30 November 2009

Buffy Season 8, Issue #29

Spoilers Ahead

I'm starting to wish Jane Espenson would just go away already. She seems to have lost the plot when it comes to Buffy, and the thought of incorporating her weak Season 8 storyline into official Buffy canon is just...depressing.

Issue #29 starts off with the Slayer army preparing for war. And since they were so keen last issue to rid themselves of all their magics, this isn't exactly going to be an easy fight (not for their side, anyway). As this realization dawns it doesn't take long for the regrets (and panic) to start surfacing. Apparently an entire group of Slayers--not to mention Giles, Andrew, Willow, Xander, and Dawn--couldn't foresee the consequences of their actions. Gee, depriving ourselves of our power will make us weak? How could we have possibly known? Insert drama and hand-wringing.


Much worse than this, Xander and Dawn--the apparent new leaders of the de-magicked Slayers--teach the girls how to use guns and various other weapons. What? At least Buffy remembers that "A Slayer doesn't need a gun." How is it remotely more natural or acceptable--or "normal"--or whatever the hell the argument is that they're trying to justify to have the Slayers use weapons rather than magic? If I wanted to read/watch about a bunch of chicks shooting guns, well, I wouldn't be reading/watching Buffy, would I? Tell me again why I should care what happens next in the Buffyverse?

Like I said, depressing.

And even though the Slayers et al have decided that magic is really really naughty, they're apparently not above accepting the help of other magical creatures (werewolves and a trio of wrath goddesses). In fact, never mind merely accepting--they're desperately seeking out the assistance of the latter.

Which brings me to my next problem with Season 8: the goddesses, and all the other fantastical "effects" they never could have shown on TV. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Just because Buffy can now show all these crazy things (e.g., giant Dawn, submarine appearing out of thin air on land, oversized mecha rampaging through Tokyo...) doesn't mean they have to pack the season with it. A couple of things that fit with the overall story? Fine. But it seems like every other issue features something that couldn't have been done in the TV series. Doing it now is like having characters swear in the movie sequel of a TV show. It changes the essence of the established mythology and destroys continuity. If they wanted to do that they should have rebooted Buffy rather than calling it Season 8 (oh wait, that's being done too, albeit not by Joss).

Other problems with Issue #29: mediocre artwork; cartoony colouring; annoying love triangle subplot between Dawn, Xander, and Buffy; and writing without a hint of the spark that made the series so great.

I think Buffy Season 8 could use a few more vampires and a few less silly/pointless contrivances. Oh, and maybe a writer or two who actually has some passion left for the series. It's getting really difficult to keep the faith, Joss. Help a devoted fan out here...

Text Bites

Giles: We can't take on an army. Not like this.
Buffy: We need the magic. But we got rid of it.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, Issue #29; art by Georges Jeanty and written by Jane Espenson. From Dark Horse Comics.

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