Comics, Television

Fray, X-Men, Dollhouse

November 12, 2009

After years away from the format, I feel like an inexpert judge of comic books, but lately I’ve been dipping into some of the stuff on Jenn’s shelf and I’ve been rather enjoying Joss Whedon’s comics work — to be specific, his futuristic sequel to the Buffy universe, Fray, and his Astonishing X-Men books.

Fray is an effective continuation of Whedon’s slayer lore, set in a gritty dystopian future that nonetheless contains some spiffy Gernsbackian sense of wonder elements.  It involves the new Slayer, Melaka Fray, an urban thief very much in the mold of Buffy and Faith, who learns of her fate when a fierce-looking demon Watcher comes calling.  There’s a new Apocalypse a-brewin’ and Melaka is the latest reluctant Chosen One.  Fray shows in miniature a lot of what Whedon does best in his TV work — strong characters, distinctive and funny dialogue, high stakes situations, groups standing together against dire threats, betrayal and tragedy and maintaining hope against seemingly insurmountable odds.  I’m not sure I’d call it essential reading, but Buffy and Angel completists will probably enjoy checking it out.

Whedon also displays a sure hand with The Astonishing X-Men, which I also enjoyed, to a somewhat lesser degree.  I’m a bit out of touch with the Marvel universe but from what I can tell its lore has been revised and rebooted pretty continually, so I feel a little lost there figuring who’s dead, whose alive, what timeline we’re in, and so forth.  Even so, Whedon has a deft handle on his particular X-Men lineup (Cyclops, Emma Frost, Kitty Pryde, Wolverine, and Beast) and the art is exceptional here (I’m particularly fond of how Beast is rendered).  Anyway, some fun, if not terribly deep reading…I like comics but they sure seemed to last longer when I was a kid!

Speaking of Whedon, Dollhouse has officially been given the axe by Fox, which sadly does not come as much of a surprise.  I, for one, am  disappointed — although wildly uneven, at its best Dollhouse is an impressively dark and ambitious show, and it’s gotten increasingly more interesting since the last few episodes of season one.  (The most recent couple of episodes have been particularly strong.)  That said, Dollhouse has never really seemed like Whedon in his wheelhouse, so part of me isn’t too upset that this experiment is going to close up shop.  It just means we’ll get to see an entirely new project down the road; looking forward to it!

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