1. First, the shiniest and newest of all, I hereby present Jo Chen's cover to the "No Future For You" trade paperback!
2. Now, this is the FULL cover for "No Future For You pt IV", the firey Faith cover. The other before was simply a desktop image made of half of the cover. This is the full thing.
3. And I know I took a while to post this one, that it's been out for a while, but I didn't want to step on anyone's toes by putting this out before it was supposed to be seen. This is Franco Urru's variant cover to the first issue of ANGEL: After the Fall.
4.And this? A brand new page from "No Future For You pt I"
What Is It?: Spike: Shadow Puppets Issue #3. This is the third 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 from the previous issue.
REVIEW: This is the only Buffyverse comic that I've ever seen sell out on day one. I arrived at my comic book store at around four (it opens at twelve) and every single issue was gone. I'm a variant collector as well, so I was really blue about it. Then, I looked at the rest of the SPIKE section. The week before, there had still been about seven copies of Issue #2 left and at least five of #1. This day? Only one lonely copy of number one. These are selling like hotcakes and, as a manager at McDonalds, I can say that hotcakes sell pretty freakin' well.
Thank God for http://www.tfaw.com/, because they sent me not only a regular, but also a variant. Kick ass.
Actually, that's pretty much what sums up this issue. Kick ass. There are references galore, as we've come to expect from Brian Lynch. My favorite throwback to old times was the way Spike decides it's research time, just like the old gang. That's one thing I love about Lynch's writing; he always keeps the history of the character right at the tips of his fingers, never over-using it but thrown in exactly at the right time to have the proper effect on us audience types.
What I found a lot in this issue was a slew of totally stunning, definitive moments. The first, as first glimpsed on Brian Lynch's myspace, Spike and Lorne reacting to seeing Beta George puppetized. Then, (I'm being careful not to give any major spoilers, though--if you haven't read the issue yet, why the hell are you reading my review? Get the issue!--it's kinda hard, as everything here is--as the fangirls say--worthy of major squeeage) we get a glimpse at the reaction of a fish walking into a sushi joint, the best Spike/Lorne moment on either paper or film, and a reveal in the end that is both funny, exciting, and scary at the same time.
The best part of these comics (particularly this issue) for me is Lynch's seamless transitions. Often, I find myself having to re-read pages of comics that have multiple story lines happening at once to make sure I'm on the right track ("The Long Way Home" for instance, though great it was). However, that simply doesn't happen in Lynch's comics. He can go from a past scene, to a "only in a character's head" scene, to a present scene, to a scene with only the villains in it without even a second of confusion on the reader's part. I can only begin to imagine the classic story he's going to tell in "After the Fall" this November.
Art: These pages are gushing with puppety cuteness. I love the way it's not played up to the point of cheesiness, and still manages to keep that good ol' integrity. The opening page of this issue is Urru's best rendition of Lorne so far, and Beta George is simultaneously the cutest and funniest puppet I've seen. Beta George's facial expressions as he finds himself in a sushi bar is priceless; it's not every artist that convey that degree of emotion in an illustration of a puppetized psychic fish. Franco Urru is truly a gift, and I am more than thrilled that he'll be doing "Angel: After the Fall."
Characters We Know:Spike, Lorne, Ratio Hornblower. And we also, in a way, see a "version" of (SPOILER:) Angelus.
If you can believe it, that is indeed the cover to the ninth issue of "Season Eight." We've had a lot of new covers this week (#8, #8b, Omnibus #3...) and this is one of the most beautiful of the lot. Scott Allie said we had a cover like this coming up, and I can only guess that this is the one.
Yup, that's the variant cover to Season Eight: Issue #8. Gives us a bit more to speculate about.
As for those wondering why I'm late with the Shadow Puppets review, let me just say this; if the comic book world were, say, a High School... Brian Lynch has recently become a "popular" kid. The comic was completely sold out within three hours of being put on shelves in my comic shop. Not only that, all the back issues (there were at least five for #2 and three for #1 last time I saw) had been bought except one lonely issue for #2. These are selling like hotcakes, which I can actually say, working at McDonalds and all, that they do sell pretty damn well.
