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From Box Four 11/05/09
brought to you by Illusive Comics and Games of Santa Clara

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #30
writer: Jane Espenson
artist: Georges Jeanty

The advantage of taking Buffy over to comics has long been obvious. If the series had gone to an eighth season, there's no way the CW would have sprung for giant Chinese goddesses. Nor likely all the werewolves, and the disturbing presence of skinless evil genius Warren.

In bringing all these to life on the comics page, artist Jeanty absolutely shines. The battle scenes have a strong sense of scope, with carnage (relatively tasteful) spread far and wide. As a horror artist, Jeanty has a thick line delineating the inhuman well.

Unfortunately, that also reveals his weakness, or perhaps a weakness in moving Buffy to the printed page. Only one of our heroes really has a distinctive visual look, and that would be Xander, black-haired and eye-patched. It's not quite as big a problem with the men, as there are very few in comparison to Buffy's army of Slayers, but take a look at a panel with Andrew, Oz and Riley all together. It's a little hard to tell which is which.

And that becomes really annoying when Jeanty draws women. I can't be sure, but I think Faith (Eliza Dushku) was among them for a moment, but it may have been Buffy. Or maybe it was Dawn. There's a little soap opera/potential love triangle going on which is almost impossible to track because Espenson leaves it to Jeanty to show us who's hugging who, who's jealous, etc. - and we just don't know who these people are.

Oh, we know; we just can't recognize them. The scripting isn't at fault. The plotting is great, the dialogue crackles and if you're a hardcore fan, it's easy to hear the original actors saying the lines - if you can tell which character it is. Again, at least Xander and Andrew have a similar snark, and Oz has his usual terseness. The girls? An all-purpose sarcasm.

Still a worthwhile book and always an enjoyable read, Buffy the Vampire Slayer just comes with this little bit of frustration. It's a small price to pay.

From Fabletown With Love #1

writer: Chris Roberson
artist: Shawn McManus

Speaking of kick-ass women who cover for it by pretending to be shallow and useless, we've got another spin-off in Vertigo's hit Fables franchise. (It qualifies, people. It's got two regular ongoing series, a novel, occasional specials and now this.) Just when the main series has started to drag down, along comes Cinderella to remind people that what really sold this concept was its mix of fun and adventure.

Somehow I'd missed that Cinderella was like the Batman of Fabletown. Posing as the flighty owner of a shoe store, naturally called The Glass Slipper, she has one put-upon employee with dreams of his own. Thanks to her double life, she also has the rumor that she's having an affair with the Sheriff of Fabletown, Beast, as in "Beauty and the…"

If we're to follow Fables continuity, this must fit in a pretty narrow window of time, but it feels like a reminder of better times. Certain magical items are showing up in the Mundy world, and Beast dispatches Cinderella to track them down before they lead to the exposure of Fabletown.

To prepare for her journey, she needs the help of Frau Totenkinder (the witch who tried to fatten up Hansel and Gretel), and hints at some tension involving Fairy Godmother. Just to make it all complete, writer Chris Roberson also sends her up to "the Farm," where those Fables that can't pass for human all live.

All of it is cleanly delineated by Shawn McManus, in a style that complements the other two Fables books nicely.

But you can ignore the continuity. If you haven't read Fables, you could still pick this book up and jump right in, as Cinderella herself gives the reader all the information she could need. Roberson even references the lore that certain Fables are more powerful due to the popularity of their stories among us. It's a great jumping on point, with hints of sex and violence for those who refuse to be charmed on the whimsical notion of a lovely princess turned super secret agent alone.


Derek McCaw


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