Thursday, September 06, 2007

Comics Out September 6, 2007

Brian K. Vaughan and Georges Jeanty's Buffy The Vampire Slayer #6. I keep trying to like Brian K Vaughan, and people keep telling me to, but boy, no. At best the guy is solid, as in the best issues of his Runaways, but he is overrated, and I will not buy into the hype. In this issue I could not have been more pre-disposed to like him, since I am loving Buffy just now.

Among my complaints: the use of Doctor Suess is a leaden, obvious irony; a grown woman referring to tea as "those smelly bags?" (because she did not know this word ... "tea"?); a lame -- if I am reading this correctly, and I am not sure I am -- and pointless allusion to Alan Moore ("the great bearded Wizard of Northhampton"); showing the depraved rich by having them hunt not foxes ... but PEOPLE! (This was done definitively in the Invisibles); the awful exposition of Roden explaining to someone who must know by now that he is not a witch but a warlock; the cliched structure of "A wise man once said [insert low brow commonplace]"; overdoing quirky dialog when a few more "normal" words would better off-set the wit ("I thought this stuck up debutard lived in Jolly Olde. Why are we still chilling at the mistake by the lake?"); having a grown, sexually active woman respond to the word "cunning" by thinking, or pretending to think, the user is referring to oral sex with a woman; a grown, sexually active woman referring to said oral sex as "going downtown on this chick"; a grown person referring to fun as "getting down"; sloppy writing like having "getting down" so close to "going downtown" for no reason and using a phrase like "the stakes are higher" in a vampire book without irony; and the awful cliche of My Fair Lady -- I simply do not believe knowing a rule book's seating precedence at a formal dinner will help her with an assassination.

On the plus side Vaughan writes Xander a great speech about Kurt Russel. On the DVD commentaries for Buffy the writers always say they get compliments on lines that Joss silently added to their scripts. I bet, for know reason other than the weakness of BKV here, that this is Joss.

And the art. Is there a new inker? Did something go wrong? Faith's face is messed up on page 2, and 3, and 4, and 5, and again on 5, and many more times after that. It seems like he can draw faces -- Buffy, Xander and Giles look OK -- just not Faith's. She most often looks mongoloid, or melted , or very old. Principle Wood looks ridiculous standing calmly on a cell phone so close to a big fight. Or is that not a literal image? I should be able to tell.

Way to sink a good idea. Yick.

Joss Whedon and Fabio Moon's Sugar Shock #2. Now that's what I want. Whedon at his most wacky and funny and silly -- it is great to see Whedon without the angst and heartfelt sincerity, though I would not want to see him get rid of it in all his work. And Fabio Moon is one of my new favorite artists. I think I like him even better here than on Casanova -- I like him with the colors. His lines have such energy and charm. And his girls are cute. This is my favorite Whedon work. Period. This is one of my favorite new comics. It is just ridiculous. A great -- GREAT -- joke with Robot Phil saying "legs" over and over. You can read it online by clicking the Dark Horse Myspace link on the right.

But can anyone fill me in on Dark Horse Presents? Is issue one no longer available for viewing? How do I view this bigger, like I did last time? Are these going to be published at some point?

In Comics News, nothing caught my attention.

Can anyone spoil Spiderman: One More Day, which came out today? I opened it in the store and decided I did not like Quesada's art as much as I thought I did, or used to. Or I was in a bad mood because of all the hype.

20 comments:

James said...

Damnit Geoff, I was hoping you'd take the One More Day bullet for us (though from what I can gather online, nothing happens in the first chapter.)

Much as I like Brian K. Vaughan*, I won't be getting Buffy because the series has failed to grab me. That said, "overdoing quirky dialog when a few more "normal" words would better off-set the wit" is something Whedon himself is frequently guilty of, especially in his comics work (Astonishing X-Men aside, thankfully).

*To recap:
Ex Machina, Dr. Strange: The Oath, The Escapists = Great
Y The Last Man = Okay
Runaways = Eh.

Anonymous said...

About Faith:

A "grown, sexually active" woman.

She does think very unlike a grown adult; in many respects she is an, immature adolescent with an arrested development. It would be comments similar to the ones you quoted that irritate Buffy in season 3. One of the ways the mayor wins her loyalty is by giving her a first class accomodation complete with a playstation.

Faith's got a lot of growing up to do, and I'd guess this arc will be part of it.

Mitch said...

