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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight: The Long Way Home

And on top of all that, is there anyone out there who can say with a straight face that Buffy the comic is equal to Buffy the TV show? That they are equivalent storytelling experiences? Buffy season 8, the comic, works mostly because it’s the only game in town for an audience that’s starved for it. If the story was being televised, fans would be screaming bloody murder about how it’s not a patch on seasons 2 and 3.

Greg Hatcher

Short review of the first Buffy: Season Eight trade.

It’s competent.

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Longer review:

There’s been a decent number of Buffy comics over the years. Some of ‘em, specifically the historically centered Tales of the Vampires and Tales of the Slayers were quite good. Despite the fact that Buffy herself didn’t show up much. The rest… Well, to be honest I read most of ‘em and don’t remember a damn thing. So I’m ‘a going with “forgettable.”

But despite the lopsided quality to crap ration in previous Buffy comics, I had high hopes for THIS particular version, dubbed “Season Eight,” implying that these comics are supposed to BE the eighth season of the TV show, which was canceled after seven year-long seasons.

Second, these issues- although NOT the ones that followed them – were written by the guy who created, oversaw, and wrote/directed most of the best episodes of the TV show, Joss Whedon. Even more reassuring: Whedon had prior comic experience – He wrote for both Tales of the Slayers and Vampires and he’s currently scriptin’ Marvel’s Astonishing X-Men.

So I walk in with fairly high expectations, and end up with “competent.”

Bummer.

Still, y’know… Competent IS competent. The plot development, character development bits and story beats are effectively done, and the pacing is solid. I didn’t find any glaring writing flaws.

Likewise, primary artist Georges Jeanty turns in a solid-but-unspectacular performance. His stuff is surpsingly cartoony for a comic adaptation of a TV show, but it does, generally, capture the likenesses of the actors.
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which is what licensed TV based art is supposed to do, right?

He’s neither a briliant draftsman nor a spectacular storyteller. But, again. Competent.

And, in some ways, Competent Plus. Jeanty has a genuine gift for using the
“camera” to frame his shots – Unless this comes from Whedon’s “directing.”
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There were a coupe times when these two showed off a damn-near-Eisnerian sense of creative exploration. Check out this sequence, where Buffy talks to her sister-the-giant. (Ummm… Spoilers.)

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Or this spectacular panel to panel transition fake-out, where a squad of Buffy’s buds find an evil witch threatening Buffy with a knife.
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So on the plus side, we have general competence mixed with a handful of moments of genuine artistry.

On the downside… This ain’t a patch on season two.

*End of Teaser – Cue Theme and Opening Titles*

One of the commentators in our last Buffy post said he’d never watched the show.

So.

Some background.

The Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show is (A) surprisingly close to what you’d figure it would be about from the title. And (B) my favorite TV program ever.

It’s MOSTLY rooted in horror, but Buffy displays a cheerfully Catholic approach to genres, pulling from situation comedy, noir-ish detective stories, soap opera, musicals, and (as we’ll see) superhero comics.

The plot has Buffy – a head cheerleader/prom queen type – finding herself granted superpowers and recruited to be a kind of supernatural sheriff for the town of Sunnydale, which is beset by a steady stream of Vampires. And Ghosts. And Frankenstein’s monster-esque cyborgs, giant insects employed as substitute teachers, four inch tall fear demons, sex poltergeists, and evil robots that want to marry Buffy’s mom. Seven years/seasons worth of monster-of-the week.

But we are a comics blog here, so I’d like to swing back to comics. Because it’s the comic-stuff that makes the show good. So let’s play some compare and contrast. Starting with the most obvious similarity:

Our hero is a super-powered girl with a secret identity defending the status quo from super-powered antagonists. Just like Superman, Daredevil, Impulse, the Red Raven or the Green Lama. As her career progresses, Buffy even joins up with a bunch of other “powered” types – albeit powered types based on horror tropes, including a witch, a werewolf, and a couple of Vampires – and ends up heading up a veritable Justice League of Ghost(etc.) busters.

Secondly: I just finished reading the DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics. And damned if it couldn’t double as The TV Writers Guide to Writing Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The basic structure of Buffy has one main, three act plot per episode, but two or three sub-plots spanning multiple episodes happening in the background. These either comprise individual character arcs, foreshadow upcoming events, or contribute to the main story of the season, which generally concludes with the defeat of the “Big Bad” circa the last episode before summer reruns.

