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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Dark Horse
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This takes place about a year after season 7, the final season of the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So you shouldn't read this comic book series (or this here review of it) unless you've seen the entire TV series. In any event, there have been any number of comic books about the show's characters... Buffy, Angel, Spike, whoever... but I haven't read that many of them. I really should someday. But this series is probably the only one considered canonical (except "Angel: After the Fall," of which I've read a bit, but haven't had a chance to get caught up on yet).

Well, as you will recall, at the end of season 7, a spell was cast to give all potential Slayers the power they would have had if they had become the Slayer. So now, instead of one Slayer in all the world, there are like 1800 of them. And about 500 of those are currently working with Buffy and her friends, in separate squads around the world. Central Command is in a castle in Scotland, where Xander is now sort of a Watcher, even if he doesn't think of himself that way. He seems to be more or less in charge of things there. Of course, it's not just Slayers, there are, like, Wiccans and such working with the group, as well as regular tech people. (There are only a few of the newer Slayers that we get to know at all, the main one being a girl named Satsu, as well as Kennedy, whom Willow's dating.) Oh, and Andrew's in charge of a group of Slayers in Italy, apparently. And Giles has his own squad somewhere (we'll eventually see a story arc involving Giles and Faith). Um... and Dawn is a giant, for some reason. (We'll see her change into a couple of other things before we get to understand what that's all about, and she eventually returns to normal.)

Meanwhile, there's a military group, led by a man named General Voll, who consider Buffy's group to be terrorists. Of course, they themselves aren't above using supernatural creatures and methods to fight our heroes. And our heroes will have to figure out stuff about them, including a connection to someone called "Twilight." (And yes, there will be pop culture references to the Twilight books/movies.) But there's also Amy Madison, and Warren (who should be dead, of course). Anyway, this group also feels that they represent the human race, in a war against Buffy's group. And eventually, a vampire named Harmony (whom we knew from the TV series) gets a reality show and the public learns about vampires, and they become rather trendy, which makes the world hate Slayers. There's also a story arc which ties in with a previous comic miniseries called Fray (in fact the entire season can ultimately be seen almost as a prequel to "Fray," to explain how the world ends up the way it is in that miniseries). But the main ongoing mystery is the question of who exactly Twilight is, and what his plans are.

Well, there are a number of story arcs, as well as a few standalone stories, which together comprise 40 issues. There are also a few one-shots: one is related to a previously published comic called "Tales of the Vampires," another is about Willow, and another about Riley. So um... I don't want to really spoil any of the story developments of the series. But it's pretty much all good stuff. The writing is generally quite good, the characters we know and love really sound like themselves. The plot can get a bit confusing at times, and I can't promise you'll like everything that happens, but there's plenty of action, drama, humor, and tragedy; everything you loved about the show is here, and most of it is pitch-perfect. And like I said, it's canon. So no fan of the show should fail to read these comics.

As for the art... first of all, there were always two different covers for each issue, and I often had trouble choosing which to pick up (of course I couldn't afford both). The more serious covers were done (usually) by Jo Chen, and were absolutely gorgeous. Alternate covers were done (usually) by Georges Jeanty, and were generally amusing and cool. (Guest artists also did really good covers.) Interior art was usually done by Jeanty, and it was also pretty good, for the most part. (Characters familiar from the TV series were sometimes easy to recognize, but sometimes practically impossible; either way, they looked good, and of course it's nice that the "special effects" weren't limited by budget considerations, as they would be on TV.) Anyway, I've included quite a few covers at the top of this page... sometimes the regular one, sometimes the variant, sometimes both, and sometimes neither. (As it is I feel like I've included too many, but I did my best to show at least a little restraint.) The covers I chose to include here aren't necessarily the ones I have in my personal collection. (All images have been shamelessly- um, borrowed- from DarkHorse.com.)

Oh, and occasionally a related story appeared on the online anthology series "Dark Horse Presents," on MySpace. But that eventually disappeared. These stories included "Harmony Bites", "Vampy Cat: Play Friend", "Always Darkest", "Harmony Comes to the Nation", and "Tales of the Vampires: Carpe Noctem". I hope I'm not forgetting any. I expect they're now available in some print collections of the anthology, though I'm not sure which volumes. (Hopefully someday I'll get them all.)

And after Season Eight ends, there's a new series, appropriately enough called Season Nine. I look forward to checking that out, but... so far I haven't had a chance. Which means I have a lot to catch up on.


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