Monday, January 30, 2012

comics for the week of 1/25/12.

Marvel is taking over.

Angel and Faith 6 - "Daddy Issues" part one and it's a doozy. The appearances at the end might not have been surprises, but they felt surprising nonetheless. I'm loving the character of Alasdair Coames more and more. I hope he's going to get a more prominent place in the book as it's becoming more and more clear that Giles is dead and gone. This opens up the possibility of seeing more flashbacks, like we get to in this issue, and moving on at the same time. Keeping a foot planted in the past while looking to the future: a proud Buffy tradition.

FF 14 - I'm loving how these stories are interacting, but it makes me worry that FF is, essentially, a limited series. After this epic storyline is done, will Hickman still have two books' worth of story to tell? My hope is yes, because it's great to get this much. Here we get to see some of the backstory with Val and Nathaniel Richards preparing for the war that's coming up. We also, of course, see some modern day. I can't really keep all the kids in the FF straight, because I'm not convinced they all matter, but it's not that important to me. The revelation that all they needed was 27 minutes was great, and super believable. The lines from Doom, though, top anything that came in any of the other books this week: "I am Doom. Destroyer of worlds. What Gods dare stand against me?" and "I am Doom. The damned... Do you worst. I will remain unmoved!" Man. What a character.

Fantastic Four 602 - The other side of the story. Galactus is summoned, he declares it to be the wrong time, but the right time creeps up on him (and the heroes) pretty damn quickly. Johnny is still great in his new, powerful role. The intersection of Kree, Inhuman, Annihilation Wave and Galactus is still confusing to me, because I'm not exactly a fan of the cosmic stuff, but the Celestials are nothing to mess around with, clearly, so it's a good thing they're all there.

The Flash 5 - I never thought I would say this, but...I'm going to drop a book with art by Francis Manapul. It's just not good enough of a story. Here we have (kind of) the conclusion of the Mob Rule story, with the turning of Manuel into a bad guy. But I don't care. The return of Captain Cold next month might be enough to interest me to read it in the store, and if it's great, sure, I'll buy it, but... There's very little in this book to compel me to read. If all I'm doing is looking at pictures, well, I can Google some Manapul pencils anytime.

Justice League 5 - Another book that's on the chopping block. I will not be following up on this storyline, although I will finish this one. Really, reading through this issue, I found nothing to like. The pencils, which I still have to defend to my friends, felt flat. The reveal from Bats to Hal that he was Bruce Wayne felt ridiculous, especially with Hal's reaction. The capture of Superman felt anticlimactic and the way GL got punked by Darkseid felt appropriate. There wasn't much here for anyone, I feel, as none of the other characters got any play, other than Flash, who's apparently learned nothing in five years, as he's still trying to figure out "thinking fast" and vibrating through things in his own book. This is a poor reflection on the DCnU.

The Ultimates 6 - On the other hand, this is how you build a bold, new universe. Brian Braddock in a coma, Jamie going off on his father, Sam Wilson being given permission by the villain Reed Richards to explore the City. Man, there was so much in here and I haven't even gotten to the Cap section yet! The only beef I had with this issue is Reed's extended head, which was obviously supposed to be a big reveal, was then drawn like a normal one on the next page. Poor communication. But the possibility of Nick Fury and Clint Barton assembling a new team (that involves Jean Grey!) is more than enough of a hook to keep me on the line.

The Unwritten 33.5 - As happy as I am to see some of the origin of the Marionette Lady, I was a bit disappointed not to get to see more of Pullman. As I mentioned last time, he's such a strong character that I didn't mind at all that the two half issues focused on him. That being said, this was a seriously disturbed issue where we see that this lady (Mme. Rausch!) is more than justified in her cruelty - at least at this stage of her life. The soldier who adopts her is a good soul, sure, but he also should have recognized some of the terrible, terrible things that were happening, not just to her, but around her/because of her. Yes, what happened to her was awful, but you've gotta be able to see the forest for the trees.

