Buffy the Vampire Slayer # 4
(Volume 1) (Dark Horse, 1998-2003)
Creators: Andi Watson (writer), Hector Gomez (penciller), Sandu Florea (inker)
Setting: Season Two
T.V. Character Appearances: Buffy, Giles, Angel, Oz, Willow, Xander, Cordelia
Major Original Characters: Mr. Richter (employer)
Summary: Buffy loses her savings after wrecking a car during some midnight vampire slaying, but a school dance is coming up and she wants a new dress. Making the same mistake as teenagers everywhere, she decides to get a part-time job. Enter Sunnyvale Mall, home of the Popsicle Palace, where Buffy sells frozen treats to Christmas shoppers. Only her boss, Mr. Richter, keeps disappearing into the off-limits storage room. Unbeknownst to everyone, Richter has been practicing how to summon an ice demon. Success brings disaster, however, when the demon breaks free. Fortunately, Buffy is there and, after the mall suffers catastrophic damage, she manages to rip up the incantation book and put things back to normal. With her dress ruined for the dance, she and the Scoobies partake in a celebratory snowball fight.
Review: There's no death, drama, or angst here, but Watson serves up another more or less likable Buffy story. Demon summoning is very much overplayed in the Buffyverse; but I can't complain, as I had the summoning of an ice demon as the plot of my never-to-be-published Buffy novel titled Hell Frozen Over. Buffy's job at the Popsicle Parlor foreshadows her minimum wage job at the Doublemeat Palace in Season Six, and she has a conversation while ice skating with Angel about her poor career prospects that is very reminescent of the What's My Line two-parter in Season Two. The dialogue continues to be solid but unspectacular, with little of the laugh-out-loud humor that Whedon always brought to the show.
* An interesting response from editor Scott Allie to a letter about where the comics are set in the show's continuity. "Yep, all of the events you're reading about in the various Buffy comics take place during season two, before Angel lost his soul. . . . But if you try to think too hard about where exactly all this fits into the series, you're gonna hurt yourself." I guess I can buy Season Two, though Season Three also fits most of the stories, especially the Halloween story in Issue #2, which could only take place a full year after the Halloween episode of Season Two (unless residents of the Buffyverse celebrate two Halloweens per year . . .).
* A letter from a reader in Malaysia, a country which apparently banned Buffy from airing on t.v. The reader is quite confused about who the characters are in the comic and what the heck is going on, which is definitely understandable if you've never seen the show. I had never thought about people picking up the comic who weren't already fans of the show, but maybe once in a great while things move in the opposite direction . . .
* I would normally say "who the heck buys popsicles during Christmas!", but I guess this is California and all the shoppers are depicted in shorts and t-shirts . . .
* I liked the picture here, and could imagine stealing it for a Christmas card if the wife and I didn't already have a cat-in-funny-costume theme going. I perversely imagine that Buffy has focussed all of her payback for various catty comments over the years into one super-powered 130 m.p.h. iceball that breaks Cordelia's jaw, while Giles and Angel look on a laugh.