I don't like Joe Q's art either. I never really have. There are a couple of reviews of it up on places like Newsarama.

Is it a little morbid that we're all just curious about this book because it's been hyped that a) a frail old lady will finally die after fifty years or b)a nerdy guy will divorce his hot wife? Spider-Man's always been about a guy having rotten luck, but something inside me says that eagerly waiting for the bad stuff in Parker's life to overwhelm him is a touch sadistic.

Erik Schark said...

According to the guys over at iFanboy, the Spidey: One More Day denouement will be Peter returning to teen age, essentially rebooting the character to the same general area as the Ultimate Spidey line and erasing his marriage to a supermodel/actress. The theory is that allowing Spidey to age was a catastrophic mistake that Quesada is now attempting to rectify.

As for BKV, amen, brother. No offense to the man, who I'm sure is very pleasant, but I find him to be one of the most over-hyped writers out there. I think his gift is concepts. I love the ideas behind Y, Ex Machina, Runaways, just about everything he's done really (except for probably Pride of Baghdad). I just really don't care for the execution. I'm far too aware of the writer's voice all the time. That's just my two cents.

Geoff Klock said...

James: can you give me an example of Whedon doing the kind of bad dialogue I claim BKV does? And can you tell me if you think whedon packs in bad dialogue so densly in one place as this issue does? I a sure Whedon is guilty of a lot of bad lines in almost 300 episodes of television, but BKV had line after bad line in just one Buffy comic.

Anon: But what your talking about was like, what? Five years of continuity ago? Didn't she have that chance to grow up at the end of season 7 and on angel. Do you think this character is supposed to be in the same state she was in when we met her in season 3?

Mitch: I agree that eagerly awaiting for bad stuff to overwhelm Peter is sadistic, but at least half of the interest in the hype is the question of whether or not Marvel is going to blow some major change. Which is still mean, but not as cruel as what you describe. Peter is kind of a innocent, but Marvel, a lot of the time, is just asking for trouble.

Erik: wow. I hope that is not it.

Mitch said...

Re: Overrated BKV

For this tangent, I apologize.

I just read a hillarious article in Chuck Klosterman's book "IV" that is a response to rock bands frequently being classified as "overrated" or "underrated". Klosterman's article instead profiles THE TEN MOST ACCURATELY RATED ARTISTS IN ROCK HISTORY!

Nothing to do with comics, but there you go. Geoff, if you haven't you should check out Chuck Klosterman's stuff. He has four books: "Fargo Rock City" "Sex, Drugs and Coccopuffs", "Killing Yourself to Live" and "IV". I know you're not a book person- I'm not either. He's a journalist for Spin, The NY Times Magazine and Sports Illustrated. All of his essays/articles are bite sized and wonderful observations about the inherent craziness/brilliance in the modern world.

Since I know you like Radiohead, I'll give you a fun snippet of his profile of the lead singer Thom Yorke:

"And this is the thing that everyone seems to miss about him, and about Radiohead as a whole: they may make trancendent, fragile, pre-apocalyptic math rock for a generation of foward-thinking fans, but they're still just a bunch of dudes."

Sorry for the long tangent, but I think you'll like him.

Thacher said...

*sigh* Okay, I guess I'll be the unpopular one and say that I really, really dig Vaughn's work. I think he does have an excellent pen for dialog and in a wide enough swath that his different characters actually sound like different characters, unlike Warren Ellis characters #1-4, Garth Ennis hard men #1-5, etc. I think he writes a very well paced 22-page story, often ending on just the right story beat or reveal, and is able to move the plot forward each issue without feeling like nothing "happened this issue." (One More Day is a good example of that. May gets set up in a new hospital and Peter declares 48 some-odd times that he's going to do anything to save her, anything, super-anything, you hear me readers, I'm going to do some crazy shit anything can happen! He also beats up Iron Man to get him pay for May's hospital bills. He says he can't and then he does anyway.)

Overall, long-form, Vaughn tells a very good "big story" and one that really makes you feel like there's a beginning middle and end. to the whole arc. The "Y the Last Man" that came out this week was excellent, and as the series wraps up he throws some great curves as we get into the anything can happen final act.

The dialog gymnastics can come off as superfluous at times, but I think that those extra flourishes can give a story extra spice. I've yet to see him wallow in self-indulgent wankery, like the two page, 100-panel doin' it spread in the most recent Powers.

