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:



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:

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 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

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Season Eight, Volume One: The Long Way Home- TPB Review

Joss Whedon (creator of cult classics Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly) certainly didn't need to continue "Buffy" in the comics medium. He's got two feature films in the script-writing stage, has recently made a deal for a new weekly television series starring Eliza Dushky, and he's also in talks with the BBC to write/direct a made-for-television movie starring Anthony Stewart Head as Giles. Not to mention, he's currently writing "Astonishing X-Men" and "Runaways." So, with or without this comic, we fans would have been satisfied with a very Jossy year.

But Joss couldn't stay away from Buffy, his dream story, and we--the fans who found themselves helpless captivated by the seven seasons we caught on television--couldn't be happy to have the continuation to the series coming our way, written by the only man who could have done it justice: Joss Whedon himself.

Season Eight, though it is a comic series, is very much like a season of television. We're meant to think of this volume (collecting "The Long Way Home" arc, issues #1-4, and #5 "The Chain", which is an unrelated one-shot) as the first episode of a season. And everyone who loved Joss' work enough to be disappointed by the flaws (as uncommon as they are) know that "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" was never good with season premieres. The first episodes of Season Two, Three, Four (in some circles), Five, Six (though it wasn't as bad as the rest), and Seven (again, in some circles) failed to kick off the seasons with a bang. That was always reserved for the later episodes. Not since Season One's "Welcome to the Hellmouth" did we have a season opener that completely delivered.

Well now, we do.

"The Long Way Home" takes the time to reintroduce us to the characters, set up the season, and bring up points that will have us asking questions for issues to come. Unlike the aforementioned season premieres, we have a solid story about Buffy and the gang battling both new and old foes, delivering a story that begins and ends within the four issues given here, but also introduces a few mysteries that will no doubt play throughout the entire season. "The Chain", the standalone one-shot issue (in television terms, think of it as sort of a one-act bonus story), isn't nearly as good as "The Long Way Home", but it certainly isn't bad. Further comments on the artwork and stories of the individual five issues can be found by following the "Season Eight" tag at the bottom of this review.

This trade paperback itself is well-made, as with all Dark Horse volumes. The beautiful Jo Chen cover is thing that will attract all those who have already bought the individual five issues but, to those who haven't, you can rejoice. All the covers and the variant covers are reprinted here. The color leaps off the pages just like Joss' snappy dialogue. What I did expect, however, and didn't get were a few extras. The layout of the comic (red pages with the Twilight sign between issues) is beautiful, but since this series is the biggest thing Dark Horse has ever put out, I expected a little extra tidbits. But that doesn't detract from my enjoyment of this volume.

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is true to its form in Season Eight, proving that is was, is, and always will be Joss' most important work. Let's just hope that he keeps it coming for a long, long time.


Friday, November 2, 2007

INFLUX of Joss Whedon News

First of all, to your left is the variant cover to Buffy #11. Buffy and Satsu, taking on some evil. This issue is supposedly going to be the one that reveals the real big bad of the season.

+ I'm sure you've heard, and I feel a bit silly for posting--as, again, I'm sure you all know--but there is going to be a new show created and executive produced by Joss Whedon (and starring Eliza Dushku). It's called Dollhouse, and you can find out more about it right here. From now on, as news of the show comes in, I'll post updates.

+ A much more complete preview (seven pages) of Issue #8, which comes out this Wednesday (that's five days, guys.) Check it out here.

+ I have a copy of "The Long Way Home" trade paperback, and will be reviewing it shortly. Contrary to popular belief--both Whedonesque and Dark Horse--the trade paperback actually hit stores Wednesday the 24th, not two days ago. I've had ample time to check it out, but haven't gotten the chance to review as of yet. I'll post one up tomorrow.

+ Again, I apologize for the non-postage that I've been doing of late. Things have been hectic over here (school/ writing my novel/ trying to get my other novel published/ the job that actually puts money in my pocket/ trying to memorize a section of The Canterbury Tales/ reading, of course/ social life (which has taken a major blow from school & work/ EEEEEK!), but since November is the BIGGEST MONTH EVER (Buffy #8 and AFTER THE FREAKING FALL), I'm sure you'll be hearing more of me than you want to.
+ The next post will be about my little awards thing I mentioned before.