infinitejest: (buffy: the wind speaks)
[personal profile] infinitejest
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Viva Las Buffy! by Scott Lobdell and Fabian Nicieza.

In some ways, this comic reads like fanfiction. As far as I can tell, this wasn't written by anyone who actually worked on the series. Therefore, I think that this mostly falls under the category of non-canon. (Of course, this same team of writers also came up with Slayer Interrupted and Notes from the Underground, both of which I now want to read.)

The heart of the story was good: Buffy continues killing vampires for a while and even follows some to Las Vegas to bust up a huge ring. She doesn't know what she's doing: she only knows that she's meant to kill vampires, so she rushes in and relies on her powers to save her. She has no strategy, no sense: she relies on instinct alone. She's also going through an emotionally trying time (identified as the Slayer, lost her Watcher, got kicked out of school, her parents are fighting), so maybe she's even trying to take herself out of the picture (though subconsciously) by being reckless.

I like how that contrasts with Pike actually thinking things through: he's trying to figure things out and comes to recognize what Buffy can't. He sees her self-destructive behavior, but he's too insecure in his relationship with her to call her on it. He also doesn't figure he has a right to considering his background of delinquency (although that just gives him the authority to back up his statements). Of course, he still has his blind spots: he doesn't see that there are certain strengths a Slayer with friends has that one who stands alone lacks. Anyway, he ends up trying to take himself out of the picture (consciously).

This collection of comics also does a good job of setting up the dissolution of Buffy's parents' marriage. They're painted as a stressed family, slowly collapsing under the weight of misunderstanding and lack of commitment. Also, the Joyce here is the understanding and interested Joyce of the television show. That's a comfort, considering the ridiculous Joyce from the Origin comic. (Oh, yes, I've heard since that, in terms of the show, the Origin story doesn't exist. Only the hinted-at back-story in the show is canon.)

However, this collection's revisionist in that it includes Dawn and gives us scenes of how Giles came to be Buffy's Watcher. Dawn fits in well-- she's background noise and she is characterized properly. Giles, though, is not Giles as we know him and he's casting spells left and right. Actually, the Watcher bit was one of the weakest parts of the book-- it's just kinda thrown in there and I don't like the way they portray Giles. The Giles of this comic simply is not characterized properly-- he doesn't ring true with the Giles of the show.

They also included an Angel subplot, which was the second weakest part of the book. He's still going by Angelus at this point and his presence in this story is rather amorphous. They bring him in all strong and silent and then give him lines and emotions that don't fit later (begging Buffy-- who still doesn't know he exists-- to forgive him when he ends up vamping a man to get out of an pocket in time, etc.). His lines don't fit within the supposed show storyline nor within the context of the comic. It really just made me even more annoyed with Angel's character, though they did a good job of making ironic comments on the later situation between Buffy and Angel. For example, there's a point where Pike is watching Angel walk away and he thinks, "Happily ever after? I got about as much of a shot as THAT guy does..." Hah.

The Big Bads were interesting, though: they were Siamese twins, only one of which was a vampire. I feel that this would be physically impossible, but they were really scary and interesting. And, when one of them died, the other one had a very interesting, understandable, and avaricious reaction.

And, lastly, the thing that bothered me the most was that Buffy showed no tendency of wanting to return to being a normal girl in this graphic novel. I know I've argued before that, in her heart of hearts, Buffy (eventually) doesn't actually want to BE normal. But she's always saying she does, and I think she'd be saying that even more vehemently at fifteen when her parents' marriage is on the rocks and her Watcher is dead. (However, seeing as how I just found out earlier that this same team wrote Slayer Interrupted, I guess they get to this a bit later on. Slayer Interrupted is the graphic novel wherein Buffy's put in the mental hospital.)

The artwork is really pretty, though.

Overall, I'd say give this one a miss. It doesn't really add anything to the Buffy mythos and mostly just detracts. If you want to know what happened between LA and Sunnydale, just imagine that Buffy ran away to Las Vegas with Pike for a few weeks, then had a break down and ended up in a mental hospital for a few months. Anything you imagine, within reason, oughta do it.

Links

Analysis of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Movie
Analysis of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Origin comic
Analysis of Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1.1: "Welcome to the Hellmouth"
Analysis of Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1.2: "The Harvest"
Analysis of Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1.3: "The Witch"

December 2010

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