Monday, March 31, 2014

comics for the week of 03/26/14.

Holy crap. It was a bounty of wealth this week.

Avengers 27 – Well. I have no idea what that was. Avengers vs. Avengers with AIM Island involved and a conversation between Banners and some of the Adaptoids escaping at the end, apparently without anyone knowing? And that's all I've got. This is too far afield for me any more. I'll still read it, but I'm not sure why, as I'm not sure if I'm even enjoying it at this point.

Fables 139 – An unpleasant interruption. I don't care about Boy Blue's band and I hate to hear that this voyage will somehow be one of the determining factors in the ending of the whole thing. Puss in Boots was cool, but the idea that the band going back home to the world of the Fables would somehow just happen is strange. The art was less spectacular, but I know that the story break as well as the artistic one are both necessary to provide the spectacular build we'll be looking forward to in the conclusion. With just 11 issues remaining, they've got quite a few threads to pull together and this two-issue band road trip is going to be the last springboard before they have to start truly doing so, I Believe. That mean one more issue that I might not care for but 10 of nothing but excellency afterwards.

Hawkeye 18 – "It was the 90s. Our sodas were crystal. Our T-Shirts were hypercolor. Our hard drives were almost 80 megs." I love this book. I didn't really care for the change in art when the storyline changed originally, but now I can't imagine it any other way. This is so much fun. It's so different, too! I mean, it's definitely an LA book when it's with Kate and it's definitely an NYC book when it's with Clint. I love that Kate's neighbors still love LA even though she hates on it so much. I love that even through her hate, she clearly loves it. I love the stereotypes and the tropes and the recurrence of some many different arcs. (Harold, really?) I don't really get the Heisenberg reference, though, despite being a loyal Breaking Bad watcher. The best news of this issue, though? We're headed, sooner rather than later, for that inevitable reunion. Kate and Clint work best when they're together.

Mind MGMT 20 – Wow. I don't know whether to believe the script pages that we saw the lady writing at the end or not. Regardless, this was just another spectacular issue of Mind MGMT, extraordinary in its construction and almost flawless in its execution. The way the two stories overlapped was nice, and even though the camps are definitely reconciled already, it seems as though the other side is even more coordinated and working to beat them at a pretty definitive pace. Next issue is promised to be a unique take on the silent issue idea, but this issue already had plenty of beautiful double page spreads with less dialogue than normal. I'm loving what's happening here even if I can't say that I 100% understand the overall plot at this point. I'm confident in Kindt's ability to pull these threads together, though, even if it's just at the end of the arc while he introduces new questions and wrinkles.

New Avengers 16 – New policy: I refuse to acknowledge the new numbering system. But, just like the regular Avengers title, and just like I've said about both of them in the past, I have no idea what's happening here. I think this was a nod to DC? I mean, it seems like Superman and Batman and Flash and Martian Manhunter and maybe Doctor Fate and maybe...I don't know. Who is Doctor Spectrum supposed to be? But then even beyond the pale allegory, I don't get what they've done. Did the Norn become a Black Priest? Did they save a world? It looked like they merely destroyed one, as per the usual mode. But T'Challa and Namor seem to be telling us that something is different. I don't see anything different. Also, I'm not a fan of Rags Morales' art. Just like I said for the regular title, I'm going to keep reading this, but merely out of curiosity, not because I feel like I need to.

The Private Eye 6 – Oh wow. The developments in here feel HUGE, but, honestly, I'm not sure we got anything other than just one true step closer to the conclusion. I like how Raveena has been developing and I love the relationship with her and PI, but I'm worried for the driver! She's still in the custody of one of the French guys and all of a sudden, it looks like the Press might be someone we root for? Man, that's gonna feel weird. Also, Nebula is on his way back home, Raveena's got his gun and we're headed for a huge showdown. Meanwhile, we also get cameos from the super colored MacBook, the Schwarzenegger Hospital and what looks like the Great Wall of California? This book is so much fun and feels so important.

