‘Buffy’ flashback: Season 8 ‘MySpace/Dark Horse Presents’ short stories (2009-10) (Comic book reviews)

In addition to the 40 main issues and three one-shots, “Buffy” Season 8 also features five “MySpace/Dark Horse Presents” e-comics from the waning days of that social media platform. None of these short stories are essential, but a few of them reinforce this new era where vampires are celebrities instead of monsters.

“Harmony Bites” (MSDHP Issue 18, January 2009) and “Harmony Comes to the Nation” (MSDHP Issue 25, August 2009)

Jane Espenson, with Karl Moline on pencils, expands on “Harmonic Divergence” (Issue 21) by showing us an “episode” of Harmony’s reality show “Harmony Bites.” It’s a fun parody of reality shows mixed with the absurdity of Season 8’s vampire-celebrity culture. Plus, Clem – cast as Harmony’s friend for the show – is in fine form. “Harmony Comes to the Nation” finds the vampire as a guest on Stephen Colbert’s show, and again, Espenson is on point with the rhythms of news/entertainment talk shows. I’m not crazy about real-world celebrities being peppered all over “Buffy,” but as usual, Espenson’s work is so smile-worthy that I set aside my misgivings.

“Vampy Cat Play Friend” (MSDHP Issue 19, February 2009)

Stephen S. DeKnight’s very short slice of dark comedy ties in with “Swell” (Issue 22), showing a picked-on girl who acquires a Vampy Cat, the toy/pet that’s all the rage. The Vampy Cat viciously kills her bullies, and that’s that.

“Always Darkest” (MSDHP Issue 24, July 2009)

Joss Whedon probably wrote this weird Buffy dream sequence in less than a minute. There’s some OK comedy where Buffy imagines Angel and Spike kissing, and Buffy herself getting married to skinless Warren. It’s another example of Whedon’s knack for capturing dream logic, but it’s mainly worth tracking down because the art is by Jo Chen, who does the beautiful Season 8 covers.

“Tales of the Vampires: Carpe Noctem,” Parts 1 and 2 (MSDHP Issues 31-32, February-March 2010)

Jackie Kessler’s story, with Paul Lee on pencils, tackles the same theme as the Harmony shorts, but from a more serious perspective. Ash has embraced the socially acceptable “True Blood” lifestyle where vampires snack on consenting humans without killing them, whereas her roommate Cyn hates it, believing that they are meant to be monsters and shouldn’t hide it. The tone of “Carpe Noctem” flirts with comedy – including a montage where we see how vampire culture has infiltrated everything from Keith Olbermann’s show to “American Idol” — but ultimately illustrates the internal division among vampires (which, oddly, does not come into play in the wider Season 8 narrative).

“MySpace/Dark Horse Presents” “Buffy” stories:

Click here for an index of all of John’s “Buffy” and “Angel” reviews.

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