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March 29 2010

(SPOILER) Preview pages for Buffy Season 8 #34. Part III of "Twilight" out next week.

Ben is Glory? LOL
Miss Muffet beat me to it, though I was going to add one word: Wait, Ben is Glory?

Giggle. Can't wait for this episode.
What happens when you find your footing? Oh a week is too long to wait!!
Ben is Glory? LOL [2]

And what's the difference between magics and magicks??
I suspect that "magic" is the colloquial useage, as in "prom night was magical", whereas "magick" is the supernatural force.
I think magick is chaos magic. I think.
AHAHAHA Ben is Glory? xDDD
I'm hoping what happens "when you find your footing" is that you remember that the guy you're kissing is a world-class megalomaniacal psycho who has been picking and choosing when and if to step in to save yours and your friends lives from crisises he's helping to create and you go back to trying to kill him again.

But I doubt it.

Nickolz, as far as I can tell the difference between magic and magick is... pretentiousness.
LMFAO!!!! "Ben is Glory!" Dawn got so much better as a character since S7, I just LOVE her!

I also love how in the middle of all of this, Xander jumped right into "Buffy needs our help!" Awww.

Giles' "Faith is hurt!" was wonderful, I love how close they've gotten.

Good touch having Andrew and Warren nerd-fighting.
So wait, then, is Glory Ben? And is Angel Twilight?
How come Amy knew Angel? Did they ever met?
They never shared the screen together once unless it was in "Gingerbread". I'm just giving her credit for knowing him by reputation since she is -- to borrow Spike's phrase -- "into the big bad". She's run in the right circles long enough to know the bullet point version of who he is, but it's still hilarious that she's all "I knew it!" about it.

EDIT: Wrong episode title.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2010-03-29 21:46 ]

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2010-03-29 21:47 ]
Gotta hand it to them. "Ben is Glory?" definitely brought the lulz.
Oddly, Dawn wasn't there for the "Ben is Glory?" routine. (Another oblique reference to Spike, who could see through that glamour.) Ben is Glory references are always funny, though the fans already sort of used that joke to death.

Fears that Twilight has been whitewashed by the last issue might be somewhat allayed by the reminders that he really hurt Faith.

The Rorschach blot--another comics reference? (Watchmen.) Deconstruction of the superhero myth. Fits in with Twilight/Angel.

Magick with a k is actual magic, magic with a c is "magical prom night," as The One True B!x says. Or that's what I would go with.

Looking forward to the issue, hopefully we get some answers. Fandom reaction should be interesting.
All I know is, the sound of Them F#@%ing could be heard all over Portland yesterday.
As William points out, I'm happy they don't seem to be glossing over that Angel is hella-evil as Twilight.
Ben is Glory?

Best line ever! Love it.
For all the failures of Season 8 (and there have been quite a few), the ending is shaping up very, very well. The series wandered a bit too much in the middle and lost momentum, but the ending is proving to be exactly the sort of thing you'd expect from Joss. It's proving to be quite interesting.
While I thought Season 8 has gone to far off the point at times (maybe to set up future plot lines, Dark Willow and what not) its been really solid as a whole and I cant wait to see how it plays out.
Poor Faith. Angel really bashed her head pretty hard. D:

and of course, the "Ben is Glory" comment was hilarious. made me laugh out loud.
I always did wonder what the decoy covers were supposed to look like. I guess they just used selective cropping which makes perfect sense albeit is slightly disappointed. I'm curious what Obama would have thought to see comic books covers where he's about to kiss Buffy.

I'm confused by the amount of blood between panels re:Faith though. It's not like the first time Angel's slammed her head against various building surfaces. (It is so weird comparing the levels of fight choreography on Angel than Buffy though.)
What is up with the last panel....Angel looks like Edward there. Jeanty's Angel is really bad.

The reveal panel was really good...but after that it was just dreadful.
Repeating the love for "Ben is Glory?" wholeheartedly.
The Ben is Glory comment cracked me up as did the magics/magicks comment. Looks like it might be the best issue yet. The only thing I thought was weird was cropping the covers to hide the reveal, but the pages themselves reveal that Ben is Twilight and Glory is Angel....oh wait, we're free to speak about it now - Angel is Twilight!

Interesting...
Alright, I've really loved this arc so far, and I hope this next issue is as good.
Based upon this, I feel it will be.
Ooh, what a tease. Really JUST. ONE. MORE. PANEL. Please?
That's why they call it a teaser preview as opposed to the issue.

[ edited by quantumac on 2010-03-29 23:12 ]
It's like Spike looking at those tiny Jack Daniels bottles 'Can't even get drunk'
Yeah... I really have to say I didn't like this preview much. I strongly disliked the last issue with a passion and this one seems to be even more annoying so far. I think this'll be the first time I don't try to pick it up on release day. I don't like where the story is going and I'll be on vacation in Orlando. Originally, I was planning on finding a comic shop there since BTVS is my favorite story if all time, but with the way this story seems to be going I really just can't be bothered. If any of you know 'AndrewCrossett' I agree with most of his sentiments on this arc exactly.
LOL, I agree with what 'KingOfCretins' said.
Quantumac...you are so wise!!
But damn it I can't just sit on my laurels until next thursday(grr and argh for being foreign) I must know...I must see...oh how they tease us!! Loving this arc like crazy!!
I think I'm the only one that didn't like the "Ben is Glory?" line. It was a little too meta, maybe, and didn't seem to fit. And while I loved the comic book references in past issues, as only a casual comics fan, there was one here that I didn't get ("Tell that to Joe Simon!" Huh?).

I did like "Faith is hurt!" because it's somehow such a Giles thing to say that I could hear him say it. Also Xander being all "We've got to help Buffy!" That really took me back to the old Xander of seasons 1-5, when he'd always puff up his chest and want to charge in and save her even when she didn't need saving.

And I'm really looking forward to Xander hating on Angel, because again, that's just such a Xander thing to do. He didn't get a chance to say much here because it happened in the last page, but he did say "WHAT WHAT?", which is exactly what he'd say. Maybe he'd only use one "WHAT?". But there would be a "WHAT?".

Willow already seems to be assuming her role from old Angel times too, which is to be slightly more reasonable about it-- or if not, then her tone of voice was at least calmer.

I think a lot of the issue may be a reprise of parts of season 2, which some people may not like (because they've already done that, duh), but I'm looking forward to.
Hey b!X, that's something! What did it turn out to be?

I'm so excited for the next three issues. B and A can still make me a puddle. Xander's "what what?" reminded me of Something Blue, and the Ben is Glory thing tickled beyond belief, I don't care if it is done to death.

Oh and can Warren please get his skin back? Cuz damn.
Yup, dispatch, you're right that some of us aren't looking forward to it because of that. I personally believe Season 2 is the most over-rated Season on the planet. At least of Buffy anyway. I thought the Angelus arc was very good but it also had a lot of weak episodes. It's still one of my favorites but I just think it's often over-glorified.

So yeah, not happy for a Buffy/Angel re-tread. I feel that their characters regress greatly around one another and I personally find them much for likable apart. Just as characters, shipping aside. Angel annoys the heck out of me when he guests on Buffy and same with Buffy on Angel. Don't really know why.....

Oh, and I feel that I've been way too negative in my few Whedonesque posts since I joined. I guess I kind of came in at a bad time because I didn't have the opportunity to join until after Dollhouse ended and I've been predominantly disappointed with the latest Buffy and Angel comics. I swear I'm not ALWAYS this whiney and moany!
Add me to the list of "Meh" for the Ben is Glory thing. And the comic book guy insider jokes were starting to turn during the first issue of this arc. Can't wait for them to be over with. It's a razor's edge between clever and annoying....

I enjoyed Dawn's other line "Angel is Twilight? That doesn't even make sense..." Glad to hear someone else say it, even if they are a ficticious character....

I don't recall seeing anyone else pose this question, but is the whole "bleeding head wound Faith" thing suppose to allude to him not knowing she was missing her slayer powers? Not that that excuses anything, but would seem to account for his apparent concern after slamming her into the ground....
Kailee, don't worry--lots of people complain here. (And the #33 thread wasn't exactly super-positive.) I'm enjoying the comics more than most, but I'm perfectly willing to admit that, depending on how they go, I could more or less declare the story arc terrible. So I'm really holding back judgment myself and staying out of quality debates as much as I can.

Incidentally I agree on Season two of Buffy being overrated. It has a very strong central story--the Angelus arc episodes ("Innocence," "Passion," "IOHEFY," and "Becoming") are all very high on my list, as are "Lie to Me," and "BBB" for laughs. And there are quite a few other strong episodes. This is a very passionate season and in terms of the extremes of joy and pain I'm not sure if any year matches it, as frequently. But other seasons handle the...nuances, the in-betweens, better. Few one-offs are particularly good, I don't really enjoy the B/A scenes pre-soul-loss all that much (though "Surprise" works well when paired with "Innocence"). And, what can I say, later seasons speak to me more. But it's certainly a very good year.

Buffy on Angel, Angel on Buffy: I think it's a perspective shift. Take "Sanctuary." Buffy comes across badly on Angel because our priorities are Angel's and we don't want to see them interrupted by Buff. We've seen Faith break down crying and we want her to be good. Buffy hasn't seen that; all she knows for sure is that Faith stole her body, tried to steal her life, and used her body sexually with her boyfriend. Objectively, Buffy has a lot of reason to be angry. Subjectively, Faith belongs more on Angel's show now than Buffy does, and so we automatically side with him.
@ KaileeA42

"I swear I'm not ALWAYS this whiney and moany!"

You're a Whedon fan, you're legally obligated to complain and moan about the things you care the most about. It's the law!
In the time honored tradition of preview pages: this was much too short ;).

Like everyone else, I'm still not quite sure what to make of it. I'm pretty sure things won't be a retread of season two, even if the story might lean heavily on the past mythology of the Buffy/Angel romance. But I don't believe that the writers (and Joss) would chose to recycle old ideas, though we'll have to just wait and see.

It'll certainly be interesting to see what the fandom thinks of this. There's still a lot of division along shipper lines going on with this current arc (which is still its biggest drawback; though fortunately this site's rules prohibit the subject (even if it's still present in the background)).

I'm hoping these things will move even further to the background, though, once new mythology elements and new story kicks in, making this more interesting than a awww-cute-and-romantic-yet-at-the-same-timedisturbing-kissing-and-probably-more session between Buffy and Angel (not that I mind that perse, by the way; given their respective histories it's a perfectly natural story avenue to revisit, just maybe not in the current context ;)).

Anyway: I've really been enjoying this arc so far - despite some reservations of the 'wait to see where this is going' variety - and I'm looking forward to reading and discussing this issue. Unfortunately, my local comic shop has been slooooow in delivering the issues of late, so I'll probably end up reading this a few weeks after the issue arrives in US shops and everyone has already mentioned anything worth mentioning in the discussion thread. Grmbl ;).
KaileeA42:
So yeah, not happy for a Buffy/Angel re-tread. I feel that their characters regress greatly around one another and I personally find them much for likable apart. Just as characters, shipping aside.


