Comic Book Review – Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 (Boom! Studios)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

I am a long-time fan of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series, and though I dropped off the comic book continuation, the announcement of essentially a “modern” (well, not late-90’s) comic reboot had me intrigued. More intriguing is that the new Buffy is being written by colourist-of-at-least-a-third-of-all-my-favourite-comics Jordie Bellaire, with illustrations by Dan Mora, colours from Raúl Angulo, lettering by Ed Dukeshire and cover art by Matthew Taylor.

On the off chance that you don’t know, the basic premise of Buffy is this: Into every generation, a Slayer is born; a chosen one. They alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their number. Buffy Summers is that Slayer, and those vampires, demons and forces of darkness are all congregating in the town of Sunnydale. Mostly because there is a Hellmouth there. Buffy is new in the town, working a crappy fast-food restaurant job and struggling to connect with other students, while patrolling for vampires and arguing with her Watcher Giles. But there is someone selling magic items to vamps that seems to be making them stake-proof, so the Slayer has her work cut out for her.

Bellaire doesn’t waste much time establishing Buffy’s world here, but this issue is as much about resetting and reassuring that despite the smart phone on the front cover, the spirit and feeling of the original TV series will be maintained. That much is clear in the character relationships shown her, with brief interactions between Buffy and her mother Joyce, her Watcher Giles, and her first meeting with her soon to be fellow Scoobies Willow and Xander all note-perfect for what has come before. But that isn’t to say Bellaire plays it safe here, or is simply retreading this Slayer’s origin story. In between the familiar, the actual driving plot seems compelling on its own, but without the baggage of 7 years of stories. There is a good mix of known and unknown dangers and threads that make me excited for what is to come.

Mora’s art complements the story and the feeling of familiarity well, with each of the main characters very much resembling their TV counterpart, but not slavishly so or to the detriment to the rest of the art. The couple of action scenes are fun and dynamic, with dusting vamps looking much cooler than it ever did on the show. The Sunnydale High library is somehow daunting and oppressive, and while many scenes are bright with Angulo’s vibrant colours, they have deep shadows that help to sell the horror angle of the book.

I was worried that as part of this reboot of Buffy there would be a painful attempt to sound too young, to be too referential to current tech or apps. But as with the TV show itself, the new series largely eschews that and manages to feel both relevant and timeless. The art is great, and the world and the characters felt both familiar and fresh at the same time. I really enjoyed this issue and can’t wait for more. Pick it up at your LCS or online now!

London MCM Comic Con – Day 2: Panels – Felicia Day and Arrow

Adam headed off to the MCM Comic Con Expo in London this weekend. This is what he saw.

I was running a little late on Saturday morning (no reason, I was busy eating cereal and watching Person of Interest) but still managed to make it in time for the first of the two panels I wanted to make it to throughout the day.

Felicia Day – Geek Goddess (actual name of the panel, I didn’t come up with that)

Felicia Day

Felicia Day is hands down, one of the most genuinely charming and funny people I have ever seen in person. If you don’t know who she is, Day has acted in a whole host of genre television including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog, in addition to starring in her own web series The Guild and creating a veritable nerd empire with the Geek and Sundry Youtube channel, which we at The Lost Lighthouse are pretty big fans of.

Day came out and spoke pretty quickly, admitting that she had already drunk a lot of coffee that morning. The set up of the panel was largely a Q&A, where fans queued up next to some microphones and shot some questions towards the stage. Before that, she talked briefly about her upcoming book ‘You’re Never Weird On The Internet (Almost)’ (which you can preorder on her site here), Welsh mouths and being so cramped on the tube at 6 15am that she and another person were basically inside each other (“I don’t even get that close to my friends”).

Then the questions started, There was, admittedly a huge bias towards questions regarding her character on Supernatural. I have yet to get round to watching even a single episode of Supernatural, though I’m sure I would actually like it (especially as it has Mark Sheppard in it), so a lot of this flew over my head but sounded fairly interesting. A recurring theme of the Q&A was how “very killable” she has turned out to be in her television work, and how she likes to try to make herself heavily whenever someone has to carry her in a scene.

Due to her involvement with Tabletop on Geek and Sundry she said her favourite board game at the moment was Lords of Waterdeep, a D&D strategy game, and how she used to freak out about people’s greasy hands all over her game pieces when she invited friends round for board games and pizza. She was asked about the character based on her in Dead of Winter and for tips on how to survive with her character, to which she responded that the character was overpowered and he advice was to just “play better”. With regards to Geek and Sundry, while not revealing much, Day spoke about the content they have coming up revolving around shorter, faster shows in particular.

