It seems like just weeks ago that I was reviewing graphic novels by Joss Whedon and Grant Morrison, mostly because it was; but here I am again with another set — Joss Whedon’s Fray and Grant Morrison’s New X-Men: Imperial .

In my comments about Morrison’s first New X-Men volume, I remarked that it was too early to come to any judgments, as it felt like he was just setting the scene for a story. At least some of that story appears to happen in Imperial, and on the basis of that story, my verdict is: It’s okay. Morrison seems to be writing a bog-standard X-Men story, and while it’s very well-written, it’s nothing that stands out particularly far. I suppose that for X-Men fans, who’ve had to read a lot of dreck over the years, “superbly competent” is something to be grateful for; for the general reader, though, it translates into “skippable.” Of course, I have a weak spot for graphic novels, and I’m a bit worried that I might yet have come to a premature conclusion, so I’ll read on and report back.

“Skippable” also describes Whedon’s work. Fray (which, unlike the Tales of the Slayers volume, is a single long work) is set in the distant future of the Buffyverse, after magic has (mostly) left the world, and all that’s left is generic future dystopia. The eponymous protagonist is the heir to the Slayer legacy and will need to discover her power and overcome her literal and metaphorical demons.

On the evidence of his DVD boxed sets, Whedon is a creative genius; but whether it’s because he wasn’t trying hard enough or because his skills haven’t yet transferred to the graphic novel medium, very little of that genius is on display here. This is a perfectly adequate and competent comic, but it’s never more than that. As with the Morrison comic, this is worth reading if you’re a devoted fan of the source material, but of little general interest.


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