I'm sure there are things that I'm missing, or things that I could say that could make my argument more cohesive and compelling, but I'm a simple creature of simple pleasures. I know what I like and occasionally, why I like it. Ultimately, Vaughn is probably one of my favorite writers working in the field today, if not my favorite.

Christian said...

Heh. The reasons you dislike BKV's writing on the Faith arc are the same reasons I have for disliking Sugar Shock. It's a very solid concept, and Fabio Moon is fantastic, but the dialog grates me nine out of ten times as if it's Whedon imitating Whedon, the characters are stock and it's riddled with clichés.

But Fabio Moon is still great, so I'll keep reading it.

James said...

Geoff: I can't! I'm mainly thinking about the issues of Buffy Season 8 and Runaways I read, which I don't have any more. He may not pack it in as densely, that is fair. Also, as you're much more of a Whedon guy than me, you may have an ear for Real Whedonisms versus Bad Imitation Whedonisms. I tune out whenever anyone says stuff like "with the x-ness".

Ping33 said...

I love BKV and have never liked Buffy.

I think the problem isn't Whedon Vs BKV... rather that in the case of both they are trying a little too hard to make the characters have the voice given to them by the other creator. As I said, me no like Buffy, Buffy bad. But I love(d) Runways under BKV, I haven't loved it since Whedon took over, something about the characters strikes me as false like they're trying too hard to sound right (esp Molly and Nico) It sounds like y'all have a similar complaint going the other way. Interesting.

The two best comic related things which came out this week are Exterminators and Jack Kirby's 4th World Omnibus v2... bar none.

Mikey said...

Hmm. I haven't read much across Vaughn's range of books, but in the sampling I've done most were relegated into the 'damned by faint praise' category that seems to recur here too - sturdy but not exactly inspired (and in Geoff's stronger comments, pretty incompetent).

The exception to this is Ex Machina, which I LOVE. As much as I don't want to say it's because Vaughn has some great profanity in it, it is. Partly. Also - it's not a book about a 'super-hero mayor', it's about a guy trying to run THE modern major city, the city where Marvel locates all its super-heroes. A few issues in I twigged that it was as much about admin problems, and the whole heap of trouble that comes with the job, one of which is that he happens to have been a super-hero, a shoddy but well-meaning one, just how New York likes em (Spider-Man being the apotheosis of this). The mayoral 'team' may at first appear like Ellis Cast 1B - hard but human secret service agent, sexy young liberal intern, mad Russian scientist - but they have more depth than the cast of most of Ellis's 'second tier' books. Plus, Vaughn does some brilliant last page cliff-hangers in that comic. The pacing is actually really odd (although I'll cop to not having re-read my issues for a while to check this, but that's how it's stayed in the memory).

And, if I may indulge in a diversion of my own, One More Day -I hope this is all a bluff on Quesada's part. If not, then wow: in the mid-1990s they replaced Tony Stark with a teenage version of himself, during what would later be considered the creative nadir of that period (who knew?). OK, so it could be argued that the teen Peter Parker is actually the closest to the quintessential incarnation of that character, but then, we already have the 'ultimate' version of Spider-Man. In, yeah, Ultimate Spider-Man.

Fraction's recent annual showed that all you need is a strong writer to present a strong version - in this case, so Peter's married to the love of his life (Charlie Brown who actually ended up with the red-haired girl) - Fraction wrote this well because, I dare say, he's young and married and gets what that feels like - totally awesome. If the marriage is unrealistic (part of Quesada's gripe with it?) but happened anyway, then that can be a strength, the heart of the story. Because, actually, stranger things have happened than a nice guy nerd getting a hot girl. It only makes him seem alien to the audience if you think your core readership can't conceive of such a situation, which is kind of presumptious (and insulting?). Maybe some, the stereotypical 'fan boys' can't, the comics reader that The Simpsons likes to have fun with, but, well, fuck those people, quite frankly. And, while I'm all in favour of getting kids to read the book, the argument going that they can't possibly relate to a grown man who is married - kids are smart. They don't relate to Peter because he's literally 'like them' (who actually knows a 'science nerd' anyway?).

Fraction, and Millar on his run actually, showed that the current status can make for some really nice character moments, and the only time it is bad is when it is when the writers are bad. By contrast the later, incredibly dry years of Straczynski's run have felt like him trying to reinvent the wheel. Which is why I think a guy like Dan Slott picking up after One More Day is good news (the Spidey/Human Torh mini he wrote was a neat, under-acknowledged little book, which nailed perfectly what is Good and Right about the character and his continuity). I'm happy to watch this play out and see where it goes, since I think Strazcynski should have made way for new energy a few years ago, having got the character back on track, more or less, with his first year or two's worth of issues.

