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Buffy The Vampire Slayer

"Buffy Season 8" Comic Book - Issue 01 "The Long Way Home" - Newsarama.com Review

Monday 5 February 2007, by Webmaster

It’s been an extra-busy week at Best Shots HQ. You may have noticed that I did an advance review of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born #1 earlier this week in a stand-alone segment. This time, we’re getting ahead of the game on My Dead Girlfriend and a taking a leap forward into March with an advance review of Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 (Season 8).

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. As usual, The Column Rules . . .

1) Be kind to one another and my hard-working team. It’s fine to disagree with the reviews or with each other, but let’s stick to factual points and literary themes and leave the personal stuff out. Intentionally rude behavior isn’t welcome. And for the record, when you signed the terms of service agreement, you acknowledged that your posts can be deleted for inappropriate stuff. So don’t hide behind free speech when you know what you’re doing. And don’t post to carp about how your carping is going to be deleted because you posted to carp. As I believe Freud once said, “Sometimes, an asshat is just an asshat.”

2) Each review is individually credited to the person who actually wrote it. Matt does not write the reviews here, although he makes sure that we write in favor of whomever the conspiracy theorists say own the site this week.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 (Season 8) Street Date: March 7, from Dark Horse Comics Writer: Joss Whedon Art: Georges Jeanty and Andy Owens (Cover Art: Jo Chen) Colors: Dave Stewart Review by Troy Brownfield

Some disclaimer-type language: Yes, Buffy fan. Rather than setting me up to give this an automatic “A”, that fact actually makes me enter with some degree of temerity. Consider: if you have something that you really enjoyed, any extension, derivation, adaptation or deviation from same is going to be met with at least some form of heightened expectation. In this case, Buffy as a TV series had an appropriate ending in terms of timing, story, and scale. To revisit it and extend it (in continuity, no less), even with creator Joss Whedon at the helm, you’re going to have do something that a) reads well, b) looks great, and c) does things in a new way for it to even remotely work.

That said: welcome to A, B, and C. To say that Whedon and company knock it out of the park is a disservice to baseball metaphors. The narration on the first page clicks right into that classic Buffy dialogue rhythm, while the second page allows Jeanty and Owens to draw a sign that might as well say “Our stamp, here.” Not only is this a good read, it’s a fun read, and the import of that in the overall Buffy context can not be understated.

Pull back a second to place an appropriate time frame. You must remember that as this is a functional Buffy “Season 8”, the events and actions occur at a timeline that is roughly parallel to the events of brother-series Angel’s Season 5. That point is driven home with a righteously terrific punchline on page 4 that adds some brilliant depth to one of that Angel season’s funniest episodes.

However, just because there are long-time fan moments, don’t believe that it’s not accessible. Whedon plays the narration and development in such a way that you could come in blind and pick things up. Granted, you probably should be somewhat of a fan, and I recommend checking on the show if you’ve never done so. Still, first timers will find plenty to like. Such as:

The art of Jeanty and Owens. They do a great job with likenesses, but more importantly, they convey the motion and body language of the characters well. With roughly 145 hours of television out there chronicling their adventures, you know that it would be a massive disconnect if the renderings weren’t good. In fact, they’re spot on. Honestly, I always thought that Buffy herself was a hard character to get right in the comic form, but the team here manages to get it. Similar kudos should be extended for their work on Xander and Dawn (whose appearance herein fuels a funny subplot).

As to Whedon’s work . . . well, this is his baby, isn’t it? Fans have missed these characters, and you can tell from the script that Whedon has too. The sisterly interplay between Buffy and Dawn is solid, underscoring Dawn’s propensity for getting in trouble (“It must be Tuesday,” you can almost hear Buffy say) and the fractious relationship that they’ve always had. One brief conversation with Buffy and Xander reminds us that he’s always been smarter and more insightful than anyone else ever noticed. Whedon also takes the opportunity to show us that yes, the outside world did realize what happened to Sunnydale. And that last page? Extremely smart choice.

Frankly, I thought this was just great. It’s a treat for fans and it’s a strong comic besides. I’m now also doubly curious about a few things; based on conversations from Angel episodes, we know that the characters were, for a time, on different continents. One wonders if we’ll see Willow and Kennedy in South America, or if this was more disinformation directed by Wolfram & Hart by a, in retrospect, very clever Andrew. Granted, we’re reviewing this about a month before the release, so if you have any curiosity at all, get it on your pull list. The faithful will feel rewarded, and some new converts might be found. And really, we’re just getting started. Welcome back, Scoobies.