After marathoning through the complete series in less than a month (and its spinoff series), I decided to read the official, canon continuation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight. I opted to get the trades as opposed to the more expensive library editions. The library editions do look nice on a shelf and benefit from the larger size, but it was much easier to buy something like a trade per month as opposed to an expensive hardcover. Plus, I don’t really mind not having concept art and I plan on picking up the entire series in single issues for letter pages. (Seriously, why aren’t letter pages collected in trades?) Anyway, onto the comic itself.
The story itself takes place after the series (and Angel) and tells the story of Buffy and all the new Slayers dealing with a new threat known as Twilight. Pretty much all the major players from throughout the series show up here (except for dead ones, and even a few of them show up). The new medium of a comic also allows for more time to be spent on other characters, such as Faith, who gets pretty much an entire arc to herself. Some of the best parts of the series are catching up with characters that left the show in the earlier seasons and seeing them meet characters from later seasons.
Being a comic book, the writers are no longer limited by budgets. This is usually what people cite as the main thing wrong with Season Eight; personally, I think it’s handled well. The only major thing I didn’t like about the series was the choice to make vampires and slayers known to the public. The only good thing that came out of that was getting to see Clem again.
Buffy is now a war general to an army of slayers, which fits in perfectly where we last saw (or heard of) her. Some make the case that Buffy has strayed from her roots, but she is a character who actually developed. I’d rather her develop into something that I might not be the biggest fan of than to still act the same way she did in Season One. A major topic of controversy was Buffy’s lesbian encounter. It seemed a little random to me, but it’s the only real relationship Buffy goes through in the season, which is always good (except when it’s with Angel). Buffy also randomly makes a pass at Xander, which seemed really out of place. She does so after finding out he’s been dating her younger sister. Xander and Dawn’s relationship seemed like it might have been plausible if the series had gone on.
I really enjoyed the first three arcs: The Long Way Home, No Future for You, and Wolves at the Gate. The next three arcs are where, in my opinion, it became obvious that the series had been extended. There is some good stuff in there, but most of it was just okay. The final two arcs, Twilight and Last Gleaming, end the season on a high note. I will admit that the Seed is very confusing, but after a rereading a few text balloons over, I was fine. The season ends setting up the stage for Season Nine.
The art took a while to get used to. Seeing the beautiful painted covers, I was expecting the comics to be drawn very realistically. Some of the characters were pretty unrecognizable, but you could tell who most of them were from the first panel they appeared in.
Season Eight is not perfect, but it does feel like Buffy. Plus it was great to see most of the great Buffy writers working their magic again along with the help of some welcome newcomers. Some plot details are a little out there, but all the characters act the way they should. For a series with such beloved characters, that is the most important thing for fans like myself.