Category Archives: Snap *censored* Pop Culture

NFL Divisional Playoffs 2021 Post Mortem: A Love(?) Story

Introduction

Okay, that’s more like it. While I thought the Coin Flip weekend was underwhelming, I enjoyed the heck out of the divisional round this past weekend. I look forward to discussing all of it in this NFL Divisional Playoffs 2021 post mortem article. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun watching the NFL.

It might have been the Steelers/Arizona Super Bowl. Surely, that’s the last game to make me jump out of my seat.

Granted, it wasn’t all wine and roses this weekend, as we will discuss in the article. I experienced one of the single scariest moments of my football fan life this weekend .I guarantee you know what I’m talking about. Nevertheless, I will keep that modicum of suspense so that you continue reading.

I will structure this NFL Divisional Playoffs 2021 post mortem article by analyzing each game. I will start with the game that I considered to be the least exciting and progress to the most exciting game of the weekend in my opinion. Okay, enough explanation. Let’s talk some football.

Snooze Fest (Ravens 3, Bills 17)

I considered this my game of the week going into the weekend. Both of these teams have shot into my top 5 over the last couple of years. I love both quarterbacks. Imagine my surprise then, when I spent most of the first half ignoring it to play chess with my son, then went to bed at halftime. I woke up to a text from Chris about LJ’s injury and checked the score. Turns out, I missed nothing. Well, technically, I missed two Buffalo TDs, but really all I missed was a terrible game.

An exciting blowout (Rams 18, Packers 32)

I knew the outcome of this game before it played. The Rams honestly had no chance. Sure, people commented repeatedly about number 1 defense vs. number 1 offense and that statistic. Turns out none of that matters with Aaron Rodgers residing on the opposing sideline. He and the Packers shredded the Rams. If I’m being honest, I have no idea how the Rams even scored the 18 points they got. Still, a fun game.

More exciting if it hadn’t given me a heart attack (Browns 17, Chefs 22)

Patrick Mahomes went down with a clear concussion. For some reason (plausible deniability), the network played coy about his status for the rest of the game. Until they weren’t able to deny it any longer, then they finally reported it. Now, the rest of this week will simply be shows talking about him in protocol and whether he will play next week. Already, Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption did a segment on it. I might have to avoid sports talk for the rest of this week. Aside from that, I enjoyed this game. The Browns made it much closer than it should have been. Chris and I both texted one another to say that we thought it was over after the Baker pick deep in their territory. Turns out it wasn’t over until the last play of the game. And, that call took cajones.

Why Was This Game So Fun? (Bucs 30, Aints 20)

There’s something to be said for not having a rooting interest in the game. I hate both these quarterbacks. Well, perhaps hate is too strong a word. However, of the quarterbacks in the divisional round, I put these two guys at the bottom of the likability index. However, I did get what I asked for from this game. Old Man Brady pulled out another of his patented “how the hell did he win that game” games. The Aints suffered another of their recent heartbreaking losses. Perhaps this game says more about me and my capacity for schadenfreude than I’d like. But, if you’ve been here for any time at all, you already knew that.

The Verdict

Other than the Bills, every game went the way I hoped. Even the Bills winning was half a win for me since I only slightly favored the Ravens in the game. That’s not why I enjoyed the weekend so much, though. For whatever reason, I put aside the adult trappings of cynicism and watched football like I used to when I was a kid. I cheered. I shouted. You know what else? I nearly cried over Mahomes’ injury. Hell, I even came to terms with the fact that TB12 might not be as BS as I’ve always considered it. I, for one, can’t wait until the championship games.

Note: All teams and the single logo used on this web page are the property of the NFL. They are used without consent (written or otherwise), but only in good fun. If you’re feeling litigious, please refrain from throwing your vast legal resources at this small page that caters to my kids, Chris (Hi Chris!) and about 25 Russian bots (Hi Sergei!).

NFL Divisional Playoffs 2021: A Love(?) Story

Introduction

I’m cutting this NFL Divisional Playoffs 2021 preview a bit close. I think the first game this week starts in about an hour and a half. I should have this written and posted before then, so it will still count as a preview. Why is this so late? And, where is the CFP National Championship post mortem? What is happening to this page? Is it about to become inactive for a couple of months again?

Never say never, but I’m committed to keeping the momentum, even if it isn’t quite the same momentum as last year right now.

You expect me to say something about school now. While not completely wrong, the story is actually much simpler and less responsible. I started playing Minecraft again on my new laptop and that sucked many hours from my life over the last week. I apologize for my negligence. Let’s talk about the NFL Divisional Playoffs 2021.

NFC Divisional Playoffs

Rams/Packers (Saturday, 4:35 EST): I texted Chris earlier in the week with the question, “Any surprises this weekend? re: NFL” I will save his answer for later because it relates to another game. I responded that the Rams have a great defense this year and they could pull off a win against the Packers. He replied about Jared Goff’s injury and I conceded he was probably right. The Rams might keep the game close, but ultimately I think that Aaron Rodgers and his 89 (seriously) career interceptions find a way to pull out the win.

Bucs/Aints (Sunday, 6:40 EST): During our text exchange, we both agreed this game has the potential to be the most entertaining. Sure, N’Awlins beat up on the Bucs twice this year. But, and this argument isn’t much of an argument, Tom Brady in the playoffs. Also, we can’t forget the Aint’s recent tortured history in the playoffs. Sure, they usually wait until the conference championship to break their fans hearts. I have confidence they can take care of business a round early this year.

