Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Year With Buffy

I started this blog as a place strictly for reviews of Buffyverse comics. However, as exciting news of recent developments in BtVS/AtS/Joss Whedon projects came from pretty much all over the place, I had to report all that here as well. See, so many people—yes, even Internet savvy people—had no idea about what was going on in the ‘verse. Being that I often search the net for new bits of info about the Buffster as a means of procrastinating my term papers [pictured below], I decided to use this site as a review/news/blog place. Recently, what with the polls and funny pictures and all, it feels like it’s becoming more of a blog. Ironically, I’m going to kick it old school by giving you the year in review in the bloggiest entry this year.

2007: A Year With Buffy


When I picked up a BtVS/Angel magazine early this year, I found out that Joss Whedon would be writing the eighth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Dark Horse comics. Then, I wasn’t even sure if I’d read it. It was ironic, because that same day I’d picked up Nancy Holder’s continuation of Buffy (“Queen of the Slayers,” which turned out to be awful) which was a novel. Novels, I could do. Comics? Not so much. I’d never read a comic before. I mean, comics? I’d *just* gotten back into television because of Buffy. For years, I hadn’t watched the box. Writing my own novel about vampires is what lead me to, in Summer 2006, to check out other vampire stories. I read so much. Watched some vampy movies. Then one day, during a trip to Game Stop, I picked up a used copy of the first season of Buffy. I’d seen most of it before. During the first run of the series (I was in middle school) I watched up until about Season Three. Angel’s resurrection confused me (yuck it up), and I pretty much had other things to do on Tuesday nights. But that day in Game Stop, I remembered that I enjoyed the show, and since it was just research material for my novel, why not give it a try?

(My novel in its different stages)

Needless to say, I fell in love. BtVS not only re-opened the entire Buffyverse to me, it also made me fall in love with the medium of television again. So, getting back on topic, I figured that if Joss Whedon could reintroduce me to the art of serial television, why the hell shouldn’t I trust him to write a good comic book? So, from then on, I knew I’d buy into the series. “Buffy: Season Eight.” It sounded like a dream come true. I even warmed myself up for it by going to my local comic shop and buying some of IDW’s early Angel comics (the entire “Old Friends” miniseries). While I can’t say it was a good miniseries, seeing the characters again sure was something. Reading those issues helped me understand how to read comics and it also encouraged me. If I can even enjoy a non-canonical Angel comic with iffy art a little tiny bit, imagine how much I will love an in-continuity Buffy comic written Joss Whedon!

I waited for the day. It was to be released on March 7th, but—to my dismay—it was delayed a week. I’d ordered it from http://www.tfaw.com/, thinking it would ship on release date (the fourteenth), but I was sorely disappointed to realize that they wouldn’t ship me the book for another week. The 21st. Anger.

(Buffy: Season Eight 1-9, and "The Long Way Home" TPB. Cover art by Jo Chen)

But then, finally, I got it. And the rest was pretty much history. I really enjoyed #1, liked #2 a lot but was a bit confused until I read the issue over, loved #3, and liked #4. The first arc “The Long Way Home” was one of the best season premieres that BtVS has ever had, and I knew without a doubt that I was hooked. All of the major Scoobs were reintroduced over the course of these four issues, some of them in quite different situations than we last saw them in. Dawn has become a giant—literally—and is too embarrassed to tell Buffy what she feel may have caused her sudden transformation, though everyone around her has a nagging suspicion that it could have been a sexual encounter with a thricewise named Kenny, who we have yet to see. Xander is playing Dixon to Buffy’s Sidney Bristow at the BHC (Big Honkin’ Castle, a name for Buffy’s base that forumites have taken a liking to), and he’s still eye patchin’ it up. Willow, perhaps most mysteriously of all, can (1) fly, (2) chill with elemental spirits on different plains, and (3) instantly heal from mortal wounds. She is using major magic and still gets to the point where her hair goes dark, letting the audience know that she isn’t all pure yet. Though we haven’t seen Kennedy yet, we know through Willow’s dialogue that she died and was brought back. Andrew and Giles both had minor parts in the first arc, pretty much just watching over some slayers. Giles had a conference with a Slayer-hating Demon, but we didn’t see much from him (more on what Giles and Faith are up to later on). The most interesting development here is Buffy herself. For the first time since Season Five, I find myself liking this character. She is funny, sympathetic, and a much better character than the hardened and harsh Buffy Summers we saw in Seasons Six and Seven. Buffy, like many of the other Scoobies, is redeeming herself.

(Season Eight 1-9, the variant covers)

Also, we got a few new characters and some guest spots from some old villains. As far as newbies, “The Long Way Home” introduced Renee (who has a crush on Xander), Leah (awesome hair), Rowena (eek), Satsu (a slayer who often fights by Buffy’s side… oh yeah, and she is secretly in love with Buffy), and General Voll (a member of Twilight’s organization, which I will elaborate on later). Now, getting to the old baddies coming back for blood: We’re first reintroduced to Amy Madison, former rat, on the final page of the first issue. She and her boyfriend—a skinless Warren sustained by Amy’s magic—are pissed at Buffy, whose actions in Season Seven left them trapped them in the collapsed Hellmouth. So far, they provided some cool scenes, but amounted to nothing nearly as interesting as the next Buffy baddie ever did: Ethan Rayne. Rayne, worshipper of chaos, comes back in this arc, appearing in Buffy’s dreamscape to apparently help Buffy. Just when Buffy starts to follow his lead, she opens a door and finds out that General Voll has shot Rayne in the head.

(Unabashed shock)

And that was all only in the first four issues.
After a long wait with no comic (Dark Horse took a month off) it was time for “The Chain,” the first one-shot of the series. I have to be honest, I believe I gave the comic a higher mark than it deserved. It centered around one of Buffy’s doubles. Remember when Angel and Spike discovered in the fifth season of “Angel” that Buffy was dating the Immortal? Turns out, she wasn’t. The gang decided that Buffy was a target, so they set up two girls to pretend to be Buffy. One was the girl dating the Immortal in Rome and the other was the star of this issue. Joss tells a non-linear and awkward story here, aiming for artsy but landing on ineffectual. The last few pages packed a punch and the page with Andrew and Vi’s commercial was classic, but this comic wasn’t really worth of anything above a 4/10.

(The hulking Panel to Panel dwarfing a regular Buffy comic)

Comics fans rejoiced when Brian K. Vaughan signed on to write the next four issues in the series. The acclaimed writer of Runaways, Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, and Pride of Baghdad was going to change things up a bit and focus this arc (the second full-length “episode” of season eight) on Faith, the slayer gone bad gone good. I love Joss and his writing, but BKV really set the standard high with issues 6, 7, 8, and 9. While “The Long Way Home” was a great season premiere, it did have a few blunders… not so with “No Future for You.” It is by far the best Faith-centric episode of the Buffyverse canon, throwing Faith into a situation where she has to come face-to-face with another slayer gone bad. Giles, unbeknownst to Buffy, assigned Faith to this case. But Gigi Savidge, the slayer in question, is not going to be saved. Giles feels that it is too late to bring Gigi back to the good side, as she has been corrupted by the influence of Roden, an Irish wizard affiliated with Twilight.

(A novel I'm currently editing; I include this just as a nod to Joss and the other Buffy writers, who I have learned so much from by watching their shows and reading their comics.)

