My apologies for the slight delay in this week's column. Pressing
family matters this weekend made it impossible to get the column out
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #1
...is well worth reading.
I've been a fan of the television series since the first episode, which I watched only to see Anthony Stewart Head, previously of one of my favorite TV series of all time, VR.5. (I'm the current maintainer of the VR.5 FAQ and assembled the original BtVS Drinking Game and You Know You've Watched Too Much Buffy When... lists. So I'm credentialed. I still get submissions for that drinking game, despite having given up on it about 8 or 10 months ago. Maybe I should update it, eh? The fandom got too big and fractured, too tedious, and lacked fun. But I'm digressing mightily, aren't I?)
In addition to all of that, Sarah Michele Gellar is the cutest thing on television. (So you can imagine how it pains me so to see her on the back cover of so many comics these days in that Milk ad. =) This brings us to the depictions of the actors and actresses on the show in the comic. The text piece at the end lets us know that Joss
Whedon and SMG have approval over the images. And apparently, SMG is too busy to be a heavy-handed editor. (I can understand why. The show tapes 12 hours a night overnight and she does fifteen million other things, too, from awards shows to Animal Planet spots. So I'm sure the comic doesn't take too high a priority.) The Buffys in this comic range anywhere from too tall to too masculine. And I didn't realize that was Cordelia until her second page. But now that I know Joe Bennet's style, I can adapt and cope. Plus, there are still some eerily dead-on panels, such as the penultimate one on page two. The only consistant problem is Giles, who never quite looks like he should, IMHO.
In the end, like the series, the comic must rely on witty scripting, clever plots, and a strong tempo. I think writer Andi Watson does a good job with those things. The dialogue is stuff you'd expect to see on TV. He does a beautiful job with that. The usual things you'd expect to see in the Drinking Game make it here into the comic book.
THE BLACK PANTHER #1
...is written by Christopher Priest, in a style of plotting quite similar to his run on QUANTUM & WOODY. You get those introductory captions to each scenem, similar to Frasier, and a lot of story fragments. I've heard this is in part due to some editorial interference, but so be it. The plot jumps around quite a bit, and it gets a little confusing, but the book is strong enough to warrant a second and third look with the future issues.
The thing that sticks out in this issue is the art. I've always been a Mark Texeira fan, from his days on GHOST RIDER. But the look it has in this issue is amazing. At first, I thought it was painted by Mark, who does like to paint his own stuff. But the text page in the back points out that it's actually a new coloring process
from the Brian Haberlin Studios. I REALLY like it. It looks painted, but at the same time appears smoother. Even if you don't buy the book or have no interest in it, at least flip through it on the stands and take a look. I'd like to see this on more comics.
Speaking of experiments in printing processes:
RE: GEX #1
...is Rob Liefeld's latest. The issue is reproduced directly from his pencils. I could do a whole column on this one issue alone, but the constant Liefeld bashing gets a bit much for me. However, if I can find a way to do it and still respect myself in the morning, look for the grand bashing in the next Pipeline. =)
The direct-from-pencils look is mixed. Some of it looks unfinished, like the cityscape backgrounds, where buildings are made up of sticks instead of lines. Other parts look great, and even more three-dimensional, for the extra lighter pencil lines you wouldn't normally see in the comics.
It's just such a shame that the cool printing process is wasted on such pencils. . .
(And THAT'S the closest I'll get to bashing Liefeld this issue.)
THE SAVAGE DRAGON #53
... came out last week, as well. It's another swell issue by Erik Larsen for long-time fans. New fans should probably go buy themselves the available TPBs and catch up with the series. It's still worth it. In this issue, there's everything from unintentional odes to the Warner Brother cartoons' Sam and Ralph to the unraveling of the mystery behind Dragon's death to the further adventures of the She-Dragon. There isn't really a fight in this issue. There's sorta one, but it's quick and hilarious.
There's also a hilarious DESPERATE TIMES backup strip as always, featuring guest appearances by two characters usually only seen in ONI PRESS comics. I told you last week -- Chris Eliopoulos gets better with every issue. Jump on now so you can call yourself an "early adopter."