Boy, can you tell Spider-Man is my favourite super-hero? Apologies all.

And Geoff - you know Bachalo's taking on a run of the new Amazing Spider-Man? I am intrigued by this. It will be great to see him on some new (non-X-Men) territory.

Mikey said...

And I, distracted by my own ranting, second the Fourth World Omnibus. Just amazing. And mandatory for all fans of Morrison also.

Geoff Klock said...

Mitch: thats awesome. I will check that out. I do wish "I know you're not a book person" did not describe me, but, alas, it does.

Thacher: do you want to counter any of the points I made about his Buffy issue?

Christian: examples?

Mikey: some very good points. And yes, I know about Bachalo on Spidey, and I will be getting every issue he does.

Christian said...

Sure; All the "groupie" lines, the legs joke run on too long and feels a little too much like the Paintball joke from Spaced (though the pay off "Avenged/legs" is pretty good,) the face joke I could really go on. The Lincoln Madness joke just falls completely flat for me. They all sound like someone imitating Whedon. I'm surprised we haven't gotten a real Whedon-ism yet like slapping a "-ie/y" in the end of a subjective and make it an adjective.

The more-human-than-human Robot character, the standard cute punk girl, the ignored supporting character who could actually be useful if anyone listened to him etc.

The ending does nothing for me and I don't feel compel to read the next issue.


But maybe I'm just being negative.

troy wilson said...

"And, while I'm all in favour of getting kids to read the book, the argument going that they can't possibly relate to a grown man who is married - kids are smart. They don't relate to Peter because he's literally 'like them'"

Bingo, Mikey! When I started reading Spidey at the tender age of eight, the fact that he was in college didn't deter me at all. I'm sure I wouldn't have cared if he was married, either. The main attractors for me were his powers, his costume, his rotten luck, and his cool villains.

For that matter, the fact that Reed and Sue were married (and Ben and Alicia seemed, for all intents and purposes, like they were hitched too) didn't keep me away from Fantastic Four. And I sure as hell wasn't reading it because I related to Franklin.

Ping33 said...

Not only is Peter Parker Married... he's married to a super-model, I don't think that's going to alienate many 14 year-olds.

Elijah Fly said...

the "peter parker gets de-aged" rumor was an idea kicked around the time of the clone saga, but was dropped because it was stupid. I doubt they're going to bring back something that has been talked about already in the "comic press" as stupid.

Going back to things Quesada has said in the past:

Magneto is REALLY dead. Speedball is going to die. Steve Rogers is going to stay dead.

These are all things meant to swerve people from what's really going to pay attention. Hype.

Nothing has been missed in the past two issues. Aunt May is dying, and Peter has to do some quick thinking with the hospital to make sure May gets the attention she needs. I'm angry that both issues, the ending of back in black and the beginning of One More Day, are the same story with different spandex. (no reason for the change other than presumably he got the Kingpin, a true fitting ending for back in black).

solicitations for later issues say that either Aunt May, Mary Jane, or Black Cat will die. I hopin for the Catwoman knockoff.

As for what I want for Spider-Man:

I don't care about being "someone I can relate to, thus he must have the same concerns as a 12 year old boy." When I was a 12 year old boy, I thought he was cool cuz he looked cool and did the right thing only to go home with nothing to show for it.

for the "everything's back to normal' bit: Norman Osborn effectively says to everyone, "Peter Parker and his family are MINE!" And that's pretty much that. Spidey's rogues aren't really woman in refridgerator types for the most part anyway. (I know, Carnage, etc. but for the most part)

Peter Parker: grad student or professor or whatever credits he needs to get at this point in the 30 plus years he's been in and out of college. There he gets to seriously do his science thing in a somewhat "real" manner (not a goofy super-science Byrne creation). On top of that he gains a supporting cast of people either his own age or a few years younger, which is most important.

Mary Jane: I like the movies take where Peter Parker is less a man that is funny and more a man that thinks he's funny. As the same notion for Mary Jane, she's an actress that might think she's more talented than she actually is. The soft reboot of secret hospital and supermodel stuff is, she co-starred in a basic cable cheese show from the 90s. everyone knows who she is around locally becuase she's an actress/model that might have already used up her 15 minutes. Every semi-attractive woman in LA is an aspiring actress/model. She's a serious actress that wants serious roles, but her needs may have outstripped her means.

