Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tommy's Take on Deadlands One Shots and Angel & Faith #1


DEADLANDS: MASSACRE AT RED WING

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: The second one shot in the new Deadlands series by Image Comics has much  closer ties to Deadlands canon than the first one, as the main character is the illegitimate daughter of Raven, who is kind of a big deal in the Deadlands spectrum. Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray and drawn by Lee Moder, Massacre at Red Wing is a revenge tale with action taken straight from the Deadlands Reloaded playbook. The back-up continues the tale of The Kid, in a flashback explaining how he came to be aware of the monsters in the Deadlands world.

WHAT WORKS: Avenging, nameless characters are kind of a staple in westerns, and Raven's daughter doesn't really reach much further past that archetype, but that is perfectly acceptable in this genre. It is nice seeing a hard tie-in to Deadlands canon, of course.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The Kid's follow-up is a bit of a letdown to the "WHOA" from his introduction, but the whole story is only something like 12 pages once the whole thing is complete, so you can't blame 'em. Raven's Daughter's costume is overtly cheesecake. I'm also not sure where she got her looks from after seeing her father and mother. No "bonus" in this issue for Savage Worlds players, unfortunately.

CONCLUSION: While this one is more of an archetypical western tale than the Devil's Six Gun was, it's not quite as strong as the previous issue, in either the main tale or the back-up. Raven's Daughter's design is very "comic book", and not in a good way, with an outfit that is sure to cause wardrobe malfunctions. The ending is almost surely a set-up for next year's comics, which are promising to tell "The" Deadlands story. Good stuff, if not quite quite as good as Devil's Six Gun.

DEADLANDS: DEATH WAS SILENT

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Written by Ron Marz and drawn by Bart Sears, Death Was Silent is the third Deadlands one shot. When I read that Bart Sears was drawing a western, I was...skeptical. Sears does great, muscular superheroes, but he managed to adapt his style very well to the genre, drawing a tale that is darker and grittier than I expect. This is the tale of Hoyt Cooper, a mute bounty hunter who rides into town with a couple of secrets...and a dead body strapped across his horse. The back-up features more flashbacks from The Kid.

WHAT WORKS: Sears transforms his style to fit the genre very well, producing a very moody piece of work that is, thus far, the pinnacle (no pun intended) of the Deadlands releases, stylistically speaking. Hoyt Cooper wears a magic item on his chest that, at first, had me banging my head at the lack of reaction to it, but it all makes a ton of sense by the end. Not surprisingly, Marz' script holds up nicely, making for a great combination.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: More and more, I think I would have liked that back-up strip turned into its own comic, as the pacing just doesn't seem to work for it here, making the long awaited debut of Billy the Kid a little anticlimatic. Again, I lament the lack of a "bonus" for Savage Worlds players.

CONCLUSION: The potential for great Deadlands comics was always there, but Visionary Comics have really brought their "A-Game" with the releases thus far, landing not only name creators, but *quality* creators who are putting forth great comics. I assume that these one shots, and the Billy the Kid back-up, are just setting the stage for year two, which sounds to be an even more ambitious undertaking...and I, for one, look forward to it.

ANGEL & FAITH #1

So long as they avoid the annoying
sexual tension subplot.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: If you stopped following the Buffyverse after the Buffy and Angel shows went off the air, you're going to be a bit lost. However, the set-up is pretty simple: Angel has done Very Bad Things again, and is trying to make amends. This time, his Very Bad Things are at LEAST as bad as his Season 2 stint as Angelus, without the same level of deniability, and Faith is the only one willing to give him a big shot on the whole "redemption" thing (in a call-back to why she's not dead or a villian herself). So Faith and Angel are using the Watcher's Files compiled by Rupert Giles to clean up the world in the aftermath of Buffy Season 8.

WHAT WORKS: Christos Gage does a fantastic job setting the stage for the new status quo for Angel and Faith, capturing their voices very well. Rebekah Isaacs does a nice job drawing the comic in the "style" of Georges Jeannty, who has been handling art duties on Buffy for most of Season 8, making sure that you can tell that Giles is Giles, Angel is Angel, Faith is Faith and that surprise character from YEARS ago on Buffy looks like their TV counterpart.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Not much. I mean, we get two brand new characters introduced, who apparently served Angel during his stint as Twilight in Buffy Season 8, and "created for the comics" characters have been a crapshoot through the last few years of Buffy comics, but I'm willing to give it a shot.

CONCLUSION: Angel is one of my favorite characters of all time, and Christos Gage is a fantastic writer, so I had high hopes for this book. If this is any indication, the "back to basics" approach for Buffy Season 9 should work very well, and at the least, Angel & Faith is off to a great start.