Monday, August 26, 2013

comics for the week of 08/21/13.

ON TIME COMICS! Now, onto the books.

Avengers 18 - Welllll...it was goooood. Ish. It was spacy. There were lots of characters. The art was nice. And it had that Hickman scope that I've been raving about for so long. But...it didn't feel alive to me. It felt flat. It felt like just another crossover book with too many characters and some crazy threat that will somehow be overcome at the last minute, even though the heroes keep losing every single battle leading up to that biggest one at the end. It's weird. Maybe I'm event-ed out, maybe it's just that the Marvel books that I'm truly loving aren't really associating themselves with this, but this was the one I was most excited for this week. And when I finished, I just thought, meh.

Batwoman 23 - Well, one of the perks of being so far behind last month is that I got to this issue of Batwoman ridiculously quickly. However, that wasn't all good. I love the fact that this was the issue where McCarthy seemingly went for broke, just totally opened his style up. There are elements of Williams in this, but it's the style, the layouts that get aped, not the technique. I like that he's going for the differentiation. I don't like that I called we'd get a kind of filler issue before the confrontation and so we did. I don't like the fact that Bane is ridiculed even more, lowered even more than I noticed he'd been (it's not ONLY in this book, but this is the only Bat book I'm reading now - but it was happening even before the New 52) last issue. And I don't like the fact that Kate thought her best recourse with Maggie was to poison herself. That's not a healthy relationship. I do like the fact that it seemed to help their relationship and we now have some gay engaged characters - although I fear for their future.

Daredevil 30 - Parsecs, memes, dubstep and Matt sheds his suit as he's falling out the window tackling the Silver Surfer. When I saw the cover, two things struck me. First of all, it's a ridiculous pairing. Secondly, Samnee is an amazing artist. Both of those things proved true, in the best way possible for the former. The issue walks the line between pure comedy and pretty serious concept well and I think it does so, yes, due to Mark Waid's great writing, but the art's impact cannot be ignored. The square jaws, the panels on the double page spreads, the way that DD justifies his hijacking of the cosmic surfboard... Man, this was fun. A really good single issue with some possible future ramifications, too. While Matt's focused on the love issue, there's a pretty good chance this was Mark Waid's easter egg contribution to Infinity, so that'll always be fun to look back on, whether it's ever confirmed or not.

Fables 132 - Rose Red! 100+ issues after she debuted as an insolent younger sibling, she's finally the best leader Fabletown could ever ask for. She's got grand plans, exquisite revenge and she knows how to get things done. A great issue, I loved the prominence of birds and the way that the wedding negotiations are ongoing. Other than that, though, honestly, I don't have much to say. It's just another issue of a series that's been good for almost a decade now. What else do you expect?

Book of the week goes to Daredevil. Really happy with the way things are allowed to be independent and yet reference the larger world. Not everything needs to tie in.

Monday, August 19, 2013

comics for the weeks of 07/24/13 & 07/31/13 & 08/07/13 & 08/14/13.

This is a pretty Bendis-tastic week, which is a bit of an oddity in 2013. I've got to say, I didn't mind it nearly as much as I feared I would.

All New X-Men 14 – God, that cover! And then the issue! It's all...magical. Seriously. That's the only word I have for this issue at this point. When this book started, I was (and have been) well on record as saying that I thought it was a one-trick pony. And then there were some other notes that it hit (Scott meeting Alex, Jean Grey getting to live again, the indignation at the Scarlet Witch getting a pass) that made it worth my time for those instances. But now, for the first time, I can see something long-term and without necessitating an end: they can train all over again. In the current era. With grown-ups who knew them as kids. In a word that's a radically different version of their own, with some of their problems solved and some of their changed and some new ones they'd never think of. We can see the BEGINNING of the X-Men in our time. And, sure, if they go back and get mindwiped, it'll have all been for nought. And yeah, that's usually the kind of story that I reserve a special kind of scorn for. But it'll have made a difference for the characters here and now, even if we don't get to imagine some kind of backdoor for keeping some leftovers of the original five's learning. It matters for Wolverine, maybe just as much as the kids he's teaching in the other book. It matters for Kitty Pryde, who's finally taking ownership of being the Professor. There's all these deep things that could keep on going, conceivably forever. And that's so cool. Plus, I mean, honestly, young Bobby is hilarious. The book's almost worth the price of admission to get to see him throw a snowball at Thor and then look mortified as he apologies alone. All that plus Mystique gets away the same way she did the first time (idiots), Jean Grey is handling the Phoenix force dangerously well and we've all forgotten that Warren isn't even with them anymore! Guh.

