Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight
Dark Horse Comics
After the seven season run of Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended, there was much talk about follow ups; everything from spin-offs about Faith or Willow, to a series of direct to DVD movies.
None of these came to pass, and it was several years before an official follow up would be released, and it came in the form of a comic book.
Much more than a simple tie-in, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight is a continuation overseen by Joss Whedon (creator and producer of the TV Series) himself. He brought with him many of the writers from the TV series, and a few of the bigger names in comics today.
The result is a story that both fits in perfectly with what happened before, and expands on it, carrying the story forward in significant and surprising ways. It’s funny, but having the comic be cannon, and done by the original writers just makes it feel more substantial than most comic tie-ins. The legitimacy that the creators bring give the events in the story more weight. It doesn’t have that ‘this doesn’t really matter, cause it’s not part of the ‘real’ story distancing that most licensed side stories do.
But more importantly, it ‘feels’ like Buffy. The dialogue, particularly when written by Whedon has the same tone and rhythm as it did in the series (especially when you’re hearing the actor’s voices speaking it in your head).
The television series ended with Buffy and Willow using magic to create an army of slayers. I had an English Professor in University who said this was a classic end to a coming-of-age story, in that it ended with Buffy essentially procreating.
Season 8 picks up a little later. Buffy and friends are assembling all the new slayer girls and training them to be an army. But as it turns out, creating this army of good is not without its side effects, Newton’s laws being what they are.
Buffy created a new world order. Since the outbreak of slayers, magic has become far more visible in everyday life, and the people already in power are not comfortable with this new threat. But as with the TV series, the supernatural is often a metaphor for something else, in this case, female empowerment. There’s actually a scene in volume one where one of the villains explicitly denies this connection; but the theme is prevalent through out the series. Which isn’t to say that it’s a one-sided metaphor, the supernatural plot line is complex, and goes in its own direction, but the parallels to women’s liberation keep it grounded in reality.
The end of the final volume features a note from Whedon in which he suggests that they might have gone overboard on the scale of the series. There’s merit to this argument. Buffy used to be about a girl and her friends fighting monsters in their home town, and now it’s a globe trotting army facing off against giant monsters.
I can’t say that I don’t miss the intimate nature of the old series, but it’s impressive how much the series still feels like Buffy, even as the camera is pulled back this far. The people are the same, only the setting changed.
Whedon has announced a Season 9, which will have a smaller scale; both in terms of setting and plot, and in execution (as Whedon will only produce, and have one writer handle all the issues).
There’s a lot to like here for Buffy fans. I’d even say Season 8 is better than 6 or 7, taken as a whole. This is not the glorified fan-fiction that most tie-in comics come off as. This is a legitimate, and worthy successor to the television series.