Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Director's Cut

What Is It?: Angel- After the Fall #1 (The Director's Cut)

Timing: C'mon.

REVIEW: To read my review of the first issue, click here.

This review will basically tackle the few changes made to the actual comic as well as the addition of script and commentary in the back, as well as the actual physical presentation of the book. Which we'll get to first.

The Book: It's beautiful. Not only does this have one of my favorite covers, but it's all glossed up with the title and author names in gold and foily glory. The book itself is bound like a trade paperback, much like the Spike one-shots IDW put out in 2006. When sorting this in your collection, this definitely doesn't go in the comic section. It goes right to the TPBs.

The Changes: There aren't many changes to the comic. As you might have seen on Brian's blog, Gunn's hoodie has been changed to red. This was a good decision, I think, because a lot of fans couldn't tell that it was Gunn on the last page. However, I'd argue that said fans weren't paying attention at all if they couldn't recognize Gunn in the regular edition, but that's neither here nor there. It was a good change. However, I was cock-slapped with surprise to see that the "Big Ol' Mistake" in this issue wasn't changed. When the issue first came out, everyone wondered what the heck Uk-Ca is. Brian (or Ryall, I forget) came out and said it was supposed to say Uk-La. As in Kr'ph mispronouncing UCLA. Well... it's kinda still there. Which was surprising, because that was an actual error while the thing that was changed (Gunn's hoodie) wasn't. But it's nothing to get your boxers twisted about, because I'm sure it'll be changed in the actual TPB (well... THC, considering it'll be a hardcover).

The Script: If the cover didn't convince you to buy this, the addition of Brian's script should. His message board writing has always been as sarcastically funny as the dialogue in his comic-writing, and it's the same for his script. On it's own, the script is a good read, but it's even better when you're flipping back to the actual pages of the comic to see where things have changed. And oh did things change from the script. Most for the good, though some things should have stayed. In the commentary (which I'll get to later), Brian mentions how much of Wesley's dialogue was changed from the initial script. And it's true. The Wesley we see in the final version is spot-on. However, there is one line I'd have liked to see. Not only would it cement Wes's limitations as a ghost, it's also so Wesley and so funny. When Angel and Wes were discussing Angel going out on heroic rounds, Wes originally said, "I miss rounds. But I guess aside from the occasional popping through walls and freaking out the evil-dooers with a heartfelt booga booga, I'd be quite inconsequential." Great stuff. Even though it's not in the final version, reading lines like this is what makes this a book worth buying. Overall, the script shows how honed the final version of "Angel: After the Fall #1" is and how much work went into it. It's a great example of how the writing process goes, and gives those unfamiliar with comics an inside look into just how things go.

The commentary: For the sake of length, the commentary of this issue is placed in the borders of the script. This is good because you can read the script of the page and then just look to the side and see the commentary. As far as substance, I was hoping for a little more insight into how Joss and Brian collaborated on this, but Brian's notes are--as always--an entertaining read. I especially liked the sections where Brian talked about how certain characters were originally supposed to do different things. Betta George was supposed to be chilling with a certain British someone, someone else was supposed to kill Kr'ph, and the end of the issue was originally supposed to be very, very different. Great commentary.

Overall: Overall, this is a great buy. Page quality is high, binding is good, and it's just a book you need to have in your collection. IDW and Brian Lynch are extremely generous in how they're treating Angel fans, and this is a prime example of that. This issue got numerous printings, will be collected into a hardcover edition next month, and yet they still provide us with this glossy book with a brand new cover and killer bonus feature. That is something you just can't beat.

---------The Issue, as you may remember, was a 10/10 Classic.
---------This book gets a 9/10

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Help A Bruva Out

Hey Buffyverse Comics Reviews readers (all two 1/2 of you)

It would mean a lot to me if you guys checked out my other blogger site ( and maybe give me a few comments every now and then. I'll be posting a few original stories, short films, webcomics, and excerpts from my series "The Continuity." So yeah, no fan-fic, unless I'm suddenly... you know... inspired to do fan-fic. Which I likely won't be. But yeah, please give it a look-see.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Moonlight Gets The Proverbial BIYA!


They cancelled "Moonlight"


We must do something!?!

We must fight back!!!

We must keep this *intelligent* show on air...




Totally kidding.

I've never been less upset with the cancellation of a genre show. I liked this show better when it was called "Angel" and didn't suck.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Rushed to the Nth, But Still Good

Non-Buffyverse Related

What Is It?: Serenity: Better Days #3 (written by Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews)

Timing: Follows "Better Days #2," concluding the "Better Days" arc (which is set AFTER "Firefly" and before "Those Left Behind.")

REVIEW: Better than #1, not as good as #2.

