Buffy the Vampire Slayer: the Origin


By Joss Whedon, Christopher Golden, Daniel Brereton, Joe Bennett & various (Dark Horse/Titan Books Edition)
ISBN: 978-1-84023-105-2

Blood-drenched doomed love is still something of a hot topic these days so let’s take another look at one of the ancient antecedents responsible for this state of affairs – in the shape of Dark Horse Comics’ sequential reinterpretation of the cult B-movie which launched the global mega-hit TV franchise Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Starring Kristy Swanson, Donald Sutherland, Luke Perry and Rutger Hauer, the film was released in 1992 with a modicum of success and to the lasting dissatisfaction of writer/creator Joss Whedon.

Five years later he got to do the thing right and in the manner he’d originally intended. The ensemble action horror comedy series became something of a phenomenon and inspired a whole new generation of gothy gore-lovers and many, many “homages” in assorted media – including comics.

Dark Horse won the licensing rights in the USA, subsequently producing an engaging regular comicbook series and a welter of impressive miniseries and specials. In 1999 the company – knowing how powerfully the inclusivity/continuity/completism gene dominates comics fan physiology – revisited the troublesome movie debut. Scrupulously returning to the author’s script and core concept, restoring excised material, shifting the tone back towards what Whedon originally intended whilst subtly reconfiguring events until they better jibed with the established and beloved TV mythology, adaptors Christopher Golden and Daniel Brereton and artists Joe Bennett, Rick Ketcham, Randy Emberlin & J. Jadsen produced a new 3-issue miniseries which – finally – canonically established exactly what the former vapid Valley Girl did in her old hometown that got her transferred to scenic Sunnydale and a life on the Hellmouth…

The story opens in ‘Destiny Free’ as shallow but popular teen queen and cheerleader Buffy Summers shrugs off her recurring nightmares of young women battling and being killed by vampires throughout history to continue her daily life of smug contentment. Even a chance meeting with grungy stoner badboys Pike and Benny can’t dent her aura of self-assured privilege and studied indolence.

The nightmares keep mounting in intensity however, and all over town teenagers are disappearing…

Things come to a head the week her parents leave town for a trip. In a dark park, a maniac attacks Pike and Benny and is only driven off by the intervention of a mysterious, formidable old man. Even so the assailant manages to take the screaming Benny with him… Next day the old geezer is at school, annoying Buffy. She is blithely mocking until he tells her about her nightmares and explains that she has an inescapable destiny… as a slayer of monsters…

Deep in the bowels of the Earth a monster is marshalling his forces and making terrifying converts out of the spoiled worthless children of California…

Buffy’s stranger is exceedingly persistent and that night, despite her disbelieving misgivings, she and Merrick – an agent of an ancient, monster-hunting secret society – lurk in a graveyard waiting for a recently murdered man to rise from his fresh grave…

When he does – along with unsuspected others – Buffy’s unsuspected powers and battle reflexes kick in and against all odds she spectacularly triumphs…

‘Defenseless Mechanisms’ finds the altered Buffy grudgingly dropping her fatuous after-school activities – and former friends – to train with the increasingly strident and impatient Watcher Merrick. Even though her attitude is appalling and attention easily diverted, the girl is serious about the job, and even has a few new ideas to add to The Slayer’s traditional arsenal…

Even as she begins her career by luring vile vamps out by pretending to be a helpless lost girl in dark alleys, across town Pike is in big trouble. He also knows what is happening: after all every night Benny comes to his window, begging to be let in and offering to share his new life with his old, best buddy…

At school the change in Buffy is quite noticeable and all her old associates are talking and pointedly snubbing her, even as every sundown Lothos’ legion gets bolder and bigger. A fatal mistake occurs on the night when Slayer and Watcher save the finally outmanoeuvred Pike from Benny and the Vampire Lord. Only two of the embattled humans survive and escape…

The tales escalates to a fantastic spectacular climax when the undead army invades the long-awaited Hemery High School dance looking for Buffy and fresh meat/recruits. With his bloodsuckers surrounding the petrified revellers and demanding a final reckoning, Lothos believed his victory assured, but in all his centuries of unlife he’d never encountered a Slayer quite like Buffy Summers…

Visually impressive, sassily scripted and proceeding at a breakneck rollercoaster pace, this smart and simple action-fest is extremely engaging even if you’re not familiar with the vast backstory, and is a creepy chronicle as easily enjoyed by the most callow neophyte as by the dedicated devotee – and besides with the shows readily available on TV and DVD, if you aren’t a follower yet you soon could – and should – be…
™ & © 1999 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.