AFC Divisional Playoffs

Ravens/Bills (Saturday, 8:15 EST): If Bucs/Aints promises to be the most entertaining, this game might give them a run for their money. The Bills are favored by less than a field goal. Lamar Jackson finally doesn’t have to listen to the dumb narrative that he hasn’t won a playoff game. This whole week, they’ve instead gone with the equally dumb narrative that he’s never won a game in snow. Well, the snow in Buffalo can be brutal, but this storm looks to be mild. I’m rooting for the Bills, but a Rats/Chefs championship honestly sounds more fun.

Browns/Chefs (Sunday, 3:05 EST): Now, for Chris’s answer to my text. He responded with a joke about the Browns winning and him not able to text that with a straight face. I replied, “It’s funny because a lot of the talking heads are picking that game as a possible upset. I think they just did so because there’s literally nothing to lose. You either look like a “genius” or everyone forgets you made the pick. I’m not ready to pick against the Chefs until they give me reason and now that I’ve typed it, I’m jazzed about Rats/Chefs next round.

The Verdict

I said after the Wild Card that I wasn’t as excited about the games as I thought I might be. I barely watched any and tuned out from the Steelers after the first play of the game. However, something about this week’s games must have interested me. I searched for them earlier on Hulu before realizing the games started later today. Good thing they do. I got a chance to write this preview and get even more excited for the games. GB/TB and KC/Bal sound like a fun conference championship weekend.

Note: All teams and the single logo used on this web page are the property of the NFL. They are used without consent (written or otherwise), but only in good fun. If you’re feeling litigious, please refrain from throwing your vast legal resources at this small page that caters to my kids, Chris (Hi Chris!) and about 25 Russian bots (Hi Sergei!).

DC Comics January 2021: Great, Good, Decent

Introduction

We finally finish out comics week and a half for this month with DC Comics January 2021. I planned on posting this article last week on Friday. I had a busy weekend of playing Minecraft, Lego, and board games with my family. Plus the NFL unveiled their Super Duper Mega Wild Card Weekend. Finally, college football played their national championship game. There’s only so much I can be expected to do in a weekend.

Sure, I should have already had the article written before the weekend, but what is time if not for procrastinating?

And so, it is how I have arrived at nearly a half a week past my self imposed deadline to review DC Comics January 2021. I know you won’t believe me, but I swear it’s not because DC has been a let down these last couple of months. I always go into a new month of comics with an open mind and hope for the best. More often than not, that faith is rewarded. Let’s see if that’s true this time.

The Great

Batman 104 and 105 (James Tynion IV et al): I always feel bad when there are numerous artists on a book because I use the et al tag for them all. They all work hard on these books and they should get credit. By the same token, I mostly read comic books for the writing. However, I don’t want my byline to be two or three text lines, either. None of that is relevant to this review. I just want to be as open and honest as possible.

Now, for the review. As I’ve mentioned several times in the past, James Tynion IV on Batman excited me when I first heard the news. Either high expectations or the reality of the situation or both brought me crashing back to earth. Slowly, but surely, the book got better until Joker War. Since then, the book lived up to that promise. Now, comes Future State. I, again, hope that the book survives the hiatus.

Wonder Woman 768 and 769 (Mariko Tamaki, Rafa Sandoval, and Steve Pugh): Similar to Tynion on Batman, Tamaki on Wonder Woman excited me. Honestly, I enjoyed Wonder Woman for most of the last 2 or 3 years since Rebirth. They hooked me with Rucka and then it stayed just above water enough that I don’t think it ever dipped into “Decent” territory for more than a month or two. Now that Tamaki is on the book, she makes even secondary storylines fun to read.

The Good

Aquaman 66 (Andy Lanning, Ron Marz, and Miguel Mendonca): Like Wonder Woman (is the theme of this article going to be call backs to the previous books?), I started collecting Aquaman because of the movie. Also, I wanted to get in on the ground floor of Rebirth with as many titles as possible. This book hasn’t been as consistently good as Wonder Woman and I considered dropping it a few times. My favorite writer is Deconnick, but Lanning is a good stop gap on these titles, too.

Action Comics 1028 (BMB and JRJR): I make no secret of my distaste for the unholy union of Brian Michael Bendis and the Superman titles. At least this book shows promise every so often. I saw the news recently that he’s moving to Justice League after Future State. So, I will spare you the same old story going forward. Maybe, for old time’s sake, we can resurrect it when he writes Justice League.

Catwoman 28 (Ram V and Fernando Blanco): I texted Chris about this title last week. I saw that Ram V will be writing for Swamp Thing after Future State. We both agreed that his work on JLD has been solid. I then surmised that perhaps Catwoman isn’t a strong enough character for a solo title because his work on the book is solid, but I just don’t like the stories. How many different “heist” issues can you do? I liked this one, though. More of these types of stories, please.

Justice League 58 (Andy Lanning, Ron Marz, and Xermanico): I suppose that Lanning was not a stop gap on Aquaman. He and Marz are cowriting the Endless Winter story. I admit to being skeptical when I saw yet another event in DC Comics with Future State so close. However, I enjoyed this story even if it is just a rip off of Frozen. Which, of course, is a ripoff itself. Aiden even liked it. He asked where the missing issues were. So, maybe I’ll have to find them at the LCS.

