Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 8, Vol. 1): The Long Way Home
written by Joss Whedon
illustrated by Georges Jeanty
Dark Horse Comics (2007)
Who knew a comic book would be the thing to remind just how much I miss Buffy the Vampire Slayer. God, I loved that show. I never cared for the movie, and I actually avoided the show for its first two seasons. Then, I got suckered into watching the Season 2 finale and I was hooked. Now, we're years removed from the series finale, but I still crave stories from that universe. I've even read novels from Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder to try and fill that void, but it's just not the same.
I thought the seventh and final season capped off the show quite nicely and I was content with saying goodbye to the show and its characters. I mean, they blew up Sunnydale, so that was a pretty hard thing to top. But after just a few pages of this graphic novel and I was sucked right back into the Buffy mythos as if the show had never ended. Like an old pair of jeans that still fit, there was an instant comfort level.
When the show ended, Buffy had destroyed the mother of all evil with the help of an army of slayers, awakened by Willow's witchcraft. So there was no longer a "chosen one"--there were chosen hundreds. In this so-called Season 8, Buffy is leading this army of young women into a continuing war with vampires and demons across the globe. Since Sunnydale is the world's largest pothole now, the Scooby Doo gang has gone international.
Buffy is kicking butt, as usual, and is so notorious among the demonic underworld she even has a couple of decoy slayers posing as her in other places. Xander, eye-patch and all, is leading a high-tech headquarters for slayers, psychics, and other femme fatales Willow is doing her thing, being all witchy elsewhere. And Buffy's little sister, Dawn, isn't so little anymore now that she's hooked up with a "thricewise" and become a giant as some kind of weird, magical S.T.I.
Those aren't the only characters to make a comeback in this book's pages though, as there are the enemies. I won't spoil all, but the first one is a pleasant surprise. Amy, the witch turned rat turned witch again, has returned. She somehow survived the Sunnydale apocalypse and has been rescued by a military operation that sees Buffy as both competition and a threat.
The sardonic dialogue is back in full glory and all the characters ring true. The twists are rapid-fire in true Whedon fashion, not always earth shattering but certainly eyebrow raising. And the artwork is absolutely gorgeous. It captures a lot of that pop culture vibe without making it feel too cartoonish, and the cover art that appears throughout is so damned close to the real thing it's scary.
If you too are a Buffy fan, you'll be doing yourself a favor by giving this a go.