Tuesday, April 27, 2010

BUFFY #34, ANGEL #31, Angel: Barbary Coast #1

Leave comments about the new format! Since I want to get reviews out in a more timely manner, and still be able to live my life and keep working on my own writing projects, this method seems a lot more doable than pages of content for each comic. Event issues and some issues will get longer reviews, but this seems like the best option for the regular comic issues.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #32
Twilight Part III: Them F#@%ing
Written by Brad Meltzer. Art by Georges Jeanty

It's good. It's a good ready. It's also the riskiest Buffy story ever penned. It accepts us to believe a whole bunch of sudden information that's given out through the most graphic sex scene in the history of the show. Essentially, Buffy and Angel have become gods, effectively fulfilling a prophecy that the best Slayer and the best Vampire will fall in love, become superpowered, and have world-changing/destroying(maybe) sex. It's a lot to swallow, which is a pun that would have way less ick-factor in a different issue. But again, the sex and the exposition (sexposition?) is handled well. It's just... since it's such a "This is why this is happening" issue, it's very hard to judge on its own merit. It needs the context of the arc, while Meltzer's last two issues didn't. Does all of that make it weaker than I'd hoped? A bit. Season Eight has been on such a good run since December, that I'm fairly happy that an issue this strong is now what I see as weak for the series. The art is good, the dialogue is great, it's risky as shit... I'm just not sure if I trust where the story is going anymore. This is big stuff, and I need to see the last issue in the arc to really have a feel of this issue. As of now...

SCORE: 8/10

Angel #32
Immortality for Dummies, part IV: The Big Dust Up
Written by Bill Willingham. Art by Brian Denham.
(Back up story: Eddie and the Crew: The Risk of Skipping Ahead
Written by Bill Williams. Art by David Messina)

I gave Willingham the benefit of the doubt. He's a good writer, yes. The voices were off for the first two issues, but we hadn't seen anyone speak at length other than Connor. That all changes here. Spike is off. Spike doesn't speak like Spike. Spike speaks a lot like Jack from Fables, only awkwardly British. Spike doesn't behave like Spike. Illyria continues to talk like not-Illyria. She second guesses herself, speaking in awkward sentences, asking Angel if her use of the English language is correct. There is a long, drawn out, and (of course) unnecessary scene in the beginning where a bunch of dudes talk as Connor and his army kill some vampires. Utterly boring. No impact on the narrative, not at all funny, no impact on the characters. Willingham so obviously doesn't care about this universe or crafting a consistent story that it's insulting to fans, insulting to Joss, and insulting to everything in the Angel on-going that came before his arc. Am I going to keep reading? It's Angel, I have to. But that sense of anticipation I felt when going to the comic shop is gone. It's become a chore. I guess, on the positive side, the final page with Angel is cool. Mostly thanks to Denham's art, which is awesome when he's not drawing vampires being dusted (they apparently turn into goop). Bill William's back up is actually really entertaining, but that just makes me more sad. I want the characters I love off the pages so I don't have to see Willingham butchering them, to the point where I almost read the book for this new character. I'm excited for William's Spike miniseries, because he does seem to bit a good writer. Willingham, though... I have doubts that he has seen all of--or even most of--Angel the series. This arc has become every bit as bad as Aftermath.

SCORE: 2/10

Angel: Barbary Coast #1
Written by David Tischman. Art by Franco Urru.

Ah, man. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster. A good Angel comic. An Angel comic that reminds me why I love IDW. Beautiful art from Franco as always, but now, get this... even the writing is good. Tischman crafts a suspenseful, character driven, and sometimes funny tale about Angel's quest to get rid of his soul. The setting is awesome, the supporting cast of (mostly) humans are as creepy as actual monsters, and you know what? I'm excited for the next issue. IDW, get this dude to write the main series. Really. A guy like this could get Angel fans excited about the on-going again. Really, really solid start to what looks to be a fun mini.

