Wait, What? Ep. 139: Minisodes

 photo 75b50ab0-782d-47d6-af02-1a849c64d258_zps217f6a7e.jpgHUH? With thanks to the always-excellent Miguel Corti.

Yes, we have returned! And as always, I am late, behind, and addled. Nonetheless, join me after the jump for show notes and our latest episode, won't you?


00:00-5:18:  Opening comments!  Mutual flattery in the course of technological anxiety.  A quick recap of what we lost in the fire (and by ‘fire,’ we mean ‘hard drive crash’). 5:18-14:49: What comics have we read in the last week?  Graeme’s answer is much more impressive than Jeff’s.  (But Jeff’s excuses are *much* more extensive than Graeme’s!)  We discuss Torpedo Vol. 1 by Enrique Sánchez Abulí, Jordi Bernet, and Alex Toth; and a discussion of Terry Austin’s inking (one of us is Team Austin, and some are not). 14:49-41:52:  Quasi-related: Graeme has an observation about Mike Wieringo’s art that leads us down the branching pathway of influence and a discussion about artists who are ubiquitous vs. artists whose influence are ubiquitous.  Mentioned in detail and/or passing:  MIke Golden, Dan Jurgens, Jim Steranko, John Byrne, Jim Lee, Geoff Darrow, Sal Buscema, Jack Kirby, Paul Pope, Joe Sinnott, et al.  (Also, we recover a repressed memory from our lost episode about Al Milgrom!) 41:52-53:34: Talking about Mike Golden’s Batman Special leads to us talking about comics Graeme has picked up in languages he can’t read, and Jeff’s shameful inability to get into same.  Mentioned:  Projekt X, Dylan Dog, friend of the podcast Miguel Corti, Barbarella, Floyd Farland: Citizen of the Future, and Dave Eggers. 53:34-1:20:53:  We talk about the recent Dr. Who minisode ’The Night of the Doctor,’ not just because it came out the morning we recorded this, but also because it was pretty keen. Also discussed:  Stephen Moffat, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, farce, Jeff’s theory about Glory and Galactus, the first episode of the final season of Misfits. 1:20:53-1:24:22: Brendan McCarthy—old news (I guess?) but the news coverage of some of his posts broke while we were recording the lost episode so we hadn’t discussed it and finally get around to it now.  Jeff tries to craft a mission statement out of the whole situation which leads to… 1:24:22-end: The startling interstellar podcasting crossover Jeff didn’t even know was happening!  (Well, he knew, he just didn’t really know when it was.)  If you must listen to only one dumb American lost in a sea of discreet British communications, make it this one!  (And then check us out talking with the brilliant and hilarious Al Kennedy and Paul O’Brien over at House to Astonish.)  Yes, this episode is kind of like our prologue issue to the Avengers-Defenders War.  Actually, since our prologue has come out after our appearance on House to Astonish, I guess it's like a more recent Marvel crossover event in that regard, Infinity or something.

So, yeah.  You can find us on iTunes soon if not right this very minute, but we are also below, right here:

Wait, What? 139: Minisodes

And also check us out over at House to Astonish!  And also be advised there is a 50/50 chance we might have a two week break since Jeff has two Thanksgivings to handle this year.  (On the other hand, we might have an ep. next week and then a skip after that -- please stay tuned...)

Hope you are as glad to have us back as we are to be back!  And as always, thank you for listening!

Wait, What? Ep. 132: The Village, People

 photo 1e69c8a8-d103-4573-9518-263ff3bbd627_zpsb85ee565.jpgJack Kirby on The Prisoner. Ahh, what could've been....

Howdy, Whatnauts!  The good news is: I think I fixed the recording levels for this episode so your eardrums will not bleed whenever I speak.  (Though I'll miss feeling like Black Bolt.)  The bad news is:  I started on this kind of late and so powered on through the show notes.  They are....very, very brief. If last week's notes were a leisurely feast, this week's notes are a shaky handful of peanuts devoured standing up by the sink.

And with that effortless bit of salesmanship out of the way, join me behind the jump!

0:00-25:25: Introduction comments!  We have just a few minutes talking around Graeme's incandescent rage, before talking about the news of Karl Kesel taking over scripting duties for Matt Fraction on Fantastic Four…all of which leads us to ponder the Fantastic Four.  Is it a book past its prime, or is it still possible for the title to resonate in the marketplace? 25:25-53:15: There was a discussion the other day on Twitter about why people should care about the sales of comics.  It seems germane to the stuff we talk about, so we talk about it. And I guess it moves to become a discussion about how Marvel is selling their books, marketing their books, and making their books since we end up discussing stuff like: Captain Marvel, Variety Magazine, the Direct Market and the comics Internet, Hawkeye, All-New X-Men, Uncanny Avengers, Indestructible Hulk, and more. 53:15-1:04:19:  Speaking of Indestructible Hulk, Jeff has read the last five issues and we revisit our previous discussion of the book's strengths and weakness. 1:04:19-2:01:11: And other comics we have read: Adam Warren's story from A+X #10! Infinity #1! The Trinity War crossover event! (Plus, a brief anecdote about DC 3-D.) Saga #13! Buffy Season Nine! Angel and Faith! Batman #23! Suicide Squad issues #22 and #23 by Ales Kot, Patrick Zircher, and Rick Leonardi!  More Rogue Trooper! More Cat Shit One! The FCBD Judge Dredd comic! Jack Kirby's adaptation of The Prisoner! 3 New Stories by Dash Shaw! When I'm tired and over-extended, exclamation points are my crutch! Oh, and some point, I took a picture of the screenshot I checked out of the library.  Here it is, in part because I'm so ashamed of stiffing you people on show notes content, and in part because Graeme and I look like some sort of hilariously ominous comic book cabal committed to forcing dopey manga on an unsuspecting world:

 photo ScreenShot2013-08-15at52627PM_zps89b35e89.png The Slump is out there....

2:01:11-end: The Center Cannot Hold! Shenanigans! Apologies! Skip Week! Closing Comments! Something like an attempt to provide coming attractions!  More Shenanigans!

(And holy crap, did I enjoy those first three volumes of Yakitate!! Japan... Can't wait to read the rest...)

The show is on iTunes! The show will be on iTunes! The show was on iTunes!  But it is also here, hovering snug in the center of the Nexus of All Realities:

Wait, What? Ep. 132: The Village, People

Remember, next week is a skip week so feel free to catch up on all of our past episodes (thanks to my esoteric numbering system, there are more than 190 entries available on our RSS feed) and tune in two weeks from now.  As always, we hope you enjoy this thing we do, and thank you for your patronage!