Book of the week is FF. While it may not be long-lasting, it feels epic in scope now, and really lets Hickman do work on something (this War storyline) that deserves that long view. Here's to hoping when they do the inevitable hardcover that they combine both this book and the mainline Fantastic Four, alternating issues.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

rematch city.

After sliding through their respective conference championship weekends, the New York Giants and the New England Patriots are set up for a rematch that almost everyone can relish.

In the AFC, things looked all set to go to overtime. Joe Flacco had put together another one of his good games, rallying his team down the field, putting them in position to score, maybe even for the win. When wide receiver Lee Evans was stripped of a just-barely-missed touchdown, things still appeared okay. The Ravens would be kicking a 32 yard field goal in order to tie the game and head to the new bizarro-rules overtime. Practically a chip shot, right? Kicker Billy Cundiff agrees, in principle, but veered wide on the actual kick. The Patriots celebrated on the sidelines, while the Ravens looked on in disbelief.

The Giants, on the other hand, actually had to take the NFC Championship game to overtime against the San Francisco 49ers. After trading equal shots, the 49ers got the ball back for their second try to match the Ravens. It felt right. It felt equal. But it wasn't meant to be. 49ers wide receiver Kyle Williams was on the return team, and grazed the punt with his knee. The Giants may or may not have seen that, but Devin Thomas grabbed the ball and ran like he was certain of himself. After reviewing the play, it was ruled a fumble, the Giants gained possession and it was all but over. Lawrence Tynes kicked the game-winning field goal.

So, with the match-up set, and the break of the Pro Bowl in between, we have approximately two weeks of media to look forward to, where we'll all recap the same familiar facts: the last time these two teams met in the Super Bowl was four years ago. Those were the most infamous of the famous Patriots teams, the ones that went undefeated all the way through the season and the post-season. Until the big game. They lost to the Giants in one of the greatest upsets in sports history. The Patriots appear to have lost some of their mojo since that game, not making the post-season at all in the immediate aftermath and getting bumped in the wild card game the year following that.

The Giants had a respectable follow-up to their Super Bowl win, at least in comparison, by making the playoffs in 2008, but spent the last two years on the outside looking in. The Manning haters crowed over Eli's failures and were only emboldened by this year's shocking (and devastating, at least for Colts fans) news about big brother Peyton. Now, little brother Manning will play in his big brother's town, Indianapolis, for all the marbles.

The rematch angle is, of course, the most entertaining. Certainly, Brady, Belichick and the rest of the Patriots have to be fuming for revenge. But Eli Manning and his Giants have progressed since shocking the oddsmakers, along with the majority of the nation. There's plenty to prove on their side as well. The big brother/little brother angle deserves its moment in the sun, if only for the baffling semi-reveal that Peyton has only a single Super Bowl win. The Manning brothers, tied in ultimate victories, could find themselves a new pecking order after February 5. Tom Brady, of course, in his usual superhuman way, merely looks to solidify his reputation as one of the greatest to play the game. Certainly, none of that is too much pressure for either of these guys, or their teams.

Monday, January 23, 2012

comics for the week of 01/18/12.

The DCnU still continues to frustrate, but this week illustrates some of the best points of it: a new logo from DC has been unveiled, giving haters something else to focus on, and Batman comes out, which is always a net positive.

Batman 5 - I feel like Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are taking huge direction from JH Williams (and to a lesser degree Yanick Paquette, Jeff Lemire & Travel Foreman). If the rest of the DCnU could reach the heights of Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Batwoman (above all) and now, with this arc, Batman, comics would be in better shape. Suffice to say, Snyder is killing here. The backstory of the Court of the Owls is taken to the next level in this issue, where it appears that the Joker himself might even be overtaken, in terms of pure insanity. The art, obviously, is what everyone is going to be talking about, and justifiably so, but I can't help but wonder how much of that was at Snyder's behest and direction, as opposed to Capullo's initiative. (Not trying to hate, it's just that I've followed Capullo for some years now, and he's never struck me as that nervy of a guy. A talented artist, sure, but not border-pushing.) At the end of the day, though, after all the buzz has died down on this issue, I was disappointed that it didn't finish the arc (guess I was wrong about them all being 5 issues) and it felt more like a thought experiment (a great one, I'm not saying it was bad!) than a true advancing of the story. I'll look back when the story's done and feel differently, but for now, I wanted some resolution.

