Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Oz #1–3 (of 3)

Writer: Christopher Golden
Penciler: Logan Lubera
Inker: Craig Yeung
Art Assist: Valentine de Landro
Colors: Halo
Letters: Vickie Williams
Editor: Scott Allie
Assistant Editor: Michael Carriglitto
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics $2.99 US $4.50 CAN

BTVS: Oz #1BTVS: Oz #1 page 15; TM & © 2001 Twentieth Century Fox Film CorporationChristopher Golden’s BTVS stories in the past have been hit or miss. He definitely missed with this one. There’s too little character development and too much fighting and action.

This mini-series follows Oz aka Daniel Osborne, the most reserved member of the Scooby Gang, on his quest to rid himself of the curse of being a werewolf. In the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (“Wild at Heart“), Oz made the decision to quit college and leave Sunnydale and not return until he’d either rid himself of the curse or learned to control it. Oz was desperately afraid that he was going to hurt someone he loved. The television show didn’t delve much into where Oz went beyond letting us know he had sought help in Tibet when he returned for an episode later that season (“New Moon Rising“).

This series picks up with Oz in Hong Kong being watched over by a family of demons. He’s called in an old favor owed to Giles and they’ve promised to keep him from hurting anyone while he’s in his wolf form during the phase of the full moon. Hong Kong also happens to be the home of another demon, Wuxi, who can teleport Oz to Tibet and an ancient monastery where Oz hopes he can learn to control his wolf side.

Oz is accompanied on his journey by Jinan, the beautiful daughter of the demon who owed Giles a big enough favor that he’d watch over a ferocious werewolf for a few nights. The monastery is famous for teaching magic to all manner of beings and Jinan, a demon, wants to learn magic. She also has a big crush on Oz.

The monastery happens to have been overrun by a gang of bad demons led by a powerful demon called Muztag. All of the monks but one have been either killed or kidnapped for use by Muztag as magical slaves. The lone survivor, as luck would have it, is Master Shanton the leader of the monastery and the man who sets out to help Oz accept the beast within. Of course they also have to contend with the threat of Muztag and his minions and the inevitable final confrontation.

The predictable story wasn’t helped much by the art. I’ve had a few gripes with some of the art showcased in the Buffy comics but this has to be some of the worst. Lubera is fine at portraying the demons in the story but when it comes to the more human-looking characters the figures often appear crude and amateurish. And the panel compositions went from being boring to so full of combatants you couldn’t make out any coherent action.

Overall BTVS: Oz was disappointing. Oz and his journey of self-discovery could have been played out in a much more entertaining manner if the main conflict had been more man against himself instead of man against a horde of demons. You’re left with the feeling that Oz’s story wasn’t deemed exciting enough to carry the mini-series.

This series should be on your local comic shop’s shelves or keep an eye out for a possible trade paperback collection. You can also visit Dark Horse’s web site for more information on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer line of comics at www.darkhorse.com.