Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sorta-New Covers

So we've got some new stuff going on. Mainly covers. I'm sure you've seen them all, but I do like to wait a bit after they're released before posting them. It seems rude to the original site that has posted them to put it on MY blog the day they put it on their site, eh?

Buffy #15 Variant. I know, I know, we haven't gotten any #14 covers yet. That's just how this particular cookie crumbled. Thanks to CowbowGuy from the SlayAlive forums, we get this one early, which I think is pretty awesome.

L -> R: Dracula, Xander, Renee, Buffy, Andrew, Willow, Satsu

SlayAlive Variant to Angel #5, by Stephen Mooney.
Though the concept has little to nothing to do with the description of the issue... hey, it makes for a cool cover!

"Angel After the Fall #6: First Night" Cover B
This is by the Sharp Bros, colored by Art Lyons. Contrary to oddly popular belief, that gun-blasting fellow is indeed Wesley. Duh, much?
Now, this very special cover is for the first two issues of "First Night." It will connect when you put the issues together, which is pretty awesome.

Also, sorry for the faulty info (thanks, TFuckingAW) but the cover for "After the Fall #5" was not by Rebecca Wrigley. It was by Andrew Robinson, much like #3 and #4 were. THIS cover, however, IS by Rebecca Wrigley.
In other news.... it seems as if "First Night" has exapanded into THREE issues. However, according to Chris Ryall, the next "After the Fall" comic that continues the main story (#9, at this point) will be released in the same MONTH as "After the Fall #8, First Night part 3" so we don't get too behind on the story. It will likely come out TWO WEEKS after #8.
See you all soon!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

: O

What Is It?: Angel- After the Fall: Issue #3 (written by Brian Lynch, plotted by Joss Whedon and Brian Lynch).

Timing: Directly follows "After the Fall #2"

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

REVIEW: This issue was big on action. The majority of the issue is made up of action, starting with a fight between Angel and Illyria and then a fight between Illyria and Angel's dragon. As with any Buffyverse episode, the banter between the characters during the fight scenes was amazing. It was especially a treat to "hear" Illyria speak again.

Illyria: You're half of what you were.
Angel: I know

Illyria: I can find another pet, Spike. One who doesn't so obviously try to steal glances at me while I soak.

This issue is also really big on revelations. Everyone who was still worried about where Spike's character is headed--despite Brian Lynch's insistence that everything will be chill--see what is really up with their character here. I'm starting to think they should replace the title "After the Fall" with "Nothing Is What It Seems" (not seriously, though) because Spike--of course--didn't just decide to become a music video pimp. (Spoiler:) The fact that his Hugh Hefner act is just that, an act to cover up the fact that he is using his mansion to house people who he has saved, should settle all the Spike-lovers down. Also, Spike's drama sets up an interesting situation for Angel, who is conflicted in more ways than one. He is, though he'd never admit it, happy that Spike and Illyria weren't behind the murders in Westwood. He's beyond pissed off that Connor and Spike are palling it up, and also he's peeved at Connor's insinuation that Spike is saving more people than him. As if Angel didn't have enough on his plate already.

I was glad that the last few pages were less action, as the fight with Illyria was jarring on my first read. There is some time-slipping involved, and we get a glimpse at Liam, Puppet Angel, and Future Angel, all confused by present-day Illyria trying to kill them. Each of these versions of Angel gets internal dialogue/narration WHILE we're also reading (1) dialogue and (2) present-day Angel's narration. I didn't enjoy reading that as much as the other "After the Fall" stuff on my first try, but I immediately embarked on a second read-through. Now that I knew what was coming, I was prepared, and I got it and enjoyed it thoroughly. But yeah, back to the end of the issue. We see Angel and Wesley team up (sort of) to approach the Lords of LA, who are having a meeting to discuss the death of Burge's son at Angel's hands. As you could have guessed from the blurb of Issue #4, this issue ends with Angel issuing a challenge to the lords (some of whom we recognize, such as the hooded sorcerer from "Enemies" and the Loan Shark from "Tabula Rasa") to decide the fate of LA.

I gave the last two issues perfect 10/10s, which is rare for me. However, there were a few minors points taken away in this issue. I don't like that different characters keep repeating the same phrases (Connor/Spike: "bottom-feeder" .... Nina/Angel: "up-and-up") but that wasn't only in this issue. I only actually noticed it here. Gunn isn't here, and I understand that. It's just... he's become so interesting that I just need to know what he's up to. And, as much as I loved the Angel/Illyria fight on my second read, a half-point probably gets taken away for the huge amounts of narration. The issue, as a whole, could have benefited from less internal dialogue, because there was a lot of it. Though that half point is won back by (I never thought I'd say this) including that damn Loan Shark. That's a pretty ballsy move. Not only was the Loan Shark the cheesiest demon, who nearly ruined "Tabula Rasa," he's almost universally loathed by fans. It takes some, as Lindsey would say, brass testes to include him in this comic. Question is... does it work? Yeah, actually it does. The Loan Shark fits into this medium far better than television and he actually almost looks scary. Go figure, right? Once again, despite a little thing here or there, Brian, Franco, and Joss deliver.