Justice League Dark 29 (Andy Lanning, Ron Marz, Amancay Nahuelpan): I will be honest. It wasn’t until I saw that Ram V wasn’t the writer on this title that I realized that Lanning and Marz were cowriting all of the titles in Endless Winter. Not sure why they included this title in the event other than as a send off. Which, by the way, I do not approve. The JLD will still be with us, but only as a bonus story on the main title. What are you doing to me, DC?

The Decent

Detective Comics 1032 and 1033 (Peter J. Tomasi and Brad Walker): When Tynion wrote this title, I loved it. As soon as Tomasi took over, it dropped to the “Good” category. More and more, my enjoyment of the title eroded over time. Some people might like Tomasi. I just don’t Other than the Joker War issues, this book has been forgettable during his tenure. Williamson is taking over after Future State, though, so that’s something to look forward to.

Superman 28 (BMB and Ivan Reis): Action may have had some redeeming stories during it’s run. I did not enjoy this title after the rebrand from Man of Steel. I simply kept collecting for collecting’s sake. Now I can say I have the entire BMB run of Superman. For whatever that’s worth.

The Verdict

As we head into Future State, I’m tentatively optimistic about DC Comics. They are mixing up creative teams, dropping some books, and folding others into bonus stories on more popular titles. The only decision I’m currently angry about is their decision to make JLD a bonus title. I feel like it has been the only consistently good book for them over the last year and a half. As always, thanks for reading my DC Comics January 2021 review and we’ll see you next week for Future State.

NFL Coin Flip Weekend 2021 Post Mortem: A Love (?) Story

Introduction

You may be surprised to see this NFL Coin Flip Weekend 2021 Post Mortem article. Where is the DC review from last week? I keep meaning to finish comics week for January 2021 by reviewing the DC books from this month. However, I keep getting distracted and not finishing the books. I hope to have them done by tomorrow and then I can do an post mortem article for the CFP National Championship Game on Thursday. Perhaps, I will do an article and video for Minecraft dungeons to finally get into some gaming content.

It’s been a while since Quinn and I have sat down to play.

I think I will structure this article as a Top 5 list. But, you might say, weren’t there six games this weekend? Yes, and I will give you 3 guesses (but you’ll only need one) as to which game didn’t crack the top 5. Here’s a hint. When Chris texted, “This is getting ugly”, I responded with ” I think I need to just swear off this team until they get good or, at least, fun.”

Call me a front runner all you want. I just can’t with this team anymore. The coach can’t properly motivate them. AB clowned him in the locker room a couple of years ago. Juju listened and stopped dancing. He then promptly gave the Browns bulletin board material. Ben Roethlisberger is a repeatedly alleged rapist. What, then, am I supposed to find appealing here? I suppose those were all much bigger hints than the first. Oh well, let’s dive into some NFL Coin Flip Weekend 2021 Post Mortem. Except, of course, for the Steelers/Browns game.

5 – Alas, poor Mitchell, I knew him well

I can be the first to admit that page favorite Mitch Trubisky does himself no favors. I don’t think he’s a bad quarterback. In fact, I often say that Josh Allen is Mitch Trubisky if he gets a good coach. Now, the question becomes, will that ever happen?

We got closer to it possibly happening. I saw a headline on NFL.com that said he might be gone from Chicago without a deep playoff run. Well, the Saints ended any of that talk by decimating the Bears this weekend. The funny thing is that Chris and I both texted during the first half about what a decent game it was.

Then, he texted, “They just came out after halftime and laid an egg.” I don’t remember his exact words, but they had that sentiment. I just wish for the best for our dear friend Mitch. I also hope that Tompa ends the Saints in the most heart breaking fashion next week. Cheering for Tom Brady two weeks in a row. What hath this year wrought?

4 – “Seattle is the most complete team in the league”

I texted these words to Chris earlier in the season. I tried to give it more merit by giving the actual week when it happened, but I honestly don’t remember. And, I’m not going to comb through our archives to find out. So, you will just have to take my word for it. After all, why would I lie about something so stupid?

Well, you also need to take my word that ever since I texted those words, Seattle fell back to earth. They barely resembled an NFL team some weeks, let alone the most complete team in the league. The Seahawks again went out of their way to prove me wrong this weekend. They lost to a Rams team with a former AAF (is that even what it was called?) guy and Jared Goff with a broken thumb as their quarterbacks.

I think, of all the games this weekend, this one both shocked and made me the most angry. Sure, I have more invested in the Steelers as a former life long fan. However, I fully expected them to blow that game. Other than their inconsistency this year, Seattle showed no indication of a potential let down.

3 – I think TB12’s got his steroids, er protein shakes

The Golden Boy didn’t light Football Team up for 5 TDs like I hoped. He threw for two in the first half. Washington came back in the second half to make it close. In general, that’s one thing you can count on in today’s National Football League. One team will almost certainly come back in the second half to make the game close.

I must admit. Looking at the box score, I have no idea how Washington even competed with Tampa in this game. I thought that the Seattle game was more shocking. Now that I see some of the names on the Washington roster, I reverse that decision. I lieu of further explanation, I present the following screen shot.

Seriously, has there ever been a roster that looked more like a “Football Team” from some generic 1980s or 1990s football video game?

2 – LJ defeats yet another of those dumb narratives

Nothing irritates me more about sports talk than the narrative, “(some guy) can’t win the big game. We are told over and over how sports are team dependent. Then, someone like Lebron James, Clayton Kershaw, and in the NFL more recently, LJ get the label of not being able to “win the big game”.

Granted, there are a lot of lazy narratives in sports journalism and “journalism”. We live in an era where talking heads scream at each other from across the table. Well, technically, since COVID, they scream at each other from across the room.

