Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I Can Hear the Squeeing Now...

BIG Joss Whedon news, straight from Comic Con. This entire post is pretty much thanks to those people who attended Joss' panel at Comic Con and were vigilant and quick fingered enough to type everything up.

So, here's a little summary of what's to come. I'll bold the things that I feel readers will find most interesting and, as always, please feel free to comment and debate which piece of news is most exciting.

RIPPER: We've been waiting so long to hear about this. It was going to be a series. It was going to be a movie. It was going to be one in a trilogy of movies about the Buffyverse characters. Hell, it was going to be a lot of things. But now, it just might get made. It's not set yet, but will likely be filmed sometime next year. It's a 90 minute made-for-TV-movie starring Anthony Stewart Head as Giles that'll be aired on BBC first. "Everybody is in the same frame of mind that it should happen and will happen soon. Been talking with Tony Head," says Joss Whedon. He went on to say, "(I am) getting sick and tired of not entertaining you enough, so I wants to do things, like Ripper, that can be done quickly. Lots of creepy things in the back of my brain that I need to get out."

BUFFY Season Eight COMICS: Oz will definitely be in the Season Eight comics at some point, which kinda kills the rumor that he'll be a star in Angel: After the Fall. Joss really wants to focus on filmed entertainment, but can't stop writing Buffy comic, almost like a drug. He isn't giving Brian Vaughn (who's writing the "No Future For You" arc beginning next month) a huge amount of notes. After Brian, two one-shots by Joss before Drew Goddard's arc.

BUFFY- SEASON NINE: There will, apparently, be a season nine of Buffy through Dark Horse comics as well. Joss said the following: "I know where season 8 of BtVS is ending, (and) I know what happens in Season 9."

GONERS: The new feature film, a fantasy/horror movie written/directed by Joss Whedon. This is the "biggest part of Joss' life right now". He's "been getting studio notes about how the script can be better. And they're right."

ANGEL- After the Fall: Brian Lynch is "doing a great job. It's about the FALL of Wolfram and hart, and the horrible things that happen subsequent to it." Joss says, "Wesley? He's dead, so obviously he's going to be the star..." Though this was likely said in jest, much like his "all about Anya" comment regarding Season Eight.

HEROES: Joss really wants to write/direct an episode, but feels that it isn't something he has time to do.

Harry Potter: Joss had previously shown interest in directing the final Harry Potter movie, but he just wants to concentrate on creator owned material at the moment. Plus, he kinda dosen't have much in the way of time to do something this major.

SUMMER GLAU: Joss is working on a ballet (wtf mate) with Summer Glau who played River Tam on Firefly. The ballet is called "The Serving Girl" and he is writing the music.

FRAY: He is doing more Fray, but he was pretty sure he wasnt supposed to tell us that.

CABIN IN THE WOODS: Joss and Drew Goddard have written a script together, for a feature length film. He says this about it: "it's the horror film to end horror films, literally."

ANGEL/BUFFY MOVIES: Joss would love to do a movie based on the ANGEL comic series coming out, but he knows that David and Sarah have both moved on.

SERENITY: There have been conflicting reports about this part of the Joss news. Some people say that Joss mentioned that the comic mini-series "Serenity: Better Days" will be released this winter, some said that Joss never mentioned. Personally, I just wish he'd leave that 'verse alone for the time being and stick to the Buffy/Angel comics, the movies he's doing, and new things. Firefly/Serenity works much better on screen than it did in comic books, as we saw in "Serenity: Those Left Behind."


Angel: After the Fall NEWS

Yeah, that's the one. Finally, after waiting years since that final battle cry in "Not Fade Away", we get the first solid chunk of news concerning the continuation of Angel, known as "Angel: After the Fall." To the left of is the cover to the first issue of the series.
Don't think I've been slackin'. I've wanted to update about the recent downpour of Whedony news, but I was unable to do so this week, do to something that really pisses me off. Buuuut now I'm back and ready to dish to those few who don't already know.


Writer: Brian Lynch
Story By: Joss Whedon/Brian Lynch
Art: Franco Urru
Covers: Tony Harris

Brian Lynch says: (about Franco Urru's image of Angel in "Shadow Puppets #2") Angel in SHADOW PUPPETS # 2 was a dream sequence version of Angel. Kinda like Spike's version of him (...). He was handsome, young, and kinda high school jock-ish. That's how it was described in the script, and Franco executed it perfectly, but it's not Franco's "classic Angel"."

This is the info we've gotten about it so far, edited for your reading ease...
Angel: After the Fall will be a 12+ issue maxiseries that will pick up the Angel franchise following the cliffhanger at the end of Season 5. Angel creator Joss Whedon was named as the “Watcher” on the series, which will be written by Lynch, and illustrated by Franco Urru, with covers by Tony Harris. The series will start in November, and will, Ryall said, “tell the story that people have wanted to read since we started with the Angel and Spike comics.” Is it canon? Duh.

The 12 issues of the run will be broken into arcs, separated by a month after each arc. A special issue will fill in each month that a regular series issue isn’t being released. The first special will be called "First Night" and will feature several stories looking at other characters in the mythos who will not be playing larger roles in the main story.