Congratulations, Mr. Lynch, you more than deserve it. I guess I'm either going to have to be at the door by twelve next time, or just reserve my copy. Nevertheless, I'll be posting my review as soon as TFAW.com delievers it. In other words, I should have it by, oh, say... Christmas. ;p
The Jo Chen cover and description for the eighth issue of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer- Season Eight" has been released. This issue is written by Brian K. Vaughan and is the third part of the "No Future For You" arc.
From DARK HORSE: "Faith hits the ground running after she infiltrates the estate of a rogue Slayer, that is until Buffy pops in and is confronted by her longtime nemesis. Certainly, chaos ensues."
Am I right in reading that this lists Faith as Buffy's nemesis? I thought they'd gotten past that. Or is this blurb just misleading us into thinking that, while there will be a different enemy revealed as the Big Bad of this arc? And is that Buffy that Faith is trying to drown here? It looks like her, but how unlikely is that?
So far, of all the Season Eight covers, this one has proven to be the one which causes the most brain turmoil. Which is good, in a way. There will surely be debate over the contents of this issue until the day it comes out, November 7th. What will happen? Will Buffy and Faith face off in a "Graduation part I"-esque battle to the finish? If so... why?
EDIT: I just checked Jo Chen's myspace page and I've gotten CONFIRMATION via the caption to the cover that that IS BUFFY in the picture, BATTLING FAITH. The picture caption actually says "Buffy the Vampire Slayer 8 cover - Faith Battles Buffy." So there goes that speculation, now all we have to wonder about is what lead up to this battle.
What Is It?: "Slayer, Interrupted" is a trade paperback collecting four issues of a pre-Season One Buffy adventure.
Timing: After "Viva Las Buffy", before Season One. This is the second story arc of the "Buffy: Year One" series.
REVIEW: Starting off this book is a bonus one-shot comic called "Dawn and Hoopy the Bear." The comic is scripted, penciled, colored, the whole nine yards by Paul Lee (Season Eight fans know him as the artist who drew "The Chain"), and the job he does portraying Dawn's younger self is phenomenal. Knowing how good this story is, it makes me feel a little better about Dawn appearing in these stories (which I explained my gripe with in my review for "Viva Las Buffy").
Now, on to the meat and potatoes of this trade paperback. The collected miniseries "Slayer Interrupted" is pretty much a direct continuation of what's happened in "Viva Las Buffy." Pike is out of the picture, Buffy has just come home from her stint is Las Vegas, but she isn't staying at home for long. Buffy ends up in a mental hospital (heavily influenced by the episode "Normal Again") and grapples with both reality and some bad ass demons. Let me reiterate this before I get to the negative: When I say the demon(s) are bad ass, I really mean it; the Big Bad of this arc is something that would've looked like cheesy CGI had it been on television, but it worked here. Some other good parts were the Giles vs. Ripper showdown and the one-page depicting Cordelia laughing at Willow in Sunnydale. While the latter has absolutely nothing to do with the plot and interrupts the flow of the story, it was worth it just to see that sad moment.
Here we go, down to the nitty gritty negatives. There is a lot that I don't like here, especially the way the main story line is executed. Buffy doesn't seem to grapple with her identity at all; as soon as her parents put her away, she believes that she is insane with no qualms. She doesn't even question the notion that she is insane until she sees a demon in the asylum. Thing is, if Buffy thinks she's crazy, seeing a demon shouldn't convince her that she isn't; it should convince her that she IS. That's just one example of sloppy story. Dr. Primrose's back story is extremely contrived, adding nothing but cringe factor.
