My reviews looking back at “Buffy” Season 8 continue as we enter the second half of the 40-issue season with several standalones (to borrow TV show parlance), which nonetheless move the narrative forward, and one epic five-parter. SPOILER WARNING: If you are reading these issues for the first time, I will analyze the character of Twilight based on my knowledge of Twilight’s true identity, which isn’t revealed until later in the season.
The MCU’s first crossover TV series, “The Defenders” Season 1 (2017, Netflix), has all the fun of a superhero team-up, along with all the clunkiness. Despite being written by four veterans of “Daredevil” – Douglas Petrie, Marco Ramirez, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich and Drew Goddard — it is a notable step down from that bar-setting series.
Perhaps you’re a fan of the “Buffy” TV series or the TV-series-plus-the-current-comics who is thinking of tip-toeing into the canonically muddy waters of the old Dark Horse comics, from 1998-2004. There is a ton of good stuff (and some not-so-good stuff) to weed through, but maybe you want to cut to the chase. Which stories tie in most closely with the TV series? Which ones enhance the narrative? In short: Which ones are essential?
The “Tales of the Slayers” comics – a trade paperback in November 2001 and the “Broken Bottle of Djinn” one-shot in October 2002 – are primarily written by “Buffy” and “Angel” TV writers, which creates a high expectation level. These nine stories are fun, easy reads, but not as deep or substantial as one might hope for.
After I finished Season 1 of “Daredevil,” my buddy Shaune told me Season 2 (2016, Netflix) is even better. I scoffed at the notion. Now, after finishing Season 2, I have to admit he is right. The cinematography and Hell’s Kitchen locations are still amazing, but now we see even more striking rooftops, water towers and tunnels. Plus, the whole thing plays like an epic morality play about the struggles of noble vigilantes.
In retrospect, I was destined to be a huge “Daredevil” fan before finally getting around to watching Season 1 (2015, Netflix) of this Marvel Cinematic Universe series. Frank Miller’s 1980s comics that redefined Daredevil into a grim vigilante heavily influenced Eastman & Laird’s invention of one of my favorite comics: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Splinter comes from Stick, the Foot comes from the Hand, and the same ooze that gives Daredevil his heightened senses mutates the Turtles.
In addition to the main series and miniseries, in the early days of the “Buffy” license, Dark Horse was good for at least one one-shot per year. Here’s a look at three of the early ones (reviews of others are coming in later posts):
In addition to the main “Buffy” series and its miniseries and one-shots, Dark Horse put out several short tales about the Slayer in its early days with the license. The main outlet for these yarns was “Dark Horse Presents,” a monthly black-and-white comic that served as a way to advertise the company’s titles and get current fans to buy another comic – something that obviously worked on me. “DHP” delivered four comics containing “Buffy” stories from 1998-2000; here’s a closer look:
Dark Horse didn’t have much doubt about how well its “Buffy” comics would sell. Rather than tiptoeing into the waters, the company released its first graphic novel when the regular title was only up to its second issue. Throughout the “BTVS Classic” period, it released two single-story graphic novels (which I’ll review here), plus tons of other miniseries, one-shots and short stories (but those are for another post), in addition to the ongoing “Buffy” and “Angel” series.
Issues 12-20 (August 1999-April 2000) of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Classic” consist mostly of further “Buffy”-lite stylings from main writer Andi Watson. But this batch is also notable for bringing novels writer Christopher Golden and TV show writer Douglas Petrie into the fold.