Rachel Rising 24 – I don't know where the story is going to go now? Zoe turned out to be a helper, but she's still clearly evil. She has that Devil's Sword, from Malus, and I know Lilith's word isn't a great one to trust, but that doesn't seem like something I'd be comfortable just leaving hanging out there. Also, Lilith is gone!! Holy hell. (No pun intended.) That was quite the palate cleanser, but I don't feel like things are over. Jet's back and James is gone, but Rachel's still here and there's the hanging plot threads of Aunt Johnny and the weird doctor (is he still around?) and ZOE AND MALUS, who definitely need to be taken care of. Man, it's been a crazy ride.

The Sandman: Overture 2 – I don't know how to go about this, other than hyperbolically: the convocation of Dream is the thing that I've been waiting for in comics since I was old enough to have rational desires. I (think I) saw Klarion, Groot, Daniel, Dream (that we knew and loved), maybe Beast, Destiny, the 50th issue of Dream, a Star Wars droid, maybe Starro, and so many more. Honestly, though, the major revelation of this issue is that it's not the art that carries this book – it's clearly the story. JH Williams is still the best and he's still operating on a whole other level, but his work here is not as strong as issue 1, nor as strong as much of the other recent stuff he's done. The issue is basically a set up and the payoff is in the finish: who is the Father and how are Dream and Dream pairing up? And what does it have to do with new-Dream-Daniel and his pursuit of a watch that Mad Hettie left behind? It's a beautiful thing, but the real beauty is in the plot, at least for this half of the series thus far.

The Wake 7 – Seriously, the second half of this story is SO much better than the first half. And the first half was already tons of fun. But this is the real meat of the story. I was blown away just by the first couple pages. But the story that is actually developed in the pages that follow is awesome. I mean, I don't know if that's supposed to be her dad on the last page or not, but the fact of the matter is that it looks like the Big One is a machine built by resistance fighters? And the guy who (maybe) killed her dad was chasing her? And Pub is still alive? (Maybe not.) But the dolphin comes to the rescue! Holy crap. This was so so so so so good.

The Walking Dead 124 – Damn. Well that was just about as bad as it could have been. And Negan's right: they know in the crew that people are going to die. I don't see any way to back out of this, Kirkman's got to kill Rick. He's put himself in this corner and it certainly doesn't seem like a poorly thought out mistake. This has to be the plan. So there's a new group making their way toward the Hilltop, there's Dwight the double betrayer to deal with and, somehow, some way, Negan's got to be taken care of, too. There are only two issues of this arc left to get all that done and I've got faith. It's going to be amazing.

Book of the week goes to The Wake. With so many great books, it was a tough choice.

Monday, March 24, 2014

comics for the week of 03/19/14.

March Madness, y'all.

Batwoman 29 - Checked it out for the one panel Dave Jordan posted on Twitter. That panel was the good part. The rest was horrid. Cliche, overblown, poorly drawn, tired plot, and it's almost April and we have no clue how she got to this point. Poorly done DC. I'm out.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 1 - Superb example of dramatic irony. We know Giles is back. So when Buffy keeps laying it on thick throughout the issue that IF ONLY she could TALK TO GILES, we knew how this issue was going to end. But that didn't keep me from tearing up at their tears. It felt perfect. And yes, the art was so much better, just like they mentioned in the letters column. The better team SHOULD be doing Buffy. I just hope this means that Angel and Faith isn't going to suffer, as I don't know who Victor Gischler or Will Conrad are. (In fact, if they're here, now, does that mean they're staying, or did they just get the distress call? Are they headed back to London in their own series? If not...well, we'll cross that bridge when we get there.) I love the new normal status quo, I love that Buffy's got her Scooby gang back, I love that everyone's there (literally everyone, at this point we're just missing Oz) and I love that this feels right. They said they were going smaller in Season 9, as a response to 8, but that never felt like this. The Zompires are on their way out, which is great, but magic has been restored in a way that messes all kinds of other things up and it's going to be delightful to explore those ways. This is going to be fun. (P.S. The preview of Angel and Faith looked great - Conrad's art is pretty and the script was good in the few pages we got.)

Daredevil 1 - The team was already great, and putting Matt in a new situation works out beautifully. Seriously, I didn't think this was going to be much of a change, much less an improvement, but it's awesome. I love Kirsten in the Oracle role, and I love Matt using all his diverse skills. Ninja, Murdock, DD, caregiver, etc. Waid is still playing around with the solid fact that Matt can't see, which we never realized was underutilized until he took over this title. Now it's a great little nod (bare minimum) in every issue and it's always pitch perfect. The cliffhanger with Foggy is a good touch, too, since I have no idea where that's going. Daredevil isn't new, but his circumstances are and it'll be great to see where they take him from here.

Ms. Marvel 2 - The first, alphabetically, of the issues that I didn't get the first of and am catching up on this week. First things first: This is really, truly an issue about a Muslim becoming a superhero. Maybe, if the book lasts longer, it'll just become a background part of her character, but man, they're really hammering home that Kamala is DIFFERENT. And that's OK sometimes, but here it truly feels like that's the entire justification for the book. And when you're pushing a book based purely on agenda, it makes me doubt the veracity of that agenda. Secondly, the art is horrid. I know that it's probably some people's new favorite, but it's got that lumpy style that's never appealed to me. The first issue's cover was done by Sara Pichelli and she'd be a great fit on this book. McKelvie did the second issue and while it's clear that he's amazing at everything, he couldn't keep up this schedule. And there's nothing wrong with that. But I'm just not digging Aphona on the pencils here. In the beginning of issue 2, while she's figuring out her powers, it takes five pages to really get any kind of idea what they are. The clearest explanation is on the credits page. That shouldn't be the case with a great set of pencils. Or with a better script. But then, the action starts. Turns out, it was the Terrigen Mist Bomb (which maybe makes Kamala an Inhuman? She certainly makes the meta-pun later that makes me think that's what we're supposed to think) and she's got her first superhero and Qu'ran test right away. She passes, of course, and she feels good about it, but the best part of the book is when she's talking to her brother, talking herself through the changes that she's going through. The most cliche part of the book is the ending with her parents. It's not that I expect to avoid cliches in a superhero comic book, but it feels like they're diving head in to a mess with a gleeful grin on their faces. I just wish it could be a little more self-aware, as opposed to so on the nose. I'll stick with it for the first arc, if only to support the idea.

New Avengers 15 - I don't get it. It's too complicated. Too sprawling. And it seems like it's just going to continue this way for so much longer. Every month, I read this book and every month, I try to find something worthwhile in it, to justify my continuing to read it. But it's so vague at this point. There are Black Priests and Mapmakers. There are Black Swans and there's the Multiverse and there's the Library. There's the Bridge and the Mirror and the Illuminati and there's Strange off on his own, getting all that power. There's Bianchi on art, whom I don't care for. And at the top of the pile, there's Hickman, building out sick variations of world after world after world after world. Tony and Reed apparently helped the Swan in another universe, before she came to ours? Terrax tells her things it seems she already knows? There's a reckoning coming? There's a big bad in charge of all this? Is that what the end and the middle mean?

Thor: God of Thunder 20 - My. GOD. This was it. The issue that brought it all back. Holy cow. First of all, Esad Ribic does a great job making Galactus look like a Celestial. Secondly, the subplot with modern Thor and Roz was the weak point, because of the ambiguity of the Roxxon agent, but this issue clears some of that up. That splash page was incredible. The only bad part of the issue was the fact that it ended. The battle with Galactus has just begun and the Roxxon Corp. is making their move against modern Thor and his adopted city after he took out some of their facilities. Man. What a treasure.

The Unwritten: Apocalypse 3 - All right. So, the war story is more than halfway over and we've seen Pullman finally. We know he's pulling the strings, as do the gang of heroes, but the flight is still on. They're trying to get out of the war story, which should happen next issue. Meanwhile, we've still got that background plot with Danny happening, where he eventually shoots the mystery lady, she's metamorphosized and she promises a similar transformation for him. Also, some cool dialogue between the kids in French. If you don't know French, you're not missing anything. But if you know iambic pentameter, and the Lord of the Rings and the War of the Worlds and all the cool stories referred to in this issue, you're getting some great background information. Last but not least, there's the fact that the end is coming. We're going to see some sort of grand sacrifice and soon, and it's going to involve Tom and his father and the world is going to be saved, or returned to its prior state or, ideally, improved upon. This is all the creation myth all over again, huh? Appropriate that we've got a devilish vampire, a sweet and innocent lady, a kind of twisted God, a son of God who's going to have to die and a version of Cain who's going to muck everything up and be banished for his role in making a mess of things.

