Vamps and Slayers, Oh My! Andy Burns On Tales, the new Buffy Compilation

It’s been a busy few months for fans of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. First, there was the announcement that the series is being rebooted into a feature film without the involvement of creator and mastermind Joss Whedon (whoever green lit that idea is obviously wearing a pair of Bad Idea Jeans). Then there’s the conclusion of the Season Eight Dark Horse Comics series, which has been running for 40 issues with a canonical story that picks up where the television show left off. In the past couple weeks, we’ve also seen the release of some pretty interesting Slayer product. First, there was the Buffy Season Eight Motion Comic Blu-Ray, which brings the first 19 issues of the aforementioned series to animated life. I’m still making my way through that, but I’ll have a review up within the next week or so.

The other very cool Buffy product that hit store shelves that I picked up over the weekend is something I’d actually consider to be essential for fans, and not a bad place to start for non-fans. Back before Dark Horse was published the official Season Eight series, they released two compilation titles written by Joss Whedon and other Buffy alumni, both onscreen (Amber Benson/Tara) and off (Jane Espenson, David Fury, Drew Goddard). The first, Tales Of The Slayers, focused on the long lineage of Slayers throughout the ages, while the second, Tales Of The Vampires, had a series of vamp-centric tales bookended by a great short story by Whedon. The artists involved were topnotch, including Cameron Stewart, Tim Sale and the amazing Gene Colan. Those two collections have now been compiled, along with some Season Eight stories, into a oversized hardcover titled Tales.

In a world of Marvel Omnibus’ and DC Absolute Editions, I can honestly say that Dark Horse’s Tales is one of the best large compilations I’ve read in a very long time (and with a price of only $30, it’s a genuine steal as well). The art looks absolutely gorgeous blown up from all the contributors. and really draws you in to all the various stories throughout. I was really impressed by legendary artist Gene Colan’s two contributions. For those of you that may not be aware, Colan is the Marvel illustrator who did the company’s defining vampire series, Tomb of Dracula. It’s very cool to see him working in the Buffyverse – his style is so unique and defining, but never out of place. Alex Sanchez also does some great work in the Whedon-written bridging story for Tales Of The Vampires.

The stories in Tales are all fairly short, with the exception of a few longer one shots that weren’t included in the original trade paperback editions. Familiar faces show up throughout the 200 plus pages, including Buffy, Willow, Spike and Angel, and The First Slayer, who made her first appearance in the season finale of the series forth season. The Slayer portion of the book really serves to remind you of Whedon’s series mandate of female empowerment, while also reminding us that the Slayer is always really alone (that is, until the end of the original television series).

While I haven’t been totally sold on the Buffy Season Eight series, I can’t rave enough about this fantastic hardcover compilation. If you’ve never read a Buffy comic (and there have been some real lacklustre stories over the years), or just dig vampires generally, you should definitely check out Tales.

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