Book Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus, Vol. 3, Eric Powell et al. (2008)

April 11th, 2014 3:35 pm by Kelly Garbato

“Decapitation with a smile!”

four out of five stars

The third volume of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus features an even dozen stories, all of which are concurrent with Season 3 of the television series:

Wu-Tang Fang – The Scoobies dust the “Mickey Rourke of China,” a traveling vampire named San Sui who feeds on the blood of vanquished foes.

Halloween – The night before Halloween, Willow storms out of the house after an argument with the ‘rents, and swiftly falls into the clutches of a group of vamps.

Cold Turkey – Buffy brains a vamp with her frozen turkey when he tries to make a Thanksgiving meal out of her. The night shopping? Still more harrowing.

Dance With Me – When Buffy (repeatedly) turns Gary down at the dance, he decides to become a vampire so that she’ll have no choice but to pay attention to him.

White Christmas – Buffy takes a job selling popsicles at the mall, only to discover that her boss is summoning demons in the walk-in freezer. Choice quote: “I don’t wear clothes only to impress guys.”

Happy New Year – Oz manages to escape during his time of the month (“An American Werewolf in Sunnydale”), forcing Buffy to break his arm. (Leg? Paw?) A distraught Willow refuses to talk to the Slayer who kicked her boyfriend’s ass – but a hell hound and an immortal alchemist-slash-backstabbing excuse for a friend reunite the BFFs.

New Kid on the Block – In which Joey McIntyre cameos as a vampire terrorizing the tweens of Sunnydale. Joking! The Scoobies welcome new girl Cynthia into the fold, only to find that she’s not as she seems. Xander, as always, makes his contribution to rape culture by crashing the girls’ sleepover.

Food Chain Part 1 – Sandy is smart, pretty, friendly, and has just generally got it going on. So why is she hanging out with the lowlifes, the Scoobies wonder? Turns out that they’re her cult, and she’s a low level demon feeding off their energies.

Play With Fire – We see Wicca Willow start to come into her powers here, as she succeeds in freeing a boy named Bryan from a possessed house to which he managed to attach himself in 1988.

Food Chain Part 2 – “Sandy” may be dead, but something’s killing off the surviving members of her cult. Amy the rat merits a mention at the beginning of the story, which made me squeal. Love me some rat Amy.

The Final Cut – Through his questionable dealings with demons and loan sharks alike, 1930s movie star Fair Quinn managed to get his soul locked in his final film – until aspiring filmmaker Marty discovers “The Final Cut” and strikes his own deal.

The Latest Craze – The latest craze are Hooligans, a clip-on toy that’s a cross between Beanie Babies and mogwais. Only they come alive at night and steal all your shit. Able to feed off the emotional attachment of the owners, these baby Hooligans hope to provide Mom enough power to bust through to this world from another dimension. Giles’s friend Ethan Rayne makes an appearance here; bonus points for Will’s Pez Witch, with which she is ultimately reunited.

In the introduction, editor Scott Allie explains the difficulties inherent in writing comics that took place during Season Three – while Season Three was still in production: “We were only a little bit ahead of viewers; we were being sent scripts as Fox Licensing got them […] Our receipt of the scripts was usually only a couple of weeks before the episode would air.” For example, evil Angelus was figured into the plot early on – until Buffy killed him at the end of Season Two. So he was written out. And then the writers learned that he was to be resurrected as good Angel. (You get the idea!)

Thus, those characters whose story arcs were in flux – namely Angel and Faith – are underrepresented in this omnibus. Angel only makes three brief appearances, while Faith is absent altogether. Consequently, Volume 3 focuses exclusively on the Scoobies. (Not that I’m complaining; the more Oz, the better.)

Things I liked:

  • Giles visits the beach! (Spoiler alert: his beachwear involves tweed.)
  • The copious ’90s references. (And is that the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie the vamps are watching in “Halloween”?!?)
  • We’re treated to some character developments outside of the television show. For example, Buffy takes a job hawking popsicles at the mall in order to earn a little extra scratch for Christmas, making the Doublemeat Palace her second job in the service industries (“White Christmas”); and, when her grades begin to “slip,” Willow and her parents rumble over her relationship with Oz (“Halloween”).
  • Oz!
  • What didn’t work for me:

  • The artwork and story writing are rather so-so.
  • “White Christmas” is easily my favorite of the bunch. During the witch trials, and in a fit of jealousy, a dudebro named Nathaniel Filmer accused his best friend Ben and Ben’s wife Mariana of witchcraft (alchemy). (Nathaniel was interested in Mariana, but she married Ben. Cue up the Tiny Violin.) Nate’s father the judge had the lovers burned at the stake, but not before Ben uttered a curse that turned Nathaniel’s dog Magnus into a hell hound. The hound’s been chasing backstabber Nate for centuries; desperate, he breaks into the school library in search of a spell to lift the curse. The Scoobies try to intervene (um, why?), but Nathaniel is eventually mauled by the hound.

    The story has great potential, I just wish they’d done more with it. If any of the stories in this omnibus deserved a Part 2, it’s “White Christmas.”

  • Why do comic book artists insist on reinventing Xander as beefcake? No offense to Nicholas Brendon, but Xander’s supposed to be an “everyman” – a bodybuilder, not so much.
  • Honestly, if this was anything other than Buffy, I’d give it three stars for “eh”; but nostalgia compels me to grade all things Buffy on a curve, no matter how hard I try to be objective. Fans will most likely be satisfied (begrudgingly; at best) with this collection, but non-fans? Why are you even reading this?

    (This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

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