I admit, this issue confused the Hell out of me. After the second read it clicked a bit better, but a lot of the time I was wondering what the Special Hell was going on. Especially in the action sequences, but that's more of an art problem than anything else, so will be addressed in the "Art" section. But what's that about Simon and Inara? Was she just giving him advice, or...? If the other thing, why was such a huge plot develop left as a _____. This is supposed to be canonical, so if that DID happen, wouldn't the things set after this reflect such an incident? I might be totally off the mark here, but that just didn't make sense at all. I've read and understood comics far more convoluted than your average issue of "Serenity," so I really don't know what was up with that.

Other than that, the issue was pretty good. The reveal about Zoe's past was a remarkable idea, and really serves to separate Mal and Zoe's backstory, preventing it from being the 'exact same past,' which is a really good thing. All the voices were spot on, probably more so than any other issue. The dialogue feels like it came right out of an episode of the show, which is really good. Other than the stuff I spoke about in the first paragraph, this made me feel like I was watching "Firefly" again, which is what both the "Buffy" and "Angel" comics have done for me. Which is why I love them so much. Even though I didn't think it was a really great issue, the past two "Serenity" installments have given me hope that this story can live on in this medium.

Art: Same as before, except even more so. Will Conrad rocks the character's likenesses, but the action is horribly done. Adding to the WTF-Is-Going-On factor that the plot kind of smelled of, the big climatic action scene didn't work well at all. In Buffy, Angel, Y: The Last Man, Everybody's Dead, Astonishing X-Men, Runaways, and basically *any* other comic I've read, I could easily follow the action. Not so much here.

Rating: 6/10

Non-Buffyverse Related

Everybody's Dead #3

Non-Buffyverse Related

What Is It?: Everybody's Dead #3 (Written by Brian Lynch, part three of a five issue mini-series)

Timing: Continues right from #2

REVIEW: That was so good.

I enjoyed the first two issues, but this one went beyond those for me. As the story unfolds, things get wonkier, jokes get funnier, and the action gets more intense. This would have read like pure cheese if it had been written by a lesser writer, but Brian writes this off-beat story with obvious joy, and that shines through the pages and into the reader. It's very dialogue driven, which is great for a series focusing mainly on comedy. The one-liners are fantastic ("Dude, you just cold-cocked a flaming zombie") and the longer jokes (Westerburg trying to sever a zombie's spinal cord from pages 10-15!) will leave you giggling. Anyone who enjoyed How High or any of the better college movies, or--on the other hand--Shaun of the Dead--will find many things to love in this series.

There isn't really anything bad about this issue. Many third issues usually feel like they're only bridging the main plot points and connecting the beginning of the series to the climax at the end, but this simply doesn't come off that way. There is a lot going on here, and it's all done well. So far, this is looking like it's one of the top five comics of 2008, because I've enjoyed this nearly as much as the Buffyverse titles we've seen this year. Nearly. But yeah, this is an awesome buy with literally universal appeal. Check it out.

Art: Well, I'm no longer on the fence. Crosland's art style definitely suits this, and the way he handled the action here was quite a bit better than how he did in #1 and #2. His art still isn't my favorite, but I think that it works very well for this book and compliments the story quite nicely. Also, gotta say, the cover he did for this issue was awesome.

Rating: 8/10

Non-Buffyverse Related

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wow. Haven't posted covers for you in a long time. Well, here we go. Here is some new stuff.

REVIEW: for Angel #7
REVIEW: for Buffy #14

Or, you know, just scroll down.


Buffy #16: Click -- Might have posted this already, but I'm not sure. The rest are all new
Buffy #16 Variant: Click --Yes, that's Vi and Kennedy
Buffy #17: Click
Buffy #17 Variant: Click
Incentive image (poster?) for "Time of Your Life" by Karl Moline. MIGHT be made into incentive covers: Click
Angel #8 (Mooney/SlayAlive): Click -- NOT YET IN COLOR
Angel #9 (Mooney/SlayAlive): Click -- NOT YET IN COLOR
Angel #9 (Runge): Click
Angel #9 (Alex Garner): Click
Angel #9 TFAW Exclusive: Click
Angel #10 (Brian Miller): Click
Angel #10 (Garner): Click to go to Brian's blog entry, with cover
Spike: AtF #2: Shown in top corner
Spike: AtF #3: Click to go to Brian's blog entry, with cover
Spike: AtF #3 (Variant): Click to go to Brian's blog entry, with cover


7th: Buffy Omnibus Volume Four. It wasn't at my LCS, but who knows. It was supposed to come out.
14th: Serenity #3
14th: Well, says it comes out in June, but the latest issue of Buffy says it comes out here. Buffy- No Future For You TPB
??th: Angel-After the Fall #1: Directors Cut
??th: Everybody's Dead #3

Things Get Less Funny

What Is It?: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Issue #14: Wolves at the Gate Part III (written by Drew Goddard)

Timing: BtVS, Season Eight. Directly after "Wolves at the Gate Part II."

