Sunday, October 16, 2016
Buffy the Vampire Slayer # 55
(Dark Horse, Volume 1, 1998-2003)
Creators: Paul Lee (story & art)
Setting: Between Movie & Season 1
T.V./Movie Character Appearances: Dawn, Joyce, Hank
Major Original Characters: Matthew (demon summoner); Hoopy the Bear (demon bear)
Summary: A demon summoner named Matthew makes a pact with a mysterious monstrous figure: Matthew will receive great power if he arranges for the Slayer to be destroyed by delivering her a stuffed bear that is actually a d'jinn that will fulfill her unconscious desires before turning on her. Matthew gets instructions on where the Slayer lives but, never having seen Buffy, is confused and gives the bear to her little sister instead! Dawn, who is chafing at home because Joyce and Hank keep a close eye on her since Buffy ran away, is quite pleased with the gift. She takes the bear, which she names Hoopy, with her to school. A bully picks on Dawn, and (unbeknownst to her) Hoopy transforms into a real bear and attacks the boy after school! That night, Hoopy transforms into a bear again and sneaks out of the house to retrieve a new doll that Dawn wants. When Matthew learns of his mistake in giving the djinn bear to the wrong Summers daughter, he wrenches it out of Dawn's hands and runs off. But as he rests in an alleyway, Hoopy transforms again and attacks him! Dawn finds Hoopy in stuffed animal form only to be attacked by a gang of vampires before being rescued by Hoopy. When Dawn returns home, she gets in trouble for being out and is grounded. Since she's mad at her parents, Hoopy transforms again and attacks them! But Dawn doesn't really want them to be hurt, so Hoopy starts fighting himself and then runs away. Hank and Joyce think a bear attacked them, but only Dawn knows the truth.
This was a fantastic issue, and kudos have to go out to writer/artist Paul Lee. The story is short, simple, and sweet, and far better than one might expect of a tale featuring a pre-teen Dawn of all characters. The background context (Joyce and Hank being overprotective and tense because of Buffy running away) is perfect for a story about Dawn and the power of wish-fulfillment. The artwork is uniformly excellent. The ending is bittersweet. Just an excellent all-around comic, and probably one of the most memorable of the run.
* The usual interior front-cover design is replaced by the title written in crayon; a nice way to set the tone for the story.
* There's an ad for a video game called Freelancer; it sounds awesome, but Wikipedia indicates it didn't live up to the promises.
* The reason Dawn gets mistaken for the Slayer is quite clever; she's amped up after defeating a video game monster and is blabbing about it to the demon-summoning "delivery man."