Many, hell, most current superhero comics feature a similar approach to story construction – There’s the current story, there’s at least one long-term story, and there’s smaller character stories mixed in. Now I dunno enough about TV to know if Buffy’s structure is common to most dramatic TV shows, or if it was nicked from comics. But it’s pretty clear SOMEONE’S copying SOMEONE here.

(P.S. Anybody know? Did the Buffy/X-men sub-plots and main plot structure originate in TV or comics?)

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*****ticky marks******

Third, and most importantly: Like much fiction,Buffy and the spandex set are both rooted in metaphor, and they both apply metaphor in similar, if not precisely the same ways.

They both make major use of recognition and inspiration metaphors. Which, in the midst of the conversation where all this was hashed out, got shorthanded to “IN” and “OUT” metaphors, respectively. This gets a little complicated, so we’ll hit them one at a time.

First, the “IN” or recognition metaphors: See, superhero comics and 100 pound prom queens who fight killer cyborgs are both, y’know, at their core…. pretty silly.

Yeah, I know. And water’s wet, right? And the sun might show an occasional propensity towards hotness.

But work with me. I’m going somewhere.

In superhero books, metaphor can be used to bridge the larger-than-life and the true to life, and make the big scale theatrics relatable to the audience. Take Rogue of the X-men, ferinstance. Her powers (she drains life by touching folks) are pretty far out there in terms of believability… But in metaphorical terms, viewed as a fear of human contact, of getting to close to other people, they make perfect sense. Or take the X-men as a concept.

Recently, there was much bitching about the X-men in our forum. The gist of the argument being “Why are the X-men feared and hated while the Avengers and the Fantastic Four get a free pass? They’re all superheroes, and none of ‘em CHOSE their powers.”

Now I see the logical argument, but fiction is about more than logic. On a thematic level, well, the X-men and the Avengers are different comics about different stuff, so their fictional realities are arranged so as to emphasize these different themes.

The central concept of the X-men deals with the relationship between outcasts (or just plain people-who-are-different) and society. Sometimes society responds with fear, mistrust, even hatred. The central metaphor of the Avengers is… Well, I’m not sure. But, again. Different books. Different themes. Different “INs.”

The metaphorical “IN” in Buffy the Vampire Slayer is similar. But different. Similar in that it looks at true to life situations, different in that Buffy is a horror show first and foremost, so the metaphors tend to have a darker texture to ‘em. Steroid-type drug abuse turns the swim team into Monsters. (And they eat people.) A girl feels ignored, so she turns invisible. (And starts trying to kill people.) Buffy sleeps with the wrong guy (in this case a vampire) he turns evil and… well, you know the drill. Still, like Rogue, this is recognizable behavior dressed like the fantastic.

One more difference. In the Buffy-verse, text and subtext tend to bump into each other an’ rub together. Metaphor is streamlined into the nature of Buffy’s reality. The town where Buffy lives has the “super power” to bestow metaphorical properties on it’s inhabitants, and, unlike Rogue or the other X-men, the characters seem to be slightly aware of this.

So that’s the “IN” part. Let’s head “OUT,” and look at inspiration metaphors.

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Here, we’re dealing with higher ideals. Superman: Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Or Green Lantern: Magic jewelry that creates giant boxing gloves and evil pink aliens. This might be tough for the average fan to relate to until We think about how much of a difference one person can make in the world through applied force of will.

There’s a lot of OUT in Buffy, but it works in a couple different ways. Buffy and her pals are less easily described as “paragons of virtue” than yer average superhero. Buffy’s best friend turned into an evil witch and tried to destroy the world as a big example, and on a smaller scale Buffy’s more prone to self doubt and destructive behavior than your average super-type. But the Justice League of Buffy and her Buds still have a buncha noble traits: They look out for the innocent, adhere to duty, (but not blindly) and demonstrate a sense of humor under pressure – These are noble, admirable traits.

But agan, Buffy is a HORROR show. Which means the OUT metaphors work in reverse, too. If you engage in laudable behavior, you become a hero, like Buffy or Xander. If you engage in bad behavior, you get killed by a mummy. So the IN and OUT metaphors are a little confused, here.

