Review by Win Wiacek
Fully established as a media sensation via the TV series, the waters were tested for Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics with The Dust Waltz, successful enough to generate a succession of sharp, thrilling tales that perfectly complimented the sensational, groundbreaking and so, so cool TV show.
The Remaining Sunlight offers three standalone stories from regular writer Andi Watson. He would collaborate with several artists, but it’s the cartoon realism of Joe Bennett opening the series, which is set during TV Season Two.
In case you’ve only just returned From Beyond the Veil it’s best you know Buffy Summers was a clueless Valley Girl and hip teen cheerleader until she turned overnight into a monster-killer. She’s the latest winner of a mystic, genetic lottery that transforms mortal maids into human killing machines: Slayers. Moving to the small California hamlet of Sunnydale, obliviously located on the edge of a mystic portal dubbed The Hellmouth, she, a close band of new friends and her cult-appointed magical mentor Rupert Giles battle devils, demons and every species of terror inexorably drawn to the area and who/what/which consider humanity a snack.
‘Wu-Tang Fang’ is set after another tedious school day, with a pack of vampires attacking Willow, Xander and Buffy on the way home, the Slayer easily deals with the ill-conceived assault, but is afterwards confronted and threatened by a mysterious oriental figure in a cloak and straw hat. It’s enough for Xander, fed up with being saved by a girl, to enrol at a martial arts Dojo.
Next up is the annual arcane imbecility of ‘Halloween’ in Sunnydale – a night when vamps generally stay in due to the hordes of happy people wandering about. This time, however, a pack of smart young dead things decide to stock up on tasty human titbits for their enforced vacation. One of them is scholarly stalwart Willow, snatched after storming out of an argument with her folks. Since, like most of the older high-schoolers, Buffy is stuck with chaperoning little kids on the night, nobody notices her BFF is missing until almost too late.
‘Cold Turkey’ continues the holiday horrors as Buffy is lumbered by her mother with producing the daunting Thanksgiving blow-out. Stuck with necessarily late-night shopping between school and Slayer-ing, she and Giles are obsessing over the missing fourth Halloween human-hoarder.
The devastating and dramatic danses macabre conclude here with the aforementioned added bonus ‘MacGuffins’ by Jen Van Meter and Luke Ross. It’s a gleeful mirthquake wherein Buffy receives a brace of mischievous, uncontrollable gremlins in the post. This time however the trollish terrors are not a malign menace but a Watcher-sponsored test – one Giles learns to regret once the hilariously grudge-bearing Slayer finally gets her hands on the slippery little supernatural sods.
The Remaining Sunlight is is sharply scripted and proceeds at a breakneck rollercoaster pace, to perfectly capture the brittle, intoxicating spirit of the TV series. It’s an easily accessible romp even if you’re not familiar with the vast backstory: a creepy chronicle and tumultuous thriller as easily enjoyed by the most callow neophyte as by any dedicated devotee. Uninvited Guests is next, or both are found in the third Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus.