So you may have noticed the part where I’ve been barely updating this site since mid-December and thought that I wasn’t reading anything. In fact, the problem is that I’ve been reading way too much, and have like forty-odd graphic novels ready for booklogging. Traditionally I’ve just done big bullet-point roundups when I get that behind, but I have a better plan here, which is to break them into separate themed posts, because they tend to fall naturally into groupings.
So, the theme of this post is: Joss Whedon.
We’ll start off with Joss Whedon and Brett Matthew’s Serenity: Better Days , the second Serenity comic, taking place between the series and the movie. The interstitial nature of it hurts, because it means that nothing can really change, and episodic stories where everything goes back to just how it was before are only of limited interest. I mean, in a real sense, much of Whedon’s greatness as a TV writer was his ability to break out of that static episode rut, so seeing that in a Whedon work is unfortunately retrograde. The overall feel is lightly competent Firefly fanfic.
Next up is Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men, vol. 4: Unstoppable , which concludes his run. I read the series from the start so that I wouldn’t be confused about what was going on, and I think that was a wonderful idea. It turns out this is a tightly-plotted and carefully foreshadowed series that takes a number of surprising turns, and if you don’t remember stuff between installments, you’ll lose a lot.
And that’d be a shame, because this is also an extremely well-written set of books, with all the virtues that traditional superhero comics are capable of having, but don’t exhibit with the kind of consistency that you might wish. This is definitely a superhero comic through and through, and if you aren’t at least passingly familiar with the X-Men, you probably won’t enjoy it very much; but if you are, this is one of the best X-Men arcs ever.
And finally, there’s Brian K. Vaughan and Joss Whedon’s Runaways . Don’t be confused by the way I’m summarizing that; they’re not co-writing. Vaughan originated the series about a handful of superpowered teens, and wrote the first seven volumes (three of which I’m booklogging here) and then handed it off to Joss for the next volume. The series is never super-great, but... well, let’s just say that the volume Joss wrote felt like it was written by Joss, but at the same time wasn’t appreciably better than the writing on the series to date. It’s consistently very good, and possibly worth reading even if you’re not hepped up on standard Marvel heroes; while the protagonists do interact with the Marvel Universe characters and events, they’re mostly on their own and have no whompin’ huge backstory.