Remember Beta George? The psychic fish from Asylum and Shadow Puppets? Yeah, he's been inducted into canon. We'll have to wait until we get the first issue of Angel: After the Fall to see if this means that Asylum and Shadow Puppets have been retro canonized as well. Those comics, I feel, deserve their place in the canon of the Buffyverse.

Brian Lynch: “The cast was about to fight a fight that they were going to lose, and this series deals with the fallout of that; Angel knew going in that he was going to lose, and this is the fallout of him taking a stand against a force that he couldn’t beat”

Chris Ryall (IDW): "It will show Angel and his team dealing with very heavy issues like the fact that they were actually defeated at the end of the show and what that means to Angel."
November 2007

Thursday, July 26, 2007

This Is What Comics Should Be

What Is It?: "Fray", a trade paperback collecting all eight issues of the miniseries. Written by Joss Whedon.

Timing: Safe to say it doesn't fudge up the continuity of any other Buffyverse series. Though takes a wrecking ball to "The Jetsons."

REVIEW: Joss Whedon's "Fray" is exactly what I've been looking for; a tale set in the Buffyverse that's long enough to satisfy my need for a Whedony tale. While the Buffy: Season Eight comics are great (9/10 for the most part, in my humble opinion), the issues that have been released so far are choppy, mostly because they, unlike "Fray", are the OPENING chapters of a larger story. "Fray" is standalone, and it's tells a great tale that, listen up continuity freaks like myself, is canon.

The story, like any Joss comic, is integrated with a few non-linear scenes. In the case of "Fray", this helps the narrative flow immensely. The flash-backs into Melaka Fray's past make the impact of the big-surprise-twist in the story very effective, and just adds to the entire emotional wallop. And quite a wallop it is. I've never, as of yet, been brought to tears by a comic, but I can say that "Fray" almost brought me to the misty-eyed point. The combination of stupendous characterization, an epic story that has huge (and very relatable) themes, and beautifully quirky art just make this item a great overall package.

Some of the finer points are Melaka Fray herself, who is a much more likable slayer than one Buffy Summers, who can be--at times--a bit annoying with the whole "You don't understand my suffering, so I can mistreat you attitude." Don't get me wrong, I love the Buffster, I'm just saying that it's great to meet a more... erm... lighthearted Slayer. Her, Loo, Urkonn, even the villains are so well done that I find myself aching for a sequel, or perhaps a movie adaptation.

This trade paperback (or 'graphic novel', for you uppity folks) isn't only for fans of Buffy, Angel, and Joss Whedon. Anyone who has an open mind for fantasy will pretty much enjoy this eight issue miniseries, if not for the sheer beauty of the volume.

Art: Stunning. Karl Moline's pencils do a beautiful dance across the thin line that separates REALISM with CARTOONY. The colors are bright and, as I said before, quirky, which reflects Melaka Fray's personality. The fight scenes are handled well, as is everything else; Moline manages to do something that I've witnessed many artists struggle with. He makes "ugly" characters (there are a lot of those here) adorable by bringing out their personality in their expressions. It is so very clear how closely he and Joss collaborated to make this project what it is.

Characters We Know: Think it's safe to assume that the Scoobies and the Fang Gang (or is it Angel's Avengers? Sorry, Spike) have all turned to dust by this point.

Rating: 10/10 Classic.

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

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Buffy #5: The Chain... tomorrow?
Might have to put "The Week of Harry" on hold. Rumors are flyin' around like dragons (don't tell Angel) that the fifth issue of BtVS: Season Eight will be out tomorrow. That's right, NOT August 1st, but TOMORROW. I'm not sure if every comic store is going to be getting them in tomorrow, but it seems that many of them are--perhaps Dark Horse pushed the date up for the sake of ComicCon, which is nearly at hand. So if all is good, I will have "The Chain" (that's the title of the issue, bub) in my hand tomorrow, and you'll have a--hopefully positive--review to read.

Commenting on Harry
In other news, I've finished "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" and Holy Crumple-Horned Snorkack, was it good. Anyone willing to comment on the book, please do so in the COMMENT SECTION of this site. You really don't have to register to comment, so feel free. I don't hate comments, and they'll encourage me to do more reviews. Winkity winkity.

More Cheney-ness. I mean, CHAINyness.
A preview of the first few pages of "The Chain" can be found right here: Click Meh.

I'm not going to ComicCon, but I'm sure that we'll soon be getting an influx of information concerning verrryyyyy interesting things. Brian Lynch has already hinted that he'd give away mucho info concerning "Angel: After the Fall" (the maxi-series formerly known as Angel: Season Six) at the event, and I'd be flabbergasted (love that word) if we didn't find out new delicious tidbits about Season Eight of Buffy. I'll keep you all posted!


The best Buffy group on Facebook: Click Meh!

Dark Horse's Buffy Board: Click Meh too!

IDW'S Angel/Spike Board (which Brian Lynch frequents): Click Meh Hard!

Monday, July 23, 2007

'Arry Pah-uh

Sorry for the non-abundance of new posts. I've been, like anyone else with taste, reading "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" since Saturday morning.