I could not agree more.

As for overrated seasons, I feel that way about S3, which really doesn't do it for me at all. I'll take 5 or 6 (my faves!) over S3 any day.

I've been flirting with the idea of checking out the comics; I actually have the first few books--from the public library--sitting on my desk right now. But I'm holding off to see if this is resolved in a way that I can handle or if it runs right off the rails. At this point, it could go either way. I'm not holding my breath.
Here is a very good analysis of the historical and development of the word Magic"

http://www.isisinvestigations.com/Article_Etymology_of_Magic.html

if you consider how Willow has been dressed throughout the season, it makes, IMO, a very good connection to the "time travel and time-lines changes" also, how the Buffyverse is going into a different phase - it may also bring in the "personal perspective and agendas" that are part of this season.

both uses of the word are in use since:

Early Modern English – 1500 to 1800 BCE
Joe Simon, along with Jack Kirby, are the creators of Captain America - One of the latest and best uses of Captain America is the "Civil War" cycle.

The Captain America could also be other connections to time travel and alternate dimensions in the season and the Fray time-line.

[ edited by nmcil on 2010-03-30 01:27 ]

[ edited by nmcil on 2010-03-30 01:34 ]
A Joe Simon joke. Seriously?
I didn't have a problem with "Ben Is Glory" being meta, I just had a problem with it because it doesn't fit. The joke makes Dawn seem a little too self aware IMO. Now Spike could probably say it because he actually witnessed that absurdity in season 5. He'd actually be making fun of everyone else and that would be perfectly charecter appropriate AND funny eventhough it is a joke that gets used in fandom quite a bit.

[ edited by azzers on 2010-03-30 01:52 ]
WilliamtheB: That's why I treated Faith as an AI member in "Never Bet the dEvil Someone Else's Head."

I still dislike this.
Yeash, I meant "what a tease" in the sense of it being a really good teaser. I'm aware they don't post the whole thing online days before released in stores.
This looks really fun!
Kailee, I never complain. Everyone here will tell you that.

;-)

I think when this "season" ends I will sit down and write about how my love for Buffy turned south during the run of this comic. I would like to really look into this and see why, but the comic has just been such a turn off for me. I have little interest in a Buffy Angel reprise, and I am sure that this is not where Joss is going, but everyone is looking at this way anyway. They are both older and you cannot go home again. But what I find most troubling is that comic simply lacks the depth the show had; there is little really to talk about regarding the comic- metaphor is largely absent, plot is all important, and everything is secondary to driving the story forward. There seems to be little character development; Jonathan is still just Jonathan, Willow is a bit player by and large, her relationship is virtually absent, Giles has been MIA a lot, etc. There is nothing for me- for me- to invest in. At this point, a comment like "Ben is Glory" is parody of meta, not meta; it draws attention to itself. I thought the run would be better, but it is simply wearing at this point.
To be fair, I think the meta-ness of these issues (including the comic references, the Ben-is-Glory joke) are very deliberate. The entire mythology is being deconstructed and reconstructed, in part as a response to the change in medium. It's possible it's a terrible idea, but all the meta jokes are not just done because of lack of imagination alone.
I agree with everything you said Dana. I just feel like the comic medium does not offer room for all the things that made the show great. IMO, the show thrived on character development, wit, relationships, and metaphor. The demons and foes were just window dressing as metaphors for life and what the characters were going through.

However, each comic is just so short that to even keep the plot moving at all they have to make it all plot and have little room for the quotable dialogue, metaphor, emotion, and nuance that made me love the show so very very much. Also, on a different note, I miss Spike and Anya and others a whole freaking lot, just saying.

While I love Willow, Giles, Faith, etc- Spike and Anya were always the funniest characters to me. I seriously miss Spike's sarcasm and ability to see through people and Anya's awesome and odd humor from her misunderstanding of humans. Also, I used to love Andrew on the show but IMO he's getting pointless, annoying, and repetitive in the comics. It's like they can't think of anything better for him to do than make endless comic book references. The comics haven't really had many of the humorous moments that the show did. So yeah, I'll read about what happens in S8 on here and I'll read them when I get the chance, but it's no longer top priority for me.

Ah well, at least I still have 'Supernatural'( which is awesome) and 'Battlestar'( which I just started.)

I'm still hoping that Joss proves me wrong in the end and makes the season seem more worthwhile than it currently does. And I'm looking forwatd to whatever he does next, =)

Wow, do I ever get rambly when I post on this site. Can't wait for the issue to come out so I can know if my ranting is for nothing and Joss will be all like "I find your lack of faith distirbing" or if I continue not liking the direction after this issue. Hmm, we'll see....
LMFAO!!!! "Ben is Glory!" Dawn got so much better as a character since S7, I just LOVE her!

Watch out. A character you love, who's in a relationship, in the Buffyverse? Yep, Dawn's dead for sure ;)

Don't like vampires, any vampires, on Buffy. It feels like a 'been there done that' sorta thing. But I agree with everyone who says that this is gonna be epic. Bring on the PAIN!

Speculation: If this is the 'Twilight' arc, does that mean Twangel won't be around for the last arc? Are they gonna focus on this B/A crap--I mean--reunion for the next seven issues?

I believe theres more to this than they're telling us (well duh). Hmmm...
Loved this :D

Dawn is totally awesome and I love Xander's immediate reaction to go help Buffy.

But what I really love is the juxtaposition of the text and images. It’s so dark having Buffy say “reunion kisses are the best” as we see the destruction they left in their wake. And I don’t get a hint of sarcasm from her at all which is totally frightening and... totally awesome in my book. Buffy going dark is a storyline I’ve craved from fairly on into S8 and it looks like it’s going to happen. Yay
Magik = the superhero code-name of Kitty Pryde's best friend.

Not that that is relevant in any way to this discussion, but maybe that 3rd spelling will come up somehow in the pages that we didn't get to see? (Okay, probably not. Shutting up now).
I don't really agree that there isn't much character development/progression in season 8. At all. I can see where people would think that, though, due to the timeliness of the stories. On the show, we had an hour each week. Now, we have 40 pages each month, which means it takes 4-5 months to tell one story.

I'd encourage you guys to wait until the season is over and you can go back and reread all the issues at once before passing final judgement on metaphor/character development/etc.

Just think about how much Buffy herself has changed, matured throghout the season. Think about all the great character moments we've seen that are very reminiscent of the shows (particularly in Joss' arcs, the one-shots, etc.)...Dawn and Xander.... Willow... Faith... most of the major characters have been through a lot this season and have visibly grown as characters from my perspective.
Well, the two comic characters that Angel was referred to as on the show were Batman and Captain America. The first season had numerous blatant Batman references such as the "Bat Cave" remark and Angel's grappling hook to go up the side of a building. There are Captain America references in both The Ring and Why We Fight.

And the one Jeanty cover with Buffy and Angel kissing, it's based on an image of Superman and Wonder Woman kissing (the image is flipped, but the body positions aren't gender reversed--Superman's cape becomes Twilight's jacket).
I'm also in the meh camp on "Ben is Glory". It really came out of nowhere and made no sense whatsoever in the scene.

To be fair, I think the meta-ness of these issues (including the comic references, the Ben-is-Glory joke) are very deliberate. The entire mythology is being deconstructed and reconstructed, in part as a response to the change in medium. It's possible it's a terrible idea, but all the meta jokes are not just done because of lack of imagination alone.


Yeah, but sometimes jokes really are just jokes. And some of them are bad. ;)

I totally agree with your general take, I just think that at some points Meltzer is just overdoing it. IMO, there is no deconstruction happening, no thematic reason for the "Ben is Glory" comment. I don't see how it is meta. What does it say about the mythology so far?
My god, every issue seems to be getting sillier and sillier. The whole thing comes across as so daft that I'm finding it very difficult to take anything I'm reading seriously.

Also, Jeanty's continual desire to draw everyone like they're still at kindergarten is getting way beyond a joke. Giles loooks okay, but as for the others. Ugh.
I'm with Jesse, personally, the reason I love the show is the character development and interactions. S8 has got a lot of that. Much, much more satisfying in character department than S7 -and S7 actually had the actors, but so little character development and interaction. S8 dealt with Buffy and Xander's growing friendship gone romantic on Buffy's part, dealt with Buffy and Willow's issues, dealt with Dawn and Xander's growing attraction, dealt with Gles and Faith's new friendship, and now deals with Buffy and Angel.
Season 8 is also a comic. And comics are an art form. An artform is a language. And you cant expect to fully understand a language if you dont know how to speak it.

Its not just a drawn representation of happenings as much as a movie is not just the filming of a fictionalized hapenstance. Somebody who has never ever watched a movie may or may not enjoy them, but they are hardly expected to understand the nuances of editing, composition, lighting, rythm, their first time. Not even subconsciously. You may watch a masterepiece and find it boring cause its not like in the books, and maybe you are just not paying atention to the expresive elements that makes it like in the books.

I am not saying that is your cases. Each his own; each has his or her reason s to like or dislike something; but sometimes, and please understand, i am just making a general observation, some people might look at comics with a rather simplistic eye, just as a superficial sistem of continuity drawings that represent characters and situations, and it is far more complicated than that.

When i get to a museum and look at a Picasso painting, and a friend comes with me that usualy does not enjoy art, he may tell me that he dislikes it, but he admits "he doesnt know much about art". And yet sometimes i hear people who never read comics coming to me saying BS like "comics are not a medium for bla bla..." Because painting is art and comics are just comics... Right?

Well, Kubrick said once that a movie could do EVERYTHING any book could do. I´ll say the same for comics.

Again: i´m not saying that is any of your cases. You may very well be comic readers at heart, or, hey, sometimes one conects with a medium like love at first sight. But i thing this was worth considering, anyway. Just an observation. TTFN.
Well, Kubrick said once that a movie could do EVERYTHING any book could do. I´ll say the same for comics.


I don't know...I've read comics for decades and it seems to me the medium has particular strengths and weaknesses, and there are certain things it just doesn't do well. It is not optimally suited for material that's dialogue-intensive, for example; the word balloons crowd the panels if there's too much dialogue. (Felicia Day mentioned in one of her interviews about the Guild comic that she once recveived a note from Scott Allie concerning her dialogfue for a particular panel--she was told she had to decrease the word count from 21 to 17 words.) That kind of artificial limitation on dialogue doesn't exist in novels. (Though it does also exist in movies; studios expect movie scripts to be lean, generally speaking.) Also, comics, unless drawn by a fiendishly talented artist, don't do everyday drama very well. They can have dramatic scenes but these are best paced as occasional cut-aways from action sequences, or in service to stories that are predomiantly genre tales (the old EC Comics are good examples of this kind of moody drama work attached to horror tales.) They certainly don't do "talking heads" drama scenes very well because there is precious little opportunity for the art to engage the reader under those circumstances (though it's not impossible.) Comics work best as action vehicles in general and they excel at sci-fi/fantasy/horror for the simple reason that their great strength is in the fact that they are a series of drawings at the end of the day: the art must reach out and grab the reader. And if an artist can imagine it, it can be part of your story. That is a not inconsiderable advantage of the medium. Avatar took a long time to be brought to the screen; it could have been made as a comic decades ago, and in a very short time-frame.

