Buffy: The High School Years – Glutton for Punishment written by Kel Mcdonald, illustrated by Yishan Li
Published by: Dark Horse on November 1, 2016
Review Source: Publisher, Edelweiss
Genres: Graphic Novel, Sci-fi / Fantasy, Slice of Life.
Plot: Volume 2 of the Buffy relaunch.
Review: I love Buffy, I really do, but I felt a bit cheated by this volume. Let me explain. The story is super fluffy and revolves around a Home-Ec teacher who goes missing. It moves at a breakneck speed only to wrap up way too neatly without any highs or lows in between. Now, I understand that there is a fair amount of cheese that goes along with Buffy, but I feel that as a new series that’s trying to snag younger / new readers, it would have been better served by ramping up the plot development and fleshing out the backstory. Granted, with only 80 pages of story to work with, the options might be limited for McDonald, but this volume was sloppy and rushed. It’s basically a watered-down version of Buffy, and I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s due to the fact that they don’t understand their audience.
Why does this aggravate me so? It cheapens comics and readers alike, especially in relation to younger readers. Maybe it’s the librarian in me that picks up on this, but I feel that there is a miscommunication between what comic creators think tweens and teens can handle, and what those readers actually want and need. More often than not, comic creators shoot too high or too low when they try to break into the YA market. They create caricatures of teens that lack depth and authenticity, and often depict them doing and saying things that most teens would never do. In this case, it feels like a kindergarten storyline with high school characters.
Why? Buffy and her slaying had about as much bite as an old man gumming applesauce. Getting bent about cookies? Oversized tiger as a villain? Really? What teen is going to baulk at that? The answer is none, and that’s a huge problem when the protagonist is a high schooler. The cast of characters are predominantly teens. It is directed at teens and adults. Readers need to be able to look at Buffy and say “yeah, that mirrors / mirrored my life in high school”. The intended audience is going to reject this for feeling unauthentic and juvenile.
How did this happen? I hate to say it, but I think they made a huge mistake by pulling Hicks off this series. She had a way better grasp on what it will take to bring Buffy to a new generation of readers. Here’s to hoping that they correct this, but if not I’m dropping the series.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Who Should Snag It: Pick this one up only if you really liked the first volume and want to keep going…
*I would like to thank Edelweiss and the publisher for providing me with a free ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review*