Rather than one long story arc, this short volume (with a long title) tells a number of short stories, each about a different character, which all takRather than one long story arc, this short volume (with a long title) tells a number of short stories, each about a different character, which all take place surrounding the same event: L.A. going to Hell. Warning: This means the stories take place chronologically before the events of Angel:After the Fall Volume 1 and do NOT continue that story. 2nd warning (or bonus, for some): Angel is not one of those characters. He's not in this book.
I'm really please that they decided to go ahead with this idea. I thought it was great to see how different characters reacted/behaved/melted down/etc and to see what happened to them. First, though, was the hilarious recap on the Groosablog, which I thought was another great idea, to help people figure out the chronological context of what they're about to read.
As for the stories, some were better than others (possibly because I'm more interested in some characters than others). They were illustrated by different artists in very different styles, which made for an interesting variety.
I loved Spike's story, both because of the story itself and the writing (it was funny and it definitely sounded like Spike), and also because the art for Spike was excellent. I also loved Lorne's story, for the inventiveness of it being in verse (of course Lorne would sing) and for the story, which was wonderful, hilarious, and satisfying. Some aspects of the art weren't to my taste, but it certainly got the job done and was interesting. Another favorite story of mine wasn't about a main character, but about an "End is Near" prophesier. It was both funny and also quite poignant, and the art was very different.
The rest of the stories I didn't love, but there was nothing wrong with them whatsoever, and other people might count them amongst their favorites. I'm just not particularly interested in Gwen or Connor or even Wesley. I'm not sure that I will buy this volume, since I'd rather try to get the individual comics with the stories that I love.
As usual, Brian Lynch's notes at the end are interesting and funny....more
What a disappointment this was, especially compared with Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus Vol. 1. In this volume, the stories were weak and mostly comWhat a disappointment this was, especially compared with Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus Vol. 1. In this volume, the stories were weak and mostly completely uninteresting, the humor was almost nonexistent, and the characters were sometimes written out of character. Plus, some of the art was odd, some was kinda ugly, and some was just terrible. I wasn't confused by the jumping around--or skipping ahead--in the timeline, since it was explained in the introduction by Scott Allie, but I can't say it helped matters.
The first story, "Angels We Have Seen On High", although very different, seems, in comparison to others in this volume, to be one of the best stories. It's a very short (and kinda cute?) story about Dawn and Buffy from when they still in LA. The art is very different from the other stories, more like a cartoon than a comic book, but it's interesting to see some variety once in a while.
The next story is "A Stake to the Heart", which for me was the biggest disappointment of the whole collection, mostly because it actually seemed to be trying to be something interesting and deep, but it failed so miserably. In this story, Buffy has to fight the Summers family's inner demons that have been accidentally manifested. The reason for and means of the accident are stupid, and the efforts to undo it are both stupid and pointless. Although the threat seems big at first, these demons' powers and the consequences of them winning are confusing, and the culmination of each fight is honestly boring. On the other hand, the art in this story is the best in this entire volume.
After that we get another short story, "MacGuffins", which may have been amusing, but could have starred any original character--there was nothing really of Buffy's personality or life. It added nothing to the Buffyverse, it wasn't meaningful, it wasn't anything special at all. To top it off, Buffy is drawn with a Barbie doll-like body.
The next story, "Queen of Hearts", managed to be pretty uninteresting despite starring Spike, as he and Dru run into some trouble--or go looking for it--on a casino boat. I was one of the fans of the show mentioned in Scott Allie's introduction who didn't like (he said "hated") the art--I felt everything looked ugly except for ladies and their clothing--but at least it was interesting.
"Ring of Fire" is the next story, and the best in this volume, for what that's worth. It takes place during the second season of the show, and in it Buffy and the gang (plus or minus a few) face off against Spike, Dru, and Angelus. It's the most interesting and most like the show. Again, all males and most of the backgrounds look ugly, but the ladies look lovely.
Another Spike story, "Paint the Town Red", is next. This one is much more interesting than the first one about him and Dru, and focuses more on him, as he decides to become lord of a small town in Turkey. The art is the same as the last two.
