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August 22, 2005
by Daniel Erenberg
Every Thursday afternoon I take a trip to Broadway. I'm not referring to 42nd street in New York City. I'm referring to a busy little street a bit further east than that. On Broadway, in Woodmere, on Long Island, there's a wonderful little comic shop called Time Warp which is presided over by mustachioed man-geek, Jeff. It's a great store. Every Thursday when I walk in I'm greeted by Jeff and whoever is helping him that day, and greeted by the very tangible smell of a comic store. Most neighborhood comic book stores (I'm not counting bigger stores like Golden Apple or Midtown Comics) have this awesome musty stench that greets a fanboy's nose like the sound of Lou Reed's voice greets a hipster's ears. But I'm getting away with myself.
The Buffyverse made its way to comic stores years ago in a comic by Dark Horse Comics, a company that usually does put out brand name comics like Planet Of The Apes or Star Wars. To tell you the truth, I've never really gotten into it. I've picked up an issue here or there when the story seemed interesting, but I never got over the initial shock of seeing the character's I loved in a comic book. And I don't think the Buffy comics or later on, the Angel comic, ever really got an artist that did justice to Sarah Michelle Gellar, Anthony Stewart Head, and the rest. I didn't really dig any Buffy comic product until a miniseries that was done a few years ago called "Buffy: Haunted". The real difference, I suppose, was the presence of Buffy writer Jane Espenson handling the script chores. The comic picked up from the end of season three and dealt with the aftermath of Mayor-Snake's death and also sent Cordelia off to a new life in Los Angeles. The success of this comic spawned a bunch of really good Buffy mini-series, which included Buffy: Reunion, a book about three possible things that could have happened between Angel and Buffy in their post-resurrection meeting between LA and Sunnydale, and "Willow/Tara", which was written by Tara actor Amber Benson quite admirably.
But the miniseries were soon to get much better. That's because Buffy creator Joss Whedon was about to throw his hat into the comic book ring. He helped with two fantastic anthologies called "Tales Of The Slayers" and "Tales Of The Vampires", which included such great Mutant Enemy writers as Ben Edlund, Brett Matthews (of Firefly), Drew Goddard, and the aforementioned Jane Espenson. In between these anthologies, Joss Whedon penned the best of the Buffy miniseries. This was "Fray". "Fray", awesomely illustrated by the great Karl Moline, was about Melaka Fray, a Slayer from the future. It ran for eight issues and blew everyone away. It was so important to the Buffy mythos that it introduced for the first time the scythe that would eventually appear at the end of Buffy's seventh and last season. But comic fans who had no real interest in Buffy began to notice the talent that was developing behind its scenes as well. Especially Joss Whedon.
It was around this point that Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada contacted Joss Whedon asking him if he'd like to write an X-Men comic. Writer Grant Morrison was getting ready to wrap up his run with issue 154 of "New X-Men", and Quesada was searching for a suitable replacement for that momentously talented writer. Joss said no.
However, as months passed, Whedon could not shake the idea of writing an X-Men comic. Years earlier, he had written a draft of the first X-Men film and, after all, he'd been reading the comic since Chris Claremont's run which began in 1977. Finally, Joss agreed to writing twelve issues if he could have artist approval. With the great Joss Whedon taking the reins of the book, Joe Quesada launched a new X-Men comic called "Astonishing X-Men". Joss would have the cast of Cyclops, Emma Frost, Wolverine, Beast, and Kitty Pryde to work with. He chose artist John Cassady to work with. Joss's first six-issue storyline, which he called "Gifted", blew everyone's minds. He resurrected Colossus at the end of issue four in an insanely touching scene, and many people were calling it the best X-Men story since Claremont's landmark "Dark Phoenix Saga" twenty years ago. After the six issues, Joss agreed to go on for at least 25 issues and to write a short story for a special Giant-Sized X-Men, which would also reprint earlier stories by Stan Lee and Claremont.
"Astonishing X-Men" isn't the only Joss Whedon comic book on hand these days, however. We are now two issues into a three-issue series he's co-writing with the aforementioned Brett Matthews. It's a little Dark Horse mini called "Serenity". The comic has already featured perfect characterizations of everyone in the Serenity crew, picked up plotlines like the mystery of Book and Inara's impending departure from the ship, and brought back such great supporting players and villains as Badger, the Alliance agent who first appeared in the two hour pilot of the television series, and the men with blue hands. So far, it's been absolutely great.
So every Thursday I can walk into a comic book store called Time Warp and every so often I really am treated to a time warp. I can go back in time and fall back in love with characters that have been a part of me for such a long time. I can also read some of the best super-hero comics to come out since I started reading comics sixteen years ago. And they've got my hero's name on the cover. Joss Whedon.
And it smells great.
|Daniel Erenberg (AKA: Dan)(AKA: Nighthawk) is fairly happy with the life he lives in his house in the Yorkshire section of Lynbrook, New York. He's got a band called The Doldrums which he alternately thinks are brilliant and awful. He writes almost as often as he watches television, which any reader of his Slayage column knows is saying a lot. Beautiful girls and other types of Buffy fans can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.