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.