"Still got my demons."

Comics Buffy's back, jumping and kicking and thumping and thumping her way through the demon hoard just as she always did, the burden of her calling still sitting heavy on her shoulders, and this time she's back with her creator Joss Whedon, who's writing a whole new season of adventures for her and the gang. Most of the articles I've been reading online have begun with that kind of patter before dropping the revelation that it's not on television - but a -- get this -- a comic -- before increasing the level of surprise by indicating how good it is! Well of course it's good.

This isn't of course the first time Buffy: The Vampire Slayer's appeared in comic book form - even when the series was on air, Dark Horse Comics was publish tie-ins, but along with the novels these leapt into the gaps in the series, between episodes, between seasons, before the slayer's story began, even rewriting the plot of the movie to fit television continuity. But even since the show went off air, unlike some other rudderless franchises, have rarely ventured past the final episode.

Which is why this new series is special - it's effectively Season Eight, the continuation and more importantly it's 'canonical' - in other words it's just as important to the continuity as Buffy's death then resurrection and the cheese man. But cleverly, the story here is a natural extension of the tv series, extrapolating the aftershocks of that final episode on some time instead of simply producing more of the same, pitching up the Scoobies in Cleveland for more of the same until that town becomes a crater as well.

Instead, Buffy has become the leader of an army of slayers, grouped throughout the world, fighting the good fight wherever it may be. She's no longer the chosen one, but it's her experience that makes her special, having dealt with the undead longer than anyone. But she's perhaps even more isolated than ever, her friends scattered, with only Xander and her sister Dawn around from the old days.

Unsurprisingly given Whedon's superlative run on Astonishing X-Men he's been able to translate the saga to the page and at no point does this first adventure The Long Way Home feel like a tv script dropped into comic frames. He takes full advantage of the form allowing each turn of the page to reveal some new surprise of revelation, more often than not in the reveal of an old friend and showing what's happened to them in the intervening time. Some are touching, others are just plain hilarious but that classic Whedon technique of combining the funny with the tragedy is all present and correct.

As is the characterization - the man knows his protagonists inside and out and even a figure like Dawn, who I've never felt has been captured quite right off the screen is just perfect here despite her predicament. Xander's grown up a bit but still retains some of his goofiness -- but the star, just it should be, is Buffy the crack of light and dark evident in her words. Cleverly, their goodness, leading what amounts to a kind of feminist version of The Initiative, the evil government authority that appeared in fourth season of the tv series, is played off against that very organisation. It's the usual array of scientists and military men and it'll be interesting to see the two groups jutting up against one another as the story progresses.

Of course the script my still work if there were stick men (and women) across the pages but thankfully this project as the team of Georges Jeanty (pencils), Andy Owns (tracer) and Dave Stewart (colours). Rather than trying to create likeness of the actors - a risky strategy that usually fails in projects like this, what feature instead are comic book versions of the characters, providing something of the flavour of them without it seeming, well, wrong. The action sequences work particularly well and have a good sense of movement - I wonder how they're going to deal with the vamps.

If the story doesn't quite scale the heights of the tv series yet (a criticism I've seen in more than one place online) it's because it's early days and Joss understands that you have to build towards and earn the big dramatic emotional moments. The television series, even in the less appealing sixth season, was carefully paced in the minutest detail and that's exactly what's happening here. I was reading my copy in Starbucks and couldn't stop myself from yelping throughout and particularly at the shocker of a climax even though I was in a public place.

Welcome back Buffy.


  1. Anonymous11:22 pm

    "... the shocker of a climax even though I was in a public place."

    Did the staff ask you to leave afterwards ? ;)

  2. yaayyy! buffy's back!

  3. Buffy is wearing a buffy T-Shirt.
    How lame is that? Fall out boy don't wear fall out boy T-Shirts,
    Muse don't wear Muse T-Shirts, And My Chemical romance don't wear My Chemical romance T-Shirts do they?
    'Course not! Its lame.
    She should be wearing a firefly T-Shirt. I'm surprised Joss hasn't insisted on it.