Review by Frank Plowright
Before he developed the immensely successful TV series Joss Whedon sold a script for a long forgotten Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie. Although closely involved at the start, he became increasingly dissatisfied with the way the script was developed. Most of the jokes were stripped out, and what was left had little originality. When it came to presenting Buffy’s origin in comics, Dan Brereton and Christopher Golden adapted Whedon’s original script, rather than the film people saw, as it was far closer to the tongue in cheek mood of the TV show, by 1999 very popular.
For all that she appears a normal, if impossibly attractive, California high school student, Buffy Summers has a destiny. She’s been having dreams about other young women through the ages fighting off monsters, and there’s this undiscovered talent for combat that comes as a surprise to her. What does it all mean?
Joe Bennett’s art is very much lodged in the 1990s, and doesn’t stand up well in an era when more than close-ups and pin-ups are expected. Instead of all the close-ups and facial reactions giving the feel of a fast paced experience, Bennett’s method of storytelling instead allows no-one any space to breathe, and crushes them in the panel borders. It comes across as if he can’t be bothered expanding Buffy’s world. It’s not fatal, but greater effort would have produced an improved read.
Anyone wanting to compare this version with the poor film will be able to see how the comedy in the original script distanced it from what was otherwise a standard vampire story, and there are also some plot changes from the filmed version. As far as the cast goes, only Buffy herself was retained for the TV show, although the fate of Watcher Merrick is rather telegraphed by that very point. For all the smart lines in the script, it takes until the final chapter for Buffy to leap into full vampire-slaying mode, and that’s the most satisfying sequence. Otherwise, while it’s interesting seeing Buffy before her heyday, there are better Buffy graphic novels out there.