Monday, January 23, 2012

JOSS WHEDON COMICS

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel are two of my all-time favorite
TV series.  I’m not going to qualify that with “genre” TV series.
They were must-watch TV for me and, on the rare occasion I watch an
episode these days, I find they have held up and are every bit as
fine and entertaining as I remembered.

The Buffy and Angel comic books have been more of a mixed bag for
me.  Certainly there have been great comics based on these series
and their characters.  But, overall, they have been more miss than
hit for me.

IDW’s license to create and publish Angel comic books expired last
year.  Their comics fell squarely into my hit-or-miss range.  John
Byrne’s Angel: Lorne, a moving tribute to the taken-way-too-soon
Andy Hallett, was one of the very best Angel/Buffy comics.  Should
I ever write a sequel to my 1000 Comic Books You Must Read, Byrne’s
tribute is assured a place in it.

Near the end of IDW’s license, they published a Spike series that
had a truly masterful moment in it.  It was when Spike said what we
all knew and never said before.  That, soulless or not, he chose to
mend his evil ways, chose to become a better man, chose to become
a champion.  That he could seek and achieve redemption sans his
soul is inspirational testimony to the power of second chances and
the eternal possibility of redemption.

IDW’s Angel Yearbook [$7.99] was the last of their comics with the
characters from the Joss Whedon-created shows.  The 52-page comic
featured seven stories starring various members of the Angel cast.
All of them are quite readable and one of them - Peter David’s look
into Harmony’s diary - is a prose story worthy of award nomination.
I did find the self-congratulatory summation of the IDW comics that
closed the issue to be a little disconcerting, but I can understand
the urge to take a shot at Dark Horse Comics.

Touching on the above briefly, I also find it disconcerting to see
images of IDW editors and executives and staffers as part of every
IDW solicitation in the Previews catalog.  Mostly because I can’t
believe readers buy comic books based on editors and executives and
staffers.  It’s the comics era in which we live, a time when many
larger publishers are apparently seeking to diminish the visibility
of those who actually write and draw the comics, but I find it very
off-putting. 

Maybe it’s not them.  Maybe it’s me.

Heading over to Dark Horse, the last half of the Whedon-conceived
and way too long Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight really stunk
up the place.  It lacked the elements that endeared most of us to
Buffy and her supporting cast, indulged in mystical mush, and even
descended into shock value with the death of a prominent character.
“Stunk” may not be the sort of refined commentary you expect from
me, but nothing sums up those issues better.

Fortunately, Dark Horse and Whedon have apparently recognized where
they’ve gone wrong.  So did they did a story where Buffy and Angel
make a deal with Mephisto to...

Kidding.  What Dark Horse and Whedon have done with Angel & Faith
and Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 has been to own up to the
mistakes and use them as doorways into new and so far much better
comic books.

Following Season Eight, the Christos Gage-written Angel & Faith has
the duo living in London.  Angel is dealing not very well with his
role in the Season Eight disasters and Faith is determined to bring
him the redemption she believes he needs.  They have new allies in
their lives, but some of those do not know Angel is in London and
would be murderously unhappy to learn that he is...and likely none
too pleased with Faith for...neglecting...to share that information
with them.  The first four-issue story arc flowed quite nicely and
set up some intriguing situations.  I’m looking forward to what the
future issues will bring and am shamefully pleased with myself for
not spoiling any of the surprises in these issues.

Rebekah Isaacs drew these first four issues and will return after
a single-issue fill-in by Phil Noto.  Isaacs is a good storyteller
who does excellent likenesses of Angel, Faith, and other existing
characters from the Whedon Universe.  Kudos to her and to Christos
Gage who, as I’ve mentioned in previous bloggy things, has become
one of my favorites among current comic-book writers.

I also enjoyed Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #1-4, though not
as much as the above.  Joss Whedon scripted the first issue and, as
always, his dialogue is wonderful.  Andrew Chambliss scripted the
other issues of this first story arc and also did well.  However,
the Georges Jeanty/Dexter Vines art doesn’t work for me.  While the
storytelling is okay, all the characters look short to me.  It’s as
if the world of Buffy was one in which my 5'3" was average height.
It’s a disconnect from the real world. 

As for the story...we see the consequences of the previous season
on Buffy, her friends, her enemies, and the world they all share.
That’s interesting stuff.  We get a decent villain with believable
motivation.  Both of those are good things.

The I’m not sure it’s a good thing is that the authorities clearly
know who and what Buffy is and there doesn’t seem to be any serious
consequences of that knowledge for either Buffy or the rest of the
world.  That’s something that needs to be addressed.

The I’m sure this is a bad thing because it still makes me go “ick”
whenever I think about it is the Zander/Dawn coupling.  Geez, just
make the one-eyed perv the host of Toddlers and Tiaras and be done
with it.  Okay, I am exaggerating.  Apparently, Dawn is of age and,
after all, she’s a mystical creature of sorts, but it still makes
me go “ick.”  I hear Harmony needs a fella and, really, a hot chick
with a potential for murder and violence would be right in Zander’s
comfort zone.

I did like the first story arc, so I’ll continue reading both Buffy
Season 9
and Angel & Faith.  If you gave up on these characters in
their comic-book versions, it’s worth giving them a second chance.
     
I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

2 comments:

  1. I'll have to look for those IDW books you liked so much. I haven't yet finished reading the Dark Horse Season 8 and am disappointed that it went south.

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  2. Late Night FerengiJanuary 23, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    I really don't have the money to spend on comics anymore. All the new stuff I am very choosy on. As far as Bryne's adaption of Angel, I'd buy it just to see Byrne's take on the characters. Other than that I don't think comics were what they used to be. Most of the artists today want to use comics as a steping stone to going Hollywood. They don't just stick with only comics. It's too tempting to do the multi media thing. All the artists are looking for a movie deal and a best selling graphic novel.



    Just look at Todd McFarlane and what happened to Image. It's not the super star company it was when it first premired. Image is no Dark Horse or IDW.

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