Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Blood of Carthage Paperback – 25 May 2001
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About the Author
ANDI WATSON and CLIFF RICHARDS are the regular writer and artist team on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic book and graphic novels. This title continues on from the bestselling Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Crash Test Demons.
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Originally released during the Roman conquest of Carthage, Ky-Laag is major badness. He was only brought under control at that time by the wiles of Vraka, another demon, who led a cult called 'The Blood of Carthage.' Several thousand years later Buffy has let the rabbit out of the hate, and Vraka heads for Sunnydale to try to stop Ky-Laag and, in his spare time, kill the offending slayer. Buffy feels the same way about Vraka, but, if they don't work something out, they will be dead and the rest of us will be worshipping Ky-Laag.
One of the other key story arcs is Willow's need for emancipation from a Xander who still treats her like a childhood sidekick. As a young woman with significant magical and intellectual skills this has become more than a little irritating. In a series of flashbacks we see the developing relationship between the two as children. One in which Xander often took the lead. The other piece of history is a series of pieces about Vraka and reason for his bad feelings towards Spike. It should be no surprise that these do not paint the vampire with a chip in his head in a very good light.
One has to think of 'The Blood of Carthage' as more than a trade paperback rehashing the contents of a series of comic books. The story itself is larger than its media, and the trade paperback or graphic novel suits it best. Part of this is due to the efforts of Christopher Golden as writer, and the rest is due to editor Scott Allie's decision to deviate from the story telling style in the previous comic series - 'Bad Blood.' This is not intended to be a criticism of Andi Watson's rambling nine-issue series. Instead, Allie decided it was time for a change of pace and then turned to Golden, a proven Buffy novelist, to implement the idea.
Golden's story line is structured much like a novel, with a focused major story arc and rising levels of complexity and intensity. To break up the pacing a bit we are treated with flashbacks to Willow's childhood with Xander and Spike's first encounter with Vraka. Another thing that makes this series special is the carefully managed creative artwork. While Cliff Richards is the artist for the main story, Chynna Clugston-Major and the team of Paul Lee and Brian Horton each get one of the flashback series. This is cleverly orchestrated to provide different moods and contexts. The art really is excellent, and a separate article on what went into it is included in this volume.
If you have been wondering which trade paperback to buy first, this should be high on your list.
The art work is exciting and colorful. I think the actors are well drawn. Their voices are true.
Set in the fourth season, Buffy is at college. The pressures weigh heavy on her slayer duties. When she kills the wrong demon all Hell breaks loose which forces deadly enemies to work together. I recommend this to all Buffy fans
Golden writes all of the characters extremely well, though my favorite of his has to be Anya. She's as hilarious here as she is in the show. The overall mood of the comic nicely captures what the characters were going through at the time this takes place, but also adds its own stuff to the story. The Xander/Willow flashbacks were awesome, and though that part of the story and its influence on the present did seem a smidgen forced, it was worth it to get those glimpses back. The Spike flashbacks were also awesome. I really liked that they got different artists for each flashback; that really suited the style of each character.
The book wasn't perfect, and I did think the inclusion of Lucy Hanover was interesting, but also so epic that it kind of highlighted the fact that this book was non-canonical, because such an event would have been referenced in canon. Nevertheless, that was the only real flaw I could think of. There were beats of "meh" throughout the story, but for the most part, it was a very solid tale that wasn't afraid to show that it wasn't just a good Buffy story, it was a great story of its own.