Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Buffy Comic Project: "Wu-Tang Fang"

Buffy the Vampire Slayer # 1

(Volume 1) (Dark Horse, 1998-2003)

Creators: Andi Watson (writer), Joe Bennett (penciller), Rick Ketcham (inker)

Setting: Season Two

T.V. Characters Appearing: Buffy, Giles, Willow, Xander, Cordelia, Oz

Major Original Characters: San Sui (Kung-Fu Vampire Master); Unnamed Kung Fu Sensei

Summary: After getting beaten up by some vampires and watching Blood Fist Warriors of the Harvest Moon, Xander decides to take up martial arts. He joins a local Kung Fu school, but the instructor is disdainful, calls him "candy-boy", and regularly roughs him up. Meanwhile, (and completely coincidentally), Lolyd Modano, the Sunnydale High "Karate Champion" is found murdered. Research by the Scoobies points to a legendary vampire Kung Fu master named San Sui, who travels the globe looking to challenge other martial artists in duels to the death. During one of Xander's Kung Fu classes, San Sui attacks and kills his Sensei; fortunately, Buffy appears on the scene just in time and holds San Sui off long enough for Xander to plunge a stake in the vampire's back. Buffy and Xander agree that, in the future, she'll do the fighting and he'll do the punning.

Review: A good example of what the first couple of years of the comic is like: a story that is appropriate for teens, concluded in a single issue, and full of action. I liked the Xander subplot here--him wanting Kung Fu lessons is something I could imagine happening during the show, and it fit in nicely with the main plot. Overall, not a deep or meaningful debut, but a pleasant reminder of the show as it was early in Season One.


* This issue begins Dark Horse Comics' practice of printing two editions of every issue: one with a standard art cover and one with a photo cover. I far prefer the art covers, because they're at least something original, whereas the photo covers quickly get tiresome as they're based on a limited pool of official publicity pics. I've read elsewhere, however, that the photo covers far outsold the art covers--I'm guessing they did a better job of catching the attention of people who don't normally buy comics.

* There's not a lot of pomp and circumstance with the first issue, but editor Scott Allie includes a text page introducing the comic's creators and announcing a "name the letter column" contest. He mentions that "everything we do here is seen first by Joss Whedon, creator of the show, and all the artists are approved by Sarah Michelle Gellar."

* Speaking of art, it's serviceable and the characters look pretty close to their T.V. counterparts--though with the annoying comic book tendency to make everyone look like a super model. And, for some unknown reason, Xander is given a light beard. I'll assume his friends were so horrified by it that he shaved it between episodes . . .

* Merchandise of the month: A stake-shaped incense holder, complete with 100 sticks of incense. Man, for only $ 17.95 I could finally put all my incense in one container! Second place: A "Silver Plated Logo Chalice" for $ 24.95.

*  According to mycomicshop.com, this issue had a second printing by Dark Horse with a variant photo cover.  There were also Gold Foil art and photo covers.

Gold Foil Photo Cover

Second Printing Cover

Next Issue

No comments: