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The (Delayed) Comics I Bought 18 December 2008

Getting back on track with reviews of my weekly comic book purchases, today catches up with my last haul of 2008 (I didn’t get the books that arrived in the last week of the year).

Buffy The Vampire Slayer #20
Beneath one of my favourite of the Buffy covers by Jo Chen is a cute little story of the Buffy Animated Series that never came to be, written by Jeph Loeb with ‘animation’ by Eric Wight, Ethen Beavers and Adam Van Wyk (the original animation team for the cartoon). In it, the current Buffy dreams herself into the cartoon (as it were), which takes place in the middle of Season 1 of the television series, but she has her knowledge of what happens. This leads to lots of in-jokes about what will happen, which is slightly annoying, but it feels like a typical Buffy episode of the time, with all the Scooby gang (Willow, Xander, Giles and Angel, even inserting Dawn into proceedings and having Joyce back) and the problems they had hiding the work they did. Loeb has a fairly good feel for things, and this may be one of the most enjoyable things I’ve read by him ever, but there times when the story seems to descend almost into a parody of television series, with too much ‘SoCal’ teen speak (‘Things are going to get all blechy.’), but it can be forgiven for the sense of fun that pervades throughout.

Doktor Sleepless #10
Doktor Sleepless is an interesting experiment from Warren Ellis, taking his time to create this strange little world – you can almost see him thinking through the book as he writes it. This issue takes a little detour from the storyline with a police procedural in Heavenside, as some police officers investigate Dr Albert Cannon, the legal guardian of John Reinhardt (aka Doktor Sleepless), and how Commissioner Stoker wants to help Cannon in his quest. Ellis writes this sort of tale with consummate ease, which it isn’t, and the clear and strong art of Ivan Rodriguez carries the talking heads along with style.

Ex Machina #40
I don’t do a Book of the Week when I write these things but, if I did, Ex Machina would have that honour for this week. This issue sees Brian K Vaughan and Tony Harris appear in the book, as Mayor Hundred decides he wants his biography done as a comic book. And it’s hilarious – the jokes come thick and fast, as Vaughan ridicules himself (‘You can stop talking now.’), Harris (‘I leave you alone for one minute, out come the handguns.’), the comic book industry (‘And all your writer friend does is put words in the bubbles? Why does his name go before yours?’ ‘Ehn, it’s all political.’), his other book (‘You do the book about the guy being chased around by lesbians on motorcycles?’) comic book in-jokes (‘Brian Bendis?’ ‘Not again.’), and even a meta joke (‘I’m not big into the whole Grant Morrison “meta” thing. Seeing creators in a book kinda takes me out of the story, you know …? Don’t draw my nose so big.’). And the last two pages, revealing the people responsible for the biography, had me rolling with laughter. Absolutely great comic book.

Fables #79
I put Fables onto my list of personal favourites of the year, and this issue keeps up the high quality as Bill Willingham keeps shaking up the status quo of the Fables universe in the final pages. A funeral, Mister Dark being dark, Blue is getting worse, the business office goes missing, and then the final pages – the interest level is maintained and Mark Buckingham keeps up his end of the bargain by drawing it all with style. This is a good comic book; I just hope they don’t make a mess of it with the television series …

The Mighty Avengers #20
The last issue of The Mighty Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis, and it ends with the proverbial whimper. The whole point is to emphasise the impact of the death of Janet Van Dyne, The Wasp, at the end of Secret Invasion. She will eventually return, we all know that, but it’s nice to see the effect on a wider scale. However, Bendis doesn’t succeed in his mission – the story doesn’t have the dramatic impact he wants it to achieve. What’s more, we are treated to Carol Danvers informing the recently returned Hank Pym of what he has missed, using a full page spread for M-Day, Civil War, Captain America’s death, World War Hulk and Secret Invasion – thanks for that, Bendis: I haven’t been paying attention to the Marvel universe for the past few years, so that was handy! [Does this sarcasm indicator work?] This could have been a nice coda to Secret Invasion, but it just becomes an extended trailer for Dark Avengers. Shame. There’s some nice art, though …

X-Factor #38
Talking of art, this issue goes from the ridiculous to the … even more ridiculous. Larry Stroman does the first few pages, in his even more exaggerated style than he had, before being replaced by Nelson, whose style is almost No Style. The story sees X-Factor get back Darwin, with some fighting and some negotiation from Madrox, and the outcome of Rictor trying to defend Theresa when Val Cooper is trying to take her to a hospital for the birth of her baby. However, things get lost in the art and it doesn’t come to life the way a Peter David script usually does. Let’s hope for improvements next issue.

And next on the blog? I’m not sure: you wouldn’t want everything scheduled, would you?

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