Faith is great here. Her dilemma with Gigi, who she actually grows to care for, is something that only Joss and Brian could have cooked up. At once, Faith copes with her issues with father figures as she compares her relationship with the Mayor to Gigi’s relationship with Roden and--more subtly--Faith’s newfound relationship with Giles. The arc ends with Gigi and Roden both dead, Faith heartbroken, and Giles on a new path. See, Giles did his best to keep Buffy out of the loop on this one, and when the Head Slayer inevitably found out, the rift between her and Giles that began in “Lies My Parents Told Me” widened tenfold. At the end of this arc, Giles and Faith set out together to locate slayers on the brink and pull them back to the side of good so that there would never be another Gigi situation.

(The continuation of the Buffyverse. The best Christmas gift a writer could give a fan.)

The ninth issue of Season Eight, the conclusion to “No Future For You,” was the last issue we’ll be getting in 2007, but I wouldn’t worry. We’re left with a lot more to ponder on. Robin Wood, the badass principal from Season Seven, was reintroduced here. He’s heading a squad of slayers much like Andrew and Buffy/Xander are. His relationship with Faith seems strained from the phone call they shared in Issue 6. From his “Are you still—” before Faith hangs up on him, it seems that the two of them may have had a baby scare or something like that. Also, most excitingly, the last few pages of #9 gave us a scene with the new Big Bad of the season.

(Buffy and Ethan going through Buffy's dreamscape)
The new Big Bad is a big hulking masked guy named Twilight. He has big plans, including the destruction of magic as well as all magic creatures (wizards, slayers, watchers, etc.) which he plans to execute by using his big group of followers like Roden (RIP) and General Voll (MIA?). This is odd, coming from a guy who can fly, but who are we to judge, right? He seems badass enough, but only time will tell if he’ll live up to the Big Bads of the past. I don’t doubt that Joss will deliver, seeing as he gave us a new and interesting Big Bad each season: The Master, Angelus, The Mayor, Adam, Glory, Dark Willow, and The First Evil.

(General Voll describing his interpretation of Twilight's plan)
Other than the blunder that was “The Chain,” Season Eight has been a solid story. The character interaction is great, ranging from hilarious to heart breaking. As far as the interior art of the series, I couldn’t be happier. Georges Jeanty started off as competent but every issue he vastly improves, getting closer and closer to “great.” There have been complaints that he draws the characters too child-like, but if he has, I truly haven’t noticed. From the script, to the pencils, to the vibrant colors, everything is going great with this season. It makes me sad that people are complaining about these comics, as it is truly a gift from Joss Whedon to us. He’s continuing our favorite series and, because of that, it’s been a great year for Buffy fans.

(Buffy vs. Twilight on the cover to Buffy #11)
What everyone always agrees on, however, is the cover art. Jo Chen is a phenomenal artist who also gets better with each issue. Her first cover featured Buffy and it was good enough, but from issues #3 and on, each of her covers have been perfection. Her talent in capturing the character’s likenesses is literally unrivalled. Counting the beautiful cover for the two trade paperbacks, we’ve seen twelve cover pieces from Chen this year (#1-10). We also got to see the covers for Buffy #11 and 12, which were done by Jon Foster, while Jo Chen is on a sort of break as she does other stuff. She’ll be back by the end of the #12-15 arc (Wolves at the Gate, by Drew Goddard), but Foster is doing a great job, especially on #12.

("Panel to Panel" was so big I couldn't fit it on any shelf. Here it is in my closet with a few other closeted books and my doubles of Buffy comics I ordered in case of a mishap)
Other than the canonical Season Eight comics this year, we also got a load of “companion” books from Dark Horse. This includes two omnibuses (omnibi?) that collect all of the old (non-canonical) Buffy comics in chronological order. Some of the stories were great but a lot of them sucked major, but it’s always decent to have all of the works compiled into one place. Most awesome of all, the latter quarter of this year saw the publication of “Panel to Panel” a ginormous book that reprinted all of the best art from the first run of Buffy, plus a little insight on the most interesting pieces.

(The first two Buffy Omnibus books)

This has been the biggest Buffy year since 2003. We’ve also got the new canonical Angel comics, which my next entry will be dedicated to. I’m truly glad to be a fan of this series, especially at this time, and I couldn’t be happier to add these comics to my collection. In the “CANON” section.

(My "Joss" shelf. First, there are two Buffy script books. Then is the "Canonical Comics" section: Tales of the Slayers, Talkes of the Vampires, Spike: Asylum, Buffy: The Long Way Home, Fray. Then is the non-canonical comics section. The four IDW Angel TPBs come first, followed by the "Spike" TPB and "Spike vs. Dracula" and the two Buffy omnibus books. In there somewhere is "Those Left Behind," only because it is the same size as the omnibuses. Then we're back to canon with Buffy Seasons 1-7 slim set and all five seasons of Angel. The full-set for season three has since been replaced by the slim set. Lastly, I have--of course--Firefly and Serenty: the Special Edition.)

Merry Christmas.

-Pat Shand

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Things Are Heating Up In Hell

What Is It?: Angel- After the Fall: Issue #2 (written by Brian Lynch, plotted by Joss Whedon and Brian Lynch). It's canon.

Timing: Directly following After the Fall: Issue #1.
Warning: The bigger spoilers will be written in black text. Simply highlight to read. As this is a review, there will be some minor "spoilers" sprinkled throughout the text that don't warrant being hidden. If you have not read the issue and don't want to know anything about the plot, don't read this.

REVIEW: Get your "Live Fast, Die Never" soundtrack ready to play in the background. Go to youtube and pick your favorite "Angel: Season Six" opening credits to play after the sixth page reveal. This is an experience that fans will want to enjoy, because this comic maintains the momentum that Brian Lynch started in the flawlessly scripted first issue. Though this time around we get less pages (the five extra pages in the first issue was a gift, really), I didn't even notice it. This issue bursts with content: We've got awesome fight scenes, great character interaction, and the return of the other ensouled vamp that everyone's been asking about. Not to mention the return of (SPOILER:)the most interesting character that Joss Whedon never got the chance to dwell on. That's right baby. Enter- Blue Thunder.(/SPOILER)

I don't want to keep comparing this series to "Buffy-Season Eight," which is wonderful as it is, but there is something I'd like to address. A lot of people are taking issue with the fact that Joss Whedon is keeping us in the dark with many of his plots. There are still so many questions that, ten issues into the series, haven't been answered. Why is Dawn a giant? Where has Willow been, and what's up with her crazy new powers? When is this series set? Not to mention that we just found out who Floaty Boots from Issue #1 is at the end of #9. I find the slow discovery very exciting (I think Joss was inspired by slower movement of the arc from his favorite show, Veronica Mars) but I can also see why people are getting antsy to find out. Some even said that this takes away from their reading experience. This is not the case with After the Fall. In this issue, we get heaps of answers to the questions posed in issue #1 (What was that glowy orb that Gunn took from Kr'ph? (Kinda:) How was Gunn sired? What is Spike up to? What's up with Spike and all those babes? How is the Angel/Connor relationship going to be? How does Angel feel about Wesley's sitch? We also kind of get an answer to the questions about the canonicity of Spike: Asylum. That doesn't, and probably won't, get a definitive answer, but Betta George alludes to having spent time with a vampire.

