The fourth and final “Tales of the Slayer” collection (November 2004) is also the only one centered around a theme: specifically, the Cruciamentum – as seen in “Helpless” (3.12) — wherein the Slayer is weakened by drugs and forced to defeat a vampire via only her wits and fighting skills. Remarkably, these aren’t just eight tales of Slayers being betrayed by their Watchers and feeling horrible; the authors find a variety of angles with which to approach the concept. Here are my rankings, from best to weakest, although there isn’t a bad story in the bunch:
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.
Drawing a better overall crop of writers, “Tales of the Slayer, Vol. 2” (January 2003) makes a huge jump in quality from the first volume. The authors have a blast playing with our expectations of how Slayers, Watchers and vampires should behave while using familiar Buffyverse beats to teach us about societies throughout human history. Here are my rankings of the 10 stories:
My reviews looking back at “Buffy” Season 8 continue as we enter the final stretch of the 40-issue season. We finally learn the identity of Twilight, which only raises more questions. So many questions.
Part of Disney’s argument for why the “Star Wars” timeline had to be rebooted was that a new movie on the original timeline couldn’t be understood by a newcomer who didn’t know the wider story. This is easily disproven by the whole history of “Star Wars” stories, which had been told non-linearly since the beginning, when our first glimpse of the saga was the “fourth” episode.
“Star Wars” comic storytellers have repeatedly been drawn back to the time period of the first movie, 1977’s “Episode IV: A New Hope.” Marvel tackled it first, in Issues 1-38 of its original run. After “The Empire Strikes Back” came out, Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson chronicled the era in the newspaper strips (later collected in the “Classic Star Wars” comics). After “Return of the Jedi’s” release, Blackthorne Comics explored the “ANH” era in the three-issue “Star Wars 3-D,” and the “Droids” TV series chronicled the time slightly before “Episode IV.”
Begun, the Clone Wars did, in Dark Horse Comics with “Star Wars: Republic” Issues 49-59 in 2003. This the start of what I call Phase I of the Clone Wars, with Phase II being the 2008-14 TV series (and related books and comics) with Ahsoka Tano as Anakin’s Padawan. While I prefer Phase II, Phase I has a lot to offer as well, and it shouldn’t be forgotten.
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.”