Timing: The majority of these stories take place before (in some cases, way before) the first season of BtVS. There's even a little bit of B.C. action in the very beginning of the trade; and by B.C. I don't mean a psycho-shipper's Buffy/Cordelia dream coming true, I mean B.C. as in Before Christ. As a matter of fact, all of them except one take place before BtVS, and that one takes place way after Buffy's time. So there's no need to worry about continuity issues here, as it doesn't even touch on the events of BtVS or AtS.
REVIEW: While this pales in comparison to the current Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight series being put out by Dark Horse now, "Tales of the Slayers" is a treat for the open-minded Buffy fan.
Like any Whedon product, this (thin) trade paperback supports a much larger theme than it appears to have. These stories about slayers stretching back over time are about loneliness and solidarity, but at the same time, they're about how each slayer is connected to the slayers of the past. Reading this book can give new perspective on Buffy, Faith, and all of the other slayers shown in the television series.
As a whole, the book is good, but not each individual story is satisfactory. The best in the book are Prologue (Joss Whedon), Righteous (Joss Whedon), Sonnenblume (Rebecca Rand Kirshner), and Tales (Joss Whedon). Righteous is told completely in rhyming verse, and has the most intriguing story and unique slayer of the collection. Sonnenblume has the worst art of the collection, but also one of the most solid stories; a young German girl in 1938 struggles between what her Nazi teachers tell her and what she feels is right. Tales is a treat, as it is about Melaka Fray from Joss Whedon's miniseries "Fray" and it wraps up this collection nicely, paying off to the over-all theme (a complicated one at that) of isolation/togetherness.
Some of the not-so-good stories are The Glittering World (David Fury) and Nikki Goes Down (Doug Petrie). Fury and Petrie are both competent--at times astonishing--writers who have made note-worthy contributions to the Buffyverse, particularly Petrie's "Fool for Love" which makes nearly every Buffy top-ten list. However, these two stories in "Tales of the Slayers" seem forced, paced oddly, and suffer from the incoherent narration. Perhaps, had these writers had an entire twenty-two page issue to play their story out, they would have done better. Or maybe they are just better television writers than they are comic book writers.
To sum it all up, the good outweighs the bad. This is an item that every fan of Joss Whedon's work needs, and it is a great companion to the Buffy series (the television show as well as the comic).
Art: Since there's so many different artists contributing, we'll just make a little list.
Prologue- 8/10. Fits the mood of The First Slayer perfectly, and the scene of the vampire being dusted is beautiful
Righteous- 8/10. Can't find any qualms about the art; some really impressive panels, but nothing jaw dropping.
The Innocent- 7/10. A bit wonky in parts, but overall well done.
Presumption- 7/10. A lot of attention is paid to detail, but it comes off a bit blah.
The Glittering World- 4/10. Very moody, but not very good. Just not to my taste. Plus, the Mayor looks nothing like himself in the one panel where you can see his face.
Sonnenblume- 2/10. This was a good story marred by strange art that was very out of place here. Though I can't say it doesn't add a certain diversity, it may have been taken overboard with this art that wouldn't look out of place on one of those hokey Ka-BLAM! skits.
Nikki Goes Down!- 5/10. The art is--again--moody, but that by no means makes it good. Because it isn't. I have to say, though. The art is what truly tells this story, as the few choppy uses of prose take it no where.
Tales- 10/10. I'm ecstatic that Karl Moline (penciller of the "Fray" series) also drew Fray here, and I might've not recognized her if she were pencilled by someone else. The art is colorful and schnazzy, fitting perfectly with Fray's personality. Perfect way to end the trade.
Characters We Know: I'd say Fray, but I think I'm only going to include character's who've been on the actual show in this section. That being said, we see The First Slayer, Nikki Wood, and (though it's only an image of) Buffy. Oh, and I can't forget to mention... dun dun dunnnn, THE MAYOR!
PS: Anyone who wants to read up on the authors of the various Buffyverse novels and comics, I suggest checking out this site: http://www.btvs-angel-authors.net.tc/ There are loads of interesting interviews and tidbits. Oh, and a big thank you to everyone spreading the word about this site over at the IDW forums, the Dark Horse boards, and the Facebook groups. I'll keep reviewin' if you keep a-readin'!