Fables 113 - Interesting. A filler issue that might turn out not to be one, in that most Fables of ways. I feel like this has the same potential as we now obviously see in the tales of the Boxers, when they were first introduced. Also, I loved how self-referential it was, as well as the nods to different theologies. All that being said, though, it can't help but feel like a simple filler issue. The experiment with different artists was a good (and successful) one, I'd love to see more in this style. It'd be great if the regulars didn't need fillers, but hell, they do a pretty damn good job all the time; they deserve a break.

Ultimate Spider-Man 6 - Samnee's art was not good, the story was lackluster. This was, easily, my least favorite issue of the entire Ultimate Universe, since its reinception. I'm not partial to the bad uncle character enough to follow his misadventures in Mexico, and I was disappointed with the lack of forward movement in Miles' storyline. His best friend is still one of the best parts of the book, and I love the interaction with his mother, but this, overall, felt like a swing and a miss.

Book of the week goes to Batman for innovation. I can't believe that I'm about to say this, but the first arc of Batman, when it finally finishes (please next month!), might rank up there with the first arc of Batwoman. Incredible stuff.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

football conference championship games set.

So, it'll be San Francisco versus New York and New England versus Baltimore. All for the right to go to the biggest game of the year. No more upstart Broncos, no more defending Packers. No more surprise Texans, and no more record-breaking Saints.

Obviously, the majority of the public wants to see a rematch of Super Bowl XLII with the Patriots facing the Giants. It's not that simple, though.

In order to get past the 49ers, the Giants will, simply put, have to overcome the underdog story of the year. With Alex Smith (he of the number one pick that has disappointed almost every one of his six previous seasons in the NFL) gunning, the 49ers have impressed upon nearly everyone by now the fact that they are a serious team. By beating the New Orleans Saints in dramatic, if not overwhelming, fashion, the 49ers have proved that their sometimes-anemic offense (especially in regards to the passing game) is not a problem and their defense is a facet upon which they may hang their collective hat.

The Giants, on the other hand, rolled over the defending Green Bay Packers in such demonstrative fashion that their offense, well-heralded previously, may become secondary to a defensive unit that sacked opposing quarterback Aaron Rodgers four times. The Giants also had their way on offense, with Eli Manning picking apart the Packers' defense in embarrassing fashion.

On the other side of the conference, the New England Patriots put an end to the miracle story of Tim Tebow's Broncos. The team that could just ran into a buzzsaw and was clearly outmatched. Tebow outlived expectations and should be proud of the wins he (and the Broncos defense) managed this season, as well as making it to the playoffs, but the Patriots offense hung 45 points on the vaunted Broncos defense.

New England looks to continue its performance next weekend against the Baltimore Ravens, whose defense is miles ahead of the Broncos. The only hitch in the Ravens' game plan could be found in their regular season record: Of the four games they lost, all were away from home. Next week they'll play at Gillette Stadium, where New England is a tidy 7-1. That sole loss, by the way? It came to the New York Giants.

Both games will be televised on Sunday, with Baltimore tipping at New England at 1 PM MST on CBS, and New York playing in San Francisco at 4:30 MST on Fox.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

comics for the week of 1/11/12.

Huge stack this week and Albuquerque Comic Con this weekend. What a nice time to be alive.

Batwoman 5 - All of the New52 offerings seem to be running 5 issue arcs to start their shit show and you know what? I don't mind at all. You know why? Because of this book. To have this book, by JH Williams, as a monthly, in the face of all the BS, is worth it. In this issue, Kate solves the mystery of La Llorona, encounters the DEO, has a hard conversation with Bruce Wayne, and does it all in a style that no one else is doing in comic books. No one. Big Two, Big Three, Indy Print, I don't care who it is. This comic is what someone should be given if they say they don't like comics. If they're an art fan, or a storytelling fan, and they tell you after they read it that they were unimpressed, you should no longer be their friend. It's that good.