At the end of the day though, comics are a bastard medium for the simple reason that they were never intended as art in the beginning (they started as quick and dirty reprints of comic strips and then expanded to new material when the comic strips ran out, and that new material was aimed exclusively at children) and they have only very sporadically even approached the level of art in the eight decades since their exception. Most comic writers and artists don't go into it thinking they are going to create a great work of art; most of them are doing, essentially, factory work (anything not creator owned, generally speaking.) Creator-owned stuff is an exception, but even there, I wouldn't call something like Hellboy (to take one random example) high art. It's fun, but certainly not deserving of being remembered a century from now. People will always read Cormac McCarthy; they will very shortly (relatively speaking) stop reading Hellboy. Another reason for the marginalization of comics is that the medium is simply inferior as far as "ease of use" is concerned: people like watching movies, they like reading books, but comics are a hassle. Almost any non-aficianado who is introduced to comics, if they happen to read a really good one (Preacher for example) will invariably think, "I'd love to see that as a movie." Because people prefer movies to comics; they prefer the medium of movies to the medium of comics. That will never change. Comics, I'm afraid, will always be a niche medium.

As far as Buffy is concerned, as I've said before, Joss obviously understands the strengths and weaknesses of comics--specifically, he understands that the great strength of comics when it comes to telling Buffy stories is a limitless FX and locations budget, as well as the constant availability of all "actors". Unfortunately I think he went overboard in attempting to adapt Buffy to the medium so now we get unnecessary action set pieces and ridiculously over the top sci-fi/fantasy elements, too many characters inhabiting a bloated story, and also Joe Simon jokes, which are aimed at, apparently, myself and two other people, since we're the only ones likely to get them.

[ edited by Hellmouthguy on 2010-03-30 15:26 ]
Comics are so difficult for me, though I loved them as a child. Until other people mention it, I don't notice things like Xander's coat, tiles lifting, Xander looking away from Dawn, I didn't even notice the Rorsach thing, I just thought it was a badly drawn map of the world. And I had no clue who was doing the narrating until I came and read about it.

And the Joe Simon joke? Please! No clue.
(Felicia Day mentioned in one of her interviews about the Guild comic that she once recveived a note from Scott Allie concerning her dialogfue for a particular panel--she was told she had to decrease the word count from 21 to 17 words.)


Less is more? But seriously, you remind me of that time when David Fury said "Lies My Parents Told Me" went well over time and so the scene where Giles told Buffy that he killed Ben got cut (plus he said he didn't think people would be interested as well).

obviously understands the strengths and weaknesses of comics--specifically, he understands that the great strength of comics when it comes to telling Buffy stories is a limitless FX and locations budget, as well as the constant availability of all "actors".


Joss and comics is a curious mix. His Astonishing X-Men run is up with there with his best work ever and his Fray mini-series was a great piece of work. But I think Dark Horse made a mistake in expanding the scope of season 8. Was it planned to be 25 issues at the start? Tighter pacing and less padding may have helped.

Almost any non-aficianado who is introduced to comics, if they happen to read a really good one (Preacher for example) will invariably think, "I'd love to see that as a movie."


I would qualify that. Newcomers that I know who read a great comic book often say that a movie wouldn't do it justice. Or it just couldn't be done because the comic book offers too many subtleties that a movie wouldn't pick up on.
Wisengrund: I think it's part of a general pattern of meta-references that are overloading Meltzer's arc. All the comics references are helping to play up Buffy's newfound superpowers, her separation from ordinary humans, the superpower/human divide. And I think all the explicit references to the past (even somewhat out-of-place ones) draw attention to the many-years-coming Angel/Buffy reunion. So I think that all meta-references are part of of this.

Now as far as the specific choice to do a Ben-is-Glory joke, I have a theory about that but it is pure speculation and won't mention it right now.

And it is a joke, don't get me wrong.
Dang it, why couldn't that have been longer? I love this arc. Simply can not wait til next week. I think the art is good. :)
Here we go again.

[T]he [comics] medium has particular strengths and weaknesses


Well, sure, like any medium, but I completely disagree with your analysis of what those strengths and weaknesses are.

It is not optimally suited for material that's dialogue-intensive, for example; the word balloons crowd the panels if there's too much dialogue.


Competely disagree. I think the best comics have a mix of dialogue and silence, yes, but some of the recognized "classics," books that you might grant will still be read in a few years, have heaps of dialogue. It surely depends on how the creator chooses to display that dialogue. Look at the amount, and placement, of the dialogue in The Dark Knight Returns, for example. Or how Alan Moore uses a mixture of balloons, dialogue without balloons, and pure text, in Watchmen. Comics can handle dialogue brilliantly.

[C]omics, unless drawn by a fiendishly talented artist, don't do everyday drama very well.


Completely disagree (assuming I understand what you mean by "everyday drama."). Ever read Dan Clowes's stuff? Or Phoebe Gloeckner's? Maus (where as much of the drama is in the contemporary confrontation between artist and father, as in the father's narrative)? Blankets? Persepolis? I could go on. And on.

Comics work best as action vehicles in general and they excel at sci-fi/fantasy/horror for the simple reason that their great strength is in the fact that they are a series of drawings at the end of the day[.]


Comics do action well, though not always as well as movies, depending. But, no, I disagree, the strength is the combination of a sequence of drawings, plus dialogue.

[C]omics are a bastard medium for the simple reason that they were never intended as art in the beginning[.]


Well, I disagree with the choice of word, obviously. More fundamentally, I disagree that "comics," per se, "were never intended as art." Comics were not invented in the 20th century, unless you're deliberately choosing the narrowest possible historical understanding. Italian masters in the Renaissance painted frescoes that can be seen as the ancestors of modern comic-books. Not daily comic strips, perhaps, but "comics" meaning "a sequence of pictures, plus dialogue." Which is what comics are.

Most comic writers and artists don't go into it thinking they are going to create a great work of art; most of them are doing, essentially, factory work[.]


Indeed. Like 90% of TV, movies, books, and, well, all other art forms.

Another reason for the marginalization of comics is that the medium is simply inferior as far as "ease of use" is concerned: people like watching movies, they like reading books, but comics are a hassle.


I'm not sure what this means. (But see the next line)

Almost any non-[afficionado] who is introduced to comics, if they happen to read a really good one (Preacher for example) will invariably think, "I'd love to see that as a movie[.]


And your sample size is how large? I find it easy to envisage, and some personal experience bears this out, people reading, say, Watchmen, and realizing that the movie didn't begin to come close to its style and depth. Or any of the other adaptations of Moore's work. (And, relatedly, I don't think Neil Gaiman has come close to the transcendence of Sandman in any of his books, a few passages in American Gods and one or two others excepted.) So it seems it's a matter of lack of familiarity, rather than any intrinsic weakness in the medium.

Comic books don't do things the same way as movies and books, but they can be just as meaningful, just as deep, just as much "art" as those other genres. There are "great" comics, just as there are great movies and TV shows. And there's crap.

It's interesting to me that many of your arguments regarding the alleged inherent "inferiority" of comics could apply equally well to pop culture grosso modo. Say, the works of Joss Whedon. /ranty-rant
I'm with SNT here. This reminds me a bit of the "animation/comics are for kids" silliness to leads to all sorts of wrong-headed action (not least of which by Congress and the industry itself [see also the CCA] back in the day). In addition, I really take exception to the "only good for superheroes/action/OTT stories" bit. There are romance, horror, adventure, philosophy, fashion, sci-fi, historical, fiction, non-fiction, blah blah blah comics available. In Japan, men and women and children of all ages read manga of all genres daily. The superhero centricism is an early 20th century American way of thinking about the medium. Some of the best comics I have ever read were moody and dialogue heavy -- as mentioned above Persepolis, Blankets, also Optic Nerve, Strangers in Paradise, on and on. There certainly are specific artists that do specific genres well, but that's not a failure of the medium, rather of that particular artist's style.

SOME people prefer movies to comics - likely there could be drawn a Venn diagram showing them as the same who prefer watching TV to reading novels (yes, that too is a massive assumption/generalization of the kind I'm giving you grief for, and is meant to be demonstrative :)). I have never read Cormac McCarthy, but I am re-reading Sandman right now. Also re-reading some Shakespeare, so you never can tell about people... Funnily enough, when I saw Joss talking about unlimited FX budgets I thought, "Wow, considering he is the guy who wrote Astonishing X-Men, he sure seems to have lost the plot as far as the strengths of comics.". Ugh, have to run, work calls!
To SNT's erudite list of comics, I must add this: Gilbert Hernandez' "Human Diastrophism" in the Love and Rockets canon, reaches literature. Those put off by the relative crudeness of the drawing miss an enriching vein.
I'm also with SoddingNancyTribe. Caveat: I'm very new to comics-only started reading them because of Buffy, but since then I've branched out. I think Terry Moore's Strangers in Paradise is a marvelous example of how beautifully dialogue can work in comics. That's a beautifully told story and I don't feel anything is missing from it at all.

But since this a Whedon board and a Buffy thread, I'll return to a more appropriate comment, namely that, as a fan, I feel like I know these characters so well, and because the artwork (again IMO) is so well-done, it's really easy for me to read between the lines and catch subtleties that aren't necessarily spelled out. I can really visualize the scenes and part of it for me is that I *do* know the character histories. So I don't find it lacking it all.
zeitgeist: likely there could be drawn a Venn diagram showing them as the same who prefer watching TV to reading novels

Not so much. I don't like comics as a genre at all, but I'm a former English major who glories in digging into a big, fat novel and analyzing it from every possible angle.

But I also love TV. Really, really love TV. And movies. And poetry. But not comics.

For me, fiction is mostly about motive. In a novel, a short story, even a poem, the motive is there: on the page. I can immerse myself in someone else's thought processes, bury myself in their brain space, and that is supremely satisfying to me. Even if their motive isn't explicitly outlined, there are enough clues there that I can figure out what it is.

On the other hand, in film and television, I have actors communicating to me, and when they're good at what they do, I can figure out what their motives are by the looks on their faces, their inflection, their tone, the pauses between words, the lift of an eyebrow, the jerk of a shoulder, etc. (And most of all: their eyes.) I can get into their brains. I can interpret their motives the same way I can another person's (in real life) if I'm paying close enough attention. These are skills that most of us develop as human beings in real-world interactions and then can apply to film and TV watching. And I love that.

With comics, I have neither way in. And so it takes something really special to overcome my antipathy towards the medium (like, Watchmen, since we're using that example) and engage myself in the story. I cannot connect with the images on the page. There's a distance between me and what's happening on the page--always. I think Watchmen is extraordinary, but I still canot connect with the characters in nearly the same way I can with a character in a novel or one portrayed by an actor.

