Timing: Final third of the Angel: Season Five episode, "Not Fade Away."
Note: Adaptations are now ranked on this scale: EPIC FAIL, FAIL, BAD, OKAY, GOOD, VERY GOOD, GREAT, OUTSTANDING.
REVIEW: First off, I feel like a douche. This book came out for most last week, and the least I could do for the gracious Scott Tipton was to have a review for his book the day it came out, especially after he gave me that awesome interview. However, my shop didn't get the comic in until today for some reason, so the review was destined to be late. It might be a New York thing, though, the same thing happened with an issue of Smile Time. Either way, here it is.
Scott Tipton has done the impossible. "Not Fade Away" is, to me, the best hour of television ever produced, bar none. It's a perfect episode, a perfect finale, and a perfect set-up for what (no one really knew at the time) was to come. Tipton managed to make a comic version of the episode that I was able to fully enjoy as a comic. It pays homage to the episode, shows us some different angles (via artist Stephen Mooney), and lets us re-watch this classic episode in a different medium... without comparing it to the original the entire time. No, certain lines don't have the same resonance (particularly the exchange of "I love yous" between Wesley and "Fred," which definitely needed the actors to perform it, but the majority of the major moments capture the essence of the episode. Far better than the already very good "Smile Time" adaptation, this is something I will be coming back to time and time again.
There's not much to say, story-wise, as we all know what happens. Tipton cuts a few lines here and there, allowing the softer moments the room to breathe and the bigger moments the room to bang. He's a master at pacing and maintaining the heart-racing tension as well as the tragedy of the episode within these twenty-two pages. I don't think the book read as smoothly as the second installment, because some of the transitions between scenes feel a bit awkward (Angel's last words to Connor going into Angel's conversation with Eve, for example), but there are only a few of these slightly off notes in this otherwise terrific adaptation. I have all three issues, but I will certainly be purchasing the TPB as well. Great job, Mr. Tipton. Bring on the tragedy with A HOLE IN THE WORLD/SHELLS!
Art: Mooney's art here is better than ever. His likenesses are so sharp and he no longer seems to rely on promotional images to attain the perfect likenesses. His evolution as an artist has been documented on the pages of the ANGEL books, and it's been fantastic to see. I love his work, and truly hope that when the new on-going ANGEL writer is announced, that Mooney is announced as the on-going artist. One thing I do have to saw about the art, though... there were two instances of exclamation and question marks drawn into the panel to very Manga-like effect. In the first instance, an exclamation point appears in front of Spike when he realizes that the Fell is upon him. I sort of get this, because there wasn't really another quick way to show his realization, and it is a very, very busy book... but I still didn't like it. The second was completely odd, though. Connor says "Huh?" but a question mark and an exclamation point appear over his head, as if the "Huh?" wasn't trustworthy enough to get the point across. I don't know if this was in the script, an idea of the letterer, or something that Mooney was experimenting with, but I found these moments, however little, to be intrusive.
Oh, and... Mooney's vampface Angel should be a poster. Best vampface art in any Buffyverse comic, for sure. ALSO I wish that the formerly deceased vamp named after me in ATF #11 would date Eve in this comic, because as Borat would say, VEHHY NICE!
Covers: For some reason, this cover seems to have come back from the printer considerably darker than the version that was released online. It's still a gorgeous cover, probably one of my favorites, but the darkness really obscures the phenomenal detail that Mooney gave to the faces of these characters in this iconic moment. Illyria's face is blackened beyond recognition here, but in the actual original file, her most prominent details stand out, illuminated by the dull blue glow of the alley. I hope that, for the collection, this gets lighted so Mooney's art can shine the way it deserves to.
Characters We Know: Spike, the surviving members (not for long, of course) members of the Circle of the Black Thorn, Wesley, Angel, Hamilton, Connor, Gunn, Illyria, Eve, Lindsey, Lorne.