Buffy


Collects issues 1-3 of the miniseries with a couple of pages of concept art.

Writer: Doug Petrie
Artist: Ryan Sook
Publication year: 2000 (during seasons 4/5)

The comic is set during season 2 (between “Passion” and “I only have Eyes for You”), while Angel was Angelus and we get to see him interact with Spike and Drusilla. In the show, Spike/Angelus snark were funny but unfortunately, the comic doesn’t reach that level.

The story starts on a Japanese ship which is transporting cargo that the crew thinks is cursed. They’re almost right: Angelus is on board. He kills almost all of the crew, leaving just one man alive (a crucial mistake), and takes the cargo which turns out to be a suit of magical samurai armor which can summon a powerful demon. Spike (in the wheelchair), Drusilla, and Angelus start working to summon the demon Kelgor.

Meanwhile, Giles is having a hard time with Jenny’s death and that makes Buffy and the gang uneasy, they even wonder if he can do his job anymore. During a fight with the resurrected Kelgor, men from a mysterious government agency arrest Buffy.

The main story line is pretty similar to usual Buffy stories. However, there a lot of great moments in the comic such as the return of Kendra. She was really underused in the series and I was happy to see her back. Giles is also all dark and Ripper like which is always fun. The writer Doug Petrie wrote quite a few episodes and it shows.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really care for the art, it looks almost smudgy. Drusilla didn’t look anything like the actress. However, it seems to me that the art improves in issues 2 and 3. I also think that in the end the mysterious government agents are pretty pointless. Unless they are actually from the Initiative but that wasn’t confirmed.

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The third book in a trilogy of alternate universe Buffy: the Vampire Slayer story set at the end of Season Six.

Publication year: 2004
Page count: 258
Format: print
Publisher: Pocket Books

At the end of the previous book, Giles and the gang stole Ghost of Tara away from Willow. Of course, the moment Willow realizes this, she heads over to the Magic Box to her lover’s ghost back. However, Giles has cast a powerful spell over the whole store so Willow can’t get in. In addition, Giles has imprisoned Ghost of Tara to the store so that only he can release the spirit. He, and the gang, are trying to make Willow turn back to good by forcing her to do good deeds in order to spend even little time with the ghost. Willow gives Giles her pets, Oz and Spike, but leaves, livid with rage.

Even though her two previously created underlings, the cat demon and the Riley golem, both turned against her, Willow creates one more minion. This time it’s a Gnarl demon and she imprisons it into a cave. She plans to kidnap the Scooby gang and give them to the flesh eating demon until they give her back the ghost. Willow’s minions are able to kidnap Xander and Dawn pretty easily. They are left paralyzed on the mercy of the demon who starts to skin them alive.

At the start of the book, Willow seems more merciless and evil than before. In the previous books, she and Buffy fought because Buffy and the gang were in the way, but now Willow wants revenge. She also has to deal with more mundane trouble. The families of her coven members who are missing want them back and they blame Willow. She’s forced to deal with that because the police can be quite a lot of trouble and delay Tara’s resurrection.

Willow took two familiar characters prisoners in the first book, although she calls them pets. She trapped Oz in a permanent werewolf form and chained him to her apartment. Spike had just returned to Sunnydale after he got his soul back when Willow took him as a pet, too. Oz gets a few good scenes in this book but otherwise Navarro didn’t do much with them. I kept waiting for them to get some sort of payback or something but no. In fact, I’m not sure why they were even in the series.

The tone of the series is pretty dark and depressing, which is expected, when one of the core Scooby gang turns against the others. However, in this book, the kidnapped Scoobies are down right tortured pretty gruesomely. Dawn, Xander, and Giles end up almost dead.

Unfortunately, I felt that this was the weakest book in the trilogy. I really didn’t like the ending and Willow keeps doing the same mistakes. Also, first Willow is drained from a fight and the next moment she’s teleporting and doing other stuff that clearly requires a lot of magical mojo. Sadly, the series had a great premise but ended up having too many lost opportunities. Of course, that could be because it’s a tie-in novel.