Wolverine and the X-Men 2 - Another one that I'd missed the first issue of, but it came out so quickly after Jason Aaron's series ended that I couldn't believe that it was real. (Seems to be a lot of that this week.) Last issue we saw some of the future hints from the last run being followed up on, and Quentin Quire plays a large part in those future plans. We also saw Wolverine going to find Fantomex. This issue, we see more of Logan in his not-having-a-healing-power state (which is depressing and made all the worse because it'll be back sooner rather than later and it doesn't add anything to this story. Maybe it's adding over in the book where they caused this problem? At least I can hold out hope on that front?) and the BAMFs acting out a little more than even before, which was plenty already. Cool to see they're serving a purpose (emergency cutes, cute) but bummed to see they're still annoying plot devices in the fight with the new Askani Clan. But that brings us to one of the best thing about the X books...wait around long enough and the plot will circle right back to where you liked it previously. A guy who looks like a steroided out Cable, calling himself John, heading up an Askani Clan, from the future, with his disciples in Phoenix attire? And they're bringing back the Evan as Apocalypse angle? With Fantomex in the wings? Man, this is just going to be one fun-filled 90s and 00s rerun, isn't it? Well, I'm along for the ride.

Book of the week goes to Thor. While Buffy was a great start and DD was a great re-start, Thor proves that you can keep on telling things, but pull out novel twists and still get it done. Beautiful and well-written. It's all a person could ask for.

Monday, March 17, 2014

comics for the week of 03/12/14.

What a weird week.

All New X-Men 24 - Huh. Well, not bad. But it felt thin. I love seeing the kids get to interact with the Starjammers (and the Shi'ar are always a nice X-Men touch) but the highlight here was the Guardians of the Galaxy. I don't know if it's the trailer making me happier to see them or if they just got more time here but they really played well in this issue. The bad things stay bad, though: we have to see Scott Summers acting like a young, too-good asshole again and we have to see Jean Grey discovering her Phoenix self again. Both of those come with positives, too, don't get me wrong, but the point is: hasn't this story been told? Isn't this an EXPLICIT acknowledgement that we're just recycling? The art was beautiful and the chuckles were plentiful, but I don't know that it's incredible.

East of West 10 - Deals with Oracles never turn out well. Death learns that from the get go, if he'd ever deluded himself into thinking anything different. His companions are beautiful, if a bit cowardly, even if that's only momentary, but that full page of his newly scarred face is the best bit. From there, we shift back to Death's former buddies, the other Horsemen of the Apocalypse, in their kiddified form. They're checking on the Beast, but they're having some doubts. Not in the Message, of course - they seem like the truest of true believers. I'll be honest, as always, when it comes to this book, I'm still not really clear on what's happening here. I know Death fought someone - maybe the Wolf's father? And beat him? And so he got...something? But there was some drama? And the Raven is there, too, as always, and she helps Death win. But at the very end, we either have a brand new character entering the fray or someone I've been introduced to and totally forgotten. Either way, it seems like it's supposed to be set up that he was the one who killed Wolf's father, if that's even what happened. And maybe he's got his (MEGA) high powered rifle (that woofs?) trained on Death and his crew for next? Man. This book is confusing.

Hawkeye 17 - Maaaaaan. What a drag. I saved this issue for last because I had the most excitement for it and I ended up crazy disappointed. I love that Hawkeye will take big swings like this, but when they miss, the whiff is huge. It's a quite little homage to many different things but I don't care for wasting my time this way, which is what it actually felt like. The Pizza Dog issue was similar, but vastly better.

Invincible 109 - Well, I'm glad that I offered the caveat that I did last issue: I truly do not think it matters that our Mark wasn't there for a long time. I think the overall point will stand. He was betrayed and he's going to change. And even though the longish time that this issue covered was glossed over very quickly, the fact remains that a lot of stuff happened. Mark gave this dimension's Rex a new body; an Invincible body! This seems like the worst possible move he could have made. Then, he left that Rex behind, as the boss of a world. (Albeit with the threat of a Monster Girl baby. That'll clearly take a while to clean up, but...) This is LITERALLY the position that Rex backstabbed him for in their own world. This cannot possibly work out well. This is going to have disastrously cascading consequences. Seriously. Mark keeps stacking the deck against himself even where there's no need to do so because he has enough problems cropping up on their own. But he insists on making things worse. What an issue.