Avengers 16 - Oh my God, we've got a Hulk. Buuuuuut...it doesn't turn out at all how I predicted last issue and honestly, I think the story's weaker for it. Like I said last time, I'm not reading Indestructible Hulk, but I understand it's pretty good and that Banner's being portrayed as someone who knows what he's doing. Well, here he doesn't get that treatment at all. He Hulks out and doesn't get pointed in the right direction, which would have saved SHIELD some construction costs and his teammates some bumps and bruises. Meanwhile, we did learn a couple interesting things: the Starbrand and Nightmask are training. Nightmask knew and Starbrand finally realizes that this puny prison can't hold them, but the wiser convinces the younger to stay until he's got a firmer grip on his powers and his abilities; good move. Also, Captain Universe convinces Manifold (Eden?) that he needs to convey her message to the Avengers: they need to get bigger. (A hilarious conceit, given that the initial issues called this Avengers World, but also backing up my faith in Hickman's longterm vision.) She knows that they see her as damaged even though she's just confused and she knows how to get through it. Last but not least, the team itself gets their collective ass kicked by the alien from AIM Island, but it seems like they might know a way to pull him (it) back? That'll be good for the Avengers right now, but will prove to be very bad later if the AIM goons can control this thing's direction. Not a great issue, I'll be honest, I can see why this would push some people past the dropping point, but I'm sticking with it out of fealty to Hickman.

Batwoman 22 - Love the split take that this issue goes. It's really three tales in one, with Bette and Kate each getting their own due, but only after a team-up where they track down Bane. (DC really should have stayed away from Bane post-breaking Bruce's back. It makes that epic story far less grand. Just a thought.) Anyway, Williams has more than proven himself as a storyteller by this point, IMO. He's got plotting down, this one felt perfect. He's got decent stories on his own, too. I love the angles and the layers that are happening not only in this issue and not only in the early days with the Religion of Crime, but with the DEO as a whole and with Batwoman as a character. Consider this: we might not have seen Maggie at all this issue? Unless that was her in the two panels in Arkham? Man. That's like, the old secondary character. (I could hear an argument that she's not anymore, but still, at worst, that relegates her to third or fourth, depending on who you're going to give precedence.) And still, it read like a tight fit where things were exactly where they should be. Looking forward to next issue, hoping it'll be the grand confrontation between everyone, but have a feeling it'll only get us to the precipice.

Hawkeye Annual 1 - This is a SERIOUS contender. The way Pulido uses the black shadows for the characters could seem like a lazy dodge, but it never comes off that way. The differing techniques on display in this issue prove that. He doesn't dodge the characters, he draws them in at least two different ways on every page! That's mastery, not laziness! And the whole Kate/Clint pseudo-breakup thing has been coming for a while, so I'm glad we get it fleshed out here. The way that Fraction can get inside both Clint and Kate's heads is amazing, but the collaboration between writer and artist might be even better. I mean, how many people has he worked with on this book? And they've all been incredible issues! Seriously. God. The internal narration she's got going on, the way the flashbacks are interspersed, the colors, the motivations, the conflict going on with Kate...This is all top notch stuff. So, plot-wise, we've got Kate fleeing cross-country to the Best Coast where she thinks things will be better. Unfortunately, the baddies have gotten all PRISM on her, so they know where she's going to be before she gets there. She falls into a trap, but she recognizes it for what it is (the self awareness to call herself a tautology?! Come on!) and dodges it...for a while. When she pulls out of the garage, who knows if she planned on Masque being there or not, but her ultimate plan shows the longterm-thinking capabilities of one Kate Bishop. She's a phenomenal character and I love that she's got a place in the MU, even if it's just this little corner (and YA) because I'd rather have this great version of her than an over-exposed, lesser version.

