Author: Kel McDonald
Artist: Yishan Li
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Publisher: Dark Horse

I’m a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and was naturally psyched to read the latest installment of Buffy the High School Years: Parental Parasite by Kel McDonald; where Buffy tries to balance slayer duties, and school in the midst of a surge of demon activity in Sunnydale.

Buffy the High School Years: Parental Parasite captures the essence of the show, staying true to the first season. Yishan Li brings the look and feel of the television actors to life on the page with beautiful illustrations that provide nostalgia for the show.

Parental Parasite starts off with classic Buffy, slaying demons with our dark and swoony pal Angel and then quickly complaining about getting her clothes dirty. Let’s face it, being a teenager is hard, but being a slayer is even harder. There are so many challenges Buffy has to deal with, like school (which almost always gets in the way of slaying!), demons, teenage boys, maintaining friendships, and just about everything else a high-schooler must deal with. But when Buffy is caught skipping class by her mom, she’s shocked when her mother takes a different approach and decides not to punish her, but that she is going to keep a closer eye on her and be more active as a mom instead.

Impressed, Buffy doesn’t really believe her mom will be able to devote that much time to her. That’s not enough to stop Buffy from finding new ways to avoid her and sneaking out to fulfill her duties as slayer. After all, somebody has to protect Sunnydale, right?

Buffy quickly finds that her mom is serious about spending more time with her and freaks when she randomly shows up at her school to check up on her. Thanks to Xander and Willow, Buffy manages to avoid going home right after school so she can patrol. When Buffy arrives home she sees her mom has laid out fancy dinnerware and has planned to watch a movie after dinner.

Struggling to keep her slayer secret, Buffy peddles through dinner and a movie, then sneaks out to meet up with Angel to patrol at the cemetery, where they encounter a cuclidus demon that appears as a child, but is actually a monster that hypnotizes its victims and forces them to take care of them by any means.

McDonald builds tension nicely early on by introducing readers to Buffy and her mom’s relationship from the very beginning, enhancing the effect of the parallel storyline about the parental parasite demons making the story more engaging. As Buffy continues to invent ways to avoid her mother, things backfire when she comes home and finds the cuclidus has hypnotized her mom!

Buffy works hard to kill the demon, but doesn’t want to hurt her mother so she calls for help. This moment of weakness for Buffy is my favorite because she’s rarely hopeless and this makes her human. With the help of her friends, she’s able to save her mother and kill the demon.

I loved reading this because it not only put me right back into an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but reminded me that most episodes Buffy learned a valuable lesson and always tries to do better the next time. Overall, this was a great story with amazing illustrations that any true Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan would enjoy and want to add to their collection.

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