Any stupid opinion can be picked up by a bot on Twitter and turned into the latest “hot take”. Nevertheless, I contend that nothing needs to die more than this stupid idea of “(some guy) can’t win the big one.” Well, at least I don’t have to listen to it said about LJ anymore.

1 – Both the Bills and the Browns won this weekend

Earlier, I said I refused to talk about the Browns/Steelers game. I stand by that. I only mention them in the header so that I can make my stupid joke. Okay, now that I’ve properly telegraphed that, on with the show.

What is this, the 90s? Am I right, folks? Am I right? The 1990s? The time of aborted Woodstock festivals and the last time either of these two teams was relevant in any fashion. Okay, perhaps that joke wasn’t worth the set up. Or, maybe the set up was the joke the whole time.

I know. What can I say? I’m a master of alternative comedy.

All I’m saying is I like the Bills. I wish them only success against the Ravens next game. Then, if the Browns can somehow pull off the upset vs. the Chiefs, we can have a real old fashioned 1990s Super Bowl where they lose by 35 points. Too bad none of their old foes are still alive in the NFC to really drive the point home.

The Verdict

My verdict of the NFL Coin Flip Weekend 2021 post mortem is that it wasn’t nearly as entertaining as I hoped. Chris and I texted several times during this year about how glad we were that football was happening in spite of COVID. My interest started to wane about midseason and completely fell off when the Steelers lost their first game. I only wanted them to go 16-0 and lose in their first playoff game. That would have been much more satisfying for my schadenfreude than what actually happened. Oh well, the games for the next round look fun on paper, at least. Besides, what else am I going to do with my weekend?

Note: All teams and the single logo used on this web page are the property of the NFL. They are used without consent (written or otherwise), but only in good fun. If you’re feeling litigious, please refrain from throwing your vast legal resources at this small page that caters to my kids, Chris (Hi Chris!) and about 25 Russian bots (Hi Sergei!).

CFP National Championship 2021: Great, Good, Decent

Introduction

Okay, let’s do this. Bama/Clemson for the CFP National Championship 2021 for the third (fourth? fifth? I’ve lost count) time in a row. Wait, what’s that you say? It’s not? Color me truly surprised. I honestly thought part of living in this hell was the torture of the same CFP final game for the rest of eternity.

I don’t know how the Buckeyes broke the curse, but I’m thankful they did.

As a casual fan of college football, I willingly accepted the Alabama/Nick Saban “evil empire” story. I hated the team. That was all BT (Before Tua). I legitimately jumped out of my seat on the couch and cheered Tua’s debut in the National Championship game that year. I bought his story hook, line, and sinker. Before he left for the NFL, he was my college football man crush. Unfortunately, he has a lot of competition in the pros, so while I still like him, he needs to get in line. And, get a lot better to even come close to Mahomes.

I cheered for Alabama last year mostly to spite my friend Craig. We’re both kind of a-holes and we do that kind of stuff on a regular basis. In fact, I planned on going over to his house at some point during bowl season (and then again tonight) to watch some college football. He is a much more devoted fan than me and it can be fun to watch games with him in spite of the fact that we do things out of spite towards one another. I decided against going over. I could have just watched the first half, but it’s a late night for a school night. What, then, will I be watching in the CFP National Championship 2021 by myself?

The Great

That’s the same red as the royal troopers in Star Wars, isn’t it?

Evil Empire is back – With Tua gone to the NFL and his brother taking his talents to the Terrapins, I have no reason left to root for this team. I could take the counter culture route and cheer for Nick Saban and his douche bag act. Unlike Belichick, I actually find Saban to be somewhat charming. But, that means that I’d have to cast my lot with a team that had 3 out of the 5 finalists for the Heismann trophy. That goes against my very being as a sports fan.

Justin Fields – I heard the kid’s name through the season, but never saw him play until the semi finals against Clemson. He took a brutal hit and I thought for a minute that he might be dead. Nope, he only came back out to throw 6 TDs against one of the best teams in the history of college football. I’ll be interested to see what he can do against Alabama.

The Good

Covid Bowl – Regular readers of the page may know that I’m a fan of chaos, especially when that chaos is confined to the ultimately pointless arena of sports. Thanks to COVID, chaos has ruled this college football season. Several teams with losing records played and won bowl games. The two potential “spoilers” this year both put an end to any talk of them as actual contenders by taking a dump in their bowl games. Some of that chaos is present in this game. If Ohio State wins, they will have won a National Championship playing only 8 games, the fewest since the 40s. I think that’s what I heard. Bring that on.

No fans – I mean, there will be fans. But, it will be the COVID version of fans in the stands. In a stadium that holds over 65,000, there will be maybe a quarter of that actually in attendance. Some have lamented the fact that there are no fans in the stands. Honestly, other than the weird Zoom fans that the NBA had in the bubble, I haven’t noticed the crowd in any of these events. When they show the stands, it looks weird. Other than that, though, the fans are superfluous to the process.

The Decent

No Halftime Show? – This is how you know I’m an old guy. I mean, forget that most of my references are from Seinfeld, The Simpsons, and 80s and 90s SNL. Or, that my top ten games are all from the Super Nintendo or before. Maybe, also forget that I groan when I sit down, need to take an extra 10-15 minutes to get out of bed in the morning, and that my doctor mistakenly gave me a prostate exam before remarking, “Oh, you’re not 50 yet.” So, yeah, I guess I was pretty unhealthy a few years ago. No, the way that I know I’m an old guy is that I actually felt sad when I just searched an found out there would be no halftime show.