Trying to get back on track: Hibbs' 7/4 & 7/11

I posted the Batman Earth One review last week, so that covers my "quota", I guess. I'm going to mix up a little of this week and last for this week's post from me... ADVENTURE TIME MARCELINE SCREAM QUEENS #1: I've actually not read this, but I brought it home for Ben, as I've brought home every issue to date so far. Eight minutes of silence later, he handed it back to me, and said I should bring it back to the store. "What's wrong with it?" I asked, puzzled.  "Eh, I don't know," he said, "I don't think it had enough action is, and it wasn't very funny." So, that's what a comics-consuming eight year old boy thought. I'll go with that first word then and say EH.

  FUCK ALAN MOORE BEFORE WATCHMEN OZYMANDIAS #1 (OF 6): I kind of don't even want to discuss the "plot" (which, I shit you not, added a "Women in Refrigerators" moment to WATCHMEN as the grossest of its sins), but, oh my god what a crazily lovely comic book. Jae Lee just killed it here, invoking the sense of design that WATCHMEN had, and totally putting his own spin on it with a moving "round" design on every page. this may well be an execrable, money-grubbing project that is being told soullessly and clumsily by most of the writers, but fuck me if this isn't the most beautiful comic of the month by far. That's some Eisner-level art, yo. Too bad it is in service of such a horrible comic book. Two poles of rating for art and writing, landing it smack in the middle with an OK for overall rating.

BLOODSHOT (ONGOING) #1: Wow, that's a gory comic. Like really crazily keep it the fuck away from kids level of gory. Do people actually like that, actually? There's an alright set-up, I guess, in here, with "weapon for the government" and "everything you think is a lie" and all that, but there wasn't a thing in here that got me considering to actually come back and read issue #2, because I don't really see any signs of it going in anything other than a regular Frankenstein direction. Fairly EH.

BTVS SEASON 9 FREEFALL #11: Oh, I liked this issue. Actually, it might have made a better issue #1 than issue #1 was. I very much need Buffy to stop being such a whiny girl by now -- the character has been going backwards for most of the last year, and this plot line seems like it gives her a chance to move forward again. GOOD.

CROW #1: Uh, what? I know I've been saying this a lot lately, but IDW really has to get their shit together on the editorial level -- this comic's script is barely first draft where the title character appears on the last page, and the 21 before that is a ton of boring, endless repeating set-up -- the antagonist says or implies what they're going to do multiple times, AND we see it from another angle as well. This entire first issue should have been set-up in no more than eight pages, max, not padded out horribly like this.  I also think this new set-up completely upsets the straight-forward revenge of the original, AND misses the "sorrow is my fortress" vibe of O'Barr's gothy original. Almost as clear of a miss as I can possibly imagine, and I didn't even really LIKE the original very much (it remains a product of its time, very much) -- sadly AWFUL.

EARTH 2 #3: Honest to god, I wish ALL of the New 52 books were as solid and world-buildy as this one is. THEN we would have had something magic on display. This is really VERY GOOD stuff.

FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #33: This year's annuals for this, DD and Wolverine are an interconnected story by Alan Davis, with connections to Clandestine. Clandestine has never quite worked for me, and I can't say why exactly, but I really love-ity love Davis' clean superhero art, and if I can't have him drawing silver age DC characters (or a variant thereon), then, yeah, have him draw what is very clearly his baby. I wonder though if he gets some kind of character participation or something for him to keep coming back to this when it keeps not clicking with the general audience? Anyway, this was solidly GOOD, and made for a nice stand-alone, star-drawn annual.

INFERNAL MAN-THING #1 (OF 3): In case you all were wondering, Jeff really IS sticking with his Marvel ban -- I could not get him to budge on what I thought would be the easiest tempt of all: new Steve Gerber, doing his #2 best known character, ooooh, with yummy art by Kevin Nowlan. It's a clear follow through on an old MT story, and I thought it showed a lot of strong maturity and growth in balancing the "Gerber wacky" with actually affecting human emotion -- that is to say: this is less of a lark than, say, NEVADA. I don't really like much of Gerber's tics, but I thought this was really solid stuff, well drawn and grounded. You can see why they let this take ten years (or whatever) to get drawn. Hm, maybe if I repitch it as "originated two editorial regimes ago"? GOOD.

PUNK ROCK JESUS #1 (OF 6): Wow, nice! It's a profane title (and probably a profane execution, if I was sensitive to such things, which I'm not), but I really really liked the setup of a morally screwed up entertainment corporation creating a reality show where they clone Jesus. Hijinx, as they say, then ensue. It's a little early to say whether Sean Murphy has the writing chops to stick the landing on this one, but this first issue was a pretty wonderful read. VERY GOOD from me, and my pick of the week!

SPACE PUNISHER #1 (OF 4): I didn't necessarily expect much from this (the name tells you most of what you need to know), but I did expect less toy-etic takes on the "normal" Marvel U (example: "Doctor Octopus" is a "Space Criminal" with octopus legs for a body) -- sadly AWFUL, and not the awesome I know you were hoping for.

ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN #14 DWF: OK, the Ultimate universe has reached that point that it seems like all "alternate super hero universe" (CF: "The New Universe", the "Supreme Powers" Universe, etc.) finally end up at -- they don't know what to do with the CHARACTERS any longer, so they think "Well let's make big big changes to the WORLD". This issue opens with a map so you can keep track of all the fucked up things that have happened in Ultimate America -- DC nuked, the southwest an internment camp, and so on, and suddenly it is no longer "a world outside your window", it's something utterly unrecognizable and (this is more important, I think) unsympathetic. Even without the "We're officially out of ideas" stench that SPIDER-MEN brought to the line, copying the general throughline of (ugh!) THE PITT isn't going to lead to anywhere good for the Ultimate Universe. I have a hard time, other than from stubbornness, understanding why these books should still be published a year from now. AWFUL.

WALKING DEAD #100: That may be the single most fucked up thing that has happened in a series where all kinds of crazy fucked up things happen all of the time. Brutal, absolutely brutal -- but it sets the book out along what I hope will be a solid new direction that should shake all of the complacency away. I thought this was an EXCELLENT installment (And, ooh, MONSTER seller, too) -- may they have another 400 more issues after this! My ONE complaint? I was really hoping the 6 page (?) Michonne story that was in that issue of PLAYBOY would have been reprinted here after the letter col.

OK, that's me... what did YOU think?


Wait, What? Ep. 79.2: Power of Ones

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App Hey, guess who did it wrong?

Yeah, I had an incredibly busy Wednesday and it wasn't until my head hit the pillow that I remembered I'd forgotten to upload this podcast.

