm a fan of, with him learning that Miles is Spider-Man. I'm always in favor of the dramatic tension when someone knows the identity but doesn't WANT to know. I liked it in ASM with Aunt May, and I'd be more than willing to give it a go here. Plus, it feels like a natural fit: his dad's a pretty smart guy. This book should be getting better and it is, so I'll be sticking with it for sure.

Book of the week goes to Minutemen. This was...a masterpiece.

Monday, October 15, 2012

mlb league championships.

The lead up to the World Series is on again, and October has proved to be a cruel month for some of the most promising teams in Major League Baseball. The Washington Nationals, absent from the post-season since their reincarnation seven years ago - and since 1933 before disappearing from the nation's capital before that - were smoked by the St. Louis Cardinals in game one, 0-8, then lost a squeaker in game two, 1-2, only to brutally collapse in game three. The Nats scored the game's first 6 runs, led in the 9th inning by two runs. However, the Nationals and their fans might be regretting the decision to shut down green ace Stephen Strasburg despite the young team's best record so far, and a solid shot in the postseason. The Cardinals, last year's World Series champs, have the resolve of a championship team for good reason. They've been all the way to the mountain top and they know what it takes to get there

On the other side of the equation, the San Francisco Giants lost their first two games against the Cincinnati Reds before storming back to win three in a row. Despite losing game one to St. Louis, the Giants have a chance to even things out at home tonight. Their championship pedigree shouldn't be questioned when compared to the Cardinals either, as they didn't win it all last year, but they did in 2010. The Giants won the National League West by a wide margin and ranked 5th overall in regular season batting average. They will not be an easy out.

The most decorated, dynastic team in baseball's history has once again made the postseason, and this year, the New York Yankees did so in style. After winning the American League East with 95 games, the Yankees traded wins with the Baltimore Orioles - second place in the AL East, only 2 games back - taking two of the games into extra innings.

However mighty the Yankees looked during the regular season, though, the Detroit Tigers have made them look terribly mortal in their two games so far. Playing both games in New York, the Yankees vaunted captain Derek Jeter has fractured his ankle and superstar Alex Rodriguez has been benched for his subpar hitting. The Tigers didn't look this impressive in taking five games to dispatch the Oakland A's, but they've put on a show when it comes to the Yankees.

With four teams left and a chill in the air, baseball's moment of excitement is here. The World Series is just around the corner and every team left has a sizable claim to deserving to be there, deserving to win it all. The Giants need to make a move tonight in order to get back in their series and tomorrow, the Yankees' season could be over.

comics for the week of 10/10/12.

Marvel NOW! launched this week with Uncanny Avengers 1. I read it, but will not be reviewing it below, because I will not be buying it in the future. While I love Rick Remender and his writing, I'm ambivalent about Cassady's art. I know this is blasphemy to some, but I just don't think it's that good. Plus, the story doesn't have much for me to care about. I want a Brubaker-written Cap, or no Cap at all. I've never cared about Thor, the Scarlet Witch or Rogue. Havok is super interesting as a character and I have a feeling he's going to be even better in this new, post-Scott Summers Marvel Universe, but if the only way he's getting play is as a foil, that means it's only a matter of time until the story of Scott's "redemption" is upon us. And there's nothing in the world I want to read less than that.

Batman 13 - The beginning of The Death of the Family was billed as a huge deal, and Scott Snyder doesn't disappoint. The first chapter is as good as anything in the vaunted Court of Owls story, which everyone should know I was a little disappointed in the ending of. The return of the Joker feels like one of the few elements of the DC reboot that was actually planned and has the weight that editorial is trying to force on everything else. The fact that the ending plays out like it does (not the backup with great art by Jock, but the actual spoilertastic ending of the main story) says a lot about where this story is going to go. Here's to hoping for some serious Joker-level mayhem. P.S. All of the covers were pretty amazing.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 14 - Man. This was really, really bad. I'm a fan of the LGBT community and I'm for pushing ideas, but geez, a whole comic dedicated to just the idea that gay people are people too? Doesn't exactly have that subtle Wedonesque ring, does it? It doesn't help that the pencils were choppy and that the story had nothing to do with anyone we cared about. If this arc is all about Billy, I'll seriously consider skipping it, based on this issue. Season 9 has been more disappointment than happiness. Words I never thought I'd say.

