Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

I’m a big Joss Whedon fan. Who isn’t these days? In fact, I had been waiting, impatiently, for his triumphant return to television. And thankfully, the wait is almost over- it looks like Eliza Dushku is going to star in his new show, Dollhouse. It looks cool, weird, and very different for him. But then it always is, for him. And he always surprises you. I would say that ninety percent of the time, when you hear about something he’s doing through word of mouth that sounds like it’s going to be bad? It is almost certainly 200 % better than what you expected it to be. I don’t doubt the man anymore. I know better. Kind of like, when Angel became a spinoff Buffy TV show, and my first thought was: Angel, Cordelia, and Wesley? Who are the three characters I care the least about, on Buffy? Of course, Angel went on to become as great as its predecessor and those three characters are now, actually, my favorite three in the Buffyverse (as the kids are calling it, these days). Or, when he took a stab at the under-recognized sub-genre that is the science-fiction space western. And I thought: meh, that sounds weird. And oh, only NOW, now do I REGRET only watching Firefly in syndication, I regret failing to support what was clearly one of the best written, performed, and produced pieces of not just science-fiction, but just television. Even a kick-ass full length Hollywood produced movie finale just doesn’t take the pain away. And I know people want the show back- but how can they? Without Wash? Without Book? No no… A moment of silence as I weep for the unborn seasons of Firefly that could have been brought into this world. Alas, we hardly knew ye. In fact, what kills ME is- how can so many television networks and movie studios make his life so miserable? I mean, the guys fans are numerous, and given time, everything he touches turns to gold. But still- they don’t give Angel a last season? They cancel Firefly? They decide to make a Wonder Woman movie WITHOUT him (if at all)? Yeah, good luck with that last one. I mean, I’m sure there are tons of writers out there who really excel at not reducing the female lead character to an oversexed, hyper-assertive, brassiere-wearing male wet dream, right (not that such writing doesn’t occupy my attention, from time to time) (shut up)? Sure, writers who produce three-dimensional, well thought out, realistic female characters- they’re just a dime a dozen. I’m sure the representation of a cultural icon who runs around in star spangled spandex and a midriff revealing top that leaves little to the imagination is going to be handled with dignity, taste, and wit by numerous other writers. Too many to count, even. But seriously, I can’t imagine anyone else giving this cultural icon the justice she deserves on film. I just don’t get where DC comics’ heads are at when making decisions like this (or Warner Brothers or however that unholy union operates). It’s like not having Kevin Smith write the new Superman movie. You end up with Superman Returns, instead- not a BAD movie, per se. But just…a sequel to the OLD Superman movies? I mean, yeah, they’re great- but is this something we’ve been missing? Have we been walking around saying: “You remember those Superman movies, the ones between 1978 and 1987? It would be cool to get some closure on those, you know? A followup. I think now’s a good time. I’m sure the themes, ideas, and characterizations will still be applicable.” You want to hear a funny story about Superman movies, watch An Evening with Kevin Smith. But I have, as always, digressed. Well, there’s one area that Joss Whedon gets the respect he deserves. And that’s comic books (what did you think Jonathan “Bossman” Pilley’s blog was about, son?). He’s had a run on a few different Marvel comic books, including Astonishing X-men and a series that got jumpstarted within the last five years, Runaways. Both have been astoundingly successful- the plot Whedon used for X-men was eventually adapted into part of the main plot of the third X-men movie. And while I haven’t read as much of Runaways as I’d like to yet, the bit I have read was surprisingly chockfull of comic book lore. But the hardcore Whedon fans are probably tearing out to the stores these days to get their hands on his recent revitalizations of Buffy, Angel, and Firefly (Serenity) through the media of comic book. Lately, Whedon has decided to continue to add to the “official” cannon of all three of these shows himself. So the current run of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic is entitled “Season 8” and is often written by Whedon, and really feels a lot like watching the show did. It really amazes me how much of the speech, timing, comedy, and atmosphere of the show is encapsulated in this book- I can’t say enough good things about it. And the best part is? The sky is the limit, in this case- there’s no pesky network executives holding the man back from doing what he wants to do. Characters whose actors had left the show can return in any form he chooses. One of my particularly favorite scenes so far has involved a gigantic, Godzilla-sized Dawn (played by Michelle Trachtenberg on the show) fighting a Mecha-Godzillaesque robot double of herself in downtown Tokyo, who taunted her by saying things like “I’m Dawn. I like Irony and blue jeans. I let boys take advantage of my emotional state” and so on. Funny stuff. Previously, my interest in comic/television related comic books has been lukewarm at best. There are a couple of exceptions- despite the horrendous tragedy’s that are the films Alien vs. Predator and Alien vs. Predator 2, the original Dark Horse series it was based on was hardcore. And there are a few Star Wars comics that will surprise you- among the few I’ve gotten a kick out of, I’d list Rogue Squadron, Dark Times, and Knights of the Old Republic, just to name some. But for the most part, I haven’t had a great deal of interest in reading whatever “expanded universe” Buffy the Vampire Slayer story that takes place between episode 121 and 122 or whatever. But with the original creator on board, it “feels” right. And the Buffy-fans aren’t the only one’s to get such prime service either- he has overseen the writing and plot development of two other series: Angel: After the Fall (essentially Season 6 of Angel) and Serenity: Those Left Behind (bridges the gap between the end of Firefly and its corresponding movie). And I’ve got to say- they are both just as good! All three of these projects really “gets” the show that they emulate. One last bit- the most recent issue of Buffy is particularly fun for anyone who’s been following Whedon’s comic exploits. His first foray into comics was actually a Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off entitled Fray. The series followed the exploits of a kind-of future slayer, but in reality, the story was far more complicated and interesting than the statement I just wrote indicates. A really cool character, Fray is sort of the disposed chosen warrior of good- it’s like she has all of Buffy’s strength, agility, and guts, but none of the guidance and good fortune that you’d hope the forces of light or whatever would bestow (not that Buffy’s life is charmed, by any means). The opening line of this month’s comic is actually the opening line to the series in question: “Bad day. Started off bad, stayed that way…” and the illustrator for this arc on Buffy (called “Time of Your Life”) is Karl Moline, the guy who drew the Fray series to begin with. All of the above is worth checking out. You won’t be disappointed.