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Buffy – Season 8: The Long Way Home

Sunday, July 1, 2007

250px-long_way_home_tpbAs mentioned earlier, the illimitable Joss Whedon has given a big giant kiss to all of his fans by making a new Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic series which continues on from the end of the show — hence the title ‘Season 8.’

The majority of the series will be broken down into four or five issue arcs, with the occasional stand-alone issue; I’m going to review each arc as they are completed and give you my impressions on where the Scoobies might be headed next (but wait James, you say, didn’t issue #4 come out like three weeks ago — shouldn’t you have been on this sooner . . .? Shut up!). The first four-issue arc is entitled The Long Way Home.

Now, this probably goes without saying, but this whole discussion will be a GIANT SPOILER. If you’ve not seen the show (or Angel, for that matter) or read these books, you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about. And if you ever want to watch the show and read these books, or are in the process of watching the show or reading these books, DON’T READ THIS!

Good. Now that’s settled and I’m down to one reader (hi Tanya!) I can proceed.

Overall, pretty decent. It was always going to be tricky to do something like this, given that by the time Buffy and Angel had wrapped up their television runs Sunnydale had been destroyed and there had been a world-wide apocalypse; where does one go after that? So what we have is a time roughly a year-and-a-half after Sunnydale sank into the earth, which would place it approximately half-a-year after ‘The Senior Partners’ unleashed hell-on-earth. So — is this why Buffy has rounded up 500 Slayerettes into squads around the world and they have all this hi-tech equipment, to help Angel and crew fend off all the crap that came through the portal at the end of ‘Not Fade Away?’ I certainly hope so — it’s what makes the most sense (because really, how and for what purpose would Buffy et al get the money to get a castle in Scotland and get all that equipment? Maybe Giles raided the bank accounts of the now destroyed Watcher’s Council?). The Angel comics which have come out after the show have alluded to this ‘apocalypse,’ but the writers were specifically forbidden by Joss to tell that story, and now Joss has announced there’s going to be an official Angel – Season 6 comic done in the same way as Buffy – Season 8, so hopefully that’s where all these loose ends are going to be tied up.

The Long Way Home needed to act as both an introduction to the new normal of the Buffyverse and a re-introduction to all of the main characters, and this it does superbly. Buffy is still Buffy — surrounded by friends and yet alone, no longer unique, simply the first among many. Making Xander a Watcher is perfect — gives him a crucial role once again within the group, something he hasn’t really had since the end of Season 3. As for Dawn — well, could there any better metaphor for her being ‘a character so useless she sticks out like a giant’ than by making her an actual giant? And Willow — well, she’s still Willow; we’ll have to wait until we find out where she’s been all this time to comment much on her.

As for the story — so typically Whedon it made me all warm and fuzzy with nostalgia: grab a couple of minor baddies from the past to act as the pests while you sketchily unveil the beginnings of a huge new Big Bad (which apparently is ‘humanity’?), and then kill off a recurring character (Ethan Rayne) to let everyone know you mean business. As for the pests: Amy is cool and makes sense (there had to be someone to match up against Willow), but Warren — not so much. I’m down with the whole ‘no one’s really dead in the Buffyverse’ thing, but if anyone should stay dead, it’s Warren. He was really a nobody, a throw-away villian who was used, in a ‘banality-of-evil’ sort of way, to bring about the actual bad-guy of Season 6 which was Evil Willow. But now, with his resurrection, he’s become ‘The Symbol’ of Willow’s psychological struggles, the visual representation of her inner good/bad, yin/yang etc. Problem is, I’m not a huge fan of all that ‘soul-searching-must-keep-evil-part-of-me-at-bay’ stuff — it’s an extremely common trope which gets tiresome very quickly (especially given that it’s also Angel’s entire raison d’etre — do we really need two principal characters like this?). So, while I’m not thrilled with this new development, we’ll see what Joss does with it.

Couple of other things: Dawn’s already starting to annoy me — quelle suprise — so they better shrink her down to size and find her something important to do fairly soon; we need more Giles!; we still never found out who kissed Buffy to wake her up from Amy’s spell (who could it be?); I’m curious to find out if the spell Willow used to ‘activate’ all the Potentials means there will be no more new Potentials, or if it means every new Potential born will automatically be activated . . .? I can see this tying in very well with how Joss describes the ending of the Slayer line in Fray (oh, and on that note — in issue #3, why is there someone reading Fray?! Hello! That’s a major ‘integrity-of-the-universe,’ continuity breach — I hate it when they do stuff like that, especially this one which was so obviously intentional).

