The Magic of Buffy: Excitement for the BOOM! Studios Reboot Comic Series
An Editorial From Rafa Encinas
As stated so often already by so many different editorials, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of those series that was just part of the cultural zeitgeist of the 21st century as soon as it manifested in the late 90s. Now with over 20 years of content and history, BTVS lives on in pop culture infamy, and for good reason. Joss Whedon created absolute magic with his quirky teenage fantasy/supernatural “coming of age” / “monster of the week” television program. It was witty. It was funny. It was passionate. And most importantly, it was important.
Growing up, Buffy and the Scooby Gang taught me the value of family, both the one you are born into and the one you make for yourself. Like for so many others, I felt this show was special because it was a show that felt inclusive. It normalized and humanized all walks of life. I have many friends who felt that identifying as “queer” became much more acceptable because the characters onscreen created a safe and fun environment where sexual orientation wasn’t just a trope. It was an everyday thing that just happened to be part of the show; its cultural significance was huge. Buffy was my hero, and this was one of the first times feminism would become a huge staple in my mindset.
Not only that, but besides its cultural significance, on a personal level, this was the first show that showcased an intense unpredictability. SPOILERS to those who have not watched the show, but I still remember the feeling of shock and awe I felt when Angelus snapped Ms. Calendar’s neck, when Joyce unexpectedly passed away, and the final episode with Anya. These moments still feel like fresh wounds that never healed. There was a formula to the show, but danger was at every turn no matter how light-hearted the humor. Anyone could die at any moment.
And this is part of the allure of the franchise; why so many avid fans continued with the comic book series long after the television series had ended. This story was wild and magical, and it still boasts some of the most relatable and hilarious moments of any television show. However, the fact that it is grounded in empathetic and realized human characters made it powerful and ambitious. We were part of the Scooby Gang, so their successes were our successes, and their losses were our losses. We were family.
This is why I am excited for BOOM! Studios to now be delivering a revamped and modernized take on the vampire slayer. With three issues already out at the point of this editorial, I cannot express just how much fun and excitement I have had reading through this new imagining of the characters of Sunnydale.
Jordie Bellaire is a perfect choice for writer because she manages to capture the charm and wit of the characters, as they monologue through their everyday lives, while still giving it a modern look and feel for 2019. Not only that, but illustrator Dan Mora is such an a amazing artist who is able to bring these real life characters to life on the pages. Buffy looks like Sarah Michelle Gellar. Willow looks like Alyson Hannigan! The art style is gorgeous with colors that pop and a fluid motion that reads smoothly.
Some may not like the pacing of the comics, but there is so much lore that needs to be established, so I am okay with it. Buffy feels like Buffy. Other characters with their slight redesigns are interesting. I like the new origins for both Anya and Spike. Giles has the whole “hot librarian” thing going on. I especially like how they are playing into Xander’s deep-seated struggles with inadequacy (I’m curious to see where this will lead). I am a little taken aback with Cordelia’s “positive” characterization, but I’m on board for something new. And then Willow feels different, but I like her new confidence and style. Overall, this feels familiar enough with some new talking points which feels exciting!
Overall, these are my general thoughts and feelings:
Things I have really enjoyed:
- the colors and art direction that move the plot forward.
- Buffy’s characterization is dead on! Sixteen-year-old Buffy is portrayed with the right amount of sarcasm and heroism seen in the television program.
- The introduction of Spike; portrays all things cool. He seems more like an antihero than a villain at this point, and his interaction with Cordy was both interesting and enjoyable.
- All the little Easter Eggs and call backs to the Buffy lore (such as Anya name dropping Wolfram & Hart, Xander’s profile name: The Xeppo, and the foundation for Spike & Giles’ inevitable banter).
- Joyce and her boyfriend dynamic is new, and I am excited to see more.
- Anya’s introduction as the keeper of ancient artifacts instead of just some revenge demon.
- The comical introduction of Camazotz, Buffy’s pegasus. I’m excited to see what they do with this!
