Friday, August 21, 2009

Whedon, Joss and George Jeanty. The Long Way Home. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse, 2007. 136pp.

Joss Whedon and George Jeanty's The Long Way Home is the first graphic novel collection of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 series from Dark Horse.

When the Buffy tv show first came out, my sons were quite small so my wife and I weren't really adding any new tv shows to our roster. But the show did make a psychic impression because a lot of people I knew were watching it and reported loving it. So, now that the kids are older and all the seasons are on DVD, my wife and I basically gorged ourselves on Buffy, watching all seven tv seasons on DVD over about a seven month period -- watching the last couple of seasons in about two weeks each. The season-long story arcs made them very addictive and easy to watch the episodes in bunches.

Well, we finished the apocalyptic Season 7 a few weeks ago and it seemed like a good time to give the comics version Season 8 a try.

So, what do I think? So far, pretty good but not amazing.

There's about a 12 month gap between the end of S7 and the first issue here where some sort of Slayer organization has been set up in Scotland and that whole process is really glossed over very quickly. I could have used a bit more of a explanation of what went on with that, even if it did slow down the opening action. Which actually makes sense, of course, as the tv show never really worried about using up screen time filling in character relationships and back story bits. If anything, that's my big complaint so far with S8, that the characters and their personal stories are really getting short shrift in favour of some rather frenetic and disjointed action. It's understandable that some of the pacing habits of tv would have to change in comics, but so far I'm really missing the characters and their lives and personal stories.

The overall arc of S8 seems to focus on something called Twilight, and I do sort of see where they're going, but I'm really looking forward to getting a better sense of where they're taking the characters, in particular some of the minor characters like Dawn, who somehow has been transformed into a giant due to a romantic liaison with something called a "thricewise," whatever that is. In fact, that would have been a great story in itself. As it is, it seems to be an excuse to bring back the whiny, petulant Dawn of S6 rather than the more mature young woman from S7 -- a step back as far as I'm concerned. Giles as well is more or less missing in action so far too.

I found the storytelling a bit choppy, disjounted and flashbacky, an odd choice for a book that is presumably aimed quite a bit at comics neophytes, drawn in by the Buffy connection. Something a lot more linear and straightforward would seem to be better suited, especially for the first volume.

So, potential, yes. I'll be reading the rest of the series, for sure, but I'm a little concerned by the first collection that Whedon lost track of what made Buffy such a crossover hit the intervening years between S7 & S8.

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