Partners In Design


Comic Book Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8

(I've added some of interior artist Georges Jeanty's alternate covers underneath the primary Jo Chen Covers for comparison)

Okay, Okay.. I know that those of you who actually know me will not be surprised by my choice of review. As part of the ongoing growth of the blog, I figure I'd make an addition to our reviews and do a bi-weekly to weekly review of the hottest comic book titles and stories out there.

I'm not sure how into the concept of comic books you all are, but personally, I jump up and down in glee at the thought of the approaching Wednesdays (Comic Book release day). Ever since I was a child, I was fascinated with the beautiful mix of art and storytelling. Being an aspiring, mini artist in training, I would often look to these comic books as a way of learning and understanding proportions, character design, and storytelling. So, because of these reasons and a kick of nostalgia obsession, I've continued my comic book collection and read them on a weekly basis.

In the spirit of all things holy to me, I thought to myself: "What would be the perfect book to tackle a review on first?". Suddenly, my mind was filled with thoughts of Joss Whedon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and my longing to experience the show's perfect mixture of humor, drama, and genius.. This lead to a review on the 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' Season 8 comic book relaunch spearheaded by Buffy creator and god of all things holy, Joss Whedon.

In it's 8 issue run thus far, the book has managed to do something I would never expect. That unexpected element is seamlessly translating a live action television show that has a very sensitive and critical fan base, and making it work in perfect cannon with the series. Season 8's premiere issue finds our heroine some time after we last saw her in the series finale (For those of you who are not familiar: They lived in Sunnydale, CA, which was also host to the largest demon manifestation sites known, the Hellmouth. In an epic battle, the hellmouth swallowed the entire town, and our group of characters *mostly* made it out alive). Buffy and friends are now in Europe with their slayers in training, fighting and exterminating any threats that may come their way. In the first arc, we find that something survived the destruction in Sunnydale and seeks revenge on Buffy & Co. It may be a little hard to follow, and I'm just going to graze the ideas and just give a general review for times sake.

The first arc was brilliant in it's own right, and really set up the Season 8 concept beautifully. Although not without it's flaws, the first arc really made us see what we loved in the show. The character work was solid, the beats were beautifully written, and the mystery and impending doom was finally back. My only real concern with the first arc was that you could almost see the thought process Joss had to undergo to gain his footing in translating his personal television idea to the panels of a comic book. The only reason this surprised me was due to Joss' perfect, and almost cinematic writing on 'Astonishing X-Men'. None the less, it held it's own and paved the way for the arc that really blew the series thus far out of the water.

The second arc was written by 'Runaways' scribe Brian K. Vaughn. Interestingly enough, the story was borrowed from a killed idea years ago to do a television mini-movie based on the 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' mythos and starring Faith, the rigue slayer introduced and popularized in the show's third season. This arc, although featuring much less of our favorite blonde, found a way to really relay the messaging and feeling of the show. It's no surprise that Vaughn is an amazing writer, and has a knack for witty speech and banter (a Buffy staple). This would be a perfect entry into the series for anyone interested in giving the book a chance.

My only negative on this title would be the artist chosen to do the interior art and variant covers. As Shalimar can attest, I'm very angered by mediocre artists. In Buffy Season 8, Georges Jeantey, finds a way to bring less life into the characters than i ever expected. His cartoon style doesn't seem to pop or compliment the high intensity wit and drama of the book's tone. His likenesses are just grazing the appearance of the actors, and the coloring is just horrendous. In my opinion, I feel as though a book based on a television show with an already massed fan base should find an artist that brings as much realism and tonality to the book as possible. This is the weak point of the book for me, which is unfortunate for such an intense and interesting relaunch. Hopefully they will find a way to really up the anty on the art, which leads to my final point for the book...

Jo Chen is a goddess! The perfectionary cover artist (Best known for her work on 'Runaways') has created all the covers since the season 8 relaunch, and each and every one has gotten better and better. The likenesses are spot on, the compositions are beautiful, the tonality and coloring is brilliant, and overall each one FEELS like the show. Anyone who sees any of them (a few are posted throughout this post) can't deny their beauty. Now if only darkhorse, and the creators of the book can find an interior artist to compliment the covers, the book would be flawless.

So there's my long winded review of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8'. I apologize if I went into tangent-ville. I'll soon find my footing with writing these reviews. So enjoy and chime in if you'd like!

No comments: