Monday, September 12, 2016

The Buffy Comic Project: "Viva Las Buffy!, Act 4: The Big Fold"

Buffy the Vampire Slayer # 54
(Dark Horse, 1998-2003)

Creators:  Fabian Niceza & Scott Lobdell (story), Cliff Richards (pencils), Will Conrad (inks)

Setting:  Between Movie & Season 1

T.V./Movie Character Appearances:  Buffy, Pike, Angel, Giles, Quentin Travers

Major Original Characters:  Mary-Lou Sidle & Marcus Sidle (conjoined twins); Garner Sidle (casino owner); Willem Bryardale (evil Watcher); The Manager (casino operator)

Summary:  On the roof of the Golden Touch casino, Buffy is enraged when she believes that Pike has hurtled to his death.  She attacks the vampires that surround her and kills all of them except the conjoined twins, who flee below.  Buffy reaches the edge of the roof and looks down, relieved but still angry at seeing that Pike has fallen on top of something soft and is perfectly fine.  Meanwhile, trapped in a time-loop, Angel is told by Garner Sidle, the casino owner, that Garner's the subject of a Navajo curse that feeds on souls; and everyone will remain there unless Angel turns him into a soulless vampire!  At first, Angel refuses since he has stopped turning humans since he regained a soul; but at last, knowing it's the only way he'll see Buffy again, he complies.  Over in London, evil Watcher Bryardale wreaks havoc on the headquarters of the Watcher's Council until Rupert utters a black magic incantation to defeat him.  Quentin Travers says that Rupert will have to atone for his wrong in a place called the Black Shed.  Back at the Golden Touch, Buffy grabs a priest from a nearby chapel, takes him to the roof of the casino, has him bless the water in the large holding tank, and then turns on the sprinklers, spraying the interior of the casino with holy water!  All the vampires inside are dusted, as is Marcus Sidle.  Freed from her conjoined twin, Mary-Lou is ecstatic.  Angel and Garner Sidle (now a vampire) escape the time-loop, and Garner attacks The Manager as Angel manages to barely escape the holy water downpour.  When all the drama is over, Pike and Buffy have a heart-to-heart.  He explains that Buffy can't have friends if she's going to be the Slayer, because it leaves her vulnerable.  He says goodbye and drives off on his motorcycle.


Great artwork again: the flow of the story is easy to follow, the action scenes are exciting, the colours really pop, and the characters are easily recognizable.  The idea of Buffy having an entire tank of water blessed and then spraying holy water through the casino's sprinkler system was ridiculous but inspired; I've seen vampires destroyed in a lot of ways over the years, and that was a first!  The storyline with Giles was pretty strong, and I'm dreadfully curious to find out about the "Black Shed."  On the other hand, the Angel storyline was a bit "meh," and most importantly I just don't think I buy Pike's characterisation.  I know they have to come up with a reason for him to leave at some point, but the whole thing makes him into a bit of a wiener and I'm not sure how it fits into the show's through-line that the reason Buffy is a Slayer unlike any other is because she has friends.


* The first several times I saw the artwork cover I assumed that was Buffy and Faith fighting a vampire, until I realized it was the conjoined-twins.  In the interior artwork, Mary-Lou Sidle looks nothing like she does on the cover.

* Very curious to see what happens in the next issue, one handled by artist Paul Lee solo and featuring Dawn and "Hoopy the Bear"!

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