Invincible 104 – Seeing the different versions of Marks fight in the pocket dimension where Levy left them was really cool. But the art (pointed out by Nicky B.) when it came to Eve and her interactions with Angstrom was just terrrrrible. I don't understand. How can a flying Mark with a bloody beard look so amazing while he's chasing our Invincible look so good, but his lady's face look so bad? Even mohawk Mark looks good in what is the worst of his section, while he's beating beardy Mark. As far as the story goes, though, it's pretty good. Eve comes up with what she thinks is a good tack to take with Levy, at least without her powers and Invincible around. But when our Mark returns, he doesn't do it solo and I think that won't be the last we see of either Levy or mohawk Mark. And, if nothing else, that last page seemed to confirm it; Mark seems pissed off and that's usually not a good thing. If there's one lesson he should have learned by now, it's that his emotions can throw him way off center. So, it's all well and good that the problem was solved for now, and good for Eve for being the one to reason her way out of a terrible situation, but the repercussions aren't going to be pleasant, methinks.

Mind MGMT 13 - This is the type of book that could have never existed without the previous 12. I guess that's wrong; it could have, but I think it would have been a failure. As much as I love Mind MGMT, if this had been issue one, I'm not sure I would have been hooked. But, coming as it does, this is pretty much standard fare. It's nothing that's going to blow you away, but if you've invested in the MM Universe already, it's like just another hit of the hard stuff. Kindt is proving to be as big a fan of the genre as he is a master of it. The allusions that are hidden in this issue, from the direct references to the oblique are fantastic. I'm still over the moon about the art, too. If we had more Mind MGMT, everyone would be happier. Here, we got a kind of stand alone issue, until the reveal at the end and we'll see how it all ties together. The letters column said that the next three will be kind of like this one, too, though, so it'll be a while before we see how this new lady plays her part in the grand drama.

New Avengers 8 - On the other side of the Hickman equation, we get some tantalizing bits, including Reed jumping in and acknowledging that he's not really there, Tony's return from deep space (with the Guardians of the Galaxy? I'm not reading that book) and these deft ways of letting us know that Hickman knows that he's playing with a whole universe, not just a corner anymore. Other than those nods, though, and the clear cut conflict between Wakanda and Atlantis (and so, obviously, between T'Challa and Namor), there's not a lot to get excited about. Tony and Reed's conversation is shrouded in so much secrecy that I have no idea what it's about at all, other than the Incursions in general and someone taking up arms against them for the Illuminati. Also, the ending doesn't do me any favors because I have no idea who these attackers are. Maybe that's on me for reading so casually (or having a poor memory) but I also think that at times the scope that I applaud Hickman for can be daunting. I'm firmly on board, don't get me wrong, but it's not compelling in the way the FF run was every single issue. I'm maintaining hope that that's because it's a larger story, so it's going to have more runway, but the thing about getting more rope is that, if you fail, you fall even harder.

Powers Bureau 6 - Bendis does it again: totally recycling Tripphammer (plus the guest appearance at the end which isn't a spoiler because she's already appeared as is even mentioned in this issue before she does) but the plot is enjoyable enough. Plus, Pilgrim gets the line of the week, so far: "Did we just bag the biggest organized crime family in the country, everyone is still alive, and I get to see you with your shirt off? Best fucking day ever!" Pretty good laughs, but the damper starts when Broglia smirks as they put her in the car and although we already knew Meltzer was dirty, it's disappointing to see that he's still trying to weasel his way out of everything. Fuck that guy, seriously. It's retreads all over again, but I don't mind that as much. It's kind of a mindless, fun comic, like the summer, action movies. I'm all right with that.

Scarlet 7 - Well, OK, yeah, still a cool concept, but still not really doing it for me month to month, much less on the ridiculous schedule that Bendis is putting this out on. I'm always happy to get art from Alex Maleev, but there's no way that I can read this as it comes out. Maybe if I hear amazing things about it, I'll look at it in trade, but more than likely, I'm seeing this one fall by the way side. It's not that it's not a good book. It's great. It's a fascinating premise that's totally unbelievable and has jumped waaaaay over the shark even from the onset. But I just can't do tiny, tiny pieces of a grand narrative structure at this pace. Sorry y'all, can't stand by. In this issue, Scarlet shows that she's got a plan, one member of her crew gets a little back story and the mayor of Portland stands up a little bit while the cops freak out and the feds try to calm them (and the situation in the square) down. It's good. The art's amazing. But I can't read two books per year and maintain any enthusiasm.

The Unwritten 51 - Yeah, we kinda saw the Sue dilemma coming, right? And her transition to the dark side of magic says that not only is she going to get the gang in trouble next issue, but she might present more problems in the future beyond all that. Man. I've gotta say: while it's still a cool concept and I'm down to get some Tommy Taylor, I'm not sure if it's the abrupt change in the story or if it's the alternaFablesverse, but I'm kinda feeling bummed by this story. It's not that it's not good, it obviously is. But there's just so much darkness (honestly, no pun intended) that it's hard to see any of the good. Even when they succeeded in rescuing Bigby, I didn't feel relieved. I'm curious as to how this is going to end and how it's going to affect both books, if it affects Fables at all. Clearly, there are big things brewing for Tom, Savoy and Lizzie. I just have no idea what they're going to be.

Thor: God of Thunder 10 - Still loving this book, still think it's one of the best superhero comics being put out right now, but I've got to be honest: this issue left me lacking a bit. I love that the Thors were beat and got back in the fight. I love that Gorr's son turns out to be the one to turn to tide. I love that youngest Thor gets to have a little bit of glory amongst his much more certified compatriots. Loved the look on baby Gorr's face when he realized what his father had done. But I'm feeling a bit fatigued? Maybe the story's gone on just a skosh too long for me? The art is still amazing, I'm still fascinated by the concept of Gorr and the team-up of three Thors, but this is the first issue since I've been reading the title (since its reboot) that I wasn't blown away. I'm ready for the conclusion, especially since I figure there must be some sort of retribution coming from Gorr and the threat of some future intrusion - his story's not done yet, and maybe that's why I'm eager for it to end. We all know he'll be back. So let's let him retire for a bit, armed with the knowledge that there'll be other things to conquer in the interim.

Ultimate Spider-Man 25 – What a last page. What a beautiful book. What a great way to bring Miles back into the fold. I know I've talked about this here before, but I'm really more glad than ever before that I didn't look up Ultimate Jessica Drew. Because to hear her story from her own mouth, in the way that Miles was hearing it, discovering it for the first time...that was transformative. Of course that would be the thing that would push him over. It makes total sense and it's the right thing. And I love that he's going to set out against Roxxon with Jessica even though SHIELD has their shady business going on. I love that the path is set for these two to do their own thing, on the boundaries of what their “employers” might want them to do or not. I love that Aunt May and Gwen are still in this book, but are showing us such tangential reactions to Miles existing and his crisis of faith and all of what's happening. And I love that Miles' girlfriend either won't be around very long, or is just being used as a stupid example of a ridiculous stereotype. You know, not every girl thinks that their boyfriend's best friend is gay. There's different levels of love. So I'm hoping that she'll either be gone soon, shoved aside as Miles realizes that she's just not that clever or that she sees that there's more to a person and their relationships than just sexual attraction. (And if Ganke does turn out to be attracted to Miles, I hope their friendship is rooted in history, as opposed to making Ganke just another stereotype. See, for example, Young Avengers, where the characters happen to be gay, but aren't set out as tropes for all the voyeurs. I'm counting on you not to screw this one up, Bendis! Learn!) Anyway, the writing is pretty good, although not as top notch as I felt it has been for the last couple issues and the art is gorgeous, as usual, especially with Cloak and Dagger in their most elemental form. Great stuff.

