From 1998-2003 Dark Horse comics published Buffy the Vampire Slayer; there were 63 issues in the series, plus numerous mini-series and one-shots featuring other characters in the “buffyverse” for a total of well over 100 issues. Most of the material has been reprinted in various trade paperbacks over the years, but now with the new Buffy the Vampire Slayer omnibuses, Dark Horse is taking all the issues and publishing them in chronological order – but not in the way you think. Some brilliant person at Dark Horse thought that the omnibuses should reprint the stories in the order they happened. For example, the final four issues 60-63, “A Stake to the Heart,” were published in 2003; however, they took place before Season One of the TV series and so they are in the second omnibus.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Omnibus Vol. 02 contains tales of Buffy's early seasons. The first story is "A Stake through the Heart,” which comes before Buffy's move to Sunnydale and chronicles Buffy and Dawn (yes even though Dawn wasn’t in the TV series until season five, she was supposed to be there all along so writer Fabian Nicieza retcons Dawn to be there, which divided fans on whether this should have been done or not, since Dawn is a source of contempt for some Buffy fans) dealing with their parent’s separation and the upcoming move. Buffy blames herself for her parent’s marriage troubles and Angel (who is watching over her in secret) doesn’t help when he accidentally releases malignancy demons to cause her further.
Next up is "McGuffins" which was a short story from the series Dark Horse Comics Presents; in fact, this is actually the first Buffy story Dark Horse ever published back in 1998. Here Giles puts Buffy through a test when he sends a pair of demon-like creatures who wreck havoc in her house, and Buffy learns that she needs her intellect rather than brute force to defeat the pair. This was a nice short story which whetted the appetite for more Buffy tales.
We then get two tales of the Sid & Nancy Vicious of the buffyverse – Spike & Dru. In "Queen of Hearts," Spike and Dru are gambling on a riverboat where they learn the host (not Lorne from Angel) is a demon who is a type of parasite who is leeching the luck off the customers. This story was the first of three Spike and Dru tales; the third was reprinted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Omnibus Vol. 01. "Queen of Hearts" also has the distinction of being co-written by James Marsters – Spike himself; however, things didn’t turn out how Marsters liked and he refused to have anything else to do with Dark Horse. What happened we may never know. The second Spike and Dru tale, "Paint the Town Red," tells the story of one of the pair’s numerous breakups. Spike almost kills Dru, so he wants to take a break from her and goes to Turkey, but Dru won’t let him leave her.
"Ring of Fire" is a Season Two story where Angelus has been set free after the events of the episodes “Surprise” and “Innocence.” Here we have Angelus, Spike and Dru finding the demon Kelgor’s Samurai armor. The trio wants to use the armor to resurrect the demon and it’s up to Buffy, Kendra and the rest of the gang to thwart them. This story is notable for containing the only comic appearance of Kendra and for being written by one of the show’s writers Doug Petrie.
Finally, "Dust Waltz," also set in Season Two, has Buffy and the gang showing Giles’ niece the town. But the normality is broken up with the arrival of Lilith and Lamia, two ancient sisters who have come to town to have each of their champions fight to the death in a magical ritual called the Dust Waltz. This is complicated by one of the sisters taking a liking to Angel, and Buffy having to fight in the place of Lillith’s champion since she killed him.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Omnibus Vol. 02 is a great read of Buffy’s early stories and nicely packaged with an affordable price rather than having to buy the original issues which nowadays have become pricey to afford. Dark Horse continues to hit home runs, and I really like the fact that these stories are being reprinted in chronological order, which couldn’t have been done when the series was originally published.