Oh and... to those with a magnifying glass more powerful than mine, you'll known the name of the Dragon in this issue. I'm stickin' with Ramon.

Now that I've BSed enough, allow me to get down to the juicy center of this review. The character's dialogue is, again, great. Spike and Angel's exchanges are classic, but who would expect any less? I have to note though, that I kinda felt like Gwen was talking like she was Faith. Perhaps it's because I haven't seen a Gwen-centric episode in quite some time, but I'm not sold on her dialogue yet. Everyone else that speaks in this issue is spot on, particularly Connor (who didn't have much in the way of a speaking part last time). Lynch continues to shine in his depiction of Spike, introducing him with a scene sort of mirror the time where Angel tells tales of his brave, brave conquests in Pylea. And, for the first time in... ever, the character I was most excited to see is Gunn. If you thought his character arc in Season Five was his biggest and most interesting yet, just hold up a second. His dilemma (nah, it's not just 'grr I'm a vamp, Angel dies and women are eaten!') is something I could have never thought up in my wildest and most badass dreams. While other characters get more page time in this issue than in the first, but Angel is still very much the center of the action and the core of the story. Angel, the man and the series, are in very good hands.

A lot was riding on this issue. It had to keep pleasing those who loved Issue One and sell the series to those unconvinced by Issue One (we never speak of them). No doubt in my mind that people will still complain (see the ART section), but if they didn't this wouldn't be the Buffyverse. For those that aren't LOOKING for reasons to dislike the issue--there are many of these people out there--these twenty-two pages are another treat.

Art: The art from Issue One wasn't very popular with a number of Whedonesquers and other reviewers. People didn't like the dark "muddy" style, and--while I didn't 100% agree--I also thought that the colors could be better. Urru's style vibes much better with the new colorist in this issue, who makes the pages brighter and more vibrant without spoiling the very dark mood of the series. Those who didn't like the art of the first issue will be sold by this issue. However, those people that won't be happy are the ones complaining about the boobage in the comics. I'll break it down character by character. Nina... I'd risk castration by Whedonesquers by saying that her bust size isn't exaggerated by much. People seem to call "gratuitous!" about as quickly as they forget how the actress actually looked. Jenny Mollen isn't Sarah Michelle Gellar. Hell, she isn't even Charisma Carpenter. She has always had the biggest breasts in the series, and her new wardrobe (due to the sun/moon situation) just extenuate them. (RANT:)Her appearance in this issue is a LOT less gratuitous than the male nudity we got throughout the television run of the show and it doesn't even compare to the way that the people complaining about enhanced sexuality are the same ones writing erotic fanfic.(/RANT) *Sigh* Okay. Now about the other characters. Gwen does indeed have bigger boobs than she did in the series, by quite a long shot. She has always been a highly sexual character, but she was never half the size she is here. While it's certainly not a big deal, I think those people complaining about Nina would have more of a case if they brought up Gwen. She, so far, is the only character to be chestually enhanced. People will also take issue with the demon babes, but... that's their thing. Again, the show was highly sexual at times, often showing male nudity at a 4560:1 ratio to female nudity. I urge people to ease up and try to enjoy a story that is very much going places.

Rating: 10/10


Beyond this point, there be UNCOVERED spoilers. The following sections are the "Characters We Know" and "Speculation" sections, all of which are VERY spoilery. If you don't want spoilers, then don't read past here.


Characters We Know: Angel, Wesley, Nina, Connor, Gwen, Gunn, Spike, Illyria

Lynchverse Characters We Know (from the "Spike" series, newly introduced 'mightbemajors'): Betta George, Spider

Speculation: So Gunn still fancies himself a good guy. A good guy with a disease. I'm loving the idea, especially the "Don't call me a vampire" stuff, which brings to mind John Locke's heartbreaking "Don't tell me what I can't do!" cries. I'm not even going to begin to speculate on what Gunn has coming for him, because the reveal of his "motivations" shocked me enough to just sit back and let the comics tell his story. Last time, I said this about Spike: "My speculation is that Spike has somehow become one of the LA Lords." Well, it's true. Spike is indeed the Lord of Beverly Hills, and he's also Illyria's "pet." I don't know how he is both a Lord (high connotations) and a pet (low connotations), but I'm guessing that he and Illyria are both Lords of the area. Spike's dialogue ("I didn't rise from prisoner to prisoner with benefits to protector back to prisoner with benefits to Lord, just to have you come and muck it up") makes me think that the one who imprisoned him was Illyria herself, who subsequently decided that she liked him enough the "promote" him. Speaking of dynamic duos, I feel like Angel and Connor are going to have a LOT of screen time together. Their shared scene is one of the best in the comic and has further elevated Connor in my books. He was once the worst character of the series, brought up to 'tolerable, pretty cool' in Season Five, and now... You know the rest. I'm glad to have a name to put to the glowy orb (The Eye of Ramras) and a breakdown of what it can do. With Gunn in possession of the EoR, things are going to get hectic fast. And I'll be strapped in for every minute.

Now, I reiterate...

-------------END OF SPOILERS-----------

Rating: 10/10 Classic.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

And The Award Goes To...

So the first poll is closed. The best Buffyverse arc of the year, according to a whopping 38% of the voters, is "No Future For You." Congratulations, all of those who worked hard on this arc, as I am about to present you with the shittiest award you will ever, ever get. I wish I was able to give you a big shiny trophy like you deserve, but I am a lowly peasant, with limited paint skills and limited time.... skills. So I take pride in the shittiness of the award, because it was actually... really fun to make. Please, inform me if anyone is ever to present you with a shittiER award, as I will make it my life's purpose to outshit them. In a not stinky way.

Click and enjoy a larger version of this award that reeks of painted shittiness.

NOW. In other news.

The trade paperback for "Spike: Shadow Puppets" is out today. While I was unable to get it due to the fact that my LCS didn't order it, I do know that it is packed with extras, including the "Brian Lynch Commentary" stuff we got with "Asylum." It's pretty much what we wanted from the extras in the Buffy TPB and didn't get. Brian Lynch is to us as Aladdin is to those poor people he throws gold to in the scene where he sings about being a prince. He just keeps on giving and giving and giving. Hopefully, Dark Horse takes note of how COOL Lynch's extras are and gives us some Buffy extras next time.

Speaking of Lynch, we've got a release date for the next two "After the Fall" comics.

December 19th (only a week from today): #2

January 16th: #3

And apparently, we'll be able to see the cover to #5 once #2 is released. From the way Brian and (I believe) Ryall have been talking about it, it's going to make us squint because of the awesome radiating off of it. Perhaps we'll have to look at it through that bendy thing people look at eclipses through so we don't hurt our eyes. Hell, I'm just glad Franco is so awesome at covers, because the Robinson's cover to #4? Not so impressive:

On that note, I'm going to bow out with this...

TOMORROW: New poll. Please vote.

TOMORROW: Bad ass post concerning Season Eight. Tune in. Except... you know. Don't tune as much as click.

Size Matters

What Is It: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Panel to Panel." It's a TPB (well, more of a FHPB) that collects the best of the art from Dark Horse's original run on BtVS. Scott Allie provides commentary.

Timeline: We get stuff from pre-Season One to post-Season Seven.