I look at a picture on a page, and that's not Buffy. Not the way SMG is Buffy. Not even the way Buffy is Buffy in a well-crafted fanfic. It's not her. I'm constantly, constantly aware of that fact. It's even worse with characters I don't already know--I can at least hear Buffy's voice in my head when I read the dialogue in S8. If it's a character that isn't pre-existant? The chasm between me and the character yawns wider.

Does that mean I'm a bad reader? Maybe so. But it's true nonetheless.

[ edited by Lirazel on 2010-03-30 19:53 ]

[ edited by Lirazel on 2010-03-30 19:57 ]
Like I said, it was a massive generalization (and truthfully, it was said to point out the absurdity of over-generalization) :). I have to say that for me, with comics, the motive is there on the page in the same (not exact same, but...) way that it is for a short story, novel, poem, tv show, movie, if the writer and the artist are doing their job. So I say, with comics, you have BOTH ways in. I look at a picture on a page or words on a page and I think, "that's Buffy"; she was invented in Joss' head and put down on paper as words and that's where she lives, though for many she came to life by way of actors/actresses on the screen. I will say that the OTT-ness of this season in general takes me out of it a bit, but to me it's not a deficiency of the medium.
Okay, so can you explain this to me specifically?

I can think of a dozen different scenarios that would lead Buffy to robbing a bank. I can. But different scenarios prompt a different reaction to me--some I could forgive, some I couldn't, some I would think are (almost) justified, whatever. But when the existing text gives me not hint at what those motives are that drive her to do it...yeah. I can't handle that. I don't need straight-up explicitness: "I robbed this bank because of X, Y, and Z!" But I need hints. I need the clues that will help me put it together. And that's what I find lacking in comics.

Perhaps this is a language I don't speak? Acting is a language most people speak because most people learn to interpret other people's actions/expressions/tone, etc. early in life (not everyone: people in various places along the autism spectrum sometimes struggle with this exactly). It's easy to apply it to watching film.

With books--again, I'm immersed in someone else's mind. I live in their mind.

Those aren't languages I need to be taught. They're already there. With comics, I feel like I'm constantly swimming upstream, missing out on things, not connecting. Perhaps it's a deficiency of my own? But it's very real.
I need the clues that will help me put it together. And that's what I find lacking in comics.


I would say that that's what you find lacking in the Buffy comics, specifically, and I have similar concerns. Going back to something you said earlier - it's interesting to me that you can 'hear' Buffy's voice in your head for her, but you can't assign a voice to a character you don't already know when presumably this is not an issue you have with novels. Maybe there's some dissonance caused by the some known/some unknown going on. On another note, it's probably more of an uphill battle for any property/story jumping from one medium to another. Especially when that medium jump also brings about a change in tone or dynamics of the world. S8 is FAR more anything goes than past seasons and I think that's a hindrance in at least one way - it joesn't jibe with what we know of the 'universe'.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2010-03-30 20:16 ]
Eh. I often found it lacking in other comics I've read (even Watchmen--there were several times where I thought, "Why? What am I missing here?" And I'm usually incredibly detail-oriented when it comes to literature--again, maybe I don't speak the language?).

But I suspect you could be right that this is more of a problem with S8 specifically.

[eta] Yeah, I don't have a problem with the novel hearing someone's voice in my head. Perhaps because (usually) the writer includes hints that tell me how it's said: "he said impatiently" "she yelled furiously" etc. There are more clues. Or perhaps not more--just different ones? There's more room for subtlety, I think, in something like a novel.

And again--I think you're right about the medium change. It did not work for me.

[ edited by Lirazel on 2010-03-30 20:20 ]
I found that along the way in Watchmen, but by the end it really got filled in for me and I didn't find it across the board with every character. Where motivations were opaque, they were eventually revealed/explained to my satisfaction. Dropping plot and motivation threads is b-a-d regardless of medium and having 30 days or more to dissect a much smaller chunk than we are used to getting with Buffy can lead us to heavy dissection. I plan to re-read when S8 is done and see if (like various seasons), the pacing and motivation hold up better when consumed in shorter succession.

ETA - depending upon the writer/artist combo, I find voice and tone of specific scenes to be either completely obvious or confusing, so you have a point there. With a good sync between those elements, the pictures really can be worth a thousand words.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2010-03-30 20:22 ]
Perhaps that's what my problem is? When I read I'm hyper-aware of the gap between the writer and the artist where other people can easily bridge that gap? I wonder how I'd feel if one person was doing both writing and art? I haven't read anything like that yet. Perhaps it's worth a try. [eta] Of course, that would only work if the creator was equally talented at both writing and the art side of things....

I mean, I think about something like Anya's speech in "The Body." I think about the way the director, writer, and Emma Caulfield crafted that scene and how absolutely moving it is for me. I can think of how a really talented writer could have written that as a scene in a short story, and I can imagine feeling equally moved--crying along with her.

I can't imagine a way in which that could happen in comic form and I would be that moved. I'm sure other people can, but it would never work for me.

[ edited by Lirazel on 2010-03-30 20:34 ]
Acting is a language most people speak because most people learn to interpret other people's actions/expressions/tone, etc. early in life (not everyone: people in various places along the autism spectrum sometimes struggle with this exactly). It's easy to apply it to watching film.

Acting replicates elements of what we have to interpret people doing in real life but even on film it's stylised. Movies and TV are also edited, cut up and stuck back together, in ways that real life never is. It's a grammar that we absorb by watching them. Stage plays have a different grammar and the acting very different style. I think I have exactly the comics problem Lizrael describes with respect to live theatre but I love movies and books and, so far, comics (even though I never read any sequential art before Buffy).

With respect to the multiple motivation for Buffy robbing the bank, it seemed to me that we *were* given information about her motivation in the text. We were shown what she used the money for and many times how she felt about the importance of protecting the Slayers. We were also shown a certain amount of glee in the act and a whole lot of regret after the event once Willow and Simone had forced her to think through the consequences and how they might be more wide-ranging than those for her previous crimes against property. So I don't know. Nothing is spelled out, it's not possible to derive the one true motivational scenario entirely from first principles but that's always been true with BtVS. The debates still rage about why Spike got his soul or exactly what was driving Buffy in the final moments of The Gift. Why should the comics be any different?
Lirazel, have you read 'Preacher'? I think the elements of that combine quite well. Steve Dillon, the artist, is fantastic at making his characters 'act' on the page, and beneath the ultraviolence there are some interesting themes and very engaging characters.
I came across this info about a panel at the next Toronto Comic Con.

http://www.wizardworld.com/paprhupaofto.html


Friday's highlights include “IDW: the Comic's the Thing? (2-3 p.m.),” a look at the similarities between modern comic book stories and Shakespeare;

hayes62: Sure, it's stylized. Sometimes incredibly so (the dialogue in a Tarantino movie? YEAH). Sometimes less so. But the same baseline is there. I understand the parameters, you know?

The debates still rage about why Spike got his soul or exactly what was driving Buffy in the final moments of The Gift. Why should the comics be any different? That is true. And I actually think the creators did a great disservice to fans for not making their intentions with Spike more explicit. They were all about the BIG QUESTION instead of being true to the emotional arc. In that insance, as in Buffy bank robbing, motive really is everything.


Alex_Jamieson, I haven't, and I might be willing to check it out, but I've heard about his ultra-violence. I'm sometimes willing to overlook that when it's in service of a greater goal, but I always have to ask: is the violence against women particularly heinous? Because I've found that to be true in many, many well-regarded comic books, and that is something that I simply cannot handle.

I get so sick of men writing works in which they use rape or (often sexualized) violence against women as a way to be "edgy." (It isn't.)

So I guess I'm asking: does he do that?

[ edited by Lirazel on 2010-03-30 21:33 ]
I feel comfortable in saying, skip Preacher, Lirazel. I don't think Ennis/Dillon are trying to be "edgy," so much as spitting in the face of what is considered good taste and decency. I love it, but from what you say, I don't think you would.

If you care to try to overcome your aversion to comic books, you might give Y: The Last Man a go. It's fairly explicit in terms of plot, character, and motive. And it's also beautifully constructed and drawn.
The debates still rage about why Spike got his soul or exactly what was driving Buffy in the final moments of The Gift. Why should the comics be any different?

Because we saw every moment leading up to both Spike's and Buffy's decisions there. The Spike mislead was clumsy and everything, but we still know what events led to it. Buffy's jump on the tower is lovely because it can mean so many different things, but, again, we've seen every. single. step. We can debate, but there is evidence to debate about. Buffy robbing a bank without real background would be the equivalent of skipping season five entirely and then just being told Buffy jumped off a tower.
SoddingNancyTribe: so much as spitting in the face of what is considered good taste and decency. Wow. Just for its own sake? Then I'll definitely pass it on by. Thanks for that.

I actually have been told I would enjoy Y: The Last Man. Thanks for the rec!

WilliamTheB, I've grown increasingly fond of you of late. But I think you knew that. :D Thanks for saying far better than I could!
Sure, it's stylized. Sometimes incredibly so (the dialogue in a Tarantino movie? YEAH). Sometimes less so. But the same baseline is there. I understand the parameters, you know?
But surely the parameters of how we interpret drawings are similar to those for moving pictures. Comic art is stylised to a greater or lesser degree depending on the comic and the artist but it's still just art. And even babies seem to be hard wired to respond to something as stylised as two dots as if they were eyes. So is the problem with how to integrate text and visuals? Is it similarly difficult to watch foreign language movies with subtitles? Or silent movies?

I actually think the creators did a great disservice to fans for not making their intentions with Spike more explicit.
I don't think it's the creator's job to settle fan disputes. I'm not sure what you mean by saying that by revealing Spike's true motives gradually rather than spelling it all out from the beginning was untrue to the emotional arc. The arc was still there, I didn't think there was anything Spike did or said that wasn't (with hindsight) in character. I guess it's one of those things where you just can't please everyone.
Back atcha Lirazel. :) I agree with your comments above about S8 (though I think I like it anyway). And I also recommend Y - The Last Man. I actually cried at one of the panels, which never happens (very little makes me cry).

And honestly, Joss' Astonishing X-Men run (and Fray) is very good, in spite of some plotty bumps--better than season eight, but, more importantly (for this discussion), much more focussed on characters' daily interactions, motivations, etc., the things that you're missing with S8. I really do think that season eight just got away from him a bit, when he decided he wanted it to be super-epic and so forth.
hayes62 Not really the same. The eyes look like a face. But what is that face feeling? The baby doesn't know.

Is it similarly difficult to watch foreign language movies with subtitles? Or silent movies?
Subtitles, no. Dubbing? Yeah, I stumble. I hate dubbing. The disconnect drives me insane.

However, I think I've had an epiphany! It's the lack of movement. One frozen image doesn't contain all of the context that moving film does, and context is what I want.

I can't tell you how many pictures I've taken where the look on my face prior to and immediately after the moment that's captured on film is completely different than the moment that is captured. I was just glaring at my sister seconds before, but I smiled when they said cheese! And then went back to glare. That moment of transformation from glare to smile is important.

