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The Past | The Previous

A while back, it was announced the Joss Whedon would be doing a season eight of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, his popular little franchise that ran out of steam a couple of seasons before it ended on television.

I didn't really think much of it at the time, but today, as I drifted in to pick up my comics, I spotted the first issue and thought I'd give it a try. I never bought into the whole Buffy the Vampire Slayer as great TV, never bought into the whole hidden messages within it, and never actually bought into the whole supposed feminism of the series. Sure, you could see those moments: the musical episode was great, monsters to fight in teenage years, and Buffy was always top of the fighting food chain at the end of the day, but at the end, there was never enough made of these elements to make any of the subtext consistent for fully developed thematic concerns, or to make interesting arguments within those themes. Instead, what developed was a very patchy series, which for the first three years of its run, averaged well, but which, over the following years, become more and more patchy, until, finally, you were waiting for it to simply be put down, and ended in a way not too embarrassing. (This, sadly, is the opposite of what happened with the companion show, Angel, which was at its strongest when it was canceled at the end of season five.)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer the comic, then, takes place after the end of season seven, when Buffy has blown up her home town, and is now running around with over five hundred versions of slayers--females who are genetically gifted with strength and speed and cuteness to fight vampires and other such monsters. As issue one of season eight opens, Buffy and a trio of slayer girls, are dropping out of the sky to take out a group of your generic, castle dwelling monsters. Behind the scenes, however, Xander, still supporting his eyepatch, is feeding information to Buffy and monitoring other groups, giving the impression of being the brains behind the brawn. As with what was the great flaw of Whedon feminism theme in the Buffy universe, Xander, and Giles, and the Watcher collective who are predominantly male, serve to undermine the positive representation of females in the show, as Buffy is ultimately reduced to being nothing more than the muscle who must rely on men to do her thinking. That's just an aside, incidentally, of why I always thought Buffy failed as a great text of feminism.

At any rate, the first issue deals with the relationship between Buffy and Xander and their new set up. Dawn features briefly, and of Willow and Giles, there is only a mention, but I imagine that they will show up shortly, for Whedon has, actually, crafted a nice introduction into season eight of his world. The dialogue is witty and the art by Georges Jeanty is dependable, and easy to follow (though it surprises me that Whedon didn't find a more high profile artist for the gig--still, there is nothing wrong with Jeanty's art, and I liked it well enough). If you're a bit undecided about the comic, due to the suckness of the final seasons of the show, I reckon the issue is worth the look. Hopefully it won't degenerate into a horrible mess, but I guess only time will show (and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it must be said, always started its seasons well).

Comments

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ashamel
Mar. 15th, 2007 06:51 am (UTC)
It tended to both start and end its seasons well. What it mostly needed was seasons half the length (something that can be said for most 20+ episode shows, it seems to me).

I'm undecided about this comic. I'm not sure I'd follow an 'actual' Buffy comic (ie, with Sunnydale and the lot), after this amount of time. Maybe it's different enough to be interesting on its own — in which case I'll probably wait for the trade and then manage to forget it.
benpeek
Mar. 15th, 2007 07:02 am (UTC)
i reckon i'll try another couple of issues, then decide how i stand with it. if it holds up, all good.
ex_benpayne119
Mar. 15th, 2007 09:40 am (UTC)
Dude, you are, regarding the tv show, quite simply, wrong:)

On the other hand, Art of Fighting have a new CD...

benpeek
Mar. 15th, 2007 09:45 am (UTC)
yeah, i heard it today, as well as the new arcade fire album. first spins, but both sound good, though it's a bit of similar for art of fighting...
(Anonymous)
Mar. 15th, 2007 10:25 am (UTC)
I know it's popular to interpret Buffy in terms of feminism but for me it was an exploration of growing up - a bildungssitcom, if you will. One of it's strongest points was that maturity or adulthood was never reached as a finite but rather portrayed as a continuous journey. Adulthood isn't something you attain these days: growing up is an ongoing process. Whedon created a strong personality in Buffy, gender aside.

And now there's a comic? Yay! I had no idea.
Agnes
benpeek
Mar. 15th, 2007 10:29 am (UTC)
yeah, i see that more than i do the feminism, but i'd still argue that the show never really makes a point of it. the meaning you apply is always external, i reckon, as if you're putting on a pair of glasses in how to view it. i could never bring myself to believe that the show was made with all these points to reference back too.

anyhow: yep, comic. there was even a future buffy comic called THE FRAY, which you might dig, and another publisher does ANGEL and SPIKE comics.
mattdoyle
Mar. 15th, 2007 01:30 pm (UTC)
"the meaning you apply is always external, i reckon, as if you're putting on a pair of glasses in how to view it"

you could pretty much say that about anything though.

buffy was, like a lot of shows that last as long as it did, inconsistent, yet still good overall. i think the feminist reading does get a little complicated as it becomes more than a clever inversion of the horror trope of the "dumb blonde bimbo victim". but i'm glad for the complication.

and, as far as i am concerned, any series that has a demon-slayer using a rocket launcher to smite evil is all sorts of coolness. :)
benpeek
Mar. 16th, 2007 02:44 am (UTC)
yeah, but there's external meaning, and there's, 'this is what the people involved were trying to do' external reading. the first, i think, gives more credit to the production than the last.
mariness
Mar. 15th, 2007 01:26 pm (UTC)
Season Six, by allowing a Buffy/Spike relationship that the writers didn't know what to do with, ended up causing real problems for Season Seven, where the writers had to deal with the aftereffects of a relationship that they didn't have to deal with and a host of other issues, causing severe problems. I can't exactly wish that we'd never had Season Six, because then we wouldn't have had the musical episode, but in many ways, I think Buffy might have been better if it had ended in Season Five.

So, since Angel did end in Season Five, it's possible that Angel just comes out looking as if it had a stronger ending since it never had to endure the pain of a crushingly bad Season Six. If Buffy had ended in Season Five, we all would have stood around saying, "Like Wow, how cool was that?"
benpeek
Mar. 16th, 2007 02:45 am (UTC)
nah, i reckon buffy would only have been cool if it ended at season three...
mariness
Mar. 16th, 2007 11:10 am (UTC)
Season Five was the cool season that got me hooked on the show, though.
(Anonymous)
Jun. 9th, 2007 11:17 am (UTC)
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