REVIEW: "Wolves at the Gate" started out as a comedy issue with vampires that seemed very Monster of the Week. There was some relationship drama, all playing out very lightly, and a lot of Dracula hilarity in the first two parts.

Well, things just got a lot less funny.

In the end of the last issue, a slayer named Aiko (we hadn't met her before that point) was robbed of her powers and killed by Toru, the leader of a gang of vampires from Tokyo. These vamps are getting to be big problemas. A) They're pretty good at stealing. They stole Buffy's scythe, and they have a witch--Kumiko--who knows how to use the scythe to de-slayerize slayers. They also stole Dracula's powers, which leads to problema B) They have the power to turn into vapor, wolves, bees, and anything else Dracula can do. Now, where were we? Ah, yes, Aiko. The issue begins with a somber sequence where Buffy finds her body and takes her back to the Tokyo version of Slayer Central. Buffy balls up in the corner and broods, not knowing what to do, until Xander shows up again with Dracula. This was probably the best part of the issue, and it's all in all one of the strongest scenes in Season Eight so far. Dark Horse was wrong to leak this as a preview, though, because you never want the preview to be the best part of the issue. It kind of gets reader's hopes up and then lets them down.

However, the issue was still good. Really good, in fact. As the covers showed, Dawn arrives in Tokyo and gets her stomp on. In an otherwise sad, and later shocking violent and even MORE sad issue, that was a great moment. There is a lot of other good stuff in this issue, such as Buffy snapping into bad-ass mode, Renee acting as bait, and a really cute scene between Xander and Renee... with Dracula being jealous in the corner. All in all, even though a lot happens, it feels like build up to Issue #15, which will conclude this arc. This issue ends on a shockingly violent and tragic beat, and I have something to say about that, but it's going to be covered in spoilery text.

(SPOILER:) Joss's decision to kill Renee kind of has me torn. One, it's a brave and ballsy move to kill another one of Xander's girlfriends, and since this is a comic medium, each issue end does have to be shocking. And this was more than shocking. It was horrifying. And captivating. But on the other hand, I feel like Joss is turning the "Happy Moment Followed Directly By Death" into a huge cliche. I don't know. I'm torn. But I hope he doesn't do it again, because it is starting to get old.

Art: Jeanty does a good job here. His depiction of Dracula, Andrew, Xander, and Buffy are perfect. His Willow is improving, and his Dawn is ten times better. The Giant Dawn pages are utterly amazing. His work with Toru's face has also improved. Overall, I'm not falling out of my chair impressed, because I already know how good Jeanty is. His art has a great consistency to it, and I will certainly miss it after #15, because we won't see him again until Issue #21. Holy crap. That's December...

Covers: Once again, Jon Foster provides a stinker. There is nothing about this cover that makes it feel like a Buffy image except for the logo. Nothing. Easily the worst cover of Season Eight. Jeanty, however, tackles the same concept--Giant Dawn stomps all over Tokyo--but churns out much better results. If you don't buy both covers, buy Jeanty's, because it's actually good.

Characters We Know: Buffy, Willow, Xander, Dawn, Andrew, Dracula, Renee, Satsu, Leah

Season Eight Recurring Characters: Aiko, Raidon, Kumiko, Toru

Rating: 8/10

Been A Long While... But Here's Angel #7

What Is It?: Angel: After the Fall #7- First Night, part 2 (written by Brian Lynch, plotted by Brian Lynch and Joss Whedon)

Timing: Betta George's storyline seems to take place during Issue 5. The other two stories take place right after "Not Fade Away." It's worth noting that the "Kate" story takes place directly after "First Night: Connor."

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. Spoilers for previous issues will obviously not be covered.

REVIEW (and art): Since each story has a different artist, I'll bunch these two categories together.

1. Betta George: Each "First Night" book starts and ends with a page featuring Betta George. Which means, at this point, we've only gotten four pages of story for him, but it's all very, very interesting. The first page picks up on the cliffhanger from Issue #6, where one of Gunn's henchmen was about to get his sushi on. For what I originally thought to be a bonus story has more substance than I could have imagined. The first page does something huge, for me. Betta George makes two explicit references to Spike, one by making the guard have a 'vision' of Spike to confuse him, and another reference when he says he has to "see a British guy about kicking (Gunn's ass)." I don't know about you, but for me, that's confirmation that Spike: Asylum and Spike: Shadow Puppets are canonical. Let that spark whatever debates it will, because I don't think there is much of an argument against it being so. And the second (and last) Betta George page for this issue doesn't disappoint either. We've got another huge cliffhanger, and it deals with something people have been asking about since before Issue #1 even came out. (SPOILER:) If LA is in Hell, were there any slayers in the area when it was sent there?
Rating: 9/10