As Buffy progressed through the seasons it did move away from both the IN and OUT metaphors and developed into a more character based,
soap-opera-ish show. Not to it’s benefit, in my mind: There’s a reason Greg Hatcher in the quote waaaaaay at the beginning says “Seasons Two and Three” and not “Seasons six and seven.” But it always remained a fairly thoughful show and, kinda like the Georges Jeanty panels up-top, had a streak of formal experimentation. There was a musical, there was an almost all silent episode, there was a symbolic dream episode with no formal plot – The creators were obviously thinking about expanding the scope of what you can do with TV as a medium.

****Ticky marks****

Basically, Buffy always felt like it was assembled by restless English Majors who big fans of good superhero comics.

Which pretty much explains why it’s my favorite show of all time.
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Which brings us (finally!) back to Long Way Home. It stops being like GOOD superhero comics, and instead it starts to feel like BAD superhero comics, of the overly nostalgic variety. It seems just as concerned with recycling past glories than creating new ones.

I see why Whedon’s doing this, mind. The projected audience for this comic are pre-indoctrinated hard core fans of the TV show. So the introduction of familiar villains and settings helps comfort and acclimate the boob tube-to-comic converts to a new medium.

Which is ODD, because the plot has definitely advanced in the down-time between the end of season seven and the start of season eight. The last season of the TV show had Buffy training a gaggle of brand new slayers. and Season Eight takes this to a whole different level: Buffy’s been promoted to general-and-dictator-for-life of a small army of young superhuman gals with the same super strength, toughness, and enhanced senses package that Buffy herself received. Strangely, (or not, considering that Whedon is writing an X-men book) this ends up feeling a bit like Grant Morrison’s take on the X-men. Buffy and her pals are teachers. Their charges, heroes in training.

It’s sad, then, that the target audience is folks that are intimately familiar with the show. Especially since (A) in it’s original format, the first storyline was composed of four individual comic issues. Which means that the first, second, and third issue ended with a cliffhanger.. And in fact, in EVERY case the cliffhanger-that-ends-an-issue was the reappearance of a familiar character from the TV show.

This “Hey! Look! A familiar character!” ending isn’t RARE in comics, but it always annoys me. It might appeal to those folks who are already immersed in the fictional world being presented, but it won’t get newbies back for the next issue. And, more’n that, it simply feels lazy… In stead of working to define characters and make the audience relate to them, the writer is coasting on previous audience goodwill, instead of working to EARN the audience admiration.

And, honestly, I have a pretty dim view of fans who say I MUST come back for the next issue… Because… um… I recognize a character.”

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And we ain’t even talking MAIN characters in two of the three instances. The first issue, ferinstance, concludes with the reappearance of Amy the Witch, who popped up in only a handful of episodes. (Not counting those couple years where she was turned into a rat.)

Worse still, she was a Season SIX villain. Season Eight isn’t even reliving the show’s glory days… It’s obsessed with it’s death throes.

There is, I suppose, an upside to this excess of familiarity: The comic does succeeds in many of the ways the TV show did. It briskly switches from funny mode to scary mode on a dime, and there’s some great cutesy dialog. Which is a plus if you like cutesy dialog.

“My love.” He called me “My love”. And then I threw up in my mouth a little.

The thing about changing the world… Once you do it, the world’s all different.

One Slayer fighting alone is formidable. Two is formidabler. Or… three? Mega-formidable. And after mega, it goes to mondo, then super, hyper, beaucoup d’crazy, stupid… it gets *exponentially* prefixy.

If not, well, you’re probably not a fan anyway.

And there’s some improvements as well. You can do BIG better (and much cheaper) in comicsthan TV, which means we end up with scenes like this

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Which you can’t do on TV without breaking the bank. So I didn’t hate it, but I wouldn’t recommend it, either.

So. Not recommen.. But, hey. I forgot about the last story in the collection.
The last one is… something else altogether.

Call it Fake Buffy in Fairyland.

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This story, which occupied only a single issue of the comic, was much less familiar. And to tell you the truth I’m still processing it. If it’s designed to kick audiences out of their first-four-issue comfort zone, well, if I’m a representative sample, it worked.

The general plot has one of the Slayer girls hired to “be” Buffy – To kind of borrow her identity to deflect some of the heat off the real Buffy, in case her enemies try to kill her.