The second book in a trilogy of alternate universe Buffy: the Vampire Slayer story set at the end of Season Six.

Publication year: 2004
Page count: 258
Format: print
Publisher: Pocket Books

The first book ended in a battle where Anya was able to read Giles’ spell that was suppose to send Willow’s coven members to different places on Earth, and so diminish her power and especially her ability to get more power. The spell was somewhat successful, sending five members away. At the same time, Willow was battling her demonic cat demon which had turned against her. But when the cat demon tried to kill Buffy, Willow killed the demon.

Willow’s remaining coven members aren’t happy about it. They say that Willow didn’t protect them like she had promised. Frustrated, Willow gives in to their demands and tries to bring back the vanished coven members. She’s able to bring back only three of them. She also creates an even more powerful underling to protect her coven: a golem. In order to make the golem more powerful and to make sure it has protective impulses towards the coven, Willow binds a dead spirit to it: Riley Finn. In this universe, Riley and his wife were killed shortly after their visit to Sunnydale.

At the start of the first book, when Willow and Giles battled each other, Giles was paralyzed from the waist down. Now, he’s feeling insecure and has trouble focusing on the problem at hand. However, Anya has been working on a healing spell and Giles is, of course, anxious to use it. The gang also doesn’t know what Willow wants; they just try to minimize the damage she’s doing to Sunnydale. When Giles finds out that his spell has sent some of the coven members into danger, he’s very guilty and second guesses himself often.

In this book, Willow clearly needs her coven to give her strength. She ends up trying to make them feel safer instead of just threatening them, like she did in the first book. She also recruits an old friend: Amy. Amy turns out to have quite a lot of resentment towards the gang because they didn’t turn her back to a human earlier. She only helps Willow because Willow promises to her that when Tara is back, Amy will be the biggest witch in Sunnydale. Because Willow will retire.

Willow is also trying to blame everything on Buffy. She’s clearly on the road of not taking responsibility from her actions. However, the Ghost of Tara is constantly questioning her decisions.

Unfortunately, the second book has a lot of repetitive elements from the first. I’m not even sure if the second book is needed. However, I was again happy to read about Buffy and the rest of the gang.

The books ends in a cliffhanger, which is again in a climatic battle.

The first book in a trilogy of alternate universe Buffy: the Vampire Slayer story set at the end of Season Six.

Publication year: 2004
Page count: 282
Format: print
Publisher: Pocket Books

This is an alternate ending to Buffy’s season six where Willow turns evil from grief. Sadly, Warren still shoots Tara; the story starts right at the end of “Villains”. Willow skins Warren alive but instead of immediately teleporting away, she banters for a while with Buffy, Xander, and Anya. So, Andrew and Jonathan have time to run away, steal a car, and drive out of the book (hurrah! I rewatched the end of Season Six again and found out that I’ve apparently grown more tolerant towards the idiot trio (this time, I didn’t shout at end of every line of dialog they had “because you’re too stupid to live!”) but I might have abandoned this series if they would have become major characters. Hopefully that’s the last we’ll see of them.)

The prolog is a quick recap and rewrite of the last three episodes of season six: Willow teleports to Rack, sucks his power, and is confronted by Dawn. Then Willow attacks Buffy, Xander, and Anya at the Magic Box and Giles appears. However, this time when Willow defeats Giles and sucks his energy, she doesn’t get in touch with everyone on Earth but keeps the energy bottled up inside her and teleports away. She also doesn’t want to end the world.

Unfortunately, the book starts right at the most intense scenes from Season Six and there’s no way to keep the whole book, let alone the series, that intense. So inevitably, the energy winds down and the book seems to slow down. It seems like little happens during the book compared to the start.

In a pretty anticlimactic way, Willow simply looks for a place of her own and gathers her own coven to give her more power. Her plan is to resurrect Tara. Willow also creates a cat-like monster which will gather magical energy by killing the evil supernatural people in Sunnydale and then giving the energy to Willow.

