Buffy Turns 15
Fifteen years ago today, Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered on The WB. It’s funny. I remember tweeting back and forth with fellow Zenescope writer Paul Ruditis a few months ago, and he called the WB “the voice of a generation.” I think he’s right, and no show from the WB embodies that more than Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It changed genre fiction. It changed television. It changed lives. It changed my life.
I’m coming late to the “post about Buffy” party, so I’ll keep it simple. Sometimes, I forget that not everyone is a diehard fan of this show. I had a conversation with an astonishingly pretentious girl a few years ago, and she told me that it was my love of Buffy that betrayed what I’m really looking for in film. Titillation, of course. She said that, simply because I loved BtVS, I was incapable of being moved by real art (“like Inception" she said, to which I scoffed and felt disgustingly superior). I didn’t even know there were people who still thought Buffy was a show about hot chicks being hot chicks. I’m still astonished when my father insists that Buffy is “too silly” for him. When I hear stuff like that, I want to run around with my Chosen collection and a pitcher of Kool-Aide, preaching the Whedony word to the unsaved. Because I’ve figured out - the only way to not be awed by the genre-bendin’, norm-breakin’, history-makin’ beast that is Buffy the Vampire Slayer is to not watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is everything I look for in fiction, and it’s everything I feel serialized stories should aspire to: it’s layered, funny, scary, moving, tragic, eucatastrophic, relevant, timeless, weird, and beautiful. It has changed my writing. Hell, my first writing gig was an Angel comic, and still - when I turn on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, all of the internal voices shut off and I am, simply and purely, a fan. These characters are a part of me, and they will be for the rest of my life. It’s been a wonderful fifteen years since Joss Whedon and the Slayer hit the tube, and I’m continually amazed that I’ve been a fan of it the whole time.
Angel & Faith #1, Flashpoint #5, Justice League #1
Comic Book Wednesday
For years, I ran a site called Buffyverse Comic Reviews. I figured I’d stop when I knew I was going to be writing a story for IDW’s Angel: Yearbook, as it’s tacky to write about comics that you know you’ll be writing soon. If it’s a positive review, it just seems as if you’re kissing ass so you can write more in the future. If it’s negative, you come off as a dick to the other people working on a book. Well, as I have absolutely nothing to do with the current Buffy/Angel comics, I figure… well, why not? Also, this review will also cover with finale of Flashpoint and, really, the DC Universe as we know it… and the birth of the new DCU with Justice League #1. I also picked up another comic at the shop, but I’m not going to review this one… because I am in the middle of writing an issue of the series as we speak. I’ll give more info on that when I can, but I’ll tell you this… it’s a blast. And now, the reviews! Man, it’s a good week. Angel & Faith #1
Live Through This - Part One
Written by Christos Gage
Pencils by Rebekah Isaacs
Dark Horse Comics
Coming from someone who was extremely skeptical about Angel co-starring in his own title, someone who wrote for IDW’s Angel and wants the title to himself (once you get a taste of writing Whedon characters, it’s hard to stop - it’s like crack or Pringles… it’s like crack flavored Pringles), and someone who was more than slightly dubious about the Twilight plotline… the first issue of Angel & Faith is a damn good comic. First and foremost, Angel as a character isn’t sidelined at all. Every page is about him. Every page is about Giles. The comic is really about the two of them, and how Faith has become the level-headed slayer. She’s not only playing the role of savior like Angel played for her in the television show… she has become a mentor for other slayers as well. She’s grown, but she’s still the same snarky, dark, powerful woman that she was in the show. And Angel… as I said, the book focuses on him more than anything else. His time as Twilight casts a dark shadow over this comic (rightfully so), but you don’t have to really buy his motive in order to enjoy this book. In fact, Faith even says, “Y’know what? Your whole Twilight phase makes about as much sense as a David Lynch movie.” This isn’t the creative team shrinking back from Buffy: Season Eight, though - Angel goes on to give more explanation as to his Twilight persona, though he never excuses himself or attempts to make sense of it. He knows that he was under the thrall of Twilight, but admits his fault in all of his actions. He’s after redemption, and his end goal makes so much sense for who he is as a person. Angel is a fan of the big, sweeping actions (his plan in Not Fade Away, his plan in After the Fall #16, his time as Twilight), so of course he wants to bring Giles back to life. It’s a heroic, sad, and misguided decision that I can’t wait to see play out. Whistler appears, and his role suggest that we might finally get some backstory for this character. Is he who he says he is? Besides balancing the scales of good and evil, what stake does he have in all of this? That scene also introduces Pearl and Nash, a pair of human/demon hybrids who seem to be the Big Bads of either this arc or the whole series. It’ll be interesting to see how this all unfolds, but from what we’ve seen, these are some creepy, brutal beasties. With one issue, Angel & Faith has already swept away my reservations and a bit of my jealousy (I’m a writer and a fan, so I want to write everything - it’s a thing). It gets the voices pitch perfect, introduces the villains, and kicks off character arcs for Angel and Faith that already have more purpose and clarity than the entirety of each of their Season Eight storylines. Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs hit this one out of the park.
Written by Geoff Johns
Pencils Andy Kubert
I’ve enjoyed all of Flashpoint, and I didn’t expect anything less than excellence from this issue. I love everything I’ve ever read from Geoff Johns, I’ve found the storyline compelling, and I’ve been anticipating finding out how this will kickstart the New 52 for months. What I did not expect was for this issue to be as utterly moving as it was. For those who read the preview, the opening reveals that it isn’t Reverse Flash who is responsible for the hellish world of Flashpoint, but Barry Allen himself. The rest of the issue brings the battle between Flash, Reverse Flash, Thomas Wayne, Aquaman, Wonderwoman, and the Resistance to a dramatic (but brief) climax. The action is quickly gotten out of the way for the real emotional meat of the comic… and I sobbed. Literal tears and all that. This is some of the most emotionally powerful storytelling I’ve read all year, and it moved me more than any comic book I’ve read since Brian Lynch’s After the Fall (read my review for the finale of that series here). Geoff Johns’ love for these character is obvious in every panel of the books he writes, and this one just sings. Big character moments, gripping action, and a moving final scene, this sets the stage for many great stories to come.
Written by Geoff Johns
Pencils by Jim Lee
And the New 52 begins here. While I understand and agree with the intention, it may have not been smart to release this issue the same day as Flashpoint #5. I obviously thought that the finale of Flashpoint was excellent, so it was a bit jarring to see how… let’s say dialed back the premiere of Justice League is. It’s made up of three long scenes, beginning with Batman running into Green Lantern while on the run from the authorities and in pursuit of an alien creature. Most of the issue (let’s say 70%) is Hal boasting and Bruce making him look like a jerk. The rest of the issue shows football player Vic Stone dealing with daddy issues in his pre-Cyborg days and the bickery duo of Green Lantern and Batman trying to find and confront Superman. It’s a quick read that puts action before story. The action is good, though Jim Lee’s explosions are a bit chaotic and sometimes take some effort to follow. It’s a decent introductory issue, but I expected a bit more meat for the big start of the New 52.
TOMORROW: Kevin Smith’s The Bionic Man #1 review & Batgirl #22-24 review