The Chain has “Fake Buffy” (actually one of the fake Buffys, as it turns out) fighting a war in a vaguely Norse underground fairyland and… not winning. There’s all sorts of themey metaphory stuff here, which I haven’t QUITE sorted out: Duty, identity, the importance of the individual in the scope of history all show up.

Aaaaand There are also some fairly major pacing and cutting problems: 22 issues of a comic book simply don’t equal 44 minutes of a TV show, and this issue NEEDS more room to believe and develop.

Still, it demonstrates the same kind of restless experimentation that brought us Buffy: the Musical.

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And, yes, that’s a good thing.

So Not Recommended, but I AM curious as to where the series is going next.

28 Comments

The stuff in the ticky marks isn’t mine. It came from Nialle at the Haunted Bookshop here in Iowa City, who NOT ONLY did not laugh at me when I came in and asked

Can you explain the purpose of fiction, specifically the purpose of metaphor IN fiction, and frame your answer so that it relates to both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and superhero comics…

But gave me an answer withing twenty minutes.

I figure I owe her BIG for that.

what do you mean by “patch” on Season 2?

what do you mean by “patch” on Season 2?

He means that, if Season 2 was developing a bit of a worn spot, this comic isn’t worthy to have a square cut out of it to patch Season 2’s worn spot.

“Isn’t a patch on” is a Britishism meaning “not as good as.” Don’t ask me for etymology lessons, though. Or entomology lessons either, for that matter.

I read the first three or four issues of this, then dropped it. I used to love Buffy. It was my favorite show my last year of high school and first few years of college. But after the jump over to UPN it really went downhill and never recovered. My biggest problem with the comic is that, like the last couple seasons of the show, it feels too far removed from the real heart of the show – the stuff that made it work in the first place.

I liked all of the stories about growing up and dealing with the conflict between Buffy’s normal and supernatural lives. I liked the growth and development of the characters as they grew up and found new directions in their lives. I liked the use of monsters and demons as metaphors for challenges we all face as we grow up. That’s what the show was about for me, and when it became General Buffy of the Slayer Army, it just lost all of the warmth and charm that had drawn me in initially. Season 7 was bad enough, but the comics take that to the extreme. Buffy is running an international vampire-killing army from her secret fortress headquarters? No. No, thank you. This isn’t what Buffy the Vampire Slayer is to me.

I think it’s just fine- it would be weird as an actual season of the series, but it takes advantage of the fact that it’s not. The series finished off the whole “Hero’s Journey” arc for Buffy just fine, so what we’re getting now isn’t as focused and is more focused on craziness and fanservice. Some people will see this as a flaw. I pity them.

Hmmm… I can see what you’re saying about excess fan-pleasing continuity and obscure characters, but there are some very nice bits in ‘Season Eight’, a real sense of expanded scale to what a ‘Buffy’ story can and can’t do – giant Dawn, for instance.

I also think it shows Whedon hitting his stride as a writer of comics. Unlike ‘Astonishing X-Men’ Whedon’s writing provides a fairly densely told and well-paced story, rather than just small nuggets of banter to sprinkle over eye-popping Cassaday art.

I also absolutely loved ‘The Chain’. The idea of ‘I Was Buffy’s Double’ is a strong one, and it would be a hard trick to pull off in a TV show. The end result is the strongest issue of this series so far, I think, one which is in its own way genuinely moving.

I don’t think the plot-format of Buffy or X-Men is original to either story. I think it’s a rather old serial drama trope. Probably going back to Dickens’ era when he published novels in serial format. Or further perhaps?

I’m getting very tempted to do a “Storytelling Engines” entry on ‘Buffy’, focusing on the way that telling the story in real time forced them to abandon a very good engine (“high school is hell”) and continually reinvent the series every year (“college is…um…less like hell?” “Having a mom with cancer and a whiny little sister is, um…worse than hell?” “F*** it, let’s just throw stuff at the wall and see if it sticks!”, and “OK, we’re admitting defeat and going back to the high school, but this time, um, she’s a guidance counselor.” And of course, season 8, “Having your own secret organization of super-powered women who follow your every whim is…actually pretty freaking cool!”)