Ultimate X-Men 18 - Meh. I'm happy they're showing how long of a fight this is going to be, and setting up Kitty and James are a great couple leaders, but I'm just not interested in this aspect of the Ultimate Universe. Nick Fury should know better, too. He should get President Cap over here, have him clean up the whole mess, like he did the rest of the country in a single day, and then we could move on. Instead, the tone of this book is going to shift dramatically, which could be a good thing, but doesn't appeal to me. If it does to you, more power to you. Next issue seems like it's gonna be a quick wrap-up despite the advice Fury gives to Kitty here. Over the top foreshadowing. Not my cup of tea.

Wolverine and the X-Men 18 - Wow. Did not see this ending happening. I love the fact that the dance was actually billed as Dance Like There's No Tomorrow. The concept of "tomorrow" has always been a huge one in the X Family, and I feel like this issue, with its focus on the school, and on Xavier had a great grasp on that feeling. Jason Aaron's writing continues to get stronger and stronger, he's really got a great hold on the ideas that are behind our feelings for these characters, whether they're newly introduced folks like Idie or Broo, or old-hat staples like Kitty, Husk or Logan. The only thing that still feels off is the kiddie Hellfire Club, but I think they're about to take several steps up the ladder of true evil.

Book of the week goes to Batman in something of a process of elimination. It's not that Batman wasn't clearly the champ, but with Buffy being so terrible and Ultimate X-Men having nothing going on, Batman's triumph feels a little hollow.

Monday, October 8, 2012

comics for the week of 10/3/12.

An all-DC week. It's been so long. This one turned out great, with the exception of GL and the addition of X-Force, which is one of the best books Marvel is putting out.

Animal Man 13 - This is a straight horror comic book. I know I've said that before, but every time I read a new issue of Animal Man, I am so impressed. Jeff Lemire is surpassing Scott Snyder as one of my new favorite writers, given the struggles that Batman is going through. Lemire's grip on horror and the tone of this book surpasses almost anything that DC is putting out now (exception made for Batwoman and nothing else) and makes the other chapter of Rotworld appear less than it would be if it stood on its own. I didn't like the idea of the crossover running concurrently, but after reading both titles, I can see the meticulous planning (other than the separate takes on Supergirl, which was disappointing, given how careful it appeared in all other aspects) that Memire and Snyder have done. Here, we get to see Shepherd again, as well as the remnants of the Red: the totems have made themselves into a city. They're in no position to help and, unfortunately, both timelines need it. In the present, the Bakers are in serious trouble and I don't know how they're going to escape. In the future, the bad guys have arrived and Buddy is going to have to time travel somehow, along with Alec.

Before Watchmen: Rorschach 2 - Wow. The panel looking up at him when he enters the Rio Hotel. The whole attitude of the book. The tone, the grit. The pencils - I finally feel like Bermejo is perfect for something. (I know others have felt that way about him before, what can I say?) The way he interrogates Joe. Man. Rorschach. The most gangster. The interest that the waitress is seeming to show in Rorschach is tragic in the most dramatic irony sense. Too bad for her she's clearly going to have to die some kind of horrible death. Or, Rorschach will just totally turn on her. Not sure which will be worse, but I have total confidence in Azzarello to have this plotted out well. Superb book.

Green Lantern 13 - The biggest bummer about this issue was the forcing of more of a timetable onto this stupid DCnU. Kyle's only been a GL for 2 years? Wow. More pushing of stereotypes when DC has a chance to introduce a truly new character shouldn't surprise me, but it's still disappointing, regardless of how obvious it is. Johns is still capable of writing a great GL book without Hal as the lead, but this push to outer limits is frustrating. The Rise of the Third Army should be a great, seminal story, but because it's being forced upon us in the midst of at least two misguided pushes (diversity! DCnU!), it's falling really, really flat.

