Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” Season 8
As you’re a man who enjoys cross-platform approaches to narrative, I think you’ll appreciate this. Buffy Season 8 is different from other Buffy comics that have been released by Dark Horse over the years because of the words “Season 8″ — unlike other comics, this is no stand-alone side adventure. This is what Joss Whedon and his team genuinely consider to be the continuation of the Buffy story, following that whole Buffy-shared-the-slayer-power-with-everyone-and-oh-yeah-Sunnydale-collapsed-into-the-earth thing you might remember from the TV show’s series finale.
And freed from budget constraints by the magic of sequential art, let’s just say that some imaginations get a massive fucking workout. Frank, every once in a while I am genuinely concerned that I will not be able to capture the batshit insanity of something I am telling you about. Today is one of those days.
By the way, when I say batshit insanity, I do mean that in a good way. Mostly.
What happens in it, Frank? Oh, my god, so much stuff. But I’ll try and keep things simple.
So the consequence of Buffy sharing her slayer powers with every other girl on the planet with the potential to be a slayer is that now there are a shit-ton of slayers out there, and someone’s got to manage them. Thus, Buffy, Xander, Willow and others have become essentially generals running a multi-cell slayer army — well, Buffy’s the general, Xander’s playing Nick Fury (he even has the eyepatch! I am stealing this reference from the very first issue!) and Willow’s got her side group of Wiccans who do spells to help the slayers and they all live in a castle in Scotland.
Unfortunately, there’s this dick, code-named Twilight, who is targeting slayers and making them into public enemies — blah blah “you and the other slayers are abominations and a threat to the human race” etcetera. And Twilight’s got some help from the US army and Amy the former rat and Warren the flayed, who are dating–
Oh GOD, Frank. I’ve gotten very fond of the saying “that’s a deep cut” lately — which translates as “wow, what an impressively obscure reference!” — and there is an incredibly large amount of Buffy Season 8 to which that expression applies. Reading these comics was like remembering that I speak fluent Swedish; there’s some impressive layering of arcane Buffy backstory on display. I wish I had the time/patience to explain every reference here, but I think I shall have to settle with just hyperlinking.
Seriously, Buffy Season 8 basically assumes that you know who everyone is and what their drama might be, which gets a bit confusing, especially when it sprinkles in other backstory endemic to the comics and you’re like, wait, when did we establish that there was a group of slayers who went rogue and are total jerks? Okay, maybe Volume Three? Frank, I read this whole thing in two days, please forgive me some confusion.
I’m gonna have to resort to bullet points. Here are just a few of the things that happen:
- Xander and this cute slayer chick fall in like with each other, but she’s impaled in a battle right after their first kiss because OF COURSE.
- Faith and Giles go to England, so that Faith can go undercover as a British socialite and take down another British socialite girl who is a demented slayer killing other slayers.
- This storyline is pretty fun, and not just because it includes this little nod to another show:
- Vampires become hot shit in pop culture, in part because Harmony, former Sunnydale High classmate-turned-vampire, gets a popular reality show on MTV and starts going on Anderson Cooper as a “reality star/vampire rights activist.” This subplot made me laugh several times, because COME ON it was largely written by Jane Espenson and COME ON.
- There are these adorable stuffed animals called Vampy Cats who are actually a plot to turn the slayers into mind-controlled slaves, but the Vampy Cats are really cute so every time they appear I’m actually kind of delighted. (Picture the Adipose, but with fangs.)
- Despite still being in a committed relationship with Kennedy, Willow’s really into a weird magic snake lady, perhaps because in order to visit her on the astral plane she literally has an orgasm? At the end of the “season,” she and Kennedy break up over it. It’s sad.
- Oh! And Buffy also explores her Sapphic side with a younger slayer who’s in love with her. They have with the sexytimes, but Buffy’s not-really-exactly-gayness keeps the relationship from really going anywhere.
- Plus, MOTHERFUCKING TIME TRAVEL, Frank! Buffy gets whisked away to whatever century Melaka Fray the Future Slayer lives in (I could look it up but goddamn writing this is already taking forever) and makes a new future friend and gets to drive a flying car and also finds out that in this particular future, Willow has gone dark again and has been alive for hundreds of years and basically summoned Buffy to the future so that Buffy could kill her.
- Dawn fucked some magical duder’s roommate and pissed said magical duder off because they were dating, so magical duder cast a spell that first made her a giant, and then made her a centaur, and then made her a porcelain doll.
- She and Xander then fall in love. Buffy is not super-cool with it, but gets over it because–
Well, we’ll get to that. Short version, Frank: There are lots of side adventures along the way, but where things eventually end up is with Buffy and her slayers hiding out with Oz in Tibet, because they need to learn how to suppress their powers to hide from Twilight and his minions.
They end up channelling their powers into the earth, and then when a big army led by Twilight attacks they summon the gooddeses living under the earth to help them, but the goddesses don’t know what the fuck is going on so they just attack everyone including the slayers, and then Willow and Buffy have to stop them as well. (Go with it, Frank.)