I’ve enjoyed Season 8 so far… not enough being done with the Dawn character, and the comic medium necessarily makes things go slowly, but still some mindless entertainment.

Regarding Greg Hatcher’s quote: Greg, after modding the TV/Film Board during Seasons 6 & 7, you should know better than to judge anything Buffy by what the hardcore fans think of it.

Matthew’s right– that structure dates back at least to the Victorian Era. Dickens used it, to some extent, but it was closer to the format we know and love today in Trollope’s work, particularly the Palliser novels.

I’m wondering why Whedon’s best comic, as well as the best comic to spin off of the Buffyverse, Fray wasn’t mentioned. The slayer in the future concept could have faltered easily, and it didn’t! While It only lasted 8 issues, and they took forever to come out, it is Whedon’s best work in comic books so far. Also, it didn’t work on the premis of established charaters appearing at every turn, instead the mythology created by the show was used and explored (slayer with a twin). Anyways, I’m just saying I think it’s weird the comic wasn’t mentioned.

M Bloom
Buffy is running an international vampire-killing army from her secret fortress headquarters? No. No, thank you. This isn’t what Buffy the Vampire Slayer is to me.

I don’t think in terms of “to me” so much, but it does seem like a strange choice. Horror is generally more intimate, and this feels like a deliberate shift in genre. I would’ve at least used one of the new slayers as a Point Of View cog-in-the-machine.

John Seavey
I’m getting very tempted to do a “Storytelling Engines” entry on ‘Buffy’, focusing on the way that telling the story in real time forced them to abandon a very good engine (”high school is hell”) and continually reinvent the series every year (”college is…um…less like hell?”

That kind of thing seems to happen to TV shows a LOT, huh. “Oh Crap! Our kid isn’t cute anymore! We need another kid!”

Tom Russell
Matthew’s right– that structure dates back at least to the Victorian Era. Dickens used it, to some extent, but it was closer to the format we know and love today in Trollope’s work, particularly the Palliser novels.

Huh. Thanks, guys. I briefly wondered about radio drama but I never thought of serial prose as the…

Shoot! What’s the word! I keep wanting to see “Ancedent,” but that doesn’t sound right.

I’m still a little curious whether TV or Comics peached this structure from Victorian novels FIRST, though.

Erin
I’m wondering why Whedon’s best comic, as well as the best comic to spin off of the Buffyverse, Fray wasn’t mentioned.

It sort of was. I read it when the trade came out and don’t remember anything about it. (My memory: Not so good.) I couldn’t scrounge up a copy in the Iowa City area, so I left it out.

“It sort of was. I read it when the trade came out and don’t remember anything about it. (My memory: Not so good.) I couldn’t scrounge up a copy in the Iowa City area, so I left it out.”

There’s a pretty decent shop in Marion called Alter Ego. You may want to try there, they have a nice trade selection.

Buffy’s fifth/sixth season were easily the best of the show. By season three, the high school is hell concept had basically run its course, and with the exception of a few episodes like ‘The Prom’ and ‘Earshot,’ the plot didn’t really revolve around high school at all. I really loved season two, but the show had to grow up, even if it would have possible to pull a Simpsons and keeps them in high school forever, it wouldn’t have been as dramatically compelling.

What makes the fifth and sixth season so effective is the increased moral ambiguity. Particularly in year six, there are no bad guys, there’s ‘the trio,’ but they’re treated as comedy most of the time. It’s more a general feeling of malaise and sadness at realizing life isn’t turning out quite like you want it to, and I think that’s a lot more relatable and emotionally powerful than the swim team is a bunch of fish creatures. The high school metaphors worked in their time, but even for a high school audience, I think the whole world is hell is a powerful, relatable idea. And, it nicely confonts that old cliche that everything will be okay once you graduate high school, then you’ll be the boss of the guys making fun of you! It’s not quite true, as the sad tale of Warren, Jonathan and Andrew shows.

And, it really bothers me to see season six and seven grouped together because they’re as radically different as any two seasons of the show are. Six is intensely character focused, dark and confined while seven basically abandons our core characters for a huge action story. Seven’s got its moments, but after the season six finale, we only really needed seven episodes or so to wrap everything up. The potentials didn’t work on the show and they don’t work in the comic.