Now, I know it kinda goes against the whole "Buffyverse Comics" rule, but from this Wednesday to next Tuesday, I'm going to post a review of a Potter book each day. By the time this ends (Tuesday), I'll be ready to post the review of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #5", so that'll be a treat for us all. I'm really excited for this next issue. Everyone keep your fingers crossed that there won't be another hiatus month again!

"Vampire, You Are Everything I Loathe. But I Have Learned From You."

What Is It?: Tales of the Vampires, the trade paperback. This collects the entire "Tales of the Vampires" mini-series.

Timing: The main story (entitled "Tales of the Vampires) that ties each of the little tales together, takes place before BtVS. It shows (SPOILER:) Giles' grandmother training to be a Watcher. A few of the stories are ambiguous as to when they take place, but a few are not. "The Problem With Vampires" leads into "School Hard (Season Two of BtVS)", "Antique" takes place between Season 7 and Season 8 of BtVS, and "Numb" takes place DURING "Amends (Season Three of BtVS)."

REVIEW: Where "Tales of the Slayers" was entertaining, "Tales of the Vampires" is, to say the least, a spectacular collection of stories tied together by a first-rate tale which gives insight into the mythology of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." It's the best Buffyverse comic that I've read (other than Season Eight and Spike: Asylum, of course), and that's saying a lot. This collection simply has so much to offer. There's stories with drama, stories with depth, stories that explore and expand the mythology, and a few simply funny tales. It's clear to see that this was penned by people who loved writing for the show (Whedon, Espenson, Goddard) and others who loved watching the show (anyone with eyes/ears, basically).

While "Tales of the Vampires" can be described as a collection of short graphic stories about vampires, it also tells a cohesive story about one vampire named Roche telling tales of the undead to a group of young watchers. As the stories unfold, it is simply a pleasure to see the young watcher named Edna realize what Roche's true reason for telling these tales is. The Roche/Edna plot that unfolds over the length of this book is written by Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy and Angel.

Some of the most interesting stories in this edition are about vampires we've never met before, but what fans will surely be most interested in is the stories about characters who have already been established in the Buffyverse. There are plenty of those. Spike and Drusilla's love story in "The Problem With Vampires" is touching, classic, and leads right up to their first appearance in the show. "Antique" is the first we hear of Buffy since the end of the series (this is pre-season eight) and it has her battling with Dracula for Xander's freedom. The closing story is one about Angel called "Numb" which takes place during the Season Three episode "Amends." It expands on the dreams that are tormenting Angel about his past, and has some of the most beautiful comic art I've ever seen. It really fits with the snowy mood of the episode.

The writing, as I mentioned above, is top-notch. The art, different for each story, is almost always great--except for, perhaps, the depiction of Buffy, Xander, and Dracula in "Antique." A bit to blagh for me. But all else is well. If you're interested in vampires, Buffy, comics, or are currently reading "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight", then this is the book for you.

Art: **All mentioned above**

Characters We Know: Buffy, Xander, Angel, Spike, Drusilla, Dracula, and Jenny Calendar.

Rating: 9/10

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


What Is It?: Spike: Shadow Puppets Issue #2. This is the second issue in a new mini-series written by Brian Lynch and penciled/inked by Franco Urru.

Timing: Four months after "Spike: Asylum", and hinted that it takes place sometime late in Season Five due to a scene with Angel/Wesley/Illyria.
REVIEW: A LOT happens. A lot, a lot. Spike and Lorne are joined by Beck, a ninja named Tok Shinobu, and a newly resurrected Beta George. By the end of this issue, more than half of this team become wee-little puppet men. But let's back up a bit.

Lorne opens the comic with the "Previously in Spike: Shadow Puppets" with a hilarious, fourth-wall breaking monologue. Usually, I'm the first in line to throw rotten tomatoes at a fourth-wall breaker, but in this case, it's a welcome joke; the "Previously In..." section is kind of a fourth-wall breaker by nature, so I have no problem with that. Plus, Lorne actually brings up the fact that he didn't get an ANGEL: SPOTLIGHT, but Connor (who is, let's be kind, not a fan favorite) did. I thought that was a perfect moment.

In the actual pages of the comic, we pretty much get the same thing we got last time, except more characters and more action. We get Spike being snarky/funny, though we also are given the chance to see past the tough exterior into the heart of the character, and it's striking how well Lynch knows our William. Spike is as textured and deep here as he was on the show, though perhaps more subtly. One new thing I noticed about Spike here is that he really is, as he so profusely states, nothing like Angel. Spike, unlike our favorite ex.villian/ex.CEO/current Champion, is totally aware of his sex appeal and completely willing to use that to his advantage. Angel is more of a "Who... me?" kinda guy when it comes to the ladies liking him, whereas Spike--in this comic especially--is the "Yeah, ME, baby!" type.

I got nothing short of what I'm come to expect from a Brian Lynch comic: Funny, quotable dialogue. A fast-paced and twisty story. Call-backs to "ANGEL" as well as "SPIKE: ASYLUM." And, finally, that trademark humor. What I have to say was the best part of the entire issue, was learning that Beck has developed a crush on Spike--or maybe it's just, as Spike stated, "anti-hero worship"--so powerful, that she's begun to imitate him. I tend to think it's more in the "crush" area.

