Friday, July 18, 2008



Please ignore the annoying graphic. We'll repost in a week without it, but we're a bit too excited about this series to worry about it. I'm about to go on vacation in six hours, so I just needed to get this out there. Hope you like this short, featuring the ever awkward Smiley (played by a good friend, Chris Halton) and the heart-throb with a shirt on his head "The N**** Guy"--and yes, that's a very appropriate South Park reference--(played by Steven Wisnowski). Enjoy, and don't worry about the video quality. The actual series itself will look prettier and will absolutely not have a little pootie smack in the middle of the screen for the first ten seconds.

Comment, rate, playerhate, enjoy!

My Webseries

Hey guys,

I've created/written a webseries called "Whatz Good Studios" and the TRAILER for it comes out tonight. So please, check it out. Comments rock, high ratings rock hard, support rocks harder, and spreading the word rocks hardest.

They all rock equally, actually.

So please, check it out. I'll update when I know that the trailer has been added.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Spike, Brian Lynch, and Franco Urru Reunite

What Is It?: Spike- After the Fall #1 (written by Brian Lynch.)

Timing: After Spike's "First Night" story in Angel: After the Fall #6. Before Angel: After the Fall #1. To make it less complicated, you can pretty much say it's between "Not Fade Away" and "Angel: After the Fall."

REVIEW: All in all, it's the best Buffyverse comic we've seen from IDW since they released Angel #5 in March. The overall consistency of a comic written by Brian Lynch and pencilled by Franco Urru is really, really strong, and I'm more than pleased to have those two back together. I miss that team so hard over on the Angel book, so this comic feels sort of like a soothing cream over the open wound.

What we've got here is a prequel that feels nothing like a prequel at all. What you might have noticed, if you've been following Brian Lynch's work, is that this man never just churns out comics for the sake of putting something out there. He fills each page with action, character reveals, and hilarious one-liners that you can just tell he has a blast writing. Spike is as in-character as ever here, showing how he's really taken charge as the defender of his group of humans. Even though we all know where Spike's character is going by the end of this book due to his early appearances in "Angel: After the Fall," Brian still manages to surprise us with how he handles Illyria/Fred as well as the humans he's looking over. Jeremy (or, as Spike calls him, Jerry) is an awesome addition to the cast that Spike really seems to have a nice rapport with. I love that Jeremy challenges him, which leads to some hilarious and even slap-stick moments. Though what I'm a bit worried about is (SPOILER:) the lack of Jeremy in "Angel: After the Fall." Looks like he might end up being not-so-alive not-so-long from now.

As Brian moves the story forward, both he and Franco really put their all into each panel and pull off a lot of sly little winks and references throughout the book. From Angel, to Spike, to Everybody's Dead, to Monkey Man, I've read more Brian Lynch this year than I've read Whedon, so it was extremely awesome to see that the place Spike has taken up residence in is none other than Happytime Studios, which is the very same place where his original character Monkey Man sold his soul and momentarily "misplaced" his nuts in a previous Lynch scripted miniseries. Also, fans of "Spike: Shadow Puppets" might see an old friend in the shape of a duck. And, call me crazy, but I think Spike gave a child to/threatened Bernard and Rose from Lost early in the issue.

The stuff with Fred/Illyria is great, to the point where I don't know which character I want to stick around. Both of the characters have defining moments, that read a little something like this-

Illyria: "Ours."

(pst, it's all about context, because that is a *perfect* moment)


FRED: "Spike, what are you doing? He was feeling oogly--"

"Oogly." So Freddy. She's speaking Freddish. It's been so long since I've heard some great Fred dialogue, because she's pretty much been Illyria for the majority of "Angel: After the Fall" and other than that, she's pretty much been dead since 2005. So it's really, really awesome to hear this character speak again. And even better because she mentions her time spent in Pylea, which--in seeing her interact with the regular Angel case--we so easily forget about. But now that she's in Hell, I thought it was great to bring that comparison up. Very, very nice.