Ultimately, all I really want from Buffy is just an hour of the characters catching up, I don’t want the new status quo stories of the comic, I’d like something where they just talk, or maybe a dream sequence ‘Restless’ kind of thing. But, the story itself has been told, and I don’t think we really need more.

Particularly in year six, there are no bad guys, there’s ‘the trio,’ but they’re treated as comedy most of the time. It’s more a general feeling of malaise and sadness at realizing life isn’t turning out quite like you want it to, and I think that’s a lot more relatable and emotionally powerful than the swim team is a bunch of fish creatures

Yeah. I don’t think that worked.

I generally liked season six, but I thought it was overreaching. The characters that were created in the first few seasons were quirky charicatures, or even platforms for metaphors. I didn’t see them as having the depth or breadth to carry out the new status quo.

So give me fish people any day. It was a story that knew EXACTLY what it was trying to say, and maintained a consistent tone that both didn’t take itself TOO seriously but hinted at real under-the-surface tragedy.

And I really don’t think that worked. Season six of “Buffy” is just depressing. I saw it all later on disc; I can’t imagine why anyone would have tuned in week after week for that exercise in pus-draining. But it’s not depressing just because of the subject matter…it’s depressing because it’s clear at that point that the creators have no real idea what to do with the show, its glory days are well behind it, what once seemed fresh is pretty thoroughly played out, etc. (Um…except that was also season five.) The last season was, I thought, something of a return to form, albeit one that left me not the least bit sorry that it was the end. I think they could have very easily transitioned its “storytelling engine” over to college life — they did, in the fourth season, which includes some of the show’s best episodes — but they blew it when they decided it would be angstier and kewler to have Buffy work at McDonald’s or whatever. Fail. I’m a little dubious about the concept working outside of a school setting at all (since that setting is so intrinsic to the show for such a long time; you could take the cast of “NYPD Blue” and make them mall security guards, too, but…), and they sure never convinced me otherwise.

That said, while I have no appetite for an eighth season at all, I…kinda like the comic? I do think it’s the best work Whedon has done in the medium, though that (sadly) could be saying more. And I was stunned by how good the one-off mentioned above was. But overall…man, it’s seriously time to let this thing go already.

You…you…HERETIC!

OK, I actually really like the stuff they’ve done with the Buffy comic, and I think that the first story arc was really “selling” the graphic novel format. Right from the get-go, they load the book up with concepts that would be too expensive or crazy to do on the tv show (or would look really cheesy).

The comic book opens up with 50 slayers repelling down from a helicopter! This would have looked terrible if done with special effects on a budget, but as it is it works perfectly.

Giant Dawn! Also would have looked bad on a TV. Although, I’m not quite sure where they’re going with this one.

Faith with an accent! I don’t think that any tv audience would have bought whatever British accent Eliza Dushku could present, but in a comic book form, it’s easy to accept that she’s somehow trained herself to fool British nobility.

Basically I feel like they’re having a lot of fun exploring the comic book format, and using the freedom of the medium to take on all the storylines they might have passed up during the show’s run because of budget or other constraints.

Josh liked the familiar-character-cliffhanger on the TV series, too. And in the TV series, if that character spoke so much as a single line, then they had to be in the opening credits (union rules, I think), spoiling the whole ending cliffhanger. Which didn’t stop him. But one imagines that he was extremely eager to try it out a few times in a medium that at least let him pull it off without that hitch…

It should be mentioned that the heavy usage of metaphors was only in the first four seasons. From Season 5 on, a vampire is just a vampire. There are occasional metaphors slipped in, but they’re not common or consistent.

Oh, and by the way: Seasons four and five both had lousy first episodes. That didn’t make those seasons bad, though. (Well, okay, four was kinda bad. But still.) Now, the way comics drag out stories is a shortcoming to be sure. But this is only the first “episode”. And it’s already genuinely entertaining. Your criticism seems to be that it isn’t a high point of the series yet. Well boo hoo. That doesn’t mean season eight will be bad.