Before I go, I have to congratulate Brian Lynch on thinking of a better term than "vamping out" for when vampire's put on their scary face. The term can be found in the best quote of the issue: Tok- "Resume human face (...) You're making vampire lemon face! Vampire lemon face leads to biting! Human face now!" I hate to resort to Internet acronyms, but this made me "LMAO".

Art: In short, very good. Urru is stunning at close-ups, but a little bit less impressive at shots that are further away. For example, there is a panel on page 13 where Spike looks misshapen. It's okay to put less detail in these kind of panels, but the character should still retain their features to a point; Jeanty (artist for Buffy: Season Eight does an awesome job at this). Urru, as usual, excels in fight scenes, particularly the panel where Spike gets socked by Hornblower. That was a hoot. The only real problem I had with the art (the previous quibble is just a little... erm, quibble) is Urru's depiction of Wesley and Angel. Up until now, I'd been hoping that Urru would be a part of Angel: After the Fall, but now I'm iffy. Wesley looks more like Giles with a five o'clock shadow than he does Wesley, and Angel doesn't look quite like himself either. Illyria looks great, but--from the beautiful art Urru did with Beck, Betta George, and Tok--I'm beginning to think that Urru is better at drawing original character than he is interpreting pre-existing ones.

Characters We Know: Spike, Lorne, and Ratio Hornblower. We also see Angel, Wesley, and Illyria in Spike's thoughts.

Rating: 8/10

Monday, July 16, 2007

A Great Buffy Companion

What Is It?: Tales of the Slayers-- the trade paperback, collecting the miniseries of the same name. And it's (everyone gasp dramatically please) canon. This does NOT include the "Tales of the Slayers: Broken Bottle of Djinn" one-shot. That is a separate item.

Timing: The majority of these stories take place before (in some cases, way before) the first season of BtVS. There's even a little bit of B.C. action in the very beginning of the trade; and by B.C. I don't mean a psycho-shipper's Buffy/Cordelia dream coming true, I mean B.C. as in Before Christ. As a matter of fact, all of them except one take place before BtVS, and that one takes place way after Buffy's time. So there's no need to worry about continuity issues here, as it doesn't even touch on the events of BtVS or AtS.

REVIEW: While this pales in comparison to the current Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight series being put out by Dark Horse now, "Tales of the Slayers" is a treat for the open-minded Buffy fan.

Like any Whedon product, this (thin) trade paperback supports a much larger theme than it appears to have. These stories about slayers stretching back over time are about loneliness and solidarity, but at the same time, they're about how each slayer is connected to the slayers of the past. Reading this book can give new perspective on Buffy, Faith, and all of the other slayers shown in the television series.

As a whole, the book is good, but not each individual story is satisfactory. The best in the book are Prologue (Joss Whedon), Righteous (Joss Whedon), Sonnenblume (Rebecca Rand Kirshner), and Tales (Joss Whedon). Righteous is told completely in rhyming verse, and has the most intriguing story and unique slayer of the collection. Sonnenblume has the worst art of the collection, but also one of the most solid stories; a young German girl in 1938 struggles between what her Nazi teachers tell her and what she feels is right. Tales is a treat, as it is about Melaka Fray from Joss Whedon's miniseries "Fray" and it wraps up this collection nicely, paying off to the over-all theme (a complicated one at that) of isolation/togetherness.

Some of the not-so-good stories are The Glittering World (David Fury) and Nikki Goes Down (Doug Petrie). Fury and Petrie are both competent--at times astonishing--writers who have made note-worthy contributions to the Buffyverse, particularly Petrie's "Fool for Love" which makes nearly every Buffy top-ten list. However, these two stories in "Tales of the Slayers" seem forced, paced oddly, and suffer from the incoherent narration. Perhaps, had these writers had an entire twenty-two page issue to play their story out, they would have done better. Or maybe they are just better television writers than they are comic book writers.

To sum it all up, the good outweighs the bad. This is an item that every fan of Joss Whedon's work needs, and it is a great companion to the Buffy series (the television show as well as the comic).

Art: Since there's so many different artists contributing, we'll just make a little list.
Prologue- 8/10. Fits the mood of The First Slayer perfectly, and the scene of the vampire being dusted is beautiful
Righteous- 8/10. Can't find any qualms about the art; some really impressive panels, but nothing jaw dropping.
The Innocent- 7/10. A bit wonky in parts, but overall well done.
Presumption- 7/10. A lot of attention is paid to detail, but it comes off a bit blah.
The Glittering World- 4/10. Very moody, but not very good. Just not to my taste. Plus, the Mayor looks nothing like himself in the one panel where you can see his face.
Sonnenblume- 2/10. This was a good story marred by strange art that was very out of place here. Though I can't say it doesn't add a certain diversity, it may have been taken overboard with this art that wouldn't look out of place on one of those hokey Ka-BLAM! skits.
Nikki Goes Down!- 5/10. The art is--again--moody, but that by no means makes it good. Because it isn't. I have to say, though. The art is what truly tells this story, as the few choppy uses of prose take it no where.
Tales- 10/10. I'm ecstatic that Karl Moline (penciller of the "Fray" series) also drew Fray here, and I might've not recognized her if she were pencilled by someone else. The art is colorful and schnazzy, fitting perfectly with Fray's personality. Perfect way to end the trade.

