18th Jul2013

Panel Discussion #014 with Mark, not Jack

by Mark Allen

No-Jack-Comics

10th July

It’s a solo venture for me this week as Jack’s off to parts unknown to fight irradiated monkey lizards and track down an ancient elixir that cures hayfever and the sniffles. Or he just didn’t buy any comics. I get confused sometimes.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #23 (Season Nine), Andrew Chambliss, Georges Jeanty, Dark Horse Comics

Plots thicken and implausibly deep holes in the Earth are delved into by Buffy & co. as her sister continues to fade from reality Marty McFly style and everyone seems to let Xander off the hook for essentially dooming the planet pretty quickly.

Shout outs to colourist Michelle Madsen, who imbues the Deeper Well with a warm, gorgeous golden glow, and penciler Georges Jeanty, who actually seems to have stepped up his game for the first time all season by including the occasional panel that doesn’t make the female cast look like thirteen year-olds.

It’s not a bad issue as there are some reasonably major plot developments, but the time spent getting to them is difficult to justify and I find it hard to grasp the motivation behind the newly twist-revealed Big Bad’s heinous plan. Here’s hoping for a brisk but meaty resolution in the season’s final two issues, eh?

Star Wars #7, Brian Wood, Ryan Kelly, Dark Horse Comics

Ryan Kelly begins a stint as guest artist in a story that sees Luke and Leia plot to infiltrate a Star Destroyer…by having Wedge ad him captured. Wood keeps expertly toeing the line between thoughtful character study (Luke mourns the deaths of Uncle and Owen and Aunt Beru properly, something that isn’t given all that much weight in the movies) and slightly nostalgic moments of awesomeness (a splash page of Han and Chewie being chased down by Boba Fett’s Slave I and, er, Bossk’s ship is more than a little gratifying to the fanboy in me) and Kelly gives the characters a nice expressiveness if not a photo-realistic interpretation, which is fine by me. If I want to see Carrie Fisher I can just watch When Harry Met Sally.

Hawkeye #12, Matt Fraction, Francesco Francavilla, Marvel Comics

Clint’s brother Barney shows up as a down-and-out (but feisty, natch) loser in a flashback-heavy comic that’s something of a flashback to last issue itself. Francavilla’s a great fill-in artist for these ‘guest star’ stories because he takes on all art duties himself and so gives a different flavour to series colourist Morry Hollowell’s specific palette, this time bringing something of a Mad Men feel to the Barton brothers’ troubled childhoods, strangely enough. Fraction, meanwhile, draws Barney and Clint as two sides of the same coin: while they’ll both never back down from a fight, Barney might occasionally let himself get “whaled on” if there’s a buck or five in it for him. There’s a feel of The Veteran about Barney, who repeatedly refers to himself as a “fellow American down on his luck”, and I imagine the scene in which a passerby denies him spare change feels a little more uncomfortable to readers in the States than in the UK, but it’s not on the nose enough to make the connection a problem.

Again: buy this book. This place goes brave places (the scene in which Barney makes Clint repeatedly punch him in order to toughen him up is particularly gruelling when you consider what that means) and isn’t afraid to throw a whole lot of comedy in with its pathos. Some might be put off by its erratic release schedule but that looks to have been amended for the time being, with an annual out next week and #13 slated for August 14th. So you’ve really got no excuse.

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