Okay, I´m going to do my best to defend the comics because I think blog will frighten a lot of people away who would otherwise like it

First of all, let´s keep in mind that the first four issues together really make up only the first episode of the new ´season´. Let´s be honest: the first episodes of the tv seasons were never amongst the strongest. Buffy vs Dracula felt like the show had nothing new to offer and was a dash too schmaltzy. The season 6 double episode opener was stretched out far too long for the amount of plot it had. Anne from season 3 was half awesome (the bits at school) and half dull (the bits with Buffy). So I think coming down on Season 8 based on the first ´episode´ is harsh if understandable (because it has taken 4 months to come out rather than seeing it in one sitting)

You criticise the comics for reliving their past … and I think to an extent you have a fair point. I don´t think it was a great writing move reintroducing both Amy and Warren in the first ´episode´. That said, it doesn´t kill it for me. It seems designed to reassure old fans that this is still the show. But now that it´s done we can move on – there have been no more surprise reintroductions since then. And it´s also worth noting that there´s a whole lot that´s new to Buffy in The Long Way Home. An army of slayers. A potential battle with humans. Giant Dawn.

For me, The Long Way Home had strengths and weaknesses but the latest issue (Anywhere But Here) was not only the best issue so far but the one where it really seemed like this season is beginning to fall into place. A lot of interesting plotting seeds were planted in that issue that makes me truly excited to see what happens. And the issue felt like something genuinely new in Buffy. That dialogue was brilliant and reminded me of the absurd nonsense of Alice in Wonderland.

A few other points:
– Season 2 is often massively overrated based on its truly brilliant second half. Episodes like Passion and Becoming Part 2 are extraordinary … but think back to some of those earlier episodes like Reptile Boy. The Long Way Home is a thing of genius in comparison. Again, give season 8 some time
– Season 6 is my favourite season. I fully understand people not liking it; it was very dark. But, like it or not, it´s not something to be dismissed out of hand. At very least, it achieved what it set out to do. There was never lazy writing; if you didn´t like it you didn´t like – unlike MANY others – what the writers wanted to do. And to the poster above who says that Buffy should have stayed in school – that´s curious because one of my absolute favourite things about the shows was its refusal to just stick to its formula. The changes from season to season taking these characters through school, college, crappy jobs, leadership roles, teh death of parents make it a truly extraordinary achievement

The show was never about school, or even about slaying vampires, it was about watching these people grow up, and part of that is going through the hard times of getting a job, losing parents and struggling with what to be. Season four had its moments, but virtually none of that had to do with the college storylines. ‘Beer Bad’ is the most egregious example of the failure of the metaphor formula in that season, but those gimmicky fish-men or Giles transforms into a demon episodes had been the show’s weak point for a while. To spend more time at college would have killed the show.

Season six is the Empire Strikes Back of the show, the nadir for all our characters, where their values are tested and really awful things happen to them, and I love it for the same reason I love Empire, it’s a lot more emotionally engaging when you feel your characters are threatened, not only their lives, but their values. Buffy may have died in season five, but her relationship with Spike took her further into the darkness than any foe before. I loved seeing the layers the season added to the characters.

And, I just don’t get this notion that because people didn’t like what season six did with the story the creators automatically didn’t know what to do, or had stopped caring about the show. Look at the whole seven years, there’s a very clear arc, and the darkness of year six is integral to it.

Yep, I couldn´t agree more. One other thing I think is worth saying is how bloody funny season 6 was. For me, it got back to the perfect blending of darkness/drama and hilarious comedy that the show perfected in seasons 2 and 3. Season 4 went more for the light and comedic side of things and season 5 didn´t succeed too well in either category but season 6 … it´s just brilliant.

What the immediately previous posters said. Season 6 is probably the best season, and not just because of the musical episode. I suppose it’s more meta in some ways than earlier seasons, in that it’s the first season to really explore the isolation of the slayer. It’s not so much an exploration/metaphorisation of real world issues in a fantastic setting, as the earlier seasons were (evil Willow aside). It’s almost the opposite, in fact. It’s commenting on the idea of the hero in fiction by putting a fantastic ubermensch in “real” situations of having to deal with family and friends they can’t quite relate to. The season which introduced Dawn did a similar thing with TV conventions, but 6 was much deeper.

Also: badass Willow is HOT.

As for Season 8, I’m not to impressed with the setting, but I enjoy the fan service. I’m just happy for more stories to be told in the Buffyverse and for more Whedon and Whedonesque dialogue. To be honest, though, I’d rather he turned Sugarshock into a full series. That comic rocked.

slot machine on line…

Franny glassy miraculously …

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