Characters We Know: I'd say Fray, but I think I'm only going to include character's who've been on the actual show in this section. That being said, we see The First Slayer, Nikki Wood, and (though it's only an image of) Buffy. Oh, and I can't forget to mention... dun dun dunnnn, THE MAYOR!

Rating: 7/10

PS: Anyone who wants to read up on the authors of the various Buffyverse novels and comics, I suggest checking out this site: http://www.btvs-angel-authors.net.tc/ There are loads of interesting interviews and tidbits. Oh, and a big thank you to everyone spreading the word about this site over at the IDW forums, the Dark Horse boards, and the Facebook groups. I'll keep reviewin' if you keep a-readin'!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Chapter 1: Once More With Felt

What Is It: Spike: Shadow Puppets Issue #1. This is the first issue in a new mini-series written by Brian Lynch and penciled/inked by Franco Urru (that's right, just like fan-favorite Spike: Asylum). Issue #2 comes out July 18th, so get ready!

Timing: After Spike: Asylum. Not clear on much else except that Spike has a soul, and he knows Lorne, so it's at least in the Angel: Season Five (or perhaps after, wink wink nudge nudge) area.

REVIEW: Suffice it to say this: I bought the regular and the variant cover, something I've only ever done with "Buffy: Season Eight." I just love Lynch's work so much that I had to have the complete set, and I'll do so for the entirety of the mini-series.

Gotta be honest, I was never much of a fan of the whole "Smile Time" idea, and thought that the Angel puppet thing was a bit too silly for the show. I know people love it, but I'd be lying if I said it was one of my favorite episodes. However, for some reason I feel that the medium of comics is a much better place to tell such a puppety story and, judging from this damn-good issue, I'm not wrong.

Lynch reintroduces Spike and the dialogue (both inside Spike's mind and when he's talking to others) really couldn't be more on point. There is a certain respect that is given to Spike in the dialogue that I really, really like: Spike is written to be funny, certainly, but in this issue he always maintains his integrity and through that, I can tell how much Brian Lynch loves Spike. That is one thing I love about these comics, that the writer is clearly as much of a fan of the world as we, the readers, are. Along with the beautifully precise narration, what I love are the little jokes (the Angel doll hanging from Spike's lamp), the absurdly and hilariously different people interacting (Spike/Mrs. Konikoff, Spike/Lorne), and simply the fact that this whole series is shaping up to be a sort of "Buddy Film" between Spike and Lorne. Those two didn't interact much when they were around each other in the show, so it's awesome on a whole new level to see these guys spend time together.

Buy this comic, why don'tcha. And expect a lot, and I promise you'll still get more. Hell, my comic book guy knows how much I love these that when I walked in, he just handed me the issue without me even asking for a reserve.

Art: The art is gorgeous. You can pretty much take what I said about the art in Spike: Asylum and paste it right here. The only slight complaint I have for this one is that Lorne's face is often left kinda not much with the detail, and I'd like a bit more attention paid to his face. Some panels with him are perfect, while others you can't tell he has horns. Other than that, the other demons are drawn *kisses fingers* MUAH! The red horned guy, the green stinky blob who Spike sits next to on the plane... Ahhh man, it makes me itch to read the next issue. Someone call Hermione Granger, because I'm in need of a time-turner. Destination: July 18th.

Characters We Know: Spike, Lorne, and Ratio Hornblower. Polo isn't back, but a friend--er sorry, roommate!--of his is!

Rating: 9/10

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Joss Loves This Guy

What Is It?: Spike: Asylum (Trade Paperback), collecting the entire Spike: Asylum mini-series. Written by Brian Lynch (author of the coming-soon-I-can't-freakin'-wait Angel: Season Six), pencils by Franco Urru. Put out by IDW Publishing, the company currently doing all ANGEL and SPIKE comics.

Timing: It's kinda fuzzy, but it either takes place during Angel: Season Five or after Angel: Season Five. We'll likely find out when Angel: Season Six is released where this fits in, but all you really have to know is that Spike is living in LA, he's corporeal, and he has a soul.
REVIEW: Spike: Asylum is... astounding. With dark yet colorful artwork that can only be described as quirky (and astounding), dialogue that sounds like Whedon wrote it on a good day (which is astounding), and Spike moments that range from poignant, to revealing, to funny (done astoundingly), there is really no reason that Brian Lynch's "Spike: Asylum" isn't on the tippy top of your "To Read" list. If you hadn't caught on, it's astounding.
If you've liked IDW's Angel and/or Spike comics, you'll like this. Matter of fact, you'll love this. It's better than all the Angel mini-series (which were entertaining themselves), better than the intriguing "Spike vs. Dracula" and better than the awesome Spike one-shots. Not to rag on those, because they--for the most part--are highly entertaining. "Spike: Asylum" is just on a different level. It, unlike the others, transcends comics; you don't have to be a comic lover, a comic reader, or even familiar with the medium to enjoy this series.