The rest of the Q&A (aside from even more Supernatural questions) was filled out with fans asking for advice on getting in to acting and following your passions, and also a very nervous girl bringing Day some fan art that she genuinely seemed to appreciate. In fact she spoke about how she gets very attached to gifts from fans, only mentioning one she threw away – a sculpture of her made of hair, which to me is mind-blowingly terrifying but I guess if you really try to see the compliment in it it’s kind of sweet? Maybe? The last question asked about how she got into using YouTube as a medium, and she described the internet as somewhere where we can “be who we are and not be ashamed for it”, which is something I’ve never really thought about. I get so caught up in how genuinely awful people can be and regularly are online, that I tend to overlook what it has actually done not only for our counter cultures, but what a force for good it has the potential to be and often has been.

UPDATE – If you want to watch the panel, MCM have put it up on their YouTube channel here

 

Arrow: Heroes & Assassins (again, what the panel was called)

arrow

I’m a big fan of the CW’s Arrow show, aired over here in the UK by SkyOne. Based on the DC Comics character Green Arrow, the show follows Oliver Queen (played by Stephen Amell) in his quest to fight crime in Starling City, while dealing with an increasingly powerful array of villains. For this panel, Willa Holland (who plays Oliver’s sister Thea), Karl Yune (Maseo Yamashiro from Season 3) and Rila Fukushima (Tatsu Yamashiro, also from Season 3) had all come over to London to discuss the show and field some Q&As from the assembled fans (if anything the room was even more packed than for Felicia Day).

There were questions about the martial arts on the show, which have only increased through the third season with the League of Assassins storyline, and the cast guessed that they probably do around 30% of their own stunts (Yune said almost none, to which Holland objected) but Amell tries to do as much as possible. They were asked what super powers any of them would like to have, with Holland immediately answering The Flash or “Bridget Allen”. She revealed herself to be a pretty big DC comics fan from a young age, to the point that when she got the chance to do some of the more bad-ass stuff Thea gets up to later on in the series she got pretty emotional (I would have too). I always like hearing when an actor playing a character in any sort of adaptation I watch is actually a big fan of the source material. It doesn’t detract from a performance when they’re not, but it does enhance my appreciation of their work when they are!

I was actually, somewhat embarrassingly, taken aback by how friendly and personable Willa Holland was, as aside from her substantial character progression in season 3, I have only ever seen her play fairly bratty characters (which is a ridiculous thing to say, as playing negative characters doesn’t guarantee you are a negative person any more than playing a nice, funny person guarantees that you’re not a a bastard in real life). All three of the Arrow cast members at Expo were genuinely nice and interesting people. Yune got a fair few questions about some of his more emotional scenes near the end of the season, which he preferred out of the flashbacks and current scenes (he went flashback) and what his experiences as a Korean-American were like with finding roles that weren’t typecast or stereotypical. Fukashima started off fairly shy and quiet, and while she did have a interpreter to help her with a couple of time she was struggling to express herself, she came into her own later on and it was interesting to hear about her experiences preparing for Arrow and how they compared to her work in The Wolverine playing Yukio (I totally did not connect that it was her).

Of course someone asked them which they all preferred, DC or Marvel, near the end. Holland, whether it was genuine or just brand loyalty/towing the company line, answered incredibly quickly, while Yune and Fukashima tried to be diplomatic before falling on DC’s side. Finally, someone asked the fairly complex question of whether any of them thought that the comic book/superhero adaptation bubble would be bursting any time soon, to which Yune replied that the fascination would last forever. A nice thought, and I certainly hope it will, but nothing lasts forever. To quote The Vision, “that’s what makes it beautiful”.

Two things that I found slightly odd about the panel were due entirely to the nature of the crowd. Firstly, more than one question was repeated later on by someone that either wasn’t listening, was hoping to catch the cast out or had just joined the queue and heard their question asked, and decided to ask it again anyway. Fukushima was asked more than once, for example, about potential inclusion in the upcoming Legends of Tomorrow series, despite already answering that they are kept largely in the dark about those sorts of plans, and anything they do know they can divulge yet. The second was concerning spoilers, and people’s reactions to when they were said out loud by the fans asking the questions. On the one hand, the Arrow season finale only aired this week in the UK, and last week in the states. On the other, I find it odd that anyone would go to a panel involving the cast of a series that has aired it’s season finale without actually watching it. Some outrage even came when events were mentioned that happened in earlier episodes too. Despite that, the cast dealt with it well and skated round spoiling anything themselves, calling people out for spoiling plot point for others too. This panel was an interesting look at the making of the show, and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next in Season 4.

 

I’m going to be heading to a few more panels on the last day of London Comic Con, along with checking out some more cosplay and spending a few hours looking around the art in the Comic Village. More on all of that tomorrow!

Adam