More of the same – I hope for a good game out of Ohio State. Who knows? Maybe Justin Fields can take them on his shoulders again for the win. It will be tough with his injury. So, I fear that eventually Alabama’s talent will take over and they’ll roll.

The Verdict

The CFP National Championship 2021 comes with quite a bit less fanfare than previous years. COVID has just made everything not as fun this year. I will still watch the game. And, I will try to enjoy it. But, I just have a feeling that I will tune out in disgust or boredom at halftime. Hopefully, by next year, things will be approaching pre-COVID normal.

NFL Coin Flip Weekend 2021: A Love? Story

Introduction

Welcome to NFL Coin Flip Weekend 2021. I can’t remember if we did any previews last year for the NFL playoffs other than the Super Bowl. I suppose there is at least one way to figure that out. Okay, okay, if you’re going to pressure me into it. I will search the archives.

BRB…

Okay, in actuality, we were right on top of the entire playoffs last year. So, yay for us! Now, for the new readers, allow me to explain the title. If you’re old hat around here, skip the next couple of paragraphs and get to the good stuff.

A few years ago, I got the idea to rename Wild Card Weekend to Coin Flip Weekend. It has, by far, the most variance of any of the postseason games other than maybe the Super Bowl in the last 20 years or so. I found a quarter, named him George, and used him to predict the games. George actually did pretty well. If I bet on George’s pick, I’d have made money.

George led to another cockamamie idea of becoming the “Completely Ignorant” prognosticator to show how silly it was that there are so many talking heads shows. Clearly, that failed, as the number of those shows has increased exponentially. Oh well, I am tired of calling myself completely ignorant in a society that actually finds that to be a virtue. Let’s talk some NFL Coin Flip Weekend 2021.

NFL Coin Flip Weekend 2021: AFC

Colts/Bills (Saturday, 1:05 EST): Earlier in the year, I called Josh Allen, “Mitch Trubisky with a good coach”. I stand by that analysis. Allen improved every year, this year by leaps and bounds to lead the Bills to their first division title since the 1990s. I’m all in on the Bills. Hopefully they don’t eff it up against the Colts. Then again, Chris and I were texting and I said I’d have gladly traded either the Rats or Browns for the Colts. Ended up trading the dysfunctional Fins for them. While Phillip Rivers can use the extra money for his 17 kids, I hope the Bills roll.

Rats/Tuxedos (Sunday, 1:05 EST): As a supposed Steelers fan, I should hate the Ravens. I don’t. I love Lamar Jackson in spite of his fall back to earth this year. On the other hand, I hate the Titans and I don’t even have a valid reason why. If love is to prevail, I guess it needs to be LJ and the Ravens.

Browns/Steelers (Sunday, 8:15 EST): Again, as a supposed Steelers fan, I should hate the Browns. For most of my life, I have. Then, Baker came along and I kind of enjoyed their brand of inconsistency. This year, I think I’m just tired of incompetence. Speaking of incompetence, I asked earlier if 10-6 team ever fired their coach. Sure, the Steelers ended up 12-4, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Time to flip that coin. Eff both these teams.

NFL Coin Flip Weekend 2021: NFC

Rams/Seahawks (Saturday, 4:45 EST): Once upon a time, I declared the Seahawks the most complete team in the league. The whammy (I swear that’s not what I intended) worked and they immediately began sucking out loud. The Rams can go to hell. Along with the Patriots, they delivered the most boring Super Bowl in my lifetime. Go Hawks.

Tompa/Football Team (Saturday, 8:15 EST): Dan Snyder is a dick. Screw his stupid football team and the stupid football team name. I should hate Tampa because The Golden Boy is down there. I don’t. As I’ve said before, it must have just been the unholy union of the Patriots and Brady that made me hate both entities. Also, Chase Young is a moron. I hope TB calls up his old steroids guy, er finds the fountain of youth down there in Florida, and drops an old fashioned 5 TDs on the barely concealed racist nickname.

Bears/Saints (Sunday, 4:45 EST): How the hell are the Bears in the playoffs? Who let them in? Jesus, this league is a joke. A 7-9 team is again hosting a playoff game and the Bears made it, too. Look, I’m sick as sick of Drew Brees as the next guy, but give them one more game and hope the Seahawks blow them out next week to keep that old voodoo curse alive.

The Verdict

The NFL is selling this as the Super Duper Mega Wild Card Weekend. They added one team, which admittedly gave us an extra game in each conference. That’ s a 50% increase. Is a 50% increase really all that super? I guess it depends on what you’re increasing. Am I right, Cialis? Ahem, back to football.

During one of our conversations, Chris and I both said that this year’s playoffs could have been interesting. While that’s true, they’re not as interesting as I’d like them to be. Especially this week with no Mahomes. Also, no real team to root strongly for other than the Bills, who I’m all in on this year. Even so, I’m sure I will tune in for at least half of the games and I’ll check the Steelers score for my yearly dose of schadenfreude. See you guys next week for the Divisional Round.

Note: All teams and the single logo used on this web page are the property of the NFL. They are used without consent (written or otherwise), but only in good fun. If you’re feeling litigious, please refrain from throwing your vast legal resources at this small page that caters to my kids, Chris (Hi Chris!) and about 25 Russian bots (Hi Sergei!).

