Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight: #6

I didn’t begin watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on television until Season 3. I saw the movie in the theater and enjoyed it in a campy sort of way. When I heard it was going to become an ongoing television series, I rolled my eyes as I remembered the many failed attempts network executives made in the past when trying to bring serialized versions of successful films to the small screen. So naturally I stayed away from the pilot episode and those that followed.

My father watched the series from day one, and was a loyal fan until the day the show went off the air. He introduced me to the Buffyverse, and, I have to admit, I fell in love with it. Everything about the show worked for me. The stories were engrossing, the characters larger-than-life, and I actually found myself caring about each character and the situations they found themselves in. Buffy was, quite simply, the most well-written show at the time. It is no wonder that the show has garnered such a devoted fan following.

Although I felt the show’s quality started to wane towards the last season and a half, I was sad to see it go. I always wished Joss Whedon would return the show to greatness. When I first heard the idea of a Season 8 comic, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Would it translate well in comic form? Would it be as engrossing? At first, the answer for me was a resounding no. I wasn’t as drawn to the book as I was the show. The dialogue felt flat, and appeared a tad childish at times. It felt as though the whole gang was stuck in high school, when in actuality they hadn’t been enrolled at Sunnydale High for some time. I bought every issue even though I had trouble justifying it at the time. Whedon’s run didn’t produce results for me until issue #5, the last of his writing duties. With Whedon off, and Brian K. Vaughan on, I knew it wasn’t time to drop the title just yet. I wanted to see if a new writer could reinvigorate the series for me. Thankfully, Vaughan did just that.

Issue #6 centers around Faith, the anti-hero who was the third slayer to appear on the series. Faith always had a bit of a dark side. Being the second best to Buffy never sat well with her. Unlike Buffy, and many of the other slayers under Buffy’s tutelage, Faith has always had a penchant for violence and, more importantly, killing. On the show, she even suggested that killing provided her with a drug-like high, causing her to experience withdrawal when she is unable to inflict pain on another human or demon. Because of her affinity for the rough stuff, Faith is often called upon to handle the “dirty work”: the tasks no one else has the stomach for. It is her perceived indifference to these tasks that garners her a visit from Giles. He has an assignment that only Faith can complete.

Lady Geneveve Savidge is one of the wealthiest heiresses in Britain. She is also an apocalyptic threat, or at least that is the feeling Giles has. Needless to say, Lady Geneveve is too far gone for simple rehabilitation. She needs to be neutralized. And only Faith can do it. But in order to get near her, Faith must pass as a member of the British upper class, forcing Giles to train the slayer in the art of etiquette, diction and the arts; a formidable task for those familiar with Faith as a character.

The story is intriguing and shows real promise. Vaughan appears to understand the characters’ histories and motivations, and writes them just as well as, if not better then, Whedon himself. My only problem with this issue, and the series more specifically, is the lackluster pencils. Jeanty’s art makes for some hideous panels at times, and not only does his characters not resemble the actors they are based on, at times they barely resemble human beings. Thankfully the writing works because this book is not much to look at. Hopefully, this will improve as the story continues. If not, it’s time to bring on another artist to improve the art much the same way as a new writer improved the story.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight #6
“No Future for You: Part 1”
Written by: Brian K. Vaughan
Pencilled by: Georges Jeanty
Inked by: Andy Owens
Colored by: Dave Stewart
Lettered by: Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Jimmy
Cover by: Jo Chen

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