And create this entry.

So, despite my fond reveries about providing extra content and blahblahblahblah, that will probably have to wait until next week because, well, I'm tired and dumb.

But I wasn't (entirely) when Graeme and I talked now comics for our conclusion to Episode 79!  Nope, I was more or less lucid and we reviewed the latest issues of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel and Faith, Frankenstein, Agent of Shade, Batwoman, and a whole mess of first first issues including Saucer Country, Crossed Badlands, Saga, Avengers Assemble, and of course Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man (which I'm sure some of you were unfortunate enough to realize from the above excerpt).

"A candy-colored clown they call iTunes tiptoes to your feed every night just to sprinkle podcasts and to whisper "Go to sleep, everything is all right."


Wait, What? Ep. 79.2: The Power of Ones

As always, we hope you zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Hibbsian Capsules for June 4

I'm not going to speak for anyone else here, but there are weeks at a time where I just really don't have anything meaningful to say about that week's books, and I don't just want to post in order to post, y'know?

But I thought this was a nice week o' comics. Let's go!

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #596 DKR: Man, Phil Jimemez was only on for one issue of this storyline? Foul! Say what you will, Spidey is more readable than it has been in a long-ass time. I'm still frustrated by the "DKR" intruding on each and every thing in the Marvel U (especially because it feels like we got at least another year of this to go), but this is still basically OK stuff.

BANG TANGO #5 (OF 6): I can't review this -- I haven't read past issue #1, but I do want to note that this is the first Vertigo comic ever where I've reduced my rack copy orders down to a single copy at FOC. I actually don't think that Vertigo is capable of selling a periodical mini-series any longer because of their trade policies. Here's the thing though: one subber, one rack copy sold -- why would I order any copy of a theoretical trade paperback of this story? Discuss.

BATMAN AND ROBIN #1: Pretty, fun, but probably a little thin -- this was more of a vignette than a story, wasn't it? An extremely high GOOD, but it wasn't meaty enough to push it up much higher.

BOYS #31: I'm much less interested in this book when Robertson isn't drawing it. I really LIKE Ezquerra (or McCrea on HEROGASM), but when your name is above the title, then you should be drawing the book. Ennis very surprisingly kills a major character -- even if that character kind of doesn't HAVE a character yet. I would have thought we would have learned more before he got to that stage. I thought this one was oddly EH.

BTVS TALES OF THE VAMPIRES ONE SHOT: OK, this is goofy continuity point, but my understanding of the mythology of the Buffyverse was that when you became a vampire, "you" were effectively possessed by a demon who essentially took over your body and your memories (That's one of the reasons that all Vampires know "kung fu" the moment they rise, yeah?) -- and this would seem to completely ignore that concept altogether. It wasn't bad or anything, but shouldn't one follow the "rules" of the world you're in? Kinda EH.

CHEW #1: I think John Layman might have finally hit on the right concept for him. More darkly humorous than humorously dark, this concept seems fairly sustainable, and I enjoyed it quite a bit: GOOD.

FINAL CRISIS AFTERMATH RUN #2 (OF 6): I don't know about anyone else, but these FINAL CRISIS AFTERMATH books have been utter retail death for us -- single copy preorders, under-one-hand rack sales, I've NEVER seen follow-up series sell this far below the series they have spun from. A teeny part of it was leading with the wrong books -- RUN is the adventures of Captain Loathsome, after all -- but even DANCE with a solid author, and the I-thought-people-liked-them-at-least-ironically Super Young Team sold less than 3 rack copies for me. And the best of the bunch -- last week's INK (a solid GOOD), was down to a single rack sale. Sheesh. And there's five more months of these things scheduled. I nearly doubt that I'll be carrying rack copies of ANY of them by the time we get to the end... Anyway, RUN #2 is slightly AWFUL.

IRREDEEMABLE #3: I really really want to like this, but even the creepy sexual thing at the beginning didn't work because there isn't any context for anything that is happening. I don't think that it's enough to have a hooky premise -- "what if Superman suddenly turned evil" -- what matters is what you DO with it. I can't get into the premise because I never "saw" him be good, nor do we know why any of this happened. I guess Waid thinks the "why" is the story? It really isn't -- it's the ignition. I guess we're supposed to feel for Scylla and Charybdis here? But why? They're absolute ciphers -- there's no real reason for us to care other than "look, a few more of the character boxes now will have an X through them!". Sorry, this is EH.

KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE #151: Other than SAVAGE DRAGON and NINJA HIGH SCHOOL, are there any other independently produced comics that are currently being published, that have crossed the 150 bar? (if I was at the store, I could answer that easily with the POS, couldn't I?) And, y'know, support a whole writing staff? This is a really amazing accomplishment, ESPECIALLY because no one in the comics field other than me ever even mentions this book. You'd think Spurge or Ace or maybe even Deppey would at least mention KoDT every once in a while. (Or NHS for that matter)

The best part is it really is funny -- albeit it aimed very sharply at a specific niche audience (gamers). If I have complaints (and I have two), they are these: A) I just don't think the World of Hackcraft stuff (obviously parodying WoWarcraft) is even a third as funny as the tabletop stuff. "Table chatter" is what MAKES KoDT, in a lot of ways, and they just can't pull that off in the WoH sections; B) they're often juggling too many storylines at once, stripping some of them of their inherent drama. As an example: this month's chapter of "Gary Returns" basically just restated what we learned in part 1, with virtually no new information.

What KoDT really REALLY needs, though, is their own version of Essential or Showcase volumes -- 20-25 issues worth for $20 (or less); preferably parsed in storyline order so the reading experience is worth it. The most recent "Bundle of Trouble" (their version of TPs -- they're at.. um, 23? 24?) was really essentially "all middle" because of the choice of material that was in there, and was less than a good read for it.

I wouldn't recommend you start here with 151, (150 was a much better jumping on point), but I'd VERY much recommend buying a Bundle of Trouble and going from there. 151 was GOOD.

MUPPET SHOW #3 (OF 4): I was reading the comics at home and both Ben and Tzipora asked me "Why are you reading a Muppet comic, isn't that for little kids?" Cracked me up. Then Tzipora asked "And just what is Gonzo anyway?" (Well, I think she said "that creature" because she doesn't have them memorized, BUT THE POINT REMAINS), which was funny because that's the very plot of this issue. This is solidly GOOD stuff.

