Buffy the Vampire Slayer – “Bad Blood”
Dark Horse Comics – May 1999 – March 2000
Writer: Andi Watson
Artists: Joe Bennett, Cliff Richards, Rick Ketcham, Joe Pimentel, and Guy Major
Editor: Scott Allie

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Whoa.

Sit down. Are you sitting down? If you are, good. If not, sit down.

“Bad Blood” was awesome. And I mean it, all around, 100%. I’m giving it a score, now

Final Score: 1,000,000 out of 10

Why am I doing this? What is wrong with me? After yesterday ended after about a billion comic reviews (and on a slightly ok note), I decided that, rather than push ahead any more prematurely than I already have, I’d best continue to work my way through Season 3-related stories in my Buffy Omnibi. I was shocked to learn that most of book 4 was, in fact, one large story. Scott Allie (the hero, the true savior of our times) decided to hire some doofus to write a series of comics in the same way they write a full season of the show. That is to say, it has one major arc and has side-stories to fill in the rest of the gaps. In this, this entire story succeeds.

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The art is even passable, though it does change about halfway through the story. You can actually tell Xander, Angel, and Oz apart and, before you say the obvious, yeah… most of the time it IS nearly impossible to accomplish this feat. Even more amazing is the fact that you an tell Cordelia, Fred, and Willow apart and, before you even say anything to me about it, I understand Fred isn’t in one episode of “BtVS” … but apparently some of the other artists at Dark Horse don’t.

The true, unbelievable thing, though, is that the story this ragtag group of jerks tell circles almost entirely around the revenge of one Miss Selke, the vampire seen in both “Halloween” (the comic, not the amazingepisode) and “Cold Turkey”, comics so bad I tried, literally, to get myself run over by a steamroller for having suffered through. The character didn’t die after two stories that nearly killed me, and Scott Allie and Andi Watson must have decided, after drinking foul toilet wine, that – hey! – Selke is a great character to use! And, in their defense, she is. She isn’t a main villain from the show, so they can do with her as they please, and she has back story. It makes her arc during the narrative compelling because, yes, Buffy killed all her friends and she is rightly pissed as hell about it.

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The other amazing aspect of this series of comics is the inclusion of some random mystic spell that lets one create a “Dark Slayer” in the image of the current Slayer by using the bones of the former Slayer. It sounds stupid, but it creates for the story’s only real missed opportunity. See, they try three times; the first, the Dark Slayer is a mess of plasmic goo. The second one comes out as something Lovecraftian, all mouth no face. The third is an angsty teenage girl, so nearly perfect. The latter two have a final scuffle that feels rushed and kinda lame overall. Its a shame, too, because the All-Mouth Buffy is kinda interesting in its own way, an idea never explored in any other fashion. Alas.

The final battle between Buffy and Selke also feels a little underhanded, with Selke transforming into a giant, bat-like creature. Half of the narrative was dedicated to Selke trying to regain her lost beauty through the combined power of magic and science, something that works well. The payoff is lost, then, when Buffy never even gets a change to really do any damage to the beauty she fought after with so much conviction. Ah well. The other issues that bother me are the random inclusion of Spike and Dru near the final act of the story and the fact that the whole thing tried so hard to stuff random, no-name characters in our faces. But for every one of those characters, we were treated to a side character from the show, like Amy the witch (pre-rat!), so all is right with the world.

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I apologize because this review is so long. Longest one I’ve done since the Xbox game, I think. But its just so damned shocking that a comic like this could come along right after the slog-fest I forced myself to endure yesterday that I felt I owed it to this story to give it the credit it was due. And, above all else, the fact that it was so long kept Omnibus 4 from having too many other shitty stories in it. So, win-win!

Final Score: Featured up higher in the review, moron.

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