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A Rolling Stone gathers no Joss: Graeme’s accidental theme post about 4/4 books.

This didn’t start out as a themed post, but it just kind of turned out that way. See if you can see the subtle connective thread…

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #2: Maybe I’m just getting into the Whedon swing of things, but this seemed much better than the first issue to me – There seemed to be more to it, in some way; the plot moved forward, there was the reintroduction of more characters from the TV show (although Andrew looked nothing like he did on the show, and was only recognizable through his geekdom and Star Wars references) but also character work that works within the context of the comic series itself. Also, there are zombies and fairy tales, which is always nice. More to the point, there is also some of Whedon’s swagger back in play, from the switching of scenes at the start of the issue, to the dream sequence, to Amy’s fake-out surrender; it feels like a stronger episode of the show, especially as compared with last issue. Very Good, thankfully, although maybe that’s due to my recent reading of…

FRAY: Proof that this here site has been good for me, at least, comes with the fact that I read this purely because of people telling that I should, back when I reviewed the first issue of the new Buffy series and was somewhat underwhelmed. This book – midway between Buffy and Firefly (including the futuristic slang that really annoyed me in Firefly; Alan Moore, I blame you, purely because of your use of it in Halo Jones, all those years ago) – was precisely what I was looking for in that first Buffy issue: Fast, funny, and not reliant on you knowing continuities of anything before you started reading. The final showdown with Urkonn, in particular, resonated with the anything-can-happen feeling of Buffy at its best, along with the comedy of the finale of that scene. More than anything, it felt like the pilot for a series – I finished it and wanted to read more, almost immediately, but that’s only a good thing. Perhaps when Whedon is less busy he’ll get around to writing some more but, for now, this was solidly Very Good.

As if this wasn’t Joss Whedon-y enough, his first issue of RUNAWAYS (#25) is also out this week, and it’s… Well, it’s Good, but pretty much a disappointment after Brian K. Vaughan’s three-or-so years on the book. The pacing seems off, as does the dialogue, but more importantly, the bringing the book into the mainstream Marvel Universe doesn’t work. On the previous two occasions that the characters were in New York, there was a feeling that it was something unusual and special, but this time, the Kingpin and Punisher appear and it’s just underwhelming for some reason. The feeling may be gone, I guess, but that’s not to say that I won’t end up liking the new feeling.

Oddly enough, the most Buffy-esque book of the week for me might actually have SUPERGIRL AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #28. The first year of this book, and the last four or five months or so, have had a wonderfully episodic-television sense of pacing where each issue is complete in and of itself while still advancing the overall plot, with a blurb at the opening of each issue setting the scene for that continuing story as much as would be needed by any new readers. With the creative team heading towards the end of their run on the book, it’s nice to see the clarity of focus that Mark Waid brought to his early issues come back, as well as the feeling that the book is about more than just superheroes in space – Both the first year arc, and this second major arc (although it went through a prolonged birth, thanks to fill-ins and what seemed to be Waid being exhausted by 52) have had an epic feel to them that’s missing in most superhero books these days. Very Good again, thankfully.

What did the rest of you think about these books? You’ve probably picked up at least two of them…

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