Buffy: The Vampire Slayer 5 - Buffy gets a semi-filler issue, but it's great in the way that Buffy episodes involving dreams used to be. Any time there was a dream, you could tell it was going to be important. This is no different. The first slayer shows up with an important message, as does a Tinkerbell-like figure, and Willow absconds with the scythe, but it seems to be for good purposes. The final page cliffhanger should be a big deal and I'm freaking out over it a little bit, but I can't help but think it's a ruse, and it'll all work out without any longterm ramifications. Which is a shame. Everyone else has moved forward with their lives. Buffy, on the other hand, has only moved on from schools. She hasn't realy done any moving forward. Let's fix that. Maybe not like this. But somehow.

Green Lantern 5 - Hal's apprenticeship under Sinestro (part XXVII) ends with him not having a ring (surprise, surprise) but he does seem to have changed. I can't tell what's happening with him (or with Carol) but I doubt that it's going to be like she thinks it is. Sinestro, however, gets to be his usual super-interesting self. I can't help but think that he will be the most interesting character in this book for a long, long time, seeing as the rest of the Corps have their own spotlight nowadays and the reality that Hal Jordan, as a character, just isn't that compelling in the last five years. That being said, this was a solid read.

Invincible 87 - The encounter between Allen & Oliver and Mark went approximately like I thought it would, with the nice last-page wrinkle being thrown in. However, the meat of this issue came from Mark's conversation with Eve. Cecil showing up was a nice move by him (and great anticipation by Mark) but I think it actually was a step backwards. If Mark had more time along with Eve, I think she could convince him of the error of his ways. She's pretty much the only one he'd ever listen to. But with the constant distractions, she missed her opportunity, and I believe that we're going to continue to see Mark slide off the deep end of crazy. It'll be a fun ride.

Resurrection Man 5 - This is the only book I read that made me believe it's not going to be solidly 5-issue arcs out of DC Comics from now on. This seems to have sort of that serial feel where every issue bleeds into the next but there remains the possibility of self-contained stories. Here we see that Mitch has kind of died, although he's being transported to Arkyham, as an analogue of Hell, while his body is being fought over topside. There was a lot of backstory, which seems to contradict much of what happened in the earlier series, but I'm not super upset over that. The biggest takeaway is that Mitch might be a now-integral part of the formation of the New52. I wonder if they had plans to tie everyone into the mythos in a really important way. That would impress me with the degree of planning, which must mean they don't. Just a happy coincidence that I happen to be reading the D-Level book that gets the A-Level treatment.

Scarlet Spider 1 - I was intrigued enough by the idea to pick this up at the shop. And I liked the story. I liked the art. I liked the acknowledgement of an era that wasn't really as bad as it got painted. But I'm not sure I liked the execution well enough to stick with it past this issue. Here, we get the story of a reborn Kaine, who apparently, has already been back (thanks to Spider Island, which I didn't read, thanks to Joe Q and Brand New Day) but now is rebron and well. (He died? Again? Um...OK.) Kaine's fighting against being a hero (which is a pretty Ben Reilly thing to do, so I'm OK with the naming of this series) but we all know he's going to lose that fight. I mainly just want to see if he's going to make it to New York, talk to Peter, and divide the city, like he and Ben used to do. If there could be some coordination, that'd be great. If not? Well, that essentially makes it a mini that no one references, which puts it almost in the Elseworlds (I know, different companies) category: intriguing, but not worth much in the grand scheme of things. I'll stick with it until they convince me not to.

The Unwritten 33 - Tom Taylor walks into a trap and gets bitch slapped pretty fiercely. It's only going to get worse. With the whole world rooting for him, it turns out the Cabal have some pretty strong voices, too, so that doesn't work out so perfectly for the man who thinks he's in charge. The gang is going to have to take care of this, methinks, but I'm not quite sure if they're up to the task. Lizzie certainly seems devoted to the cause, but she doesn't have Savoy's powers. Savoy's got the power, but he might be a bit too bright to go charging in the way Lizzie will want to. This sets up quite the predicament, and Pullman still is pulling quite a few strings behind the scenes.

