Sunday, September 23, 2007

"Right Back To The Beginning! Not The Bang, Not The Word... The True Beginning"

What Is It?: "The Dust Waltz" is the first Buffy graphic novel that Dark Horse published. It was written by Dan Brereton with pencils by Hector Gomez. It is from the first run of non-canonical Buffy comics.
Timing: The timing is ambiguous, though Scott Allie has recently stated in the opening to the second BtVS omnibus that it is--contrary to what Wikipedia says on the matter--set in Season Three of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Knowing that, it can only take place between "Revelations" and "Lover's Walk." All the characters know about Angel being alive, but Cordelia is still smitten with Xander and Willow is dating Oz. It is impossible for it to be set in Season Two, because Willow and Oz don't officially become an item around the time Angel loses his soul... So that leaves the only open spot for this comic to be between B3-07 and B3-08.

REVIEW: This is a very early Buffy comic. "The Dust Waltz" takes place in--contrary to popular belief--mid-Season Three of BUFFY and is the first Buffy graphic novel that Dark Horse ever published. The story is surprisingly coherent and fits in nicely with the mood of early Buffy. The tone is light and the voices, for the most part, are pretty on point. The one character that the writer messes up here is Buffy Summers herself; she, in "The Dust Waltz", is for the most part a clueless and annoying character. Her charm wasn't captured in this depiction of her.

I also had a problem with the inclusion of Giles' niece. She was a character who simply added nothing to the story; the story could have been told the exact same way without her, and our main characters would have a lot more page time than they do. However, I have to add that the plot itself is actually very creative... much more so than I'd expect for the first adaptation. I won't spoil anything, but it includes a demon competition over the Hell Mouth.

Art: The art is old school. Very old school. Some of the colors are inconsistent, causing confusion when you try to identify characters. Also, a big thing for me was the depiction of Willow. Compare her and Cordy's face. Their faces are drawn EXACTLY the same way. They could be twins. Plus, Willow's hair is brown here; same as Cordy's. I really, really don't get that. And Xander looks like he belongs on the cover to a Saved By the Bell DVD set. While the story gets points for being innovative, the overall effect of everything suffers from the way the characters are portrayed.

Characters We Know: Buffy, Giles, Willow, Cordelia, Angel.

Rating: 6/10

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