Book: Buffy, the Vampire Slayer – Season 9

"Buffy, the Vampire Slayer Season 9"

Has it been two years? I can’t believe it’s taking us this long to start and end seasons nowadays. Sure, the budget restrictions are gone now, but I fear that Buffy has lost something along with it: urgency.

I know Buffy has a niche market. I am very thankful to Dark Horse for even picking Buffy up as a continuing title. But after the blockbuster Season 8 that was just… too much, you’d have thought that Season 9 would have learned its lesson.

Well, it did. In the end. But, it took us two years to get there.

Buffy, the Vampire Slayer is not really about Buffy as it is about the relationships she has with her friends. And her family. When the team behind the Buffy comics started Season 9, they made a promise to bring Buffy back to its roots. And it did start out that way. Until it got out of control–again.

Suddenly Buffybot was back, and so was Spike’s bug ship, then zompires happened, we met Severin, Illyria came back–and although all of this were restrained and much more manageable than back in Season 8… it lacked the one thing that TV show had: its cast of lovable characters.

Willow was off having her own adventure. Xander and Dawn were mostly footnotes throughout the season before taking center stage near the end. And Spike was… Well, Spike was there and then wasn’t there and then was there again. And I felt Dark Horse broke its promise. Buffy didn’t go back to its roots. It just scaled down the problems of Season 8.

Of course, it wasn’t until we reached the last arc before I realized this. Xander going all-rogue felt out of character, not because I couldn’t imagine him doing what he did–it was because I felt unprepared for what he had done. We never really saw him much, so when he turned tables? It was a shock–and not the good kind.

Willow’s quest to restart magic ties in nicely to the end of the season–but because I was never able to find a copy of the miniseries here in the Philippines–I never really understood the importance of Willow’s journey. And without her side journey, the new seed felt like a deus ex machina.

Of the core team, it’s Buffy who stuck to what we were expecting. And stayed there. She didn’t grow, she didn’t evolve, she was just static. And I felt that, more than the spell that made her Stepford Wife, this was because we took out the people who would make her grow: her friends. Buffy became a lone wolf. A quippy lone wolf, but alone nonetheless.

Now that the season is over and we have a few months of rest before we begin Season 10, I hope Joss Whedon and whoever’s writing next would go back to what made Buffy really work: the relationships. I wouldn’t mind fall outs, I wouldn’t mind solo adventures–so long as they’re warranted. So long as we see it develop before our eyes. So long as they don’t come left of field.

Six years after the show has ended, I’m still a big fan of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. And although I believe that Seasons 8 and 9 are the weakest yet (and consider the fact that Season 1 was abysmal with its effects), I continue to hold on to the hope that the Buffy I love still exists. Somewhere.

Please don’t turn me off, Dark Horse.

Book: Spike, A Dark Place

"Spike: A Dark Place"

Spike hightails it for the dark side of the moon after parting ways with his on-again, off-again love interest, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Once a terrifying vampire, Spike has grown soft. It’s nothing that a vacation on a bug-filled spaceship headed for the moon can’t fix. That and some heavy drinking. But his plans for self-loathing are interrupted when he’s confronted by dangerous demons looking for a first-class ticket to… Sunnydale! Villains from Spike’s shady past appear, and a sultry succubus tempts Spike to move on from his aching heart.

I wanted to like it. I really did. After all, I did pay 900 pesos for it. But I just couldn’t. Is it because I’m not really a Spike fan? But I like the character. Maybe in smaller doses, but I like the character. He provides much needed lightness on Buffy, the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Especially during the latter parts of both series.

That said, I didn’t miss him much for most of Season 8. And since his reappearance, he really hasn’t done much to merit a strong reaction for or against him.

Which is probably why I’m not completely sold with the idea of Spike going off on an adventure of his own. Not that he did. He just stumbled upon it. Treated it lightly. Fought against demons. Got bamboozled by a woman. And then it’s back to status quo.

No, Spike: A Dark Place just doesn’t have actual character traction. Well, it does–for Sebastian, one of the bugs Spike picked up from the IDW Angel series. But for our main character? The character we’re supposed to root for? Nothing. Zip.

Oh, you can say he made a realization. An epiphany, if you will. But if we’re going to be completely honest, TV!Spike would’ve made said epiphany in three scenes. Heck, he had a full realization through just one song in the musical episode. So having him go through an adventure just to have him understand that he shouldn’t stay away from someone he cares for just because he doesn’t think he’s good for her? Yeah–no. It doesn’t make for good comics.

And the worst part of this all is, the series already starts with Spike already coming to this conclusion. With a fake beach. And then the misadventure happens.

I… I have no more words, to say frankly. Except, well, I shouldn’t have bought this title. I should have just stuck with the monthly issues of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer Season 9.