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‘Buffy: The Lost Summer #1:’ Comic Book Review

A tale supposedly set in the continuity of the TV show, this chronicles Spike’s attempt at clawing back the last remaining copy of his poetry journals and the resulting road trip that takes “hot mess” to a whole new level. Think Buffy meets just about every family road trip movie out there, where grievances are aired, glares exchanged, lessons learned, etc.

Okay, so I said “supposedly” in my summary, and there’s a good reason for that. While it’s touted as being set in the continuity of the TV show, NONE of it makes sense in terms of continuity. For one, Tara is alive, so this is pre-end of Season 6. But Buffy and Spike are shacking up (and not violently) which didn’t actually happen until… Season 10 or so of the Dark Horse Comics canonical continuation of the franchise. There’s a basement, which I guess is supposed to be the Summers’ basement in Sunnydale. Dawn’s classmates are wearing letterman jackets in the Sunnydale colors, so this would further suggest that this is set before Sunnydale went from an outie to an innie. Dawn’s kleptomania is referenced, so we’re back to Season 6 again. The glaring discrepancies make it nigh impossible to reconcile this outing as part of the TV show canon.

I was really excited to read this special by Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer writer Casey Gilly. I’d enjoyed Gilly’s offerings on the Buffyverse before, including, most recently and coincidentally, a road trip story of sorts, too. Gilly’s love for writing Spike is maybe the sole strong point here, as she captures much of Spike’s idiosyncrasies nicely. It does feel like it comes at the cost of many of the other characters either having little or nothing to do, and probably the most egregious example of Giles receiving a total personality transplant. The plot feels like something more akin to an episode of Supernatural (no shade!), with the shenanigans occasionally being pretty farcical. Honestly, this would probably have been a better buddy-cop story, pairing Spike and Xander together. Or Spike and Andrew. It may also have caused fewer continuity issues. Regardless, I think the story would have landed better with a smaller cast and perhaps with New Orleans and all its gothic charm playing a larger role here.

Lauren Knight’s artwork has a gritty and pulpy feel to it. There are some really nice character moments, and the body language comes across really nicely. I also really liked the double-page spread that shows us the route the Scoobies took to get to New Orleans. Where I struggled at times was distinguishing between Anya and Buffy, if not for context cues. The colorwork by Francesco Segala and Gloria Martinelli is pretty stellar, as per yoosh. Ed Dukeshire’s lettering is consistently solid, and this special is no exception. Dukeshire keeps things clean and tight, never compromising legibility for style.

Overall, while this may have been a fun story on its own, trying to place it into the TV show continuity causes more problems narratively than I think it’s worth. Your mileage may vary, of course, but for this long-time fan of the series, the canon contradictions did negatively affect my enjoyment of the piece.

Creative Team: Casey Gilly (writer), Lauren Knight (artist), Lea Caballero (inker), Francesco Segala and Gloria Martinelli (colorists), Ed Dukeshire (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Click here to purchase.

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