This graphic novel is a simply gorgeous work of art, every frame and every word. After two hundred years of peace, a dragon returns to the islands of May, to a town called Meddlesome, and the only answer is to find a hero to slay it. The hero imported for the task is not what anyone expects, and the true hero of the hour is not who anyone expects.
This is a simple but layered story told exquisitely in words by Jane Yolen and in images by Rebecca Guay. Every detail is perfect, from the lettering to the borders adorning many pages. This is a small gem.
This was a free loaner from Netgalley – thanks to them. It’s an eBook of an omnibus of the Angel comic book which debuted in 2001 (September 12, I think they said).
Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed in this. My understanding was that Joss Whedon was involved, and my expectation was that there would be some of the humor and intelligence the tv series showed. For the most part, that isn’t the case. Most of this omnibus is painfully unfunny. There was a story arc for the first several issues in the collection, which does not excuse the silly repetitiveness.
The introduction talks about the problems with continuity – the comic featured Doyle, and by the time the second issue hit the stands they’d killed Doyle off. After a while the comic caught up and illustrated a grieving Angel and Cordy – but then a few pages later the omnibus jumps back in time and brings him back. That was not fun. The struggle to try to keep up with the developments on the show kept the comic from developing its own continuity – this volume contains a randomized series of leftovers and crumbs. Scraps.
And, also unfortunately, most of the artwork was dreadful. I used to love comics – I got a box from Westfield Comics once a month. I can be very forgiving of an occasional awkwardness, or ugly hands (hands are hard), or of course exaggerated superhero physiques. I don’t expect every frame of a comic to be frameable. I do, however, expect the majority of what I’m looking at not to hurt my eyes. Most of the issues were purely ugly. Some responsibility for that belongs to the need to at least attempt to make the characters recognizable, which was only intermittently successful. If it had been even a little better … But it wasn’t.
The only exception, in terms of humor and writing and artwork, was the arc of “Long Night’s Journey”. That wasn’t bad, not bad at all – it looked miles better. But – and this is a spoiler, sorry – there was one massive flaw: the idea that the gypsies had some other motive than what was given in Buffy. I can’t imagine why they would do this; it’s not a minor part of the canon. It was a shame – the artwork was so much better quality, the writing actually got a chuckle or two out of me … and then there was that. Pity.
(From Shakespeare to comics – sorry ’bout that!)
Not how I pictured her, but well done
Thanks to NetGalley and Dynamite Entertainment for providing me with this ARC. I was a little excited about a Mercy Thompson comic series. I love the medium, at its best, and I love Patricia Briggs and Mercy. It could have been a match made in somewhere really great. But.
The positive: I think the story was pared down very well. It’s a massive challenge, to take a 288-page novel and morph it into a series of – what, 40-odd-page issues? The whole picture-is-worth-1000-words trope doesn’t necessarily mean that the thousand words a picture is worth are useful to storytelling in an adaptation. The script for this series – the first four issues, at least – did a very nice job of conveying just about everything that needed conveying.
Why is he green?
It’s the artwork I have a massive problem with. Some of it was very well done, but it’s individual frames. Overall, I was deeply disappointed. I don’t mean that Mercy doesn’t look right, or Zee, or what-have-you. I can adapt to others’ visions of characters I love: I adapted to Elijah Wood. I mean that nothing looks right. The coyote looks silly. Hell, the wolves look silly, often – paws don’t quite sit on the ground properly, faces look strange – there is nothing of the beauty or fierceness or fearsomeness even ordinary wolves project, much less weres. There are a huge number of canids in this story; I only wish someone with a better feel for them had drawn this book – although the human anatomy isn’t done much better in many cases. And while I’m sure it’s not easy to illustrate the in-between stages of a were’s change, there has to be a less foolish-looking way than was used here. Also, the book deserves better than classic Batman-style printed sound effects: “GRRRRRRR” and “BLAM” and such are probably hard to work around, but I wish they’d tried. All of the artwork just seems to rely too heavily on cliché.
Jesse, on the right: Was her hair supposed to be crazy?
Incredibly awkward pose
And I have to say it: Mercy doesn’t look right. She’s too shallowly pretty, too dark-haired-Barbie-doll. And she’s the one I have the least issue with, I think. Adam … I really, really hate what they did to Adam. Adam Hauptman is supposed to be beautiful, and I see where they were trying for that. They missed, and hit waxy-effeminate-faery-no-one’s-taking-THAT-seriously instead. And Jesse … She looks like a china doll – one of those scary china dolls whose huge blue eyes open and close on their own, and which gets up in the middle of the night and kills you in your bed. Overall, the humans are too smooth, and the wolves too rough.
Even Stefan’s Scooby Doo van didn’t cut it. It was even mentioned in the text that it’s painted like the Mystery Van – and … it failed. There was a flower, I saw that, but otherwise it was almost unnoticeable. A big VW van painted like the Scooby Gang’s should *not* be unnoticeable.
horrible frame from extra
And the extra chapter, about the attack on Mac and his girl after the dance, was not only unnecessary (it added nothing to what we already knew), but it was everything I hate most about comic book art.
Finally, while the covers are the cream of a weak crop, I have Issues with the one showing Mercy carrying a wolf. On her shoulders. Is that supposed to be Adam? Because … Really … No. The average weight I’m finding for a North American wolf is 79 pounds. A werewolf is, IIRC, bigger. Human Adamis, so I find on the ‘net, about 180 pounds. I don’t know how that converts in the Change. Mercy’s not that big, and she’s not super-powered; she can turn into a coyote, is all. Suffice to say she is NOT going to be schlepping the Alpha of the Tri-Cities around on her shoulders like a wee lost lamb.
ETA: I just reread the novel, which inspires me to knock a star off this. Why? Because a werewolf doesn’t weigh 180. He weighs about 250. It’s mentioned often in the book – so Mercy’s really, really not carrying one about on her shoulders. (Not to mention the whole he-might-eat-her thing.)