The Virgin Read: The Story Of The Guy Who Told The Story About Mount Everest
Buffy The Vampire Slayer # 27 Written by Jane Espenson Art by Georges Jeanty, Andy Owens & Michelle Madsen Published by Dark Horse Comics
Yeah, I don't know what we should call this one. I'm coming at this comic with all sorts of knowledge. This was an "educated" pick.
Okay, maybe "educated" is the wrong word. As you may or may not know, in the past year (or year and a half) I had been steadily netflix-ing Buffy The Vampire Slayer and catching up on this much loved pop-culture phenomenon. It was a slow start for me, and then midway through season one I really started to enjoy it, and stayed with it for a while. But the 5th Season....I don't even know what to say. It ceased to keep my attention? I got annoyed at the spontaneous materialization of Buffy's sister had me annoyed at first, and once it was explained I tried to hang on to see what else was going to happen, but...I don't know. It didn't really do it for me anymore. I tried, but the spell was broken. I do still want to see the musical episode that everyone loves so much.
In the midst of my Buffy exploration, I read a couple other (or was it just one?) vampire comics, attempted to read Twilight (I couldn't finish the first one - never in my life have I been reading something and clearly thought, "I'm so bored now", as if I was observing my actions from outside of my body, until wallowing through the 200th page of teenage sexual angst that makes up that terrible, terrible book), and now I find myself addicted to True Blood. Vampires seem to be a thing, if not my thing, and since they're running rampant over my fictional time-wasting, it seemed like the right time for me to give Buffy the comic book a little look-see.
I'm not sure if I can say that Buffy is good or bad, or even if I liked it or not. I'm feeling a little indifferent. The very things that might normally make something good to me, the Virgin Reader, annoyed me this time. And the things that normally I'd find to be lame ideas struck me as new and different.
Before I point out those things, though, I think I have to address the TV show end of things. Just last week I read The Muppet Show and I found it really engaging how well that show's format translated into a comic book. I don't think I can say the same about Buffy. Which is fine, I guess. It's not trying to be the show. It's trying to be it's own book. But the people involved are still trying to write in some things from the show and it sort of jolted me.
First of all, the characters hardly look like their TV versions of themselves, but for hair color. And that seems odd to me. If you're going to use the same cast of characters, and the same names, you should make sure they look like, or look somewhat like those characters, right? In the section with the whole gang, I, a person who just spent time with 5 seasons of the show, should be able to recognize who is who. But I couldn't. I had to rely on the moments when they'd write in personality quirks. For instance, suddenly a black haired guy with an eye patch says, "My tea is greasy. Is your tea greasy?" And I figured out by that speech pattern that he's supposed to be Xander. Likewise, it took me a couple of pages up to where he said, "And if we could do something....soonish?" to realize that it was Oz talking. Okay, sure, someone wants artistic license to draw the characters as they see them - well then write them as you hear them, too. Like, either give us a whole new Buffy, or don't.
The comic book is supposed to be Season Eight, and the story was bringing up a connection to a story line from Buffy Season 3 and 4. Again, I would've imagined that would be something I'd appreciate, because it's recognizable, something for the new-to-Buffy-comics reader to identify and get on board with. But I had the opposite reaction, I just thought, "This? Again? Seriously?" I mean, I loved that story line in the show, and I wept - I mean WEPT - when Willow was in pain. Like, as if they were my parents breaking up or something. So, to have it referenced was a little off-putting for me for some reason. (This really is my visceral reaction. I'd love to be headier, a smarter complaint. But I feel like the visceral one is the truest one, so that's what you're getting.) It might not have been so bad for me, the whole Oz mythology and story line, if the comic didn't ALSO have Willow reacting to Oz moving on with his life as if she hasn't. She has moved on. She did move on. That was the whole point of the story line when the viewer last went though with it, and recycling it--not just the basic plotting, but the actual emotional beat--is just lazy and, yes, irritating.
Meanwhile, the whole other part of the story, the Slayer haters? Normally, I feel like I would've found that to be a bit lame, juxtaposed to the recycled story that I found tiresome, the whole Slayer-hating-diabolical-scheme thing seemed inventive, new and engaging. Go figure.
Let's face it, we all know that the best part of Buffy was her relationship with Angel. Basically, the whole Vampire-Human thing that True Blood is capitalizing on. If I had any knowledge that he'd be showing up in this comic at some point or that their relationship trial and tribulations would fuel the story line, I'd probably read this thing as often as it came out. But as of now, after this read, I don't have any interest to read it again. You're welcome to fill me in on anything I've missed and/or tempt me with more information. But at this point, the next time I interact with Buffy the Vampire Slayer will be if I decide to recommit myself to her via Netlfix.