All of you who have been disappointed in the Buffy comics (this means you, Mar!) owe it to yourselves to take at look at this issue. If Dark Horse had gotten any of these artists to illustrate the serialized Buffy story theyve got running in Previews right now they might actually see an upswing in sales.
The first story entitled "The Latest Craze" is written by Christopher Golden and Tom Sniegoski and deals with the gang getting caught up in a fad collecting little goblin like critters called Hooligans. The Hooligans are extra-special limited edition collectibles that everyone must have. The local Hooligan shop even sells play sets and outfits for your Hooligans. The weird thing is people who own a Hooligan end up acting really strange and items to which theyre emotionally attached keep disappearing. Ethan Rayne, old Giles chum from the season two episodes "Halloween" and "The Dark Age" and the season three episode "Band Candy" shows up in this story and suffice it to say hes up to no good.
The art team on "The Latest Craze" is Cliff Richards (pencils) and Joe Pimentel (inks) and they are outstanding. The art is simple and crisp and the likenesses are dead on.
The second story, "Bad Dog" is written by Douglas Petrie, a writer for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel television shows. In it Willow is kidnapped to be a sacrifice and Oz in his werewolf form is instrumental in tracking her down.
The artwork is by Ryan Sook, my favorite Buffy artist. It turns out hes Joss Whedons favorite artist on the Buffy comics too so he must be doing something right.
Both stories are fun romps and well worth the price. But within the pages of this Annual you also get a text piece about a fan being made into a vampire at Wizard World 99 (okay, I confess, I skipped that) and a pin-up section the highlight of which was Ryan Sooks depiction of Spike, Dru and Angel decked out in 17th century attire.
This issue should still be on your local stores shelves but if its not you can order direct from Dark Horse Comics, Inc. 10956 SE Main Street, Milwaukie, OR 97222 or visit their web site at www.darkhorse.com.