Thursday, February 19, 2004

Big Deal

The big news of the week seems to be that the Marvel solicitations for May have leaked, and they are no longer able to deny that “Buffy” creator Joss Whedon will be writing an X-Men title for the House Of Recycled Ideas. This, of course, has set fanboys a’panting, and there was much orgasming in still-zipped trousers. Hooray.

Look, I like Whedon. A lot. Hell, the only property that I have ever reached true fanboy status for is the Buffy/Angel combination of shows. I know a scary amount of minutiae and trivia when it comes to the Whedonverse, and it’s sort of embarrassing. But I can’t sit here and get excited that he’s writing an X-Men comic. Because I’ve been watching Whedon write X-Men for years.

What was Buffy, if not a deeply X-Men homaged show? A group of super-powered young adults, led by their mentor and trainer, fighting evil. Red-headed witch Willow Rosenberg didn’t take long as the show passed to become Joss’ Jean Grey. She first began working on magic, learning telekinesis first, then working her way to telepathy, and eventually becoming so powerful that she corrupted and tried to destroy the world. Only the love of her lifelong crush/best friend Xander (a ready Cyclops substitute) grounded her and stopped her. Angel was established early on as Whedon’s Wolverine. A man with a literal demon inside of him, the vampire with a soul evoked Claremont and Miller’s limited series that balanced out Wolverine’s berserker rage with his samurai soul. At least he let Angel be from Ireland and not Canada.

Flip-siding Xander’s non-powered Cyclops, Buffy herself was the powered version, even sharing the last name of Summers. Stubborn, pained, and responsible to a deadly fault, the titular heroine shook off the early doldrums to become the hero who always stood her ground. Buffy, though many deny it, was written to be more than a bit of a prig through her seven-year run. Indeed, much like comics fans with the character if Cyclops, I always felt like she was the least interesting character on the show, even though she was the focus and the leader. It was telling, I think, that they allowed Xander to save the day in season six, knowing that the character of Buffy herself had nothing to offer to stop Willow’s dark rampage. Her relationship with her Watcher, Giles, also consistently paralleled Scott Summers’ relationship with Professor X.

Following the path of similar storylines again, season seven saw Buffy’s former vampire lover and nemesis Spike regain his soul as well, setting up her own “Madeline Pryor” scenario. Swapping the character roles a bit, Angel and Spike become Jean and Madeline, forcing her to navigate her heart gently, because much like Cyclops when he learned (while still married to Madeline) Jean was still alive, it was a pretty slippery slope when it came to choosing what was best for her heart, even if it was none of the above.

This entire column sounds kind of scary, doesn’t it, that I can even write this shit down. Bleah. I’m sort of appalled. But I guess what I’m trying to say is, why get excited for something that’s been happening for years, but for which Whedon is getting paid a lot less money for this time? I suspect that it might actually be good, as his “Fray” was, but there’s no way in Hell I’m gonna lay out the $3.00 an issue for it. Besides, it’ll probably be consistently late, to boot.

So being an absolute hypocrite, I’ll just buy the trade.