Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” Season 8

Dear Frank,

buffy the vampire slayerAs 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.

Gotta say, the eyepatch works for him.

Gotta say, the eyepatch works for him.

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:
    The Doctor! With Rose Tyler. Just as it should be.

    Technically, this cameo is out of sequence — this issue was published in September 2007, a few months after the “Doctor Who” Season 3 finale, so the companion should be either Martha or Donna, but WIBBLEY WOBBLY TIMEY WIMEY I guess.

  • 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.

Homage!

Homage!

(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.

SPACE SEX.

SPACE SEX.

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.

Given Whedon's track record, it coulda gone worse, I suppose.

Given Whedon’s track record, it coulda gone worse, I suppose.

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.

Love,
Liz

About Liz Shannon Miller

Liz Shannon Miller, based in Los Angeles, is a writer for the screen and the web, her work including G4's Attack of the Show and the tech blog GigaOM. She also co-hosts the podcast Timey Wimey TV, contributes to the video curation site Here's Some Awesome, and tells her friend Frank about stuff at Liz Tells Frank.

Posted on January 22, 2013, in All the Spoilers, Books and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Wait, Faith goes undercover? As a Brit socialite? Faith, slayer Faith? Like, I know Faith is the character who was played by Eliza Dukshu, and while Eliza plays Faith she cannot for example punch through prison safety glass, so Faith and Eliza= not the same. But I for the life of me cannot even begin to pretend I buy Faith with the ability to speak in any accent other than Massachusettes. Seriously, that is bothering more than Giant Dawn, or Angel=Twilight (is that a meta-commentary?). Thank you for reading this!

  2. Dear Liz (and I guess Frank too):

    I’m so very happy you decided to do a Buffy post and I have a few things to add here:

    1. I feel the same about Buffy S8 as I did with The Hobbit. Great to see the gang back in action, but it still felt sub-par. Not in a disappointing way, but in a “yeah ok that was fun” but also kind of in a disappointing way. That makes no sense. And neither did most of Season 8. HA!
    2. OK so Willow skinned Warren right? And then The First APPEARED as Warren in S7, right? So Warren should in fact be dead, and NOT kept alive by magic by Amy. PLOT HOLEEEEEE.
    3. I hated Kennedy on screen and in the comic books. I wonder how you and Frank feel about her.
    4. HUGE LOL to Renee’s death (Xander’s chick). hhahaha OF COURSE SHE BRUTALLY DIES. It’s almost would’ve been a disappointment at this point if they lived happily ever after! But then he gets Dawn, so whatever. As we remember from Season 6 or 7, Dawn isn’t special, she’s “extraordinary.” Xander said so himself!
    5. Huge huge huge mega Buffy fan, but Season 8 was a little bonkers for me. It was enjoyable sometimes…but then those hugeass Tibetan Goddesses or whatever showed and I was all….whaaaaaaat!? And Angel kills Giles? I haven’t read Season 9 yet, or Angel and Faith for that matter, but there’s no coming back from that, right? Buffy can’t continue banging him right? Well, he did kill Jenny under a gypsy curse and everyone got over that OK enough.

    GREAT POST! Hopefully Frank enjoyed learning about S8. It was a great refresher bc I read it so long ago. I’ll stop talking now.

    • 1. Fair thoughts!

      2. There were more than a few of those, but that’s definitely a good catch.

      3. I’m okay with Kennedy? She’s not my favorite, but I’m fine with her. I will not speak for Frank.

      4. Yeah, Xander and Dawn hooking up felt pretty natural and sweet, in the long run. Hopefully, Dawn will avoid the Whedon Impalement Curse.

      5. I feel like the possession thing should make Angel easy to forgive? I personally wouldn’t keep him in the doghouse too long.

      Thanks so much for commenting!

  3. Best part: Whedon’s final page “Thanks for reading! Sorry about all this!” note, that I’m pretty sure they even put in the “Last Gleaming” trade.

    • I forgot to mention that! Yeah, that page was great, all about “more focused, smaller-scale storytelling” for next season. However, I randomly did a search for Buffy Season 9 and I saw the word “abortion” and I have some concerns. Are you reading Season 9?

  4. The most super retarded thing that I’m really surprised nobody has picked up on is this MASSIVE plot hole: Angel is all like “We can finally be happy together” etc. They shag out a freakin universe. Yea, okay, fine I can roll with it even though it is insane. But what about his gypsey curse? Did I miss something? Can Angel be happy now?

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