With a different writer writing or artist drawing the same story, the story might have seemed a bit too fast paced, but the creative team of Brian Lynch and Franco Urru handle the job in a manner that can be described as nothing but perfectly. This actually reads as if it was the pilot of a Spike series; there's a cast of memorable characters (a few of which we'll see again, judging from the covers of the upcoming Lynch/Urru project "Spike: Shadow Puppets), and it just makes me want to read more. This is not a series that it's okay to miss. Lynch pays extra attention to detail, so much that there is actually a "commentary track" in the back of the book, in which the author schnazzily points out every little inside joke that we may have missed. I've never seen something like this in comics before, and I have to bow down to Lynch and thank him, because the commentary makes me enjoy the story even more. He really wants us to get as much out of the story as we can.

But why are you reading this review? Go buy the freakin' book! After reading Lynch's take on Spike, Joss Whedon himself contacted Lynch and told him he wants him to write "Angel: Season Six" in comic book form. That in itself is pretty much all I had to say to convince any Whedon fan to pick this up, but I'm a long winded kinda guy.

Art: As I said up top, the art manages to be dark and colorful at the same time, which--if you think about it--is what Spike is. Urru has a true talent for making the characters seem like they are in motion, so it's needless to say how on-point the action scenes are. Every panel is taken advantage of, making this a volume that you can pour over every day and still manage to find new things each time. Suffice it to say I am ecstatic that Brian Lynch and Franco Urru are going to continue to collaborate for "Spike: Shadow Puppets" which will be released this summer.

Characters We Know: Spike and Lorne

Rating: 10/10 Classic.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Buffy Issue #7 Covers

Just minutes ago, the covers to the seventh issue of Buffy Season Eight were released. As usual, the main cover is drawn by Jo Chen and the variant is handled by Georges Jeanty.

Chen's cover is one of her more beautiful ones, nearly topping her masterpiece from Issue #3. This is the first time we get to see Giles on a cover, and he's depicted just as I picture him. I can see that Faith has been... erm... enhanced a bit, but otherwise it looks just like her. Chen's covers are spectacular, and are always worth the price of the comic. If inside was twenty-two (or, in this case, forty) pages of nothing, it would still be worth it. Her art is, in this case, perfect.

I usually love Jeanty's covers, but in this case I'm pretty much indifferent. This one is okay, but nothing to write home about. Who are those characters behind Faith? Do we know them? Is that Buffy, but drawn weirdly? Or are they all new characters? We'll see, but it's going to bug me for a while.
Along with the release of the covers, came this blip: "Faith's out to kill a Slayer. Lady Genevieve Savidge is one of the most dangerous women on the planet. If she's left unstopped, the British heiress will usher in the apocalypse. Faith has accepted Giles's offer of an early retirement package for this gig -- but the wetworks will have to wait till she's infiltrated Savidge's mystically protected estate.
40 pages, $2.99, in stores on Oct. 3."

To quote an about-to-be-sired-Angel, " sounds excitin' "

Early retirement... I find it hard to believe that this will go that direction, so expect something to go horribly wrong. And about the 40 pages... Since the normal comics are listed at 32 pages, but only have 22 worth of content, I'm guessing we'll have (give or take) thirty pages for issues #5, 6, & 7. Brian K. Vaughan is amazing.

The Conclusion to "The Long Way Home" Arc

What Is It: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Issue #4: The Long Way Home pt 4 (written by Joss Whedon)

Timing: BtVS Season Eight, following Issue #3

REVIEW: This issue, more than any of the others, needs a second reading to appreciate it. In the first read, the story is way too fast paced, too many things are happening, and it is a bit confusing. By the second read, everything should fall into place. But that still doesn't make up for the first read. While this is a good conclusion to the first arc of season eight, I felt that Joss could have kept it a bit more straight forward. However, the set ups for the Big Bad are well done, as is Buffy's reaction to the reveal in the end. The shocking death of an established character only causes the action to heat up, and the subtle reveal of who kissed Buffy is Issue #3 was well worth all the fan debate.

On the negative side, the scene-cuts are awkward at best in this issue, and it became apparent on page six. This is how the page is set up.
Panel 1: Warren comes down on Willow.
Panel 2: Buffy calls the name of a slayer.
Panel 3: Five new characters (elements?) who've never been seen before, appear with no explanation and say "For goodness sake, yes. Grant her access." It is unknown at this point where they are, and it throws the story off majorly.
Panel 4: Buffy, off screen, tells Satsu what to do.
Panel 5: General Voll's assistant tells him that he hears screaming.

Later on, the switches between scenes get better because there are less scenes to switch to. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm pleased that Giles or Andrew weren't in this issue. Things would have been way too crammed for our two favorite Watchers.