Now I see why Brian is so enthusiastic about this series. Great character stuff, great plot so far, spot-on dialogue, and amazing art (which I'll get to down below). As dark as it is, it's a lot lighter in tone than the Angel book. Great, great read.

Art: Franco Urru. I've written a lot of great stuff about dude, but seeing his art in this issue was so bittersweet it made my heart ache in the worst way. I love seeing his pencils, think it's great that he's on this book, and just... the "Angel" comic misses him so bad. Anyone who was hating on this guy has to a) be higher than Angel was when he fought the T-Rex, b) be sexist, c) be racist, d) be a Nazi, and e) like the Doom movie. The guy's stylized art works so well for the series, nailing both the action and the facial expressions of the characters. There is never a moment when I had to squint at a panel to see what was going on. In fact, in subsequent reads, more details pop out at you. I can't say I don't wish Urru was still doing pencil-work on the "Angel" book, simply for consistency and the fact that I'd enjoy it a lot more than I have been if Urru was still the artist, but this is still such a treat. As far as the colorist, I'm so not a fan of Art Lyon, but I think Urru is too strong an artist for his pencil work to be brought down by Art's washed out coloring. So yeah, this team--Brian and Franco--should pretty much write and pencil everything, because dayum.

Covers: Franco provides two covers, one with Spike standing atop a building in vampire-lemon face, the other a repeat of that image with Spike in human face. Both covers are awesome, and the use of colors (dark, royal reds and purples in the VLface cover and white/orange in the Hface cover) makes both similar covers look drastically different. Joe and Rob Sharp provide an incentive cover with a "grindhouse" effect. It's an awesome image, though the fact that Spike's face is traced from an extremely famous promo image but the rest of his body wasn't looks a bit awkward. The Sharp bros actually commented on that, saying that they were worried about not nailing the likeness, which is beyond understandable. What you'll notice in the subsequent issues is that the Sharp bros no longer use promo images and still manage to give great likenesses which pretty much shows that they're just overall really strong artists. I wouldn't mind seeing some interior pencils from these guys in an Angel or Spike book one day.

Characters We Know: Spike, Illyria, Fred, Dicky Duck, the Dragon, Spike AtF ninjagroupiescrazies.

Rating: 9/10

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New Whedon Material

Hey all,

This'll be quick. Act One of a Joss Whedon web-musical is now up online. All you have to know is that Joss (in collaboration with his brothers and others) wrote and directed it, and that is stars Neil Patrick Harris, Felicia Day, and Nathan Fillion. Literally couldn't be more awesome if it was called "Buffy the Vampire Slayer 2008 The Movie" or "Serenity II." Fo' realz.

Link is here.

Be patient, there have been some server problems. You may download it on iTunes for real cheap if you want it now, which you should want it now to avoid being weird and/or a n00b. Just keep trying to access it, and it'll eventually come to you. Check in every few hours, because it's short and when you do see it, it will--no question--make your day.

I'll be posting a comprehensive REVIEW of Act One tomorrow, after I post my review of "Spike: After the Fall #1" which, oh yeah, comes out tomorrow as well. But want a snippet of what a review for Doc. Hor. would read like?

It's f**king awesome and better than you can imagine.

Pretty much that. Oh, and also,

Freeze ray song FTW.

So yeah, check that out. Act One. Up now. If you like Joss, any of those actors, or pretty much any kinda musicals at all... this is for you.

Tomorrow: Spike #1 and Angel: After the Fall hardcover Volume One
Thursday: Doctor Horrible Act Two
Saturday: Doctor Horrible Act Three


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Brian Hits It Out of the Park, Runge Does Well

What Is It?: Angel- After the Fall: Issue #10 (written by Brian Lynch, plotted by Joss Whedon and Brian Lynch.)