REVIEW: My first thought when my comic book guy put this specially ordered book (they weren't stocking it, so I had to put in a personal order) was "Holy vampire lemon face, this is huge!" And when I say huge, I mean huge in every way. The pages are thick, so even though this book is only 190 pages, its about three times as thick as the "Long Way Home" TBP. And as far as height, this is the Yao Ming of trade paperbacks. I mean, it's an insult to this hulking book to call it a TPB. For fear of being bludgeoned to death by this tome, I'm going to officially refer to it as a FHPB. A F**king Huge Paperback. Or perhaps just "The Book That Must Not Be Named." I'm not going to go on and on about how big this thing is, but I have to add that I literally cannot fit it on ANY of my shelves. Not the large shelves that house my Buffy script books, and not even the bigger shelf that I keep my over sized Runaways hardcovers on. I had to put this big ol' sucker in my CLOSET, this thing is so huge.

But I digress. The SECOND thought I had when this came into my hands was "Shiny." That's in both senses. The figurative "shiny" (if you don't know what that means, you really shouldn't consider yourself a Whedon fan) as well as the literal "shiny." The cover has a sort of foily shine to it, making the metallic blue of the art look even cooler. The binding of the book, like all Dark Horse TPBs, is very strong and even has a little picture on it (Buffy's face from "Creatures of Habit."

Okay, now that I've bored you with my first reactions, let me get down to the nitty gritty. The book is pretty much made up of huge renditions of certain covers, panels, and promotional pics from the original Buffy run by Dark Horse. The art is of varying quality (see the "Art" section below), but the way it was put together was quite masterfully. Scott Allie takes us on a trip down (his) memory lane as he explains certain pieces, giving us all some pretty cool background info on the artists or what was the reason for each cover. Often, his commentary offers some really cool tidbits, but other times he leaves us wanting a bit more. Many pieces that I would have liked to know more about were left unexplained, which isn't really that cool in a book like this. However, that little flub is made up for by the sheer quality of this book, because when it comes down to it, we do get a lot of new factoids from the man with the plan.

By the way, this book is only $20. TWENTY DOLLARS. Having a rough idea that the book was large, I went to the ATM to get a little bit of extra cash before my trip to the comic shop. When I got there and got the book in my hands, I was afraid that my mere $50 wouldn't cut it. Nervous of my looming embarrassment (I'd hate to think of the look I'd get when I didn't have enough dough for a book I put on special order), I managed to squeak out a "How much is it?" He said "Twenty," and then even had to double check himself because the book was just so damn big (and shiny). But yeah, twenty.

Don't be a goon. Buy it.

Art: To truly get into the art, I'd pretty much have to review every page. There are many different styles in this book--some great, some good, some okay, some...not so much--from a long list of different artists who have contributed to the title. One of the most interesting aspects of the book is that it shows how the long term artists have evolved over the course of the series, often drastically changing their styles. The best part about this book is probably the painted covers from the later issues (post-Season Five and on), specifically the art taken from the wonderful illustrated prose novel "Creatures of Habit." Overall, this won't disappoint. Even if a lot of the art isn't good, it's amazing to see so many different takes on our favorite characters. Some day, I hope the art of Season Eight gets the "Panel to Panel" treatment because, let's face it, the best BtVS art that's ever been put out is what we're getting now from Chen, Foster, and sometimes Jeanty. I almost wish "The Long Way Home" was released in an over-sized version, as to truly appreciate the art, but it makes me wonder where I would put it.

Note: I unknowingly advertised the 'verse to some peeps. Apparently, when this book was delivered, another customer wanted to purchase it. It had been reserved for me, but the customer liked the book so much that they put in a special order for it. I was happy to have spread to word, even if I didn't know I was doing it.

Rating: 8/10*

*Gotta say though, it's a must have. Buy it, thine wankers!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Wolves At The Gate

That thing we've been calling the "Untitled Tokyo Arc" is no longer untitled. Issues 12-15 of "Buffy: Season Eight" will be called "Wolves at the Gate." Great title, and the artwork for both of the covers is great. The Jon Foster cover is far better than his #11 cover, and Jeanty's ain't bad either. It's one of Jeanty's best Buffy likenesses, though I'm not really sure about that Xander's cleavage in the background.

So #12 comes out on March 5th. The blurb is as follows:

"Acclaimed television series writer, Drew Goddard (Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Alias; Lost), takes the reins on Season Eight with his four-issue arc titled "Wolves at the Gate." The gang (yep, Dawn too) travels to Tokyo where they duel vampires with unusual, yet strangely familiar, powers.With Joss Whedon serving as executive producer, Georges Jeanty (The American Way) as series artist, and Jon Foster on covers, Buffy Season Eight continues to entertain longtime Buffy fans and newcomers alike."

Not much we didn't know in there already, except for the fact that Dawn is joining them. Move over Godzilla, the motherf***ing KEY is coming.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

BKV Brings It To a Close

What Is It?: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Issue #9: No Future For You pt 4 (written by Brian K. Vaughan)

Timing: BtVS Season Eight, follows the events of "No Future For You Part 3"

REVIEW: Like Issue #7 (which followed the spectacular #6), this issue had a lot of expectations to live up to. As it is the climax of "No Future For You," it had to be more intense, more poignant, and overall better than the first three issues in this arc. It had to live up to Issue #4, the issue that ended "The Long Way Home" arc. This issue, despite how good the other three were, is the last statement that this arc is going to make, so it had to be the most powerful. Does it deliver?

Yeah, it does. Starting with a flashback to her days with the Mayor (who voice Vaughan nails), this issue makes a poignant parallel between his (the Mayor's) relationship with Faith and Roden's relationship with Gigi. What I like about this part of the issue is that Faith is shown to have recognized that the Mayor was wrong--and, yes, evil--but the relationship is never portrayed as anything but genuine. This sharply contrasts with Roden's relationship with his evil slayer, but Faith still relates to Gigi despite her mentor's true feelings about her. What it all comes down to here, though, is the unavoidable fight between the two rogue slayers. It's an emotional and bloody battle that Vaughan handles carefully, giving the characters some great one-liners, a few teary moments, and some really cool combat (especially when Roden comes into the picture).

While this plot comes to a startling finish, things are just starling to boil over back at Buffy's place. Her anger at Giles (shown in the last issues) for not informing her about the mission comes to a head here, spawning surprising results. This issue seems to focus on both endings and new beginnings, opening the door for many, many stories in the future. And, like the slightly inferior Issue #4, this arc closes with a bang: The Big Bad is revealed. His short little exchange with a minion of his "Lieutenant Molter" changes everything we knew about this arc. His motives put a new, disturbing spin on the events of the Faith vs. Gigi fight, and it is shown that there is a traitor within Buffy's ranks. Oh, and for everyone complaining that Joss is taking to long to give us answers to the mysteries in the first arc, one of the biggest questions gets answered in this issue: "Who is the person floating in Issue #1?"

Brian K. Vaughan did a wonderful job on both this issue and the entire arc. Introducing the theme of how slayers relate to their surrogate "watchers" (Faith to the Mayor, Gigi to Roden, Buffy to Giles) into this issue, he ends this issue with real emotional resonance. The ramifications of "No Future For You" will change the Buffyverse forever, and I can't wait to see what follows.

