Unrelated to the fact that Angel and Faith came out this week, I was discussing my Top 5 Buffy episodes just the other day. Number one is obviously Passion, but I think that number two might be Once More With Feeling. It's weird to think that all my favorite episodes after that (Hush, The Body, The Gift, etc.) are pretty depressing, but, I mean, it was a show wherein the main character died. Twice. Your lists?
Angel and Faith 22 - It just continues to impress. There's something magical (yep, intended) about this book and how much better it is compared to the mainline Buffy book. I hope it's not a spoiler to say that Giles is, indeed, back, but I won't ruin the twist that he comes back with. Suffice to say that I wasn't expecting it and it gives a lot of potential to his character. I hope there is no solution found, but that this is merely a new wrinkle for both him and his friends to deal with. I love the fact that there's now this awkwardness with him, especially in his conversations with Faith. The moments that really got me, though, were his talk up on the roof with Faith, where he expressed frustration and then happiness. We hadn't really heard that from him yet, and it was perfect to finally get there. Also, it had that hilarious little break with the awkwardness popping up again. (Yep.) The next great moment was during the battle-planning where he made it clear that, should he die again, he doesn't want to be raised yet again, even if it was possible. I think it's a really great attribute of Giles that he wants what's right all the time, even if it's not perfect for him. And it was met with the chorus that we'd totally expect. The ending, I will say, did confuse me a little bit. There's just that one image, one girl, whom I don't really recognize, and I've always thought the art in this book was perfect. So either my memory is failing in a huge way, or there's something else going on here. I love the fact that Whistler is back and that we're gearing up for the final showdown. There are only 3 issues left in this season, there's a lot of crossover continuity, even though the gangs are fighting different enemies (ostensibly) but I feel there's going to be some coming together, which will be even better. I am totally satisfied with this issue and I hope that Giles gets to stay.
BRPD: Vampire 3 - Man. Ba and Moon. They draw some of the most gorgeous, terrible images I've ever seen. I love their style and it's such a perfect fit for the Mignola-verse. I'm so happy to have it here, but bummed that it's only for 5 issues. What we have here is a good old fashioned brawl and it concludes in spectacular fashion. I'm a bit afraid for our protagonist, Mr. Anders, but given that I don't have huge stakes (pun intended) in his story, I'm way happier that I get to see it play out in such beautiful fashion. The story isn't big on exposition, which is fine with me because the art is so incredible. But there's not a lot more to say other than Anders seems like he's going to a dark place. I hope he makes it through whatever's coming next, because it's clear that the town is just as sinister as we'd originally been prepped to believe.
Mind MGMT 11 - Every time there's a new issue of Mind MGMT, I have no idea how to review it. All my normal confidence goes flying out the window. I think of myself as a pretty smart guy, but while I'm reading these issues, I'm constantly thinking, "I have no idea what's going on." And then, when the threads start to get pulled in tighter, when I feel like I might have some idea what's going on, that I might be seeing the overall picture, I start to doubt myself. This book is amazing. There is so much going on here, from the Premeditated excerpts in the margins to the return of the field notes, from the cover recalling that issue they told us last issue to read - and which I'm glad I did, because it really sheds a lot of light on Duncan and his abilities, and what exactly happens during that prison break - and the pre- and post-script stories being more important than ever before. And that hasn't even touched the story itself. I mean, everything I've just said is the precursor or the marginalia. God. OK, so here, we have the crew deciding to make their assault on Shangri-La, but first Duncan needs to tell Meru a story. He does, but the story isn't really the point. Their relationship is the point. (This goes further back to the Meru-Lyme relationship, too.) Finally, when they land, they find Shangri-La, they break in (insofar as a place that can only be seen by people who are meant to see it can be broken in to, per se) and Duncan gives them the bad news: the bosses already know they're there and their mission is doomed. Man. What a bummer. We get to see an Immortal on the last page, plus two other characters whom we might already know. It's gonzo the whole time. And in the letters page, it's acknowledged, but then we get the promise of an even crazier season finale next issue. The art is perfect, the story is so detailed, there's nothing not to love about this book or this issue.