Timing: The proverbial morning after "After the Fall #9"

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: As far as the reading experience goes, this book is most similar to #3 and #4. It's not as strikingly good as #1, #2, or #5, nor does it have any real noticeable weak spots. The thing you have to do with this book, again like with #3 and #4... is read it twice. The second read, when you know what to expect, really gives the story and the character moments a chance to sink in. That's not really a strength or a weakness of the issue, it's just a thing that I've noticed happens in some comics. Happened in Season Eight a couple of times (most notably #2 and #4), and it's perfectly fine with me that it happened here. Reading a Brian Lynch penned "Angel" comic twice in a row definitely gives me a happy.

So here we are. The fight with the Lords is done, the Fang Gang is back in the Hyperion, and Gunn's plan is coming along nicely. Well, evilly, but nicely for him, I suppose. As Brian Lynch said, from this point and on there will be less Earth-shaking revelations and more heart-stopping, nail biting payoff... which indeed there is. But there also manages to be one more Earth-shaker of a revelation, which I'll get to later.

This issue was very calm, and followed the pace of the show nicely, allowing the characters to interact and go on a seemingly regular mission... which leads to much larger, highly unexpected stuff. But what am I doing, let's start with the beginning. The issue starts with a dream sequence, in which Angel pictures himself as an old man watching Spike and Connor play Batman and Robin (drawn in the style of the classic superhero comics, which was hilarious), which sort of gives Angel his first real "I miss being a vampire" moment, which is beyond big. When he wakes up, he and the Fang Gang gather and embark on a quest to find out what vampire killed the Lord of Westwood and all of his slaves (from Issue #1-2), which leads to great character interaction, especially between Angel and Nina. A pretty big conflict ignites between Angel and Connor when the gang finds out, through the ever blunt Illyria, (SPOILER:) that Angel is no longer human. Connor thinks Angel is in over his head, and not wanting to see his father hurt himself, he and Gwen leave Angel, Nina, and Illyria to find the Vampire In Question themselves. It's a great character moment to see Connor booking it not because he's being the immature one, but because he is for one being the mature one. Really shows how far he's come since the Season Four days. He might have been a bit rash to just leave Angel, but it's understandable.

What I love most about this issue, other than the final page, is the interaction between Gunn and Betta George. The "I'm still a good guy even though woops I kill and eat people"-ness of Gunn, which has been my favorite aspect of "After the Fall" continues to shine on. Gunn is milking George for all his psychic juice... but the thing is, it seems that he's not only using George, he's actually starting to LIKE him. Which is more than I can say for what George thinks of Gunn on the other hand, but what Brian is doing with Gunn's character, the directions he's pulling him, is really admirable. Not only does it tinker with the vampire mythology in the same way that Harmony's character did, it also gives us a creepy feeling of "Gunn kinda has a point" at certain points. Very, very good writing. And the scenes aren't just character development for Gunn, we also get some scenes with the slayers from #7 as well as the MAJOR revelation we've all been waiting for: Has Hell come to LA or was LA sent to Hell? And how does the larger world see this event? Fans of SPIKE: ASYLUM and SPIKE: SHADOW PUPPETS will love how that revelation is handled. And speaking of Spike, there is also a short scene between Wes and Spike that was nice, and I thought I'd mention it before I proceed to gush about how the issue ends.

So onto that last scene. A certain two people we've been waiting to see together finally... come together. And the way it's done, the surprise, the look in their eyes, the outline of the dragon in the sky, Betta George's gratified quip.... It's the best issue-ender since #3, which was THE best issue-ender. So yeah, it was really, really great. Overall, the writing is a solid 9/10, though it came very, very close to being a perfect 10/10.

Oh, and I loved the explanation of why LA was snowy. Totally not expected, which kept me on my feet from Page One. Great issue.