Watching someone's smile spread across their face is such a rewarding thing: watching it grow, their eyes crinkle, the gleam shining in the eyes. That's not something that can be captured in a still image--although sometimes a very great artist can almost hint at it. A still image is all about the moment.

And a still image, to me, very rarely gives me narrative. Take, say, Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring," for a famous example. (As an aside: What is she feeling? What is her expession? I imagine we could debate all day and most of us would disagree. It's so much more ambiguous. And that's one of the joys of visual arts--but not necessarily of narrative.) I'm not supposed to glean narrative from it. It's supposed to make me connect with that moment. And I can do that. In that moment, I can feel something, and the random emotion that I settle on as what Vermeer was trying to convey doesn't matter, because that moment is about me connecting with the painting.

I'm not saying that everyone should react to comics in the same way I do. But this is how I react, and it's why I don't like the medium.

I don't think it's the creator's job to settle fan disputes. Well, no, but there wouldn't be a fan dispute (well, not nearly as big of one) if they'd been more clear. I think it is clear from interviews I've read with Joss that his intention was for people to know that Spike chose his soul. Of course, authorial intent doesn't matter. But if that's your intention, and there's this much room for debate, I think you've failed in what you set out to do. What's wrong with saying that?

Sorry, I misphrased: it obscured the emotional arc. Joss does this a lot in my opinion: he wants the big emotional moment, so he doesn't care about what leads up to it. Take Tara going back to Willow in SR. There are some scary, scary ramifications of that action, but that isn't something they wanted to explore; he only did it so that the shock of Tara's death would be bigger. He also did something similar in the second-to-last episode of Dollhouse with the big reveal of The Man Behind the Curtain. And it did not work for me. At all.

WilliamTheB - Thanks! And I've considered checking out both Y:tLM and Fray, and your comments have encouraged me to do so.

[ edited by Lirazel on 2010-03-30 22:12 ]
I don't want to get too far off the topic of Buffy, but to chime in with some more Preacher comments....

While some of Ennis' work has felt a little bit gratuitous, I didn't really find this with Preacher. The violence is more cartoony, I would say, stylised and over the top. There are some things that may be considered 'bad taste' by some, but I think it would be unfair to characterize this as being the most dominant element of the series. I see it as a story with a strong ethical and moral compass, actually.

As regards violence to women, without going into spoiler territory, from memory I don't recall anything in particular along the lines of what Lizrael mentions. Certainly nothing fetishized.

Tulip, the main female character is one of the best written women in comics in my opinion, and while she goes to a dark place and is taken advantage of (again, difficult to talk about without spoilers!) it's not portrayed in a exploitative way. Nothing is shown on panel for instance, and it is not violent....just a series bad choices at a bad time. Importantly, she is the acting subject within the story....she makes the bad choices and ultimately it is she who lifts herself out of the situation.

Simon, please let me know if I'm forgetting something...has been a while since I read it!

I would also like to add the chorus of Y the Last Man and Strangers in Paradise recommendations. Also, Daniel Clowes is great.

ETA Ooh, ooh...and Runaways was the fastest I've fallen in love with a set of characters ever. Read it from the beginning in trade, mind....

ETA an apology to SoddingNancyTribe for misdirecting my question!

[ edited by Alex_Jamieson on 2010-03-30 22:33 ]

[ edited by Alex_Jamieson on 2010-03-31 00:07 ]
Pretty sure that certain things are left ambiguous intentionally.
Fan disputes indicate that fans are invested enough in something to come up with their own interpretations. I don't see it as a disservice to fans, or a shortcoming of a writer, but rather an offer to fans to help shape their version of a "truth".
Not really the same. The eyes look like a face. But what is that face feeling? The baby doesn't know.
But add an upturned or downturned line beneath the two dots and the toddler if not the baby will know. I once read a book called "In the Blink of an Eye" by the film editor Walter Murch in which he described part of his working process as scanning through the footage to identify the single frame that best defined a particular scene or sequence. The thing is that, although it may sound unlikely, if you try you usually can find just such a frame. A single still image that illustrates the point being conveyed by the whole sequence. A good comics artist (I think) may have the same kind of ability as that Murch describes, that of being able to mentally select the key images. More than that the images which *in sequence* tell the story he wants to tell.

Comics are often described as sequential art and the sequential part is important. "Girl with a Pearl Earing" isn't supposed to tell a single story. It's art but not sequential art. It has no context but itself, while each panel in a comic relates to all the others on the page or the book as a whole. I don't know. I'm a very visual thinker. Comics and movies (even with the sound off) make intuitive sense. Radio plays and epic poetry, which are intended to be spoken and not seen, not so much.

I've read with Joss that his intention was for people to know that Spike chose his soul. Of course, authorial intent doesn't matter. But if that's your intention, and there's this much room for debate, I think you've failed in what you set out to do. What's wrong with saying that?
There's nothing wrong with saying that it didn't work for you. It did for me - I felt I understood the story before I read the interviews and when I did they matched up pretty well. I think the problem with that particular plot point is that fans were so invested in the interpretation being one thing or the other that they needed to have the text prove one or other thing beyond reasonable doubt. Which is a good criterion of goodness in law but not ( I think) in literature.
wexina Fan disputes indicate that fans are invested enough in something to come up with their own interpretations. I don't see it as a disservice to fans, or a shortcoming of a writer, but rather an offer to fans to help shape their version of a "truth". Sure. But bad--or lazy--writing also exists. And we can debate which particular instances cross that line. For me, the reveal in DH absolutely crossed that line. It was flat-out bad writing. Buffy's death, on the other hand, was meant to be ambiguous--and as WilliamTheB said, that's the beauty of it. I think Spike's soul-quest falls somewhere in the middle. But Joss in interviews seems to go, "Whoops. We meant to make that clear." And that's my point--it wasn't.

And heck: I'm the world's biggest Faulkner fan. He's all about thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird, forming your own perspective from accumulating multiple ones. But he also gives you clues. Ambiguity isn't always depth. Sometimes it's just muddy waters.

hayes62:

Why is it wrong for me to say that I, personally, experience still images entirely differently than I do moving ones? And that still images--even in succession--don't convey narrative the way I want them to? They've also proven that if the first and last letters of words are in the correct place, you can jumble up the words in the middle--and people can still figure out what the words mean. It's cool! As a puzzle. But I wouldn't want to read a novel that way.

To me: watching someone's shoulder's slump is an entirely different experience that seeing a picture in which they're already slumped. With a before-and-after picture, I can see the difference, and I can obviously figure out what happened in between. But I don't have the same emotional reaction that I do when I watch it happen.

- I felt I understood the story before I read the interviews and when I did they matched up pretty well. Me, too. But others didn't. I watched the show without fandom reaction to that point, and I arrived at the point Joss wanted me to. But another friend of mine--also watching within a vacuum fandom-wise, etc. and who, let it be said, also didn't care about Spike either way (shocking, I know!)--said, "Well, he clearly just wanted his chip out." If we can arrive at two such completely different places when Joss intended us to arrive at the same place...well, isn't it possible that he didn't accomplish what he set out to?
Lirazel: I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply you were wrong. I was trying to figure out why I wasn't. That's all. As for Joss' intentions I don't know quite how far his plans for universal domination reaches. Maybe he does require all viewers in all possible worlds to grasp his intended meaning immediately without question or doubt. Maybe he's prepared to settle for one person that he isn't personally related to vaguely getting it. Who knows?
hayes62: It's okay. I just felt like you were trying to say that all people should be able to do it as you say. And--I don't. That's all.

Maybe he does require all viewers in all possible worlds to grasp his intended meaning immediately without question or doubt. Maybe he's prepared to settle for one person that he isn't personally related to vaguely getting it. Who knows?

I'm nearly certain you didn't mean it this way, but that came across as extremely patronizing to me. I am mature enough to realize that sometimes we don't communicate exactly what we mean to.

How you view what Spike did in "Grave" is absolutely vital to how you'll then view his character: is this a great moment of repentance, a beautiful redemption? Or is it an evil guy trying to figure out a way to completely destroy a person he once claimed to love? The difference between the two is absolutely vital. Is this a character I can take back into my heart, or is it someone I should reject? I don't see why I'm being immature to suggest that this is a vital distinction. I'm not saying that Joss is sitting at home worrying about it--I'm certain he's not. But if someone comes away with a completely different conclusion than what I intended when I wrote a story--and that has happened--I'm not going to argue with them: I'm going to think, "What could I have done as a writer to make it more clear?" And I think there are things Joss could have done to make it more clear.

[eta] I also realize you can't control text and a reader's reaction to it. If you try, you turn into Samuel Richardson writing a million words of Clarissa. But I do think that it's possible to be clear or unclear about things. I've helped students rewrite papers when what they said originally didn't convey their point. When you and I misunderstand each other, we clarify (as we've done already and probably will do again). And that's a good thing.

I've already said that I think there's a time and place for ambiguity! Buffy's death scene: absolutely! The question of whether she's doing it because she loves Dawn or whether she's doing it because she wants to rest--or, more likely, both--gives that scene its poignancy. I'm mature enough to appreciate that.

If someone comes up and slaps you in the face, it makes a difference whether they did it because A) they're a big jerk or B) they thought you were someone else--someone who deserved to be slapped. Sure, the pain's still the same, but the motive matters, and it determines how I'm going to judge that person.

If Joss doesn't make it clear why Twilight is behaving the way he is, then I think we'll have a right to complain, because there's a big difference between "he's being controlled by this glowy thing" and "he decided to kill all these people of his own free will." The difference matters in how I will view that character afterwards. I don't see why it's not reasonable for me to say, "Motive matters."

[ edited by Lirazel on 2010-03-30 23:42 ]
Personally I'm happy to leave chacun a son gout, and let preferences be preferences. Much as Lirazel resists universal claims, I do too, specifically, the claim that the comic medium *as a whole*--the enormous variety of comic books/graphic novels out there notwithstanding--is incapable of rendering emotion or subtlety. I may be a bit over-sensitive, ;-), but such arguments often contain more than a hint of "comic books are for kids". Waaaaaah.

Alex_Jamieson, (I think you were addressing me, rather than Simon), didn't mean to suggest that Preacher is nothing more than indecency and bad taste, though it certainly contains them in spades. It *is* an ethical book, agreed. And, to my mind, bad taste is, or should be, a political statement in itself. I also wholeheartedly agree that Tulip is an excellent, strong, kick-ass protagonist. But the series contains many many major or incidental scenes of *extreme* violence, often of a sexual nature, directed against both men and women. Judging by how Lirazel has been describing her take on comic-books in general, I concluded the style of Preacher probably wouldn't work for her . . .

