Slayer Lit

Slayer Lit Review

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VIVA LAS BUFFY

story by Scott Lobdell & Fabian Nicieza :: Art by Cliff Richards

VIVA LAS BUFFY

Reviewed by Mona Benjamin

I borrowed this Dark Horse Comics TPB from my library, and read it pretty much straightaway!

I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was nice to read some *really* early Buffy - as in pre-Season 1 - written in retrospect, with lots of nice nods to the die-hard fan. Particularly interesting was the retroactive insertion of Dawn into the storyline, which genuinely took me by surprise. Buffy's voice still rang true, with the defensive and the comic quips peppered throughout.

It's been years and years since I saw the movie, so I can't speak for the authenticity of Pike, but as a character in this storyline I found him very strong. The from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks-guy who ends up with a lot more than he bargained for; almost like Xander in a gently-alternate universe ("I told you to blame me for it! My family's ashamed I don't have arson on my record yet!"). And the simultaneous (but meaty) sub-plot involving Angel still watching over Buffy from the sidelines - well, that was two for the price one, as far as I was concerned! Three if you count Giles' storyline back in the UK - with some nice little cameos from Wesley and Quentin Travers.

For anyone unfamiliar with this comic - and I'm not going to include anything spoilery - the story is set pre-Season 1, and details both Buffy's expulsion from Hemery High and the disintegrating relationship between Joyce and Hank. But even when faced with expulsion, a Slayer still has a job to do. Buffy may not yet have the Scoobies, but with Merrick dead, her only ally is Pike, a kind of precursor to both Xander and Riley. After dusting various vamps, both Buffy and Pike are left with chips to the Golden Touch Casino in Vegas...and well, Buffy being Buffy, she decides to pursue a little lead in the hope of being able to (s)take out something bigger; or, as Pike says, "I know it's just an excuse for her to run away. Use one set of responsibilities to avoid another."

Tracking her to Vegas (and back) is Angel, maintaining a safe distance in the shadows. Whilst trying to help her, he falls victim to the demonic forces at the Golden Touch in an interesting sub-plot which also provides the backstory to the evil that Buffy is fighting. In the meantime, "somewhere outside London" (I love that, like it means something! Sussex? Devon? Yorkshire? Oxford?!?), The Watchers' Council must select a replacement for Merrick. It is a close call between Giles and Another Contender...and it's more than simply a case of May The Best Man Win...

All in all, a very satisfying and convincing story that both took me back to the beginning and gave me a whole new set of incidents to mull over. The story is pretty much narrated throughout by Pike, who gives us insights into Buffy's predicament and also vividly captures the depth and strength of what he knows to be an impossible relationship; this also rather movingly pre-figures the Buffy/Angel relationship still to come.

One word of warning: the cover really is cheesy, with a photoshopped SMG in full Vegas regalia; although I imagine its effect is intentional, in keeping with the general concept of cheesiness that is Las Vegas! But if you're susceptible to such things, please don't let the cover put you off - it's such a great read.

**** 4 out of 5 stars

Mona Benjamin is a film production coordinator who has worked on such movies as CASINO ROYALE, KING ARTHUR and SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.