The Walking Dead 123 - Great issue, don't want to talk, want the next issue, don't tease me this way Kirkman, MAKE THE BOLD LEAP. Dwight is going to be destroyed by the people who trusted him, Negan sure seems like he's going to lose, but he sure as shit has the momentum right now. WANT MORE.

Book of the week goes to East of West? Despite all my confusion it might have been the best issue this week.

Monday, March 10, 2014

comics for the week of 03/05/14.

On recommendation from Dave Jordan, I also checked out Moon Knight (cool, but not my style, therefore not worth my time) and reupped with Jupiter's Legacy, but I didn't really care for either. But I did start reading Red Handed, which was a gift from him and I love it.

Trillium 7 - Well. It's almost over. And we got the alphabet of the alien-ish race. And we got the reunion. If it's a reunion at all. Which at this point, I don't even feel like I really know what's going on at this point. But it's awesome to see. The story is immaculately plotted and the way the pages are used is incredible. It hasn't changed one bit since the story got started and I really thought it would. But the fact that this is still going strong, and that we're only one issue away from the ending, is making this all the better. At this point, the only mystery left is the true relationship between Nika and William and what the heck the Caul is and what Trillium has to do with it. Which, I guess, means that everything is still left, but it's been one hell of a ride. Can't wait to have this all collected, where I'm of the firm opinion that it'll work just as well.

No book of the week when there's only one book I'm reading.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

unm plays big when it counts, pushes win streak to 5.

The University of New Mexico Lobos men's basketball team has had a great month. February, with one minor aberration that might come back to haunt the team, was a good time for Coach Neal and his squad. That hiccup - a loss to Boise State University on February 12 - was followed up by two quick and easy wins over Mountain West Conference also-rans Nevada and UNLV. However, on Saturday, February 22, things picked up a notch.

San Diego State University - then ranked #6 in the nation - came to visit the Pit, expecting to walk all over the unranked Lobos. The cherry and silver squad, though, quickly ran away with the game. UNM led by as much as 9 in the first half and opened up the second on a 21-2 run that hammered the game out of the Runnin' Rebels' reach. While UNLV did make a run at the end of the game to keep it respectable, it was a huge showing for the Lobos on national television on a Saturday night. The game ended with UNM up by 14, winning the game 58-44.

However, the ending of the game was marred by some pushing in the post-game handshake line and things got worse from there. It appears from the video footage that some Lobo fan (or fans) threw something at the UNLV players as they were leaving the court. Coach Neal was unhappy and the Lobos faced plenty of bad press over the ugly incident.

The great game was almost over-shadowed by the poor reactions, but on Monday, February 25, the Lobos got the good news they were waiting for: a return to the Top 25. at #25, UNM entered the night's match-up with Utah State heavily favored. The Lobos proceeded to play some terrible first half basketball. When the first 20 minutes expired, Utah State was up one, 27-26. However, in the second half, Coach Neal called upon his son, sometimes-maligned Cullen Neal, ex-Eldorado standout, for a key three pointer. Neal's bucket began a 23-5 run that put the Lobos up for good, stamping out the chances for an upset by the Aggies. The Lobos wound up with a win, 67-58.

Finally, as the calendar finally flipped over to March, the Lobos headed up to Nevada on Sunday night. Once again, things looked ugly in the first half. Against a 13-15 Wolf Pack, the Lobos trailed by 4 at half and appeared sloppy at may points. The second half rally got UNM through a middling Nevada squad, but the Lobos have more to worry about than a 72-58 win over a team that is now .500.

In 2 of the last 3 games, Cameron Bairstow has scored more than 20 points, but the Lobos have also trailed in 2 of those last 3 games at halftime. With a game against Air Force in the Pit as the last regular-season home game, the Lobos need to build some serious momentum on Wednesday night. Why? Their last regular-season game of the season isn't at home emdash it's at San Diego State on Saturday, March 8. The Aztecs, currently sitting at #10, will be sure to have revenge on their minds.

