‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘The Wisdom of War’ (2002) (Book review)

Christopher Golden pens another of his excellent “Buffy” epics with “The Wisdom of War” (July 2002). While it feels a little too big for its britches as I try to reconcile this story fitting into the TV show’s narrative flow – for example, Xander nearly gets turned into a fish monster in a more serious reprise of “Go Fish” (2.20) and Buffy suffers a life-threatening injury in the final battle – it earns serious points because Golden nails Faith’s characterization in his first crack at writing the rogue Slayer.

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘Crossings’ (2002) (Book review)

After a few late-Season 5 novels skimmed over Joyce’s death as if scared to address it, Mel Odom does it right with the young-adult novel “Crossings” (June 2002). Set between “Forever” (5.17) and “Intervention” (5.18), as most of these late-Season 5 entries are, it digs into the new Buffy-Dawn dynamic while also serving as a sneak preview for additional Season 6 themes like Willow’s magic addiction.

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘Sweet Sixteen’ (2002) (Book review)

In his debut Buffverse novel, the young-adult entry “Sweet Sixteen” (April 2002), veteran fantasy writer Scott Ciencin seems to make a smart call by focusing on the often-underused Dawn. But after a solid start where Dawn befriends picked-on new girl Arianna, the plot is driven by misunderstandings, manipulations and contrivances. Arguably worse, most of the Scooby Gang is out of character. The book never coalesces into a satisfying whole, and even good tidbits are few and far between.

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‘Valerian and Laureline’ flashback: ‘The Illustrated Treasury’ (2017) and ‘The Art of the Film’ (2017) (Book reviews)

As anyone who has searched the web for specific “Valerian” information knows, scholarship of this franchise is sketchy compared to, say, “Star Wars” or “Star Trek.” Two reference books have been released in English — and hopefully more will follow, including a pair of Jean-Claude Mezieres art books that are only in French for now. But here’s a look at the two books – one on the comic universe, one on the film — that are available to English readers now:

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘Tempted Champions’ (2002) (Book review)

After a brief foray into Season 4 with “The Lost Slayer,” the “Buffy” novels skip over Season 5 (at least for now) and enter Season 6 with “Tempted Champions” (March 2002), Yvonne Navarro’s sophomore effort that improves dramatically from “Paleo” (2000). Not only is this an excellent Anya novel, it’s one of the best Anya stories, period.

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‘Buffy’ flashback: ‘Creatures of Habit’ (2002) (Illustrated novel review)

In addition to their strong run as the main writers on the “Buffy Classic” comic books, Tom Fassbender and Jim Pascoe also tried their hand at prose with the illustrated novella “Creatures of Habit” (March 2002). As the only “Buffy” story in this format, it might get lost in the shuffle with some fans. That would be too bad, because it’s a fun, easy read with wonderful art by Brian Horton and Paul Lee that will call to mind the “Buffy” comic-book covers from this era.

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‘Buffy’/‘Angel’ flashback: ‘Unseen III: Long Way Home’ (2001) (Book review)

Nancy Holder and Jeff Mariotte wrap up their “Buffy”/“Angel” crossover trilogy “Unseen” by paying off most of the threads in satisfying ways and going big with the idea of our heroes traipsing through alternate dimensions. As is often the case in the Buffyverse novels, “Long Way Home” (September 2001) has ideas (alternate dimensions) and character traits (Willow’s and Tara’s incredible magic skills) that are a bit too ahead of the curve from where the TV series is at. For instance, when the “Angel” gang ends up in Pylea at the end of Season 2, you’d think Angel might reference his trip to various dimensions in “Long Way Home” from the previous summer.

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‘Buffy’/‘Angel’ flashback: ‘Unseen II: Door to Alternity’ (2001) (Book review)

Nancy Holder and Jeff Mariotte expand on their portrayal of gang warfare in Los Angeles and Sunnydale by digging into the Russian side of the Mexican-Russian conflict in “Unseen II: Door to Alternity” (July 2001), the second of a trilogy. In a backstory, the authors do some impressive writing from the point of view of scientist Alexis Vishnikoff, who believes in everything the Soviet Union stands for, and hates everything the USA stands for.

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‘Buffy’/‘Angel’ flashback: ‘Unseen I: The Burning’ (2001) (Book review)

“Unseen I: The Burning” (May 2001), the first of a “Buffy”/“Angel” crossover trilogy, is one of the more unusual Buffyverse books so far. It’s notably decompressed, features many different storylines, and –most strikingly – digs into themes that don’t seem to be in the wheelhouse of this saga. For instance, Buffy is going after Los Angeles street gangs and Angel is trying to help a man who has been framed by corrupt L.A. cops.

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‘Buffy’ flashback: All 7 short stories from ‘Tales of the Slayer Vol. 1’ (2001), ranked (Book review)

I remember when “Tales of the Slayer Vol. 1” (October 2001) came out, it felt to me like for first time the Buffyverse had a sprawling Expanded Universe similar to what “Star Wars” had developed. Starting here, a character need not be peripherally linked to Buffy in order to have their story told.

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