Finally, there's "The Dust Waltz", the worst story of the collection (which is different from being the most disappointing). This takes place sometime during the run of the show, but I'm not sure when, because at some points it seems like Xander and Cordelia are going out, and at others they despise each other--and I couldn't even tell if it was pre-going out together despising, or post-going out together despising. Even worse, I couldn't tell if it was Cordelia or Willow without going back and checking what each girl was wearing. Buffy looks different from them only because she's blonde, and the special guest character has differently shaped hair (the other females in the story are supernatural, and distinct in their extreme sexiness or ugliness). Nobody looks the way they should, or acts the way they should, the story is pretty stupid, and the continuity in both story and art is a mess....more
I had extremely high hopes for this (not expectations; I've been disappointed before). Spike is my favorite character from the Buffy-verse and from seI had extremely high hopes for this (not expectations; I've been disappointed before). Spike is my favorite character from the Buffy-verse and from several other 'verses besides--and hands-down the one I most want to look at a book full of pictures of--and it's not all because of how hot he is. I like his character, his personality, his attitude, the things he says, and yes, the depth of feeling he has always been capable of, soul or not. And I don't like it when he's written out of character, or misunderstood or not appreciated by the author. As I said, I've been disappointed before. But, thankfully, not by this. Not AT ALL.
This was Spike: The humor inherent in the way he talks and thinks, which here we were privy to. His interesting and unique (I hope) worldview. His passionate loyalty to the few people he allows into his world. His talent for both buttkicking and being tortured (if an tendency to attract torture--dare I say a propensity?--can really be called a skill, which in Spike's case I think it can). The leather coat. Lots of other little habits and quirks that are part of all that is Spike.
Plus there was the incredible cover, which I could stare at for a very long time (I'm so glad I waited for the softcover--even the clerk who rang me up commented on how great it looked). I also really liked the art inside, even of Spike, although I do agree with another reviewer that he could have been "cuter." One page in particular blew me away so much that I have a bookmark there and want to blow it up and frame it.
I should probably also mention the plot. It's great. Basically it's the story of how Spike, along with Illyria/Fred, came to find his place in the world of LA-gone-to-Hell and to collect his ersatz Scooby Gang. He meets people, some of them human and some less so. Some try to kill him, some try to have sex with him. Pretty usual for Spike. The first chapter was funny and a good set up for the darker story of the other three. The end is both a resolution and promise that Spike goes on....more
This collection of stories from before Buffy Summers ever heard of the hellmouth was a lot of fun to read (and look at), sometimes funny, sometimes thThis collection of stories from before Buffy Summers ever heard of the hellmouth was a lot of fun to read (and look at), sometimes funny, sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes both, and answered more than a few questions about the Slayer's past. (Didn't we all wonder what happened to Pike? I know I did.) It surprised and, ridiculous as it sounds, delighted me, and after I finished it I felt...satisfied. Very satisfied. Gratified, even. And also happy.
The first story starts long before Buffy is even born, but stars the pre-chipped, pre-ensouled Spike and his lovely, crazy vampire lady love Drusilla. They're trying to see the shape of things-to-come and to enjoy themselves (in their own way) at the 1933 World's Fair, but as usual, someone doesn't seem to want them to have their fun. The title page for this story is particularly striking, in my opinion. I would love to have a larger version of it.
In "The Origin" we get a version of the original story that is supposedly a lot closer to Joss' original screenplay. I loved it. My only complaint is that I wish it had been longer. I didn't quite understand why Pike's hair was grey-blue, but it didn't bother me enough to complain about it, just to mention it as a curiosity. I think it shows that I cared about the story enough to wonder. Anyway, this version was funny, like the movie, but a whole lot less stupid, a whole lot more interesting, and just plain better. And Buffy's dress for the dance was much more stylish.
Then we find out what happened to--or rather, with--Pike, when he and Buffy go to Las Vegas in "Viva Las Buffy!" and they meet...well, a whole bunch of vampires. Pike narrates the story, and it's pretty interesting to get to see Buffy from the point of view of someone who cares about her, but isn't really part of the world of vampires and demons. This story was also good, and definitely had some items of interest. Plus, some of that thought-provokingness that I mentioned before. Pike doesn't understand that a lot of Buffy's strength ends up coming from the people who care about her, and who she cares about. Neither does she at this point. Neither, also at this point, does Rupert Giles, who's hoping to become a Watcher and work with the Slayer.
