Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus Vol. 1 by Joss Whedon

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Omnibus, Vol. 1Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Omnibus, Vol. 1 by Joss Whedon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Buffy


Introduction:

Now, I have to tell everyone who reads this review something…I am a HUGE FAN OF “BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER!!!” I have always loved that show and when I heard that they were making comic books out of this series, of course I had to check them out! So, when I picked up the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus Volume One,” I was wondering what this volume was going to be all about and to my excitement and delight, this volume detailed the early years of Buffy Summers when she first moved to Sunnydale and how she became a vampire slayer and I was quite impressed with the whole experience!


What is this story about?

This volume contains five stories that details Buffy’s first year as a vampire slayer and also features other characters during their early years such as Angel, Spike and Drusilla. These are the five stories featured in this omnibus:


All’s Fair:

Written by: Christopher Golden
Artwork by: Eric Powell

In this story, Spike and Drusilla (Dru) go off to the World’s Fair in 1933, causing mayhem as they suck out the blood from various unfortunate human beings while discovering a demon who wants to be freed from its prison at the same time!


Buffy: The Origin

Written by: Dan Brereton and Christopher Golden
Artwork by: Joe Bennett

Based off of Joss Whedon’s original script for the origin story of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” this story details how Buffy Summers first became the vampire slayer we all know and love and the character development that she goes through to realize her true destiny.


Viva Las Buffy!

Written by: Scott Lobdell and Fabian Nicieza
Artwork by: Cliff Richards

After Buffy gets expelled for burning down her old school, she and Pike run away from home and ended up in Las Vegas to start a new life. But, Buffy will soon learn that she cannot run away from her problems when she encounters a sinister ring going on inside the casino.


Dawn and Hoopy the Bear

Written and artwork by: Paul Lee

Dawn Summers, Buffy’s younger sister, ends up getting a cute little teddy bear named Hoopy the Bear from a total stranger and while she loves her teddy bear unconditionally, she will soon realize that Hoopy the Bear is not what he seems at all…


Slayer, Interrupted

Written by: Scott Lobdell and Fabian Nicieza
Artwork by: Cliff Richards

Inspired by the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” TV episode “Normal Again,” Buffy’s parents ended up admitting Buffy to a rehab center since they believed that Buffy has gone insane when she started talking about her vampire slaying business. Has Buffy really gone insane and her vampire slaying business is really all in her head or is Buffy’s destiny truly real?


What I loved about this story:

The writing: Oh my goodness! Who would have thought that several separate stories about Buffy’s early years as a vampire slayer would be mind-blowing good? I have to tell you that I enjoyed each story in this volume (although the only story that I thought was half-way decent was “Dawn and Hoopy the Bear”) and I think that each writer had done this series a true justice! I was always curious about the origin story of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” since I was only familiar with the TV series created by Joss Whedon and I have never seen the original 1992 movie that detailed the origin story of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” although I did see bits and pieces of the movie when I was younger. When I first found out that the original 1992 movie was not what Joss Whedon originally intended when he scripted out the origin story for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” I was a bit surprised (and yet not really, since this is Hollywood we are talking about) and I was glad that we got a closer interpretation of Joss Whedon’s vision of the origin story of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in this omnibus since I wanted to see how Joss Whedon really wanted Buffy’s origin story to go. I also enjoyed the fact that we get to see not only Buffy’s early years, but other characters too like Spike, Drusilla and Angel. I really loved Spike and Drusilla’s story since they are truly funny together and I always wanted to know what Spike was like before he met Buffy. I was also really excited to see Angel in this omnibus since I love Angel as a character, even though I wished that Angel had his own story in this volume so we get to learn more about his character during his early years.

The artwork: The artwork in each story is truly beautiful and effective to look at, especially with how each artist manage to capture the actor and actresses’ true facial expressions. I think the artists that really captured Sarah Michelle Gellar’s facial expressions the best were Joe Bennet and Cliff Richards as they truly draw the characters realistically and it felt like I was really watching a TV episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” since each character look like their live action counterparts from the TV series!