For the most part, I really enjoyed the book and the set up (but of course it has no redeeming literary merit). I’m curious to read the rest to of the series and of course it’s a delight to return to Buffyverse again. I think the characterization was very good for the most part; Buffy and the gang determined to first help Willow and finally determined to stop her.

However, there were a couple of things that grated. Dawn: it was said in the show that the characters, including Dawn, remember their lives with Dawn; that is as if Dawn had been part of the gang right from the start. Yet, here Dawn doesn’t know Oz because he left the gang before she joined it. Huh? Also, in the final fight against Willow, Dawn is not only allowed to participate but is part of the assault group. That’s wildly out of character for Buffy who barely lets Dawn go to school alone.

Anya is one of the central characters in the book and she’s become a vengeance demon again. Even though Xander has left her at the altar only a few months ago, she’s apparently now forgiven him and they are already back together.

I’m also not too sure about the inclusion of couple of familiar characters, but hopefully Navarro does something clever with them later.

This book is written for the fans of the show; the characters, the situations, and the relationships aren’t introduced. If you haven’t seen the show, there’s really no point in reading the series.

Huge spoiler:

I also really, really liked the Ghost of Tara. She appears to Willow and says that she’s Willow’s conscience. Even though it’s problematic to me that Willow doesn’t know how the ghost came to be or who sent her, she just accepts the ghost and doesn’t even investigate hers origins, it was heart-breaking to read them talk. The Ghost tries to talk Willow out of the resurrection scheme, but when that fails the Ghost warns Willow about possible bad consequences and tries to keep her from doing real evil. Without her presence, Willow scenes would have been far more straight forward. Now Willow has to debate and explain her actions, somewhat.

The final book in the epic Gatekeeper trilogy which is set on the third season after Revelations and before Lovers’ Walk.

Publication year: 1999
Format: print
Page count: 321
Publisher: Pocket Books

The previous book, Ghost Roads, ended in a triple cliffhanger: Xander had been shot and is terribly wounded, and Willow and Cordelia are carrying him through the ghost roads in a desperate attempt to get him to the Gatehouse where the Gatekeeper has the cauldron of Bran the Blessed which might be able to heal Xander. Unfortunately, the dead souls on the ghost roads are insisting that Xander is already dead and should stay, and demons are attacking Willow and Cordelia.

Meanwhile in Sunnydale, the cult Sons of Entropy have kidnapped Joyce, Buffy’s mother, in the hopes of luring the Slayer into a trap. Giles and the gang have tried to find Joyce but haven’t succeeded. Buffy, Oz, Angel, and Michaela return unexpectedly to Sunnydale from their European trip. Unsurprisingly, Buffy demands that they find her mother before she deals with the upcoming apocalypse. The Gatehouse is still in grave danger and the Gatekeeper is having trouble keeping the monsters from coming to Earth. Also, the barriers between the Otherworld, where some of the dead souls linger before going to their next stop, and Hell are weakening, and demons are going to the ghost roads and further to Earth.

Ethan Rayne is back! He doesn’t want the Earth to be wiped out and he’s trying to help Giles and Buffy who are, understandably, very suspicious. Ethan loves chaos and knows some of the Sons of Entropy so he’s not a very reliable ally. The witch Amy Madison also makes an appearance. Faith still doesn’t.

We also get short passages from the POV of Il Maestro, the main bad guy. He’s a repulsive character who enjoys torture and killing. We get to see his childhood and training into a mighty sorcerer under the tutelage of a merciless teacher. While none of it excuses his horrible actions, the background makes him more understandable.

This is a good ending to the series, although some of it is pretty predictable. Still, there are a couple of plot twists I didn’t see coming. We get to see more of Joyce, and her determination not to give into her fear and her dedication to Buffy. Again, the book has more horror in it than in a usual Buffy episode with people being sacrificed and killed. Angel in particular kills a lot of people in this series.

Of course, the high body count highlights how weird it is that anyone still lives in Sunnydale and how the ordinary people can explain away the most weirdest things.