SOLOMON GRUNDY #4 (OF 7) STRANGE ADVENTURES #4 (OF 8): I just want to observe that these are two DCU comics that I had to stop racking because I wasn't selling a single rack copy in the first few weeks. They both come out the same week, too, which is weird. Oddly, SOLOMON GRUNDY sells better than 2 or 3 other DCU books that I DO rack, because of sub requests from pre-#1's release. I was talking with Jeff Lester today about the shape of the business, and I think it is literally astonishing that there is a Jim Starlin comic I can't sell ANY rack copies of. I would not have pictured that as actually possible.

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #133: Fuck. Seriously, you can't do a wordless comic for $4. FUCK, and no, you can't end your run on the book on such a downer note. Especially not a book like this. It is betraying the very thematic underpinnings of the book to do so. Completely ASS.

ULTIMATUM #4 (OF 5): plus, if you're going to do the Big Event, then you have to fucking get it out on time. AND have it be something more than just "Lots of people die, the end". This is really starting to smell like the last Wildstorm reboot to me, in terms of audience interest. EH.

As always, what did YOU think?


Number One With A Bullet: Diana Quick-Shoots 5/3

Let's get right in there, shall we? BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #12: Here's my $0.02 on The L Thing, from the perspective of a series-long fan. Do I believe Buffy would sleep with a woman? Yes, provided the woman is a Slayer - that was, after all, the subtext of her dynamic with Faith (especially in "Bad Girls"). However, I thought the execution here was a bit problematic for two reasons. Number one, as Chris Sims points out, the whole "post-coital reveal" really is a cliche these days. Number two, and this is something that bothered me a lot during the show's final years, there's no subtext or ambiguity in the Buffyverse anymore. That was a huge pet peeve for me, because the first three seasons were great at being subtle (ie: you never knew exactly what Angelus and Drusilla were up to behind Spike's back, which left your imagination running on overtime), and afterwards everything was in-your-face-with-a-can-of-mace (I'm thinking here of the near-rape in "Seeing Red" to name just one egregious "geez, what happened to my show?" scene). It could've been more interesting to be ambiguous about Buffy and Satsu, to drop teases and hints, rather than pull the old Wile E. Coyote anvil-to-the-head maneuver. I wasn't at all surprised to learn that Drew Goddard wrote that Season 7 episode when Spike's mother goes all Freudian on him, because that's exactly the kind of bluntness (which, in all honesty, could very easily be attributed to sensationalism) we get here. All that said, this is still a VERY GOOD issue, and Goddard deserves kudos for the abundant humor, to say nothing of the main reason I'm enjoying Season 8: new variations on canonical threats. The vampires in this issue are linked to an enemy Buffy's faced before, and that's precisely the sort of internal continuity mixed with innovation that makes the story even more interesting (and I didn't even like that particular enemy when he turned up).

CABLE #1: Cable, as a character, greatly benefited from MESSIAH COMPLEX: if, in earlier appearances, he either drifted around aimlessly or played at being Robo-Jesus, he's now a soldier with a clear mission and a nemesis who thematically parallels his own situation (after all, Bishop is also a soldier with a clear mission). What isn't apparent by the end of the issue is where Duane Swierczynski wants to go from here, big-picture-wise: is this series set in the New Jersey of 2043 we see here? Or will Cable and the baby be jumping through time with Bishop on their heels? It could go either way, and both options have potential (though I think we need a bigger supporting cast, because Cable monologuing as the baby cries could get old very fast), but we're off to a GOOD start. Special props to Ariel Olivetti for that look on Cable's face when he has to change the baby's diaper. Verily, a fate worse than death... and if this baby turns out to be Jean Grey, we can look forward to the inevitable argument where they both scream "I CHANGED YOUR DIAPERS!" at each other.

LOGAN #1: With Y: THE LAST MAN complete, I've been feeling the lack of Brian Vaughan in my monthly readings (don't ask about EX MACHINA). Now, I'm not a Wolverine fan. At all. But there's a handful of writers who can get me to check out anything they do, and Vaughan's one of them. (Carey's another, which no doubt explains why I feel like I've already passed my Wolverine quota for this year.) So imagine my disappointment when LOGAN #1 turned out to be a rather dull comic. Where is Vaughan's trademark unpredictability? Where are the twists and turns? This issue reads like WOLVERINE FOR DUMMIES, a standard (and standardized) fusion of stock tropes I've seen a hundred times already. EH, because I honestly don't care.

Postscript: The second I finished posting this, I saw that Douglas had beaten me to it.



I call the right side!

-ism, -ism, -ism: Hibbs talks 9/6

This was definitely BKV's week, as he comes out with a comic that's most-likely to be the best-selling thing he has ever written, as well as a getting even closer to the end of his personal magnum opus. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON EIGHT #6: As much as I liked Whedon's first five issues, I'm going to commit a little heresy and suggest that I liked BKV's first even more -- crisp action, nice plot movement, and snappy dialog (I thought that Faith and Gile's voices were pitch-perfect -- I could easily hear Dushku and Head's intonations in every line). If you were thinking "Oh, I can drop this now that it isn't Whedon", I'd say think again -- this was really EXCELLENT, with the only tumbles being in a few bits of Jeanty's art looking rushed)

Y, THE LAST MAN #58: Oh, no you d'int! Major spoiler warning in the next sentences, so go away if you're squirmy like that. While I can certainly see Yorick making such a dumb move, I can't, at all, for the life of me, even slightly begin for .355 going for it at all. And so, while the ending was of real peril, it felt to this read like absolutely cheap melodrama that was entirely out of place. Who knows, maybe that's because I have two temporal months between this one and the last, and maybe it will read better in the book, but this feels to me right now this second, to be a horrific fumble and crashing misstep in the final steps of the marathon. I guess we'll see if the last 44 pages can erase this bad taste from my mouth.

One thing that occurred to me when reading this, came to mind when flashing on last week's "Hey, the KKK are just like superheroes!" (or reverse, depending on your POV), EX MACHINA MASQUERADE SPECIAL, is that totally coincidentally or not, we just had the major Jewish character kill the major Black character here. I don't think that would have ever occurred to me if EM: MS wasn't JUST last week, but it leapt out at me in that context.

But even completely ignoring that, just based on the character's previous characterizations, I'm going to have to go with this being CRAP.

That's a rare Trick, scoring the top and bottom rating (and what would have been PICK OF THE WEEK and WEAK, if I still was doing that) in a single week. Good job, Brian!

THE BOYS #10: I usually tend to think that Garth Ennis overuses the Gay jokes, maybe too interchangeably with the dick- and fart-jokes. It's hard to admit, especially for a Politically Correct San Franciscan like myself, but y'know, sometimes, in small doses, -ist humor can be funny. Too much spoils the broth, however.