Buffy


What made me feel uncomfortable about this story:

For anyone who does not like language and gory violence in a graphic novel, this omnibus does have some language and gory violence (mostly revolving around Buffy staking vampires in gory ways). Also, I have mentioned that the short story “Dawn and Hoopy the Bear” was a story line that I could have done without since I felt that this story did not really bring anything to the main stories and was just there to tell a story about Dawn.


Final Thoughts:

Overall, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus Volume 1” is a truly fantastic volume for anyone who is a huge fan of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in general and who wants to learn more about the origin stories of our favorite vampire slayer!

Rating?

5 pows

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Review: The Ghost Fleet Vol.1: Deadhead

Ghost Fleet Volume 1 DeadheadGhost Fleet Volume 1 Deadhead by Donnie Cates
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another indie book that rocked. Marvel and DC had better watch their asses. Lately it’s been Image that’s been hookin’ it up for me. Nice to see Dark Horse comin’ out with something that’s exactly my bag. Being an action guy, this book hooked me quick. Not that I don’t appreciate the occasional thought provoking page turner, but for a quick fix, a little violence makes for an easy sell to me.

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Deadhead is a short introduction to the origins of the Ghost Fleet and a couple of characters I assume will be at the central to the storyline. In the spirit of continuing to provide short, spoiler free reviews, I’ll sum it up like this. The Ghost Fleet is a secret organization that has specialized in the secure transportation of secret cargo with no questions asked for the right price. The story focuses mainly on a pair of guys that act as security for the cargo. Of course, when you deal in what amounts to high profile smuggling and the cash and cargo that goes with it, something’s gonna go wrong. And it does. Really wrong.

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This book also focuses on the relationship between Trace and Ward. Their essentially a pair of couriers or armed escorts that are assigned to accompany one of the shipments the Ghost Fleet’s haulin’. They obviously have a history too. Donny Cates is taking his time getting to exactly what that is, but he did start pulling the curtain back just a bit in this book. I’m certainly curious to see more. There was also a weird, sorta supernatural thing goin’ on throughout and especially towards the end. Not sure where Donny intends to go with this, but I’m interested. Just not 100% sold I’m gonna ultimately dig it. We’ll see.

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As with most “origin” stories, it does suffer a bit from having to take the time to establish the framework necessary to support the rest of the ongoing tale. And this collection’s a bit short. I would have preferred a 6 or 8 issue volume versus the 4 issues collected here. I’m greedy like that.

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As far as the art, I liked it. Not familiar with Daniel Johnson, but I though he did a good job with the layouts, character designs, and most importantly, the action. He reminded me a bit of another artist that I was recently turned on to named Scott Godlewski. Scott’s currently drawing Image’s Copperhead. Another good book.

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If you’re a fan of mindless 80’s action movies with a bit of mystery/thriller mixed in, you might wanna give this one a try. It’s not required reading yet, but it definitely was a fun way for me to kill time. So I’ll be back to find out what happens down the road with the Ghost Fleet.

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Review: Sin City, Vol. 1: The Hard Goodbye

Sin City, Vol. 1: The Hard Goodbye (Sin City, #1)Sin City, Vol. 1: The Hard Goodbye by Frank Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Miller’s “The Hard Goodbye” is a noir masterpiece that would’ve given the great Jim Thompson a legendary hard-on. This was so obviously a labor of love for Frank. He was really at the peak of his career when he put pen to paper with this one. The descriptions and dialogue were hard-edged and to straight to the razor-sharp point, just like good noir should be. And because of it, this book might not be for the easily offended. Frank doesn’t pussy around with what he wants to say and words like “faggot” and “retarded” manage to find their way into the finished product. For me, words don’t offend, so I liked it when Frank cuts loose. I live and work in an environment where insensitivity reigns, the thin-skinned cringe, and these types of tactless remarks tend to bead off. Miller, much like myself, could give a rat’s ass about political correctness.

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Frank’s portrayal of women could also be off putting for some. Strippers, hookers, and topless parole officers pretty much sum up the kinds of ladies that populate Basin City. A school boy’s fantasy that I’m ok with. The men of Sin City aren’t any better. They’re violent, corrupt, greedy, and always lead with their dick. Actually, that’s pretty much accurate everywhere. AND I LOVED EVERY GODDAMNED MINUTE OF IT.