Art: When you compare this art to the art of Issue #1, Jeanty's improvement is astronomical. Those who--not entirely wrongly--state that he can't draw Faith will be convinced by this issue. The flashback sequence with Faith and the Mayor is a great example of how far he has come: He nails the Mayor's likeness right off the bat, and Faith is now looking much more like herself than she did in #6. The fight scene between Faith and Roden is also spectacular. I especially love the way that Jeanty showed Roden "going dark" by getting black eyes and veins like Willow did in Season Six. The person who I felt Jeanty was worst at drawing was Giles. My trepidation towards his rendition of everyone's favorite watcher has been dwindling issue by issue, but now it's entirely gone. Faith and Giles' exchange towards the end is perfect (he nails Giles' mannerisms), as is the panel where Giles says "Burst." As for the covers, Jo Chen is also--if possible--improving. Her "fiery Faith" cover is the best likeness that any Buffy artist has yet to produce. Just compare this to her depiction of Buffy in Issue #1 and you'll be amazed.

Characters We Know: The Mayor (flashback), Faith, Giles, Buffy, Willow, Xander

Season Eight Recurring Characters We Know: Gigi, Roden, Trafalgar

Speculation: To read the following, you have to highlight it. (SPOILERS:) Gigi and Roden have kicked their respective buckets. My speculation that Roden would end up being the Big Bad was proved to be wrong, and I'm not disappointed. These comics continue to surprise me. The Big Bad is a masked being named Twilight, who--though he can clearly fly--seems to despise magic. Whether the magic comes in the form of a warlock, a watcher, or--especially--a slayer, he plans to, as Roden says, "purge" it from the world. I'm not sure I like the way this character looks. I mean the clothes are awesome, as are the colors... I'm just not sure about the mask. Looks too Numero Cinco for me. But I'm sure I'll be convinced by Issue #11, where he is set to make an ass-kicking visit to see Buffy. And speaking of the Head Slayer... There has to be something more to her beef with Giles. It seems clear that their relationship must have already BEEN rocky by the start of this season, and that this is what pushed it over the edge. Giles and Buffy are no longer on speaking terms, and it looks as if Giles is about to leave on a mission to to "play social worker to slayers" and "bring bad girls back from the brink." I wonder if this could be the spin-off that Scott Allie/Joss Whedon said they had mentioned in passing. I surely hope Giles plays a role in the rest of the season, but there's not much I wouldn't give to get a Vaughan penned monthly Faith/Giles spin-off. This is just me hoping though, nothing else. And while we're speculating, the last pages of this issue revealed that Twilight has a "man on the inside," a double-agent operating against Buffy. While one can take "man" as literally meaning male, I think the term "man on the inside" was purposely used as a mislead. "Man on the inside" is simply a term that means "double agent," and I'm getting the feeling that it's a girl. Perhaps Simone, that pink-haired, gun loving slayer from Issue #2 and #5? (/END SPOILERS)

Rating: 9/10

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What Is It?: Angel- After the Fall: Issue #1 (written by Brian Lynch, plotted by Joss Whedon and Brian Lynch)

Timing: A few months since "Not Fade Away." There seems to be general agreement among fans that it takes place sometime before or during the eighth season of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," though we've gotten no solid information from Joss on where to place this series next to BtVS:S8. This series is the official canonical continuation of "Angel the Series," so it is not necessary to place it at a certain time with the other, non-canonical, Angel comics. This fits into the timeline of the television series, not the old comics.

WARNING: If you have read the comic, read on. If you haven't read the comic but don't care about getting some things spoiled for you, then read on. If you haven't read the comic and you don't want anything spoiled, get the (SPOILER:) LA (/SPOILER) out of here! I don't usually include major spoilers in reviews, but there are so many big twists here that if I didn't include some, the review would solely consists of "I loved it!" What I will do is, for those who don't want the BIG spoilers, take said Big Spoilers and put them in black text over the black background. That way, if you want to read them, just highlight them. If you don't, then ignore the black space.

REVIEW: Let me just start by saying how wonderful the eighth season of BtVS is. It's something that we fans have wanted for a long time, and it's coming along better than I could have dreamed of. However, in this fandom, there is something more powerful than want. And that's need. Since the first airing of "Not Fade Away" so long ago, the Buffyverse fandom has had a seemingly insatiable need to find out--despite how good an ending NFA was--what happened to our beloved characters. Now, three men--Joss Whedon, Brian Lynch, and Franco Urru--are giving us that opportunity. Today, the twenty-first of November, the first issue of Angel: After the Fall came out and, with a copy of the comic in my hand, I am beyond ecstatic to give you my review of this story that we've needed for so long.

The story starts off with Angel doing what he's always done best; helping the helpless. Lynch gives us the first monumental plot twist on the second page of the comic. Remember that Dragon? You know, the one Angel kinda wanted to slay? Well, turns out our fanged hero had a much better idea, after finding out that he and the Dragon had a lot more in common than sharp teeth. Angel teaming up with the Dragon could have been silly if done by another writer, but Lynch pulls it off with ease and keeps the story going. Angel's dialogue and inner monologue are precisely on point, capturing that dry wit (and don't forget that bitter undercurrent, of course) that other writers--comic, novel, and fanfic alike--have rarely been able to capture. The biggest thing that has been missing from the previous IDW Angel comics was an in-character Angel, but it's clear from the first page of this comic that we won't be having that problem here. Joss Whedon sure as hell picked the right dude to carry on this tale.

After Angel sends the people he saved off to a safe-house run by some familiar faces (that looks like it's going to be a great arc for those characters at the safe-house), he hops onto his Dragon's neck and flees the scene, giving us an aerial view of Los Angeles, which looks a bit different that we last saw it. In what looks like will be the major conflict of "After the Fall," Wolfram and Hart has literally (SPOILER:) sent LA to Hell (/SPOILER) after Angel's rebellious actions in "Not Fade Away." We already see how horrible Angel feels about this. But, even with the world on his shoulders, our favorite vampire (well, one of our two favorites) keeps on fighting. Only thing is, he's kinda stuck. Wolfram and Hart still has him on lock, and he seems to be operating out of the ruins of the old law firm, simultaneously trying to save people from the W&H friendly demons and holding back his passion to kill said demons, fearing that if he were to act out again, (SPOILER:) LA would be sent to an even worse Hell dimension (/SPOILER). It makes for a very, very interesting inner conflict, but anyone who thinks Angel would ever be able to stop himself from helping the helpless just doesn't know the man. In the end of this comic, Angel (SPOILER:) kills the offspring of Burge, the Lord of Downtown LA, officially starting a war. (/SPOILER) Looks like things are going to get sticky in here real quick.

A few of the other main AtS characters get character arcs that start here. (SPOILER:) Wesley, who is very much in the comic, has become the last official representative of the LA Branch of Wolfram and Hart. We don't know much right now, but we know that he is (a) incorporeal, (b) heartbroken that he hasn't 'moved on,' (c) making the demons believe that he has Wolfram and Hart's best interest in mind, (d) making Angel believe that he is still on his side, (e) giving us a lot to debate about. I'll get more into Wesley in the speculation section. (/SPOILER) Gunn's arc also looks interesting, (SPOILER:) and it may be a lead-up to him being the Big Bad of the series. That would add such a personal touch to Angel's battle in Hell, which is just what this incredibly epic story needs. You may be asking why I think Gunn would be the Big Bad. (/SPOILER) That, I won't give away. Read it for your own. It's one of those few moments that can at once make you cry and say "holy crap, that's awesome."