Wolverine and the X-Men 33 - Idie's initial narration is a cute little exercise in Orwellian doublespeak. The interaction between Dog and Sabertooth is fantastic. (And, just as a sidenote here: if we're truly going to bring back Dog into the mainline MU, can Aaron please be the only one who gets to write him? And can his interactions please only be with Sabertooth? This is the only good thing I've seen since they made the decision to pull this character here - let's run with it!) The turn of Idie into the Black Queen and her betrayal of Kade was so unsurprising, though, that the Baby Hellfire Club has now lost all the ground they'd gained with me, which wasn't much to begin with, sure, but it still feels like a regression. The version of Krakoa on the last page looks too much like Swamp Thing. I didn't get the point of seeing Wolverine fighting that guy (Lord Deathstrike? WTF?) the whole issue, interspersed, and then just to have him conquered on the last page. Wasted space. Just token shots of Wolvie. And Q gets yet another shot at redemption. He never has seemed like enough of a bad kid to justify all this waffling with his character, though. I don't know. It's not hitting that magical note like it did in the beginning. It's still good, and I like the idea of Wolverine changing as a character to be this new guy, but it's hard to reconcile this Baby Hellfire club being so stupid with their attempts to be taken seriously. Wolverine's interactions with them, given his past with the real Hellfire Club, is a good place to start, but his vacillation between upright mentor and clueless leader make it hard to know which side to truly root for. There are places in the MU now that feel like the X-Universe in the 80s and early 90s when we truly thought change was possible and some radical things might happen (whether that was actually ever the case or not is a debate for another time) but, ironically, this book isn't one of them. And that's a shame. It had that potential in the beginning and I'm hoping it can get back to it. A book can be both fun and serious. Let's get back there.

Young Avengers 8 – This book seems like it's shipped three issues in just about 5 weeks! It's great that we're getting it so quickly, but it can add up in the expenses. Anyway, this is about as good as comics can get in my world: pure fun, jumping around universes and seeing the wacky possibilities - although seeing Kate as having a man's head was a bit too far for me. For now, I've learned too much about the ending to Journey Into Mystery's end to ignore it, even though I haven't finished that reading assignment, so it really makes me wonder every time Loki's on deck. This issue gets started with the Tumblr recap page and is good from the get go, breaking fourth wall in the best way, in the Gillen way, with the parenthetical note about Miss America "(with her actual foot, who is this girl?)" that is so so so good. The ways in which this book kicks ass just keep multiplying. I don't mean to keep squeeing like a little fanboy, but seriously, this is everything I wanted comics to be when I was kid. And now, there are grown adults making them, aiming them at me? With kid humor and adult humor? The beard comment, the passport page, the endless alternate Earths, the horrible inevitability of evil, ninja women, the panel construction... Everything is just too good. The ending, with the double twist is just the icing on the cake. I guess what I'm saying is, one: I'm going to read the entire JiM run next week. And two: if you're not reading this book, I don't know why you read comics. It can't be for the same reason I do.

Book of the week goes to Young Avengers. All New X-Men could have had it, but this YA is just too much for me.

*

Shorter week this time around, which is good since I'm running behind with the reviews. No DC is getting to be the new norm. It's weird how cyclical that sort of thing is.

Angel and Faith 24 - Everything I wanted from this issue. Giles and his old friend both confess to wanting out. They feel like the world's moved on, that their roles are done. Angel and Whistler get not only a battle royale, but a grand conversation as well. We the human side of both of them and we realize that Whistler genuinely believes he's doing the right thing. (I didn't expect anything less.) Even Giles' sisters get their due, showing that they're not just soulless little creatures. Faith gets her shot at contributing, too, but is mainly reduced to window dressing, first for Angel and then for Nadira's attempt at resurrection and redemption. Faith will get her due next issue, though, I've got to believe, simply because she's been the bedrock of this book. She's come so far. Giles as a kid is still working far better than I ever would have believed. And Pearl and Nash? Well, honestly, when they had their hugging moment and talked about their mother, I couldn't begrudge them one little bit. The changes that the people were going through, though, were enough to break that spell; those guys are monsters. Here's to hoping that Buffy can live up to this title's cliffhanger and that we'll get satisfying ends on both of the books.

