02 December 2009

Buffy Season 8, Issue #30

Spoilers Ahead

Once upon a time there was a fantastic show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer that was continued in its eighth season in comic book form. The show was marked by brilliant writing, great dialogue, and compelling storylines--and at first, so was the comic. One loyal fan, at least, couldn't wait for each issue to come out; the opportunity to revel in the Buffyverse just a little while longer was cause for endless excitement. It was true love.

I'm not sure exactly when I fell out of love with Season 8. The issues just gradually seemed less interesting, less compelling, less Buffy. If you read my last review (and maybe a couple before that) you'll get a sense of a few of the problems I'm having with the series. I think maybe they're just trying to do too much, and definitely too much that's just plain wrong. I also think a lot of the writers have forgotten (or never understood) what made Buffy so great. Let's call it Lucas syndrome.

It's easier to pinpoint the specific aspects I dislike in recent issues. For example, I despise characters who are selectively stupid. You know the ones: otherwise intelligent, they suddenly take it upon themselves to pursue obviously idiotic courses of action and then act surprised when the inevitable disaster strikes. This makes for a lot of pointless melodrama that writers and producers seem to think audiences like (who knows--maybe everyone else actually does). There's a lot of selective stupidity going around lately, not only with the big "revelation" that it wasn't a good idea for the Slayers and Willow to give up all their power (well, duh), but also with the big oopsie moment in Issue #30 when the good guys realize the invoked goddesses aren't actually on their side. Even if Buffy had never tangled with a god before, the latest three deities are wrath goddesses--did anyone really expect them to be helpful? It would probably bother me more if I could bring myself to care.

And speaking of melodrama--my hatred for the Dawn-Xander-Buffy love triangle continues to grow. Worst idea ever. And when did Dawn suddenly become a military leader? Was that one of her thricewise-induced forms we didn't get to see? Dawn was kind of a pointless character once her status as Key was revoked. I guess the writers are trying--desperately--to give her a reason to be there.

Also falling into the category of irrelevant are Amy and Warren. Not really sure anymore why Twilight or the US Army needed them in the first place. See above re: too much going on. Even their bickering is pointless--mildly amusing but mostly annoying. Skinless Warren should be more menacing and less whiny, methinks. Or maybe just gone altogether.

Issue #30 wasn't all bad, though. It wasn't exactly good, but there were a couple of intriguing moments. The brightest spot for me is the revelation that Riley's been working for Buffy all along. He's a character I wasn't initially that fond of on the show (he's so Teutonic), but he's definitely grown on me. Glad to see he's still on the Slayer's side (gladder that his irritating wife is nowhere to be seen).

The end of the issue isn't great, but it has potential. As the Slayer army is being marched off by the US Army (we don't get to see how they managed that or why the rampaging goddesses suddenly decided to move on and leave so many survivors) Buffy apparently comes back from the dead (again)--and with newfound powers of levitation. It's unclear if she really is dead or what the deal is with her. I am actually curious to find out what that's all about; maybe the resurrection spell Willow performed back in season 6 had the unexpected and unintended effect of making Buffy immortal. Depending on where they go with this, it could get Buffy back on track. It could also ruin it beyond redemption. Despite my recent negative reviews, I'm really hoping it's the former. I miss the Buffy I once loved.

Text Bites

Buffy: Hang on.
Riley: People always say that when someone's hurt really badly, but I don't think it helps.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, Issue #30; art by Georges Jeanty and written by Jane Espenson. From Dark Horse Comics.

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