Slayer Lit Review
"BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON EIGHT: THE LONG WAY HOME"
Story by Joss Whedon, Art by Georges Jeanty and Jo Chen
Reviewed by Nikki Stafford
SPIKE: Watch your mouth, little girl. You should know better than to tempt the fates that way.'Cause the Big Bad is back, and this time it's . . . urgh . . . aaaaahh!!
That's right, folks, Buffy is returning! (Let's hope it's better than Spike's return in season 4 just before he's zapped by the truly annoying Initiative.
Unfortunately, it's not Sarah Michelle Gellar-Prinze and Company: it's in comic book form. And yes, I can hear you saying that Buffy's been in comic book form for almost a decade, but this is different: Joss Whedon is at the helm, and has said that the initial 4 issues comprise the "pilot" of what would have happened in Season 8 of Buffy, had the show continued.
The complete Scooby Gang is here (along with Spike and Angel, although Joss says he will be using them "sparingly," and says he won't reveal what would have happened after the AtS Season 5 cliffhanger. So, presumably this is happening concurrently with Season 5 of Angel. Or something.) According to Whedon, things won't be as cozy and liberating as they appeared to be at the end of "Chosen," Buffy's series finale. ''Not that everything is dire and angsty and season six-y, but she's dealing with the consequences of having empowered thousands of girls around the world. She may have closed the Hellmouth under Sunnydale and defeated The First. But evil? Still rampant!'' After the first four issue start, which will be completely written by Joss, the remaining issues in the projected 30-issue series will be written by others, but Joss will oversee it (kinda like every season of Buffy, when the episodes were written by his other writers). It's already been announced that he's lured back Buffy writers like Jane Espenson, Drew Z. Greenberg, Drew Goddard, and Doug Petrie, who will all be writing future issues.
Suffice to say, I LOVE this series. If you are a Buffy fan and have not picked up the new comics, you are seriously missing out. These aren't like the comics that were being released while the show was still on the air -- featuring stories that could have happened, but didn't, and weren't part of the television show canon. This IS canon.
The first issue begins a couple of months after Season 7 ended, and the storyline is brilliant. The first arc is called "The Long Way Home," and it is about Buffy and her friends coming together again. Buffy is with a gang of new slayers (no longer potentials, since she made them all active in the Season 7 finale) and Giles, being the lone Watcher, is trying to train an army of them, and realizing he thought he had it tough with Buffy, but this is MUCH worse. Xander is running Command Central, complete with a sexy eyepatch and special uniform, where he stands before several television sets and coordinates their activities. Dawn's been turned into a giant after she hooked up with a thricewise, and Buffy goes to see her so they can argue like sisters. Willow is off in another land, but she finally comes back in the third issue (and WHAT a return it is!!) and it's awesome to have her back in the fold. But a new (or should I say old) enemy lurks, and Buffy and the gang are up against someone who knows them, and HATES them.
Issue 5, also collected here, is called "The Chain". And...wow. Like, wow. It's a standalone story, and when it begins you're all, "Huh?" and by about halfway through the entire thing is coming together. By the end, you're speechless. The comic doesn't actually feature Buffy in it, but instead focuses on one of the two decoy Buffys that have been set up to throw the demons off-course. The decoys are mentioned in the first issue (one of them is cavorting with The Immortal in Rome, and was the person we saw in the Angel episode, "The Girl in Question") and I thought it would be left at that.
But this time we see something new, deep, and sad. We see what it's like for a Slayer to be called, to go from being a Potential to an actual Slayer. Sounds tough, you realize (like we watched Buffy do for seven years) the huge responsibility on your shoulders, and you want to excel. And then...you do, and you're chosen to be Buffy.
In other words, a target is painted on your forehead.
In the opening panels, this particular Slayer is killed, and the monster believes that he's killed Buffy. It cuts to a panel of someone looking like Buffy saying, "I never even met her," and I thought it was Buffy saying she'd never met the decoy, but it was actually going into the past with this Slayer saying she gave her life pretending to be the ultimate Slayer, and never actually met Buffy. It's seriously powerful stuff. I loved it.
***** 5 out of 5 stars
Nikki Stafford has published companion guides to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Xena, Alias, and Lost, and is the Lost columnist for Wizard Universe. You’ll find her blog at nikkistafford.blogspot.com