OK Whedonophiles … it’s time to catch up with our girl Buffy! When we last checked out Dark Horse’s new book Buffy: Season 8 (story here) (which just seems to be called Buffy the Vampire Slayer now), Buffy was taking on the daunting task of training an army of Slayers. A small slayer strike team crashed a demon party and dispatched the uglies with relative ease, bringing home a symbol that could spell doom in the future. Looking over this mission was a very Nick Fury-esque Xander, observing every swing of a weapon from a control room that would make Batman proud. Suffice to say, the guy is in geek heaven and the dialogue in this scene reflects it. Meanwhile, a giant crater where Sunnydale used to be has not gone unnoticed by the government. They’ve got plans of their own.
Issue two, Giles makes his debut, ever the watcher. If he thought overseeing a young Buffy Summers was a trying task, then overseeing the training of one thousand teenage girls should be a piece of cake. Dawn is still ginormous… as if she wasn’t demanding of Buffy’s attention before, but it’s clear that is a story to be wrapped up another day … or is it a part of something bigger? Never the less, she’s a giant and she’s as whiny as ever. You barely have time to think about it as Buffy herself is locked into her own nightmare world at the hands of a certain black witch from her past. Soon a horde of undead Scottish warriors are attacking the castle and with their leader out of commission, it’s up to Xander, the girls and one last missing team mate to rein in this chaos. The pacing of this issue is way faster with classic chatty moments between characters fans have come to love over the years, a healthy dose of super-geekdom from Andrew and an unfolding story that will make you go WOA out loud. It’s cleaver, it’s funny, it’s fast paced..it’s classic Whedon.
Issue three drops you right in the middle of the action with barely a second to catch your breathe. Witches are blasting each other above the castle while the Scottish undead are doing their best to slice up the Slayer army down below. Nothing worse than Scottish undead. Soon the battle is won (to a hysterical end) and it’s time to figure out why someone wants to put a hit on Buffy and how to get her out of her dream. We are told, very dorkily, that only the kiss of true love can awake her. All eyes are closed and someone steps up to the task. We are left in the dark as to who delivered the lip work, but knowing Whedon, it probably won’t be who we thought…or it WILL be for a double fake out. Damn you Whedon!!! This book is jam packed by appearances from characters across the Buffy-verse and most of them raise more questions as to what side they will ultimately be on. Heavy on the action, issue three flies by as if you were reading a pamphlet. They really need to make these things bigger! After the battle is won in half the book, the other half sends the crew out to unravel the clues. Giles consorts with demons, Buffy wanders the dream-scape picking up symbolism and kinky scenes she’d rather you not see and back in Italy, Andrew plays strip poker. Brilliant! So much fun it will make you moan for a new Buffy season on TV…even if you’re a guy. It’ll be a girlie moan. You’ll be embarrassed.
This takes us into Issue four which drops into comic shops TODAY, wrapping up the “Long Way Home” story arc. The Slayer army witches tear a hole through the portal used to infiltrate the castle but only two can step through. Buffy grabs the Slayer with the best hair and gets to bring the beat down on some military asses. This is the conclusion so we are talking heavy on the action and light on revelation, but we are allowed some glimpses. One sequence takes us into Willow’s mind, revealing all that she is and could be. Dark Phoenix indeed. Meanwhile, our favorite witch is strapped to a cold steel operating table and the man who’s doing the exploratory surgery is a plot twist you are going to love. Probably the nastiest baddie couple since Drew and Spike bloodied up the back streets of Sunnydale finishes their debut, but I’ll leave their climax for you to read. You’ve got two little Slayer girls going head to head against an entire modern military army…and that’s basically all you need..and all you get! Its eye candy galore and you’ll be grinning from ear to ear. Suffice to say the first story arc for Buffy the Vampire slayer kicks mighty ass and did not disappoint this long time fan even for a second. The art is fun and continually interesting with dynamic transitions from panel to panel at times. This is no conformist comic. Panel lines be damned. Two words for the Whedon fanatic that reads this series. Geek overload. It’s pure Buffy bliss.
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