SCORE: 8/10

Coming Soon: REVIEW OF Scott Tipton's A Hole in the World
Coming Soon: Hey, Why Didn't He Review THAT Issue? (Five Reviews)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Most Important Issue of Season Eight

What Is It?: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Issue #33: Twilight, Part 2- The Master Plan (written by Brad Meltzer; art by Georges Jeanty).

Timing: BtVS, Season Eight. Directly follows #32.

REVIEW: So, kinda late, huh?

Well. Here it is. The most important issue of Season Eight so far. In March 2007, Twilight creepily spied on Buffy in the first issue of the season. Later that year, in the conclusion to No Future For You, he made his first appearance. In a mask and a whole bunch of belts. People speculated that he was Riley (until Riley came into play later on as, well, Riley), people speculated that he was Xander or Giles, people speculated that he was a FUTURE VERSION of Xander or Giles. And some people speculated that he was either Angel or Spike.

Well, he's Angel. For my initial reaction, clicky here.

When Twilight's identity leaked to the interwebs, the speculation was crazy. But there was one thing I didn't really take into account. Maybe Angel as Twilight isn't evil. I probably didn't take it into account because... well, we've seen Twilight do outright evil things?


Well, in this issue, Angel sure makes an argument against that. Buffy seems like she's on the edge of believing him. The fandom is divided. So I'm going to come at this from an angle that needs a voice. A fan, first and foremost, of Angel. Angel the character, Angel the show, Angel the comic. I care about the guy a hell of a lot more than I do Buffy, Willow, Xander, and most of the other characters in the Season Eight comic. And don't misunderstand me, I care about those characters a lot. A whole entire buttload, in fact. But Angel's different. Angel's hero journey is important to me, and so is the integrity of his character.

So understand how much this issue had to win me over.

The question is... did it?

Answer... well, yeah. I'm with it. Of course, I have to wait to see how the fallout and the explanation and all that good stuff gets handled. But Angel makes a damn good argument for why he was right to put on that mask and those very many belts. A part of it is this: that change Buffy is going through? The spike in her powers? Not because of dead slayers. There is a piece of mythology that both Angel and Giles understand (to be revealed next issue) that will reveal why Buffy has superpowers, why Angel does, and also why they were meant to love each other and why they can't be happy with anyone else.


The issue itself is brilliant. Meltzer is complete winnage. Funny dialogue, so much geekery, and the tension and emotion brings on a physical reaction while reading. From the build-up, to the actual unmasking, to the long awaited confrontation, to when Buffy finally gives in and kisses Angel... it's a ride of an issue.

I can safely say I have no idea where it's going, but at this point, I've come to trust Joss's plan and also Meltzer for the way he writes these characters. According to Scott Allie, we'll have a better idea of the why behind Angel's actions after #34 and #35, but this was an epic installment that gave us enough information for me not to spend the month going crazy over the way Angel is being used, and to also look forward to next month's installment.

I can't believe the season, after so many bad and mediocre issues, is back at this level of greatness, but I'm quite simply loving it.

Art: The art is good. Jeanty did a great job with some scenes and a less-than-great-but-not-bad job with others. He does struggle with Angel's face a bit, but not to the point where it really takes away from the story. The only truly sucky panel is where Buffy throws the tree-stake at Angel, and Angel looks like... well, I don't even know. But blegh. The rest of the issue is solid, though.

Covers: Both covers are pretty cool. Jeanty's features an unmasked Twilight (face blurred) surrounded by a shocked Willow, Xander, and Buffy. It's another homage cover (this time to Spider-man), and it's better than most of his recent covers have been. Jo Chen's cover is good, but flawed. She's an expert at Buffy's face, totally nailing the expression of a devastated, I-just-found-out-Angel-is-Twilight Buffy. However, Buffy's neck is like... as long as an arm.

Characters We Know: Buffy, Xander, Giles, Faith, Andrew, Willow, Satsu, Dawn, Amy, Warren, The General, Twilight... well, from now on, Angel.

Rating: 10/10