Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Funniest Issue Yet

What Is It?: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Issue #13: Wolves at the Gate Part II (written by Drew Goddard)
Timing: BTVS, Season Eight. Directly after "Wolves at the Gate Part I."

REVIEW: Pretty much awesome on all counts. This, as I suspected, it clearly going to be a very comedic arc, though the villainous vamps we're dealing with here seem to pose a huge threat. As far as "monsters of the week," they're easily the most threatening we've seen, and that's really saying a lot. Amy and Warren messed Willow's mug up pretty bad (for a minute, at least) and the Gigi/Roden team nearly ended Faith. But these guys? This new team of vamps (Toru, Raidon, and Kumiko) not only duped Dracula, they also have a pretty effective plan to put any Slayeriffic enemies out of commission.

This issue is basically set up for things to come, but it does its job very well. We've pretty much got three things going on at once:

+ Xander and Renee try to enlist Dracula's help. Not only do we get some insight into why "Antique" happened (as well as confirmation that it is canonical, we also get great Xander/Dracula banter, hilariously pretentious angry Dracula moments, and even a scene where Andrew explains (with a chalk board and all!) what's the dealio with Dracula and Xander. Loved this.
+ We've also got stuff going on back at Slayer Central, though admittedly not much. Satsu is dealing with the night she spent with Buffy, but Buffy is pretty much not dealing at all. We get some emotional and hilarious stuff from Willow, and the characterization for all the leads in this section of the story is spot-on. Willow's voice has been very weak this season, but this is the issue where I felt it getting stronger.
+ Finally, a few pieces of the story deal with Toru and his vamps. Not going to reveal much, because the scheme they have cooked up is spoileriffic, but it's a really inventive idea.

This issue of Buffy has me once again waiting with bated breath for the next part of the story, because each of these twenty-two pages burst with laughs and shocks. If you don't laugh at loud at a few moments in this issue, you might want to check your pulse, friend.

Art: Art is consistently good, at this point. Jeanty seemed to struggle with Toru in Issue #12 (as I mentioned) but here things are much better. And really... this man draws Dracula perfectly. I'd almost go as far as to say that his depiction of Dracula is his best likeness so far. As far as the characters he's been drawing, I'd say he's improved most with Andrew's likeness. I mean, compare his Andrew in this issue to the almost unrecognizable Andrew from #12. Hell, compare any of this to his work in the earlier issues. Jeanty keeps getting better and better.

Covers (New Cateogory!): Oh God, I miss Jo Chen. Thank everything Holy and Good that she is back for #16. Jon Foster's cover for this one shows someone who is supposed to be Xander sitting on... I don't even know, maybe a mushroom? A cliff with pimples. In the background, we see castle and Buffy (whose feet are apparently a size 26) and Willow, who is attending the goth prom. Come on. What is with this cover? Jeanty offers up a variant that is a big improvement over his cover for #12. His covers for this arc (well, at least 12-14) has a very colorful and bright look, which is cool. I don't *love* it, but I don't mind it at all. The Xander/Dracula riding thing is cool, as are the marching vamps.

Characters We Know: Xander, Dracula, Andrew, Buffy, Willow

Season Eight Recurring Characters We Know: Renee, Satsu, Toru, Raidon, Kumiko

Rating: 9/10 *

*In retrospect, I should have rated #12 as a 8/10. I was a bit excited after reading, and it's always best to wait a while before giving it a rating. This issue was considerably better than #12, but it also wasn't as good as #11, #10, or the other issues I've given 10/10s. #12 is now rated 8/10. This sort of 'retcon' of ratings will not happen again, but I think it was important in this case.

9 comments:

Loki said...

Agreed that it was a very good issue, but better than 12? Not to me, I think. 12 is my favourite issue so far, all the character-voices were spot on, it was not only funny but Buffy-funny, it canonized "Tales" and it opened up a new, interesting plot. 13 is funny, builds on the new plot and shows mostly as excellent characterization, but with the exception of the reveal of the vampires' plan (or part of it anyway) there isn't really anything brilliant here that doesn't just build on the excellent set up in 12.

If I'm to rate the issues to date, I'd probably do something like
12
13
11
9
6
8
7
4
2
5
1
3
With 12 being about a strong 9/10 and 3 - if I remember correctly - probably something like a strong 6.

Though when you get behind 10 in the order its been so long I think mostly by "arc" not "issue" and some of them might be a little oddly ordered.

Loki said...

Wooops, I forgot 10! It is supposed to be between 8 and 7. Sorry.

kalibrasseur said...

Agreed on all accounts. This has definitely been one of my favourite issues yet! The Dracula/Xander interaction made me laugh more than anything else in Season 8 (and there have been plenty of funny moments) - not to mention Willow's comment about Buffy's 'shoe-sale noise'. I'm a sucker for the Buffy humour, and this feels really close to what a good, funny episode used to be like.

Love where the plot is going too, with the fang-gang's plan.

PatShand said...

I think the main reason we're in disagreement over this being better than #12 is that I don't really rank #12 that high when compared to the other issues. This is how I'd rank the issues so far (it changes often, mind):

11
10
6
7
13
3
9
1
12
8
2
4
5

I was surprised to see that #3 is your least favorite. It was the first issue where I really felt like I was reading about the gang. For me, #12 was good, but #10 and #11 were straight up 10/10s for me.

Loki said...

Well, I might simply be way off on the what-was-where on the first arc... So don't take that with too much certainty. The point is that I'd put The Gift and The Long Way Home on the bottom, No Future For You and Anywhere But Here above them, and A Beautiful Sunset and what we've seen so far of Wolves at the Gate on top. I can't really judge individual issues from a year ago without re-reading them on their own, so as soon as you get further back in time than #10, I'm just speculating from what little I remember of what happened in what issue. But recent issues I *can* judge, and 12 is my favourite. 13 and 11 close behind, but 12 is my favourite.

Matt said...

I actually really like the cover. It seems as though Xander is supposed to be sitting on some kind of structure, perhaps a gargoyle for the castle or something. Not something I'd like to see on each issue, but it's kind of cool for now.

-M

Loki said...

Just re-read it, and I'm thinking about the whole "Buffy Vs. Dracula"-"Antique"-"Wolves at the Gate"-trilogy this is shaping up to be. I see people are taking Andrew literally all over the Net and freaking out over the Xander-character-murder that would be - you're all agreeing with me there's no reason for that, right?

I mean, Andrew never says anything that doesn't just sound like simplifications and tongue-in-cheek remarks of stuff that could very well have happened. I interpret this as Dracula having some form of fascination with Xander - which was established clearly in "Antique" (which I really wish we could just number 8x0 so I'd not have to spell it out al the time) - and that he might have sent him a letter or two, trying to befriend him after the events of 5x1. At some point he's then forced Xander back into his servitude, as of yet unknown as to how. Also unknown is why Buffy let this go on for several months before stepping in. During this time Dracula's fascination with Xander has clearly strengthened. At the same time there might or might not have been a certain slow amicability towards Dracula developing in Xander as well underneath the thrall, but that'd be speculation. The point is that I interpret this comic - and Antique - as saying DRACULA reaches out to XANDER. Never the opposite.

Now tell me - am I just making this up? To me this seems to be what the comics so far are saying, but, since people are all bonkers over this, am I missing something?

insanohomejournal said...

OH man!!! I Love this issue... is just amazing... the whole xancula it may be a little off 4 people but I think is fun and even kind of cute... but REALLY gets me is the badguy's plan, is just horrorific what they did to Aiko... I mean, she was a GREAT, MOJO BEACUP slayer and he kill her just like a little girl... which I belive (being more cold and sober) was the best thing 4 her, she wouldn't deal being "helpless" after being a slayer... U saw how cool she was and I felt 4 her even more than I feel 4 satsu, leah, rowena, simone, etc, etc.. I have a few more ideas but this is getting a bit too long comment... sorry Pat

Quique12 said...

I thought 12 was funnier then 13, but 13 was funny too. It seems to me that the guest writers are doing a better job then Joss in these comics. I loved the arc written by Brian K. Vaughan (which got me to buy all of Ex-Machina, Y: the Last Men and Runaways) and I am truly enjoying Drew Goddard's issues.

I am very happy at how good the Buffy comics have been.