For the seven years that it was on television Buffy the Vampire Slayer was my absolute favourite programme. Apart from loving the writing, the fighting and the biting, I think I really, truly fell in love with Buffy herself. (I think it was her incredibly sad eyes that did it.) Whenever I see Sarah Michelle Gellar in other roles now I’m filled with a huge sadness, as if I’d actually had a romantic relationship with Buffy, one that ended amicably, maybe because we moved to different cities. And now I see a doppelganger of her appearing in Scooby Doo and The Grudge. It’s a bizarre feeling!
I’d heard about the Season Eight comic being published by Dark Horse, and that it was being written by Joss Whedon, the creator of the original show. I’d held off from buying it, partly because I’ve given up on collecting individual comics, but also from a reluctance to spoil the old memories. So I waited for the trade paperback, put that on my wishlist when it came out, and waited for someone to buy it for me. I was easing myself back into it.
I should have pre-ordered it myself! This is a fabulous book, continuing the story from season seven and moving it forward. Things can happen! Things can change! Tie-ins are nearly always much more exciting when the programme is off the air or when they aren’t forced to maintain a strict continuity – see the Doctor Who New Adventures or the Star Trek New Frontier books, for example, and compare them to the stultifying dullness of most Star Trek comics (at least those with which Peter David is not involved) – but with the original creator on board this takes that principle to a new level. Everything really counts. It seems stupid that that makes a difference – after all, like Alan Moore wrote in Whatever Happened to the Man of Steel?, they are all imaginary stories – but it does.
And the stories are great. It’s quite easy to imagine these stories as they might have looked on television, but here they are portrayed with the budget of a movie – while still being paced perfectly for a comic book. It’s wonderful to see Buffy, Xander and Willow interacting again, in a way that was often quite rarely seen in later seasons of the programme, and it’s fascinating to see the reactions of those in power to the multitude of female heroes now in their midst. It’s also nice to see some payoff on Xander losing his eye, which seemed a bit random onscreen.
Huge credit must also go to the artist, Georges Jeanty, who achieves the remarkable and rare feat of capturing the likenesses of the cast members while sacrificing nothing in expression, movement or character.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Long Way Home, Joss Whedon, Georges Jeanty and Others, Dark Horse, tpb, 136pp.