"Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Volume 7 - Twilight" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James "Spez" Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Originally published as Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 8) #31-35 and Willow: Goddesses and Monsters
Written by Brad Meltzer and Joss Whedon
Illustrated by Georges Jeanty and Karl Moline
2010, 168 Pages
Trade Paperback Released on October 19th, 2010
Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a vampire slayer with some emotional issues who may or may not bring about the destruction of the human race! The penultimate volume of Buffy Season 8 is filled with exposition as reveals start popping up left and right and the story is moved along at break-neck speed. Buffy has super powers. In fact, the second issue in this collection is called Buffy has F#@$ing Super powers. This totally embraces the comic book genre but it feels a little out of place in world that Joss Whedon has created.
The last volume took the Scoobies down a path they've never taken before and this one obliterates that path entirely. Buffy can fly. She has super speed, super strength, and super eyesight. Much to the dismay of Xander, she does not have adamantium claws, the ability to phase through solid matter, or the power to spin a web any size. (These are all actual questions that Xander asks.) This seems out of place to me. While I can accept a world where a lineage of women are given super strength and agility along with all of the past memories of the slayers before them to fight vampires and other things that go bump in the night, when one of them gets the power of flight I just stop buying it.
Fortunately, this comic is still being overseen by Whedon. While he only wrote one of the issues of the Buffy arc, his presence is very much much felt. Best selling author Brad Meltzer, no stranger to the world of super heroes himself after writing Identity Crisis and a year's worth of Justice League of America comics, takes on scripting duties here. If you didn't know any better, you would swear he wrote for the TV show because he picks up the voice of these characters so damn well. There are numerous references to comic book lore throughout these issues including an awesome variant cover by Georges Jeanty paying an homage to the iconic cover of Action Comics #1. Meltzer handles these in a fun manner while still driving the massive exposition needed to explain everything that's going on.
The way that all this is weaved into the slayer mythos is quite impressive. Giles explains that the slayers exist in an effort to balance out the vampires. Just as you can't have light without darkness, you can't have vampires without someone to slay them. Each slayer has been a test from mother nature, searching for the one that will break the mold and ascend to the next level of the evolutionary chain. Buffy became the true chosen one when she did what no other slayer did before her: shared her power. This tipped the scales and they need to be balanced.
Enter Twilight. I'm not going to dance around the issue here because the cover of the book totally spoils it. Twilight is Angel. This came as a total surprise as Angel comics were currently being published by IDW and he had his own ongoing storyline there that took place after his TV show ended. Somehow that all makes sense in a way but Angel has been the one orchestrating the events of the entire series so far. Also, he's got super powers too. Mother Nature sees Angel as the yin to Buffy's yang. The two must go forth together or not at all. There's a price to all of this, though, and it risks the destruction of the slayers and the planet Earth as we know it. But someone else stops by with a way to put an end to all that. That cameo I'm not going to spoil here.
While I had my doubts about this whole setup, the way it's explained works very well. Meltzer is a talented enough writer to make sure that the book isn't bogged down with all the talk that was needed here. There's still a ton of witty dialogue that we all love from this series including several panels that had me laughing out loud.
Meanwhile, Jeanty continues on art duties and although I praised his work in the last volume, it looks like it's back to the same lack of detail and dimension that plagued the previous issues. As with the other characters, Angel often barely looks like David Boreanz. Most of the time I had to squint in an effort to tell who was who as there was barely any detail when there were more than two people in a single panel.
Also included in this volume is the one-shot Willow: Goddesses and Monsters, written by Whedon. This gives us a peek into Willow's journey before the eighth season began. She set out in search of some spiritual answers and paid some dues along the way. This doesn't give us all the information on Willow's back-story but it's a nice story that shows us how Willow ended up on the path she's on. Karl Moline jumps in for pencils and gets to really shine with some of the elementals that our favorite red-headed witch encounters along the way.
This volume of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 sets everything up for the final showdown. It puts all of the characters where they flourish which is in the heat of battle. There are plenty of surprises that will leave you ready to jump head first into the final collection.