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Fryer, Hayden – Billy Demon Slayer: Complete Series 2 Collection



Billy Demon Slayer: Complete Series 2 Collection

It’s a little hilarious to go back through my old reviews of this series, note how many times I said I was going to go back and read the series in a chunk (as I reviewed the issues more or less when they came out and forgot a lot of the details between issues), and then somehow I never reviewed the final issue. Or I never got it? Nah, I’ll go ahead and blame me for dropping the ball on that one. Anyway, I was right: this series makes a whole lot more sense when it’s read all at once. Which is the nature of serialized comics, and most people don’t read as many comics as somebody who reviews them does, meaning that they have an easier time keeping all the little details straight. Anyway! For those of you who haven’t read this series (or those reviews when they came out a few years ago), this is the second series, meaning things start off with a recap of what happened in the first series. It was pretty comprehensive, and the only thing I really felt like I was missing out on was some of the more obscure cameos. In this complete volume we start off with a flashback to a couple of swords that are obviously going to be crucial later on, then jump back into life that has more or less gone back to normal after the events of the first series. But things don’t stay normal, as we get a killer hamster to start off with and it’s quickly followed by a mysterious (and, in a hilarious recurring gag, obviously stinky) fog envelops the town and turns almost everybody evil. We even lose our hero for a bit there in the middle, although I’m not going to spell out what that means exactly. Things get pretty dark in this series, but there are quips throughout and (from the afterward) it’s clear that the first series was much more lighthearted and this one ended up darker because that’s just where the story was naturally headed. Buffy and the Evil Dead series were obvious influences, but those are two pretty great influences to have. If you enjoyed those two universes, you’re going to find plenty to love in here. My only complaint is that the two friends of Billy were barely characters at all, which lessened some of their struggles, but again that’s most likely on me for not reading the first series. Other than that I pretty much loved this book. $25

Fryer, Hayden – Darkest Night #2



Darkest Night #2

For whatever it’s worth, I was completely wrong in my guess of the direction that this series was headed. Which is the best thing in the world about reading a series, frankly. This was too big of a spoiler for the last review so I didn’t reveal it (and you should know better than to read a review of a second issue if you still have interest in being surprised by the first), but Caleb’s parents died in an accident in the last issue, not long after he’s dumped by his longtime girlfriend. This issue starts off with the funeral, with his ex (Callie) making the questionable call of bringing her new boyfriend to the funeral. I get where she could use the comfort, but the day really wasn’t about her, and it causes a few problems down the line. Caleb is having some troubles getting through the eulogy, and seeing Callie there doesn’t do him any favors. From there they all move to a smaller gathering, and at this point the boyfriend tries to stay in the car but Callie needs him with her, so they go in together and the new boyfriend tries to introduce himself to Caleb. It’s awkward, as he points out, and at this point a friend of Caleb’s literally barges into the conversation to try and break things up. Since I’m still guessing what’s going to happen here, I’d have to call that guy the hero of the story so far. Caleb slowly gets back to his life, but how do you recover from a series of tragedies like that? This is all shaping up to be quite a third issue, and I’m looking forward to getting my expectations subverted yet again. Hayden has done a really excellent job of showing some of the less talked about angles of a breakup, including how it all plays out when it happens right next to a family tragedy like this. There were more than a few heartbreaking moments in here, like poor Caleb waking up and sleepily asking his mother for painkillers. Hayden was also nice enough to send along a collection of his entire Billy the Demon Slayer series, and I’m looking forward to reading that all at once to see how it all comes together. Within the next couple of months if all goes well…


Fryer, Hayden – Darkest Night #1



Darkest Night #1

This series is off to a promising start, which is always a welcome sign when somebody sends along their entire series so far for me to review. Things start off with a couple breaking up, as the guy gets home from work (?) only to find a text from his girlfriend breaking up with him. I think he’s meant to be the scary creep of the pair, but breaking up with somebody via text already made me dislike the girl a bit. We see them both at school the next day (they’re in high school, when all relationships are the end of the world), and the girl seems to be taking things a lot better than the guy. Oh fine, the girl is Carlie and the guy is Caleb. Anyway, her friends seem to be thrilled at the concept of Carlie being single along with them, while Caleb is brooding and not ready to listen to his friends call Carlie trash and that he’s better off without her. Things move along from there (some timeline would have been helpful here, but I’m guessing this takes place over the course of a few weeks), with Caleb getting moodier all the time and Carlie moving on, as she even takes tentative steps to start dating again. At this point I had a suspicion that I knew where all this was heading, which makes Hayden’s next move even better, as I did not see the tragedy that does happen coming. My only complaint so far is that a little backstory would have been helpful to know why this breakup had to happen and why it was seemingly only a big deal to Caleb, but Hayden sent along two more issues that might explain that more clearly. Like I said, this is an intriguing start to the series and I’m curious to see which direction this goes from here. This is $10 Australian money, but I’m a dumb American and have no idea what that translates to over here in North America. It’s worth contacting him to find out!