Oh, and...

The issue ends with what is pretty much the biggest revelation/cliffhanger/thing in this history of not only Angel, but the entire Buffyverse. Holy crap.

Art: Franco draws an amazing Illyria. The couple of times we get a side-view of her face, I could have sworn I was looking at Amy freaking Acker. The expressions are perfect, and he pretty much just nailed the character. There is this one panel, where Illyria looks back at Spike after he tells her she's in no condition to fight the dragon. Her facial expression is, all at once, incredulous, "wtf," and "don't make me kick BOTH of your asses to prove you twice as wrong." On the other, less positive side of things, the few panels that are--for want of a better term--not close-ups, the character's faces are a bit distorted. A few more details would clear it up but, seeing as the 'regular' panels are so beautiful, I think the art would be more consistent if the farther away panels had the same quality.

Oh, speaking of quality... The quality (and weight) of the paper is back to normal. I don't know what happened with Issue #2, but Issue #3 has the same crispness of #1. That was a pleasant surprise.

Characters We Know: Angel, Illyria, Spike, The Dragon, Connor, Wesley, Loan Shark, Cloaked Sorcerer Demon from "Enemies"

Lynchverse Characters We Know: Spider, Burge

Speculation: I'm not even going to touch this one. All I can say is that.... Nah, can't even. You'll understand what I mean after reading the last page of this issue. It will leave you, like me, salivating for more. Best. Ending. Ever.

Rating: 9/10

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sorry, I'm late.

Been slacking with the postage.

Covers for Buffy #13

First one is by Foster, the second is by Jeanty. You probably already knew that though. If you didn't, get wittit!

Covers for Angel #5
First is by Rebecca Wringley, and it's her first cover. Second is by--of course--Franco Urru, AKA the MAN.
BLUBS FOR Buffy #13: Drew Goddard (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alias, Lost, and the writer of Cloverfield), continues his story arc "Wolves at the Gate," which has Buffy and the gang fighting a team of ├╝ber vamps in Tokyo. In order to better understand their mysterious new foes, Xander must recruit an old ally to join in their cause to defeat this new danger.
BLURB FOR Angel #5: Everything he had was taken away from him. But now, in his darkest hour, Angel is taking it back. The battle lines are drawn, sides are chosen, and Angel takes a stand that will change everything and everyone close to him. Joss Whedon, Brian Lynch and Franco Urru bring you the official continuation of the Angel TV series! Rogue Angel cover artist Rebecca Wrigley supplies a variant cover.
Alrighty. We've seen a lot of folks doing Buffyverse covers. From Jo Chen, to Georges Jeanty, to Paul Lee, Tony Harris, Andrew Robinson, Franco Urru, and now Rebecca Wringley. Jo Chen is pretty much unquestionably the best at covers, but--for now--she's gone. Luckily, going by what Joss said, she'll be back after "Wolves at the Gate." I liked Jon Foster's cover for #11 and loved his #12, but this #13... really fell flat. Kinda even pissed me off. That looks absolutely nothing like Xander. One of the most exciting things about these comics is waiting to see the new covers, and this #13 by Foster is the first "main" cover that I outright dislike.
Now... the Angel cover situation. Franco Urru went from 'variant' cover artist to main cover artist, because he's just that badass. His covers aren't painted, but they're just as attractive as if they were. But... After Harris left, the painted covers haven't been that high in quality. Robinson's first cover (his #3, featuring Illyria) is good. I put it as my desktop in anticipation for Wednesday, but... the fact that he had to paint Illyria's name into the cover STILL irks me. If it was an Illyria one-shot, by all means... But it's kinda like he's reminding us who she is. But, other than that tiny quibble, nothing annoyed me. Until his cover for #4. Nice use of colors, but... Huh? Really? I know it's dream-like, but Angel looks like he's wearing skiis. And why is Angel suddenly, you know, Ricky Martin? Don't get it. But we needn't fret, the painted cover for #5 was better. Wringley handled this one and as I said, it was better than #4, but *still* not what I'd expect from someone given the responsibility of creating a cover for such an epic series by Lynch and Urru. I don't know if it's the colors or the grittiness of the cover, but... Angel doesn't look like Angel and Spike looks like Eminem...
But I'm just bitching. What I am glad about is that each issue has at least one good cover. This Wednesday, Angel #3 has that badass Franco cover. The next two Franco covers are also amazing. For the upcoming Buffy #11, I'd say go with Jeanty's if you have to pick, but for #12 definitely get the Foster. Back to Jeanty for #13, though.
See ya'll on Wednesday.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I hate you all for not commenting on my wonderful, marvelous, rambling "A Year With Buffy" entry. :]

"After the Fall" #3 comes out this coming Wednesday, you fucktards. Get it.

