by Joss Whedon and Various Authors

Dark Horse Books, $29.99, 290 pages

This coffee table-book sized hardcover collects nearly two dozen separate stories, mainly from BtVS:Tales of the Slayer trade paperback series and one-shot comic books.  The stories follow different incarnations of slayers, and their prey.  If you are a fan of the Buffyverse, you know exactly what I just said.   In the spirit of full disclosure, Joss Whedon is my master now.  I loved Buffy, admired Angel from afar, and thought that Firefly was cruelly struck down before its obvious brilliance could find an audience.  Shortly after Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended its television run in 2003, Milwaukie, Oregon’s Dark Horse Comics, along with series creator Whedon, have published the further adventures of the famous slayer.  While the stories in Tales don’t feature Buffy Summers, they fill in the back story of the “Buffyverse”.  Most of the stories in Tales were written by Joss Whedon, with additional stories by several other authors, notably Jane Espenson, and Scooby-gang regular Amber Benson (Tara).  Additionally two unpublished stories, written by Becky Cloonan “The Thrill”, and Jackie Kessler “Carpe Noctem”, which fit into the “Season 8” canon are included.  Rather than follow one continuous story arc, Tales offers glimpses into the lives, sometimes their bitter end, of different slayers.  “Tales of the Vampires”, story by Whedon, art by Alex Sanchez, shows a young Watcher learning her trade at the feet of a captured vampire.  “Tales”, written by Whedon, with art by Karl Moline introduces us to a slayer from the future. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales, is the musical equivalent of a guitar player messing around with different riffs.  Some are decent, some merely fun, and some worthy of being fleshed out into a longer song.

Many different artists put their stamp on the stories.  While I was put off by Mira Friedman’s take on a Nazi-era Slayer “Sonneblume”, most of the artists’s works are beautifully rendered in this collection.  I especially enjoyed the sepia tones of Steve Lieber, in “…the Glittering World” David Fury’s story of a 19th century Navajo slayer.  Vatche Mavlian’s art in the too short “Jack” was also spectacularly expressed.  This weighty tome makes a wonderful gift to any fan of the Buffyverse.  While the stories are mainly reprints from trade paper backs and one-shot comic books, this collection gets the red carpet treatment.  The weight and quality of the paper makes the art leap off of the page.  This isn’t a “I’m going to have another piece of pizza, and read some slayer stories”, kind of book.  If you’re a fan of the Buffyverse, it might be time to invest in a nice set of kid gloves.

Reviewed by Bradley Wright