Fryer, Hayden – Billy Demon Slayer #6


Billy: Demon Slayer S2 #6

Move along, nothing to see here. Granted, you could say that about a lot of my reviews, but this is the second to last issue of this series, and I’m going to reread the whole thing before posting a review for the finale. That should be significantly more coherent than this one, as it’ll all be fresh in my head and this is just a review for the sixth issue of a series I started reviewing about a year ago. Maybe my annoyance at having no clue what happened in the first series will make more sense when it’s all read at once, maybe my theories about various shortcomings will look silly when I can see the master plan all laid out. But hey, you pay me the big bucks (in that I’m not paid at all) to ramble, so ramble I must. This issue features Billy getting all set for his assault on hell, and if you’ve reached a critical threshold for “Army of Darkness” references in comics, I recommend shutting your eyes for a few pages in the middle. Anyway, Billy heads to hell, his friends start to succumb to this rolling darkness, and the mildly vague evil master plan keeps on going. One thing that didn’t make a bit of sense to me was Billy vs. the undead hordes. Or at least I think that’s what it was, as even though Billy spent a good chunk of the first half of the book gearing up for this fight, there wasn’t a single panel of him doing anybody any sort of violence. The end result made it look like all the bad guys just wandered off. Again, maybe the series as a whole will make that a bit clearer, but it sure isn’t as I’m sitting here right now. Once again I loved the bit in the back that explained what happened to a few characters that wandered in during the issue, and that’s been a consistently bright spot in the series. I’m really looking forward to reading this all in a chunk, as it seems like exactly the sort of thing that I would really love, but trying to figure out WHY that hasn’t been the case has been a real chore. It might all come together for the finale, or I might figure out that I was wrong when it’s all read in a chunk. The optimist in me prefers to stick to those options and leave the darker ones for later. $3.50

Fryer, Hayden – Billy Demon Slayer #5


Billy: Demon Slayer Series 2 #5

I’m going to try to read the last half of this series more quickly than I read the first half, as that may help with my generally crappy short term memory. At least it couldn’t hurt. This time around Billy has been taken over by something evil and his friends have been dragged to hell. That’s where we spend most of the issue: in hell, spending brief bits of time with its inhabitants while learning a bit more about the general master plan that’s been going on.  It’s basically a transitional issue, in other words, but with important things still going on.  I may not have mentioned this in past reviews (I could read them, but that would take actual effort, and I’m not fond of that), but I really enjoy Hayden’s “Where Are They Now?” segments at the back of each issue. Background characters are a constant feature of all books, and in a story like this, where there is very little time for huge amounts of character development, it makes me happy to see just how that one skull guy made it to hell in the first place.  Yes, I’m aware that this is probably odd, but it tickles me every time.  There’s not much left to say without spilling any beans.  I do wish that there weren’t three white guys with similar haircuts as major parts of the action, as it takes a minute to tell them apart. Couple that with the genuinely crappy memory and it’s a problem.  Still, that’s a minor quibble, and I’m enjoying the overall direction of this series, past complaints notwithstanding.  When I get to the finale I’m going to read the whole thing again before posting a review.  Best to be as informed as possible, right?  $3.50

Fryer, Hayden – Billy the Demon Slayer S2 #4


Billy the Demon Slayer S2 #4

Didn’t I say that I was going to go back and read this all in a chunk?  Maybe I’ll do that with a future issue, because the problem isn’t that I’ve completely forgotten what was in the first three issues in this series, even with the gap between reviews.  The trouble is that I have no idea what happened in the first “season,” and that information seems terribly important to understand what is happening now.  Or then, as this book came out in 2008, but there’s no sense getting everybody all confused.  Past events and characters are mentioned all the time, and that’s fine on a show like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (an obvious influence) because past seasons are readily available and they’ll even occasionally take a moment to explain something that happened long ago. I’m trying to just enjoy this one and not worry about it, but they make it tough when everything is tied so closely to the last series.  So, ignoring all that, this issue is basically a long and hilarious fight scene between Billy and the mutated hamster from the last issue.  While this is going on a shadowy group is taking over hell, and the emo mist is creeping closer to Billy’s location. And all kinds of past events and characters are referenced like we’re supposed to understand them.  Aargh!  It bugs me because this is a very funny series all on its own, and the major plot developments are clearly the result of careful planning that I’ll never see.  Also, dispatching a villain by smashing it through a microwave glass door, then turning on the microwave while you’re standing right there WOULD KILL YOU.  Sure, you can say it’s “just a comic book,” which is another way to say that you just thought it would look cool and have no interest in the facts.  Man am I cranky today, I better wrap this up.  In conclusion, this is a funny and innovative series that is crying out for a collected edition of the previous series or some sort of a synopsis, but still holds up reasonably well all on its own.  $3.50

