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Dark Horse FCBD 2012: Buffy Season 9/The Guild flip-book [Review]


A year ago, I would have probably been thrilled with the Buffy story. As-is, I’ve not followed the Season 9 comics (even dropped the title from my pull list once I realized I hadn’t READ an issue in several months), and have yet to get to finish Season 8. So I don’t know what the deal is with Spike, which really made this issue quite surreal.

Visually, Buffy doesn’t look unlike what I’ve come to expect for the comics, and the art for this story is not bad at all.

Story-wise, I was a bit lost…but certainly appreciated the nods to the Aliens franchise here.

I assume this one’ll be of interest to Buffy fans, who are relatively current, or at least know what the heck’s going on with Spike at this point in the characters’ continuity.

Rating: 6.5/10


I’ve had a mixed sorta relationship with The Guild. Namely, I tend to go long periods of time without it in my life, followed by short periods of catching up on it. I’ve recently watched what I believe is the most recent season (fifth) in one go, so this story is a real treat.

Torn on where to have their in-person monthly meetup, the Guild has their avatars battle to the death for who gets to decide the location. Clara wins, and opts to have a beach day. The way each reacts to/handles the beach is the height of the story, and keeps quite true to the characters.

Like the Serenity cover (on the other Dark Horse FCBD 2012 issue), this one is really well-done, and really “gets” the characters and the actors. And the interior art is a lot more cartooney…but given the nature of The Guild, it works quite well here.

The story would make a great setting for a partial season of the web series. As-is as a comic, this has me suddenly quite interested in getting the collected edition of the mini-series from several years back.

…Which I suppose is ultimately the goal of something like this: provide an entertaining story, AND send the reader to other existing material.

Rating: 8/10


This is another 2-pager that really doesn’t do much for me. Story, art…just too short to really be meaningful.

Rating: 3/10

Dark Horse FCBD 2012: Buffy Season 9/The Guild Overall Rating: 8/10

Angel & Faith #1 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com

Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Booking Through Thursday: Cover


btt button

CAN you judge a book by its cover?


I think this is a very contextual question. Can you judge a book by its cover?

Certainly. And people do, all the time. It’s natural. It’s that first, initial thought. Whether it’s in the logo/design of the cover, recognizing the author’s name or not, the image (or lack thereof) on the cover, etc.

But often, perhaps it’s not so much JUDGING the book as it is EVALUATING the book, by whatever natural criteria one uses, or any specific criteria at the time.

When I’m in–say, Borders–and looking for Dragonlance books…I’m going to be extremely dismissive of any book whose cover does not reference dragons or Dragonlance itself. At the same time, if a book has a similar design to the edition of the book I’m looking for, or the name(s) Margaret Weis and/or Tracy Hickman jump out at me, I may pause and give other books a chance. At the same time, because I’m a Dragonlance fan, if I’m walking through an aisle and an image that makes me think of Dragonlance, puts me in mind of (a) character(s) from Dragonlance, it may be enough for me to stop and see what this book is, whether it turns out to actually be some Dragonlance book I’m unfamiliar with or something else entirely.

I’ve noticed with some types of books, the title of the book will be the prominent feature–when you’re looking for that title or that series, it may be the series’ name alone that “sells” you on giving the book a chance.

Other times, the author’s name is the prominent feature, and one will check the book out or even purchase it unpreviewed simply on the author’s name alone. Right now, I’m like that with John Grisham–if Grisham puts out a new book, I’m going to pick it up. Doesn’t matter if it’s about an appeal, an associate, or the importance of some confession. Grisham’s books could simply be titled “The Book Published in Late 2010” and I’d buy it.

buffytalesAdditionally, particularly with hardcovers that have dust jackets…that becomes another thing entirely as you’re dealing with two covers. The direct, permanent cover of the actual book itself…and the (often much more colorful, detailed, and visually-appealing/senses-stimulating) dustjacket. The dust jacket may grab one’s attention in the store…but when I’m actually reading such a book–and thus, “presenting” it to those around me–all they have to go on is the physical cover as I take the dust jacket off so it’s not damaged in my carrying the book all over. (And then covers any damage the physical cover sustains…)

buffytales2Right now I’m toting around Buffy: Tales…a hardcover graphic novel collection of a bunch of Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics. The cover is solid black, with the title on the spine, and simply that stylized “B” from the Buffy logo on the cover. If one knows that B…it’ll jump out; otherwise, it’s simply a stylized letter B.

