Friday, August 3, 2007

Before Sunnydale

What Is It?: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Origin (trade paperback collecting the miniseries). This is a faithful adaptation of Joss Whedon's original script for the Buffy movie (you know, the cheesy pre-Buffyverse one that everyone mucked up), turned into a comic script by Buffy scribe Christopher Golden (who has yet to woo me) and Dan Brereton. Joss has said that this can "pretty much be accepted as canon" but that he had a few issues with it.

Timing: A little less than a year before Buffy comes to Sunnydale.

REVIEW: This, it seems, is just what a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer would want to read. It's a faithful adaptation of Joss Whedon's original script for the "Buffy" movie that, to be kind, was ruined by the director and Donald Sutherland.

One would think that this version of Buff's origin would be foolproof. It depicts Buffy as Sarah Michelle Gellar, Merrick as the show's version, not the movie's, AND it follows Whedon's script closely. However, not all is well with this trade paperback. One, the most obvious problem is length. What should've been a six issue mini series was squeezed into three, which beat the pacing black and blue and hindered the amount of involvement we readers could get in the story. Lothos, instead of the looming threat he should've been, is nothing more than a run of the mill vamp to us, as he is never fleshed out to be more than that. Another problem is the depiction of the vampires here. The story is supposed to be updated here to be consistent with the Buffy-television universe, but many of the vampires are actually colored green. Yes, GREEN. As in blue mixed with yellow. Another species of vampires are these bat-like horned creatures that we never meet in the show who are also green. It would be great if they were distinguished to be DEMONS, not vamps, but within this short series, they're referred to as vampires and are also killed by stakes.

I can't say the comic didn't hold my interest though. The Buffy/Merrick relationship, as different as it was from Buffy/Giles, was one of the most captivating aspects of "The Origin." I do wish it had the chance to develop over a longer miniseries, but what was done here was executed nicely. The climax, Pike's allure, and Buffy's alienation from her friends also made for good reading, though the Buffy/Pike relationship developed way too quickly for me. (SPOILER:) It went from "You're icky" to Smoochies with absolutely no transition besides a bike ride.

I'd recommend passing on "Buffy: The Origin" for now. If you just by "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus, Volume One", you can find "The Origin" collected in there, with many other Buffy miniseries for a much cheaper price.

Art: The art is okay. Very, very plain, but not necessarily bad. Though there were some odd panels (including a fight scene where, in one panel, it looks like Buffy has eight foot long legs with no sign of knees or feet) penciller Joe Bennett is competent enough to create effective action sequences as well as convincing dramatic scenes, especially the Buffy/Pike motorcycle scene after (SPOILER:) Merrick dies. The colors are great contrasts between light/bright and dark/moody as Buffy begins to leave behind her old life (omigod bubblegum pop!) and realizes her destiny (tough-ass slayer). Kudos to colorists Jeromy Cox and Guy Major for that.

Characters We Know: Buffy, Merrick, and a brief appearance by Xander, Willow, and Giles

Rating: 5/10


Matt said...

I've always hated how the original Dark Horse Buffy books had this tendency to portray some vampires (not important ones, just ones she'd fight from time to time) as these bat-like monsters. And not in a Master-y way, I'm talking hunched over with bat-ears, fur, and one of those weird bat-noses. And confusing as it was, the characters would ALWAYS refer to them as vampires.

I say this because I believe that "The Origin" mini-series was my first encounter with such ridiculous misinterpretations, and reading this review reminded me of it.


Anonymous said...

Agreed, on just about all accounts, especially the lack of length and development of Lothos. If not for the vampires, I'd buy this. (Not in the omnibus-edition, though, no matter the price. I will not dillude my shelf-space with non-canon material, as I am insane.)