Fryer, Hayden – Billy the Demon Slayer S2 #3


Billy the Demon Slayer S2 #3

If I’m having a tough time keeping track of the story now, it must have been really tough on the people reading this when it first came out.  There was apparently a long delay in getting this issue out and this issue goes straight from the end of the second issue.  I still wish I had the first series of this book, as that would probably answer more than a few questions, but I’ll just keep flailing about and hoping that I hit on a good point or two.  Hey, exactly the same as all my other reviews!  This time around Billy is “underground” and trying to get information on the new sinister plot while his friends are still in town.  Things get bad in a hurry, as a crowd of zombies (described by a confused local as “some kind of an emo party”) descends upon the town.  Still, so far they seem to just be standing around, waiting for the word to start their mission.  Billy is actually fairly restrained in this issue, but I expect that to change in a big way for the next issue.  One thing is abundantly clear after reading this: before I review #4 I’m going to have to go back and read this series all in a row.  This issue by issue business just isn’t cutting it for me this time around.  The good news is that there were fewer grammatical errors (I’ve given up hope of the guy ever learning the difference between “too” and ‘to”), we still got the “where are they now” section to detail the fates of the side characters who wander off at the end of every issue, and there’s still some pretty great dialogue going on.  Still, I’m left with the feeling I had when I started watching Buffy at the start of the third season: I thought it was fantastic, but some of the finer points were lost on me because I didn’t know the history.  $3.50

Fryer, Hayden – Billy the Demon Slayer #2


Billy the Demon Slayer #2

I’m torn on this one.  On the one hand I would love to give a pass to the constantly wrong usage of “you’re” and “your”, “too” and “to”, but on the other hand that would make me a bit of a hypocrite.  Ah well, so I’ll be a hypocrite.  After all, the series is over with (this came out in 2006 and Hayden sent along the whole second series), so any advice I give about such things would be rather pointless.  OK, how about this: Hayden, if you’re planning another series, please pass it too an English major or two to make sure that all the easy errors are fixed.  There, problem solved!  I still wish there was some kind of detailed series recap so I would know exactly what happened in the first series, but I’m hoping this will catch me up as I go along.  Anyway, in this issue two mysterious figures are terrorizing the students, Billy gets in trouble at school, Billy meets up with Deadus (I’m very curious about their history, and if you were wondering, contrary to appearances on that cover, he does NOT give Deadus a noogie that I could see), Billy punches his evil twin, another student seems to be making this get all evil, and things end on a confusing cliffhanger.  It’s a little odd that both issues so far have needed an afterword to explain what happened to people in the comic, as that sort of thing should make sense in the context of the comic itself.  So far it seems like this series has problems, but the humor is infectious and I’m increasingly curious to see if this ends up making any sense.  Worth a look, I think, but so far it’s mostly my love for bizarre humor and apocalyptic plots that are making me say that.  $3.50

Fryer, Hayden – Billy the Demon Slayer S2 #1


Billy the Demon Slayer S2 #1

Where do you go in a comic after you’ve killed off god and the devil in the first series?  Or at least that’s what I’m guessing happened, as it was told in a very quick bit of narration at the start of the comic.  That question is still a bit of a mystery after this first issue, which was very enjoyable in its own right.  Things start off with a group of robed cultists chanting, and out pops Billy out of the shower, as they were apparently trying to conjure up Billy’s father (who happens to be the devil; a piece of information I learned on the website and not in the comic).  Billy is apparently trying to get back to a normal life after the events of the last series, and would it have killed Hayden to put some sort of a recap in the first issue?  Ah, don’t mind me, it’s just a pet peeve of mine.  The tone is very much tongue-in-cheek throughout, as you can see the main villain of this issue on the cover, and the narration mentions the fact of life that is “cheesy sequels” a few times.  There is a scientist behind the trouble with the hamster (naturally), and we don’t see a whole lot of him in this issue, so I’m guessing he’ll come into play later.  Oh, did I mention that this series is 7 issues long, at least so far, and at least that I know of?  Thought I should throw that out there.  Anyway, the hamster transforms in the middle of a pile of goop that looks suspiciously like the pile of goop that is used to conjure Billy at the start of the issue, either a coincidence, something that’ll be picked up on later in the series, or possibly he’s just depicting the legally required consistency of magical goop.  Anyway, the battle is “fought”, the scientist transforms appropriately into a mad scientist, and things are starting to get set up from the rest of the series.  I’m still not sure how he tops killing off god and the devil, but I’ve seen the covers for the rest of the series and am curious to see what he comes up with.  $3.50