Buffy: The Blood of Carthage

This Buffy trade (which I finished a couple of days ago but well…time has not been my friend..) was the first ‘major’ non-Andi Watson storyline of the comic series. This trade also marks the first storyline in the series which takes place in season 4 of the tv show (as Christopher Golden informed us in the Introduction of the trade).

Now, some people may be wondering about why I skipped 2-3 trades in the middle and jumped to this one. Well, I don’t have them. I’m buying these trades in auctions and through online sales and so my options are limited by how much I can afford in any given month. This trade was only costing me $3.25 while the other two combined were setting me back $10. You can see how it was a no-brainer.

Another reason that I skipped the remaining Andi Watson series was that I really, really wanted to read Christopher Golden penned comics. I’ve read a bunch of his Buffy and Hellboy tie-in prose novels and he seems to have a better grasp on the characters than any other writers apart from the creators themselves. I was really curious to see if he could transfer that talent onto the comic page as well. Fortunately, he is just as superb with comics as he is with books.

This comic is the first to really make good use of the unrestricted possibilities available in a comic versus a tv show. The story spans centuries, multiple villains, flashbacks, and globe-trotting adventure. In fact, much like Golden says in his intro, it reads more like a novel adapted into a comic than a comic (and in this case, that’s a very good thing).

Anyway, the storyline revolves around a monster that exists beneath Sunnydale. Another demon trapped him there (a nit-pick here…Vraaka has to be the only one to not know that Sunnydale is over a Hellmouth…seriously…why the hell would you hide a demon that needs demons to escape over a frickin’ Hellmouth!!) and its the Scoobies job to prevent the demon from escaping when Buffy makes a tactical error that results in the demon’s freedom.

I’m of course leaving a lot out. What can I say…I suck at sumarizing. But the main points that this story hits on are that 1) Willow lets Xander know that she is not his sidekick anymore. 2) Buffy begins to feel the lethargy and pointlessness of normal life that became a huge staple of the tv show in later seasons. 3) Demons are human too.

As far as continuity is concerned, this trade takes place during season 4, of course. I’d guess it’s after ‘Beer Bad’ since Buffy mentions that beer is not for her. Also, Spike is working with the Scoobies so the comic must fall post-‘Initiative.’ Now, Riley and Tara aren’t working with them so the book has to take place before ‘Hush’ after which Riley and Buffy were pretty much inseparable. This means this falls somewhere between 4×07 and 4×10.

As far as the art is concerned, Cliff Richards and Chynna Clugston-Major did awesome jobs. The flashbacks were especially fun…I wish Clugston had done a lot more work.  Paul Lee and Brian Horton were pretty damned good too…but they were fairly restricted. Overall much better artwork than the last trade I thought. Also…no more multi-coloured vampires…(you have no clue how much that was bothering me)

Next time…either Butt-Shots #4 or a review of Buffy season 8’s cold open. Not sure which though… 

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