Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Crash Test Demons


By Andi Watson, Cliff Richards & Joe Pimentel (Dark Horse/Titan Books)
ISBN: 978-1-84023-199-8

Soon after securing her status as a certified media sensation, Buffy the Vampire Slayer won her own monthly comicbook in 1998, with smart, suspenseful, action-packed yarns (in her own monthly series and fully supplemented by spin-off miniseries and short stories in showcase anthology Dark Horse Presents) which perfectly complemented the sensational, groundbreaking and so crucial TV show.

This slim and sinister compilation (I’m once more featuring the British Titan Books edition which features stories set during the third TV Season) continues an extended storyline which pitted the eclectic “Scooby Gang” against ambitious narcissistic psycho-killer vampire Selke and her new breed of modified demonic thralls.

The ongoing ‘Bad Blood’ saga is written as ever by Andi Watson and illustrated by newcomers Cliff Richards & Joe Pimentel, with this volume collecting issues #13-15 (of the monthly Buffy the Vampire Slayer from September-November 1999).

As well as the usual wealth of covers, pinups and photos by Richards, Dave Stewart, Bennett, Jeff Matsuda & John Sibal, this chronicle also includes as bonus an interview with the Brazilian penciller, stuffed with his character designs and many un-inked pages of glorious art.

In case you’re a stranger to this dimension: Buffy Summers was an addle-pated cheerleader Valley Girl and total waste of teen protein until she inexplicably turned into a hyper-strong, impossibly durable monster-killer.

She learned – after being accosted by an old codger from a secret society of Watchers – that she was the most recent recipient of a meandering mystic lottery which transformed mortal maids into living death-machines for all things supernatural: a Slayer.

Moving with her recently divorced mom to the small California hamlet of Sunnydale, located on the edge of a arcane portal dubbed The Hellmouth, Buffy made a few close friends and, with her newest cult-appointed mentor Rupert Giles, proceeded with her never-ending war on devils, demons and every predatory species of terror inexorably drawn to the area…

Following a handy “previously page”, the wise-cracking action kicks off with ‘’Delia’s Gone’ as formerly disfigured and depleted vampire Selke pays a visit to local undead gang-boss Rouleau.

The last time he saw – and spurned – her, she was a pathetic, mutilated bag of scars and bile, but now she is both beautiful and overwhelmingly powerful – and bears a grudge…

Nobody knows that she has found a plastic surgeon with a passion for alchemy and no morals at all. Dr. Flitter has taken up Selke’s cause, restoring and improving her with the promise of immortality as his oft-postponed reward.

However, since his normal scientific procedures didn’t work, he resorted to books of magic for a solution where his researches turned up a way to turn vampire blood into a super-steroid for Selke and her “offspring”. Now she and her newly-minted children of the night hunt not only humans for food, but vampires for fuel…

Moreover she is still obsessed with making the Slayer suffer…

Meanwhile, in a vain semblance of normal teen activities, the Scooby Gang – Cordelia, Oz, Xander and Buffy – coach brainy, nervous Willow for an upcoming televised inter-school quiz show. Things start to come unglued when Selke incidentally consumes Sunnydale High’s resident nerd Lyle and Cordy, desperate to change her bimbo image, steals a magic charm from Giles to become a voracious consumer of facts. Sadly there’s no off-switch and ’Delia’s brain quickly begins to overload…

Selke’s über-vamps are also making mischief: Buffy and recently restored undead lover Angel are finding them almost impossible to destroy…

‘Love Sick Blues’ sees a nocturnal civil war break out between Selke’s squad and the town’s regular fangers. Buffy’s night patrols are crazily broken up by vampires constantly attempting to capture and drain each other, but things take a bleak dark turn when deadly demon lovers Spike and Drusilla return, keen on turning the chaos to their own decadently amused advantage…

Soon their unique talents for obtaining information have led them to the secret of “bad blood”, but Selke and Flitter are oblivious to the new threat to their schemes. The cosmetic alchemist has discovered a way of mystically cloning their own “Dark Slayer” to take care of Buffy, and Selke wants one right now!

Sadly Flitter’s first attempts are woefully inadequate and promptly discarded… even the one that was still sort-of alive…

Even Buffy’s daylight problems are insane. Sleazy, lusty Todd once spread very nasty rumours about her before he temporarily turned into a girl, but now he’s male again he’s fallen desperately in love with the girl he wronged. His misplaced passion and rekindled conscience cost him his life…

Events reach crisis point in ‘Lost Highway’ as the war between leeches escalates, whilst on a rare night off from slaying, Buffy hits one of Selke’s pack with her mom’s (stolen) car and is subsequently ambushed by the whole mob. Even as she impossibly stakes them all, in a hidden lab, Flitter decants his masterpiece – a Summers simulacrum physically identical to and apparently far superior to The Slayer…

To Be Continued…

Engaging, witty, darkly light and fluffy, this fast and furious fists-flying action extravaganza rockets along at a breakneck pace, capturing the smart, intoxicating spirit of the TV show. Although this is only the middle section of the Bad Blood epic, the yarns here are all easily accessible even if you’re unfamiliar with the vast backstory, making this one more terrific thriller as easily enjoyed by the most callow neophyte as by any dedicated devotee.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer ™ & © 2000 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.