So I have to give points for Garth stopping the story cold in the middle of jokes to have Hughie basically say "Shut up, someone is dead, through no fault of their own, who gives a fuck about their sexuality?" It was a strong and serious, and EFFECTIVE moment, in a comic that's meant much more for a laugh.

I've also generally appreciated the attempt of some shading on the issue, with having "Swing Wing" *pretend* to be Gay so he could gain popularity (and presenting it as a negative, not as "how droll" kind of thing like that "Adam Sandler is a (Fake) Gay Fireman", whatever that was. A solid VERY GOOD from me.

What did YOU think?


See and be Seen: Jeff Looks at Buffy The Vampire Slayer seasons 1-8.

Back in late April, I bought the Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The Chosen Collection boxed set off Amazon for a pretty good price. In early May, Edi and I started watching the show (I had seen most of the show when it was first aired, Edi hadn't seen anything) at the rate of an episode or two (almost) every night, and a few weeks ago we finally came to the end. It happened the same day I read the abridged print version of Joss Whedon's interview with the Onion A.V. Club, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer #5, and it occurred to me I was pretty well situated to talk about the new comic in relation to the show, and maybe kick around some thoughts about both the show and Whedon generally. I cannot guarantee at the outset I'll get anywhere interesting with it. It'll include spoilers of the series, and require that you be familiar with the show: I tried writing a sensible overview of the whole phenomena and it couldn't have been duller or more imbecilic. Also, you'll notice this essay neatly detours around the significant influence of the other talented writers on BTVS the show, and the writers-to-come for BTVS: Season Eight. Although I think there's some very interesting material to be explored there, it'll have to wait for another time. This damn thing is big enough as it is. As you know, I'm usually most interested in the crunchy subtext, and BTVS is a particularly interesting show for that. In part, this is because Whedon and crew were particularly facile with metaphor and subtext; there's the initial conceit of the show, of course--high school as a horror movie--but also the subtextual stuff going on in particular stories and arcs, such as the genius twist of Season Two's "Innocence" where Angel turns evil after sleeping with Buffy. But BTVS is also particularly interesting because that initial conceit gets thrown out after four years, and the show goes on for another three with an official eighth season now turning up in print. Whedon has said in the past he intended to start BTVS, get it established, leave it in capable hands, and then go off and do other stuff. Yet, he continues to return to the character. And why is that? Is it because as long as people are interested in the Buffyverse and willing to be milked of their hard-earned cash, Whedon is interested in showing up every morning with the milking pail?

Well, sure. Whedon is always swinging for the fences of pop culture fame, and I have no doubt he wants Buffy on t-shirts, and lunch boxes, and action figures, and in cartoons. He wants that because he strongly believes Buffy represents a special turning point for the roles of women in heroic literature, and it would be a great thing to have little girls have a strong ass-kicking hero they believe in. He also wants that because, like any other individual who works in Hollywood, he is well and truly aware of how much money those sorts of things make, and how much power is conferred to someone who reaps that cash harvest.

But, interestingly, Whedon is one of those artists for whom material considerations and limitations tend to improve rather than impair his work: If Seth Green wants to leave to pursue movies, it'll turn out to be the perfect time to move Willow in a completely new direction for her relationships. If Cordelia has to leave to be part of Angel, they'll bring back Anya. Although he's complained against needless and stupid changes made by others to his screenplays, Whedon will happily change his own stories in the crafting, break and bend the rules of his own mythology, and the joy he takes in doing so more often than not is experienced by his audience. (I previously wrote very briefly about this ability, which Graeme had quite correctly referred to as cockiness, here.) And although he's happy to break his own rules, he's exceptionally faithful to certain storytelling precepts, such as giving the viewers a strongly defined conclusion. One of the things that struck me watching the seasons one after the other is that with the exception of Season Four (the Adam/Initiative arc) and maybe Season Six, one could stop watching after the end of the season and feel satisfied. In the first season, Buffy owns her power. At the end of the second season, Buffy learns the cost of having that power (and runs from it). In the third season, she and the gang graduate from high school. And although I disliked a great chunk of Season Five, I admired the moxie of the ending being both definitive and open-ended. (Considering my memories of seasons six and seven, I was tempted to tell Edi, "Hey, you know, let's just pretend that was the end of the series." I'm glad I didn't.) In some ways, it was this desire to give Buffy a complete arc each season that made it harder and harder to do more things with the character as time went on, and force other characters into the spotlight more and more.

So the idea of Buffy: Season Eight in comics can stem from both Whedon's desire to make more cash, to give the brand that much more power, and his desire to tell a story, to have something to say that he can best say with Buffy and the characters of the Buffyverse. Or rather, the idea that Season Eight might be a bit of a cash grab won't stop him from developing a story with something meaningful to say. What should be interesting is seeing if we can tell from the first five issues of Buffy: Season Eight what Whedon might want to say, or what he might end up saying.

As I mentioned, BTVS was built around the "high school as horror movie" conceit it abandoned after three years (although I think the "college is hell" conceit for Season Four works pretty well, too). These conceits are successful in part because the same fears of powerlessness (and, also, a corresponding fear of power) that fuel horror movies are part and parcel of teenage life. As the series goes on, Whedon becomes more interested in that fear of power, and the cost of power, than the fear of powerlessness. Being the Slayer is a terrible responsibility for Buffy: the early seasons show her complaining about how it screws up her chance for a normal life, and the later seasons show exactly how it screws her up. A lot of what I found thought was careless plot hammering in later seasons the first time I watched became clearer on rewatching--even though it bites her on the ass time and time again, Buffy keeps secrets from her friends; she struggles with feelings of superiority and callousness that come from her power; she equates sex with danger; and she is too quick to accept responsibility for things that happen, to the point of defensiveness. Buffy learns lessons and moves forward with each season's arc, but she doesn't always become a better person or learn the right lesson--for most of Season Seven, for example, she's an insufferable ass (although what part of that is weaknesses in Sarah Michelle Gellar's portrayal--she clearly is ready to leave the show by this point--and what part of that are strident speeches made by Whedon on the price of being a leader, I leave for a smarter viewer than I to suss out). One nice trick in BTVS the TV show is the use of history (the school subject) continually being used as a metaphor for, well, History: at the beginning of the show, it's the subject Buffy has the most trouble with but as time goes on, her relationship to the subject grows more complex: sometimes people talk as if she's a natural at the subject, other times the nuances of it elude her. But it's never a topic she can dismiss: in Whedon's universe (and in the Whedonverse), history is inescapable. No matter how she tries to run, or what she tries to hide, the history of the Slayer lineage (or what she's done, or who she's slept with, or how she's fighting) is always inescapable.

