Saturday, January 12, 2008

Review: Tale of the Slayers

To conclude my three day Joss-a-thon I'm going to review Tales of the Slayers. This is a collection of short comics about the lives of 8 slayers in different points in history. Although my reviews are usually spoiler-ific this review will be much more spoiler free. The very shortness of the stories means they rely on their plot twists, so while I do talk about the set up, I'm not going to tell the endings.

What stands out from me, particularly compared to season 8, is how interesting the art is. Very different styles of art are used for different stories, and they reflect often reflect the times the stories are set in. This is particularly effective with the story set in 1930s Germany.

The quality of the stories is extremely mixed. Two of Joss's story's are brilliant. The first is very short, and is about the first slayer. It is just one moment in her life, and sets up the rest of the stories.

Joss's second story, set in the middle ages, is written in verse (which I bet made Joss very happy). It is a simple story, told from the point of view of the Watcher, but is very effective

Jane Espenson's Regency era slayer is beautifully done. The author's voice is deliberately modelled on Jane Austen, and works perfectly. Jane and Joss were the only authors who used the literary forms of the time they were writing about, and it makes their stories much stronger. I think they also both understood the limits of the space, and had the right sized story for a very few pages. Really the authors only had time to set up two characters, and one plot turn, and Jane and Joss both do this very well.

The other stories, set in Revolutionary France, America at the time of colonisation, Nazi Germany and 1970s New York, are less successful. The most dire is Sonnenblume, set in Nazi era Germany. It's slightly less subtle than being hit over the head with a mallet (which is a real shame, because, like I said, the art is very good). I found the Revolutionary France story similarly trite, possibly because it was trying to deal with something very big in a very small space (or possibly just because Amber Benson doesn't have very interesting ideas about revolutionary France). The story set in America at the time of colonisation, works for the first few pages, but relies on simplistic statements as a substitute for character development, and in the end appears to be making an argument for assimilation. Nikki's story is OK, but not particularly interesting.

The comic ends with another Joss story, this one about Fray. By itself this short piece isn't even a story (and I was disappointed, because after several stories of in period or practical clothing, Fray is wearing a very short, loose, cut off top, which you absolutely wouldn't be able to fight in. I guess I should be glad no-one found a place in the story to have a bath). But it ends with Fray finding, and reading the Watchers diaries of previous slayers.

In the end despite the mixed quality of the stories, I would definitely recommend this to any Buffy fan. Because what it does do so nicely is expand on the idea, implicit in the Buffyverse, that struggle has a history and each generation in that struggle is connected to those that have gone before it.


  1. Anonymous8:06 pm

    GEEK ALERT!!!!!
    Normal people would fond this boring. Cricket on a rainy day would be more interesting. Its summer toy need to get out into the su n!

  2. Sorry to use you as my token feminist blogger... but this is appalling.

    "A security officer seeking to escape a domestic violence conviction for a fourth time has been told to write an essay on the subject. Jeffrey Wetini Reid wants to keep his job"

    fourth time! I am just about speechless. This really is beyond the pale.

  3. Hey Maia, I'm following the Buffy comics too, and loving your reviews of them. By the way, are you reading the Angel comics too? I bought the first one, but I wasn't too crazy about it. I'd love to hear your opinion of them, if you're into them.

  4. Hey Aussie and Kewi anarchos. Greetings from an English syndicalist.

    For those interested in an anti-left, anti-pomo, anti-liberal, anti-feminist, anti-democratic syndicalist blog, I encourage people to stroll on over to pay me a visit on the blogosphere.

  5. Sophia - I still haven't watched season 5 of Angel - so I was going to wait until I'd done that and then maybe check out teh Trade paperbacks. I'd be keen to hear more about them though.

    Daniel Owen - I hope regular readers of this blog wouldn't be out looking for anti-feminist blogs.

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