Review by Ian Keogh
The Buffy franchise had been running for almost twenty years when someone hit on the idea of looking back to the very early days, when Buffy had just discovered her vampire slaying status and had not long transferred to Sunnydale High. As the Buffy comics are closely tied into the TV continuity, all High School Years stories occur before the season one episode ‘Angel’, in which Buffy discovers Angel is a vampire.
Combining high school with a nightly dose of vampire slaying is bad enough, having its consequence on school performance, but throw in a bunch of new teenage vampires actually targeting Buffy and the problems are doubled. In any of her stories Faith Erin Hicks is strong on emotional drama, and that’s evident early in a scene when Buffy confides in Willow about what she’s missing out on to be the once in a generation Slayer. That’s greatly enhanced by the sympathetic cartooning of Yishan Li, who’s superb at conveying feelings by expressions and poses. She captures the cast more firmly than she’d attempt in the sequels, but they’re equally well drawn, and there’s a great adaptability when Li drops into fantasy sequences, with the colouring of Rod Espinosa setting them off vibrantly
The basis of the plot concerns a bunch of geeks recently converted to being vampires. It hasn’t conformed to their expectations of instant status, and they discover that among near immortal beings their recent conversion counts for nothing, and they’re still bottom of the social pecking order. Hicks’ presentation of them is endearing. One is angrier and has greater feelings of entitlement, while the others are content to keep on playing dungeons and dragons in a basement of a night, just like they’ve done for years. For a bunch of novices, however, they’re remarkably successful by unwittingly playing on Buffy’s fears.
Freaks & Geeks is a great fun read, true to Buffy the TV show, while it’s nice to see her again before she became fully acclimatised to her position. Glutton for Punishment is the next in the series.