The reason Buffy is able to stop three giant goddesses is because Buffy starts getting MORE powers — she literally tests out all three parts of the Superman theme song with success, including flying! — and it’s rad until she discovers that she’s getting more powers because slayers are dying and she’s absorbing their energy.
(Not only is this just like the previously-discussed Rising Stars, Frank, but Rising Stars is NAME-CHECKED.)
Then… Well, It’s time to deal with some blunt truths. So that dick Twilight? (Who, I should mention, has been wearing a mask this whole time?) He’s Angel — who, in case you’ve forgotten, is the tortured vampire love of Buffy’s life. Some sizable handwaving (“By bringing your enemies together as one movement I was able to control them! By giving you an enemy to fight I was really helping you! People were going to die no matter what, but I minimized the number of people who did!”) is required before Buffy and Angel can reconcile…
Okay, when I say reconcile, I basically mean… Frank, I’m gonna let this Facebook conversation between me and our friend Jeff (who lent me the trades) take over here:
Me: Jeff, there is a Rising Stars joke in this volume of Buffy and I am also now very concerned about the destiny super-fucking.
Jeff: OH LIZ YOU HAVE NO IDEA.
Jeff: THEY HAVE SPACE SEX LIZ. THAT’S SEX IN SPACE.
[five minutes later]
Me: THEY FUCKED OUT A NEW UNIVERSE. THAT’S HOW HARD THEY FUCKED.
Jeff: NORMAL END-OF-SEASON STUFF.
Really not kidding about that, Frank. See, Angel also has super-powers like Buffy now, and when the two of them reunite and Buffy gets past the whole “you’ve technically been my sworn enemy for six trade paperbacks now” thing, you’d better believe they get right to BONING.
And at first things start out pretty normal — I mean, as normal as “going to third base up against a boulder in a forest” can be. But then, yes, it’s X-rated flying sex that eventually takes them all the way into SPACE.
According to some exposition from Giles that I wasn’t really paying that much attention to because it was intercut with all this HOT HOT SEXIN’, their reunion/doin’ it was foretold to create a new plane of existence — essentially an Eden for two. A SEXY SEXY EDEN.
Angel’s all, like, isn’t this great? We can finally be happy together! But Buffy can’t abandon her friends, especially because her friends are fighting a shit-ton of demons pouring out of rifts (rifts maybe created by Buffy and Angel’s super-fucking? again, I got really distracted by the super-fucking). So she decides to go back to her old universe, and Angel joins her, and she’s very touched by the fact that he abandoned Heaven for her. So things seem to be going okay for them…
However, back on Earth, Spike’s (Frank, you remember Spike, right?) showed up in a spaceship crewed by giant cockroaches (sure) with details on how to stop all this battling — destroy this magic seed thing, which is the source of all the magic in the world.
Some people like Willow (who, you know, really fucking love magic) don’t think it should be destroyed, but the idea is that at least they should be PROTECTING it from the Twilight Army guys who are still around. Thus, they all go off to the now-craterous Sunnydale, which is where the magic seed thing is.
(They never noticed a magic seed thing in the seven years they spent there fighting evil? Okay. Sure.)
Oh, but the universe that Buffy and Angel fucked into existence (which is also named Twilight because that isn’t confusing in the slightest)? Well, it’s pissed about being abandoned by its “parents,” so it takes on the form of a sphinx with a glowy green mane (sure) and possesses Angel to protect this magic seed thing. And by “protect,” I mean, “A possessed Angel snaps Giles’ neck.” It is super sad! I was super sad about it.
Buffy is also super-sad about it! Which is why she goes ahead and destroys the magic seed thing, which basically ends all the battling. Yay?
Cut to a little bit later, and most of the gang has moved to San Francisco. Willow and Kennedy have broken up (as mentioned before) but Willow may not ever be able to see her snake lady friend again because the magic is all gone. Faith inherits all of Giles’ properties and whatnot, which she uses to give Angel a place to recuperate from the whole “killing my GF’s father figure while under the influence of a universe I fucked into existence” drama. Wiccans are super-pissed at Buffy, who’s working in a coffee shop, sleeping on Dawn and Xander’s couch and going out at night, stake in hand, ready to slay some vampires.
I’ll say this for Buffy Season 8: It was NOT BORING.
Actually, while I may poke a little fun at some of these plot twists, it was a fun read! The writing was great (Espenson, Goddard, Vaughn and Whedon writing comics together? SIGN ME UP), the art bright and poppy. Some parts might work better than others, but given its scope, it’s hard to not be impressed by the overall achievement.
Plus, as a long-time Buffy fan, it was nice to see all my old friends again.
Frank, I didn’t realize how much I’d missed them.
Posted on January 22, 2013, in Books and tagged Buffy, buffy the vampire slayer, Dark Horse, doctor who, joss whedon, pow zap boom comics aren't just for kids!, Rising Stars, sexy make-out time, time travel is the best. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.