Don't get me wrong about this issue. It's Buffy, it's canon, and it's Joss, so you can't really go wrong. It's almost as good as issue #3, and as good as #1 & 2. The fight with Buffy/Amy, short as it was, was stellar and revealed something about Buffy that I never suspected. The final four pages make for a more shocking conclusion than I expected, and really make the whole arc make a lot more sense than it might have initially seemed.

Petty gripes aside, the only real problem I have with this issue is waiting for two whole months for the 40 page Issue #5: The Chain to come out.

Art: Jeanty gets better at illustrating these by the issue, and Jo Chen never ceases to amaze. Both of these artists seem to specialize in Dawn, because both Jeanty's interpretation of her and Jo Chen's cover display beautiful drawn Dawns.

Characters We Know: Buffy, Xander, Willow, Dawn, Amy, Warren, Ethan Rayne

Rating: 8/10

Buffy: Season Eight... I'm Hooked

What Is It: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Issue #3: The Long Way Home pt 3 (written by Joss Whedon)

Timing: BtVS Season Eight, following Issue #2

REVIEW: These comics just keep getting better. This one starts off immediately after Issue #2, and the action never stops. This, I'm sure, is the issue that will woo over any Buffy fans that have been doubting the greatness of these Whedon-penned comics.

Let's get down to the nitty-gritty. So many questions come up after reading the first few issues, so I was counting on some answers in this one. We get to find out the following...

+ Who is Amy's boyfriend?
+ Who is the "My love" guy in Issue #2? Is it the same guy as the floaty-leather-jacket guy?
+ Is Renee alive after being stabbed last issue?
+ What's up with Willow and Kennedy?

Also, we get an appearance from a very popular baddie--none other than Ethan Rayne. Not to mention the unforgettable image of Spike/Angel that Scott Allie promised us in the letters section of the last issue. All that, plus scenes with Giles, Andrew, and the re-union of Xander, Buffy, and Willow. And what can be said about Whedon's writing and plotting that hasn't already been said? Everything is tight, all is perfect. The cliffhanger at the end makes me want the next issue right away! How in the world will I be able to wait until June 6th for Issue #4? This issue is by far the best of the three released so far.

Art: Jeanty's art, as usual, is amazing. However, one scene bugged me. There's a scene with only Willow's face, where she says "She looks tired" (referring to Buffy). In that scene, it looks like Willow either almost fell asleep herself or got her hands on a whole lotta drugs. But other than that one little flaw, everything is done well. Particularly Jeanty's interpretation of Ethan Rayne. Spot on. And, while I didn't think Giles looked like himself in Issue #2, this issue shows a VAST improvement. Very Gilesy. And Jo Chen's cover to this issue is by far her best yet. Willow is literally smokin'.

Characters We Know: Buffy, Willow, Xander, Giles, Andrew, Ethan Rayne, Amy, Warren

Rating: 9/10

Episode Two: Attack of the Rat

What Is It: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Issue #4: The Long Way Home pt 4 (written by Joss Whedon)

Timing: Season Eight, following Issue #1

REVIEW: Buffy fans will be expecting a lot after seven stellar seasons on television and the success of the first issue of "Season Eight." So the question here is this: Does Issue #2 deliver?
In short, yes. I have to say though--there is so much going on, so many jokes, and so much foreshadowing that I wasn't able to completely enjoy the Jossy goodness until my second read. The first read intrigued me, but the second wow-ed me.

The plot continues directly from the previous issue. Amy (the former rat) is working with the government to take out Buffy and the slayers, and she has an army of zombies to back her up. The ending sequences are amazing--I'm already itching for May 2nd to come so I can get my hands on the third issue. There was a big revelation about half-way through the comic, and clues to who the Big Bad of the season will be as well. Giant Dawn is great (I knew Joss would convince me), Buffy is true to herself, and Xander is playing the biggest role he's played since the first season.
This issue also re-introduces two fan favorites: Giles and Andrew. So, all in all, this issue is just as good as the first. But did anybody expect anything less? I mean, come on--Joss Whedon wrote it.

Art: The cover by Jo Chen is good, though the use of the baby blue in Xander's hair (a reflection or shine???) kinda throws me off. The actual bulk of the comic, pencilled by Georges Jeanty (whom I believe has committed to the remainder of the series, other than one-shots) is illustrated beautifully, except for--I'm sorry to say--Jeanty's depiction of Giles. Giles looks like Season One Giles' face with an old man's body; skinny, all brown up top, and sweater-vesty. Throw Giles into some of his Season Seven gear, make his head a little bit bigger, hair a tad thinner, and we're back on track.

Characters We Know: Buffy, Xander, Dawn, Giles, Andrew, Amy, Willow

Rating: 8/10

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight- The Long Way Home pt 1 REVIEW

What Is It: Here, at last, is the canon continuation of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" as written by Joss Whedon. This is the first issue of the first arc (or miniseries) of Season Eight. You can find it in comic stores or, if you're lazy or have misplaced your local comic shop, pretty much anywhere on the Internet. This is the direct sequel to the BtVS television show.

Timing: BTVS Season Eight/ After AtS Season Five

REVIEW: Joss Whedon, creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and the author of this comic, said it best--he wants readers to see this comic as, not a full episode of Buffy, but the teaser of an episode. The book--as a rule with comics--goes very fast. While this issue has two more pages than the norm (a total of 24, not counting ads), it is over before you even realize it. But there is a lot of goodness to take in; new information and characters, mingling with old loved characters and references to past episodes.