Thus ends The Long Way Home. Issue #5 is a stand-alone, so I’ll be discussing that one separately before we move into the next big arc No Future For You, starring everyone’s favourite bad-ass Slayer, Faith. 03971semaj8yffub

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. James17930 permalink
    Monday, July 2, 2007 8:02 pm

    Just realized that Buffy and the gang actually started organizing the Slayers into squads before Not Fade Away (as we see in the Angel S5 episode ‘Damage’).

    But maybe they got so big and well organized because of the post-NFA stuff.

  2. Tanya permalink
    Tuesday, July 3, 2007 10:55 am

    Thanks for that James. Somehow I want Joss Whedon to read it and realize what a huge fan he has in you. Do you think he googles himself? I hope so.

  3. Chris permalink
    Wednesday, July 4, 2007 11:11 pm

    Great review.

    “So — is this why Buffy has rounded up 500 Slayerettes into squads around the world and they have all this hi-tech equipment, to help Angel and crew fend off all the crap that came through the portal at the end of ‘Not Fade Away?’ I certainly hope so — it’s what makes the most sense (because really, how and for what purpose would Buffy et al get the money to get a castle in Scotland and get all that equipment? Maybe Giles raided the bank accounts of the now destroyed Watcher’s Council?). The Angel comics which have come out after the show have alluded to this ‘apocalypse,’ but the writers were specifically forbidden by Joss to tell that story, and now Joss has announced there’s going to be an official Angel – Season 6 comic done in the same way as Buffy – Season 8, so hopefully that’s where all these loose ends are going to be tied up.”

    The co-writer of the upcoming canon Angel season 6,Brian Lynch already confirmed in an interview that unfortunately Buffy and the slayers will play no part in the NFA alley battle.He said he knows that is the most popular idea and what people want but that it’s too easy for Angel and his group.They need to get out of this themselves on their own.Here’s the exact quotes.

    http://fractalmatter.com/main/?p=618

    “FM: In Buffy Issue 1 – Joss comes out of the gate surprising, shocking, and hoodwinking (the Slayer dating the Immortal wasn’t ‘the’ Buffy) the fans. Can we expect the same with the first issue of Angel?

    BL:I think there will be a lot of surprises, yeah. Discussions about this series popped up all over the web the weekend it was announced, people are excited, and guessing about what it will be about, talking about what they want to see, etc.

    Some people got some stuff right, others are so off-base it’s frightening, but there are SUCH big surprises coming that no one has come close to predicting. Certain characters go down paths no one would expect, faces that you’d never expect to see pop up, it’s nuts.

    No one’s gonna see half the stuff coming. I can promise you one thing, though: a team of slayers did NOT come out of nowhere and save Angel and the crew in the back alley. That is a very popular wish among fans, but honestly, to have the Buffy characters come in and save the Angel characters would shortchange Angel. Plus, where do you go after that? Twelve issues of the Angel characters thanking the team of slayers for a job well done. Plus an annual where Spike takes the five most valuable slayers out for a shopping spree.

    Wait, now that I wrote that and see it spelled out: I’m going in a new direction. Forget you read this. Slayers, start checking out your newest Forever 21 catalogs.”

    He does later say this though.

    “FM: Since Buffy Season 8 will establish some of the same characters, and the storylines run chronologically, are you worried about continuity? The two TV series did such a wonderful job with that.

    BL:Before I write a character in, I check to see if he or she or it is being used in Buffy. The two storylines don’t run side by side, so we’re good in that department. That said, I would love some subtle shout-outs to Buffy as the Angel book progresses…”

  4. James17930 permalink
    Wednesday, July 4, 2007 11:34 pm

    I don’t see how the two storylines couldn’t run side by side though, especially given how huge the aftermath of NFA was. Oh well — I’m not writing it, so not much I can do. I’m sure it will be good no matter what.
    I also wonder if they’re going to work the David Mariotte post- S5 Angel comics into the canon and Season 6 continuity.

  5. Chris permalink
    Thursday, July 5, 2007 4:37 pm

    I’ve read some speculation that Angel season 6 is going to be set before Buffy season 8.

    Buffy season 8 started five months after Not Fade Away.If Angel season 6 begins right in the alley then that would be five months before The Long Way Home.The Angel season 6 series is only going to be twelve issues and run a year.At that point,once it concludes,the timelines might synch up.

    Brian Lynch has hinted on the IDW boards that his two Spike miniseries,Asylum and Shadow Puppets might become retro-canonized and some of those characters could show up in Angel season 6.I don’t know about any of the other Angel books though.

  6. James17930 permalink
    Friday, July 6, 2007 10:11 am

    Thanks for the info Chris. I tend not to read too many of the interviews and speculation because I like to be surprised, but the chronology you’ve listed here makes sense. A:S6 could be in the time from NFA until B:S8, and then there could be an A:S7 which starts after all the other Angel stuff that’s already been written. That would be cool.

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