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Comic review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy The Vampire Slayer #1 & 2 by Joss Whedon and Georges Jeanty

When Buffy arrived on our screens, I was soon to become an acolyte of Joss Whedon. In using fantasy to explore everyday problems, he could have a pretty girl fight a demon and still have it mean something. Although I began to lose interest in the seventh series (after season four, Buffy became too whiny), and the show never hit the stride of the first three seasons (with the exception of the Xander–Anya courting in series four, The Body, Hush and any Whedon-written and -directed episode), I still wanted to see what Whedon would do, now that he didn’t have to worry about studio interference, budgets or stars who no longer want to do the show.

There have been other Buffy comics, but they have never seemed like the genuine article. Fray was good, written by Whedon as he got used to the comic book form, but the other tie-in material always felt peripheral and ‘off’, as if it was nothing more than fanfic. This new series from Dark Horse reads like it’s the television series but in comic book form. And it sounds like the show as well; the characters feel real, their dialogue (Whedon’s gift) just rolling off the page and smoothly to the inner ear.

The truth of the book is helped by Jeanty’s artwork. The likenesses are good without being slavish to photorealism, and he is capable of producing the goods in the talky sections as well as the action sequences.

The comic starts off in the middle of things – this isn’t a book to pick up if you’ve never seen the show before – as Buffy leads a team of slayers on a demon hunt, while Xander runs their headquarters in Scotland with the aid of other slayers, witches, psychics, etc. In the midst of Buffy killing demons (with traditional quippage), there is foreshadowing of a figure in the air, watching the scene.

Meanwhile, the Army is investigating the crater that was Sunnydale, and finding something …

Back at Buffy HQ, we discover that Dawn has been turned into a giant by a ‘thricewise’ who was her former boyfriend, which has made the relationship with Buffy more difficult than normal. Buffy is close to being the whiny version, but is saved by lovely dialogue: ‘And sex. Great muppety Odin, I miss that sex.’

‘Subject One’ (and a male somebody else) have been recovered by the Army – turns out to be Amy, who wishes to help the Army kill Buffy …

Issue 1 is mostly set-up; things really get going in issue 2, where we catch-up with Giles, see Buffy training slayers (‘It gets exponentially prefixy’), Andrew talking nonsense, Xander talking sense with Dawn, and the Army general seems to have the same symbol on his body as found by Buffy at the site of the demon hunt.

A Buffy Dream Sequence leads to the discovery that Amy has her trapped in a living nightmare. Fortunately, there is mystical protection in the castle for just such circumstances, although the spell still requires that she can only be woken up by a kiss of true love – uh oh. Simultaneously, the living dead breach the castle (Xander: ‘Man, Amy, you’re doing all the classics tonight.’) and things are looking bleak – which is when Willow arrives on the last page.

This is really enjoyable stuff. It feels like the real thing and we are getting it in comic books rather than having to wait for the show and suffer the ads. It is a great start to season eight, and I can’t wait for more.

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