What I thought would be another hit from the writing team Scott Lobdell and Fabian Nicieza was a flop. Though, I can't take issue with the art, as Cliff Richard's pencils and Brian Horton/Paul Lee's covers remain consistently as good. If you're looking for a Buffyverse fix, this may be worth it for the sheer joy of the bonus story, "Dawn and Hoopy the Bear." And, even though any fan of "Viva Las Buffy" will be disappointed with "Slayer Interrupted", the story still has some good sections that make it worth a read. If not for "Dawn and Hoopy the Bear" I'd have given this volume a 4/10, but I have to add a few points for that Paul Lee gem.
Art: Paul Lee is a master of Dawn's facial expressions, apparently. He makes grand use of them in here. However, Cliff Richards does a lot of great work in "Slayer, Interrupted" as well. The opening sequence of the first issue is one of the best page designs I've seen, and it just brings a lot of life to the story. He did a good job here, it's just disappointing that the story wasn't as tight as his art work.
Characters We Know: Dawn, Buffy, Joyce and Hank Summers, Willow, Cordelia, Angel, Whistler, Giles, Quentin Travers, Harmony.
What Is It?: "Viva Las Buffy" is a trade paperback collecting four issues of a pre-Season One Buffy adventure.
Timing: This takes place AFTER "The Origin" and before Season One of BtVS. This is the first story arc in the "Buffy: Year One" series.
REVIEW: After reading the so-so "The Origin" comic, I was weary to get my hopes up that the other pre-Season One Buffy comics would be any good. But in this trade paperback "Viva Las Buffy", gone is Christopher Golden's disjointed storytelling and artist Joe Bennett's green vampires are no where in sight. Instead the infinitely more competent team of writers Scott Lobdell and Fabian Nicieza and penciller Cliff Richards, with Paul Lee and Brian Horton tackling the covers.
In this miniseries, Buffy and Pike (who narrates this tale) take on a vampire-run casino in Las Vegas, while the other characters from the series (who Buffy, at this point in her life, has yet to meet) deal with their own demons. Angel's story arc is very true to the show, as in he pretty much does nothing but watch over Buffy. However, he gets into his own bit of trouble during this, which leads to a very interesting twist involving time travel and temporal folds. Perhaps the most interesting side story in this miniseries involves Giles, who finds himself in a spot of trouble while trying to stop a colleague from using black magic to take him out of the competition to become Buffy's watcher. There are many nods to the show there, including appearances by Quentin Travers, Wesley Wyndam-Price, and even soon-to-be-rogue watcher Gwendolyn Post.
Each story unfolds at a satisfying pace, very similarly to the show it's based off of. Buffy is especially entertaining, as she is one-hundred percent in character. Here, she is Season One Buffy, lacking the edge and the bitterness that the character later took on in seasons six and seven. Here she has excepted her destiny as the slayer, but is still very new to the world and hasn't developed the cynical outlook that she later does. It's refreshing to see Buffy like this. Another great aspect of this series is the villain, who is--to say the least--unique.
While ninety percent of what I have to say about "Viva Las Buffy" is complementary, this isn't a perfect volume. The inconsistency of Pike's character from "The Origin" to here is disturbing and, though the character is much more likable here, I sometimes felt like this Pike was a completely different character all together. Another thing that annoyed me, perhaps unreasonably, was how Wesley was portrayed. What he did (snitching on Giles) was perhaps in character at that point in his life, but I can't say it didn't annoy me, as I've become a very big fan of Wesley. My biggest problem, however, is Dawn's presence in this miniseries (as well as the other pre-Season One comics). Essentially, we are seeing these events as Buffy remembers them, not how they truly happened. I have to say I'd much rather know what actually happened in these stories, not the magically altered memories including Dawn.
Art: Stylish, bursting with color and action. The vampire-staking effect is also awesome.