Things I am looking forward to:
- Xander’s story and how it plays out. It’s an interesting dynamic to see how feelings of inadequacy and imposter syndrome can come into play when surrounded by powerful people.
- The build of the Giles/Buffy father/daughter dynamic. I lived for these moments in the show.
- The introduction of Angel! Can’t wait! It will probably be when I least expect it. Also, are we going to get Angel or Angelus!?
- If no Angelus, I am looking forward to The Master! Hopefully, he’s got some cool stuff in store for Sunnydale and the hellmouth.
- The further characterization of new characters Rose and Robin.
It feels good to see Buffy reimagined for a whole new generation of people to read and enjoy. I am excited to see new ideas and fresh takes on characters I love; I mean, I’m already digging the introspective Xander, the kind Cordelia, and the confident Willow. If you are a Buffy fan, I highly recommend you pick this series up. If not, pick it up anyway. It’s a quirky coming of age story with demons and vampires. It’s going to be awesome!
A Review From Christopher Franey
Here we are a quarter of the way through the Morrison/Sharp era of Green Lantern adventures. Of course this is based off of talks right now and the vision being that Grant Morrison will be doing two seasons, each season being 12 issues. Liam Sharp is a master of the arts and delivers some beautiful pages in this latest issue. So lets jump into the issue.
The issue tells us that we are on the planet Rann, which is a part of Sector 2814 (which I’m curious if this is a retcon or has always been so). The BlackStars are about to take over Rann and also test Hal Jordan and see if he is worthy of being BlackStar Parallax. His first mission is to kill Adam Strange, luckily Hal gets them to agree to a showdown.
So the BlackStars are representing MU and are threatening Rann with a Sun Eater that can only be stopped by the BlackStars, so join or Die! To add to the drama the BlackStars have Rann’s champion and are going to have him showdown with Parallax.
Sure enough after pleading and taking 10 paces we see Parallax shoot down Adam Strange, so Rann has no champion or hope. Alanna does a great job of adding to Hal’s guilt and reminding him of his friendship and responsibility. Luckily we know that Hal is a couple moves ahead. We discover that the Rann culture doesn’t let anything or anyone go to waste, so the Department of Salvage will start harvesting Adam.
Now we finally meet Controller MU and he is very much the sinister looking alien that would be trying to create his own version of “Universal Harmony” under his thumb. MU does recognize that the GL Power Ring is not cooperating. Mu does want the information it holds but it will not respond, Hal does remind MU that the Guardians might’ve locked the ring since he did betray them. The scene changes and we discover that Adam Strange is alive, so Hal isn’t totally evil like we’ve been led to believe.
So now it is up to Adam to save Rann and his daughter Aleea from the BlackStars. The scene shifts back to Hal and MU, with Hal reminding MU that he has done everything they have asked in order for him to become a BlackStar. MU calls out Hal about joining the BlackStars to which Hal tries a play at being conflicted and not sure of which side he is on.
MU decides to show his “absolute intent.” He has a dream of no more police, armies, warriors, weapons, or rings…no more repetitions. Just a universe of his own/creation and if he cannot have that then he will have annihilation. MU is the ultimate Controller and is planning on using Aleea as a U-Bomb. The U-Bomb will explode and all well be neutralized making Hal’s mission accomplished along with the annihilation MU wishes.
Luckily the Strange family shows to rescue their daughter and help take down MU…but Hal is telling them to not shoot MU. Sadly Alanna doesn’t hold back as she goes for the head shot, don’t mess with her or her family. BlackStar Belzebeth does take the spotlight now and encourages Aleea to let the U-Bomb go off destroying everything.
This prompts the Guardians to break their cover and get Hal to disarm the U-Bomb so Hal uses his ring to do something (we will find out in an issue or two..?). We see Rann is fine and safe, Adam and his family are all okay, but sadly Adam is called back to Earth, and I’m sure his last words are a clue to something for later issues as well. We are left to believe that Hal has sacrificed himself to stop the U-Bomb, but then we see a ring in space with a planet inside it. We see that Hal is there and talking to someone; it seems that Hal has some amnesia and is talking to someone by the name of Myrwhidden (check out wiki for more).