Wolverine and the X-Men 4 - New artist I was worried about? No problems whatsoever. This book continues to be great in every way. The story, its intersection with X-Force and the old school feel of the plot? Pitch perfect. The cartoony art, significantly different than Bachelo's? Still amazing. Here we see the introduction of Genesis and Angel to the school and each present their own set of problems. We get one of those glimpses into the future that the X books are so famous for, and we see another timeline which is going to cause all kinds of problems. We also get to continue to explore Deathlok as a solid character. Bravo for a job well done.

Ultimate X-Men 6 - Last but not least, Kitty Pryde kicks some ass. Rogue turns out (maybe) not to be such a betraying wench, but Stryker is (maybe) dead and his last command is going to present quite a few problems for these X babies. My thinking is that Pietro is going to turn up, save the day, and (maybe) not be (quite such) a bad guy. Jimmy is still playing a bit role that I'd love him to get out of, but there are plenty of paths left for him. With significant character development, lots of laugh worthy lines, and solid plot movement, this is a great addition to the new Ultimate Universe.

Book of the week goes to Batwoman. This book is to the rest of super hero comics what Locke & Key is to comics in general.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

comics for the week of 01/04/12.

I'm having trouble keeping up. I make no excuses, simply report the facts.

Animal Man 5 - Buddy gets to experience all kinds of nightmares in this issue as we continue down the path of pure terror. Whereas the connection between this book and Swamp Thing was implied at first, it seems like next issue is going to be our first explicit touch. I love that. I love that this is a shared universe. It exemplifies the best things about the New 52 and gives me hope that more writers can get up to the level of Snyder and Lemire. Going back to the main story, it seems as though, perhaps, both Animal Man and his daughter should have listened a bit more to the cat. (Does she have a name? Am I forgetting? Ah yes, Socks! Funny.) The ending promises some heavy duty action next month.

Rachel Rising 4 - Terry Moore has seriously stepped up his game. In all reality, I can't say that, because I only read the first issue of Echo. Since its completion, people have told me that I need to try it out again, and with Rachel Rising at the level it is, I feel pretty compelled to. This book (and all the books I got last week!) is seriously a straight-up horror comic. There is some seriously dark stuff happening, and not all of it is totally comprehendible. That's great with me, too, as I love the mystery aspect (and the dark humor of Aunt Johnny) of Rachel and her death.

Swamp Thing 5 - This seems like the focal point. The ties between Animal Man and this book are great, but the central nature of a character like Swamp Thing, with the mythology and history of the character, the Parliament, the Green, the Black (and now the Red)'s bordering on an A-List title. This issue sees that even in the world of comic books, our most base instincts should never be trusted. Swampy goes in for a little love and...lo and behold, gets screwed over for it. The interaction between he and Animal Man should be really, really good. Here's to hoping that the story can bounce back and forth in a truly collaborative way, as opposed to just being two sides of the same story. The backstory in this issue was awesome, too, and the art of Paquette is really reaching another level.

Book of the week goes to Rachel Rising. I'm so happy to be truly enjoying another Terry Moore creation, after dismissing myself from Echo, and the sour taste left by the ending of SiP that it really deserves the honor.

Monday, January 9, 2012

comics for the weeks of 12/21/11 & 12/28/11.

I missed last week because of the holidays, but, of course, still got the books themselves. What this means, though, is that this could easily be the longest recap entry I've ever written. Enjoy, nerds.

Angel & Faith 5 - A focus on Harmony is always a bad thing and this issue continues the trend. It's not like it was terrible, or hard to read, it's just...well, there's not a lot going on. It's neat to see how they continue to play with the notion of that world being significantly different than ours and they push that angle consistently. But that's pretty much all there is to truly like about it.

