Originally released to the big screen in 1992, and then moving on to become the now defunct WB Television Network’s biggest hit series, Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer would go on to run seven seasons on TV, making its mark as one of the most successful fantasy TV series on any network. The story of the original teen defender against vampires turns 20 this year and Buffy, the character, turned 30 this year in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine released its fourth issue just last week. (If you’re not keeping track, Sarah Michelle Gellar, who played Buffy on TV, turns 35 this year and Kristy Swanson, who played Buffy in the movie, turns 43).
Wait, did you say Buffy the Vampire Slayer Seasons 8 and 9? I thought the series stopped at Season 7.
If you loved Buffy the TV series and find that you have pangs for Spike or Willow or Xander when you drive past graveyards or if you find that you hear a hilarious pop culture reference and automatically envision it coming from Sarah Michelle Gellar AND you haven’t checked out your comic book store in the past 3 years, you’ll find that you’re a little behind on the ongoing story of Buffy & Co. But now is a good time to easily catch up.
Buffy creator Joss Whedon himself wrote and was overseer of the transformation of Buffy from TV to comic book, published by Dark Horse Comics. It is obvious from the storytelling that the trials and tribulations of the second-best known Scooby gang is still in prime form. Pop culture references are a-plenty. And 40 issues of Season 8, continuing a year after the end of the TV Season 7, are available in eight collected editions, easily findable in comic book shops, online retailers and half-priced book stores. It was a very popular series, so it will be easy to find and get caught up.
The covers are stunning, and unlike a lot of adaptations of franchises, the characters look a lot like the actors who played on the TV show. As is typical, the covers are often better than interior art. The characters aren’t photo-real by any means, but I had no issue at all seeing the actors reciting the dialog of the story and sometimes Georges Jeanty’s pencils reflect actors really very well, such as Xander, who looks just like Nicholas Brendan in Volume 1 of Season 8.
Without revealing too many spoilers, Season Eight, Volume 1 “The Long Way Home” collects the first five issues of the series. Buffy and Xander are leading up a compound in Scotland, where they direct the activities of 500 of 1,800 slayers across the globe. Buffy has two decoy Buffys to distract one of fiction’s classic, great villains—the United States government—from finding her. In the aftermath of a destroyed Sunnydale, Buffy is now public enemy #1.
Giles, originally played on TV by British TV actor Anthony Stewart Head, is back training slayers, as is Buffy, separately, another key story element. Self-described “gay wiccan jewess” Willow Rosenberg has better control of her magic, Buffy’s sister Dawn has been turned into a giant, and the first villain hired by the government to get Buffy is our favorite teenager turned rat and back again, Amy, whose characterization couldn’t better reflect her character on TV. And Xander has a cool Snake Plisskin-esque eyepatch.
In Volume 2 of Season 8 “No Future for You,” reprinting the comic book series Issues 6-9 by Brian K. Vaughan, and Issue 10’s one-off story by Whedon “Anywhere But Here,” our second favorite slayer, Faith, returns, originally portrayed by Eliza Dushku. She’s back with great “five by five” slang like “haven’t clocked you since the Sunny D went from being an outie to an innie.” Giles has hired her to do what she has done before, kill a human, this time Lady Genevieve, a British aristocrat slayer, hunting slayers herself. And she in turn, of course, is out to kill only one person… Buffy.
So if this hasn’t whetted your appetite for more Buffy, then nothing will, but if it has, eight volumes await you, and then you can get caught up to Season 9, Issue 4, waiting for you at a comic book store near you.