The plot is simple, but promises a lot for the future episodes. Not to mention, it's classic Joss. Buffy and Xander are leading a "24"-esque base. Buffy is the "Jack Bauer" to Xander's "Bill Buchanon." While on a field mission to kill a few baddies, Buffy and a small group of slayers find a dead body with a strange symbol carved into it. Xander and Buffy hit the books, researching like old times. Meanwhile, it is revealed that the US Government has noticed the slayers and, following the destruction of the Sunnydale Hellmouth, sees them as terrorist cells--and they enlist the help of a character from the TV series to defeat Buffy. After it is revealed who this character is, an even bigger bad is alluded to. Suspense is a-plenty!

The only plot-line that made me iffy is Dawn's problem in this book. I won't reveal it, but I'll say this; it's a bit hard to swallow. Yet, knowing Joss, he'll make me bite my tongue in the next few issues and sell me the plot... as he always tends to do. Season Eight kicks off with a bang and I, for one, can't wait for the next issue. I do have to say though, it isn't the best place to start with Buffy. If you weren't a fan of the show but want to try the comic, I suggest you read up on what has happened so far. Wikipedia has an exceptional page devoted to Buffy.

Art: Jeanty manages to successfully walk across the tightrope between drawing the characters too much like the actors who portrayed him and making the characters unrecognizable. Unlike some of the earlier ANGEL comics over at IDW, these illustrations actually imply movement, bringing real life to the issues to the point where Jeanty's rendition of Buffy is as much Buffy Summers to me as Sarah Michelle Gellar was. And Jo Chen is simply perfect for the covers of this series. It seems too much to ask, as I can't imagine how long it takes to create such a detailed cover, but I find myself wishing a future issue will be entirely illustrated by Jo Chen.

Characters We Know: Buffy, Xander, Dawn, Amy

*Rating Disclaimer: Compared to all other NON-Buffyverse products, the majority of BtVS and AtS products are rated a 10/10 classic. As the Buffyverse is in a whole different level, I am rating these products up against OTHER BtVS products.

Rating: 8/10

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Tales of the Slayers: Broken Bottle of Djinn REVIEW

What Is It: "Tales of the Slayers: Broken Bottle of Djinn" is a one-shot comic book, sort of a spin-off of the "Tales of the Slayers" series that has already been collected into a trade paperback. This comic is currently the only place you can find this tale, as it isn't collected into any bigger volume. It was published in October 2002, so you won't find this in any comic book stores. I suggest you go where I went: www.tfaw.com

Timing: Season Two / 1937

Story: The story is written by Jane Espenson and Douglas Petrie, both writers from the show. Buffy is written in character, though we don't get to see a lot of her. Only eight pages of the entire comic feature the Buffy storyline. Yep, this one-shot comic book is made up of two stories, one featuring Buffy and Willow facing off against a nasty Djinn, and the second featuring a New York slayer dealing with the same Djinn in 1937. The Buffy story is very light and goofy, while the 1937 tale is much darker and grittier; the contrast is almost ironic, since the stories wind up so entwined in the end, which I have to say was very well done. There is a continuity issue, however. The Buffy story is set in 1997 during Season Two, so that means it takes place after "When She Was Bad" and before "Surprise." However, Willow demonstrates powerful magic abilities, abilities which she hadn't mastered until way past Season Two. Another small quibble I have is that I find myself wishing for a bit more of the Buffy storyline at the end, just to tie it up a little bit.

Art: The Buffy storyline is illustrated in a very bright cartoony way, which adds to the lightness of the story. Buffy and Willow, and even--God help me--Snyder are very cute here, and some panels smell of an anime-influence. To put it simple, if the Buffy animated television show ever took off, it would look something like this. It's attractive and hip, but hard to take serious. The art totally switches for the more serious 1937 storyline and, while I would like a bit more detail,
I can't say it doesn't match the tone of the story.

Characters We Know: Buffy, Willow, Principle Snyder

Rating: 5/10

Not Much With the Cleverness

So. You've reached my new review site, cleverly called "Buffyverse Comic Reviews." I know, I know, it's a bit cryptic, but I'm sure you'll figure it out if you think about it for long enough.

We review these:

But yeah, every chance I get, I'll be updating this site with a review of the latest (and some oldies but goodies) comics from the Buffyverse. And by Buffyverse, I--of course--mean Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Fray, Tales of the... etc. Occasionally, I'll add a non-Buffy related review, but only when I'm feeling extra crazy.

I've already reviewed a few of these items on http://www.amazon.com/, so I'll periodically paste those into here, for your viewing pleasure.

So, in the next few days, you should be seeing reviews for the following comics:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight: The Long Way Home pt 1
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight: The Long Way Home pt 2
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight: The Long Way Home pt 3
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight: The Long Way Home pt 4
Spike: Shadow Puppets pt 1
Spike: Asylum TPB
Angel: Old Friends TPB

See you later.