Batman 4 - The Court of the Owls storyline continues with some crappy retcon of a child Bruce Wayne investigating his parents' murder. I'll trust Scott Synder, because he's earned that much, but it doesn't feel right. The story that's taking place in the here and now, on the other hand, is superb. Capullo's pencils continue to hit just the right mix of old school Spawn and Bruce Timm B:TAS style. The relationship between Dick and Bruce is near perfect, with Dick giving up and Bruce reeling him back in. This book is almost everything that a superhero comic can and should be.

FF 13 - My buddy Dave Jordan called out that the last page of this book was perfect and he was so right. In this Hickman half of the story, we see the continuing story of Alternate Reed (or, as Val calls him, "Evil Dad," to my eternal amusement) and his voyage home. This seems like it's his story on the surface, but it's got plenty of Doom, the kids, the Future Foundation, the War of the Four Cities and all the other little arcs that have been simmering in FF (both kinds!) over the last year or two. At the bottom, though, it's truly another story about Nathaniel Richards. I feel like he's finally being used to the height of his potential and I have a feeling that he's going to pay a price for that use. Great work, as always, by Hickman. The pencils were a little sketchy, but nothing to truly distract.

Fables 112 - A Christmas tale to distract us from all the seriously messed up stuff that's been happening. It's a takeoff of "A Christmas Carol" and it's well done, but there's no denying it's a filler issue. The best thing about Fables, though? Even when they throw out a filler issue, there's still important elements that are going to come back. Here we see Rose Red journeying to find her station as a paladin of Hope, some developments with Winter, the new North Wind, and, of course, the Fat Lady.

Fantastic Four 601 - Not gonna lie: Totally happy that Johnny's back and not even mad that it lasted exactly as short as we all pessimistically predicted it would. He looks like a badass, he's two years older, Ben's happy, Sue was crying and Spidey and he are already back to joking. Plus, he's got this whole new persona. It's going to be great to work with. The battle that's happening, I'll be real: I don't honestly understand it. I'm not a big cosmic person, which makes me think that, even though this book is GREAT, it's going to be dropped at some point by me. Until then, I'm going to enjoy the ride.

The Flash 4 - This book is close to the chopping block. I never thought I'd say that about a book pencilled by Francis Manapul, but we've got to face facts: the story is boring! I don't care about Mob Rule, I don't care about Barry's shoddily retconned story, nor do I care about the wannabe drama between he and Iris. They're supposed to be together. Am I supposed to be in angst over the fact that they're not? They will be. Everything else is cannon fodder. I'm unhappy with everything about this book other than the art, which is still amazing, as always.

Invincible 86 - Allen (and Oliver!) versus Nolan. This did not go down how I imagined it would. And the ending? Nolan's gonna have some tough calls to make very, very soon. I'm super interested to see the angle Mark takes on this. Kirkman, once again, proving that he knows how to write an ongoing book, keeps the longterm plot threads up in the air while satisfying that urge month to month. This is one of those books that get lumped into the banal-great category: it's hard to expound on what makes it so great, when it's so consistently great from month to month to month.

Justice League 4 - Here's another boring book. Some of the banter is slightly amusing, it's nice to see Aquaman as a badass, but it feels so, so, so weird. I don't like it. I'll definitely finish the first arc, but I can't see myself sticking around longer than that.

Ultimate Spider-Man 5 - Miles gets smacked around by Spider Woman and then gets a talking-to from Nick Fury. But he comes out a winner. The case that he gets from Jessica (via Nick) is a one of a kind present, and the presence of his best friend makes this feel like an authentic Spider-Man book. Sure, maybe it's not Peter, but I won't hold that against this. It's great to have this fresh feeling. They've got a lifelong fan, as long as they stay away from the shit that stripped Amazing of all its fun for me.

The Ultimates 5 - Spider Woman is on the cover, but only gets two pages, but it's still so good. It's the cream of the Ultimate Universe and I love, love, love how different they're going this time. Thor gets smack-talked by his dead relatives and friends. Fury and Barton play some serious politics. And the Falcon signs up for what should, realistically, be a suicide mission. There's no way his shitty science is going to beat Reed, the Maker. This is Hickman is full-on science mode, at his unbridled best, refusing to be constrained by continuity or defined characters. Want to make someone radically different? By my guest! It's fun, entertaining, and it's a compelling read month after month. What more can we ask for?

