Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Graphic Novel Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus Volume 2 by Various Authors

Title: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Omnibus Volume 2 (graphic novel)
Author: Various.
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Publication Date: September 4th, 2007
Genre: Horror, TV Tie-in

Pages: 296 pages (softcover)
How I came upon this book: I've had it on my shelf for ages, and just now decided to actually sit down and read it.  ♥

Summary: 'This second volume of our Buffy omnibus series collects many of the best Buffy comics to see print.  As we follow the newly-chosen slayer from Los Angeles to Sunnydale and through her parents' divorce - with Dawn in tow - the souled vampire Angel makes his first appearance and the not-so-souled Spike and Drusilla cleave a bloody path towards the West Coast.  This collection includes the critically acclaimed graphic novel 'Ring of Fire', and the miniseries 'A Stake to the Heart', and reflects the season one to season three timeline of the cult-hit TV series.  A fitting companion to Joss Whedon's comics-based relaunch of the show.'  - Amazon summary

'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', is a show that is near and dear to my heart.  I grew up watching it, and have become to attached to the "Buffyverse" that even I still don't want to believe that show is over.  That being said, when Dark Horse announced that they would be compiling all the original Buffy comics into volumes, and putting them in order from before Buffy came to Sunnydale, and leading up to the season nine comics, I was sold.  You really don't have to say much to get me to buy anything that's Buffy related.

The omnibus volumes are a great idea for fans and graphic novel collectors alike.  There is a great introduction in each volume by Scott Allie (the editor), which starts you off to what is in each volume.  Volume two contains stories pre-Sunnydale, up to early season three.

Angels We Have Seen on High: This is a nice short story pre-Sunnydale, which focuses on Buffy and her younger sister Dawn.  The art is very cartoon-y, almost manga like in a way, which that itself sets the tone of the story.  It's one of the first stories that shows interaction between Dawn and Angel prior to him knowing Buffy in season one.  Written by Scott Lobdell & Fabian Nicieza, this story will get a nice chuckle out of you, especially if you are aware of how brooding Angel is.  His short but sweet interaction with Dawn is to say, adorable, and really makes you wish that Dawn had more screen time with Angel on the actual show.

A Stake to the Heart: This four part story is worth the price of the volume alone.  The artwork is beautiful, and the story is heartbreaking.  It takes place right before Buffy, Dawn and their mother Joyce pack up and move to Sunnydale, California.  Dealing with the grief of her parents' divorce, Buffy doesn't really know how to deal.  Angel, feeling her pain, tries to take it away, and with the help of The Whistler, he uses a spell, which backfires, and in turn released malignancy demons upon Buffy, her sister Dawn and her mother.  Written by Fabian Nicieza, this four part story will leave you feeling somber, while hopeful for Buffy and her family.  There is also some nice character development prior season one of Rupert Giles, Willow Rosenberg, and Xander Harris.  It also includes a really brief, but interesting tie-in to the 'Angel' spin-off series.

Macguffins: Probably one of my favourite stories in the graphic novel series, is Macguffins.  This short, but sweet and hilarious story sets us up to season two.  Buffy, who is on vacation at her dad's house, receives a mysterious package, which includes two MacGuffins.  All hilarity breaks loose, as Buffy tries to deal with this matter in a approachable way.  Written by J.L. Van Meter, this short story was always the highlight of the comics series.

The Queen of Hearts:  Okay, I'm going to be honest with you.  The art for this story was horrible.  It wasn't just not okay, it was BAD.  For me, when art (drawn by Ryan Sook) is bad in a graphic novel, it really takes away from the actual story/plot, and that is just what it did.  'The Queen of Hearts' takes place to what I assume is pre-season two, before Spike and Drusilla make their way to Sunnydale (School Hard).  Written by Christopher Golden, who is a big name in the 'Buffyverse' for his Buffy novels, this story is nothing but a distraction from the other stories in this book.  I wanted to like it, I really did, but it seemed rushed.  Golden could have done so much more with the story, but it fell flat, just like the art.  If you're a Spike & Dru fan, I recommend reading it just to see the shenanigans that they went through, but of you are looking for an actual substantial story, skip it.

The Ring of Fire: The problem with this art (again, drawn by Ryan Sook), like 'The Queen of Hearts', is that again, it takes you away from the plot.  Not only does the art look like it was drawn by a third grader, it also doesn't look anything like the characters themselves.  I'm honestly surprised that Dark Horse was even given permission by the actors for their likeness.  The story itself, written by Doug Petrie (a 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' writer), is really good, and adds great action.  Continuity wise, a little off, as this is during season two when Angel is evil, but I'm unsure if it's pre-Judge or post-Judge, especially with the return of Kendra the vampire slayer.  Not that bad, if you can get past the art, and queasy continuity.

Paint the Town Red: This is the part in this volume that I really start to hate Ryan Sook.  His art is atrocious, and again it leaves you wanting to throw the book across the room.  This story, written by James Marsters (yes, Spike), and Christopher Golden has some potential to be good, but instead it, like the previous Spike & Drusilla story, fell flat.  This takes place right after season two of the show, and sees Spike & Dru stopping in a town to cause some ruckus.  While it's a bit longer than 'The Queen of Hearts', it doesn't really give you substantial plots, and characters.  While reading this, I couldn't help but notice how one sided the characters seemed to be.  Again, if you are a Spike & Dru fan, I high recommend it, but if you just want to get to the meat and potatoes of the 'Buffyverse', skip it.

The Dust Waltz: The final story in this volume, takes place in season three of Buffy.  Written by Dan Brereton, it centers on Buffy and her friends meeting Giles' niece (yeah, who would've known he had family), as they fight the mother vampire Lilith.  The artwork is very voluptuous, if I can say so.  Buffy, as well as the other female characters are well curved, and figured, but it's still lovely.  I found myself reading this one really fast because it was a fast story to get through.  It was interesting, and a nice way to end the volume.

All in all, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Omnibus Volume Two has it's ups and downs in both story and art, but collects some of the earliest and some of the most memorable stories in the comics run.  I highly suggest buying it if you are a fan for just, 'A Stake to the Heart', and 'MacGuffins' alone.

Rating: ♥♥♥

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