This is the strongest "season premiere" that Angel has ever had, by far and away. I am happy to give this issue top marks in every category.

Art: Franco Urru is the right man for this. His demons are bad-ass, his vampires even bad-assier, and his interpretation of all the main characters that we see in this comic is very satisfying. I admit having a little trepidation at the fact that Urru doesn't always add great detail to the faces of the characters, but the work he has turned out in this issue is beyond what I could have hoped for. The splash page with Angel flying on the Dragon over the (SPOILER: Hellish LA (/SPOILER) is a beautiful piece of art that has been my desktop for God knows how long. The reveal at the end is so shockingly violent, so gritty... Angel's facial expressions are perfect... Everything in here just adds so much to Brian's already awesome story, that I truly couldn't imagine any other artist doing this book.

RATING: 10/10 Classic


Beyond this point, there be UNCOVERED spoilers. The following sections are the "Characters We Know" and "Speculation" sections, all of which are VERY spoilery. If you don't want spoilers, then don't read past here.


Characters We Know (in order of appearance): Angel, the Dragon (from NFA), Wesley, Gwen, Nina, Connor, Gunn

Lynchverse Characters We Know (from the "Spike" series): Betta George

Speculation: I don't know where Wesley's arc is going to take him, but I'm excited about it. I just have so many questions upon reading this. Is it really Wesley? Is Wesley simply incorporeal like early Season Five Spike, or is it Wesley's ghost? Is he confined to a certain area? How/why was he chosen to do this job? Could he have been convinced to go against Angel (doubtful)? And what of Gunn? It seems, as I mentioned before, that he may end up being either the Big Bad of the series or at least a major, major villain. He's collecting shinies (judging from the one he took from the awesome baddie Kr'ph) and planning on taking their spots as LA Lords. My questions are these: Was Gunn sired during that NFA battle? If so how and by whom? Is that stake that Angel was carrying meant for Gunn, if their paths were to cross? Was it Angel who, under from "Why We Fight"-like circumstances who had to sire Gunn? Who else knows of Gunn's condition? And, speaking or Kr'ph (well, I did speak of him a while ago), those girls he was hanging out with seem to be wearing (or not wearing) the same clothes that the girls on the cover of Issue #2 have on. My speculation is that Spike has somehow become one of the LA Lords, and he's both living the high life and fighting the good fight. Don't ask me how, but that's the impression I'm getting. As for Angel, I feel he's going to have the best character arc he's gotten since his grey phase in Season Two. Don't get me wrong, he's had plenty strong character arcs since then, but never has so much been riding on his every action. He has truly become a pivotal player in the apocalypse, and he's feeling pretty bad about it. I truly can't wait to see how Spike, Illyria, and the others (if there are any others) come into the picture.

Now, I reiterate...

-----------------------END OF SPOILERS-------------------------

Rating: 10/10 Classic.

The Day Has Arrived

0 Days Left Until "After the Fall #1"

The day is here. In only a few hours, we'll all be able to get our greedy hands on the story we've been waiting for since 2004. I'll say no more than this: I am very confident that it'll be even more amazing than we can fathom, and I will surely have the--probably glowingly positive--review up by early this afternoon.

Now, about the countdown. We've seen moments 10-2 of the "best" Angel moments. For the top spot, I really had to split it up a bit. Let's just say that the two moments that share the top spot, both from the climatic series finale, are very appropriate given the fact that we're about to get the direct continuation later today...

Season Five
Episode 5.22: Not Fade Away
"Would You Like Me To Lie To You Now?"

Wesley's death, along with what Illyria does for him, is the most beautiful moment in the series. The seeds for this moment were planted in an earlier scene in the episode that had Wesley and Illyria talking...

Wesley: There is no perfect day for me, Illyria. There is no sunset or painting or finely-aged scotch that's going to sum up my life and make tonight any...there is nothing that I want.

Illyria: You want to be with Fred.

Wesley: …Yes. Yes, that's where I'd be if I could.

Illyria: I could assume her shape, make her come alive again this once for you. But you would never ask me to.

Wesley: The first lesson a Watcher learns is to separate truth from illusion. Because in the world of magics, it's the hardest thing to do. The truth is that Fred is gone. To pretend anything else would be a lie. And since I don't actually intend to die tonight, I won't accept a lie.

But, when it comes to the end, all that Wesley learned at the Watcher's Council is once again shown not to truly matter in real life. He learned everything he needed to know about life from his friendships with Angel, Fred, Gunn, Cordelia, and Lorne, and he knew now--as he died--that it was okay to let himself have that last happy moment...

Illyria: Wesley! This wound is mortal.

Wesley: ...Aren't we all. It was good... that you came.

Illyria: I killed all mine. And I was...

Wesley: Concerned?

Illyira: I think so. But I can't help. You'll be dead within moments.

Wesley: (more surprised than sad) I know.

Illyria: (stares at him) Would you like me to lie to you now?

Wesley: (pause, then, softly:) Yes. Thank you. Yes.
(A soft hand comes down and touches his face. It’s Fred’s.)
Wesley: Hello there.

Fred: Oh, Wesley. My Wesley.

Wesley: Fred. (whispering) I've… missed you.

Fred: (kisses him) It's gonna be OK. It won't hurt much longer, and then you'll be where I am. (crying) We'll be together.

Wesley: I--I love you.

Fred: I love you. My love. Oh, my love.

If Wesley using his last breaths to say "I love you" to the image of his dead lover wasn't touching enough, the character development of Illyria was shown in the quick moment that, even when she realized Wesley was dead, she was still upset enough to weep. I have not seen--and I doubt I ever will--a single moment of television that could rival this. Oh, and it's worth it to mention that this scene always, no matter how many times I watch it, gets the waterworks going...

Check out the moment here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=ox5DyVcCpmM



Season Five

Episode 5.22: Not Fade Away

"Let's Go To Work"

Every Angel top-ten countdown has to end with this. The last few minutes of the series totally and perfectly embodies the "the fight never ends" theme that played out over all five seasons. I can't be happier that the series IS going to continue, but when it WAS the ending, it was a beautiful ending. As David Fury said, it was "the perfect way to end the series, and anybody who says otherwise is dumb." I couldn't agree more.

The survivors gather in the alley, preparing for whatever Wolfram and Hart is going to unleash on them.
Gunn: Any word on Wes?

Illyria: Wesley's dead. I'm feeling grief for him. I can't seem to control it. I wish to do more violence.

Spike: Well, wishes just happen to be horses today.

Angel: Among other things.
Hundreds of demons, even a dragon, are making their way towards our heroes. Things look grim…

Gunn: You take the 30,000 on the left….

Illyria: You're fading. You'll last 10 minutes at best!

Gunn: Then let's make it memorable.

Spike: In terms of a plan?

Angel: We fight.

Spike: Bit more specific?

Angel: Well, personally… I kind of want to slay the dragon. Let's go to work.

And "Angel" ended with the swing of a sword.

(Check out the moment here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=y6xowiYWynM)

Now, finally, we're finally getting more of the series that we loved best. Joss Whedon's most underrated series, a dark story about an ensouled vampire fighting the good fight. Whether the story needed to be continued is irrelevant, because we--as fans--will always need a continuation. And now we have one. "After the Fall" is, even more than "Buffy: Season Eight," something that we fans were scared to even hope for before. And now, thanks to Brian Lynch, Joss Whedon, Franco Urru, Chris Ryall, and everyone at IDW, we're going to be getting what we've wanted so very badly for so very long. I thank you guys for making our dreams come true.

