Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Ring of Fire
Dark Horse Comics – August 30, 2000
Writer: Doug Petrie
Artists: Ryan Sook, David Stewart
Editor: Scott Allie

I’m starting to regret this now tireless devotion to reviewing all things related to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” — I even have my old copy of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy” sitting with my stack-o-junk to review. Dreading that. I mention this stuff because “Ring of Fire” (the largest story I’ve read from the comic line thus far) is just as bad as those two atrocious Spike & Dru stories I’ve reviewed. This story, which takes place canonically after “Passion” is so lame and the pace is too fast. Eventually I will get around to good stuff, I swear.

The story goes as follows: Angel finds out that some mystical, magical samurai armor is on a boat near Sunnydale and lays the ship to ruin to claim it. Then he, Dru, and Spike raise a demon and provide him the armor in exchange for power and continual destruction. It doesn’t sound any more farfetched than the plot device they used to end the second season of the show, but that doesn’t mean its a good plot device to use in a medium that, up to this point, has yielded no real quality story line. And the similarities don’t end there, mind you. No, Giles being revenge-mad and dangerous on his own is borrowed from “Passion” and even Kendra, who we last saw in the two-part “What’s My Line?” series shows up (how she knew to arrive just in time is never explained in any fashion. She’s just there).

The same problem I have with the other comics is mostly true, here. Lame writing makes the characters sound like… well… comic-book versions of themselves. The art makes them look pretty dumb, too. And the plots are too big for the show, thus too far outside the scope of the canon. Very rarely did either “BtVS” or “Angel” deal with larger-than-the-screen monsters, but here we kinda have two: giant Asian demon and his giant demon bird. Leaving it within the realm of the “real” (so to speak) is what makes it work for the show. Developing narratives outside of that realm only makes it less enjoyable.

The real issue, though, is the pacing of the story. It just goes so damn fast. Any of the positives I’d have to comment on (of which, surprisingly, there are a few) are instantaneously washed away because of how quick the story goes. It jumps from shipwreck to busted-up graveyard to mansion to city fair so fast its hard to believe its not all happening in the same night. I get that its not paced the same because its a comic book, but if its your chosen medium for telling a story, then do it right, damn it.

“Ring of Fire” continues the trend of ultra-crappy Buffy comics. I’m starting to regret so many of the things I’ve done to bring me to this point in my life. Namely buying and reading these comics. Maybe in time I’ll learn to like some of these things, but not yet.

Jesus not yet.

Overall Opinion: MacGuffins” is made to look like Shakespeare after this. That was a challenge I didn’t know anyone had even bothered to acknowledge, let alone accept.

Additional Notes:
-One good thing I was willing to comment on was the fact that Spike and Angel teamed up once Dru betrayed them. Why they brought her back into the fold when it was all over is never touched upon
-Naked vapor Jenny is hot
-The art is definitely better than those Spike & Dru comics