Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Buffy Comic Project: "A Stake to the Heart, Act 1" [COMICS]


Buffy the Vampire Slayer # 60
(Dark Horse, Volume 1, 1998-2003)

Creators: Fabian Nicieza (story), Cliff Richards (Pencils), Brian Horton (paints), Will Conrad (inks), Michelle Madsen (colors), Clem Robins (letters)

Setting:  Between Movie & Season 1

T.V./Movie Character Appearances:  Dawn, Buffy, Hank Summers, Joyce, Angel, Whistler, Giles, Xander, Wille, Jesse,

Major Original Characters:  N/A

Summary:  Giles' flight arrives in Sunnydale.  Joyce and Hank explain to Buffy and Dawn that they've decided to get a divorce, and both girls are quite upset.  Buffy sneaks out that night to slay vampires, not realizing that she's being observed by Angel and Whistler.  Angel sees how much pain Buffy is in, and Whistler says that with an Orb of Alhambra and black magic, he could take away her hurt and absorb it into himself.  Angel goes through with the ritual, but instead of the emotions being absorbed, they create monsters known as malignant demons.  The first one, Deceit, appears to Buffy as a constant voice in the back of her head, telling her that Hank has been having an affair and that's why he and Joyce are getting divorced.  Buffy comes close to killing a woman she (wrongly) thinks Hank is having the affair with, and then confronts Hank himself--but instead of accusing him of having an affair, her own guilt overcomes her and she asks whether the divorce is because of how much trouble she's caused.  Hank assures her that no one is to blame and that these things happen, and the two hug.  However, there are other malignancy demons, and Whistler warns Angel that Buffy might not be able to overcome the next one on her own.

Review

Really like the throwback photo cover as, continuity-wise, we're *almost* at the point where the show starts.  The scene of Joyce and Hank telling their kids about the divorce was well-written and sad, and will hit close to home for a lot of families.  The artwork is fantastic, as the malignancy demons are incredibly creepy and lurk in the background.  I appreciated little easter eggs, like references to Wolfram & Hart or the (future) Scoobies seen walking through one scene.  Overall, a really good story that fits perfectly and tells a story (the break-up of Buffy's parents) that has been a major facet of the character's life but has never before been depicted.

Notes

* We're officially in the last story-arc for the book, with the show over and the letters' page promising Tales of the Vampires as the next Buffy project from Dark Horse.

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