Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Week Early! In mee hahnds!

What Is It?: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Issue #5: The Chain (written by Joss Whedon)


Timing: Before (not much though), during, and perhaps a tad after "The Long Way Home." It's all over the place.

REVIEW: This is the first standalone issue of Season Eight, and--when you think about it--the only "episode" of the entire series in which Buffy Summers does not appear. A different slayer takes stage, a slayer that Buffy mentioned in the first issue of this season; the slayer posing as Buffy who is "underground... literally."

This issue has been hyped as the equivalent of "The Body" and "Hush" of the comic series. While I think it's good, I'm going to have to say no to that assessment. The story is very interesting and well told for the most part, but the actual method of storytelling almost seems too experimental, making this the most daring, but also the most rough issue of Season Eight so far. I'll have to split this up into the positives and negatives.

On the minus-y side of things, there are panels that are very much put to waste. Not many, but the few that are could be used to slow this very fast-paced story down a notch. The first panel of page three shows Mike Billenger (a random kid) saying (quite as randomly) "Who the hell are you?" Later on, it explains why Mike said this, but Mike has yet to be introduced by page three. So basically, when he comes on the scene, the readers are saying "No, who the hell are YOU?" It interrupts the flow of the story and is basically useless, as the same panel is used in context later on in the issue. I understand why this was done, but I don't think the effect was overall worth the interruption of the story. Throughout the issue, the story flaps back and forth, which isn't a bad thing, but Joss did this a lot in Issue #4. I'm looking forward to a coherent story with maybe two or three things going on at once, told in order. And the fairy's joke on page three... Right over my head.

Now, to the plus-y side. I have to start this off saying that I did LIKE the issue. The above paragraph is just a few minor complaints, but overall the issue isn't bad at all. The fairy itself (sorry, herself) was great, and the slayer--lets call her "Underground Buffy", UB for short--is an attractive character, much like Buffy and her pals in the earlier days, which gets me a bit nostalgic. And nostalgia always adds a pleasant buzz to the effect, doesn't it? The best page in the issue is the commercial with Andrew and Vi (we're going to be calling her Violet now, as in comics she'd have to be VI, and that would just look like a six). Andrew and Violet are both drawn perfectly, and are some of the best likenesses we've seen this entire series. Jeanty could learn something from the way Paul Lee draws Andrew, especially in the hair area. But I digress... The page is damn funny. And it also answers the questions about how all these slayers are being found. Other great tidbits are the sixth page in which UB is shown remembering all the past questions (this should put to rest any questions about the canonical status of "Tales of the Slayers".... it's canon, beeatch), as well as the wrap-up in the end. Joss is great at writing inner dialogue, and it shows here.

Overall, not the best issue I've read, but a good addition to the series.

Art: Everyone's going to be talking about this now. Who's better, Paul Lee (artist for this issue) or Georges Jeanty (artist for the majority of the series, including the other four released issues and the upcoming 6-9)? Paul Lee's demons are better. Jeanty's Giles (not in Issue #2, but he improved in Issue #3) is better. Paul Lee's faces are more real looking, but too thin. Jeanty's faces are too chubby, but more fun. Lee's Andrew is leagues better. Jeanty's depiction of the world in quirkier, funner. Lee's is more realistic. I'm torn, but please feel free to leave comments about each artist. Who is better, Jeanty or Lee?

Characters We Know: Andrew, Vi(olet), Giles, Rona

Speculation (NEW CATAGORY): That mohawk having, pink haired, kinda ugly slayer is talking about guns again. She's appeared in issues #2 and #5, and so far the only thing she's talked about is wanting to use guns. Is it just me, or is something going to come of this?


Rating: 7/10


trcathers said...

I hope they aren't going to incorporate guns into the slayerdom. That is one of the things I liked about the show/s is that guns were mostly a no-no. It would actually seem uncouth. You know, they stayed with the mythical kind of weapons which seemed to give it more class (to me anyway). If they bring guns into it too much, it'll become like your average action "show". I also felt like they had to use their intelligence and wits more (not being armed with guns). How much wits do you need to use if all you have to do is point and pull the trigger. Only reason I'm wondering is because that slayer keeps talking about it and this show has a reputation of foreshadowing.

PatShand said...

I agree, I can't really see any of the main characters wanting to use guns though. What I do see coming is this punk-mohawk slayer wanting to use guns so bad that she actually tries, and something horrible happens. Yeah, I can definitely see that coming.

James said...

Gotta disagree with you -- this issue was pretty dull:

hostile17 said...

I thought it was good for the most part.