As for BS8 - I don't think it's up there in the ranks of comic book immortals, not yet. But I'm waiting to get to the end of the season before I make too many judgments. BTW, and for what it's worth, I absolutely was one of those viewers who thought Spike *initially* took off to get his chip removed, rather than regain his soul, which I've always believed was an intentional feint by the writers, though it was clear, to me at least, when he got to the place of testing that the soul was his true objective. I thought the apparent ambiguity in motive worked really well.
SoddingNancyTribe: Apparently I'm capable of being as ridiculously unclear as I'm accusing Joss of being. I'm saying that for me it doesn't portray subtlety and emotion. Not in a way I can connect to. Again, I don't speak the language.

Comics can be art. I'd never argue with that. But they aren't a kind of art that I connect to because they don't communicate in a way that I want narrative to behave. Just like I don't connect to ancient epics. Sure, I can see why The Illiad has lasted this long. But I don't connect with it.

[ edited by Lirazel on 2010-03-30 23:55 ]
No, I get it - sorry, that was a general statement, provoked by upthread statements more than by anything you wrote. I don't really get ballet. Or architecture. Or ballet about architecture. Many things I don't get.

Ancient epics, however, now those I actually do like. :-)
Okay, good. I was afraid I was saying something I didn't intend to. Clearly, I value clarity.

I love architecture!

[eta] though it was clear, to me at least, when he got to the place of testing that the soul was his true objective.

This is really cool. Because the difference between whether he originally went for this purpose and then by the time he got tested, it was about the soul, or whether he got tricked into a soul he never wanted, is a pivotal one. The former is an example of good ambiguity. The latter, to me, is too much ambiguity. Does that make sense at all?

[ edited by Lirazel on 2010-03-31 00:04 ]
Ancient epics are phenomenal!!! Sorry...I'm a greek & roman graduate...
On topic...eh...can't wait to see how many comments the ACTUAL issue gets...cause the preview has led to all manner of off shoots...
It's strange....I have a multitude of problems with season 8, and many of them are to do with the transfer from one medium to another, despite being a big comics reader.

However, I found the 'The Chain' to be one of the most affecting comics I have ever read. Taking physical reaction as a measurement, it was THE most affecting....

I cried. On the bus. At rush hour. It was not sexy. :)

And it continues to have impact on me with every re-read.
I'm with the 'comics can be art'-crowd and would like to add my voice to the chorus of people recommending 'Y: The Last Man' to Lirazel. If you don't connect to those characters then, yes, I doubt the comics medium will ever work for you :). If you do end up falling in love with Y, like many of us have, then there's a lot to be said about giving other comics by the same writer a chance, starting with the early 'Runaways' trades (which lead nicely into a storyarc by Joss). The group of characters there, together with those in 'Y', are probably my favorite comic book characters ever. I'd also like to take this opportunity to recommend 'Midnight Nation' by J. Micheal Strazynski, as a follow-up read, which 'Y' reminded me of, initially.

Having said all that, there's certainly many more stuff to love in comics-land. The aforementioned 'Preacher' is excellent, but probably not for you, like SNT says. One of the crowning achievements in comics, pretty much ever, is Neil Gaiman's 'Sandman' - I'd like to challenge everyone who thinks comics can't be literature to read it and rethink their positions :). But I'd say that many of those comics are much harder to get into. The art is more unique and stylized, for instance, making it harder to "connect" to the characters (or at least: this was true for me initially).

I grew up on superhero comics and one could assume I'd 'gotten' the language by then, but it took the same kind of step I took to enjoying slower arthouse movies, after watching mostly Hollywood productions when growing up, or getting used to the slower paced HBO tv series, after falling in love with many faster-paced network shows, to go from superhero comics, to stuff like 'Sandman'.

This is not to say that some of these are better than the others (don't get me started on the assumption that 'arthouse' movies are automatically better than Hollywood productions, or that everything HBO produces automatically outscores other, more action filled/faster paced productions (like Buffy, for instance ;)), etcetera), but they're certainly slightly different in style and 'language', even though they're products in the same medium.

Given that comparison I'd say - completely unhindered by anything resembling objective facts ;) - that a comic like 'Y : The Last Man' is more like a great network show, or a very good Hollywood movie, while something like 'Sandman' is akin to an independent arthouse movie (though fast-paced and filled with violence). And reading 'Watchmen' would be comparable to watching a great Hollywood movie from the 70's/80's: it has nearly the same 'language' as new Hollywood productions, but it's also noticeably different (and therefor probably harder to get into for a modern audience).

Ehm. What were we talking about again? ;)

(ETR typos)

[ edited by GVH on 2010-03-31 01:32 ]
I love our commenters :). Well said, everyone!
Aaand scene!
Great discussion on the strengths and weakness of the comic book format. As one of the “new readers” brought into the comic book format, reading these different perspectives is very helpful.

Coming from the novel and poetry traditions, making the transition to the Buffyverse in the comic book format is not working for me. I’ve been trying to think of why this is so, and the simple statement of “being invested” in the characters is probably the best description of why the comic book season has failed for me.

“The Chain” as part of the discussion helps to clarify why most of the season has not connected with me. With “The Chain” the story is focused, it is very strong emotionally and demands that the reader respond to that young slayer, as a victim, both from her duty and as a sacrifice. It all comes together, I did not have to wait through months of issues to have all the information gather and allow me to experience the emotional and intellectual gratification from the story. There was no need to keep track of the story line and plots through many issues. It’s all this separation of information and time that, for someone like myself, makes the Buffy comic book season a very unsatisfactory experience. I’ve got all these books, but many of the important elements of the story are spread out all over the different issues and all those months and months.

For the non comic book reader, I suspect that more than anything, it is this “time element” and the feeling that the story is all in bits and pieces that have often to be checked against all the previous issues.

Another major problem that I have with being “invested” in the characters and what happens in their lives is that the text is so minimal compared to circumstances of what is happening in their lives. That is not true for all the story-lines, but it is true for many. That is certainly not true for all the major story arc, but it is true for some. Take the arc with the Buffy-Xander love relationship. The arc makes a strong emotional connection only because we have all the history from the series to supply the vital background information. The reader has to supply all the drama, the emotional context, all the poetry and tragedy that the characters have lived through. What is presented in the text for the climax issue is so small when compared with the powerful background and history of these characters. This entire arc only connected with me because I already knew their history.

I’ve not read comics books but I love a great deal of the Cover Artwork and the art of many I have looked at. The Jo Chen covers more than make up for all money I have spent on this Buffy season. From the discussion and recommendations, I know that there are many excellent comic books with beautiful art and wonderful scripts. what I am missing in this comic book is all the great use of language from the TV series and the power and art of the writing that I get from novels.

I make a very bad comic book reader, I’m still puzzled over the whole Xander-Dracula thing.
Sodding Nancy Tribe: I don't really get ballet.
You have no soul.

Lirazel:How you view what Spike did in "Grave" is absolutely vital to how you'll then view his character: is this a great moment of repentance, a beautiful redemption? Or is it an evil guy trying to figure out a way to completely destroy a person he once claimed to love?
OK maybe this is where we're getting unstuck because my answer is neither of the above. After Grave I was 50:50 on whether Spike intended to get his soul back or Lurky had interpreted his request over literally. The church scene at the end of Beneath You convinced me that the former was the case but I never saw it as his redemption. As I saw it (and this is just my personal interpretation) he went for the soul for a whole complex of reasons, to be who he was (William for all his weaknesses would never have attacked Buffy), to be one thing or the other man or monster (and he chose man), to show her what he was capable of and to prove it to himself. He was angry and confused and desperate enough to throw himself off a metaphorical cliff and hope that it would make him a better man but as he said himself he didn't know how. He didn't know what he was letting himself in for. He couldn't. So for me any redemption comes from what he did once he had the soul not from getting it alone. I do like that in Joss's stories grand gestures rarely solve everything. That what matters is what comes afterwards. But stories which focus on the aftermath will, perhaps inevitably, lack the clarity of those which end in the big moment.
hayse62: I guess I misphrased again. I totally agree that his motivations were complicated: he'd reached the end of his rope, where he couldn't be a monster or a man, and he needed to be one thing or another, and he was desperate enough to go after this huge metaphysical change. And you're right: he couldn't know what he was getting himself into, and it was the aftermath that made the decision important. But that one decision sets the stage for his redemption and enables it to happen. Like in a Flannery O'Connor short story: it's the moment of truth, of choice, where you can go one way or another, but you have to choose your road.

I agree with all that. I think all of those jumbled emotions create a beautiful kind of ambiguity that I wholeheartedly embrace.

[eta] Flannery O'Connor wrote: "There is a moment in every great story in which the presence of grace can be felt as it waits to be accepted or rejected, even though the reader may not recognize this moment." A character "recognizes his need for repentance and either accepts or ignores the opportunity.”

This is absolutely central to the way I view Spike's story, and especially this scene, to the way I think his arc is constructed (honestly, O'Connor would have loved Spike: she thought grace was a very violent thing, something acted on a character; I think she would have loved Spike's end in "Chosen"--I sort of hate the fact that he came back in Angel because his arc was perfectly, perfectly completed when he died--which is yet another such moment of grace. Plus, he's so grotesque, in the best way possible; she would have just eaten that up). [end edit]

But I have had conversations with people--multiple people--who absolutely think that Spike wanted to kill everyone Buffy knew and so he wanted to get the chip out, that he got tricked into his soul that he never wanted, and that everything he did from there on out was still an attempt to (and I quote) "get back into Buffy's pants." These people--multiple people--think that even in "Chosen" his motives weren't pure or selfless at all, that he was still trying to take advantage of Buffy (although I don't know how they can arrive at that conclusion). Perhaps they just hate Spike so much that they'd be unwilling to believe any good of him (those people are out there), but I've read meta in which they line up evidence that Spike only wanted the chip out when he went to Africa.

They use lines like, "The soul? The changes? I did that for you" and "God help me Buffy, it's still all about you" as supporting this theory, and it would be awfully nice if I didn't keep having to bang my head against a wall saying, "No, he chose to become a good man. And he was."

I also overidentify with Spike to a nearly unhealthy degree (I think this is like the fourth time in a month that I've said the words: "I am Spike"), so it matters to me. Just like why Buffy would rob a bank and how she feels about it afterwards matters a whole lot to me, since she's my favorite TV character ever.

[ edited by Lirazel on 2010-03-31 14:19 ]
@Lirazel: I don't see how the Spike issue is an example of "bad ambiguity" or "too much ambiguity". Simply because it's supposed to be that way. On complex issues such as these, it always amazes me how people can reach totally different conclusions based on the same source. I've never read the metas you speak of, and although they don't share my opinions on Spike, I can respect them if they're well-sourced, eloquently argued, and compellingly written.
The doubt they have in Spike mirrors what was going on in the show. The only character who truly trusted Spike was Buffy. Everyone else was either on the fence, or way in the other yard.
To me, that's merely a case of art imitating life, and the response to said art is life imitating art that's imitating life. Even the most well-intentioned decisions can be called into question. It's called cynicism. And you're probably right; perhaps the people who still don't believe in Spike's good intentions do hate Spike.
But that's not the fault of the author(s). It was their intention that Spike be redeemed, but it's not their job to sit the audience down and say: "Okay, so this is how it's supposed to be..."
Perhaps your dissatisfaction with the ambiguity surrounding this issue is also a reflection of your overidentification with Spike as you said.
The doubt they have in Spike mirrors what was going on in the show. The only character who truly trusted Spike was Buffy. Everyone else was either on the fence, or way in the other yard.


