The wait is finally over! The first issue of Buffy Season 8 finally got published after the initial announcement over 2 years ago. (If I remember correctly, the rumours for this first started circulating around the time The Tales of the Vampires mini was coming out) I of course, had to review this. Actually I plan on reviewing this in 2 steps…single issues and how well they hold up…and again once the entire storyline completes. Maybe I’ll combine the two ideas…maybe not…but that’s the current plan. We’ll see how it goes.
Anyway…as can be seen from the previous posts on this blog, I’m a huge Buffy fan. I adored the tv series, I’ve read way too many books (many of which have been crap…but there have been some genuine gems in there too) and I’m slowly wading through the comic series as well. I own almost all the dvd sets (missing seasons 1 and 2…a ‘friend’ borrowed and never returned them) and I even used to buy the magazine on a sporadic basis. This was a no-brainer from me. But first, a few disclaimers: I’m coming as a huge fanboy of the show. There will be a bias in the reviews because of that. I also love Whedon’s television work, but have not been overly impressed with his comics work (apart from Fray). I thought Astonishing X-men was just average (many, many awesome moments…but not enough actual story). So I approached this with excitement mingled with more than a little trepidation. Fortunately, while I think the comic does have some flaws (many of which may disappear if this is read in collected form) it was overall a solid effort.
Massive Spoilers Ahead!
First the good. I really liked the artwork. I have been reading the old comics and I have to say while the artwork in those wasn’t exactly bad…this is much better. It is photo-referenced in some places (which is actually a good thing when you’re trying to match the faces of established actors) and it has the suitable ‘epic’ scale going for it that was required for a non-budget constrained Buffy ‘episode’. I also, more or less, really enjoyed the story. The banter between Xander and Rowena (I think…) was pretty funny and enjoyable. Buffy’s conversation with Dawn was excellent. (Btw…what the hell is a thricewise?) And the Sunnydale crater was just cool looking (although seriously…are there no other towns around that area???) I also really liked how…true…the characters all felt. I love the actors but around the end there all of them (with the exception of Alyson Hannigan, in my opinion) were basically just coasting. They all seemed to want to be done with it and just move on with their careers…and I think it kind of showed. This comic had none of that ‘blah’ and felt fresh and new. It was truly fun. Also…the Amy reveal? Excellent. Can’t wait to see who the hell her boyfriend is.
Now the bad. While this book had a lot of content…it was a very comfortable read in fact…but it didn’t feel like a complete ‘episode’. I think a lot of people have already mentioned this and I must agree…it felt more like the cold open of the episode. I really wanted to put on the Nerf Herder theme song and watch the clips roll by when it was finished to be honest. Now…this could either be good or really bad. I think that’s heavily dependent on how Joss writes his episodes and how many issues are in this arc. If Joss follows the four-act structure, then four issues should be more than enough for 1 complete episode. If he follows a six-act structure, I sincerely hope he manages to have a 6-issue arc. I want a complete episode (which is why I think this will read very, very well in trade as compared to monthly.)
I also was kind of disappointed to only see Xander, Dawn and Buffy. I mean a cameo by Giles would’ve been nice. Also…too many mysterious characters. There’s the flowy black coat guy in the begining who’s floating over the church, there’s Amy’s boyfriend…and the general is presumably a foil that needs more of an introduction. Also…I’m curious about why Amy is so anti-Buffy…I think I need to re-watch season 7 to familiarise myself with what she was doing when Sunnydale went kablooie. From what I remembered, I thought everyone had escaped the destruction…massive abandonment of the town anyone? Still, I liked it enough that I’ll most definitely be back next month. And if the quality is maintained throughout, I shall definitely be sticking with all 22-30 issues.