Characters We Know: Buffy, Giles, Angel, Joyce and Hank Summers, Dawn, Gwendolyn Post, Wesley, Quentin Travers
What Is It?: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Origin (trade paperback collecting the miniseries). This is a faithful adaptation of Joss Whedon's original script for the Buffy movie (you know, the cheesy pre-Buffyverse one that everyone mucked up), turned into a comic script by Buffy scribe Christopher Golden (who has yet to woo me) and Dan Brereton. Joss has said that this can "pretty much be accepted as canon" but that he had a few issues with it.
Timing: A little less than a year before Buffy comes to Sunnydale.
REVIEW: This, it seems, is just what a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer would want to read. It's a faithful adaptation of Joss Whedon's original script for the "Buffy" movie that, to be kind, was ruined by the director and Donald Sutherland.
One would think that this version of Buff's origin would be foolproof. It depicts Buffy as Sarah Michelle Gellar, Merrick as the show's version, not the movie's, AND it follows Whedon's script closely. However, not all is well with this trade paperback. One, the most obvious problem is length. What should've been a six issue mini series was squeezed into three, which beat the pacing black and blue and hindered the amount of involvement we readers could get in the story. Lothos, instead of the looming threat he should've been, is nothing more than a run of the mill vamp to us, as he is never fleshed out to be more than that. Another problem is the depiction of the vampires here. The story is supposed to be updated here to be consistent with the Buffy-television universe, but many of the vampires are actually colored green. Yes, GREEN. As in blue mixed with yellow. Another species of vampires are these bat-like horned creatures that we never meet in the show who are also green. It would be great if they were distinguished to be DEMONS, not vamps, but within this short series, they're referred to as vampires and are also killed by stakes.
I can't say the comic didn't hold my interest though. The Buffy/Merrick relationship, as different as it was from Buffy/Giles, was one of the most captivating aspects of "The Origin." I do wish it had the chance to develop over a longer miniseries, but what was done here was executed nicely. The climax, Pike's allure, and Buffy's alienation from her friends also made for good reading, though the Buffy/Pike relationship developed way too quickly for me. (SPOILER:) It went from "You're icky" to Smoochies with absolutely no transition besides a bike ride.
I'd recommend passing on "Buffy: The Origin" for now. If you just by "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus, Volume One", you can find "The Origin" collected in there, with many other Buffy miniseries for a much cheaper price.
Art: The art is okay. Very, very plain, but not necessarily bad. Though there were some odd panels (including a fight scene where, in one panel, it looks like Buffy has eight foot long legs with no sign of knees or feet) penciller Joe Bennett is competent enough to create effective action sequences as well as convincing dramatic scenes, especially the Buffy/Pike motorcycle scene after (SPOILER:) Merrick dies. The colors are great contrasts between light/bright and dark/moody as Buffy begins to leave behind her old life (omigod bubblegum pop!) and realizes her destiny (tough-ass slayer). Kudos to colorists Jeromy Cox and Guy Major for that.
Characters We Know: Buffy, Merrick, and a brief appearance by Xander, Willow, and Giles
Joss says.... "The idea was always bringing in different writers, people who've either been on our show or powerhouses in comic books. I'm giving everybody an arc to do — or in some cases a one-shot if they didn't have the time. I've already mapped out the entire 40-issue season."
Joss says... "It's been indicated that there are people who are trying to get rid of the slayers because they represent the same kind of magic as the demons. So I'm putting the slayers in the global spotlight for a little bit — really getting to talk about shifts in power and trying to put an end to magic. That's what Buffy's fighting against. It's an epic story. I've asked Brad to plot out the last 10 issues with me and then write the first half, and I'll write the second half. But I'm overseeing every script, every story, every page."
We--using that term very loosely--write detailed reviews of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Tales of the..., Fray, Spike, etc. comic series. Since I... erm, WE are relatively new, we'll be posting reviews for both old and new comics. We do try to have our reviews for new issues out on the release date.
As you all know, I don't own these characters. These characters and the comics reviewed here are all owned by 20th Century Fox, Joss Whedon, IDW Publishing, Dark Horse, etc. etc. This is their world, I just talk about it. A lot.