Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #2 “The Long Way Home, Part II” Joss Whedon, writer; Georges Jeanty, penciller
See, now, this is what I’m talking about. While I really liked the first issue of Joss Whedon’s continuation of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series, it didn’t absolutely thrill me. I feel like I’m praising it with faint damnation when I say that, and I don’t want you to get the wrong impression about my take on #1. It was very well done — it had some typically entertaining Whedonesque banter and solid artwork — but it felt just a little bit, I dunno, slight to me. That was to be expected, I suppose, since that first issue was almost entirely setup. We only got to catch up with a handful of old characters and were dropped headlong into an entirely new status quo, so yeah, it wasn’t superb — but then again, the seven season premieres of the TV show weren’t necessarily barnburners, either. (The season finales, though? Oh, man.)
So in the end, the first issue of BtVS:S8 was really good if not spectacular.
The second issue, though… the second issue is pure Buffy.
Now we’re starting to get more of our familiar characters back — we have Giles now, we have Andrew! — and it’s almost like they’ve never been away. Ah, but that’s not quite true: they have been away, and they’ve been growing during their absence (some a bit more literally than others). The action in the second half of this issue, for instance, demonstrates just how capable the formerly useless Xander Harris has become at leading an international squad of Slayers. (Strangely enough, the character who seems to have grown the least during the gap since the end of Season 7 is the eponymous heroine herself, though I’m sure we’ll be treated to plenty of growth opportunities for her later.)
The one aspect of this issue which grabbed me most — and I can’t imagine this should come as much of a surprise — is the dialogue. The wonderful thing about Whedon writing these characters he created and worked with for so long is that he knows how they should speak better than any other writer, so it’s almost useless saying that Buffy, Xander and the rest sound the way they’re supposed to. It might be nearly useless, but I’m saying it anyway: the words Whedon puts into their mouths strike notes so perfect that I can hear the actors reading the lines in my head. I realize that for many of you, that distinction might not be particularly profound, but normally when I read (comics, novels, whatever), all of the characters’ voices sound, well, like mine. Jeanty’s art helps — the likenesses might not be photorealistic, but they’re suggestive enough of the actors that it makes hearing their voices that much easier.
We’re only two issues in, but there’s already questions aplenty to be answered: Who’s the floaty guy stalking Buffy (and her dreams)? Who is — or was — Amy’s gross, mysterious and so far unseen survivor of the collapse of Sunnydale? (Dollars to donuts both characters have Buffyverse histories, though I honestly have no idea who either is supposed to be just yet.) And one of the biggest questions I’ve got, one that hasn’t even been directly addressed as a mystery yet: where in the hell did Buffy and company get all the money to finance this massive operation? How are they affording all of this technology, room and board for several hundred teenage girls, and at least two separate compounds (since Giles clearly is somewhere other than Buffy’s Scottish headquarters)? When I watched the original series via Netflix, I usually didn’t have more than a couple of days to wait for new episodes. Knowing it’s going to be thirty days before even getting any more hints is going to prove painful.
If you’re a fan at all of the Buffy TV series, you need to be reading this comic (or at least need to pick up the collections once they come out). So far the series feels very, very similar in tone to the show, though now they’ve got the unlimited budget only comics can provide (just imagine the last page of this issue being done anywhere near as effectively on the small screen). As my boy Timmy B., a recent Whedon convert, said today: “I can’t believe that shmuck was wasting his time in TV.”