Marvel Comics January 2021: Great, Good, Decent

Introduction

When we last left Marvel Comics, I said only good things about them. None of the books ended up in the “Decent” section. I think at the time I attributed it to being in the Christmas spirit. I’m starting to think that there might be more to this story. What does that mean? Simply that I noticed an extension of that pattern into Marvel Comics January 2021.

That trail of bread crumbs doesn’t exactly take Sherlock to follow.

Just in case I didn’t make it obvious enough, I enjoyed Marvel Comics January 2021 greatly. I might have been in the Christmas spirit, because they weren’t as much fun as last month. Still, I don’t have a single book in the “Decent” section. Then again, the explanation might be more logical, to borrow a phrase from our old friend, Mr. Holmes.

I can’t say that this is true for Marvel Comics overall. However, this month I only received 7 books. That’s, I think, about half of the books I normally receive. So, it appears as if Marvel Comics might have reduced the number of books they are producing. As is often the result, that improves the quality of the books. Let’s see what makes Marvel Comics January 2021 so good.

The Great

Amazing Spider-Man 54 (Nick Spencer and Mark Bagley): As with most of the books from last year, ASM oscillated up and down. This story, however, has been mostly great. I think there might have been one issue that I felt lagged. Other than that, I’ve enjoyed this entire story. Now that we know the big bad is Harry, I can’t wait to see how it ends.

Avengers 39 (Jason Aaron and Dale Keown): Similar to Spider-Man, Avengers turned the corner during the Moon Knight story. Unlike Spider-Man, I wouldn’t call it as consistently great. Even so, I enjoyed the Moon Knight story and I can’t wait to see what they do with Phoenix.

Immortal Hulk 41 (Al Ewing and Joe Bennett): Of course, you all know I rate Immortal Hulk as probably the best Marvel book to come along in at least 5 years. Without doing research, that’s the best estimate I can make. Honestly, I’m having trouble naming another book I’ve enjoyed more. I will miss this book when it’s gone at the end of the year. At least I have the whole run and can reread it again and again.

Thor 10 (Donny Cates and Nic Klein): I kept collecting Thor mostly out of habit. Like Wonder Woman and Aquaman, I enjoyed the movie representation of the character and hoped for some of the same from the book. While not the exact same, I still liked the stories for the most part. I’m glad I didn’t give this book up. This Donald Blake story is insane and great and I don’t want it to ever end.

The Good

Captain America 26 (Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leonard Kirk): When I saw the cover, I exclaimed, “Red Hulk!” Then, I read the book. Red Hulk only appears in the last four pages of the book. Also, I was reminded that Red Hulk is General Thunderbolt Ross. Overall a weaker issue than some of the more recent ones, but still a fun story and ending.

Fantastic Four 27 (Dan Slott and RB Silva): I don’t think any title has disappointed me more than Fantastic Four. Maybe, disappointed is not the word. Frustrated. No title has frustrated me more than Fantastic Four. I want to like it because Dan Slott is writing. I do like it because Dan Slott is writing. I just don’t like it as much as I should. It’s weird.

Venom 31 (Donny Cates and Iban Coello): I can say for certain that no title disappointed me more than Venom over the last few months. Venom Beyond had such promise and it just fell flat. King in Black quickly felt like a pet project that went sideways too quickly. I liked this issue, but in a text conversation with Chris, he thinks that the main King in Black title is moving too slowly. Oh well, I’m sure he will bring it back around.

The Decent

None. Still in that Christmas spirit, I guess.

The Verdict

Marvel Comics January 2021 are still very good. Maybe not as good as I remember last months books being. But, still, when compared to the mess that is DC right now with the Bendis Superman experiment falling extremely short and the constant shuffling and reshuffling of creative teams, Marvel has all their ducks nicely in a row. Excelsior, True Believers and make mine Marvel.

Love Letter to Spawn 313

Introduction

The longest running independent comic just keeps on going. Spawn 313 and counting. I’m going to sound like a bit of a broken record here. It’s been up and down for our man Spawn. However, I will spare you the gritty details. If you want to know where the ups and downs are, you can go back about 30 or so issues to get my take on Al Simmons’ recent history.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you. It’s a bumpy ride.

More recently, I ended the previous Spawn issue review article by saying that I’m enjoying the book again and I couldn’t wait for this issue. As I do every month, I read Spawn 313 first. While usually just a practical decision because it’s the only independent book that I still read, so it makes for an easy start to comics week each month, this month I actually read this month with some degree of anticipation.

Sorry for that run on sentence. It happens around here sometimes. I honestly just wasn’t sure where I was going with the thought after I started it. Let’s see if I can’t salvage something from the nonsense. To be fair, I do have some practice.

The Great

The Story: I admit that when this story began I was considering taking a break from Spawn. The up and down that I discussed in the introduction was more up than down. Put simply, I wasn’t enjoying the book very much. Uncle Todd has redeemed himself slightly with the last couple of issues.

I think the main reason for the improvement in the story is that the supporting characters have been much stronger recently. I mean, they’ve been mentioning Cy-Gor and Overtkill for the last 2 or 3 years with little to no payoff. The payoff for these guys hasn’t been huge, but it has been something. He even got me to enjoy Gunslinger Spawn and I never though that would happen. Keep the momentum going.

The Good

The Art: I don’t talk much about art in these articles. Mostly if it’s an artist I enjoy or if the art is great (or more often, terrible), I will say a work or two about it. However, the art is one of the things that brought me to Spawn all those years ago. In a time of Rob Liefeld, Spawn brought us the beauty of Todd McFarlane’s pencils.

