In Case You Missed It: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8

I remember being a kid in the ’90s, watching television and seeing commercials for the WB show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and thinking “What is that crazy show?!” but never once watching an episode. That is, until I got Netflix in the summer of 2010. The whole seven season series was (and still is) available for instant streaming, and Matt Rhodes suggested we check it out! He probably later regretted this because I was hooked immediately. Any time he would suggest watching TV, all I wanted to watch was Buffy.  Needless to say, we flew through the series, and I felt as if my world was shattering with the destruction of Sunnydale, the death of Spike, and a new reality in which there are slayers sprouting up all over the place.

Lucky for me, and for all other Buffy fans out there (but mostly me), Joss Whedon had decided to continue the series as a comic through Dark Horse Comics back in 2007, so I didn’t have to wait years to pick back up with my favorite characters. I just had to wait for my eBay purchase of every single issue of Buffy Season Eight to arrive in the mail. So, in case you missed it, here’s what happened in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight.

Buffy Season Eight is broken up into seven main story arcs with several issues/episodes here and there which provide back story, comic relief, and some side stories.

“The Long Way Home” (issues 1-4) catches us up with Buffy and the gang (now accompanied by thousands of new slayers) in Scotland. Dawn is a giant, one-eyed Xander is a watcher to masses of slayers, Amy is a mess, somehow surviving Sunnydale’s destruction, a floating/flying mysterious new villain named “Twilight,” skinless Warren somehow alive. The return of Warren evoked a “WHAT?!” out loud, and “Twilight” made me question whether I was reading Buffy, or the awful teen novel series about sparkly vampires, but alas I read on.

“No Future For You” (issues 6-9) brings Faith into the picture, killing kid-vampires; as well as Principle Wood, and Giles wearing a Yellow Submarine sweatshirt (um, awesome!). Faith goes undercover in the UK where she has to kill another slayer who wants to take over as “Queen” of the slayers by taking out Buffy.

“Wolves at the Gate” (issues 12-15) starts out with Buffy having a lesbian experience with Satsu, another slayer, who lifted a spell on her with true loves kiss (Sleeping Beauty much?). A gang of Japanese vampires who have stolen Dracula’s powers break into the castle in Scotland and steel the scythe. The army of slayers head to Japan to wage war on these vamps (who are planning to make all slayers human again), take back the scythe and kill all of the vampires.

“Time of Your Life” (16-19) turns giant-Dawn into centaur-Dawn, and Buffy gets sent into the future in New York where she meets a slayer, Melaka Fray.  Fray and Buffy fight because they are both being fed different information, and Buffy ends up having to kill Dark Willow, who is centuries old.  We learn that Riley is a double agent, telling Buffy he is her inside man when really he is working for Twilight (this really pissed me off, I was actually mad at Riley, a fictional character!).

The next several issues are all singles, in which Buffy has a cool cartoon dream where we see classic Buffy characters like Cordelia and Principle Snyder, Vampire Harmony gets a TV show on MTV, a rogue slayer causes chaos in Italy, and centaur-Dawn becomes doll-Dawn, then her normal self again.

“Retreat” (issues 26-30) takes everyone to Tibet to be trained how to hide their magic by Oz who has learned to suppress the wolf inside. Twilight, Amy, Warren, Riley, and the military are trying to track them, in order to attach them. Xander and Dawn become a couple (umm, what?) and all of the Wiccans and slayers lose their powers. When Twilight and villain crew show up, they are forced to fight back with regular human strength and military weapons. They summon three wrathful goddesses who end up hurting people on both sides of the battle. Buffy somehow gains the ability to fly, and we learn that Riley was actually a good guy after all!

“Twilight” (issues 32-35) bring us Buffy with super powers (she is literally faster than a speeding bullet), power which she is absorbing from other dying slayers around the world, and Twilight has kidnapped Faith, Giles, and Andrew. Buffy pokes fun at the awful Twilight series (thank god!), and we learn that under his mask, Twilight is actually Angel. Buffy tries to fight him, but they end up glowing, floating, kissing, and fucking. Giles explains that the events are the universe responding to the change in the slayer-demon-vampire balance. Buffy and Angel fuck their way to a place called Twilight, a new reality where they are meant to evolve a new race and a new world, but (typical) Buffy decides to return to her friends and family in the lower plane, where Spike has returned with a bunch of insect peons.

“Last Gleaming” (issues 36-40) concludes season 8. Spike reveals that they must dig up the Seed of Wonder, the source of all the magic in the world, in order to stop the demons which were released when Buffy and Angel’s fucking opened the new dimension. The seed is being held/protected in the rubble of Sunnydale, by The Master. Angel is consumed by a Twilight demon, which leads to him killing Giles (NO!!!), and Buffy destroying The Seed with the scythe in her devastation. The world is now without magic, except for the slayers and demons whose magic is within them. Buffy works at a coffee shop in San Francisco, sleeping on Dawn and Xander’s couch. Many slayers around the world feel betrayed, as does Willow. The world has definitely changed this time, and Buffy is responsible, as usual.