Friday, January 4, 2008

"You Don't Volunteer to be a Minder, Buffy. You Get Chosen."

What Is It?: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Issue #10: Anywhere But Here (written by Joss Whedon)

Timing: BtVS Season Eight, follows the events of "No Future For You Part 4"

REVIEW: "Anywhere But Here" is the most fully realized Buffy: Season Eight comic released by Dark Horse, as it offers a solid, twenty-five page story that reads as if it were an entire arc. It's not perfect (the way they defeat the villain is a bit lame), but it did more than I could have ever expected a one-shot to do. It's so crammed with story and zingy dialogue that it took me a long, long time to read. At least forty minutes, I'd say. The structure of the story (what with Buffy and Willow's 'fantasy' sequences and, later, their visions of the future/past) is a bit experimental but, unlike the previous one-shot in this series "The Chain," this actually worked. Well.

There were a lot of revelations (How did Dawn become a giant? Can we get a look at Kenny? How does Buffy have money for all these high-tech thingers? Where the blip is Kennedy?) as well as references to past events, all of them with new plot twists attached on the end. I love how Joss is daring enough to put a scene in this book like the Kennedy/Willow scene, which is sure to be controversial with fans of the Scooby core-relationship as well as a few still-sore Willow/Tara lovers. I couldn't have loved this development more though and this little (or huge) drama is something that I feel Willow's character has needed for a long time. Her arc in Season Seven was pretty much "I was evil, can't do magic, Kennedy is hot!" which was a little disappointing, considering her monumental role in Season Six. But here, a spin is finally put on the once-bland Willow/Kennedy relationship. With Dawn finally revealing how she was "embiggened" and Buffy reeling from Willow's revelation of why she doesn't bring Kennedy around, this series continues to heat up like a tea kettle that Giles has left on for too long. In a good way.

On a lighter note, this is also the funniest issue. In this dialogue heavy issue (and with Joss writing, that's a plus), I'd have to give the best line to Willow, for something she says while describing a fantasy of her's to Buffy: "It's too dangerous! We can shi down these crazy alps in the morning, but till then, television's Tina Fey... we must find a way to keep warm."

I also have to mention--and I know you've heard this before, but it's a must I mention this--how nice it is to see a fan of this show, Robin Balzer, immortalized in the pages of this comic. Robin and Jerrod, congratulations on this. Robin was chosen well (in real life, as well as the character!) and I think it's awesome of Dark Horse and Joss to reach out to the fans like this. It warms a guy's heart, no?

Art: Cliff Richards handles the pencils for this one-shot. We know him from his work on Dark Horse's first run of BtVS (if you have the Omnibuses, he did the arcs set between "The Origin" and Season One), and he does alright here. I don't like how he shades by simply drawing lines across the character's faces. Neither of our two main Buffyverse artists (Jeanty and Franco) do this, and the end result often looks weird. Also, when he depicts a character with a shadow across their face, he simply draws a hard line down the center of their faces. It just doesn't look real. That being said, some panels are very good. While I might have liked his style better in the older books, he is good enough that his art doesn't take away from the enjoyment. His art isn't as visually pleasing as Jeanty or Urru's, but it sure ain't bad. As for the covers, we've got a whopper from Jo Chen. Many people are calling her cover for this issue the best they've seen and, for one, no one is hating on the Georges cover. Both are great. However, I feel we should have gotten a 1:10 Cliff Richards cover. When Paul Lee guest-pencilled Issue #5, we got a cover from the main two artists AND Paul Lee. This should have been the same.

Characters We Know: Buffy, Willow, Xander, Dawn, Kennedy

Season Eight Recurring Characters We Know: Satsu, Leah (only from afar)

Speculation: (highlight to read)

Don't have much this issue, which is odd, seeing how revealy it was. We know that Willow isn't bringing Kennedy around because off what happened with Tara. Willow feels that when she resurrected Buffy, she chose Buffy over Tara, thus putting Tara in the path of a bullet. She, Willow, could have recovered from Buffy's death and raised Dawn in a nice place, away from Sunnydale, with Tara by her side. They could have remained at peace, and so could have Buffy. But all she thought about was bringing Buffy back. I don't think this is going to result in more "I wish I would have stayed dead" drama from Buffy, because that was covered two seasons ago, but I'm glad that these things are finally being addressed. I would have never been able to come up with an idea like that, and seeing Buffy react to finding out about this was emotionally riveting. I can't even begin to guess where that story is going to take us.

Rating: 9/10