Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Ring of Fire
[Dark Horse Comics $2.50 US $3.95 CAN]

Written by Doug Petrie / Illustrated by Ryan Sook & Tim Goodyear (ink assist)
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BTVS: Ring of FOne of the best things about comics is they donít have a special effects budget-whatever the writer and artist dream up is always possible. When youíre playing in the Buffyverse this can come in handy.

The BTVS original graphic novel Ring of Fire takes place during the second season of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television show. Angel has reverted to his evil vampire self, Jenny Calendar is newly dead (killed by Angel), Drusilla has come out of her shell, Spike is wheelchair bound and Kendra (the duplicate Slayer) is still alive.

The antagonist this time around is a demon named Kelgor who in the year 1500 raised an army of the dead and caused havoc and death in Japan. Angel, Spike and Dru have stolen the demonís Samurai armor which when he is resurrected by an arcane spell will make him nigh invincible. Add to this main plot-line the fact that Giles isnít dealing at all well with Jennyís death leaving him detached and unfocused on his Watcher duties and two mysterious men in black who keep popping up creating problems for Buffy.

Doug Petrie is one of the writers for the Buffy t.v. show and his handling of the dialogue shows it. The interactions between Spike and Angel are inspired. The men in black sub-plot was a little much but it did serve to answer pivotal questions for the Scooby gang without them having to indulge in a lot of book research which truthfully isnít all that exciting on the comic page. That said, the story was very entertaining and a worthy addition to the Buffy mythos.

As a television show this story would have used up a hefty chunk of the special effects budget. As a comic it gets to go all out and Ryan Sookís (Spike and Dru) art is definitely up to the challenge. Iíve said it before and Iíll say it again, Ryan Sook is fantastic. Heís as much a master of chiaroscuro as Mike Mignola but his illustrations are more detail oriented and less impressionistic. His storytelling skills are superb and he captures the cinematic flair of the series perfectly. You really feel as if youíre watching the action unfold on a screen it flows so seamlessly. And when it comes to illustrating the supernatural creatures in the Buffyverse, Ryan Sook rivals Mike Mignolaís ability to create truly horrific characters.

I would love to see Doug Petrie write more Buffy comics. In addition to this graphic novel heís written short pieces for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Annual í99 and Dark Horse Presents #150 and both were solid stories. I know itís probably too much to ask for him to be the writer on the ongoing series but I can dream.

This should still be available at your local comics shop so if theyíre sold out ask them to reorder or you can visit the Dark Horse web site at www.darkhorse.com and order it on-line.