BPRD: Vampire 5 - Welp. I'm glad I read it for the Ba and Moon. But...that's about it. There was too much in-universe storytelling in this finale for me to actually care about it. Granted, that's a fault of my not getting deep enough into the Mignolaverse by now to get it, but... The beginning and end were lacking for me, but all five issues stand as testaments to great art.

Daredevil 29 - I know it was almost definitely planned before the verdict came in, but the racial tones and the way DD can't see the color of the skin of the people he's talking to and avoiding and fighting.... The fact that it's in a court room.... It's all very timely. And it wasn't the world's most serious issue, what with the Sons of the Serpent (seriously?) but it had those aspects where I was kind of...nervous. Also, the middle page (15?) with the three panels, with him grabbing the kid and sliding down through the bullet fire? Incredible! The ending? Well, I don't know who it is, but this continues to be the good kind of fun, a light-hearted alternative to the other side where they think everything has to be TOTAL SERIOUS LEVEL all the time.

Book of the week goes to Angel and Faith. Not a lot of competition, sure, but it still deserved it.

*

OK, so I'm still incredibly behind, but this was another ridiculously short week, so I should get caught up here.

All New X-Men 15 - I love Rachel Grey. I love the first panel of her looking all futuristic and yet retro-90s and badass and kinda silly all at the same time. And even though her mother (or, at least this younger version of her mother) has no face when she gets out of the shower and they run into each other, this is the most perfect cold opening that I've seen in comics in a long, long time. Hilarious. And the tone continued. Bobby and Slim's adventures in town, getting to be kids. Scott with his remark about where Wolverine gets his money. That was cool. And fun. And funny. But here's the thing: This Jean Grey being out of control thing has been allowed to go on for too long. Someone's got to seriously stop her from reading minds. It's not good for anyone. And although I'm kind of digging the idea of an all-new love triangle between her, Scott and Hank McCoy, I'm not enjoying the fact that everyone knows she's doing it and no one's stopping it. But the biggest problem, for me? LaFuente's art. I don't mind it usually, but it was too anime-influenced here and made the kids look like kiiiiiids. I know they're supposed to be younger versions and that's part of the point, but they shouldn't look like mid-schoolers. Still a great book, but I'm wary of this upcoming crossover.

Avengers 17 - "End Prelude"?? Are you fucking KIDDING ME? Holy shit! 17 issues in and he calls this a prelude. Dude, Hickman is the BEST. Seriously! How can this not be more celebrated?! OK, I'll acknowledge one way where it falls short: Man, the art was seriously shoddy in places. When Cap went up to Mars to offer spots to Ex Nihilo and Abyss, it took a serious drop. And when Iron Man was explaining the machine, was that Bruce he was talking to? And why isn't Bruce suffering any ramifications for Hulking out on a SHIELD satellite. And what happened to all those people? And why wouldn't Manifold (still a stupid name) tell Cap about the AIM people TAKING SAMPLES from the Avengers. And why wouldn't Superia just kill the Avengers? And where did Manifold (still a stupid name) drop her? And why didn't the WHOLE TEAM follow up with her and find out about the giant robot that whupped their collective ass? OK, so there are a lot of questions. I definitely acknowledge that. And the art has some stuttering issues. But...damn. The scope is so impressive. If Hickman is the new Architect, I'm good with that. And as it's all building toward Infinity, I'm even more impressed.

Book of the week goes to Avengers. This is going to be epic.