Art: Brian Lynch promised us that the art would be better than it was in #9, and for the most part he was right. As a whole, Runge's pencils have improved dramatically in this issue. They're nowhere near where they were at in the Wesley story, but they're--by and large--better than what we saw in #9. He's got the overall character design down well, and has moments of excellence. And he draws a great Lorne. Overall, it's literally a crying shame that Franco isn't on this book because needless to say, he'd make this issue much, much better... but it isn't horrible that we have Runge. In fact, it's good. Runge is a good artist that does a good job. But Franco is an impossible act to follow, and a lot of the issue I was wishing we were still seeing "the creative team handpicked by Joss Whedon" instead of "the writer handpicked by Joss Whedon and new artist Nick Runge!" Again, let me reiterate that I like Runge... but Franco simply made "After the Fall" a cosmic event. But we've got no one to blame for him being off of this project other than those complaining ass Whedonesquers. But let me sum this Art section up before I get ranty and give a rating of the fandom as a whole. Overall, I was pleased with what Runge turned in this time around, which was a very pleasant surprise. However, what I was not pleased with was the coloring. Art Lyon's colors are very washed out, and most of this issue is inexplicably brown. I mean, the panel where Connor jumped off of the building looks like he was suddenly turned to stone. In one panel, Wesley is completely brown for dramatic effect. However, it just doesn't seem to work in this book. I'd rather the colors stick more to realism, like the colorist from #2 and on, until now, did. The fact is, if there weren't so much damn brown, the page-to-page art would look considerably better. I kinda don't know what Art Lyon was thinking, but it sort of takes the punch away from Runge's otherwise nice art. So yeah, while the coloring was a letdown, Runge's art was surprisingly good. Just... the whole thing left me yearning for the same book with pencils by Franco and colors by .

Covers: There is a special place in my fanheart for Alex Garner's cover. It features Angel and Illyria in a snowy Hell-A, their legs bent, ready to jump into demon slaying-action. It's the first Garner cover I ever saw, and just proves that this dude is one of the best. Nearly Jo Chen level greatness. He gives the covers a really comic-y, superhero kinda feel while simultaneously keeping the mood, tone, and likeness of the Angel characters at a high level. We've seen four of his covers so far, and this is one of the best. For the second cover, other than a cover from Runge like we got for #9 (and will get for #11-13), Brian Miller supplies a cover that is... let's say weird? Yeah, weird is good. It's the same idea as Garner's cover, except Angel looks photo-realistic and Illyria looks like Skeletor. Overall, it's not horrible and not worthy of the panning we fans (including myself) gave it when it was first released... but the thing is, it's just kinda funny. Which isn't really a bad thing, it's just like a cheesy strange version of Garner's image. Still worth buying, and not the worst cover we've seen by a long shot. Kinda wish we got a Runge cover instead, but hey, Miller's cover looks a lot better in person than it did online.

Characters We Know: Spike, Connor, Angel, Nina, Groo, Lorne, Spider, Gwen, Illyria, Wesley, Betta George, Gunn, Beck, Biv (the invisible man from "Asylum"), and Anna (the ringel demon from "Asylum")

Rating: 8/10... Wait... Nah, 8.5/10

Not Even The Season Eight Haters Can Dislike This

What Is It?: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Issue #16: Time of Your Life Part I (written by Joss Whedon)

Timing: BtVS, Season Eight. Short time, presumably a week or so, after "Wolves at the Gate Part IV."

REVIEW: Best start to an arc, best art in a Buffy issue, and best writing in a Buffy issue. Altogether, the best issue in Season Eight and the best issue in the larger Buffyverse since "After the Fall" #5. The overall arc of the season is driven along fantastically, the plot of this episode is set up nicely, and there are some pretty devastating moments.

Overall, it's certainly not what I expected. We barely get any Fray action at all, which actually was good, as it gave the story a chance to really build up before Buffy was inevitably shipped off to Fray's time. There was a lot of Kennedy and Vi stuff (though Vi is now going by Violet, because since the lettering is all caps, "Vi" would look like the Roman Numeral Six) which was awesome, and Xander's greif over Renee was handled very, very well. And we get appearances from Twilights and the villains (oh you know who they are) from the first arc that everyone and their complainy mother has been Whedonesque-ing (sorry, I meant complaining...) about not seeing again since #4.