So where does that ending leave us? Well the character reminds me of Myrwhydden, so you’ll notice there is a different spelling with the y and i replacement. The first time we meet Myrwhydden is in Green Lantern v2 issue 26 titled “The World Within the Power Ring!” so is that a clue or maybe an extension of the current story line? I like how Grant Morrison has been mining Hal’s history and this issue’s ending looks towards the past, so I know I’ll be rereading GLv2 #26 and this issue again. Liam Sharp’s art is just so much eye candy that you could lose yourself in it, which isn’t a bad thing. This volume of Green Lantern has been great and I really love how it explores the “cop” side of Green Lanterns and their responsibilities. This issue especially is a great ending and beginning to the overall story by Grant as we can see how these “cases” lead to each other. So are the BlackStars done? What will Myrwhidden do and is he realated to Myrwhydden? I can’t wait for the next issue, so I rate this issue 5 out of 5 U-Bombs and recommend hitting the back issues to get the full story. As always read on and Excelsior!
The “Tommy Oliver Variety Hour” Coming To Comic Stands Near You!
An Editorial From Rafael Encinas
The “Tommy Oliver Variety Hour” Coming To Comic Stands Near You!
BOOM! Studios has done such a wonderful job at bringing the Power Rangers lore to new heights. I have been a devout Power Rangers fan for many years, and specifically, these past couple of years have truly been a blessing because of the talent, excitement, and respect that the comic book medium has brought to the franchise. I have been reading these amazing stories since they have come out in January of 2016, and I now have a reason again to buy single issues and to collect variant covers again without waiting, like I normally do, for the trade graphic novel. Moreover, I have especially liked the attention to detail and maturity that Kyle Higgins’ has given us in his stories and in his characterizations of the cast. Whether it be Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Go Go Power Rangers, or Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink, I have loved the new adventures and situations that these teenagers with attitude have gotten into.
However, with all good things, there is always room for improvement, and unfortunately, sometimes there is a growing frustration. At Wondercon this past weekend, the BOOM! Studios panel revealed that starting with issue #21, the Go Go Power Rangers ongoing series would finally be introducing Tommy Oliver to the team; this in turn would begin the “Green with Evil” plot we have seen in the television program. The incorporation of Tommy into this series will coincide with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ issue #40 kicking off the new “Necessary Evil” storyline with a returning White Ranger Tommy.
So, basically, we are getting a whole lot of Tommy Oliver! This is great and exciting news if you are a Tommy fan, but Power Rangers is so much more than one single ranger.
Now, I do not mean to sound like a complainer. I mean, we have gotten some truly amazing stories these past couple of years. However, as many fans have pointed out on twitter and reddit threads, the love and focus on a certain Green Power Ranger has been at the forefront for these comics for some time now. Afterall, this past year we have seen Tommy’s evil future doppleganger take the spotlight during the “Shattered Grid” storyline, and we even got “Saban’s Power Rangers: Soul of the Dragon” one-off graphic novel. Now, we are getting two heaping helpings of Saban’s Favorite Ranger in both the green and white variety. And honestly, this isn’t the color palette I’ve been craving.
Though I recognize the appeal for the Tommy character, after all, he is a foundation to what made Mighty Morphin Power Rangers so popular! However, I have always loved the power rangers for their team dynamics. The television show managed to change from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: teenagers with attitude in colorful spandex to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Tommy Oliver variety hour. I understand that Tommy was the cool Green Ranger, which I 100% loved as a kid; however, the shows got too focused on Jason David Frank’s character and the show was less about team dynamics and more about how many flavors of the Rainbow can Tommy fit into. Jason David Frank has probably done more for the franchise than any other ranger in the series, but at this point it is too much.
