In this next batch of 10 issues, Season 9 becomes slightly less Buffy-centric, somewhat to its detriment, but Andrew Chambliss continues to be a sharp writer and I trust he knows where the wider narrative is going. The only major misstep in this batch, surprisingly, is when “Buffy” veterans Jane Espenson and Drew Z. Greenberg step in for two issues to tell the origin story of side character Billy.
After Season 8, Dark Horse’s canonical “Buffy” comics do what the TV series did more than a decade prior: split into two series. While “Angel & Faith” go off to do their own thing, “Buffy” Season 9 sets up shop in San Francisco and welcomes excellent new lead scribe Andrew Chambliss, who had written for “Dollhouse.” Here are my reviews of Issues 1-10 of the 25-issue Season 9.
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.
In addition to the 40 regular issues of “Buffy” Season 8, three one-shots flesh out specific aspects of the saga: what it’s like to be a street-level vampire in this new era, how Willow gets her superpowers between Seasons 7 and 8, and how and why Riley joins Twilight’s organization in order to spy on him. SPOILER WARNING: I will discuss Twilight’s real identity in the “Riley” section.
My reviews looking back at “Buffy” Season 8 continue. 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 “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.
While most of the Dark Horse “Buffy” comics released during the show’s TV run are considered non- or quasi-canonical – and are rarely talked about by fans — a glowing exception is the eight-issue “Fray” (June 2001-July 2003). Written by Joss Whedon when he had free moments while overseeing three TV shows, it’s the complete origin story of Melaka Fray, a Slayer called to duty in the 23rd century, long after Slayers and magic have been forgotten by the populace. Demons and vampires – called “lurks” – can be found in the slums, but no one knows their historical significance.
For the first time in a decade, two “Buffy” series are simultaneously building toward a seasonal conclusion. Back in 2003, TV’s “Buffy” and “Angel” were in the midst of Seasons 7 and 4, respectively. Now, Dark Horse Comics’ “Angel & Faith” and “Buffy” are working toward their Season 9 conclusions — the final installments of those 25-issue series are slated for August and September, respectively.
There are no spinoff TV series, movies or books, but almost nine years after “Angel” aired its final episode, the Buffyverse is thriving in comics. In fact, there are currently four titles going under the Season 9 banner: The regular titles “Buffy” and “Angel & Faith,” plus the miniseries “Spike: A Dark Place” and “Willow: Wonderland.”
More than a decade ago, I declared Joss Whedon my personal god for creating “Buffy” Season 3, still arguably the greatest TV season ever. But one of the reasons I still admire him today is because he’s not perfect (he proved that quickly with “Buffy” Season 4).