In Review: Giles #2

This story and its visuals are leaving me a little discouraged.

The covers: A very different twosome for this second issue. The Regular cover by Steve Morris has Giles in a dark location using a flashlight to examine the floor, where he finds some peaches, their seeds, a hot dog, and a broken dog leash. If only he looked behind himself he’d see a tentacled demon making moves to throttle him. This is a good, creepy cover, but spoils the reveal of the book’s big bad. The Variant cover by Arielle Jovellanos with Comicraft has Giles and Roux sitting close to one another while the vampire circles a spot on a map. Giles isn’t really looking at what she’s doing, instead being too smitten with her and thinking, ‘Mission: find brain-draining demon, locate missing teachers and Truman…kiss Roux.’ A cute cover, but the art looks unfinished; it looks like a sketch rather than a finished piece. And Giles’s head is almost double the size of Roux’s head. Overall grades: Regular B and Variant C-

The story: This issue again begins in a future moment, where Giles is confronted in a locker room by five hoodie wearing teens. The former Watcher has a chain around his neck as the gasps at the leader, who is a purple version of himself. The doppelgänger calls him “Mother” and the story moves back to the present with Roux fallowing him down the halls of school. She wants to know what their plan is to help the school. He says they have to stop the brain drain, whose signal he believes is transmuted through the walls. Suddenly there’s an earthquake, which Roux says happens often. Separated, Giles comes across an old friend, with him being older and Giles being younger. This friend reveals that a sinkhole opened up behind the school three months ago. “Something unholy was released. And, Giles, it smelled like peaches.” This friend’s erratic behavior leaves Giles concerned and ready to go to his rendezvous point, which has a funny surprise at the top of Page 6. This issue, co-written by Joss Whedon and Erika Alexander reads better than the previous issue now that the premise and characters have been established. The dialogue between Giles and Roux is outstanding, with the latter always seeming to be coming close to killing the title character. The interrogation on 8 is funny, but doesn’t really help the immediate threat to the students and faculty. I admit to having issues with the overall threat to the student population: no one’s odd behavior has caused issues at home that’s led to the authorities being contacted? An angry parent always gets attention in a school or district. Ditto for the missing teachers. That’s not caused concern? Then again, Sunnydale didn’t have those issues either with its high school. However, reality takes a backseat when Giles ventures into the lion’s den on Page 11. This is when the story gets very entertaining. A cause of trouble is revealed and this individual is fantastic. It’s dialogue is fantastic. The idea behind future threats is good and it’s explained very smoothly. I wasn’t keen on the final three pages, with it seeming as though a Buffy-Angel or Buffy-Spike relationship is being established: will they fall in love or kill one another. It’s a great story idea, but it’s been done…with Buffy. This issue reads quicker than the previous, but I’m having moments of disappointment for too much familiar ground being retread. Overall grade: B+

The art: Jon Lam’s visuals are also still giving me concern. The first ten pages of the book has Giles looking very stylized, but it’s not a style I associate him with. It’s the close-ups that are giving me issues, but from a distance or when in action he looks fine. I like his pose at the bottom of the first page, it looks very natural, though there are background lines going through his left hand, so I thought that Giles had suddenly become a ghost. Roux looks terrific. The smiles she gives Rupert make her incredibly warm and friendly, though when she frowns, in human mode, there’s something dangerous about her. When she goes into vamp mode she’s outstanding. The settings in this book are also nicely done, with the school’s hallways, offices, and closets looking good. What’s behind the school is really well done, creating a great sense of dread just with a visual. The position the principal is in for her one page is fantastic; I’ve not seen that done to a school leader before and it made me laugh. The big bad of the book looks tremendous. Its design is great: threatening, yet completely at home in the Buffyverse. The large panel on Page 15 is great and is the WOW visual of the book. The next two pages feature some solid action sequences, with the involvement of another character slick; the reactions that end 17 are awesome. Fire becomes a key element of the climax and it looks terrific. The conversation for the final three pages limits how much Lam can do with the characters visually, but he deftly moves the point of view around to keep the book visually engaging. I’m enjoying the art, save the lead character, and that’s not good. Overall grade: B+

The colors: Violet is the color used to denote the supernatural in this series. Dan Jackson uses it heavily in the first panel to shade a locker room. It comes to the forefront again in the third panel, but the colors are too dark, with the background matching the flesh of Giles’s evil twin. Paired with the color of the hoodie, my comic book brain defaulted to Doctor Doom when initially looking at this panel. Thankfully, bright colors appear once in the present, with red lockers making the leads pop. There’s a slick coloring job done on a character’s cellphone, giving it a reflective effect. The principal stands out strongly due to her bright orange jacket, making her the focus of every panel she’s in. In the book’s climatic setting, there’s a fire which gives Jackson several opportunities to show how well he can illuminate the scene. A ghastly, luminescent green is used for a monitor device and once the big bad goes into action the violets return. The spreading fire is fantastic, with the last two panels on 18 excellent. Overall grade: A 

The letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt are responsible for this issue’s narration, story title, dialogue, sounds, signage, scene settings, demon speech, and vampire speech. This pair’s vampire dialogue has always been a perfect match for the bloodsuckers’ faces and continues to impress in this book. The demon speech is also well done, with it looking massive and frightful. The sounds are big and bold, with there being several memorable ones in this issue, including a concluding punch. Overall grade: A

The final line: I’m wanting new exploits of Buffy characters, but this story and its visuals are leaving me a little discouraged. I’ll continue to follow, though my expectations aren’t going to be high. Overall grade: B+

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
    One Comment
  • Erika Alexander
    2 April 2018 at 7:46 am -

    Thanks Patrick I appreciate your very thoughtful review. It’s my first time dipping into the Buffyverse. I’m learning as I go, so it’s very interesting to read your thoughts. I hope next two issues are better. Rock on. e.

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