The Gatekeeper actually felt a bit cheesy. The concept is nothing new: one bloodline is tied to the magical Gatehouse where monsters are imprisoned for eternity. When the current Gatekeeper dies, his heir has to take up the duty which means basically never having any other kind of life. The Gatekeepers live over a hundred years so it would have been possible for them to marry and start having kids early and perhaps have a pool of heirs to choose from. But no. The Gatekeepers marry late in life and have just one boy. The current Gatekeeper was 21 when his father died, at around 130 years old. The current Gatekeeper’s son is 11 which is awfully young to be facing such a responsibility. However, it was brought up in the books that it’s possible that the single heir late in life is some kind of curse on the family. Still the current Gatekeeper and his son are sympathetic characters and so is the current Gatekeeper’s mother whose ghost is tied to the house.

The second book in the Gatekeeper trilogy which is set on the third season after Revelations and before Lovers’ Walk.

Publication year: 1999
Format: print
Page count: 370
Publisher: Pocket Books

The Gatekeeper in his house in Boston is responsible for keeping dimensional rifts closed and imprisoning all monsters which have managed to slip into Earth from other dimensions. However, he is getting older and weaker. A cult of robed men called the Sons of Entropy have taken advantage of that. Their feared leader Il Maestro has commanded them to attack the Gatehouse and capture Buffy for his own sinister purposes. Buffy and her friends defended the Gatehouse from the attacks earlier but now they have more important task: to find the Gatekeeper’s eleven year old son who has been kidnapped. The boy had been in a school in London and time is short, so Buffy, Angel, and Oz use the Ghost roads to get to Britain in just a few hours. There, they are contacted by a man sent by the Watchers Council. Unfortunately, the man is a spy and sends the trio to a trap. However, the boy isn’t in Britain so the trio will have to do a road trip around Continental Europe.

Meanwhile, Giles, Willow, Cordelia, and Xander defending Sunnydale. Dimensional rifts are opening up and Willow uses her spells to seal them. One rift even opens into the Summers’ house and Joyce has to confront a supernatural threat. Also, the Flying Dutchman has broken free from the Gatekeeper’s bindings and is gathering live people to kill.

However, the Sons of Entropy don’t know that their Maestero is just a pawn. Il Maestro serves a demon who demands a sacrifice: Buffy or the Master’s beloved daughter. The Master is a vile man who has served evil for centuries. He enjoyed killing and torturing other people. Yet, he loves his adopted daughter and would like her to be his successor to the all-male Sons of Entropy.

Again, there’s a lot of action. Buffy, Angel, and Oz battle various creatures and groups of Sons of Entropy. Some of the Sons are low level sorcerers but powerful enough to give our heroes a lot of trouble. There are also more horror in the book than is usual for Buffy: the Flying Dutchman flies around and kidnaps people. This is often told from the point-of-view of the kidnapped, and to-be-killed, men and women, and so it’s more horrific because they aren’t the main characters and anything can happen to them. There’s a great sequence with the Dutchman and one of the regular characters. Also, since the Sons of Entropy are human Buffy’s gang is in fact killing and brutally wounding them which is quite different from the show where the villains tend to be various monsters.

Cordelia’s, Xander’s, and Willow’s parents are talked about several times which a bit unusual. The Scooby Gang stays out long into the night, battling evil, and are worried that they are going to be grounded until graduation. Cordelia and Willow also have a nice bonding moment which we didn’t really see in the series and is very ironic considering what happens in the episode follow the book. Buffy and Oz also talk more than probably in the series as a whole.

Spike and Drusilla have kidnapped the boy and are holding him. There are a few scenes with them but putting them on the cover is almost false advertising. Again, Faith doesn’t make an appearance.

The Ghost roads weren’t used much which was a bit disappointing. Only people with a connection to the supernatural can walk them and that’s why Buffy, Angel, and Oz are the only ones to use the roads. Apparently, being a witch doesn’t count. Unfortunately, the Ghost roads are declared immediately very dangerous and not to be used lightly, so the trio uses a car most of the time. In the first book, Angel was confronted by Jenny and I would have loved to see more of that sort of character torture. Alas, it didn’t happen. The ghosts attack the trio, when they try to use the roads, and demand to be let back into the world. Of course, Buffy couldn’t let that happen. Also, there are monsters walking the Ghost roads.