2. Wesley: One might argue that I'm biased about this story. It's Wesley. He's my favorite character. BUT, let me break it down right now. If I felt Brian didn't get Wesley right--as I did with the scene between Angel and Wes in Issue #4--I would certainly say it. No matter how captivating I find Wesley's character, if the story isn't good, I'll say the story isn't good. Hell, Spike is one of my favorite characters, and I was *very* critical of Lynch's Spike story in Issue #6.
That being said, the Wesley story in this issue is literally perfect. It was given more breathing room than the Spike story, so it doesn't seem rushed at all, and the dialogue flows very nicely. Not only does it make a statement about Wesley as a character, it establishes some major things about the main plot of "After the Fall," leaving me aching for #7. It's tragic, it's beautiful, and it's damn foreboding.
What most people are going to be wondering is this: Did Nick Runge do a good job on the art? He's going to be the series artist for the rest of the run, so everyone's wondering how good he is. Chris Ryall posted a preview page of his art from #9, but it seemed that no one was that impressed. Well, looking at Runge's art here, that page was clearly just a fluke or something, because the art here is nothing short of immaculate. He nails Wesley, capturing all the emotion that the character is going through. Runge does the impossible, by making Wes look *exactly* like Alexis Denisof, but not making it look like a photo. He does a nude scene with Fred, portraying her sexuality but never being gratuitous about it. This is, bar none, the best comic art I've ever seen, and also easily Brian's best writing.
Rating: 10/10 Classic.

3. SPOILER: (Kate-) For those who don't want to know who the mystery lady is, I'll refer to this story as CONNOR PART II, since that's what it really is. Art is still by Stephen Mooney, and Connor is still the main character: Connor's story was my favorite part of #6, but not so much here. It's an okay story, and there's nothing bad about it--except the art, which I'll get to later--but the only thing is, it feels like not that much happens. Kate rescues Connor, she gets weapons, and reiterates what Angel told her in "Epiphany." It's interesting to see how Connor started being a champion, but I think their conversation should have been a bit more in depth. Again, there's nothing wrong with the story, but there's nothing really great about it either. The irony of the fact that these two people are connected through Angel, but don't know it, and are sharing advice that Angel gave one of them is really interesting... but it just feels kinda like "...Okay." Not bad, not great.
Mooney doesn't do as good here as he did in the first part of the story. He struggles noticably with women's faces, and he seems to just like to scrawl lines across everything to convey shading. It makes faces too dark, and very haggard looking. In the panel when Kate first arrives, Connor looks like he was just dipped in orange paint. None of it's really that good. Mooney's consistency is his biggest problem (other than his over-shading), and that's going to be funny, because I'm about to deal major praise to the guy in the next category.
Rating: 7/10

Covers: Rebecca A. Wrigley provides a cover for this one as well. It is the 'second part' of the cover she did for #6, and it fits together to form a full--and really cool--image. I love it, and love her, as she's provided this series with three of it's best covers. Amazing work. Mike Oeming... not so much. I thought that Andrew Robinson's cover for "After the Fall #4" would certainly be the worst of the bunch, but this is just bad. I get it, it's stylized, and it looks like Batman: The Animated Series. However, it doesn't jibe with the feel of Angel. It doesn't even look like a cover, it looks like a regular panel that should have been in the book. Covers are supposed to have more quality, and this doesn't. Plus--and this is odd--Spike isn't even a character in the book. He appears, but it's not even him. Why not have Wes or Connor on this cover? Of course, I bought it, because I gotta catch 'em all, but I wish more thought and work would have been put into this cover. Finally, the BCC/T&S/SlayAlive cover is illustrated by Stephen Mooney, and it's amazing. It's strange that this guy can provide a cover so striking that I race to put it on my desktop, and then can sketch up some interior pencils that make a question mark appear over my head. But, no matter how unever his art is, I love this. Love it. I'll post here what I said in his blog: "The Wesley cover is beautiful. Out of Masks, every Angel cover I've seen from you from "After the Fall" and all of the older ones collected in the TPBs, and also all the art posted on your blogs... this is by far the best. It's one of my favorite covers ever and is currently on my desktop."

Characters We Know: Betta George, Spike (though he isn't *really* there), Fred (SPOILER: well...), Connor, (SPOILER:) Kate.

*NOTE* I usually don't do decimals in my ratings, because that's a cop out, but I have to in this case, as my rating consists of an average of the three stories.

Rating: 8.7/10