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There Will Be Blood — And Wisecracks: Buffy Lives

<em>Dollhouse</em> creator Joss Whedon is also the man behind the <em>Buffy The Vampire Slayer</em> series.
Joss Whedon created the Buffy television series and co-writes the comics.

Graphic novels based on TV shows were once the dregs of the comic-book world, secret pleasures relegated to the bookshelves of undatable teenage boys. Then came Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The Buffy comic series is co-written by the television show's creator, Joss Whedon. It picks up where the TV show left off, with Buffy Summers — the mystical California blonde chosen to kill supernatural baddies — and her friends casting a spell that turns thousands of girls into slayers. Now the commander of that spunky army of supergirls, Buffy has morphed into a fractious general plagued by the loneliness of leadership.

Wolves at the Gate, the third of the Buffy graphic novels, is particularly good, with a fast-moving plot and plenty of whimsical repartee. "You could, you know ... take me out," says the beautiful slayer Renee, Xander's latest love interest. "You want me to assassinate you?" the befuddled man replies.

This latest title adds new twists to the always-present sexual undercurrent. Buffy experiments with bisexuality, and Xander, her longtime friend, engages in some great homoerotic trash talk with Dracula, a former enemy (mainstream comics have had major homosexual characters before, but not bi-curious ones).

The Buffy TV character was originally inspired by B movies, the '60s horror magazine Creepy and, particularly, comic books like Tales from the Crypt -- making Whedon's print reincarnation of his superhero blonde something of a homecoming. It's still Buffy — over-the-top and espousing a creed of girl power — but somewhere between their earnestness and their camp, the books have managed to become real art.

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Laurel Maury
Laurel Maury reviews graphic novels, fiction and poetry for The Los Angeles Times Book Review, and reports on comics for Publishers Weekly Comics Week. A comic book fan as a child, she rediscovered the form after receiving her MFA from Columbia University. She's worked as a poetry reader at The Missouri Review and The Paris Review and in editorial at The New Yorker. She knits and roller-blades in her spare time and lives in New York City.