Comics become another thing. Perhaps because most of them are published so frequently–12 or more times per year–often the cover IS how you judge ’em until you read them. Whether it’s for the image–is it a familiar character? Perhaps you’ve never even heard of Wookey the Wombat, but…there’s Wolverine on the cover, so you might check it out for his presence.

Similarly, for a series or “event” or crossover, the covers may take on a different style to resemble one another such that even without reading any words or character names on the cover, it’s obvious that the issue has something to do with Civil War or Fear Itself or whatever.

Then there are the comics–and I point the finger primarily at Marvel in the early 2000s–with generic “iconic” covers that don’t have anything to do with the story itself, really, but just simply showcase the title character. Right now I couldn’t even BEGIN to–other than 3-4 issues–differentiate early issues of Ultimate Spider-Man without seeing the number itself on the cover, and I don’t associate most iconic images of Spidey from that run with any particular issue. I’m also noticing that some on my current journey beginning through the Brand New Day stuff.

None of this rambling addresses CONTENT, really, though.

Content-wise…I find that often the cover for non-comics books rarely REALLY give much idea of what’s inside…at least not enough to really judge the book or truly evaluate what the story itself will be. The image might–AFTER having read the book–provide some nice symbolism or summary of the contents…but just because you see a closeup of a “Scales of Justice” there’s no way of knowing if that’s a literal or metaphorical reference, or what its meaning actually is in context of the story within the book.

Other books’ covers may be nothing but text with some sort of background. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is nothing but text…the title itself, the subtitle, and the author’s name (Max Brooks). In that, I’d suggest that one’s judging it more on the strength of the title and/or author’s name than the cover in and of itself. (Another like this is Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale. Nothing but text and a background…standing solely on its title/premise.)

All of this could really get pretty deep, and I’d be shocked if there are not major academic studies out there that somehow address this topic–such as the psychology of a book’s/cover’s design on a person’s likelihood of picking it up.

The plans of mice and men

usagionshelfwith2volsY’know….when the year was dawning, 5/6 weeks ago…I hastily rushed into a couple things.

One was a “to-be-read” book challenge—I assembled a list of twelve books I’ve been meaning to read, and the goal is to get through those by the end of 2011. An “alternates” list is allowed, which I also maxed out at 12 books. The year is still young—it only took one full month to get through my first book, and I’m already into a second book—which I didn’t even realize was going to exist. Meanwhile, I’m about 1/3 into the audiobook version of one of my alternates.

buffyssn1The other thing was something I’d heard about from several podcasts the last several years—to “adopt” a character. I decided to do so with Usagi Yojimbo, having intended for ages to read and learn more about the character, but never quite getting myself around to it.

Then as the year actually dawned, I realized multiple seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer were on Netflix streaming.

Thought about picking up where I’d left off 5 1/2 years earlier at the end of the first season, but opted to just start fresh at the beginning. Some idle curiosity combined with some casual checking out, and I found myself quickly drawn into the show.

buffythevampireslayerseasoneight001Tonight, I finished the 3rd season; meaning I’ve averaged about half a season per week. Of course, I’m now to the point where Angel spun off into his own show, and the question becomes: do I simply continue on through Buffy, and then double back to watch Angel…or do I flip back and forth and attempt to follow both series simultaneously, the way they originally aired?

And as I realize how much time I’ve spent…Usagi sits on the shelf, and it seems that I’ve in many ways “adopted” Buffy as a character to focus on this year.

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