By:Tim Janson
Review Date: Tuesday, September 25, 2007

When Dark Horse Comics began publishing in 1986, they took a strategic path far different than most of the other independent publishers of the day. Dark Horse was clever enough to go after licensed properties that already had a built-in fan following. Titles such as Aliens, Predator, Terminator, and the many Star Wars titles gave them a huge leg up on their competition. That’s why they are still around over twenty years later while companies like Eclipes, First, Comico, and Malibu are but distant memories. Another property which has proven to be enormously popular for Dark Horse has been Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
This is the second omnibus edition of slayer tales and reprints several issues from the Buffy comic as well as various trades/graphic novels into this 320 page tome. The stories are set at various points in Buffy’s career although they are all set in during season three of the TV series or earlier. In fact the first story, “A Stake through the Heart” predates Buffy’s move to Sunnydale although after the destruction of the gym at her old school. In this tale writer Fabian Nicieza makes the controversial move of retconning Dawn into the Buffyverse before her actual creation. Buffy and Dawn are dealing with their parent’s separation and their eventual move. Buffy is already feeling guilt over her parent’s marriage troubles and Angel makes things worse by accidentally releasing malignancy demons to torment her.
“McGuffins” is a short story from Dark Horse Comics Presents. Giles sends Buffy a “present” as a test…a pair of nasty little gremlin-like creatures who run amok in her house. Buffy cannot win this one with her fists. She’ll have to use her wits to defeat the little pests.
Two of the stories are Spike and Dru adventures and don’t even feature Buffy at all…kinda strange since she’s the title star but oh well…”Queen of Hearts” finds Spike and Dru gambling on a riverboat and discovering their host is a demon who leeches the luck off his customers. The pair have a bad breakup in “Paint the Town Red” as Spike nearly destroys Dru. He takes a break from her, heading off to Turkey but Dru isn’t going to let him go so easily.
“Ring of Fire” takes place during Season Two when Angel is going though his evil period. He, Dru, and the wheelchair-bound Spike have found a set of ancient Samurai armor that belonged to a demon named Kelgor. They plan to use the armor to raise the demon and Buffy, Kendra and the rest of the Scoobys have to stop them.
Finally in “Dust Waltz” two ancient demons, Lillith and Lamia come to Sunnydale for an ancient Hellmouth ritual called the Dust Waltz where each chooses a champion to battle to the death. Since Buffy has killed Lillith’s champion, she is forced to fight in his place.
There isn’t a standout story in the book but there are no stinkers either. “Stake through the Heart” is probably the weakest as it is a slower moving, depressing story that seems out of place with the tone of the stories from early in Buffy’s career. It reads more like a story from Season Six. The Spike and Dru stories are quite fun as the pair is basically off just carousing and having a good time. The art is strong throughout although I was never particularly fond of regular series artist Cliff Richards. I much preferred the lighter style of Luke Ross on “McGuffins” and Hector Gomez on “Dust Waltz.” The Dark Horse Omnibus editions are a bit more expensive than those from Marvel and DC, but they have the advantage of being in full color.

Mania Grade: A
Written By: Various
Art By: Various
Publisher: DC Comics
Pages: 320
Price: $24.95