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Miller’s protagonist, Marv, is so fuckin’ great. Tough, simple-minded, loyal to a fault, and as dangerous as they come. What you see is what you get. I like that he’s got a sense of decency. A brutal killer that’ll shoot you in the nuts or carve you up with a hacksaw, but still loves his mom and doesn’t hit dames. Miller’s own description of Marv as Conan in a trench coat pretty much hits the bullseye.

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The artwork is magnificent. It’s almost unbelievable what Frank was able to produce with just a pen and some black ink. And it just got better and better as it went. Some of the best black and white comic art ever produced. And Miller did it ALL. Artwork, inking, and lettering. Fuckin’ mind-blowing. I especially liked the rain effect. Sick.

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So many fantastic moments, I was surprised it took Hollywood so long to put it on film. If you enjoy the book, check the movie out. Mickey Rourke kills as Marv. Frank peaked early with this book because most of what follows in the Sin City series falls a little short of the bench mark set by this one. I don’t think any of it was bad by any means, just that none of the later volumes were able to grab me by the short and curlies and command my full attention like meeting Marv for the first time. Loved him so much I named my dog after him. RECOMMENDED. Unless you’re a pansy. Right Marv?

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Review: Batman/Grendel

Batman/GrendelBatman/Grendel by Matt Wagner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Another one of my favorites that I’m finally getting around to doing a proper review for. This edition of Batman/Grendel collects both of the two prior Batman/Grendel crossovers in one pleasantly satisfying package. After writing (and drawing) a couple of Batman books before, Matt Wagner finally got a chance to introduce his creator owned property to the one and only Dark Knight and I loved it.

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The first half of the collection is set earlier in Batman’s career (sans Robin) shortly after Year One and is probably my favorite of the pair. The Hunter Rose iteration of the Grendel character is the one that I was first interested by and he truly fits in well with the rest of Batman’s rogues’ gallery. Having read all of Wagner’s previous Grendel stuff, I had a leg up in regards to his motivations and personality. Probably not required, but it certainly didn’t hurt having some familiarity with Hunter and his alter ego. Matt tells the story from four different perspectives in this one. The Batman/Bruce Wayne, Grendel/Hunter Rose, Rachel King (an art gallery director), and Hillary Ferrington (a book publisher’s liason). I really dug the idea of using “normal” women with previous ties to one another to tell the story from other angles. And by “normal” I mean no tight costumes, boob windows, or gratuitous ass shots. Ironically, all the shit I typically appreciate in comics. I thought it was innovative of Wagner to have the ladies mix it up with Bruce Wayne and Hunter Rose to bring everything together. And the girls were a little like the Odd Couple. Pretty much opposites that contrasted well with Bruce and Hunter.

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Review: Polar Volume 2: Eye for an Eye

Polar Volume 2 Eye for an EyePolar Volume 2 Eye for an Eye by Víctor Santos

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Like Genndy Tartakovsky on a fuckton’a molly, Victor Santos serves up another short, but violently sweet little ditty about a girl that’s out for a little revengeance. Just like in Santos’s “Polar: Came From The Cold”, the artwork takes center stage. Amazing black, white, and red layouts from cover to cover. Victor pushes this trimmed down color palate to the limit and is able to create some uniquely amazing stuff reminiscent of Frank Miller’s early (and superior) Sin City work.

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The story is a not so original “girl done wrong and wants some get back” tale that’s been played out before. Although, when it’s done right, I never really get tired of it. And while Lady Snowblood, Kill Bill, Hanna, and Le Femme Nikita have done all this sorta thing previously, Santos still managed to suck me in. I liked the way he included his original protagonist, The Black Kaiser (From “Came From The Cold”), in this one too. The one-eyed old man was well suited to the role he played.

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Little bonus track at the end for all you Black Kaiser fans too. Wonder how he lost that eye? You’re gonna find out. Victor also added a few more colors to the mix with his artwork in this one and it’s just as stunning as his other stuff. Nice little surprise him adding this story at the end.

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I’m recommending this one to anyone that appreciated Santos’s first book, is a fan of revenge fiction, or likes any of the above artwork. I wasn’t disappointed by Victor’s follow up one bit. Keep’em coming sir.

