Buffy The Vampire Slayer and the Leap from Screen to Page
Fans of Buffy The Vampire Slayer
know that the television series ended with season 7, with the town in which the series was set blown to hell. For many fans, the series ended then and there, with the obliteration of Sunnydale, California and the apparent destruction of the Hell Mouth itself. Before that point, we had seen a season end with the death of Buffy (we knew she’d be back). However, nothing quite matched the feeling of eminent finality that came with seeing Sunnydale in ruins, with the “Welcome to Sunnydale” sign falling backwards into a nuclear-sized crater as our heroes took one final look at their “home.”
Dark Horse and Joss Whedon, however, would very adamantly argue that that wasn’t the end—far from it. Less than a week ago, Dark Horse Comics released the first issue of Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10
. While Sunnydale might have come to represent live-action Buffy, it didn’t take long for the creator to find new beginnings in the medium that gave him so much inspiration. In anticipation of Season 10 and the many adventures to come, I’d like to take a close look at Volume 1 of Season 8. I’m interested to see how a show with such beloved characters, whose talented actors still popularly frequent fan conventions, made the transition to comic books, and what else was left behind with Sunnydale’s smoky debris.
While the television show was never one to shy away from a challenge, always coming through with some of the most impressive makeup jobs and special effects you were likely to see on network television at the time, one very major advantage that the comic book has is creative freedom. With Sunnydale gone, the slayer fight as gone global. In volume 1 of season 8, Buffy and part of her team are holed up in a castle in Scotland, while others are spread throughout Europe and the Americas. But that’s nothing. In the first issue of the eighth season, we discover that Dawn has been turned into a giant.
The most important parts of the series, what made it so successful and the universe so expansive, were retained. I’m talking, of course, about Whedon’s tendency to bring back old characters, reference old events, and to never close any doors completely—not even the doors of the now building-less Sunnydale California. One character in particular, thought long dead in the reality of the series, makes a terrifying and vengeful comeback in season 8. Warren, in all of his skinless glory, has Willow and Buffy still in his sights. How? It appears the ever-troublesome Amy managed to save and preserve him, and that they both survived Sunnydale’s destruction. Oh, and they’re also dating.
Which brings me to another consistency in Buffy’s transition between the mediums. Sunnydale, while located on a Hell Mouth, did provide some semblance of normality in the characters’ lives. Buffy worked at the local high school, dated, lived in an actual home in an actual neighborhood, and split her vampire slaying with her social life. So where’s the consistency? Considering the comic book format provides many more opportunities for action and battle, which it most certainly capitalizes on, it’s good to see the series retained its focus on relationships and the personal lives of the characters despite the dramatic changes in their lives and circumstances.
Dawn is growing up quickly, and not just in the physical, giant sense. She was actually turned into a giant for having sex with a Thricewise, which is a recurring joke throughout the book and which is also preventing her from going off to college; I already mentioned that Warren and Amy are dating—they deserve each other; Buffy takes time out of commanding an army of slayers to mourn her sex life; Xander works his physical loneliness into his usual barrage of sarcasm and humor; and Dawn and Buffy’s sibling relationship is strained as usual. The way these things are so successfully inserted with between battles of good versus evil is classic Buffy The Vampire Slayer
, and a big relief for a fan of the series sad to see the show end.
And since quality writing is something I’m always keen on, and which has been a hallmark of the series all the way through, Whedon staying on as writer for seasons 8 and 9 is the most probable reason for all of these consistencies. Volume 2 of season 8 actually features Brian K Vaughan as a credited cowriter, which is exciting for a whole slew of reasons if you’re a comic book fan. However, it appears Whedon is not a writer on season 10. While definitely a disappointment, you’ve just got to trust that he wouldn’t leave his most precious creation to someone who isn’t capable of making it great. Christos Gage is head writer for season 10, and based on season 8, I’m more than willing to give it a shot.
Was it a successful transition from the television screen to the page? I think so. Every season, the evil got eviler, the danger more relentless. While I think they definitely could have squeezed out a few more television seasons, the big bad might just have been getting too massive for the modestly sized Sunnydale California. Each season, it was more sinister than a last. The comics have won me over. Check them out if you haven’t yet. Like me, you can enjoy the books while still keeping your fingers crossed hoping that we haven’t seen the last of live-action Buffy the Vampire Slayer
. The Avengers
is great and all, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the Buffyverse.