I suspect, in fact, this is the reason Whedon was never able to break away from Buffy. The struggles of Buffy, one of a long line of vampire slayers, to accept that lineage is something that perhaps struck close to home with Whedon, a third-generation TV writer. Despite his attempts to be a screenwriter and filmmaker, Whedon was through all of Buffy the TV show, only successful in the medium of his father and his grandfather. Like Buffy, he couldn't escape his lineage and, like Buffy, Whedon grew most powerful embracing it and using the resulting power to exert control over it. (Now that I think about it, like Slayers, television writers are vitally dependent on their watchers. To what extent might Buffy's complex relationship with the Watchers' Council--she's fond of hers, but dismissive of the power the others try to exert on Slayers--mirror Whedon's relationship with the people who it possible for him to make a living?) I wonder if all the frustration and ambivalence and outright fear Buffy expresses of her power and responsibility are echoes of what Whedon went through during the making of the show (and Angel, and Firefly)--the frustration, ambivalence, and fear of an artist saying: "Yes, this is what I can do well. But is this all I'm going to be able to do?"

In the first four issues of Season Eight--the equivalent of one TV episode--Buffy is the leader of a worldwide group of Slayers, and she's more comfortable in her power. Xander is the Nick Fury-like organizer of the group, Willow is her powerful back-up, and Giles is her recruiter and diplomat in the supernatural world. In issue five, The Chain, a Buffy decoy dies trying to carry on Buffy's name, saying, "There is a chain between each and every one of us. And like the man said, you either feel its tug or you ignore it." Because the Buffy decoy does so, she takes solace even as she dies, saying "You don't even know who I am. But I do." While this suggests Whedon is more comfortable with the idea of one's place in history being irrelevant as long as you know who you are and where you come from, the use of the chain--a symbol of bondage, slavery and oppression--as the connector points to continuing ambivalence. (Or maybe I'm wrong, and the bondage Whedon talks about is his connection to Buffy and the Buffyverse, the possibility of being "the Buffy guy" for the rest of his career?)

In any event, Season Eight suggests that Buffy is more comfortable in her roles as leader and as Slayer, and Whedon more comfortable in his role as "the Buffy guy" and these are both comforts that couldn't be conveyed on TV, since in this medium Buffy is free of Gellar's "get me the hell out of here" airs and Whedon is free of his "what the hell am I doing still working in TV?" frustrations. In fact, free seems to be word of the day for Season Eight. Whedon is free of the concerns of a show's budget and he can deliver visuals as big as he can think of: the first four issues of Buffy have had magical battles, dream sequences, an army of zombies fighting an army of Slayers, dragons, castle raids...the list goes on.

And yet, this freedom may prove to be Season Eight's biggest weakness: all those scenes in the TV show of Buffy and crew in the library or the magic shop researching their enemy was a clever way to have the characters be proactive without spending more precious money on new sets, new effects, new fights--but it's also where Whedon and his writers were better able to make us care about the characters. (As I mentioned above, Whedon is one of those artists whose work apparently gets better under material considerations and restrictions.) At five issues in, I can give you a rough idea about what's happening with all of the above characters, but I can't recall reading a scene from the books that actually would have made me care in its own right--the emotional impact comes only from the affection I already have for the characters. Whedon points out in that Onion AV interview it's going to be harder for him to create what he calls "juice"--to create a character in the comics that has any of the appeal of someone on the show--but I think even more challenging may be taking a creator who's always drawn tremendous amounts of inspiration from his actors (what would BTVS had been like if James Marsters had never read for Spike, originally a one-off villain?) and giving him nothing to bounce off of but his ideas, his editor, and the book's art. The work on Season Eight so far has been pretty and competent, but more than occasionally rushed and never particularly inspired. Finally, there's been talk about Season Eight taking place over fifty or sixty issues, which is four to five years of real time. That's certainly plenty of time to craft a sweeping mega-epic, but is it possibly too much time? (If Season Five had lasted five years, I would've bailed and never come back long ago...) In fact, the last three seasons might've fared better at twelve or thirteen episodes each instead of twenty-two. Unless Season Eight has well-planned plateaus--areas that feel like climaxes even if they aren't the arc's ultimate one--it could take far too long (and cost far too much) for the audience to stay interested.

I think Whedon's idea for the arc (Buffy may have found peace, but the U.S. military--and maybe the world--is clearly still quite afraid of her power, and, I'm guessing, but just as Season Seven had the uber-vamp, Season Eight will have a Slayer-Slayer) and his enthusiasm for the comics medium will make his run worth reading. I certainly have enough affection for his characters that knowing what's happening to them next is tremendously appealing. But if Season Eight hits none of the remarkable high notes of the TV series, maybe that shouldn't be a tremendous surprise: lineage or no, it took Whedon a lot of time to become a master of the TV format. It might be naive to think, despite his considerable talents, he'll be able to do as much with the comics medium in a much shorter (and yet, thanks to the miracle of publication schedules, much longer) time. Ultimately, what may serve Whedon best may be what he'll least want to do--take some huge risks with the Buffy characters and the comics medium in the hopes of coming up with something new. If nothing else, taking such risks might help him identify again with the fear of powerlessness, and bring his relationship with Buffy full circle.

I guess like any good set of Watchers, We'll just have to wait and see.

A Rolling Stone gathers no Joss: Graeme's accidental theme post about 4/4 books.

This didn't start out as a themed post, but it just kind of turned out that way. See if you can see the subtle connective thread... BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #2: Maybe I'm just getting into the Whedon swing of things, but this seemed much better than the first issue to me - There seemed to be more to it, in some way; the plot moved forward, there was the reintroduction of more characters from the TV show (although Andrew looked nothing like he did on the show, and was only recognizable through his geekdom and Star Wars references) but also character work that works within the context of the comic series itself. Also, there are zombies and fairy tales, which is always nice. More to the point, there is also some of Whedon's swagger back in play, from the switching of scenes at the start of the issue, to the dream sequence, to Amy's fake-out surrender; it feels like a stronger episode of the show, especially as compared with last issue. Very Good, thankfully, although maybe that's due to my recent reading of...

FRAY: Proof that this here site has been good for me, at least, comes with the fact that I read this purely because of people telling that I should, back when I reviewed the first issue of the new Buffy series and was somewhat underwhelmed. This book - midway between Buffy and Firefly (including the futuristic slang that really annoyed me in Firefly; Alan Moore, I blame you, purely because of your use of it in Halo Jones, all those years ago) - was precisely what I was looking for in that first Buffy issue: Fast, funny, and not reliant on you knowing continuities of anything before you started reading. The final showdown with Urkonn, in particular, resonated with the anything-can-happen feeling of Buffy at its best, along with the comedy of the finale of that scene. More than anything, it felt like the pilot for a series - I finished it and wanted to read more, almost immediately, but that's only a good thing. Perhaps when Whedon is less busy he'll get around to writing some more but, for now, this was solidly Very Good.