This is as good Buffy entertainment as the first book and the characters are mostly themselves. However, there’s no clear attraction going on between Willow and Xander, which is a bit odd considering the next episode. I didn’t care for that plot twist at all, so I’m not complaining. 🙂

The book ends is huge cliffhanger!

First book in the Gatekeeper trilogy which is set on the third season after Revelations and before Lovers’ Walk.

Publication year: 1999
Format: print
Page count: 369
Publisher: Pocket Books

Buffy, Willow, Oz, Xander, and Cordelia are “enjoying” the Amateurs night at the Bronze. When Angel joins them, Buffy is feeling lonely and leaves. The rest of the gang follows her. Outside, they are attacked by a large creature which breaths fire. Xander tries to protect Cordelia from it but Buffy shoves him to the ground. Cordelia’s hair is burned and Xander is really mad at Buffy because apparently he still wants to be the big man around. The creature flees. Giles is in New York in a Librarians’ meeting so the gang start to research with out him. They find out that the creature is a demon called the Springheel Jack. Then clear skies start to thunder so loud that it feels like the sky is falling.

Meanwhile in New York, Giles meets a beautiful, intelligent, and sophisticated Micaela Tomasi and enjoys an evening with her. He’s starting to think that he might get over Jenny’s death. Then, his room is ransacked and he’s pushed down stairs so that he’s in hospital for several days. When Buffy finds out, she seriously considers flying to NY but reluctantly decides to defend Sunnydale against more than the usual monsters. Trolls are kidnapping people and the Kraken has attacked local fishermen. There’s also a rain of toads.

Micaela confesses to Giles that she’s a Watcher and she’s been sent to keep an eye out for Giles because several Watchers have been killed. Giles is disappointed and concerned. Then Micaela disappears and Giles returns to Sunnydale. However, Giles is convinced that all of the chaos has been happening because something nasty has happened to the Gatehouse in Boston. The Gatekeeper is the man who is supposed to imprison creatures from other dimensions. Giles, Buffy, Xander, and Cordelia fly to Boston while Willow, Oz, and Angel defend Sunnydale.

Out of the Madhouse has a lot of fighting and action scenes. Most of the time the gang is split up so that effectively doubles the fight scenes. However, there’s time for a few character scenes as well. Most of the time Xander makes it obvious that he hates Angel but there’s one scene where they sort of bond over fighting a troll. Except when Xander calls Angel “Dead Boy”. There’s also a great scene between Willow and Joyce, Buffy’s mother. They don’t interact much at all in the series so it was great to have them together, even though they ended up worrying about Buffy.

The characterization is mostly spot on. The gang is pretty focused on the upcoming graduation and Buffy is depressed because she can’t have a life after graduation. It’s also disappointing to her mother, even though Joyce seems to be mostly in denial about Buffy being the Slayer.

I have only a couple of complaints. Oz talked too much but this could be because it’s harder to convey just body language in a book. The gang was a bit too accepting of Angel; the book is set right after Revelations where the gang finds out that Buffy has been harboring Angel, and yet everything is pretty much the same as before Angel went Angelus. Willow has a few angsty thoughts but that’s it. Also, no Faith! Surely, she should have been in the thick of things, fighting.

The Gatehouse is an interesting concept but it’s perhaps a bit too big for something which is never spoken of before or after. The same goes for some monsters, too. I really enjoyed the concept of the Ghost Roads where the spirits of (some?) of the dead are waiting for their passage to afterlife. I can’t wait to see more of in the next book. But once again, it’s very uncanonical.

The book has a handful of short historical scenes, which are integrated into the story. The first is set in 1539 in the Court of King Francis I. Two sorcerers are trying to get power in the court by influencing the Daphine, Catherine de’ Medici. She’s still childless and desperate to try anything. One of the sorcerers kills a Slayer in order to get power. Later, we get diary entries from one of the sorcerers. I enjoyed these.

This is definitely a book for Buffy fans, though. There’s not much explanations for people who’ve never watched the show.

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