Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Viva Las Buffy!
Dark Horse Comics – November 2002-February 2003
Writer(s): Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza
Artist: Cliff Richards
Editor: Scott Allie

Taking place immediately after the events of “The Origin, “Viva Las Buffy!” presents us with the greatest “BtVS” comic to date. And that is a stupid thing to say, because its not that great. Yet again, damning with faint praise. But “Viva Las Buffy!” does one thing right: just tells a story to the greatest possible extent, simply by giving the story all the time in the world. Its a dumb story: Buffy and Pike, having left L.A. because of hints regarding a possible vampire group in Vegas, where they encounter a casino run by… Siamese twins, one a vampire, another just a chick with pistols. All the while, Angel works as a bouncer to keep Buffy safe, and there is even a side-story about how Giles got picked to be the new Watcher for the current Slayer. Its… all very interesting. Seriously. Its very interesting. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

For the first time, I could hear these characters’ voices. I heard Boreanaz’s Angel, I heard SMG’s Buffy. And I even heard lesser characters from the show, namely rarely-seen members of the Watcher’s council (lookin’ at you, Ms. Post!). The adventure these guys go on is a fun one, one that provides good times, laughs, and something to actually talk about, namely a much more interesting story about Buffy, pre-Buffy. Angel working at that casino? After Whistler told him about her. Giles being called to be Watcher? Hints at Ripper, hints at even Wesley from the third season. And Buffy and Pike splitting up is just as interesting and well handled, considering I had previously invested no interest in that guy. At all.

Even these two, these dumb bad guys, are interesting. Their backstory is developed. Imagine that, spending time developing the characters makes it easier for us to identify with and care about them. They’re stupid, I mean… the blonde just fires guns while attached – quite literally – at the hip to her vampire brother. How does it even work, that he’d be a vampire? I don’t know. It seems weird. But it doesn’t matter, because the script itself doesn’t even take it seriously. Its fun and, more importantly, funny. And it works. And after Buffy gets the sprinklers blessed and the vampire half melts? The sense of freedom the woman has is real. I bought it entirely. Quality writing goes a long way, guys. Stick to this formula: write good scripts – repeat. You can’t lose.

In an interesting move, this comic features Dawn, although much younger than we’ve seen her before. Scott Allie, who wrote a forward in every Omnibus Dark Horse has released, notes that including Dawn was a daring move, but one he stuck to because these stories take place after Dawn was “created”, thus these are the now-altered memories. I was wary of this move, at first, but now I can dig it. It showcases how deep Dawn’s role as being “the Key” really was. I enjoy it, because it really also shows a dedication to sticking to the canon of the show, even if it strays all the damn time.

“Viva Las Buffy!” attempts to tie threads together that are in no way necessary, but does it with “fun” in mind, and to that end, is largely successful. Its a far-cry from the quality writing Joss Whedon brings to the show, but its also a step in the right direction. I can only hope this kind of thing is a trend-setter. I don’t have much hope, mind you, but I still hope its the case.

REVIEW: Well, here we fucking go: 80/100. Damn straight. An 80/100. Suck it.