As if this wasn't Joss Whedon-y enough, his first issue of RUNAWAYS (#25) is also out this week, and it's... Well, it's Good, but pretty much a disappointment after Brian K. Vaughan's three-or-so years on the book. The pacing seems off, as does the dialogue, but more importantly, the bringing the book into the mainstream Marvel Universe doesn't work. On the previous two occasions that the characters were in New York, there was a feeling that it was something unusual and special, but this time, the Kingpin and Punisher appear and it's just underwhelming for some reason. The feeling may be gone, I guess, but that's not to say that I won't end up liking the new feeling.

Oddly enough, the most Buffy-esque book of the week for me might actually have SUPERGIRL AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #28. The first year of this book, and the last four or five months or so, have had a wonderfully episodic-television sense of pacing where each issue is complete in and of itself while still advancing the overall plot, with a blurb at the opening of each issue setting the scene for that continuing story as much as would be needed by any new readers. With the creative team heading towards the end of their run on the book, it's nice to see the clarity of focus that Mark Waid brought to his early issues come back, as well as the feeling that the book is about more than just superheroes in space - Both the first year arc, and this second major arc (although it went through a prolonged birth, thanks to fill-ins and what seemed to be Waid being exhausted by 52) have had an epic feel to them that's missing in most superhero books these days. Very Good again, thankfully.

What did the rest of you think about these books? You've probably picked up at least two of them...

My Country 'Tis of Thee: Hibbs starts on 4/4

A couple from this week, then: 52 WEEK 48: The inevitable comes true, though the cover obviously telegraphs it. Ultimately, I tend to think this is a mistake -- there's few enough strong supporting characters in the world that MOntoya becoming a mask isn't the choice I would have made; but it does work well within the context of both the story, and her own personal arc. I was a little annoyed that "Gotham burns" (Again?!? How can ANYONE in that town afford property insurance?), and there's also something a little strange about Robertson's art, with it's big open page gutters -- at first I thought "is he drawing on the wrong sized paper or something?", but no, many of the pages have a full bleed out to the side. It's a weird stylistic choice, and one that distracted me a lot in the first half of the issue. I also think it would be cool if Kate actually dies, since that would be absolutely unexpected, though she's in the COUNTDOWN ad so probably not, huh? Anyway, quibble quibble quibble, but I still thought this was VERY GOOD.

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON EIGHT #2: Yeah, that rocked. Really rocked. And was properly dense, too -- unlike last issue, this felt nearly like a complete TV episode in itself. There's an awkward transitional bit at the end there where it cuts away from Amy and Xander for a minute, but when it cuts back it's away from Xander's beat. But other than that? Letter perfect. My only question: I'm not sure I understood the Giles scene in the beginning? Where is he in relationship to Buffy? Not in the same place? But he's training a larger number of the slayer-ettes then Buffy seems to have around her? Muh? Anyway, an easy EXCELLENT.

I am STUNNED how well the book is selling, also -- our As-Big-As-CIVIL-WAR initial order lasted us 12 days (CW was about 6 weeks or so), we got in the Largest-Single-Reorder-of-a-Comic-That-We've-Ever-Placed for the second printing, and we're halfway through THAT pile already. #1 is easily my best selling 32-page comic in the last 10 years or so -- we're not quite back up to where we were in the SANDMAN days, but if we keep selling 3 or 4 copies a day, like we have been lately, we're going to get damn close...

AVENGERS THE INITIATIVE #1: It is competently done, but there's not really any sympathetic characters here (except for maybe Cloud 9, but I think that's more from pity than actual interest), which is a pretty big problem, I think, for an ongoing monthly. Even the situation isn't sympathetic -- people being taken against their will to a training camp, and, when something bad happens, its covered up. This is supposed to be America? I was also kinda shocked there's a scene of "here is your mask, you will NOT use powers without wearing it" for two reasons: a) that seems pretty counter-intuitive to the High Concept of having an accountable nationwide super-hero task force -- I'd think things would be largely the opposite, that all recruits would be issued a visible ID card with a "badge number" they'd hvae to display openly at all times. If I were an American citizen in the Marvel Universe, I sure wouldn't be up for my government handing out MASKS; b) it is immediately undercut a few pages later in the "training room" where not ONE of the seven characters involved wears a mask. I was also deeply bothered by the "we're confiscating your weapon" scene. Take the same scene, and instead of Never-Heard-Of-Her-Girl, cast, say, Iron Man in that spot. Still feel comfortable with it? "We'll just be taking this incredibly powerful tech from you. We're the government, you can trust us." I usually enjoy Slott's work, but this is really a badly thought-out opening sequence to an ongoing *Avengers* comic. As a mini, this might have been the right way to go (and, it got "upgraded" to ongoing when Marvel got the numbers in), but as a "Hey! Buy me for the next five years!" I'd take a serious pass. AWFUL.

OMEGA FLIGHT #1: Wow. I can't even BEGIN to imagine a world where a sovereign government (not on the brink of collapse, or coup, or otherwise facing direct and imminent extinction) would just blithely hand over the reigns of its single most important military asset to a foreign government. I mean, isn't this pretty insulting to Canadians? Especially having a jingoistic nutjob like the USAgent being the first recruit? And the very idea of Mr. I-nuked-Canada-once being draped in the Canadian flag and forced on the team seems, I don't know, beyond insulting? Walter's portrayed as a completely ineffectual, out of touch loser, and there's not even the courtesy of an explanation of how he survived his previous dashed-off death. But, really, the problem is: this portrays Canada as America's 51st state, with all of the due accord being #51 comes with! I am super-curious to hear what a Canadian thinks about all of this, because I'm kind of reading this with my jaw dropping that anyone at Marvel thought this scenario was a good idea. Maybe the best way to read both this, and AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE, are as horror stories. AWFUL

What did you think?


