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.