The art in this issue isn’t McFarlane or Capullo level. Heck, I wouldn’t even put it in the same category as Ken Lashley from a few issues ago. But, it is serviceable. It doesn’t detract from the story like Jason Shawn Alexander’s art did for a few issues. Sorry, JSA. I know you’ve become a punching bag for the page. I never meant for that to happen.

The Decent

Slow Moving: I think part of my frustration with Spawn is the slow pace of the stories. I mentioned earlier that Cy-Gor and Overtkill have been in the pages of the book for 2 (maybe even 3 years) as ancillary characters that were meant to induce nostalgia in preparation for the soft reboot of 300? I guess.

Like I said, there was some payoff for those guys finally in this issue. One of them got their face bashes in by a massive Hellspawn on a beach. Don’t get me wrong. I do like the story. I just wish Uncle Todd would pick up the pace a bit.

The Verdict

Spawn 313 does continue the forward momentum mentioned in the previous article. The story is still slow moving, which can be frustrating. However, Uncle Todd is giving other characters a chance to shine, which is nice. Also, the art has more often than not been excellent for the past year. I will sign off with the eternal hopes that all continues next month.

DC Comics December 2020: Great, Good, Decent

Introduction

Unfortunately, DC Comics December 2020 is not as good as Marvel Comics this month. I put 4 Marvel books in the great column and I think for the first time ever, not a single book in the decent column. Sure, there are 3 titles in the great column for DC this month. However, there are just as many in the decent and I might have been being generous with a couple of the good books this month.

It’s just that Christmas spirit I kept talking about in the previous article.

Granted, I’ve always been more of a Marvel fan than a DC fan. Chris got me into DC when he kept telling me how great Batman was with Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. Then, I started collecting Aquaman and Wonder Woman because they starred in the first DC movies that weren’t absolute train wrecks. I mean, you have to collect Superman, right? Right?! Please tell me no. That way I can stop the charade that I believe the Bendis experiment will finally pay dividends.

I feel bad. There are things that I genuinely like about DC Comics. But, I tired quickly of the source wall nonsense. I started reading Metal and then stopped. I haven’t collected any of the Death Metal series. I saw an advertisement in several books for “Endless Winter”. There’s another limited series coming in January and February. I just feel like their core books have been ignored in favor of big, splashy events that never pan out. But, it is almost Christmas, so let’s focus on the positive. What’s “Great, Good, and Decent” about DC Comics December 2020?

The Great

Justice League 56 and 57 (Josh Williamson, Robson Rocha, and Xermanico): I’ve already established that I don’t care all that much about Death Metal. It might be (and possibly is) a fine event. So, this isn’t like Detective during Joker War. They just got Josh Williamson writing this book and that’s all I need.

Justice League Dark 28 (Ram V and Amancy Nahuelpan): I will spare you my man crush on Ram V. Actually, no I won’t. He is a superb craftsman at the height of his game with this book. Zatanna is probably my favorite character in the book, so it doesn’t hurt that she’s been featured in many of the stories.

Wonder Woman 766 and 767 (Mariko Tamaki, Steve Pugh, and Rafa Sandoval): I fawned all over Mariko last month, so I will spare you my girl crush on her. Nope, I won’t do that, either. I’m a bit slow on the uptake, so I didn’t discover Ms. Tamaki until her run on X-23, which was funny and heartwarming. She brings those same qualities to everyone’s favorite Amazon. This is the most the book has felt like the movie probably since Greg Rucka wrote at the beginning of Rebirth.

The Good

Action Comics 1027 (BMB and JRJR): You’d think that comic written and drawn by men known only by their initials would be better than this. House of Kent had such promise at the beginning. I wonder if Future State has messed with the mojo some. Now that I see it written, it’s as likely as anything. I really hope it’s worth it.

Aquaman 65 (Kelly Sue Deconnick and Miguel Mendonca): I think I might have mentioned in my article last month that no book had suffered from the Covid hiatus than Aquaman. Kelly Sue Deconnick was building up quite a bit of momentum with the War of Atlantis story and then they had some stop gaps fill in that killed the momentum. Well, she’s back to finish the story with a bang.

Batman 102 and 103 (James Tynion IV, Carlo Pagulayan, Danny Miki, and Guillem March): 103 was better than 102. With that being said, neither of these issues blew me away. I feel like Tynion is falling into the Bendis trap of trying to introduce too many new or different characters instead of sticking with the old faithfuls. Especially after the masterpiece that was Joker War, I’m disappointed with the direction of Bats.

The Decent

Catwoman 27 (Ram V and Fernando Blanco): Looking at it again, I might have been a bit harsh on this book. It very well could be in the good category. It’s just that I have such high hopes for a Ram V book at this point and this one doesn’t live up. I get that Catwoman is a thief, but it feels like they’re going to this heist storyline a bit too much in this title. Mix it up a bit!

Detective Comics 1030 and 1031 (Peter J. Tomasi and Bilquis Evely): Broken record time again. I just don’t like Tomasi’s take on this book. I will say that I liked these books more than before Joker War. Isn’t it weird how expectations are a large percentage of the outcome of these reviews? Oops, maybe I just gave away a trade secret.

Superman 27 (BMB and Ivan Reis): I will admit that I didn’t even read this book. I just can’t do it anymore. As I’ve said more than once, I’m not a fan of Superman to begin with. I’ve given the Brian Michael Bendis experiment a year and a half. I’ve threatened it before, but I think this book goes after Future State.

