This is a collection of short stories all set in Joss Whedon's Buffyverse, and so just as "canonical" as the "Season Eight" comic series from Dark Horse Comics, but mostly they are independent shorts focusing on Slayers throughout the ages, and a few little vignettes about secondary characters. The volume opens with a few pages showing the First Slayer, then skips through various periods of history, each Slayer Tale written and illustrated by a different team. Righteous
is about a Slayer in medieval Europe who saves a town from a master vampire, but finds that the town is less than grateful. Echoing frequent themes in Whedon's work (fear of female empowerment), it's one of many of the stories that has a rather dark ending.The Innocent
features the Slayer hunting vampires on the streets of Revolutionary France, and being betrayed by very human evils.Presumption
is an Austenesque romp with a vampire and a Slayer dancing at a Regency ball, with a twist ending.The Glittering World
takes place in the Old West, with a Navajo Slayer hunting a Navajo vampire. As a bonus, we get a first glimpse of Sunnydale and an old friend from the TV series.Sonnenblume
is one of the more disturbing and yet more heroic stories, as the Slayer this time is a German girl in Nuremberg in 1938... and a member of the Hitler Youth.Nikki Goes Down
stars Nikki, the 70s Slayer who appeared in the TV series, in a pulp adventure romp where she rides a pteranodon into the NYC subway (seriously!).Tales
is set in Whedon's future-Slayer Fray
universe.Broken Bottle of Djinn
stars another WWII-era Slayer, this time an American (presumably the replacement for Sonnenblume) saving the world from a Big Bad Djinn.
The second half of the volume collects the Tales of the Vampires
series, which made individual vampires characters. Of course they are all evil, but sometimes you can almost sympathize with them. These stories also range throughout history, though with more focusing on the modern day, and a few of them involve characters from the series: Spike and Drusilla make an appearance, as does Angel, and there's a humorous tale with Buffy going to rescue Xander from Dracula. This is where the book ties into the events of Season Eight
more, as there is frequent mention of Harmony Kendall's "outing" of vampires and making them cool and popular while turning Slayers into public enemies. Some vampires are happy about the new rules, some aren't.
Overall, I enjoyed this book very much -- more than I enjoyed a lot of Season Eight. You can tell some really interesting stories about new characters who happen to exist in the Buffyverse in just a few pages, and the occasional filling in of events referenced but not described in the series lets the writers go off on tangents they couldn't in the main storyline. Since this is a collection of several series going back over ten years, there's a wide range in writing and drawing styles.
Definitely recommended for Buffy fans, even those who didn't like Season Eight or would prefer not to think of it as canon.