Much love.

0 Days Left Until "After the Fall #1"

Monday, November 19, 2007

2 Days Until "After the Fall" #1

Season Four
Episode 4.22: Home
"Angel's Gift to Connor"

The way things were looking, all the horrible things that had happened to Connor had driven him to the breaking point. The woman he loved had used him (and she wasn't really herself, to say the least), his 'father' had been killed, he had to come to terms with living with his real father who was his worst enemy, and his child--no matter how horrible she was--was killed. Connor was broken. However, Angel stepped in at the last moment, making a deal with the devil (or as close as you can get) in order to give Connor the only thing that could save him: A normal life. Connor's horrible memories are mystically replaced with memories of him living with a normal family, absolutely no memory of his true father, Angel. The season ended with Angel looking on, longingly, as Connor happily ate with his new family at the dinner table, mirroring the way that the season opened.

2 Days Until "After the Fall" #1

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Only Three Days...

3 Days Until "After the Fall" #1

Season One
Episode 1.01: City Of
"Russell Takes Flight"

After Russell Winters, a business savvy vampire, escaped alive (or undead) after a fight with Angel, the ensouled vampire took it upon himself to burst into the door of Wolfram and Hart and dispatch Russell in a way that can only be described as "gangster." Angel started the war with Wolfram and Hart with a simple kick... That is, he kicked Russell's rolling chair directly into the window, which he crashed through. Before the vampire could even fall to his death, he was burned to ashes by the sunlight, leaving only his chair to crash against the ground. That is, IMHO and all that, the third best moment of the series. But as far as bad assery goes, this is number one. Though Bad Ass Wes shooting that prick in "A Hole In The World" has to be really high up there. That's probably #11 on the best moments list.

3 Days Until "After the Fall" #1

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Core Four

4 Days Until Angel: After the Fall

So far, we've seen moments 10-5 of the top ten Angel moments. We're getting real close to the nitty gritty folks, all leading up to moment number one on the eve of "After the Fall." So, so soon.

Season Five
Episode 5.12: You're Welcome
"Cordy's Goodbye"

When Cordy got out of her coma and helped Angel overcome both Lindsey and his own personal problems, our hero thought that he was going to have his support-girl, the woman he loved, back by his side. But, things are never so easy in the Buffyverse. Cordy had only been allowed to help Angel back on his path as a favor from the Powers That Be. I'll let the dialogue speak for itself.

Codelia: Oh...and you're welcome. (She leaves)
Angel: (answers the phone) Hello. Yes, I know. She's... but that's impossible. She's standing right… (turns to look for Cordelia, but she's not there, he becomes visibly upset) I'm sorry. Yeah. (choking up) So when… when did she die? Did she, um...she never did wake up? I see. (hangs up, looks out to where Cordelia was standing moments earlier) Thank you.

4 Days Until Angel: After the Fall

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Fiver

5 Days Until Angel: After the Fall #1

Season One
Episode 1.03: In the Dark
"Spike's Voice-Over"

Spike--still soulless, still evil--comes to LA to get his gem from Oz and Angel's crew. When he arrives, he catches Angel saving a woman and takes it upon himself to provide a voice-over for the event.
"How can I thank you, you mysterious black-clad-hunk-of-a-knight-thing?"
"No need little lady. Your tears of gratitude are enough for me. You see, I was once a bad-ass vampire. But love, and a pesky curse, defanged me. And now, I'm just a *big* fluffy puppy with bad teeth. No! Not the hair! Never the hair."
"But there must be some way I can show my appreciation."
"No, helping those in need's my job. And working up a load of sexual tension and prancing away like a magnificent poof is truly thanks enough."
"I understand. I have a nephew who's gay, so..."
"Say no more. Evil's still afoot. And I'm almost out of that Nancy-boy hair gel I like so much. Quickly! To the Angelmobile! Away!"

Season Five
Episode 5.22: Not Fade Away
"Take The Day Off"

On what may be their last day alive, Angel tells his friends to take the day off before the big battle that night. They each live that day as if it were their last. Lorne sings a bittersweet song, reflecting on what his life has come to. Wesley patches up Illyria, thinking of nothing but the shell she is dwelling in. Spike recites his poetry at a pub and finally gets credit for it. Gunn helps the community. Lindsey spends his day with Eve. And Angel hangs out with his son. Each of these moments (particularly the way that Angel, Wes, and Spike spend their days) are poignant clips that make us at once realize how far these characters have come since we first met them.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Soon Soon Soon

6 Days Until Angel: After the Fall #1


Season Three

Episode 5.22: Tomorrow

"Holtz's Letter to Connor"

Over an emotional backdrop, we hear a voice-over of Holtz as Connor reads his letter. The letter appears to be ‘handing him over’ to Angel, but then we get a true Whedony twist. Holtz has Justine stab him in the neck twice, so it looks as if he was killed by a vampire. That moment, when Connor discovers his dead 'father,' we almost forgot who we were rooting for. And that's good damn television

6 Days Until Angel: After the Fall #1

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

More Moments, And... TWO!?... Less Days

So turns out that countdown "were a wee bit" wrong. If we're going to do this countdown style, we really just have seven days until "After the Fall." Excited?

I know, I know, don't ask stupid questions. That out of the way? Okay then, let's get into our next "best Angel moments." Tonight I have for you moments #9 and #8.

Season Five
Episode 5.22: Not Fade Away
"Angel Embraces His Inner VAMPIRE... And Sucks Hamilton Dry"

Let's be honest here. For five seasons, we've seen a man(...pire) who wasn't very happy with what he was. He had a bloody past and had done some pretty questionable things, with or without a soul. Angel spent five seasons trying to repress the vampire, the monster, inside him. Then, in a battle that it looked like he was surely going to lose, the fact that he was a vampire was the very thing that enabled him to win. And, in that moment, he embraced it.

HAMILTON: Let me say this as clearly as I can: You cannot beat me. I am a part of them. The wolf, ram, and hart. Their strength flows through my veins. My blood is filled with their ancient power.

ANGEL: “Can you pick out the one word there you probably shouldn’t have said?”

Season Two
Episode 2.18: Dead End
"LA Song"

Just as we finally get a look into the catastrophic effect that having his hand cut off has had on Lindsey's life, the up-and-coming lawyer gets it back. What he does with it? Priceless. First, the moment that makes our countdown: After getting his hand back, Lindsey impresses everyone at Lorne’s club—including, much to Angel’s dismay, the entire staff of Angel Investigations—with a soulful ballad backed up by his sinfully good guitar playing. For once in his life, he got to best Angel at something. Oh, and that "crazy hand" bit at the end gets a big hunkin' honorable mention.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

NINE DAYS Until "After the Fall"

I don't usually do countdowns. The only time I've done one before was for the sixth issue of Buffy: Season Eight, and that was because was hadn't had a Buffy comic--not counting the lackluster The Chain--for a long, long time. Well, you know what we haven't had for a longer time? We haven't had Angel for a friggin' long time. Not the character, not the series. Since AtS was stolen from us years ago by the Circle of the Bl--I mean, the network, we've been suffering without it. We've been slowly dying without it, because really, who can live without a story about an ensouled vampire? Certainly not this fan. We've been suffering for way, way too long.