The Verdict

Marvel Comics delivered this month. DC Comics December 2020 provided just more of the same. Under normal circumstances, that would be fine. However, with it being Christmas, DC pausing everything for Future State, and the awesome month that Marvel gave us, I’m disappointed. I mentioned above that Future State might be the reason for the lackluster effort this month. I’ll never know, but like I say, it’s as likely as anything. I just hope it’s worth it at this point. I also hope it’s worth my investment in every title. Guess we will see soon enough.

Marvel Comics December 2020: Great, Good Decent

Introduction

I’ve given December the theme of a “Year of Gaming”. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to recap the last year in mobile, PC, and console. It’s actually the first year that I’ve been able to dabble in gaming in all three. But, first, it’s comics weeks. I already did Spawn. Now, it’s time for Marvel Comics December 2020.

I could kill two birds with one stone if I had been able to snag a PS5 before the arbitrageurs got them.

Marvel seems to have avoided the revolving door of creative teams that has plagued DC and, to an extent, Spawn. Granted, they haven’t gone unscathed. However, the only major disruption that I’ve noticed is that Black Panther has gone on hiatus. I think that many of you might disagree that is a major disruption, but I enjoyed the book. Coates has done a good job with Panther and Cap.

Even with T’Challa momentarily on the sidelines, there are plenty of good books coming from Marvel Comics December 2020. I’m still finalizing my rankings, but so far, I’m tempted to put more books in the great category than I think I ever have, especially for Marvel. Sure, there was the post Covid euphoria that lasted a couple of months. Perhaps this is just me being filled with the Christmas spirit. Whatever the reason, join me as I try to justify my glee.

The Great

Amazing Spider-Man 52 and 53 (Nick Spencer, Matthew Rosenberg, Patrick Gleason, Frederico Vicentini): First of all, forget what I said about the rotation of creative teams at Marvel. Apparently, it is just not as noticeable for some reason. Secondly, I’m missing parts of this story because they’ve done the “dot” issues (.LR for this) on Spider-Man again. I need to visit my LCS to pick up the missing issues. And, I will. Because this story has been awesome. I’m not usually one for “dark” Spider-Man stories, but Nick Spencer seems to have returned to the dark after a hiatus due to the abuse he suffered for Secret Empire. Completely unwarranted in my opinion. That’s neither here nor there. The bottom line is that Spider-Man is awesome right now.

Avengers 38 (Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness): “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” have quite possibly been Marvel’s most inconsistent team title this year. I can’t remember if I’ve pushed them into the great section before this month, but they have been trending that way for some time now. I loved the Moon Knight story and they payoff in this issue is worth it. Keep it going.

Immortal Hulk 40 (Al Ewing and Joe Bennett): I’ve sandbagged my review on this title for far too long. You could rightfully say, “Okay, it’s great. But, why?” Since it’s close to Christmas, I’ll oblige. Though the horror aspect of the comic has been toned down, the story has still been strong. Familiar faces from the past are popping up all over the place. They are affecting the story big time. The Immortal Hulk is both comfortable and surprising in a way that few stories do.

X-Men 14 and 15 (Jonathon Hickman, Leniel Francis Yu, Mahmud Asrar): Chris hyped this title for so long and then I got to sit down and finally read it and was a bit disappointed in the Empyre tie in. I know that I am missing big chunks of the story here because it is a true crossover. However, what I’ve seen of X of Swords has been fantastic. I might need to either pick up the trades (or to make Chris happy, fill in the missing issues). I’m one to roll my eyes at all of the events, but recently they’ve been exactly what books need to focus them and keep them on track.

The Good

Captain America 25 (Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leonard Kirk): It’s a mini anniversary issue! I suppose there are benefits to the every 5 year (or so) reboot. Like Hulk, Coates has old favorites returning to affect the story in quite positive ways. This book has been trending up with the most recent Daughters of Liberty/Red Skull story and I have given it the “pushing great” note.

Fantastic Four 26 (Dan Slott and RB Silva): This story was a bit of a mess at the beginning. Slott pulled it together after about the 5th or 6th page and it all went smoothly from there. Unlike X-Men, Empyre fit perfectly with this book and things got a bit sideways after that. Looks like from the teaser on the last page that big things are coming, so I have high hopes going forward.

Thor 9 (Donny Cates and Nic Klein): I’ve been down on Thor and Venom the last few months. Chris and I were texting and it just feels like Cates may have been taking on too much similar to Tynion with Batman and Justice League Dark. Well, if this issue is any indication, that fear was unfounded. All I have to say about this issue is “Wow.” Thor wakes up as Donald Blake to Hell on Earth. This one got the “pushing great” label, too.

Venom 30 (Donny Cates and Luke Ross): Venom Beyond did not live up to my expectations at all. It just felt like a mess and that they were filling space until the next event. This issue confirms that. This issue was good. I’m not sure about King in Black. However, as with other books, it looks like the event is focusing the book and driving it to be better. I will end up picking up the books at my LCS when I go to get the .LR issues of Spidey.

The Decent

There are no Marvel Comics December 2020 that are neither great nor good. Merry Christmas, Marvel!

The Verdict

I enjoyed Marvel Comics December 2020 very much. It might just be the Christmas spirit as I mentioned. However, I stand by my assessment that the books are good this month. For what it’s worth, I will say that I hope this continues into the new year. Please, please, don’t tell me that it is just the Christmas spirit from everyone at Marvel that made these books good this month. Marvel, make mine quality.