Saturday, January 13, 2007

A Guide to Buffy Comics Pre Season Eight.

There seem to be a lot of people interested in Buffy comics now that Joss himself is bringing us a Season Eight. There also seems to be interest in the older comics, but many don't know where to look in the rather large backlist.

This guide is an attempt to catalogue the very best of Dark Horse's Buffy comics, and those with a hook appealing to people just getting their feet wet.

This list is--obviously--entirely subjective. But it's Buffy. It stands to reason that you'll look for many of the same things as I do.

One more warning: Supposedly, there are Buffy Omnibus collections in our future, so some of this material may be repackaged in the future. Whether you wait for what might happen or just go for the fun now is up to you.

1) Joss Knows Best

The first category is obvious: books that Joss himself wrote for. They're Joss's--if you're comic to Buffy comics because of Joss's Season Eight, these shouldn't require any further sales pitch.

Fray: Future Slayer (
This was Joss's first comic book work--the tale of a Slayer centuries in the future. You'll find none of the familiar faces from the show in here, but the vampires and demons are still there. And so is the Slayer. She just doesn't know it yet. And flying cars. Before Joss had Firefly/Serenity, this is where he could put his flying cars.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales of the Slayers (
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales of the Vampires (
They have fairly self-explanatory titles: they are stories of past and future Slayers an vampires, written by Joss and various other writers from the show. Slayers also includes a story by Amber Benson, and Vampires, Sam Loeb's first published work--which is very significant if you know his story.

2) The Prequel Series

At the tail end of the original Buffy monthly, writer Fabian Nicieza and artist Cliff Richards went back in time to bridge the time between the events of the movie and the start of the TV show. Some might be turned off by the inevitable absence of the Scoobies (though Angel manages to work his way in) or the inclusion of Dawn, but these were damn fine tales that fit in continuity perfectly.

A) Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Origin (
Technically, this volume should fit in here--it's an adaptation of the movie script made more series-accurate. It's not all that good, though.

B) Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Viva Las Buffy (Not listed on the Dark Horse site--presumably is out of print, but stores might still have it.)
Buffy and Pike's trip to Las Vegas.

C) Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Slayer, Interrupted (
Buffy's brief stay in a mental institution.

D) Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Stake to the Heart (
The Summers' divorce.

3) Celebrity Scribes

A number of Buffy writers and even actors also wrote for Buffy comics other than the Tales volumes. They are:

Amber Benson
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow & Tara (
Amber co-wrote these stories about the Buffy characters she knows best with veteran Buffy/Angel author Christopher Golden.

Jane Espenson
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Haunted (
The perennial favorite of Buffy scribes delivered a haunting tale set directly after the Season Three finale. One of my favorites.

James Marsters
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike and Dru (
James only co-wrote the first of the included oneshots and was unhappy with the art, but you shouldn't hold that against the collection of vampire depravity.

Doug Petrie
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Ring of Fire (
Doug was the first writer from the show to try out comics, and he delivered a tale that could have fit in as an episode in the second half of Season Two seemlessly.

4) Pascoe & Fassbender

The stories written by Jim Pascoe and Tom Fassbender don't have as easy a hook to sell them to you as the previous categories--they're here simply because they are good. You'll have to take my word for it.

A) Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Out of the Woodwork(
You think you have trouble with bugs in the summer? You have no idea.

B) Buffy the Vampire Slayer: False Memories (
A tale dealing with the repercussions of the Retcon of everyone's memories that was the arrival of Dawn.

C) Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Ugly Little Monsters (
Set shortly after Joyce's death.

D) Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Death of Buffy (
A tale set in the hiatus between Seasons Five and Six, laying some groundwork for Buffy's resurrection.

Pascoe and Fassbender also wrote Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Autumnal (, and the illustrated novel (rather than full-on comic) Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Creatures of Habit (, but the above-mentioned four trades present their best work.

Go forth and enjoy! Or if you prefer, hold out until March and then enjoy the new stuff!


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