*

OK, now I'm ridiculously behind. I'm through making excuses. It'll be posted this week.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 24 - It was better than I hope for, I'll give it that much. This issue, finally, the story started to come together. I can see where it's going, I can see parts of the story before that were necessary for it to get here, and I can appreciate the journey. But there were ridiculous, wasted parts to this season and the art is still terrible. Terrible. I love that Illyria is still functioning as such an important character and I'm glad that Spike is with Dawn. I'm disappointed as usual in Xander, but he seems to be going through just another low arc. That's fine with me, because that's kind of his trope. I have no doubt that Buffy (and Co.) will triumph over this new vampire-Slayer, but it won't really feel like the great victory that previous Big Bads have been. I think that's OK, because we're set up to save Dawn (maybe even Illyria, too?) and return magic to the world in a way that'll make Willow more relevant than ever before, so I guess that's a victory enough? But it just feels like this was kind of a meandering season, despite the shorter length and the so-called return to normalcy.

East of West 5 - When we look back at this book, when it's all said and done, this will be the issue where it finally started living up to its massive potential. This was an issue where we got revelations - Death's son! and promises of what's to come - the grand war narrative. This was where we saw how some of the bits we'd already seen fit together and the larger story started to come into focus. This was...magnificent. Death and Xiao have their terrible discussion, we learn some back story, Bel and the other politician visit the Beast of the Apocalypse and things start to fall into place. I love what's happening here.

Saga 13 - God, give me a break, I can't even do this. This is the best. If you're not reading it, you're stupid. If you are reading it, you're loving it. The art is incredible. The writing backtracks here, we see how the crew got to the writer's haunted place, The Will manifests a ghost to tell himself that he's into Gwen, Alana and Marko are beautiful and Granny is pissed. It's perfect. Just buy it.

Thor: God of Thunder 11 - Yup, I didn't think they could do it. I didn't think the end could possibly live up to the beginning or the hype. But it did. It was so good in so many parts that I don't even WANT to talk about all of them. Go read it for yourself. I'm not going to spoil anything. Except...be on the lookout for that double page spread. And, oh yeah, Thor's a fucking badass.

Trillium 1 - OK. Everyone was right. The art reminds me a bit of Farel Darlymple (word to Dave Jordan for the recommendation: http://studygroupcomics.com/main/category/title/it-will-all-hurt/) and the concept is as out there. The seemingly watercolored backgrounds also kind of remind me of Kindt and Mind MGMT, so those are never bad places to start. The flipbook concept could have come off gimmicky, but Lemire makes it work so well that it's almost bound to inspire copycats. (Those poor fools. They won't have nearly as solid concepts to go off of and theirs will almost inevitably fail.) The division of the book works perfectly and the two stories couldn't seem to be more diverse, but it's great the way it's building. The Scientist in the far future and the British explorer are going to have plenty to say to each other about the odd coincidences that are taking place in regard to this flower. I'm psyched for this book.

The Walking Dead 113 - All right, this is what we expect from the Walking Dead! Yes, we never doubted that Andrea wasn't dead, there's no chance she was the one tossed out the window. And yeah, Carl's got balls and Rick thinks everything's gone to shit. And no doubt some 'good guys' will die. That's the price that's got to be paid. But the underlying point, as almost always is shown in this book, is that the living are far worse than the undead. Negan's got a sick fetish for Lucille in far worse ways than we've ever expected, and the gang's going to lose some pretty serious contributors. But this is what I want. People being truly evil, expressing a little remorse, perhaps, but no regret. That dude was going to kill Andrea. He didn't feel bad about it, even if he said he did, a little bit. There's no way the two can coexist. In order to survive in this world, you have to get over those bad feelings. So he says he does, but he doesn't really. And man, that's depressing, but I think that's as close to the truth of what this world would be like as this book's ever gotten. I'm curious to see how this is going, because Rick's got to survive, but I'm not sure he's going to get out, per se. He might be taken hostage by Negan and the rest of the group will rush in to save him? On the other hand, their war, waged by Ezekiel and the others, should be over relatively quickly, since Negan's put so much into this mini-battle with Rick and his group. It'll be interesting.

