Well, Angel #0 is pretty much a surprise, with BOOM! Studios keeping things under wraps until about a week ago with their announcement. For readers of BOOM!’s Buffy reboot, you’d probably have caught sight of a particularly familiar handsome face peeking at the action in the last panel of Buffy #4. And that’s really how Angel #0 starts out, with the last few moments of Buffy #4 being seen from Angel’s perspective and his thoughts about how his past has led to his present state. If you’re concerned that Angel’s reboot has been scrubbed of Catholic guilt and self-flagellation, you really shouldn’t worry; once a brooder, always a frownier brooder.
It would appear that we’re at the end of the first arc, and all signs seem to point to a ratcheting up of the ante. For one, the final main cover is actually slightly different from the solicited version, which hints at some degree of secrecy on BOOM!’s part. For another, I’ll note that the entire final page of the advance review copy I received was redacted, so it really seems that BOOM! wants everyone to be surprised when the issue drops this Wednesday. For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with the most recent Buffyverse news, there will be a surprise book that you’ll want to pick up on Wednesday, as well. (Hint: He’s a big Buffyverse fan favorite, and methinks the redacted page is also meant to hide his backdoor reentry into this rebooted series.)
DINOSAURS! Sold! However, I’m not gonna lie, the dino-nut in me was mildly apprehensive about how good this could possibly be. For one, the mish-mash of the different periods of the Mesozoic era in the Jurassic Park series has always bugged me, and, for another, I’m a huge fan of Ricardo Delgado’s Age of Reptiles series which seemed like a high bar to clear. Good news, fellow dinosaur aficionados, Tadd Galusha’s Cretaceous doesn’t include any dinosaurs from before 145 million years ago, AND they’re all actually found on the island continent of Laramidia (back when North America was split in two by the Western Interior Seaway). Score one for accuracy!
Last month, we closed out the first arc of BOOM! Studios’ relaunch of the Firefly series with a serious cliffhanger. Instead of steering us straight into some new, intergalactic shenanigans this month, BOOM! is launching its Firefly: Bad Company line, and its first issue focuses on our dear Mrs. Reynolds, “Saffron.” The issue explores Saffron’s mysterious past, and coming in at 40 whole pages, it feels pretty well paced and organic in its storytelling.
It’s been a while since an entirely new series had me this intrigued and hyped. Invisible Kingdom #1 gave me whiffs of Firefly, Dune, Avatar, and Saga, and yet presented a story that was unique in both its tone and visual style. The first issue does an amazing job of setting the scene, presenting some of the themes that the series seems set to tackle (consumerism, class/race dynamics, and self-determinism vs. destiny), and introducing us to a rather diverse cast of characters with possibly conflicting or converging interests and agendas.
Welcome back to the Hellmouth (Part 3)! Let’s begin with a quick recap as per Cordelia (turns out Cordy is the “Previously on…” narrator): Buffy’s trying to find the magical necklace of vampire invulnerability, Xander is feeling left out, Willow is feeling insecure about her run for student body president against Cordelia, Giles is being not very supportive, Anyanka is being tortured by Drusilla for info about a power source, and Cordy had some mild flirtation with Spike, a mysterious British stranger that’s easy on the eyes. That about catches us up on where this issue starts.
Issue #4 brings BOOM! Studios’ first arc in the relaunched Firefly series to a close, and it’s a doozy. If your head was spinning from all the backstabbing and double-crossing that’s been playing out in the last three issues, you will probably need to sit down for this one, because, you guessed it, our beloved scoundrels are in for more of that. Last time we were with the big damn heroes, Wash, Book, Jayne, and Inara were at the mercy of the pilgrims they were escorting to their shrine. Big surprise, these pilgrims aren’t all that peaceful (if their previous calls for blood didn’t tip you off), and half the Serenity crew is about to be offered up to Ba’akalal the Nightbringer. Meanwhile, Simon and River were captured by Boss Moon and her unificators, and Mal and Zoe were left cutting a deal to save the rest of the crew. Questionable morality is definitely one of the themes of the Firefly title, and it’s front and center here with seemingly honorable people being shady and an honorable antagonist, just to muddy the waters more.
BOOM! Studios’ reboot of the iconic Buffy franchise continues to recontextualize the familiar without totally reinventing them. Personally, I think that’s a wise choice, as Joss Whedon’s original creation stands on its own, even today, but a fresh take that speaks more directly to a newer generation is not a bad idea, as sensibilities have evolved. As established in the first issue, even the core Scoobies have been shaken up a bit and remixed for a more contemporary feel. While Buffy is still the slayer dealing with balancing the weight of the world and her desire to be just a teenager (dealing with her mom’s live-in boyfriend, no less), with Giles serving as her oftentimes disapproving Watcher (We’re still very much in the infancy of their relationship, as Buffy has just recently moved to Sunnydale, a point that is brought up several times.), Willow and Xander show the most reshuffling of their character traits. While Willow seems to be pretty well-established as being an out queer character (She’s in a relationship with a fellow student, Rose.), Xander’s characterization seems to focus more on introspection, almost as a response to the criticism of some of his more toxic masculinity issues from the previous iteration.
Issue #4 marks the end of Dark Horse’s God of War series set before the events of 2018’s God of War video game relaunch. This series has basically served as a vehicle for the second most important relationship explored in the video game: the emotional turmoil between Kratos’ bloody and violent past with his quieter present state as a father and husband, bridging the two Kratoses. The medium actually lends itself well to the more introspective tone that’s interspersed between some trademark Kratos smackdowns.