Saturday, October 24, 2009

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, vols. 2-4.

Vaughn, Brian K., George Jeanty and Joss Whedon. Vol 2: No future for you. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse, 2009.

Goddard, Drew, George Jeanty and Joss Whedon. Vol 3: Wolves at the Gate. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse, 2009.

Whedon, Joss, Karl Moline and Jeph Loeb. Vol 4: Time of you life. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse, 2009.

Now this is more like it!

A little while ago, when I reviewed the first volume of the collected Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 series from Dark Horse, I was kind of disappointed. I felt the story telling was choppy and jumbled and that it lacked a lot of the real character development strengths of the original TV series.

Well, the next three volumes of the series are a huge improvement.

They are Volume 2, No Future For You, volume 3, Wolves at the Gate and volume 4, Time of Your Life.

The main V2 arc is a Faith story, wherein Giles employs Faith to do some Council-type wetwork, stuff he wouldn't want to get Buffy involved in. It's a good, compelling read, getting two somewhat less involved characters in V1 back into the main line of Season 8. V3 Brings Dracula back, this time on Buffy's side, battling against some rogue Japanese vampires. V4 brings the futuristic Fray back into the mix, as Buffy travels into the future. V4 also brings Willow back into the main stream of the Season 8 arc.

Each volume also has a shorter stand-alone story, which is basically used for some character development, which often gets a bit of short shrift in the main volume arc.

Over all, I am pleased with how the S8 arc is developing -- just like more season arcs developed. Slowly during the first part of the season, setting up the big push later on. And the Twilight Big Bad arc for S8 is still pretty mysterious, so I'm looking forward to seeing how it develops.

I still have a few quibbles, of course, and I think the biggest is how a lot of the character stuff if peripheral to the main story arc. In the tv series, the character development and the story arc were always very tightly bound, basically one growing out of the other. Buffy and the other characters grew and changed because of what was happening to them, and even by S6 what was happening to them became the main story arc. In the comic series so far, they've much more tended to seal off the plot from the characterization. And I think it's a mistake. We really need to get back into the hearts and minds of the characters by the end of the arc, that's what needs to drive everything else. And if it doesn't happen, it'll be hard to judge S8 as a success.

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