Well, yes. Because all the other characters were missing vital information that the viewers had. Or should have had. That I thought they had until I started interacting with this fandom, because it never even occured to me to be dissatisfied with this until I started reading other people's thoughts.

My entire point is that from what he's said in interviews Joss seems to have wanted it to be clear. If it is not clear, then that means the writing didn't do what he intended for it to do. It doesn't mean it's a bad story, it just means he didn't get this particuarly right. If one or two people misinterpreted something, then that's just the readers. If a whole group of people does, then maybe there's something in the text that is making them feel a different way.

But fine. Apparently I'm completely wrong in saying I think the writing could have been more clear there and that it possibly distracts from Spike's arc. I also think there's a ton of sloppy writing plot-wise in S7, that there's a ton of sloppy writing in Dollhouse, that there's sloppy writing on Glee and in S4 of Battlestar Galactica and in practically ever other show I can think of. I could be wrong though. I guess I am.

[ edited by Lirazel on 2010-03-31 15:33 ]
Responding to SoddingNancyTribe way upthread...boy, this thread has taken off.

I think the best comics have a mix of dialogue and silence, yes, but some of the recognized "classics," books that you might grant will still be read in a few years, have heaps of dialogue. It surely depends on how the creator chooses to display that dialogue. Look at the amount, and placement, of the dialogue in The Dark Knight Returns, for example. Or how Alan Moore uses a mixture of balloons, dialogue without balloons, and pure text, in Watchmen. Comics can handle dialogue brilliantly.


Sure, I never said they couldn't. When I said comics aren't great at stuff that's "dialogue-intensive", I meant quantity of dialogue, not quality. Garth Ennis's dialogue in Preacher (an example being much bandied about) zips and zings and drips with blood and echoes with thunder. But it is a simple fact of the medium that words must share space with drawings and that space is at a premium--an American comic book averages 22 pages of story. Moore and Miller had to choose their words carefully, for concision and maximum impact and most especially so that they didn't crowd the drawings.

Completely disagree (assuming I understand what you mean by "everyday drama."). Ever read Dan Clowes's stuff? Or Phoebe Gloeckner's? Maus (where as much of the drama is in the contemporary confrontation between artist and father, as in the father's narrative)? Blankets? Persepolis? I could go on. And on.


Here's a question: how many people have read those versus the number of people who have seen, just to pick one random example, The Usual Suspects? Drama is something that American audiences, at least (I'm not talking about manga or European graphic albums by the way, strictly the American comics industry) prefers to get from books and movies and television. And again, I didn't say comics couldn't do drama--I said that they need a fiendishly talented artist to do it well. I would count some of the creators you list above in the fiendishly talented category. And it's interesting that all of your examples (the ones I'm familiar with--no idea who Gloeckner is) are writer/artists: the words aren't fighting for space with the drawings partly because the writer and artist are the same person. To clarify my statement abut drama in comics: obviously it isn't impossible. But comics are a medium in which two-dimensional drawings that don't move have to keep the reader engaged. That's difficult--not impossible, but difficult--in a dramatic scene that a television or movie director might stage as two talking heads without losing any of the intensity of the moment because the viewer is invested in human beings acting, but if a comics artist drew it that way, it would, nine times out of ten, just lie there. Buffy season 8 is a perfect example. If it was structured like an episode of the show we would have conversations that lasted for eight pages with panel after panel of talking heads. Can't be done that way in comics and Joss knows it.

More fundamentally, I disagree that "comics," per se, "were never intended as art." Comics were not invented in the 20th century, unless you're deliberately choosing the narrowest possible historical understanding.


I'm choosing the beginning of the American comic book industry, which is all I'm referring to in my comments, since Buffy Season 8 is part of that tradition. Like I said earlier, manga and European stuff are a different kettle of fish.

Italian masters in the Renaissance painted frescoes that can be seen as the ancestors of modern comic-books. Not daily comic strips, perhaps, but "comics" meaning "a sequence of pictures, plus dialogue." Which is what comics are.


Oh, come on. That's like saying medieval illuminated manuscripts are the antecedents of the modern novel. Sure, they are, in the barest, most tenuous way, because they're words written down. But they've got nothing much to do with John Grisham or Dean Koontz (lucky for the monks.) The modern American comic book can't just reach back into history and claim a noble birthright as if it's some lost heir to an ancient kingdom. It started with quick and dirty comic strip reprints slapped together to make a quick buck, branched off into superheroes, westerns , funny animals, etc.--and all of it was designed for kids. I'm not saying the medium doesn't have the potential to produce great work for adults, and in fact it has. I'm just saying it has certain structural limitations that reduce it to a niche medium in this country. Some of those limitations can be alleviated--for example, publishers could eliminate the monthly periodical format and produce graphic albums instead. (The trade paperbacks which reprint 4-6 issues at a time are an inelegant solution because the monthly comics they reprint are still structured as periodicals.)

Most comic writers and artists don't go into it thinking they are going to create a great work of art; most of them are doing, essentially, factory work[.]


Indeed. Like 90% of TV, movies, books, and, well, all other art forms.


Really vehemently disagree here. My definition of factory work wasn't based on quality but intent. American comics are almost exclusively not creator-owned (going by sales; Marvel and DC have the lion's share of the market in this country.) That's factory work; Spider-Man always has to have another adventure. Nearly all novelists own their own stuff. The same with fine art. It might be Warholian dreck but it isn't factory work.

I find it easy to envisage, and some personal experience bears this out, people reading, say, Watchmen, and realizing that the movie didn't begin to come close to its style and depth.


Me, for example. Watchmen is the quintessential American superhero comic, the apotheosis of all those guys in the capes, and I don't think it translates to other mediums. And Ozymandias should not look like Dana Carvey.

Or any of the other adaptations of Moore's work. (And, relatedly, I don't think Neil Gaiman has come close to the transcendence of Sandman in any of his books, a few passages in American Gods and one or two others excepted.) So it seems it's a matter of lack of familiarity, rather than any intrinsic weakness in the medium.


Stephen King has, approximately, eleventy-billion readers, and his Dark Tower series was recently continued in a comic book. The sales were maybe 5% --probably far less-- of his norm. And the comic was well-publicized: CNN, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal. He didn't script it but he oversaw and co-plotted and did interviews promoting it and officially acknowledged it as part of the Dark Tower canon. I'm willing to concede that part of the reason people don't read comics is that availability is spotty, but it's certainly not the only reason. People know comics are out there and most people choose not to bother.

It's interesting to me that many of your arguments regarding the alleged inherent "inferiority" of comics could apply equally well to pop culture grosso modo. Say, the works of Joss Whedon.


I have never heard the term "grosso modo" before. I've looked it up and it apparently means "roughness", but I'm afraid I still don't take your point. My larger point was referring to the mechanics of artistic mediums, not necessarily the quality of their output. The works of Joss Whedon are primarily television pieces, and I think television may just be the strongest medium for telling the kinds of stories Joss wants to tell.

Bits and pieces from the thread:

Lirazel, Preacher is wonderful and Garth Ennis (writer) and Steve Dillon (artist) are the most potent one-two punch the modern American comic book has given us. Dillon's characters are expressive: his characters "act". And this isn't just haphazard praise. Open any issue of Preacher and you'll see characters emoting without need for dialogue. Ennis, for his part, might just be the most structurally sound writer in all of comics; love him or hate him, he seems incapable of inferior work. Plotting is tight, character arcs are always paid off, and he hews to his themes. However, he does have a puerile streak and a Tarantino-esque love for occasional lurid, violent spectacle. He's like a shot of whisky; if you're just trying alcohol for the first time, stick with beer. I like Ennis's violence though because it strikes me as more honest than the "I punch you, you punch me, no one really gets hurt" school of violence (which was prevalent in Buffy. Kick kick kick, punch punch punch, isn't it exciting, vamps turn to dust when they die, there are no conseqences to violence and Sarah Michelle Gellar gets hit in the face twenty times but still looks pretty.) And Tulip O'Hare is a female comic book protagonist for the ages. Also--has anyone else who reads Preacher noticed that Cassidy seems to be a kind of proto-Spike? Irish instead of British, sure, but he has the exact same attitude.

And for everyone singing the praises of Brian K. Vaughn, allow me to sing backup: he's marvelous. Both Y and Runaways have been proud occupants of my shelf, and Y is a great first choice for people new to comics. (Though I could quibble with Y's ending.)

[ edited by Hellmouthguy on 2010-03-31 15:31 ]
@Lirazel: Why the huff? I said "I don't see how the Spike issue is an example of "bad ambiguity" or "too much ambiguity". Never said that you were wrong. I was presenting my opinion on the situation, just as you had. You're free to disagree with said opinion.
I have to say, I love Ennis and Dillon, but I do feel like Garth keeps going back to the same well in a lot of his work. There are Ennis-isms that recur with a startling enough frequency that it feels very "been there, done that" nowadays (and I say this as someone who really enjoys his work). Brian K. Vaughn is amazing and well worth checking out for those who haven't (let's not forget Ex Machina and Pride of Baghdad when talking BKV).
Okay I've really been enjoying reading this discussion. It's been real shiny.

Except:
I like Ennis's violence though because it strikes me as more honest than the "I punch you, you punch me, no one really gets hurt" school of violence (which was prevalent in Buffy. Kick kick kick, punch punch punch, isn't it exciting, vamps turn to dust when they die, there are no conseqences to violence and Sarah Michelle Gellar gets hit in the face twenty times but still looks pretty.)

Now Hellmouthguy, I realise you're "Mr. I-like-to-point-out-the-faults Guy" and thats all cool. Each to their own opinion and all that. But this statement just struck me as really odd. It's like your saying that one of the fundamental aspects of the show--that Buffy is a superhero with superpowers--is not as good as a completely different sort of story because she doesn't bruise easily. I won't get into your there are no consequences to violence pitch, just to say that I disagree with it.

The fact is she is not meant to bruise easily. (Not to mention how unlikely a network station would allow their star, let alone a teen girl, to be seen banged up each week).

Your comments usually are based on aspects of Buffy's plot/execution that you did not like, but this is like you disagree with the concept of the show. Which for a fan seems weird.

I'm trying not to sound attacking. Just trying to see where you're coming from.
Because this happens whenever I bring up anything even slightly critical of Joss. I do my fair share of squeeing, but I also like to view his work with a critical eye. But whenever I bring up any critique, it's always got to be the viewer's (or studio's) fault, never something that he might possibly have screwed up on.

Dollhouse doesn't do well? It's because the viewers just want stupid shows or because FOX screwed them over. (Did anyone ever consider it might be both? Not so much.)

Race!fail in his shows? Again: studio's faul or viewers just don't want to watch people of color--or the viewers are just being too sensitive and should get over it.