I am hoping that these stories will prove to be some powerful and engaging story arcs, after all, BOOM!Studios hasn’t failed me yet. However, it is disheartening when you see the spotlight on the same character over and over again, especially when there is such a rich history of so many awesome Power Rangers characters. But again, only the future will tell how we see these stories in tandem with their respective visions. I hope to see more Ranger variety in future stories.
A Review From Hidai Moya
At it’s core BFV does enough to uphold its franchise even if it is a step down from the stellar quality of its superb predecessor. The campaign, revisionism notwithstanding, was surprisingly emotionally moving, especially the story of the last German soldiers. The urban combat feels excellent. With a complete lack of “Run n Gun”, players must tightly round each building corner & tactfully hug the corridor walls to survive. The gunfire is unforgiving of any wayward onlooker. There is also an indelible appeal to its classic WWII era vehicles. German Panzers, Tiger Tanks, & British Spitfires all feel superb operating in battle & have excellent sound design. The visual customization however is exorbitant in it’s demands for in game credits that are more wisely used to upgrade vehicles & weapons. Pre-Firestorm, it’s a fair BF entry. Grade B
Doom & Justice: The Redemption of Lex Luthor
An Editorial From Rafa Encinas
I want to start this editorial by stating that Lex Luthor is a piece of shit. This is a bad man who has done some truly horrific and irredeemable things. However, I cannot deny the allure and magic of comic books, specifically when they do something crazy and exciting. Sometimes, comics try things that are too wild, but at other times, it is as if the sky aligns just right, and we are given something truly magical. Specifically, there are few things on this earth that are as magical or as masterfully written as the meticulous redemption of Lex Luthor.
Luthor is arguably Superman’s quintessential villain. Basically, he is that one kid in the classroom who calls you out for being too handsome, too intelligent, or too nice. That distrustful person who is convinced there is something wrong about you and will stop at nothing to reveal you for what you really are. Basically, Lex Luthor is a dick. Who else has made Superman’s life as miserable as a man who is always plotting to turn the world against its self-appointed champion; to take down the world’s symbol of hope and justice?
Lex has both been that figurative and literal thorn in Superman’s side for so many years! He’s taken on Superman at both physical and philosophical levels. Lex has tortured him. He has tried to destroy his image. He’s become president just to ruin Superman’s day. And he even had the gall to try and replace him when the Man of Steel died of kryptonite poisoning.
However, Lex Luthor, to me, is a stale character. He is a bitter man whose riches couldn’t buy the respect of other people, especially in a world where Superman would forever eclipse him. Over the years, he’s just been one dimensional and an egomaniac who has aimlessly tried to murder the Man of Steel. So, the idea of caring about this character never really crossed my mind. But, then Geoff Johns came along and the seeds of redemption and interesting character development were planted.
This was hinted at with the brilliant Forever Evil (2013) story in where Luthor assembles his own team of villains to take on the invading Crime Syndicate (an evil version of the Justice League from Earth-3). The Crime Syndicate systematically took over the earth, released all the villains from jail, and chaos erupted. So, Luthor takes matters into his own hands, and in a world without heroes, he assembles a team of killers to rampage and murder through the Crime Syndicate ranks which leads to some truly wicked scenes! It takes the approach that when all of the world’s heroes are gone, you have to fight evil with evil.
I’m not going to lie. Forever Evil (2013) is one of the highlights of the New 52 era of DC comics. This comic arc is straight up rock n’ roll! We get a bunch of bad guys being Earth’s last hope against violent invaders. This was super cool and fresh, and it began to paint Luthor in a different light. He was still a killer. We still see him fuck up some bad guys.
However, we also get a refreshing look into the sympathies and possible empathy of Luthor’s cold heart. We see him create Bizarro, and we see a hilarious, albeit tragic, story of father and son; Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s monster. This is some of the most humanizing and most beautiful work I have seen in comics in a long time. I mean, think about it, in a world plagued by darkness and where there is death everywhere, we have subtle moments shared between Lex and Bizarro that are both heartwarming and tear-jerking. We see truly heartwarming moments between characters who rarely have these moments to begin with. It is breathtaking.