That's all coming to an end very soon.

In nine day... That's November 21st... That's next Wednesday... We're going to get the official canonical continuation of Angel: The Series. If this is your first time coming here and/or you've been living under a rock with no internet connection for the entire year, than maybe you don't know about this upcoming series. It's called "Angel: After the Fall" and it's a 12+ issue maxi-series written by Brian Lynch (who penned the brilliant Spike: Asylum and Spike: Shadow Puppets) and plotted by, you guessed it, Joss Whedon.

Every day until the 21st, I'll be counting down the days until "After the Fall" with you. In celebration of the upcoming squeegasm, I'm also going to be counting down the TEN BEST 'ANGEL' MOMENTS. Or, you know, my favorites. Hey, don't blame me. If I'm pretentious enough to make a review site, I'm certainly pretentious enough to make a countdown list! :]

Okay, then. Let's go to work.

Season Two
Episode 2.16: Epiphany
"Angel Saves Kate"

After a moment--or, you know, hours--of desperation with Darla, Angel has an epiphany when he realizes that, even though he had sex (and, according to Darla, it was damn good), he did not lose his soul. He leaves that part of his past behind and rushes off to do what he does best; help the helpless. Despite the fact that he lacked an invitation, Angel burst into Kate's apartment just in time to save her from her attempted suicide. This simultaneously restores faith in both Kate and Angel; The Powers that Be are so invested in both Angel and Kate that they allowed him to pass through her threshold, uninvited, so that he could be her hero. Kate's arc is brought to a beautiful close, and Angel has--in helping her--regained his purpose in life.
9 Days Until "Angel: After the Fall #1"

Friday, November 9, 2007

A Beautiful Sunset

BUFFY Season Eight #11...

...written by Joss Whedon

...is called...

"A Beautiful Sunset."

The issue definitely reveals the PHYSICAL Big Bad of the series. The one. And what a name for the issue, huh? It's kinda perfect.

Here's the blurb: An ill-prepared Buffy comes face to face with the new Big Bad in the form of an old- fahioned death match in this standalone issue titled A Beautiful Sunset.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Faith And 'B' Meet Again

What Is It?: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Issue #8: No Future For You pt 3 (written by Brian K. Vaughan)

Timing: BtVS Season Eight, follows the events of "No Future For You Part 2"

REVIEW: In a recent interview, Brian K. Vaughan told us how hard it was for him to write characters like Buffy and Willow. He said that he was more interested in--and better at--writing darker characters like Faith. Well, whatever initial problems he may have had writing for Buffy certainly don't come across in this issue, because her quips while fighting Gigi (yes, that does happen here, and YES, it is awesome) are some of her best dialogue since... a long time.

The blend of seriousness and comedy is at its best in this issue. I'll lay it out for you. We start with a serious Faith/Gigi conversation, then go to a light-hearted Faith/Gigi conversation. Then, we get a light-hearted Buffy/Willow conversation that begins to turn really serious, and then POOF (you'll get my "POOF" if you read the issue), we get a kick-ass fight, and then a really, really serious Faith/Buffy confrontation. This is the issue that finally puts on the table all of the things we were hoping Buffy and Faith would get into in Season Seven. I won't spoil anything (though, why are you reading a review if you don't like spoilers), but it ain't pretty.

This issue also gives us a lot more to chew on that #7 which was, for all intents and purposes, a bridge between #6 and #8. Here, we get an awesome thing about Faith to speculate on (see the 'SPECULATION' category below), a revelation about how Faith currently sees how her relationship with The Mayor was, and a killer cliff-hanger that will leave us scratching our necks for more like Tyrone Biggums. Vaughan also brings up an issue that we fans have been debating for a long time, since the show was on air. Buffy and company have always been against killing humans... but what happens when humans are the main players in the war against good? Buffy takes a very surprising, sensible, and different stance on this than I would have expected, and the inclusion of her new views (not even a panel) will give us something to talk about until the issue is opened up further.

For those who love to debate, this issue will scatch you in areas that #7 couldn't. For those who missed bad ass fight scenes, this issue will tickle your pickle. For those who are fiends for spot-on characterization, this issue will salt your fries. For anyone who likes all of the above, your areas, pickles, and fries will all be taken care of by this issue. Oh, and for all of those who ever wondered what it would be like to hang out with Faith in a bathtub, just ask Gigi. She'll tell you (see pages 4-7).

Art: Not only does Georges seem to be improving on his likenesses of both Faith and Giles, but this issue also marks the first time he nails Buffy's mannerisms. Her 'movements' are spot-on, and she's coming off as the Buffy we loved in Seasons 1-5, not the Buffy we were frustrated with in 6 & 7. However, we also get bad ass Buffy in action, which Georges seems to be getting better and better at. While the fight scenes in #4 were pretty good, Georges blows that all away with the spectacular Buffy vs. Faith scene. His most interesting character design has to be Gigi; the girl can go from beautiful to scary in a panel--and I don't mean that in a bad way. On the not-so-good side, Georges seems to be getting lazy with Willow. I know she isn't essential to this issue, but she is one of the main four characters in the series, so I don't think it's asking too much to request more detailed and accurate Willow-faceage next issue. And since I liked to end on a plus, I have to add that it's pretty cool that Georges didn't make the tub scene all boobalicious or gratuitous. He kept the integrity and respect that the series always maintained.

Characters We Know: Faith, Giles, Buffy, Willow


Speculation: Faith has clearly grown emotionally attached to the girl whom she was supposed to assassinate. She sees Gigi as simply misdirected, not evil. In this issue, she actually went as far as to knock Buffy and herself out a window to prevent 'B' from killing Gigi. She professes to Buffy that she's still one of the good guys (in a revealing character moment that almost mirrors her breakdown in 'Five by Five'), but it's my opinion that she's found herself in one of those grey areas again. Though not in the way one would think. She sees so much of herself in Gigi that she's unable to let Buffy kill her like any other 'bad guy.' I'm unsure who is RIGHT in this (Buffy seeing Gigi as a murderer, Faith seeing her as misdirected), but the conflict of interests is classic Buffy/Faith. This could go either of two ways. Faith will spare Gigi, and help her pull herself away from--sorry--'the dark side.' However, I don't think that's going to happen. I think that Faith will be forced to kill Gigi, which will probably be the start of a very interesting, very dark arc for the character.

Now, though, I'm not so sure about Roden being Big Bad. He didn't seem very 'in charge' in this issue; Though I won't let the way he came off in the few pages he appeared in in #8 change my idea completely, I'll say that I wouldn't be surprised if he was revealed to be just another pawn of a much more powerful Big Bad. Though I'm hoping we're brought back down to Earth a little. I mean, look how each season the Big Bad gets more and more powerful. A vampire --> A trio of vampires, lead by a former lover --> a Mayor (man in charge) --> A cyborg/ military organization --> A God --> An unstoppable witch/best friend --> evil as a whole. And, notice, the best Big Bads were the most humble ones: the vamp trio and the Mayor. I hope the Big Bad, when revealed, is--more than anything else--an interesting and unique character that is a real big threat but isn't another 'biggest thing we've ever faced!'

Rating: 9/10