Earlier this year, when comic book/TV/movie guru Joss Whedon announced that everyone’s favorite ass-kicking, stake-wielding, undead-boinking smartass California girl would be returning for a canonical eighth (and ninth) season—in comic book form—the geek community collectively squeed with childlike joy. And now that it's here, being a geek is so friggin' sweet. For confirmed Slayer addicts, this trade paperback—collecting the series’ first five issues—is unadulterated crack. You have been warned.
Here’s the deal—the 40+ projected issues of “Joss Whedon’s Season 8” will be penned by greats like Brian K. Vaughan and Whedon himself. The storyline is a direct continuation of TV’s Season 7, wherein Buffy and the Scoobies changed the world by imbuing thousands of “potential slayers” with Buffy’s formidable demon-fighting power. In the process, they transformed their hometown, Sunnydale, into a giant crater.
As a result of these cataclysmic changes, the gang is currently scattered throughout Europe, managing squads of rookie slayers. Comic geeks, think S.H.I.E.L.D.—Whedon’s love of Marvel is very much apparent here. Xander “Eyepatch Guy” Harris adores his new Sergeant Fury-esque power. Buffy is still in take-no-prisoners mode, Giles is estranged from the family due to his Season 7 attempt on Spike’s un-life, Dawn’s a giant (!!!), and Willow—well, for the first few issues, the witch is nowhere to be seen. It’s all fun and wargames…until two surprise villains show up, accompanied by the U.S. Military, to wreak havoc on our Slayer and her Slayerettes.
The setup is a perfect continuation of the Slayer saga, and Whedon’s wacky acid wit is most definitely on point. After several Buffyless years, it’s genuinely exciting to see him reveal his characters’ roles in the story, in a manner as pitch-perfect as his other critically acclaimed comic series, Marvel's Astonishing X-Men. And the art! Penciler Georges Jeanty’s work simultaneously echoes the actors’ features, while remaining fluid and true to the spirit of the characters. I don’t know where Whedon found this guy, but I’m glad he did. Of course,
Considering my longstanding status as a dangerously rabid, obsessive fan of the entire Whedonverse, at first, I was skeptical about getting my Buffy fix in comic book form. But upon reading the issues contained in this trade paperback, I’m sold. Sure, it’d be wonderful to have more Buffy TV adventures, but the medium of comics has some notable advantages. First, you lose the problem of hot 20-something vampire boys Angel and Spike aging along with 40-something actors David Boreanaz and James Marsters. Though these two characters are owned by comic publisher IDW—currently doing a canonical Angel Season 6!—Whedon says there’s hope for cameos. (And oh, do you get a doozy in this TPB!) Also, in comic form, Buffy’s adventures are not limited by television’s budget constraints, contract negotiations, and (ahem) writer’s strikes. Flying Willow! Giant dinosaur demons! Undead hordes! It’s all here, and it’s all unadulterated awesome. And I'd be remiss not to mention the elegant, ultra-realistic painted covers by up-and-comer Jo Chen.
Of course, Buffy remains a love/hate proposition. If you can’t tell a hellgod from Halfrek, and haven't seen all 7 DVD series, you won’t have any idea what’s going on in this, the year’s #1 comic book series. Man. Sucks to be you.