Overall I had some mixed reactions to Buffy Season Eight, but it ended with a bang (pun intended) and I would rather have a less than perfect Buffy continuation than none at all. The cover art is FANTASTIC throughout the season, and if the artists had the time and money to make all the art that perfect, reading the issues would feel and look just like watching episodes. In case you missed it, Buffy Season Eight was a little rough, but it was Buffy, and I’ll never say I didn’t like it. I personally can’t wait to see where it goes in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine!

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Marvel 101: Class Introduction

In 2006, Marvel’s Earth-616 saw a huge paradigm shift in storytelling. Mark Millar wrote a giant Marvel crossover that had been in the works for a few years, Civil War. Other major story lines like Secret War, Avengers: Disassembled, House of M, and Decimation led to building tensions between Captain America and Iron Man, two of the most popular figureheads in Marvel’s repertoire. In the last 6 years, other major events have also happened: Annihilation, Chaos War, Doomwar, Realm of Kings, Secret Invasion, Shadowland, Siege, Spider-Island, Thanos Imperative, Realm of Kings, Necrosha, and Second Coming. The list goes on, but, assuming the world doesn’t end at the end of the year, I intend to teach them to you, including all of the small side stories in between. It’s hard to really get into the nitty gritty details of every aspect of the Marvel Universe from the Timely Publications and Atlas Comics days, so I’m really only going to touch on what I know the most intimately: the last 10 years.

In my opinion, anyone wanting to get started in the Marvel Universe, that already has a basic knowledge of the characters and their primary mission, should start with Secret War. If you don’t know who Nick Fury or Wolverine is, you’ll want to start a little bit earlier, but assuming you know names and nothing else, this is a great beginning. You’ll then want to read Avengers: Disassembled, House of M, and Decimation. As I mentioned before, these are the main books that lead up to Civil War. Also, a new standard for consistent and powerful storytelling comes into existence during this time.

Secret War, the beginning of my timeline, is important because Nick Fury, the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate) goes into hiding because of an illegal coup attempt in Latveria (where Dr. Doom is from). Fury stays underground and silent for years until the events in Secret Invasion. Avengers: Disassembled presents to readers, you, the dissolution of the Avengers team. I have come to believe that this is the first time an event like it has occurred. Heroes have left but the team has never fallen apart. Without getting into as much detail as I would in a separate article, the crisis leads into the House of M crossover. House of M describes a world reworked and rewritten by Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlett Witch (pictured on the left), who is on the brink of a nervous breakdown. House of M ends with the introduction of Layla Miller (she holds important information) and with a vast majority of the mutant population destroyed. All of the suffering leads to an event called Decimation. With 198 mutants left in the world and no X-genes anywhere to be found, the mutant population, especially the X-men, are forced to look out for each other more than ever.

After thoroughly enjoying those four events, Civil War would be the next best bet for a new reader. After, any of the Marvel titles are arguably fair game. There are the classic titles like Fantastic Four, Uncanny X-men, Amazing Spiderman, and Invincible Iron Man but there are lesser known titles that warrant just as much attention: X-Factor, X-Force, Daredevil, Deadpool, Immortal Iron Fist, and Secret Warriors, just to name a few. Let’s also keep in mind that not all of these have 100’s of issues for you to read. Iron Fist ran for just 27 issues while Secret Warriors ran for just 28. Both are some of my favorite reads and I guarantee there will be “lectures” on them as well.

The Marvel Universe is indeed a universe. Sometimes we, as readers, forget that confirmed alien species exist within it and their own conflicts won’t always center on Earth. In the past we’ve been introduced to the Kree, Skrull, Brood, and Phalanx, amongst others. On top of the alien species, there are holy deities from every religion inhabiting Earth. Most popular are the Norse, you know them as Thor, Loki, and Odin. Universal “functions” and constants also exist that help to keep the entire universe in balance. Beings like Galactus (The World Eater), Tenebrous, the Phoenix Force, and the Celestials help to ensure cosmic order unless the “Abstract Concepts” get involved. The abstracts are physical representations of, well, concepts. Death, Eternity, and Infinity are all “characters” in the Marvel Universe that play a role in everything that is.

As you can tell by this thorough and somewhat complex introduction, the Marvel Universe is a vast, vast place. As I continue to indulge my passion and your interest about different titles and crossovers, I hope that you will begin to slowly fall in as much love with Marvel as I have.

Happy reading,

Will