Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus 1 by Joss Whedon, et al.: B

From the back cover:
The definitive collection of the first Buffy comics series starts here. This volume begins at the beginning—”The Origin,” a faithful adaptation of creator Joss Whedon’s original Buffy screenplay. The newly chosen Slayer’s road to Sunnydale continues by way of Vegas and a mental institution, and scenes of high school, the early Scoobies, and an English librarian lead the way into Season One—and The Goon creator Eric Powell gives a look at Spike and Drusilla causing havoc at the 1933 World’s Fair.

This omnibus series is the ultimate compilation of Dark Horse’s original Buffy comics and runs chronologically along the TV series’ timeline. A fitting companion to Whedon’s comics-based relaunch of the Buffy mythos.

Review:
Because this omnibus collects a variety of arcs from different points in the comic’s run—and created by various teams of people—I think it’ll be easiest to address each one separately.

“All’s Fair” by Christopher Golden, et al.
A short, murky story about the family of the Chinese Slayer Spike killed seeking vengeance at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago. The dialogue is decent, though Drusilla’s tendency to speak nonsense is overused, but the character likenesses are pretty bad and the story’s boring, to boot. Thankfully, this one’s quite short.

“Buffy: The Origin” by Joss Whedon, et al.
This purports to be “a faithful adaptation” of Whedon’s original screenplay for the Buffy movie. If so, apparently Joss originally envisioned vampires as cheesy green creatures! Still, this is much better than the movie as I remember it, doing a good job at depicting Buffy’s growing distance from her materialistic friends and setting up her conflicting desires/destinies of “normal girl” versus “chosen one.” I also liked that the scene of Buffy meeting her watcher, Merrick, for the first time seems to have been lifted wholesale from the movie script for use in season two’s “Becoming, Part 1.”

“Viva Las Buffy!” by Scott Lobdell, et al.
After Buffy gets expelled from Hemery High for burning down the gym (full of vampires), she and Pike head off to Las Vegas to investigate a casino catering to vampires. The story itself is not very exciting—despite involving time travel, half-vampire Siamese twins, and Angel doing his own poking around—but it’s narrated by Pike and provides an explanation for his absence from Buffy’s life in the series. It is rather weird to see Buffy being all proactive in her duties to vanquish vamps here, when she starts season one of the series so keen to avoid her calling.

“Dawn & Hoopy the Bear” by Paul Lee
This short story takes place while Buffy is in Vegas. In an attempt to kill Buffy, a demon imbues a teddy bear with the spirit of a djinn, but the delivery guy mistakenly gives it to Dawn instead. Instead of killing her, the bear takes a liking to her and becomes her defender. It’s a little weird to read a solo Dawn story like this, since we know it didn’t really happen, but I presume this is supposed to be one of the false memories Dawn has of her childhood. It’s actually really cute and I liked it a lot.

“Slayer, Interrupted” by Scott Lobdell, et al.
In the season six episode, “Normal Again,” Buffy reveals that she was once sent to a mental institution after telling her parents about vampires. While I don’t think that works with the continuity established in season two, in which Joyce appears to learn about Buffy’s Slayerhood for the first time, it’s still interesting to see what supposedly happened there. (Intriguingly, in this comic, it’s Dawn who’s responsible for the secret getting out. I wonder if Lobdell intended to propose a solution that would allow Joyce’s original reaction and Buffy’s memories—altered after Dawn was inserted into her life—to coexist.)

Unfortunately, it’s just too much like the season three opener, “Anne.” Buffy doesn’t want to be the Slayer, she’s stuck somewhere with a lot of helpless teens being victimized by a demon, she finally accepts who she is, and comes to everyone’s rescue. The story ends with a newly confident Buffy heading home, but again, this doesn’t really match with the Buffy we first meet in the beginning of the TV series.

While the stories are all drawn by different people, they have some artistic commonalities. First of all, many of them have problems with eye color. The earlier pieces in the collection depict vampires with red eyes, though this is corrected later. I’m more annoyed by Giles and Wesley having brown eyes and Buffy and Willow having blue ones. Eye color aside, though, Buffy in these comics looks more consistently like Sarah Michelle Gellar than she does in the Season Eight series.

Also, it’s not just Buffy whose pre-Sunnydale life we glimpse. The stories by Scott Lobdell contain scenes of the Watchers Council deciding which candidate will best serve as Buffy’s new watcher (this is where Wesley comes in), the gradual dissolution of Joyce and Hank’s marriage, and one brief sighting of a lonely Willow being sneered at by Cordelia and her cronies. Although there are a few minor inconsistencies, these arcs also flow quite well in chronological order, even though they weren’t originally published that way.

I actually own all seven of these omnibi, so expect more reviews to come!

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