Apocalypse? We've All Been There: Comic-Book Buffy Gets a Season Finale
In issue #40 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, released this week, Buffy Summers embraces her destiny and saves the world.
Still, again, some more.
It's being called a season finale of sorts, as it sets out to end a story arc begun in issue #1, all the way back in 2007.
Understand: Sheaves and sheaves of Buffy spin-off titles have been produced over the years, both during the television show's seven-season run, and after it ended in 2003.
But this series was different. This one was written by Buffy creator Joss Whedon (or writers -- many of whom worked on the TV show -- that he duly deputized). He went so far as to dub it Buffy: Season Eight, and declared that it was the in-canon, no-foolin', straight-up, honest-to-Glory continuing adventures of Buffy, the Scoobies, and the Buffyverse.
On the TV show, Whedon loved introducing Big! Shocking! Plot Twists! and really committing to them -- letting his characters stew in the ramifications for weeks, even years at a time. (Read: Okay, yes, we know, they pulled you out of Heeeeeeaven, we GET it.)
So, too, this comic-book incarnation. Issue #1 found Buffy up to her stylish-yet-affordable boots in danger, as she dealt with the aftermath of her actions in the television series' finale: Sharing her fighty-fight Slayer powers with every potential Slayer across the globe.
In interviews surrounding the launch of the Season Eight comic, Whedon talked about seeing the book as granting him access to the unlimited special effects budget forever denied him by network television.
On this, he delivered: Buffy and her army of Slayers took up residence in a remote Scottish castle. Giants, gods and monsters showed up. Exotic locations, a trip to the future, furious bloody battles against evil hordes, pain, death, apocalypse, all brought to four-color life (or in the case of vamps, un-life), in Georges Jeanty's panels.
I was on board, at first. The dialogue had the familiar lilt and snap I so missed, the surprises felt legitimate, the cameos welcome (I LIKE ANDREW. THERE I SAID IT.), the menace -- in the form of a mysterious hooded figure called (snerk) Twilight -- was palpable.
But as the storyline stretched on, and Whedon brought other writers in for mini-arcs, I began to lose my grasp on the series. Much of this, I suspect, has to with the implicit expectations that accrete around the word "season."
"Season" -- particularly when used in a Buffy context -- implies a linear progression of events leading to a narrative payoff. Beginning, middle, end. Digressions are permissible, but of necessity brief -- during every season of the TV series, individual episodes built directly or indirectly on what came before.
But television episodes are (mostly) weekly events; comics are monthly. A television season lasts 22 episodes and is over in a matter of months; the "Season Eight" comics series stretched over nearly four years.
As the characters, locations and plot points increased, the pace slackened, and with it, my month-to-month retention of just what the frilly heck was going on. Toward the end, when [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] created an entirely new universe simply by [REDACTED] one another other silly, it seemed, well: Silly.
Now, yes, it'll read better in trade. Of that, I'm nearly certain. And in this EW interview, WHICH YOU SHOULD NOT READ IF YOU'RE AT ALL INTERESTED IN READING THE SERIES BECAUSE IT GIVES AWAY A CHARACTER DEATH, Whedon allows that indulging in the gee-whizzier aspects of comics may have caused him to lose sight of the fact that Buffy's larger-than-life conflicts are metaphors for the smaller, universal, relatable struggles of growing up.
Buffy: Season 9 will start up in a bit. Whedon intimates that the actions Buffy took at the end of Season 8 will have long-lived repercussions, and that he'll spend time focusing on the more intimate, character-driven stuff that drew so many of us to the character in the first place.
Now, call me crazy, call me irresponsible, but I strongly suspect that many Monkey See readers can be counted upon to harbor some opinions about Buffy the show and/or Buffy the character.
My question(s): Any of you read this series? If so, did you stick it out through thick and thin and the [REDACTED] That Created Paradise?
Or are you waiting for the trade? Or are you one of those who is happy to preserve your memory of Buffy where the show left her? Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.