Don't make get off my stool: Hibbs and 3/14 mark II

How weird is it that I skipped a day of daily blogging, and even *I* didn't notice it? (though, honestly, I'm clearly the weak link in this chaain insofar as something something GOD DAMN RIGHT goes) CIVIL WAR: THE CONFESSION: I literally can't add anything to what Graeme said. That's probably the best single-book review I've ever read here on the CRITIC. There's not a word there I'd disagree with, though I might have said "due to the loveliness that is Maleev's art, this is right on the cusp between AWFUL and EH. Though, no, really, it's AWFUL"

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (Season 8) #1:I watched all 7 seasons of the TV show over the course of.... oh, nine months or so? I really admired it. And I've been tempted 3 or 4 times, to invest in the complete series (it will probably have to drop under $80 to get me to bite, however -- its not like I don't already have hundreds of hours of TV on disk that I'm unlikley to watch again until Ben is, dunno, 6 or 8 or something), but it's not like I'm an uber-fan or anything.

I really liked this first issue, however. It felt very comfortable and right.

If I have any complaints, they can be summed as three points:

1) It felt like just the opening 5 minutes before the credits. Which is fine in a lot of ways, but I'm afraid that BuffyFans that are New Comics Readers might be a *smidge* disapointed. I wonder about the structure of this, too -- not really sure how long Joss is on for (ICV2 says 6 issues, but this suprisingly in-depth TV Guide interview says 4 issues, with the "Season" running "25-30" issues.

I hope ICV2 is right, because it feels like 1/6th of a story, and not 1/4.

I'm also saddened by the concept this is only 25-30 issues. Let's say we're talking about 4 issue arcs, and it runs to #32 -- that's only 8 "episodes", compared to a normal, what, 22 in a "season" of TV? Of course, the reason that I am "saddened" is because what the Whedon-verse does BEST is the feint -- making you think the story is going one way, then suddenly jerking it back the other direction, and that's a bit harder to do with only 8 stories to play with.

On the other hand, that's maybe what we all think that we want -- just the "continuity" shows, with none of the filler. I'm not sure that's what we really and truly want, but 8 is a different structure than 22, and we'll see what we see.

2) Continuity is a scary beast, anyway. Like I knew that I knew who that was on the lst page, but it took Jeff on Friday doing the "Yes, don't you remember the (blank), then the (blank)?". Me, I'm all "duh, right, I know exactly who you're talking about", but I had to be reminded. For those of us who are weak in our Buffy-Fu, that last page wasn't so much of a "Whoa!" but a "Uh, WTF?".

3) Dude, that Xander joke totally didn't work. With the cut to that big shot of X, my very first thought was "Ha! He looks like Nick Fury!" then it took most of another page to get there. I had some sort of half-baked theory in the store about how this represents the difference between comics and the filmed image -- both are about "coverage", but there's no time to edit the comics page in the way you would a filmed image. On the comics page, the set-up needs to have a beat before the reveal for it to work. If this was filmed, the beat might work beacase there's a lag in real time between seeing an image, and taking it in, but in comics the opoosite is true -- the image reinforces the text.

Is that right? In the filmed presentation, text reinforces the image, in comics image reinforces the text? Did I just hit on something smart by accident?

Ultimately, I hope Whedon some day has the time to approach the comics page as a formal experiment. As "Hush" or "Once More, With Feeling" are experiments of Form with the structure of the broadcast TV show, I'd love to see what he could do with a comics page. Because I think it could be spectacular.

This isn't spectacular in that way, again it's the 5-ish minutes before the wolf-howl-and-guitar-riff -- but its absolutely "what would they do if they didn't have a budget to worry about", and it scores high for that.


Right, and for the rare "retail perspective" on this, this is an unequivocal hit -- I don't think I ever sold more than 10 copies of any previous BVTS comic (though FRAY did much better), and preorders were pretty anemic (under 20% of my final order).

I initially ordered something like, dunno, 80% of CIVIL WAR #1, but I added on half of my intials when I saw how many casual requests there were for it. If I'd just had my intial in stock, I would have sold out today; at my projected rate I'll probably sell out within 3 days of the second printing arriving, which is pretty much perfect, right? I'll be ordering the second at, uh, maybe a third again of the first? I can already predict that DH will do a third printing. Place your bets now.

In fact, I tend to suspect if a quarter million copies were available on the market, at the time of demand, that's probably would have been what would have sold through. As it is now, I suspect they'll land at 160 or less, total. A great # for Dark Horse, to be sure, but this was a book that needed vision when setting the print run.

One other thing: the variant cover (1 in 4, more or less, though my count didn't end up exact, because it's not a line item on the invoice) was unwanted in these quarters -- I'd rather not have unannounced variants (nothing about them in the catalog or the order form) foisted upon me. Honest to god, if I get a choice in what appears on my racks, the rule is "one book, one cover". I hate speculating scumtards, and I'd rather not be put in a position where I'm asked to take thier money, when they're just trying to get over on someone else.

So, uh, yeah, wtf, I've been typing for more than an hour, and that's all I wrote? God, this is what I hate about "daily" blogging!

(whine whine whine, do I sound like the Comic Book Guy? I don't mean to!!!)

What did you think, huh?


All Monkeys are French: Graeme starts his 3/14 reviews.

You can tell that Jeff and I both have day jobs by the fact that we both post on weekdays at the very start of the day (well, unless you're not on the West Coast of the Continental United States of America, in which case, I apologize). This is my way of saying, he's got an interesting essay about essays right below this post, so if you haven't read it, go and do so. Meantime, for those of you who thought I'd be reviewing Civil War: The Confession first this week, wait until tomorrow.

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON EIGHT #1: As such a fan of the Buffy TV show that I kind of think that the seventh season was the second best (behind the third, which - come on - really was wonderful), to say that I was rather excited about the potential of this series is a slight understatement. Joss Whedon has more than proven his comics mettle with Astonishing X-Men (I missed his Fray series entirely, and have always meant to fix that one day), and Georges Jeanty has long been a strong storyteller who's somehow avoided his fanboy due, so it's not like there wasn't some pedigree there... And that pedigree kind of makes itself known here, but only kind of. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of good things in the issue, but sadly a story isn't really one of them. It all comes down to the pacing - We definitely get the start of a plot, but literally only the start, and as a result the issue is left being somewhat underwhelming; it's the equivalent of the first act of one of the television episodes. Which, you know, is great on one hand - There're funny lines and action and a mystery being set up - but on the other hand, it lacks the oomph we've come to expect from the first issue of a new series, and relies too much on the audience's knowledge of the Buffy TV show (The last page reveal literally means nothing to anyone who's never seen the TV show, which is a shame). You get the feeling that Whedon's maybe too comfortable here, and is literally doing this for the fans as opposed to anyone else; it's just that he's so good that even his apathetic work still has a shiny surface gleam.

It's Good enough to get me back for the second issue, but not enough that I want to rant and rave and tell everyone to buy it right now. But considering I'm a pretty big Buffy fanboy, that's not the greatest sign of things to come.

Was I the only one weirdly disappointed by this?