Sep 062011
 
The Pull List logo

My name is Jet Wolf, and I’m addicted to comic books.

Every week since 1987 I’ve had comics pulled and waiting to fall into my eager hands. It’s a practice that’s survived multiple comic shops, a cross-country move, and the entire 1990s. I’ve always loved talking about them after reading, first boring friends too polite to tell me they didn’t care, then babbling with my future husband in the proto-internet, and finally spreading my opinions all over my blog like a thick paste.

It’s been some time since I talked about my comic books, but The Pull List is eternal. Here’s what was on it this week.


Angel & Faith #1    Justice League #1
Angel & Faith #1 | Justice League #1

 

Angel & Faith #1 4 of 5 stars

Angel & Faith #1

Angel & Faith #1, cover by Steve Morris


Writer: Christos N. Gage
Artist: Rebekah Isaacs
Colourist: Dan Jackson
Letterer: Jimmy Betancourt, Richard Starkings

I have strong feelings about Buffy. That’s probably not a surprise. I was thrilled when Joss announced he was continuing the series in comic book format, even as I was slightly terrified for what it meant about my own endeavors. Then some time passed and issues came out and I reconciled those concerns and just sat back to enjoy. Which I did right up until the point when I didn’t. Then I came to kind of hate it. Then it rallied a bit at the end, though ultimately left me unsatisfied.

It was basically Season 7 all over again.

But there’s a Season 9 on the horizon and I’m in. I’m sighing a bit and rolling my eyes and I don’t think I will ever be able to purge my brain of scarring images from THAT ISSUE (you know the one), but I’m in; too darn dumb to know when to quit. Still, I haven’t been looking forward to it so much as plodding onward toward its inevitability. Then I read Angel & Faith #1 and hello, what’s that? A tiny thrill I haven’t felt with a Buffy comic in years? I’ve missed you.

Angel & Faith – featuring, here’s a shocker, Angel and Faith – doesn’t so much spring from the events of Buffy Season 8 as it tumbles out of it with the gravity of a cannonball. It’s a pairing that makes sense. There’s a history between the characters that’s born in darkness, offering a purity and simplicity untenable in their other relationships. They’ve not only reached the depths of human/demonic depravity but wallowed in it. Angel and Faith are like a pair of recovering addicts, propping each other up as they stagger from one day to the next.

And does Angel ever need propping up. This is the lowest we’ve seen the character since he was eating rats in darkened alleys. While drug metaphors don’t have the greatest track record in the Buffyverse it really is the most appropriate here: Angel has fallen off the wagon and this is his morning after. He’s done terrible things he can’t really remember and all he has left is intense guilt and stains on his hands. While I could take a whole separate blog post just to rant about how we got here, the simple fact is that here we are and we’ve got to make the best of it. Angel’s actions have very real consequences for him, and while it’s painful to see so much undone, it’s good to see that those consequences will be addressed and (one hopes) resolved.

Faith meanwhile has emerged as a character that’s solid as they come while maintaining her dangerous and unpredictable edge; Wolverine, essentially, if he were a Slayer. Somewhere along the way Faith discovered a hidden talent for taking care of people, and her uncanny knack for cutting through their bullshit is undoubtedly going to serve her well. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about her though. If we bridge back to Season 8, the questionable nature of redemption is a theme that’s hard to miss. Despite that, Faith has emerged relatively taintless. I don’t see that lasting.

This series looks to be extremely promising. It’s surprisingly free of the burden of the main title (probably for the best when you consider all the baggage Faith and Angel brought with them). Their motivations are clear and easy to relate to, and without spoilering it, I very much appreciate the mechanism by which it seems they’re currently going about “helping the helpless”. The comparison to Angel the TV series is inevitable, and it does indeed have the feel of those early Angel and Cordy episodes, something which I’m certain was played to with the appearance of an old familiar face giving old familiar speeches. The Angel/Faith dynamic is one that I think can not only support its own title but positively demands it. It surprises me to say it, but my expectations for the new Buffy comics are up again. Don’t let me down, Season 9.

 

Justice League #1 2 of 5 stars

Justice League #1

Justice League #1, cover by Jim Lee


Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Colourist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Patrick Brosseau

Unf. So. Okay.

This is the first book of the new DC Universe, our reintroduction to this world. This is the book that, ostensibly, could make or break the whole relaunch effort. So it pains me to say that I don’t see this making a bunch of people who don’t buy comics do much but keep up their habits.

Looking at this as a long time superhero comic book fan, I can say wholeheartedly that this book is average at absolute best. It’s really little more than the Batman & Green Lantern Show, which given that it’s Geoff Johns didn’t surprise but it did disappoint. The whole thing felt like a frantic attempt by Johns to convince an unenthusiastic movie-going audience that GL is really awesome really no look I’m so serious. While it’s nice to see Batman not being the dick for a change, it did mean the only part of the book I legitimately enjoyed was Superman saying hello to Hal’s jaw with his fist – a thrill that lasted all of ten seconds before I realized that DC just introduced their pinnacle flagship heroic character by having him sucker punch a dude.

As for the rest of the Justice League, this ensemble gathering of the world’s mightiest heroes? Nope. Green Lantern and Batman.

I can’t help but think something went horribly awry here.

I get that I’m not actually the target of this title. DC doesn’t really so much care about me buying the book – you’ll note that I bought the damned book anyway as it pretty much figured I would – it cares about all the people out there who aren’t making weekly trips to comic stores and writing about every single panel on their sad little blog. But then wouldn’t you want to make the best impression on those people that you can? Cast the most lines with the biggest hooks? The sole hook in this book is “Boy we sure hope you like Batman and/or Green Lantern!” Hell, the cover has more choice for the reader than the actual contents, which if I’m looking at this as a full-on newb means that I’m feeling pretty cheated right about now. I can’t for the life of me figure out why DC didn’t kick this book off with a fun no-holds barred action/adventure that introduced all the characters, their powers, their personalities and their inter-team dynamics, and then go back into the group’s origin once the reader has already decided that he or she gives a shit.

Instead we get this tepid – albeit very pretty and colourful – bowl of dull, and DC is asking the very people they hope to attract to come back for seconds. At $3 to $4 a pop. I’m not a huge corporation with highly paid people sitting behind very large desks, but I can’t understand how anybody thought this was the issue to do that.

There’s still a lot of potential in the DCnU, and I sincerely hope that new readers enjoyed this issue a lot more than I think they did. Still, I can’t help but feel DC shot themselves in the foot just as they were jumping out of the blocks. What a shame.

  • Furrysaint

    The original Justice League origin story? Yeah. Told in one or two issues. Completely introduced seven people and their shticks. This? This is gonna be four or five issues easy. The fuck, people?

    • Jet Wolf

      I think part of the problem was in leading with Justice League. I understand why – it’s supposed to be their big bombastic punch-up awesome title. But then you should maybe consider starting with a big bombastic punch-up awesome STORY.

      Part of what makes JL such a fun book is what makes The Avengers such a fun book: all of the big name heroes uniting to be really badass. There are solo titles and other stories to get to know the characters, so that when we come to the big team books, all that’s left is for everyone to kick butt. By starting with JL (at least, with this story) DC hamstrung what makes the book cool before they’d even started.