Swamp Thing 13 - This was a great book and it would have been good no matter what. But, it came out the same day as Rotworld Chapter 1: The Red Kingdom. In that respect, it fails, because it just was not as good. But in many aspects, it succeeded. Swamp Thing's journey is more familiar because of the presence of the love interest, Abby, but it also feels more generic. It's nice to see Deadman and Ivy, who are more familiar characters than grown-up Beast Boy, cyborg Steel and also-ran Black Orchid. That, however, is the only real way in which this book is superior to its fellow first chapter. The fake Swamp Things, the fake death of Abby, the fake Hawkman...they all feel like lesser version of the story we already saw on the West Coast.

Book of the week goes to BW: Rorschach. I'm not sure if this is the first BW book to win the book of the week in my subjective reviewing, but I am sure that this is one of the best that I've seen.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

lobo football is rolling!

Last weekend, Lobo football defeated Texas State for their third victory of the year, equalling their total wins from the last three seasons combined. When coach Bon Davie took over the cherry and silver head coaching duties, not even the most jaded Lobo fan could have imagined such a convincing turnaround.

Under former coach Locksley's tenure, there was a certain bit of infamy regarding his comments that the Lobos were going to need to add another digit to their scoreboard because they were going to be piling on the points. So far this season, the Lobos are nowhere near that ambitious boasting, but they are averaging more than 28 points a game, which far surpasses their previous records. Consider that in 2011, the Lobos scored a meager 17 touchdowns over the whole season and 21 in each of the two before that.

Unlike the Lobos' first victory this season, their last two have come over respectable if not powerhouse Division I schools. The win two weeks ago against the Aggies was more than a moral victory, as the intra-state rivalry is important to most sports-loving New Mexicans. But the lack of a blow out last week against powerful Boise State seemed to say even more. With this game now adding to the Lobos self-esteem and win total, things seem to be primed for a turnaround.

There are a few issues with declaring the future to be a bed of roses, however. First of all, the game against the Bobcats wasn't pretty. New Mexico managed a lone completed pass in the entire game. The rushing yards were ample, making up for the lack of a passing game in this instance, but it's not going to be enough in the future. The Lobos have now rushed for more than 400 yards in 4 separate games, but they'll need to balance out the attack in order to get these kinds of wins over more quality opponents.

And the more quality opponents are on their way. All of the games from this point are conference matches, and the Lobos currently sit at 7th in the Mountain West. Staring up at our opponents is not necessarily the way we want to start conference play but, fortunately, next week the Lobos face Hawaii - one of the three teams that hasn't won a game in our conference thus far.

If the winning ways can keep up, even just for next week, the Lobos can lay claim to something they haven't had in more than four years: a winning record halfway through the season.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

lobos soccer continues to dominate.

The University of New Mexico Lobos came out a bit sloppy against the Houston Baptist University Huskies this weekend, allowing a goal in the 16th minute. The number-four ranked Lobos ultimately put two in the back of the net on Sunday morning, though, to come out on top in Houston.

The Lobos continue their march toward redemption from last year's undefeated season - a remarkable season that, due to the odd rules of soccer, concluded in the third round of the NCAA Tournament with a match that sent the Lobos home, but did not count as a loss.

The Huskies have lost five games this season, but the Lobos have taken only a single loss. Their tenacity, in the face of a 13-hour weather delay and a site change for the game, shows how focused this team is on improving last year's considerable accomplishments.

The Lobos opened conference play with this game and now face nine consecutive conference matches, in order to determine the automatic bid for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Ultimately, the conference games wind down with another match against Houston Baptist on Saturday, November 3. In between, of course, there are plenty of tough matches, none against the old giants of the MPSF, Sacramento State or Colorado. CSU Bakersfield, another MPSF team that qualified for the NCAA Tournament last year, will be visiting Albuquerque on Sunday, October 21, however.

In a year full of individual accolades that continue to pile up for the Lobos, the most promising praise is the national ranking and the idea that, after a couple years worth of repeated success, our team deserves to be considered among the national title contenders.

This weekend, the Lobos will look to continue their assault, as two in-conference visitors will visit Albuquerque: Air Force plays on Friday at 5 and Denver's match will start on Sunday at 1. Both matches should showcase the Lobos talents and serve as an excellent time to get behind a local team that could make waves when it comes time for the championship rounds.