The marriage: I always seen it as a young couple where one of them happens to be a cop. Cops have families and carry on carrying on. Both sides know what they signed up for. I find it interesting is that they got married when I was 3, so this has been status quo for me.

The thing I notice (boilled down into generalizations for the sake of the argument.) everyone says they relate to this guy. It feels like everyone over 30 still needs to go on about Gwen Stacy and how Peter Parker is a loser. This guy can't keep a girl and he's always seconds from homelessness.That's the thing, the guy 'we all relate to' must suffer on and on. That's not really the guy I'm interested in reading about. The 30 year old single superhero that lives with his Aunt? No thanks.

When I started reading Spider-Man, I likened it to Charlie Brown FINALLY talking to the little red headed girl, they work on getting their shit together for better or worse, and now they're going to take on THE WORLD.

Elijah Fly said...

the "peter parker gets de-aged" rumor was an idea kicked around the time of the clone saga, but was dropped because it was stupid. I doubt they're going to bring back something that has been talked about already in the "comic press" as stupid.

Going back to things Quesada has said in the past:

Magneto is REALLY dead. Speedball is going to die. Steve Rogers is going to stay dead.

These are all things meant to swerve people from what's really going to pay attention. Hype.

Nothing has been missed in the past two issues. Aunt May is dying, and Peter has to do some quick thinking with the hospital to make sure May gets the attention she needs. I'm angry that both issues, the ending of back in black and the beginning of One More Day, are the same story with different spandex. (no reason for the change other than presumably he got the Kingpin, a fitting ending for back in black).

solicitations for later issues say that either Aunt May, Mary Jane, or Black Cat will die. I hopin for the Catwoman knockoff.

As for what I want for Spider-Man:

I don't care about being "someone I can relate to, thus he must have the same concerns as a 12 year old boy." When I was a 12 year old boy, I thought he was cool cuz he looked cool and did the right thing only to go home with nothing to show for it.

for the "everything's back to normal' bit: Norman Osborn effectively says to everyone, "Peter Parker and his family are MINE!" And that's pretty much that. Spidey's rogues aren't really woman in refridgerator types for the most part anyway. (I know, Carnage, etc. but for the most part)

Peter Parker: grad student or professor or whatever credits he needs to get at this point in the 30 plus years he's been in and out of college. There he gets to seriously do his science thing in a somewhat "real" manner (not a goofy super-science Byrne creation). On top of that he gains a supporting cast of people either his own age or a few years younger, which is most important.

Mary Jane: I like the movies take where Peter Parker is less a man that is funny and more a man that thinks he's funny. As the same notion for Mary Jane, she's an actress that might think she's more talented than she actually is. The soft reboot of secret hospital and supermodel stuff is, she co-starred in a basic cable cheese show from the 90s. everyone knows who she is around locally becuase she's an actress/model that might have already used up her 15 minutes. Every semi-attractive woman in LA is an aspiring actress/model. She's a serious actress that wants serious roles, but her needs may have outstripped her means.

The marriage: I always seen it as a young couple where one of them happens to be a cop. Cops have families and carry on carrying on. Both sides know what they signed up for. I find it interesting is that they got married when I was 3, so this has been status quo for me.

The thing I notice (boilled down into generalizations for the sake of the argument.) everyone says they relate to this guy. It feels like everyone over 30 still needs to go on about Gwen Stacy and how Peter Parker is a loser. This guy can't keep a girl and he's always seconds from homelessness.That's the thing, the guy 'we all relate to' must suffer on and on. That's not really the guy I'm interested in reading about. The 30 year old single superhero that lives with his Aunt? No thanks.

When I started reading Spider-Man, I likened it to Charlie Brown FINALLY talking to the little red headed girl, they work on getting their shit together for better or worse, and now they're going to take on THE WORLD.

Elijah Fly said...

sorry, lack of sleep and messing with technology. pushed the buttons wrong. Accidentally scrolled past Mikey's post, which said everything I mumbled much more eloquently.

Sugarshock is awesome, and I'm going to leave the computer alone before I really start to hurt the internets.

Ping33 said...

I read 1 More Day...
I thought it was Dour and Dull. JoeQ draws a mean McFarWebbing though.