Gender!fail (and yes, there's quite a bit of it, especially on Angel)? He calls himself a feminist! That means everything he does is beyond critique!

People don't like S6? (I love it, but never mind.) It's all Marti Noxon's fault!

I'm sorry I took it out on you. I just wish that for once I could say, "I think Joss needs to work on this," and I wouldn't have the argument turned into why it's the viewer's (or the studio's) fault. He's not infallible. And I'm not saying you think he is--but that's the attitude I encounter here. I'm absolutely up for argument about whether some particular flaw is his fault or not--or even whether it's a flaw. But I just feel like the systemic reaction is to deflect, deflect, deflect. And it's wearying. Maybe I should just stick to livejournal.
Lirazel: Not to flog the horse I've been flogging for years and not to hijack the thread, but in larger terms:

My entire point is that from what he's said in interviews Joss seems to have wanted it to be clear. If it is not clear, then that means the writing didn't do what he intended for it to do. It doesn't mean it's a bad story, it just means he didn't get this particuarly right. If one or two people misinterpreted something, then that's just the readers. If a whole group of people does, then maybe there's something in the text that is making them feel a different way.


This can be said about the outcry about Tara's death. Point here, not to raise that point, is that sometimes Joss does not really understand or foresee how viewers take his intentions. Thus, this is really no different.

Wenxina:
On complex issues such as these, it always amazes me how people can reach totally different conclusions based on the same source.

Well, why not? Would not complex issues be far more open to various interpretations? Not to flog my other dead horse, but hey, reader response; we can each read a text and interpret it differently, right? Especially where there is no consensus or canon on which to define the one true answer?

ETA: Lirazel: I also tend to be very critical in my reading, and often come across as negative when that is not my intent.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2010-03-31 16:32 ]
True. I remember reading a very compelling reaction post about how this particular viewer knows that Joss kills off people indiscriminately, she knows that he wasn't targeting Tara because of her sexuality, and she knows it made Willow's arc more interesting...

...but it's still just one more dead lesbian, and after years of seeing the same thing over and over again, it was the final straw, and she couldn't take it just one more time.

Which I don't blame her for at all. I often feel the same way about various tropes that keep popping up that I'm supposed to swallow as though they're created in a vacuum, not within a larger culture.

Is that what you were getting at?
Now Hellmouthguy, I realise you're "Mr. I-like-to-point-out-the-faults Guy" and thats all cool. Each to their own opinion and all that.

How did you know my middle name? have you seen my birth certificate?! :) Yes, I do indeed enjoy pointing out faults. But only because the work is worthy of intense focus. Trust me when I say, if I wasn't a fan--or if I was even a more casual fan--I wouldn't even bother. Being as long-winded as I am is time-intensive!

But this statement just struck me as really odd. It's like your saying that one of the fundamental aspects of the show--that Buffy is a superhero with superpowers--is not as good as a completely different sort of story because she doesn't bruise easily. I won't get into your there are no consequences to violence pitch, just to say that I disagree with it.

To be fair, consequences to violence eventually were dealt with on the show. But violence was often portrayed in such a breezy, casual way. I understand it was part of the structure of the show, I just prefer my violence real. When people have been in a fight, they should look like it, or else the violence can be reduced to a cartoon. Buffy is a person who goes out and kills every night.

The fact is she is not meant to bruise easily. (Not to mention how unlikely a network station would allow their star, let alone a teen girl, to be seen banged up each week).

Yes, I totally agree. I do think, however, that Buffy could have occasionally reflected upon the fact that she was committing these acts, that being the Slayer changed her from a girl who had never thrown a punch to a girl who went out and brutalized creatures every night; instead we got the constant stream of quips. The violence was too often cartoony and lacked any kind of visceral emotional impact (for me) because Buffy was just going through the motions with it, kill a vamp, just another day at the office.

Your comments usually are based on aspects of Buffy's plot/execution that you did not like, but this is like you disagree with the concept of the show. Which for a fan seems weird.

I occasionally have disagreements with the way the concept--girl gets powers, fights monsters--was executed. The moment in the last episode of season one when Willow is shell-shocked at the fact that vampires have actually attacked people inside Sunnydale High itself was a powerful reminder that violence does have consequences, that these kids really are feeling overwhelmed, and I wish we had gotten that kind of stuff far more often. (But that's what writing fanfic is for.)

I'm trying not to sound attacking. Just trying to see where you're coming from.

Nah, Kaan, you don't sound attacking at all. This is just good, friendly debate, which should always have a place.
Dana, you don't know this, and it's a touchy subject which I'm sorry to bring up in a public forum, but your mind was wiped and my personality was transplanted into it. Haven't you ever wondered why you suddenly love PJ Harvey music?

Lirazel, I don't know Joss Whedon personally but from comments of his I've read he doesn't seem at all averse to accepting the blame when his stuff doesn't work for people. Many of his fans, however, really don't like to see his work criticized. I think those people are denying themselves a great experience; Joss's work is a rich vein to mine and there's a lot of substance to be said that isn't shallow fawning adulation. Yes, I criticize Joss's stuff: I think Buffy went badly off the rails toward the end and damaged all its characters profoundly, I think Angel season four was a very bad mis-step, I think the season 8 comics are ridiculous, I think Joss leans on gimmicky contrivances far too often in everything he writes, I think his actors never get nearly enough credit for what they brought to the table and I thought Dollhouse a failure on nearly every level. But I write Buffy fanfic. Not West Wing fanfic, or X-Files fanfic or The Shield fanfic or Veronica Mars fanfic, even though I'm a fan of those shows. I love the characters and world Joss created with the Buffyverse and that's why I'm here. Maybe some folks here don't take too kindly to Joss being criticized but I haven't seen anyone banned for doing it either. As long as Whedonesque is a forum for intelligent debate about Joss's work, I'll be hanging around annoying people.
@Dana5140: I guess you took my comment incorrectly, since your point to me was exactly what I meant, not that there had to be ONE way to interpret it.
Actually, even though I nearly always disagree with the actual substance of your comments, Hellmouthguy (no one will ever steal my late-season!love from me! ;D ), I do appreciate the fact that you have no problems with being blunt about what doesn't work for you--though I will say that I would like to hear what you do really love, since I know there are aspects you do, but I'm just unsure of what they are right now.

That said, you're right: I don't think Joss himself would have a problem at all with me saying at all about him. Frankly, I'd think less of him if he was concerned about it, though I do think there are occassions when he could profit from heeding some fans' opinions.

I also think that when I say something a little more serious--about race, gender, etc.--people feel like I'm making judgments on them for being fans: like if they love something that completely screws up on a race level, then that means they're bad people. But that's not what I'm getting at all, you know? I just think it needs to be examined, and heck: most of the time I'm a fan of that show as well.

And of course no one in charge is trying to shut down discussion (the mods/admins are great). I just get tired, it sucks my fannish joy, and I think other places are healthier for me, you know? Other people enjoy it here a lot more than I do, and that's cool.
I think there's a tendency on message boards for people to respond to comments they disagree with more forcefully or analytically than those they agree with. On this particular message board, for any given aspect of Joss's work there's likely to be a number of members who genuinely like an aspect which is being criticised and therefore feel minded to criticise the criticism. I don't think that necessarily means that any one board member exists who thinks everything Joss has ever done is beyond reproach. It's just that it may appear that way to the original naysayer when their critique attracts a series of comments disagreeing with their disagreement.
As long as Whedonesque is a forum for intelligent debate about Joss's work, I'll be hanging around annoying people.


I'd rather have posters engaged with than annoyed. If I start seeing people getting annoyed then words will be said.
Simon--Just a little joke there on my part. I'm not--appearances to the contrary perhaps--actually trying to provoke people. Just debating various facets of the work.
Oh gosh. Please don't tell me that Angel and Buffy's love is only going to be because TPB put a love spell on them. It'll change the whole dynamic of their epicness as a couple. :(
Yeah CrystalSC, I'm kinda in the denial phase of that too...I'm hoping joss doesn't say that like "oh you two kids have been apart for so long and I know how that affects you...like in "Forever" and of course "IWRY" so I'm gonna suggest the only way you two would ever wanna hook up again would be because of something the higher powers concocted...like when they concocted Jasmine and Conor and destroyed Cordy...yeah that seems swell"...cause that's exactly what evil Joss would sound like...the Joss who has hurt me so many times...(with Jasmine and Conor and Cordy)...let's hope good Joss locked him in the guest room again(cause he's too nice to put him in the attic...Dollhouse style...)
BlueSkies: Trust me, Cordy's detah was faked by TPTB; Joss will eventually reveal this when it suits him. And don't ask Fury; his professional ethics will force him to deny this until the time comes.
DaddyCatALSO, I must assume that's wishful thinking on your part. It's the only reason I can think of for that statement.
How do you know he isn't right, menomegirl?
Wow, this was a great conversation. As a long time comic reader I'm very sorry to have missed it.

A couple of points that I'd like to make, on the off-chance that anyone will come back to this thread and read it, is that comics do NOT have to be 22 pages of words and text. Just as there are comics that can go for pages without a single word, there are also comics that have regularly gone pages without a single piece of art. Titles that serve as examples of this include Strangers In Paradise, Poison Elves, Thieves & Kings and Abadazad. In some ways comics have a tremendous amount of versatility and while the vast majority are locked into a single format and a minimum number of story-telling techniques, that is hardly true of all of them. Especially those series in which the creators actually... attempt to be creative.

I'd agree that Y: The Last Man is a good story for anyone, and moreso for anyone new or newish, to the medium. Strangers In Paradise starts a bit rough, as it was the writer/artist's first foray into comic books, but by the time that it ends there is no doubt that it is art. I think that one of the best pieces of advice to give people new to the medium is to slow down and try to take everything in. Sometimes the words are the most important aspect of the comic, but at other times they are much less vital than the pictures. The best comics CAN make a conversation between characters seem natural and plausible, though only when the writer and/or artist is adept enough to create the scenes that way. Unfortunately, most creators are not. And among those that are, some don't do so because it's not what much of today's audience wants or expects.

As with anything, S8 has it's strengths and it's weaknesses. Overall I enjoy it, and I do think that it does some things very well. But there are other aspects, such as making the dialogue seem natural, that I definitely believe could have done with improvement. Imo, the most natural sounding dialogue was written by Vaughan and Metzler and given their previous experience in the medium, I don't find that surprising.
menomegirl Willowy Blue Skies: It's a deduction. The deaths of Jenny, Joyce, Tara,Jonathan, and Fred were plot drivers. The deaths of Larry, Amanda, Anya, none of whom had future plotlines alive or dead, reminded us that there is always a cost. wesley's was a combination of the two.

Having Cordelia die made absolutely no point whatever that couldn't have been made just as well and in soem ways better by e having her walk away from Angel Investigations to pursue a new path of her own. Simple logic.

Joss is many things I dislike, but sloppy isn't one. Ergo, I think my scenario is what he had in mind all along, altho he might have changed it by now, as he foten does.

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