Furthermore, Forever Evil (2013) gives Luthor an out. It gives him the perfect opportunity for good PR. We see him put a plan into action that actually works, to the chagrin of Batman. The world now sees him as a hero rather than the villain. And Lex, being the opportunistic genius that he is, grabbed this sentiment by the balls and just wouldn’t let go. Lex took his first steps toward heroism, though it can still be considered to be clouded in self-serving egoism & manipulation.
This was a special time in comics because it gave me something I never knew I wanted. It gave me riveting stories where we got to see the slow evolution of Lex Luthor from villain to hero. It was a snapshot of moments that truly showcased the magic of storytelling. Watching Lex join the Justice League and have an uneasy alliance with Superman was interesting to see unfold. I mean, it was comical to see this man, who was once hellbent on the destruction of the League, create a shaky PR image of himself fighting alongside Earth’s mightiest heroes.
But, fuck, it worked!
He was still a murderous despot. He was still responsible for the Amazo Virus. He still threatened to “blow-out” the spine of the Doom Patrol’s Chief Caulder. But seeing the shimmer behind Luthor’s eyes change. To see his demeanor and voice change as he spent more time with earth’s heroes, and having more humanistic flaws, hopes, and weaknesses fleshed and made bare; to see the things that made Lex such a jerk (like his sister Lena), it made Lex a much more interesting and relatable character. I always think back to a conversation that Lex and Diana have in Justice League #34 (2011-2016)
Seeing Lex respond to genuine and kind human emotion is such wondrous writing because we get to see the inner workings of a man who thinks he is the “Superior Superman” actually have a chance to live up to the mantel. Something that he ultimately does take seriously by physically donning the symbol of Superman and trying to actually be Metropolis’ new titan after the actual Superman had died of Kryptonite poisoning during the events of The Final Days of Superman (2016).
Luthor experiences some truly insane things during his time in the Justice League (like taking over Apokolips, fighting the Anti-Monitor, and being shot by his sister). He has some truly life altering experiences that ultimately lead to the respect of the league which, for me, culminated in the shaky respect from Pre-Flashpoint Superman.
But is Luthor’s redemption necessary? Should it happen? And can he truly be a redeemable character? After all, he has done some truly diabolical things.
Some would argue that he is irredeemable. The crimes he has committed and his overall avarice make him a disgusting and terrible human being, no matter how many times he’s helped the Justice League. But, I argue that the fact he went through this positive character change made for some interesting and unique stories. I personally never felt more connected to the character until he started his redemption, and honestly, it’s fun to see what happens next.
Unfortunately, all good things must end, and it looks like Luthor has gone back to his menacing and conniving ways, most recently in Scott Snyder’s Justice League series (2018) where Lex went full super-villain and assembled the Legion of Doom to fuck up the Justice League’s day.
This is some exciting stuff because even though I am against Luthor’s return to villainy, there are moments in Snyder’s run where we see just how much Luthor’s turn surprises the League, especially Batman (Justice League #4). The fact that Batman was fully on board with Luthor’s reform, so his inevitable betrayal (all while inside Superman’s body by the way) was profound and chilling.
The redemption of Lex Luthor was a truly unique and interesting time in comics that I appreciated and enjoyed. Hopefully, once Lex is done breaking bad again, we will see something new. The fact that he returns to villainy because he believes it is within our nature to be evil (especially after the events of Dark Nights: Metal) and he honestly believes his time “playing” hero was all for naught is interesting, and I am excited to see what the Legion of Doom continues to bring to the table.
Maybe Lex Luthor can never be an actual hero. Maybe he will never be a Superior Superman, but none of that matters to him at this moment. Luthor made his choice. He chose to embrace his true self. Fuck justice. He sided with doom.