The Unwritten 32.5 - So, we were all supposed to get that this was Pullman, too, right? I thought each of these issues was going to focus on a different villain, but at this point, I'm so impressed by the concept of Pullman that I don't mind this at all! Make all the issues on him. He's a massively entertaining character already and with all this history, he's only getting more and more enthralling. This issue, in fact, felt even stronger than the main storyline, which dragged a bit just two weeks ago in issue 32. The mere idea of his longevity and the hint that he knows way, way more about the power of stories and words than does the Cabal seems like it's going to give the main storyline a great twist in the upcoming months, forcing me to eat my words, predicting that the series was headed for a quicker-than-anticipated ending. When you switch Big Bads, of course you get to double the life of the series! What a great idea.

Wolverine and the X-Men 3 - OK, I still don't get what those little Nightcrawlers are or where they came from. But Chris Bachelo makes this book. And when he leaves, don't get me wrong, I have faith in Jason Aaron, but I'm not sure the book is going to maintain the same feel. Is he going away for good? Just needs a break? These are important questions in my comic book mind. As for the story itself, we have the old bad guy turns good (ish) idea played out to the Nth degree in this issue. It's a great turn for Beast, as he gets to display some of those vaunted smarts, and I love the interaction that we're starting to see between the various faculty members mirroring the interaction between the students. This is going to be a great read for a long time.

Ultimate X-Men 5 - Although this book is still the weakest of the Ultimate Universe bunch, it's still pretty to look at, and the story seems to be progressing well enough. I love the idea of Rogue as a traitor, and I love that Kitty shows up at the end in that badass new costume, ready to kick some butt. I hate that we had to spend a whole issue getting backstory on Stryker, when I really don't care about him, but I realize that it had to happen. I'm curious to see when and how Jimmy is going to take a larger role, given his prominence on covers and the contrasting reality of his role as, essentially, a guest star in the book thus far. Here's to hoping next issue.

Issue of the (2) week(s) is Ultimates. I had four nominees but when it comes down to it, this is the book that feels the freshest. That counts for a lot with this jaded old fan.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

nfl playoffs promise fireworks.

As the regular season finished up last week, New York Giants fans got another win to gloat about in their rivalry with the Dallas Cowboys. This one stung in a pretty spectacular manner, too, since the G-Men's win meant that the Cowboys would be nowhere to be found in this year's playoff schedule.

Things get started in this wild card weekend with a quartet of games that offer plenty of excitement, plus the promise of water cooler talk to last the entire week. Cincinnati plays at Houston to open things up and then Detroit gets to play in New Orleans. If you can find two better examples in the last ten years of cities with everything hanging out on the line playing each other in the playoffs, your memory is better than mine. The Saints' first season after Hurricane Katrina ravaged their city was kicked off with a bang and finished almost as near as one can ask for, without winning the big prize.

Detroit, on the other hand, has had their troubles well-documented as a result of the auto industry's troubles. A win for either side will represent just another level by which the respective cities have overcome the tumultuous previous decade.

The Atlanta Falcons get things kicked off on Sunday with a game against the aforementioned Giants. That great game, though, serves merely as a precursor to the ongoing drama of Tim Tebow. The Pittsburgh Steelers (they of the most championships of all time in the NFL) will face off in Denver against the Broncos, hoping to end the miraculous season of a team that virtually no one picked to even make the playoffs.

Let's be clear: This is merely the wild card weekend of the playoffs. Details haven't even been given on the top dogs in each conference, which consist of the Green Bay Packers, the San Francisco 49ers, the Baltimore Ravens, and the New England Patriots. The Packers and the Patriots are obviously the toast of their respective towns, but their paths to Super Bowl XLVI are by no means guaranteed.

The best time of the year for a football fan is upon us. It's only going to get better.