Since Buffy season 8 finished last month with the (wonderful) issue #40, I decided to do a big rewatch of Buffy and Angel, as well as read all the other canonical BtVS/AtS comics. Well, in fact, I started the rewatch because there is a rewatch group for BtVS on the SlayAlive forums that started recently, but I've meant to do it for some time. And I'm going to be more serious and make it the full rewatch/(re)read of the entire Buffyverse canon. At least I think so, although I haven't been that keen on reading "Angel: The Fall" series, since what I did read of it didn't seem very interesting to me (mostly just a lot of action and naked chicks).. But we'll see about that when I get there.
Buffyverse confirmed canon consist of:
- All 144 episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- All 110 episodes of Angel
- The Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight comic series
- The Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine comic series
- The Angel: After the Fall comic series and spin-off Spike: After the Fall (Spike and Angel continuing series)
- The Fray comic series
- The Tales of the Slayers comic series
- The Tales of the Vampires comic series
- The Origin comic series
The 1992 movie is not canon (plus, it sucks), so I'm going to ignore it; instead, I'll start with "The Origin" comic, which tells the same story. With everything else, I'll follow the order in which the episodes or comics were released. When it comes to the comics, I've only read season 8 before, so everything else will be a first time read.
There will be lots of spoilers and mentions of things from the entire series runs and the comics I've read in my reviews.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: "The Origin” (Dark Horse comics, parts 1-3, September 1999)
This is a comic adaptation of Joss Whedon's original script for the movie, which is supposed to be much more faithful to it than the 1992 movie was. Whedon has confirmed it as “pretty much” canonical, although he said he had some issues with it. http://buffy.wikia.com/wiki/The_Origin
I don't remember the movie in detail, but from what I do remember, the main difference is not so much in story as in tone, which is much closer to the show. The movie was a summer teen comedy, while "The Origin” is much more of a drama/horror with comedy elements. Buffy here, of course, looks like Sarah Michelle Gellar rather than Kristy Swanson, while Merrick looks like Richard Riehle, who played him in the series, but is portrayed as a much stronger, sterner and more determined figure than he seemed in the short “Becoming" flashbacks. Pike bears a slight resemblance to Luke Perry, but has a white hair and goatee, and Lothos has no particularl resemblance to Rutger Hauer.
The biggest differences in the plot are Merrick’s death - he isn’t killed by Lothos as in the movie, but shoots himself to prevent Lothos from turning him and using him to find out about Buffy; and the burning of the school gym, which happens here in the end (as referenced in the series). Also, Buffy is a freshman here, rather than a senior (obviously, as the movie version doesn't fit with the series canon). The end of the comic is an attempt to link it more closely to the series - the whole story is framed as Buffy talking about her past to Willow and Xander. (We also get a bit of non-info about Pike - just that Buffy hasn't kept in touch with him.)
One detail from this comic that hasn't been hinted at in the show is the portrayal of Buffy's parents. This is the time when Joyce and Hank were presumably still getting along, but according to "The Origin", Buffy’s home life wasn’t that great even back then: they’re portrayed as yuppies who tend to leave Buffy alone all the time, which she isn’t happy about.
The biggest problem with the comic is the inconsistent portrayal of vampires - many of them (except for Lothos and the newly sired vamps) are green - yes, green - with pointy ears?! This mistake is hard to understand since the comic was published after season 2 of the show.
Other than that, it’s a pretty solid first chapter in Buffy’s story, showing how she learned that she was a Slayer, came to accept her calling and went from a popular girl to an outcast in her first high school, Hemery High. Her dreams about past Slayers play an important role, as Merrick only manages to make her believe him when he mentions the dreams. Buffy’s character development from a shallow valley girl that we got a glimpse from in the “Becoming” flashbacks (who, however, shows traces of her later self even early on, when she clearly can't stand her boyfriend's and his friend's sexist attitude), to Buffy the Slayer we know from the series is well done for such a short comic. It would however be nice to have a longer version of the story with more than 3 issues (I’d in particular like to see have insight into Buffy's home life).
Rating: 3- (out of 5)