New Avengers 6 - "The turn of the wheel breaks hope - it crushes what makes us decent and steals what little honor remains." I know this isn't a new line, but this is 2 weeks in a row where Jonathan Hickman made me feel like I was reading a classical novel instead of a disposable comic book. This is the new hotness. This is where things can turn around for an entire industry. When you bring in someone who's a fan, but is also an artist. When you give the reins to someone who wants to MAKE something. The Black Swan's constant reference to "Rabum Alal" (a God figure?) and the fact that she's proud of the Illuminati is a definite sign for worry. There's nothing truly GOOD happening in this book - it's the terrible nothingness compared to the blind optimism of Avengers World happening over in the mainline book. But that's what makes it so interesting. "The wheel grinds men down or sharpens them into weapons. You've built a knife...Now you have to find the courage to get it bloody." The fact that Beast is in this book, pulled unwillingly by the legacy (curse?) of Xavier really gives a great contrast, too. I'm not sure that Henry, for all his muttering about in time and space, even over in All New X-Men, would ever want to know about this stuff, much less to take part in any of it. Plus, going to Latveria means we're going to see Doom, and we already know that Hickman is the number one writer for that character. He gets to the essence of what makes him who he is. The dynamic of this group means that they should eventually be joined by Doom, which will make it even better. But if they're not, that's OK, too, because these heroes have already fallen so far. I talk constantly with Nick and them mindwiping Cap, and I thought that was as bad as they could get. But the truth of the matter is that it's not the one, large, single horrific act that marks them as fallen; it's the little things that this book is full of. And no one summarizes that better than Namor, constantly clamoring for doing the dirty deeds, not caring at all, and Black Panter, who eulogizes all of their souls with his momentary hesitation and his response to Namor's impudent question, "What are you waiting for?" "I'm not waiting...I'm remembering who I used to be." God, this is a work of art and I love it and I can only pray that my faith in Hickman gives me just as good an ending as we got on his Fantastic Four opus.
Wolverine and the X-Men 30 - Well, looking at the books this week, I had to settle on one to read first and I usually try to go best bad best, but this week they all looked good, so I started with what I thought might be the least good. It started off so well: cool, new penciller! Very pencil-y! And then, the Bachelo homage on the first page we see the baby Hellfire Club kids? Nice, it's superb. We get to see Beast engage in witty banter with Abbie on the SWORD station and then Storm plays her part perfectly. (I loved Kitty's aside about the kids on Twitter. Nice to see other teachers keeping track.) But Bobby gets the best line: "We are officially the worst teachers in X-Men history." Don't worry, Iceman: Professor Xavier invited both Magneto and Xorn into teaching capacities, so... (Plus, Prof X himself lost teams and mindwiped his kids, so I'd say you're actually in good company.) Even Quentin's looks, young as they may be, kind of fit. These are, after all, supposed to be kids. But it does get to a point where it goes too far: if Kitty had set the localized thought amplifier, why didn't she hear all of the things Q did? Because he read them from the BAMFs? They weren't directly his thoughts? First of all, the BAMFs are still awesome. But secondly, that doesn't make any sense. Hold him where he is, let Rachel get back and then have her pull out what he pulled already. This jumping to conclusions thing has never turned out well. Certainly they know that. There's no doubt in my mind that Q is jumping over to the Hellfire side of things for a good reason - he's one of the most intriguing new characters and they're not going to go the simple route of him turning out to be a villain. But Paige turning out to be nuts, Toad seemingly evolving into a major player when he was merely comic relief...these things seem a bit out of place to me. All that being said, none of it was bad, it's more pure X-Men off the walls wacky style comics and I know Jason Aaron knows how to plot a long-term story, so I'm excited for his first, official, real consequences foray in this book. He's got his intro. Now he'll get to have some fun.
Book of the week goes to New Avengers. For all my recent infatuation with Matt Kindt and even granting the fact that I think Mind MGMT is one of the top 3 comics being produced right now (Saga, Locke and Key and it, right?), I can't deny the fact that the little kid in me loves superhero stuff more than he loves adult-only concepts. So when I get to have my advanced themes inside a superhero comic? That's what does it for me. Your mileage may vary.