So far, the High School Years graphic novels have succeeded in doing exactly what they intended to do. With all of the progress that’s been made in Season 10, with all of the ways the characters have changed, it’s great to just go back to the beginning and tell stories about the gang when they first got together. When Willow was the nerd, Xander was the awkward comic relief, and Buffy was a slayer still figuring herself out and trying to fit in. In fact, this comic is so deep cut that it features Principal Flutie, who was only the principal for the first nine episodes of the series before being eaten by students possessed by hyenas.
This story definitely feels like it could be a lost episode from early on in the series and that is its greatest strength. Sure, key characters of the time like Joyce, Angel and Cordelia don’t appear, but that leaves a focus on the core gang itself—that being Buffy, Xander, Willow and Giles—and that’s not a bad thing.
This story centers on a Home Ec teacher who is also a demonic tiger forcing students to bake to his Gordon Ramsay-esque high demands. It’s out there, but it screams of early Buffy episodes like “Teacher’s Pet” in which a teacher coming on to Xander turned out to be a giant praying mantis.
It also reflects the fun and lighter tone of early Buffy which is something that fans of that era of the show are sure to appreciate. The only thing that confused me at times was the timeline. This is very much set within a clear timeframe of the early episodes of the first season, but it makes references to things that are much more current—like Gordon Ramsay—while still keeping with a general look of the late 1990s when it comes to clothing and accessories. It’s a small gripe, if anything, but I am curious what the intent was. It makes sense, I suppose, not to force oneself to feel shackled by the trends and look of 1997, but if that’s the case, the outfits and hairstyles could have changed as well.
The artwork, however, is top notch. The manga style has really grown on me and I can’t deny the quality, especially in the coloring. I love that we’re getting original Buffy graphic novels on top of the ongoing story and that they’re looking as good as they do. Allowing the story a graphic novel length but keeping it under 100 pages, that’s exactly the perfect length to truly allow the comic to feel like an episode of the show. If that’s what they were going for, they certainly succeeded.
I would definitely recommend Glutton for Punishment to old and new fans of the show, but especially those who are nostalgic for the early days of Buffy. You guys are the people this was created for and it hits all the right notes when it comes to reinterpreting that era.
WICKED RATING: 8/10