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So anyway,
Because what the Net really needs is another person sharing his uninformed views
Buffy 8.20 - "Last Gleaming" 
19th-Feb-2011 04:13 pm
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I started (quite a few years ago now) so I'll finish. I don't know that I'll want to do reviews on here when Buffy The Vampire Slayer comics return for Season 9 although I'll probably still read them. Given how I've felt about Season 8, maybe I'll skip the actual comics and wait for the paperbacks to read each story arc in one go, as "Last Gleaming" (issues 36-40) which has taken up the last six months once again makes slightly more sense if read all together.


This final storyline is written by Joss Whedon, although the fact that the series' editor Scott Allie is credited as co-writer on three of the five issues suggests to me that, as so often happened with this comics series, Whedon's other work got in the way of him finishing his scripts on time. Although it started brilliantly I've found Season 8 has devolved into making less sense every month and while "Last Gleaming" works towards simplifying things again for Season 9 (the main reason I suspect I'll be sticking with it) it's still guilty of this - yet again it's a massive battle, armies of slayers vs armies of demons, and I'm sure that's been the selling point of every storyline since they ended up in Tibet. The Buffy + Angel + Sex = Entire New Universe thing is still a bit "er, OK," and now we've got to try and resolve it, which involves another bit of previously unheard-of phlebotonin, the seed that's kept all magic in this plane of reality. And which is powerful enough to have resurrected The Master. Hmmm, easy resurrections is a comics staple I'd rather the Buffy writers hadn't gone in for, but they've embraced it with open arms. (There was also skinless Warren, although he does die - again - in this arc.)

On the flipside of the resurrection we've got a death, and Giles' feels a bit arbitrary, the first time I've thought that of a major character death in Buffy. At least the fact that Angel did it leaves him a gibbering loon at the end of the season, having to be protected by Faith, which is a nice dynamic to have in the background for next season. The covers did tease that the fans might get what they've been clamouring for forever, with a (false) suggestion that it might be Dawn who bought it; the fans did however get their way when a now unempowered Willow dumped Kennedy¹ because she's in love with Green Snake Woman. Willow losing her magic opens up all sorts of possibilities for the next story arc as well, and of course fulfils one of the main purposes of the season, how to reconcile the Buffyverse with the state of the universe at the start of Fray. For the most part that's happened (no more slayers will be called, no more demons can enter this universe other than the ones already there) but one of the biggest changes this season, that the world at large now knows about vampires, still contradicts Fray² (and was extraordinarily underplayed for such a big deal.) I mean, Harmony on Dancing With the Stars is a good gag but, you know. I thought Joss was all about sacrificing his favourite bits if they worked against the story.

Anyway, Joss Whedon's rather apologetic afterword does seem to confirm that he agrees with some of the things I didn't enjoy about the season, mainly that the non-existent budget restrictions as compared to TV meant that the writers got a bit carried away when transferring the story to comics. Season 9 promises to refocus things a bit and that's why I'll probably be giving it a chance.

¹I don't have a problem with Dawn, although the fact that in latter seasons all she did was whine was no fun; I think if the Dawn who's been in the comics had appeared on screen people would have warmed to her a bit. I do have a problem with Kennedy, but not because she's not Tara. I don't like her 'cause her entire character description is "sassy."

²At the start of Fray nobody has even heard of the word "vampire." It was already a bit of a stretch that such a popular fictional and mythological creature should have been completely wiped from popular culture in however many centuries it's been. If, in the early 21st Century, vampires had actually come out of the closet and been proven real, it becomes even more unlikely this world-changing fact wouldn't have been passed down the generations one way or another, even if the vampires themselves had largely died out by then.
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