There's a short, cute, and kind of cuddly story called "Dawn and the Hoopy Bear"--but watch out for the claws. Despite the silly name and the fact that it centers on Dawn--no Buffy in sight--a character that was controversial but intriguing to include in these stories early on in the timeline, this story was definitely enjoyable.
Then we get "Slayer, Interrupted" where we find out about the circumstances surrounding Buffy's time in a mental hospital, which we got on a short glimpse of during the series. This one has more of that thought-provokingness, as Buffy tries to figure out what it means to be the Slayer. Of course, she ends up learning about herself in the process, while, across the pond, Giles is learning about himself. In fact, Giles gets the last (hilarious) line in this collection....more
I was looking forward to this book so excitedly and for so long, that it wouldn't have been surprising if I'd raised my expectations too high and founI was looking forward to this book so excitedly and for so long, that it wouldn't have been surprising if I'd raised my expectations too high and found myself disappointed once I'd finally read it. I hadn't, and I wasn't. I loved reading this book the way I have loved reading every book starring Vicky and John, because Elizabeth Peters has done such a good job of making me know and love and care deeply about her characters.
Even after more than ten years, Peters still writes those characters perfectly. She also recreated their world (albeit a modern version of it) and their lives down to the details--the thrillingly epic, the hilariously mundane, and the way that the larger-than-life has become routine for them while the frustrations of daily life can be often be dramatic--that we enjoy so much. She recreated Vicky's voice equally well. As always, there are one liners and bits of repartee that make me laugh out loud and want to bookmark the pages where they live, there are impassioned and touching declarations, and there are those thoughts that Vicky shares about life that I identify with so wholly.
The book is not perfect, of course. There are times when the pacing slows a bit, and there are a couple of instances of repetitiveness that some readers have put down to bad editing. However, this book is written in the first person; we hear what Vicky thinks. I don't think that it even calls for a serious suspension of disbelief to suppose that a subject of thought might occur to someone twice over a period of several days.
Some readers of mysteries may be troubled to find that they can identify characters or pick out some of the bad guys before their revelation to the sleuths--but for this series, in which there are recurring heroes and villains, this is in many ways a game that is played with the readers. Some of the revelations in this book have been speculated about and discussed by many fans for some time, but it was still a pleasure to find them out for certain.
Although I read this book in fewer than 24 hours, the pace of my reading did slow down near the end, because I realized that with every page I read, there was one fewer new page of Vicky. I knew I could only read new pages once, and that the remaining pages might be the last new pages of Vicky ever. Despite the sadness of that thought, I still thoroughly enjoyed all the pages, especially the last two or three, which not only made me grin, as they did Vicky, "a big, silly grin," but made me laugh and made me exult (if such a thing is possible). This is not my favorite Vicky--that will always be Night Train to Memphis--and it may not be the best (although I'm not sure I could determine which one is), but it fits right into the series without a problem, and if it is the last one, although I shall miss the characters dreadfully, it is a fitting end.
A favorite quote, from p. 229
Only Schmidt, the bloody romantic, spoke up in John's defense. "I will not believe it until he admits it." He considered the statement and then added, "Perhaps not even then."
This is a good standalone quasi-gothic novel from the excellent Elizabeth Peters, with a clever and sympathetic heroine, an interesting mystery, a lovThis is a good standalone quasi-gothic novel from the excellent Elizabeth Peters, with a clever and sympathetic heroine, an interesting mystery, a love interest, and some bad guys--if you choose to see it that way. It could also be seen as the first story that involves a certain Mr. John Tregarth (who may in later books appear with an assumed title and a different surname...), and since I heard that Peters' original title of the book was Her Cousin John (and since I love the Vicky and John books to a ridiculous degree), I choose that. As such, it's also a good quasi-gothic novel, with all those same good things, but it's not exactly standalone.
Either way it's good, and as eminently and pleasurably readable and fun as any Elizabeth Peters book....more