Those that were happy with the Buffy, Xander, Willow reunion in Issue #3 will have multiple fangasms while reading this. Most of the issue is banter between the trio, then banter between Buffy/Willow, then meetingy banter between Buffy, Willow, Vi, and Kennedy, followed by more banter between Dawn and Xander. It all serves to drive the story forward and reads like some of the best Jossian dialogue you can find, but again OH does it drive the story forward. Dawn's thricewise curse goes into its second stage, which really answers the "Why is Dawn a centaur?" question people we asking when they saw the cover to #18. There are great Willow/Kennedy moments, as well as an awesome exchange between Buffy and Kennedy where Kennedy makes it all too clear to Buffy that Willow is off limits. I thought all of this was great, because this issue left me enjoying two characters that I haven't enjoyed in a long time. Kennedy and Willow. Well, I never really enjoyed Kennedy that much until now, and how great is she here? Very. Thing about Willow this season, though... she's been so powerful, so flighty, so healy, that it seems she hasn't really been a character as much as a plot device. But in this issue, she is very much a character. And I love it.

One thing that I loved was that this entire issue was like a huge nod to continuity. Many people have said, and not without reason, that Joss Whedon sacrifices continuity when he sees great story and character moments, citing the case of "Warren never died" as the prime example. However, he seems to be trying to develop Buffy into a more tight-knit mythology with this issue, because of both obvious and more subtle reasons. Most obviously, the entire Buffy/Fray cross-over and, at a larger scale, Season Eight itself is functioning to clear up the discrepancy between "Chosen" and "Fray." On a much smaller scale, there are references to past happenings and demonic breeds that gives the Buffyverse a greater feeling of continuity. Fyarl demons are mentioned, and the "trade" that happens when someone goes through a portal (from Season Seven) happens again in this issue. It just gives me the feeling that Joss is really trying to give his story a more solid structure to fall back on and, as a fan, I truly appreciate this.

After reading this, I'm more excited about Season Eight that I've ever been. Ever. And that is saying so much, because holy BHC was I excited before.

Art: Again, the best we've seen. I love Georges Jeanty and I love how he's made the characters his own, but penciller Karl Moline (who was behind the art of the original "Fray" series) is just better. I feel like I'm cheating on Georges by just saying that, but it's true. Moline's Dawn is simply fantastic, as he makes her look at once 100% like Michelle Trachtenberg and 100% like his own design. He captures the subtle expressions of the character's faces, allowing this Joss-banter heavy issue to pop across the page, each panel completely registering. His depiction of Buffy is also great, and ties with Jeanty's Buffy.... but Moline's Willow completely beats out Jeanty's. He does a great job with Kennedy and Vi(olet), and pretty much just gives us an all around stellar performance. His artwork in "Fray" was already great... but he's come miles since then.

Covers: The glorious return of Jo Chen. After Jon Foster's really-not-that-good-at-all-and-that's-a-laughable-understatement run, it's like a breath of oxygen to a drowning person to see Jo Chen strut her painty stuff all over this page. Buffy and Fray are going at it--more with the violent than sexual connotation, there, by the by--and it's an overall awesome image. Not iconic like the way she's kicked off the first two arcs, but still a really, really nice cover. The second cover is from our boy Jeanty, who gives us a really cool image of Buffy, Willow, Vi(olet), and Kennedy hanging out in Manhattan. It's really reminiscent of his cover to #6, which was the start of the "No Future for You" arc and had a very similar image with Buffy and Faith. It's nothing to wow you, but it's a great image with really deep colors that set a really cool tone for the contents inside. Well, most contents ARE inside something, but.... you know what I mean.

Characters We Know: Buffy, Fray, Dawn, Xander, Willow, Leah, Twilight, Warren, Amy, Kennedy, Vi(olet).

Rating: 10/10. An easy, easy 10/10.