Die-hard Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans have often wondered about the generations of Slayers that preceded Sunnydale’s finest, and the few glimpses provided during the show’s seven seasons opened the door to speculate about the Slayer’s powerful heritage. Where period-based Buffyverse storytelling would be prohibitively costly for television, it’s a perfect concept for comics.
In Chosen Ones, three of Buffy’s predecessors take center stage as this ambitious one-shot offers three different stories by three different creative teams.
The first story, “The Mission,” is set in 1808 Sunnydale as the Spaniards are arriving to displace the native population. Written by Mairghread Scott with art by Ornella Savarese and colors from Wesllei Manoel, the native-born Slayer meets her reluctant Spanish Watcher in a story that establishes the history of Hellmouth in Sunnydale and sets up the forthcoming "Hellmouth" crossover event.
The palpable tension between Hutash the Slayer and Perez the Watcher is the most on-point characterization in the book. They’ve only just met so there’s no trust, Hutash isn’t about to take orders from anyone, and Perez is sure of his duty but skeptical about the suitability of his new charge. What's less interesting is the cult of vampires attempting to open the portal to hell. Whereas baddies in the show displayed notable traits, they fall flat here, and as Hutash dispatches them we never sense her in any real peril. However, Savarese and Manoel deliver a dark frontier version of California that looks like a cross Zorro meets Jonah Hex and feels like a flashback from the show.
The second story, “The Eating of Men,” written and illustrated by Celia Lowenthal is set in 14th century Italy and is an awakening tale. Apart from Buffy herself, we don’t get many tales of Slayers at the moment they awaken to their powers, and this brief effort follows the formula without really digging deep to make us care about the recently-orphaned Silvia. Lowenthal’s art is in the vein of Darwyn Cooke's work on The Spirit, forgoing the trademark darkness of the Buffyverse. Although its awash in loss, Lowenthal ultimately ends this story on a refreshing hopeful note.
The third story, “Behind the Mask,” written and illustrated by Alexa Sharpe uses a lot of panels to convey a relatively small amount of action at a masked ball in 1820. While that date means that Hutash’s time as a Slayer was regrettably brief, this story is ultimately a plucky near miss. The action inside the manor is a better marriage of story and art than the resulting fight in the gardens, but overall, it doesn’t really serve to deepen the legend of the Slayer.
As a precursor to the Hellmouth cross-over there is enough meat on the bones of this issue to pique the interest of Buffyverse die-hards, but it’s not the issue to recommend to new readers.