Justin's Reviews > Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Long Way Home

Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Joss Whedon
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May 19, 12

bookshelves: graphic-novels, tv-movie, vampires
Read from April 25 to May 06, 2012

Now that I’ve spent a few years rewatching the entire Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, I can finally check out the Whedon-penned Season 8 comics. Being an enthusiastic fan of the series, I’ve kind of built them up a little in my mind. Consequently, the first volume didn’t quite bowl me over as much as I was hoping, but it is a worthy successor to the show (so far), and that’s all that really matters.

This first volume largely picks up where the seventh season of the slow left off, albeit with some pretty major new developments. For example, Dawn is apparently a giantess, now, a side effect of an ill-advised and vaguely explained affair with a magical being called a Thricewise. Buffy is gathering all of the newly called slayers and training them, with Giles advising and Xander coordinating their squad attacks on various demon hotspots. Evil begins to stir again in the crater that was once Sunnydale, however, as familiar faces begin to rise from the dead and focus on Buffy. A mysterious reference to something called “Twilight” indicates that the new rise in demonic unrest may be more than a fluke.

These five issues seem to be an introduction to the Buffyverse for newcomers, and a transitional piece for those who are continuing on from the show. They feel very episodic, and while the larger plot arc gets established immediately, the story in each issue is very much self-contained. There are plenty of cool moments for established fans, and most importantly, Whedon’s trademark witty dialogue is in full effect throughout the volume. The interaction between the characters and the overall tone of the story feels exactly like it is advertised: another season of the show.

This dedication to the format does come with a drawback, though. Whedon was fond of circuitous storytelling when writing for the show, using clever bookends and waiting until the last minute to tie plot strands together. He carries this tendency over into this first volume of Season 8, and it doesn’t work quite as well in comic form, at least here in the beginning. The abrupt transitions between scenes are a lot more jarring in print, though the payoff when the story comes together at the end is still satisfying.

The artwork is great; I usually have trouble with comics based on real-life actors, but Jeanty does a wonderful job straddling the line between preserving the characters as portrayed by the actors and developing his own consistent visual interpretation of them. Also, it appears that both Whedon and Jeanty enthusiastically embraced the freedom from a special effects budget, as there is a definite trend towards more epic fantasy and sci-fi elements in this book.

Between the rampant experimentation with comic story structure and slight lack of cohesiveness in the separate issues, I left this volume feeling just the tiniest bit let down. However, the individual issues are strong (especially the last one), and the volume does a fine job of catering to both new readers and Whedonites looking for more Scooby action. I may have waited too long to start this series, and thus built it up a little too much in my own mind. I enjoyed finally diving in, though, and am excited to see what the next volume has in store.

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