Wolverine and the X-Men 34 - First of all, I love the art. The Iceman Voltron and the Kaiju Krakoas. I love the storyline (happening both here and in All New X-Men) with Bobby and Kitty. I love the new Wolverine fastball special. I love that the kiddie Hellfire Club is getting some sort of comeuppance, even if it's only going to be one of them who pays any kind of price. However, all that being said. this book just isn't as good as All New X-Men anymore. It was the best X book out for a while, both in terms of pure fun and nostalgic X reminiscence, but it's been lapped. That doesn't mean it's not good, but it's hard to maintain that much X enthusiasm for me anymore. I did and do love the art and I'm excited to see some kind of twist next issue in the conclusion of this arc, but I'm hopeful that, after next issue, we'll steer away from the kiddies for a while. The Siege Perilous is way more interesting, anyway, and I have a feeling that's where we're headed. Cool.

Book of the week goes to Saga. There were so many good books this week, but when you read Saga, everything else just falls by the wayside. And that's it! I'm caught up. Hopefully, I'll be back next week, on a regular schedule.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

usa comeback win over bosnia-herzegovina.

On Wednesday, at halftime, things looked grim for Team USA. After winning a then-record 11 matches in a row, the Americans ran into a surprisingly good team in Sarajevo: Bosnia-Herzegovina was going to snap Coach Klinsmann's successful streak. However, Jozy Altidore scored a hat trick in the second half and the team rallied around his powerful performance, winning the international friendly 4-3.

While the match did not count toward Olympic qualifying, it sure counted insofar as morale for both the team and the country. Wednesday's match was the first time Team USA has come from behind to win on European soil. Altidore's hat trick - plus an assist on the first goal, a perfect touch for control to Eddie Johnson in the 55th minute. Bosnia is also ranked 15 in the world rankings and, with win number 12, the Americans now have the longest current win streak in the world.

With Landon Donovan firmly entrenched in his comeback mode and Jurgen Klinsmann's model having proven out, it appears as though Team USA is in great position for the World Cup qualifying matches to resume.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

rodriguez fights suspension.

On Monday afternoon, Major League Baseball dropped the hammer on Alex Rodriguez, handing down a 211-game suspension for his involvement with the Biogenesis clinic. Biogenesis, which billed itself, while it was operating, as an 'anti-aging' clinic located in south Florida, is the center of a long investigation by MLB involving performance-enhancing drugs. 12 other players were also suspended - and all 12 accepted their suspensions with deals that limited the terms to a mere 50 games. This willingness to accept the suspensions - and the mea culpas that accompanied the punishments - open the possibility of All-Star Nelson Cruz rejoining his team, the Texas Rangers, when the playoffs begin. Cruz joins two other All-Stars, Everth Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta, as well as nine others, as the latest players punished by MLB. However, there is no doubt that Rodriguez is the biggest fish.

Rodriguez has always invited a certain kind of scorn. He was never Derek Jeter, diving into the stands for a fly ball. He was a machine, programmed to hit baseballs, longer and father than had been done before, seemingly destined to break records. One reporter at least, wonders: Why did Rodriguez feel this need? What he stands accused of now is willfully flaunting that fate, spitting in the face of a league that he could have ruled. All 12 other players accused in the Biogenesis case accepted deals for shorter suspensions and gave up their right to appeal the sentence.

Rodriguez, however, as seems to be par for his personality, is intent on fighting. Unique amongst his peer group in this case, A-Rod suited up for the Yankees and played on Monday night. For those who delight in schadenfreude,New York was squashed by the Chicago White Sox, 8-1. Rodriguez himself went 1 for 4, striking out once, flying out twice - once to center and once left - with his one hit going left.

For some baseball fans, these latest revelations prove to be a bridge too far. They seem to indicate that Rodriguez was never clean. And the greatest shame of yet another dark day in baseball's fight to clean up the sport is that Rodriguez was supposed to be one of the greats to lead the way out of the PED-era. MLB, it seems, is still waiting for that player to come along.