The latest hardcover Buffy: The High School Years graphic novel hits stores soon and I’m happy to say that it very much feels like an early episode of the show. These books are all set during the first season of the show and while the series didn’t hit its stride until season two, there’s a charm to those early episodes, especially with how far the characters have evolved in the ongoing Season 11 comics.
What I like about Parental Parasite is that it gives us something that the show rarely did: a Joyce episode. Most of the story is still told from Buffy’s perspective, but the emotional center of it is her mother. Joyce is the one with the clearly defined arc this time around. She feels like she’s failing as a mother when she gets reports that Buffy has been skipping school.
Not wanting to be the parent who simply jumps into punishing her child, Joyce tries to look at what the root of the issue is and makes strides to reconnect with her daughter. Of course, that’s not easy when Buffy also has to deal with protecting Sunnydale from a surge of demonic activity.
But the biggest thing Buffy has been known for from the start, and still is to some extent, is taking real-world problems and personifying them through the monster of the week. In this instance, it’s a demon that appears as a little girl and preys on Joyce’s deep-seated instinct to be nurturing and protective and to prove herself as a parent.
Between this and the season three episode “Gingerbread” it also means that Joyce is a little too easily tricked by children, but it makes sense in context. In fact, this story warrants comparisons to “Gingerbread” as there are a lot of parallels between the two. But the focus is different enough in both for this one to stand on its own.
I’m also impressed by the careful attention to continuity. This feels like season one all the way through and nothing really happens to take the reader out of that, except for a line or two where Buffy seems to enjoy the slaying a lot more than she did at the beginning of the show.
Still, Willow’s a computer geek, Xander’s a helpless dork, and nobody knows that Angel is a vampire. That’s all classic early Buffy stuff. And this comic shines at conveying those original elements.
WICKED RATING: 7.5/10