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Review: Blacksad

BlacksadBlacksad by Juan Díaz Canales

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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1 part Walt Disney, 2 parts Raymond Chandler, and 3 parts Kentucky Bourbon. Blacksad is so good I’m definitely going back for a 2nd round. Almost took a pass on this one. Being a father, I’ve read my fair share of children’s books and when I saw that all the characters are animals I almost put this one back on the shelf. Stupid because this shit is GREAT and it’s NO fuckin’ kid’s book.

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Review: Weird Fantasy Vol. 1 (EC Comics Reprint)

The EC Archives: Weird Fantasy Volume 1The EC Archives: Weird Fantasy Volume 1 by Bill Gaines
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

***Dark Horse reprinting of EC Comics, so very Indy!***

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This is a gorgeous collection of EC Comics from the early 1950s, published and written by one Bill Gaines…aka Mr. MAD Magazine!

Along with some great other writers, Weird Fantasy is actually a Science Fiction book. 1950s Science Ficton from before the Witch hunt against comics leading to juvenile delinquency…a golden age in many ways.

There’s a number of issues collected here (even though their numbering is off, they are chronologically the first 6 issues) with a great range of stories.

Time Travel, Space Exploration, Atomic War, Aliens, Life and Death, lots of great stuff that’s been made into movies, some of the coolest ideas that sustained SciFi for the next 65 years.

Discussions of String Theory, 4th Dimensions, Gamma, Infrared, Atomic Energy, this isn’t just dumb pulp, it’s a blast.

From the man who builds a time machine (only with the help of his younger self, and the paradox loop that leads to), to the team that flies through space to a different solar system, only to loop back on themselves, a la Planet of the Apes (but this was written long before the Damn Dirty Apes), to the fears of Atomic Nuclear War and the aftermath: mutants, robots, uninhabitable wastelands.

This is such fun. This book is the kind of thing you used to love to find, just a bit older than you were supposed to be reading, it felt like some kind of secret they let you in on, and you always wanted more, reading it under the blankets at night by flashlight. (Or at least, I did…)

The art is colourful in this reproduction, bright, enjoyable, yet the subject matter is still the kind of questions we wrestle with today…

Thank you to Dark Horse for publishing the reprints of this great company, I cannot WAIT to get my hands on more of this. Without this, we wouldn’t have the dreamers of comics like Morrison, Hickman, Ellis, others. Heck we might not even have the normal comics we do today. I love the intelligence that goes into something that was throw-away for so many, yet over half a century later, look how relevant the subject matter is. Great writing never ages.

I strongly recommend this to all the Shallows Gang, and anyone else looking for a fun read, that you could also share with kids worry free (Anne!)


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Review: Hellboy Vol. 7 – The Troll Witch & Others; by Mike Mignola

Hellboy, Vol. 7: The Troll Witch and Others (Hellboy, #7)Hellboy, Vol. 7: The Troll Witch and Others by Mike Mignola
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am reading my way through a bunch of classic modern books thanks to my library (transmetropolitan, preacher, the boys, scalped, fables, and of course, this one) and so I get sometimes inundated with too many good books at once. Or at least they should be good.

Hellboy is something all of itself…it really is like a modern day Grimm or Aesop fables, set up by Mike Mignola. Every time I think ok, I know what the series is, so there’s no need to keep reading, the obsessive completist in me forces myself to read…yet, every time I am still transported to another place, mystical, gothic, macabre, and just plain weird.

Mignola does it so well it becomes easy to take for granted just how great this stuff is. I felt like skipping this volume, but just read it instead, and just wow. Even though you sorta know what to expect, it never bores or disappoints.

I suppose that puts him amongst the greats, like Brubaker, Aaron, Ellis, Snyder, and so forth.

I think it’s high praise when even though you know what is. On the way, it still manages to surprise and delight…

If you haven’t already….get into Hellboy now! (Anne and Kat especially, this means you girls)


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Review: The Complete Silencers

The Complete SilencersThe Complete Silencers by Fred Van Lente

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Complete Silencers feels sorta incomplete. The title might cause one to think it’s a whole story, but it doesn’t seem that way. Fred Van Lente and Steve Ellis did a fair job of creating a tale that smacks of Brubaker’s Incognito or a bit of Bendis’s Powers. While not quite as good as either of them, it still managed to win me over. Sorta.

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