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Comics I Bought 27 November

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #19
This is the fourth part of ‘Time Of Your Life’, in which Joss Whedon has brought Fray, the vampire slayer from the future he created in his first comic book work, into the fold of the official Buffy lore. For some reason, time travel stories feel a bit strange in Buffyverse, but that could be just me. In it, Buffy has been caught by Fray because she has been led to believe that she will destroy their world according to a dark Willow, who is still alive in this future and being bad. There is action and heartache (this is a Joss Whedon comic, after all) and good dialogue, and there are hints of what is coming up in future storylines. Basically, what you want from a comic book.

It’s not perfect, mostly due to Karl Moline’s art – his work on the original Fray mini-series was good but this seems a little rushed and not as detailed. I like the style, and some of the action scenes are dynamic, but overall it’s not as strong as it could be. The likenesses come and go, depending on the scene, and I’m not sure who exactly the big reveal is (I think it’s supposed to be Riley, but I really don’t know), which is very important in a comic book that is supposed to be the continuation of a television series with very specific people for the characters. Still, you can tell who is supposed to be who, and that counts for something.

Body Bags: One Shot
I really like Jason Pearson’s art. I’ve even got an Uncanny X-Men annual he drew. I first saw him on the Five Years Later Legion of Super-Heroes and followed him since (I really enjoyed his Savage Dragon mini-series that was essentially a tribute to John Woo films). His creator-owned series, Body Bags, first came out in 1996 at Dark Horse Comics in a four-issue mini-series; unfortunately, there haven’t been many more stories of body baggers Mack aka Clownface and his teenage daughter Panda, who is effectively his assistant in the body bagging business.

This special was supposed to come out two years ago (which is why he has to discuss the book at both CBR and Newsarama) but I don’t mind waiting for his art if he needs the time to produce a thoroughly over-the-top and entertaining story with lots of swearing and violence and the ridiculing of Scientology and Tom Cruise. What more could you ask for? I had a ball with this – Pearson’s stylistic art, mixing great comedy facial expressions and ballistic action, and the interplay between Mack and his daughter: it makes for a lot of fun (although I realise I do have a slightly warped sense of enjoyment). Bullets through people’s heads, knives stuck through brains, explosions, and giving Scientology a good kicking – top stuff. I just wish he could be more prolific.

Thor: The Truth Of History
Technically, this book didn’t come out this week; it came out in October but I picked up this week after I discovered that there is a connection to the ClanDestine, and I’m a big fan of that book (if you didn’t know). I hadn’t put on my subs list, and my shop had run out by the time I returned the next week. I wasn’t too worried initially because, even though I am a big fan of Alan Davis, I’m not a big fan of Thor (outside of the Walt Simonson run). Fortunately, fate intervened and I now have it in my possession.

This is an old-fashioned sort of book – Davis has a fondness for the traditional superhero story – with a simple yet enjoyable process: Thor and the Warriors Three end up in Egypt 4000 years ago (after Volstagg falls into a mystic gateway to Midgard). They fight bad guys and save the day and return to Asgard, leaving a small mark on the people. The joy in the book is the art: I could read Davis illustrate The Yellow Pages, to paraphrase a cliche. Inked by Mark Farmer, the workmanship is exquisite, the anatomy divine (if you’ll pardon the pun), the storytelling spot on, the action dynamic, and detail is, er, detailed. There are lots of nice touches as ever: likenesses of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy for the bookend pages, the comedy of misunderstanding of two cultures, the hieroglyph at the end, the hint of the Asterix books in the air. I’m not sure of the ClanDestine connection (unless it’s the Griffin, linked to the Gryphon in the books) but apparently Davis will have more connections in three annuals he is doing next year (Fantastic Four, Daredevil and Wolverine), so I’ll learn more then. This isn’t groundbreaking comic books, it’s enjoyable and fun, and I’m always glad to see more Alan Davis work.

Thank goodness for Thor, or I would’ve only had two books to talk about. I really need to start buying more comic books …

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