"Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Volume 8 - Last Gleaming" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James "Spez" Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Originally published as Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 8) #36-40 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Riley.
Written by Joss Whedon, Scott Allie, and Jane Espenson
Illustrated by Georges Jeanty and Karl Moline
2011, 168 Pages
Trade Paperback released on June 14th, 2011
Where do you go when you've literally torn reality apart? You fight until there's nothing left. Such is the case with Last Gleaming, the final volume of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8. Buffy and Angel turned their backs on the new reality that they created through their super-powered affair and a wave of giant demons have rushed into the old universe to claim it as their own. Only one man seems to know how to stop all this and he's shown up in a steampunk spaceship manned by giant bugs. That's right. Spike's back.
This volume starts out with some much needed back-story, providing us with why and how Angel became Twilight, as well as what Spike's been up to for the past few months. They don't explain how he got the spaceship, though, but this is a comic book after all, so you just have to go with it.
It seems that all roads lead to Sunnydale and this one is no different. The gang heads back home to search for the Seed of Wonder, the relic responsible for all magic in this world. No one is exactly sure what to do with it, though. If it's destroyed, this world will be cut off from magic forever. Slayers will still have their powers, but no new ones will be born. Wiccans will be powerless. If they protect it, it's akin to leaving the cork in the bottle. Nothing else will rush in or out. There's a bigger problem, though. The Seed has a protector: You might remember him as the Master from the first season of Buffy.
Last Gleaming is a non-stop action movie where slayers and Wiccans take on a never-ending horde of demons while fighting for their very existence. Some tough choices have to be made and not everyone makes it out alive. There's a moment in this volume where I let out an audible gasp. The end result resets Buffy's status quo entirely.
Georges Jeanty continues to be the one part of this project that just doesn't jive with me. I can get behind Buffy with super powers and Spike leading a group of space bugs, but this guy's art just bothers me. It's consistently uneven and sketchy and he just can't seem to get noses right. Seriously, it looks like someone lobbed Silly Putty on everyone's face. Any panel that's not a closeup looks like a rough outline of the character. Meanwhile, Jo Chen's cover is just out of this world. It's disappointing to see such a great cover to an issue and then dive in to Jeanty's art.
Also included in Last Gleaming is a one-shot issue featuring Riley written by Jane Espenson. Riley wasn't much of an interesting character to begin with, so filling 20 odd pages of story all about him is pretty tough to get through, especially as this issue is placed at the end of the volume instead of at the beginning. It would have been a lot better to read through it before reading the end of the season, not that it provides any essential information. It would just flow better. The issue mainly shows how Riley got in with Angel / Twilight and provides a little more info on what Angel is doing behind the scenes. Karl Moline jumps in on art, but unfortunately there are no demons or monsters for him to draw. His characters look okay, but he really excels at the supernatural, so his talents are wasted here.
All good things must come to an end and such is the case with the eighth season of Buffy. Instead of dragging the series on and trying to suck every last dime from it, Dark Horse allowed creator Joss Whedon to write a finite amount of issues to tell his story. But it's not over. This was the eighth season. The ninth season starts up in a few months and I for one will be waiting.
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