With only those two games left and the Mountain West Conference occurring in Vegas in a mere week and a half, the Lobos are playing great second half ball, but will need to be able to put together a complete and solid game in order to make the splash that all of Albuquerque wants in the NCAA Tournament.

Monday, March 3, 2014

comics for the week of 02/26/14.

Manhattan Projects came out, too, but I'm still in the process of catching up. I'll add it when I'm current. Also, The Wake is back and better than ever! But it'll read best as a trade.

Black Science 4 - This was awesome. Truly awesome. We're getting more layers almost as quickly as we're losing characters. But the ending of this one, where we gained a new one, a hunter of some kind, someone with a history, someone that'll probably make a great addition to the story, was the best part. The war with the cyber-Native Americans was great and the technology and the dastardly deeds of Kasir (is that his name?) and the loss of Ward and the memories of war and the inevitability of fate...those were all amazing. But the ending is what really pushed it over the edge. The look of the costume, the way he (or she) was talking, the fact that they were clearly talking to someone in another dimension, the implied history, the foreknowledge of the pillar...these are all adding up to killer elements in the story. Plus, we've got alliances forming and cracks in the old ones showing already. Cool stuff here.

Deadly Class 2 - I'm super happy for Rick Remender that he's getting to do his thing, but John Hughes was never mine, and the nod to him in this issue wasn't even necessary. It's super clear that this is his stereotypical teenage high school drama thing and it's not for me. I don't need my cliches this overt. No thanks.

Hawkeye 15 - Holy cow. This was a crazy issue. I mean...the whole thing is so good. I love to see Clint and Barney working together. I love seeing Clint try to justify these good intentions and the horrible ramifications they've had. But that ending...man...I mean, I didn't even know how to react, because I wasn't truly sure how far it's gone. And now it looks like we won't find out for quite a while, so that makes it even more difficult. I mean...it seems like a good time to conveniently (if atrociously) take out the loose end of Barney, but Clint doesn't look like he's the any kind of good shape either. So. We can't talk much more about it other than to say the art was phenomenal and the resolution is put off for a bit longer when it looked like things were well and truly wrapped up.

Mind MGMT 19 - This issue was full on wacky. I'm not sure that I know what's going on, other than to say that there are definitely two sides to this conflict and they're both shoring up their armies and that's going better for the bad guys than it is for our good guys. The cracks are starting to show and there's a good reason for that. The good guys have done a lot of bad things, there's no doubt about that. But the Meru issue (of power blocking) is going to turn into a heck of a wrinkle by the end of this series. Also, I'm not sure if it was just his constant shit-talking this issue, but I'm starting to doubt Dusty's intentions a bit. Lastly, the Illusionist was great, but what was even better was the quote from Houdini on the cover. There was also confirmation at the end about this being the more-than-halfway point. Reassuring if a bit sad.

The Walking Dead 122 - Rick knows what he's doing. So does Negan. This is leading up to an awesome conclusion. The fact that Dwight got caught talking about his hated for Negan and that it didn't lead to his immediate death or even a threat of snitching is good, but I'm not convinced that it's reality. Also, Rick's plan is about to face a serious hazard, as Negan and crew are already practically knocking at the gate with their new weapons. Like Rick said in the issue, it's cool and reassuring to the mentality that the group is all back together, but it certainly poses a threat insofar as what will happen if they all get attacked - which is about to happen. Nice set up!

Wolverine and the X-Men 42 - Welp. It's over. But not really. It was a great ending for what it was and I enjoyed that Jason Aaron got to end it the way he wanted, with a party with his friends, but the ever-changing art didn't do the issue any favors. The glimpses (plural) into the future (both near and far) were neat, but nothing that we haven't seen from the title before, nor anything that we wouldn't expect from a series-ending issue of an X-Men book. The BAMFs are eternally great, the Storm and Wolverine relationship is cool and I love the further integration of Quentin Quire into the X-Universe. He's a solid character who should definitely be developed. However, if they go with the further development of Snot and Eye Boy and Shark Girl and Idie and Broo (et. al.) it'll be a good thing for the X books as well as the Marvel Universe as a whole. Solid, but not phenomenal.

Book of the week goes to Black Science. Fitting in a week that I gave up on another Remender book to have such a great showing from his other.