Monday, September 10, 2007

What Happened Here?

What is It?: "Stake to the Heart" is a trade paperback collecting four issues of a pre-Season One Buffy adventure by Fabian Nicieza.

Timing: After "Slayer Interrupted", before BtVS: Season One. This is the third and final story arc of the "Buffy: Year One" series.

REVIEW: The story behind "Stake to the Heart", the final arc in the Buffy: Year One series, is hard to follow, but not in the way that one would feel stupid because they couldn't understand. It's just that the writing is just so completely convoluted that it makes the story indecipherable. We are left with unanswered questions aplenty: At what point did Buffy see the demons? If she couldn't see them all along, how did she fight them in the end? What changed TO make her see them? Could they harm other people? Because--I'm not going to spoil it--but something happens to a character other than Buffy that SHOULD have killed that character, but in the end said character was left unscathed. However, in the final part (Part Four) of this trade paperback, the story gets back on its feet as Buffy, Dawn, and Joyce enter Sunnydale and settle into their new home. All I have to say about that is writer Fabian Nicieza has 'brass testes' for that joke/reference he made as Joyce laid exhausted in the couch when they first arrived in the new house. The joke is ballsy, creative, and perhaps a bit tasteless... and it's also memorable.

Angel's story line is interesting, and makes for the best reading in this trade paperback. We see him hanging out with Whistler, the demon introduced in Season Two of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" who helped Angel get back on his feet, and they inadvertently cause most of the trouble in this book. Angel tries hard to correct his mistakes, and that's where a major error occurs. Whistler and Angel discuss options, and Whistler goes to WOLFRAM AND HART for help. In the television show ANGEL, Angel had never heard of Wolfram and Hart. Though I realize that this trade paperback isn't part of the Buffyverse canon, an error in the continuity so large is very hard to ignore.

So what went wrong here? We know that Scott Lobdell, who co-wrote the first two arcs of "Buffy: Year One" with Fabian Nicieza was absent for this volume. But previous arc, "Slayer Interrupted", wasn't much better than this. I guess "Buffy: Year One" will go down as a one hit wonder.

Art: Cliff Richard's pencils are good; nothing at all different from the previous arcs of Buffy: Year One. What makes this arc special is that some of the pages are actually painted, the art here done by Brian Horton. The monsters are especially beautiful, and I can say the same for the covers (also painted by Brian Horton). So, while this trade paperback doesn't have much in the way of story, the art is something to be treasured. But, sorry Mr. Fabian Nicieza... Good art isn't enough to rescue this trade paperback from the depths of suckage. Buffy: Year One started off strong with "Viva Las Buffy" and plummeted to the aforementioned depths as quickly as Sisqo's career fell off.

Characters We Know: Buffy, Dawn, Joyce, Angel, Whistler, Hank Summers, Giles, Xander, Willow, Jesse, and -ahem- Lilah Morgan.

Rating: 4/10

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