From one Buffy fan to another
Having discovered Joss Whedon through Firefly (and then only after the show had been off the air for a year!), I recently watched – devoured – Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix. (I’m halfway through Angel now. No spoilers!) Missing the Scooby Gang something fierce, I decided to give the comics a try.
Much to my dismay, I’ve never really been able to get into comics or graphic novels. Though I love many of the stories and characters, the format just isn’t for me. Even so, I hoped I might enjoy Buffy, seeing as I already have a connection to the Buffyverse. The events in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus (also referred to as “Season 0”) are largely concurrent with those in the movie and series, in such a way that they help to flesh out the existing stories. (In contrast, the Season Eight comic book series picks up where “Chosen” left off.)
Volume 1 in the omnibus features five complete storylines: “All’s Fair,” which shows a slightly younger Dru and Spike terrorizing the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago; “Buffy: The Origin,” an adaptation of Whedon’s screenplay; “Viva Las Buffy,” in which Buffy and Pike run away to Las Vegas post-prom, only to unwittingly stumble upon a casino full of vamps; “Dawn & Hoopy The Bear,” wherein a magical teddy bear meant for Buffy finds its way instead to Dawn; and “Slayer, Interrupted,” which elaborates on the time Buffy spent in a (demon infested, natch) mental institution.
While I initially found myself struggling to stay engaged, by the end of “Buffy: The Origin” I was hooked. The story arc in “All’s Fair” is rather lackluster – frankly, I would’ve liked to have seen more panels on the Boxer Rebellion – but the stories get progressively better, culminating with “Slayer, Interrupted.” Especially enjoyable is seeing Giles at home in England, in the spring of his career and already butting heads with the Watcher’s Council – and Angel, in his early days of Buffy brooding.
As you can infer from the fourth title in the series, Dawn exists in some of these story lines. Your feelings on this are likely to correspond with your feelings toward Dawn herself. I’m not particularly outraged at her inclusion, though I think the comic book series would be better off without her. I’d prefer the “truth” of what happened, not everyone’s manufactured memories of the events. Plus I’ve kind of had my share of whiny younger siblings, being the oldest of four kids myself.
Overall, I’m inclined to give Volume 1 of the Omnibus 3/5 stars, though I’m upgrading to four stars in the interest of fairness. (Like, what’s a non-fan of comic books doing reviewing a comic book?!) I’ll definitely keep reading the Omnibus series, though it’s doubtful that I’ll plow through it as quickly as I did the tv show. Fellow Buffy fans in need of a fix – give it a try, you might be surprised!