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!

Review: The Cabin in the Woods [No Spoilers!]

Sometimes a genre of film becomes so overused that the only possible next step for it is to delve into the realm of parody. Horror has most definitely been a casualty of such circumstance, and to a greater extent so has its sub-genres. It happened to the slasher with Scream, whose extreme subversion and comical clichés wholly brought about the genre’s death almost immediately, and it also happened to the zombie genre with Shaun of the Dead, whose quirky and dark humor overshadowed subtle jabs at the film’s more serious counterparts. The Cabin in the Woods attempts such parody with these and many of the other sub-genres of horror, but ultimately pushes past any and all boundaries.

Under the creative directing and writing of Cloverfield’s Drew Goddard and Buffy’s Joss Whedon, The Cabin in the Woods really shines as a horror genre buster. The overt cliché of teens going away to an isolated cabin is the main focus here, as one could garner from the name, and pays homage to some of the greats – Friday the Thirteenth, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, the not very well known Cube and of course, Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead. Yet, what makes this movie truly amazing is that it combines various other aspects of horror along with science fiction, which is used partly as a narrative mechanism to give logic to everything that happens to the teens.

Every interaction the teens engage in around the cabin activates a clichéd outcome, whether they are reading strange Latin from a diary, which raises the dead from their graves, or solving a puzzle sphere that summons a hellish creature (both of which are very Lovecraftian in essence). The film pokes fun at the very clichés that inspired it through their executions, while at the same time making obvious their stagnating presence in the horror genre. Of course, this is all supplemented by the controlling party’s knowledge of, and power over, what is going to happen to the teens. The comedic, office-buddy duo of Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford really get the laughs going through their explicit expression of what evil is going to pop up next – almost in the same vein as MST3K – while at the same time giving clues to the audience as to the overarching purpose of their actions. The teens themselves add to the comedy as well through their stereotyped and role-specific characterizations, which is partly caused by the people behind everything. All of their responsive actions are reflections of what the average stupid teen would think of doing in the films that CitW pays homage to, while at the same time offering up a sort of character-revealed, meta-reflexive insight that works against these clichés and turns them into moments of pure comedy.

Goddard and Whedon obviously came into this project with the intention of raising a giant middle finger to the declining horror genre, while simultaneously revitalizing it through a unique mish-mash of its various aspects. They succeeded terrifically. The Cabin in the Woods is equal parts scary, funny, and weird with a strongly knit, yet overly fast-paced narrative that keeps your attention sharp for its whole ninety-five minutes of run time. If you’re a huge fan of horror, you’ll have no problem picking out the multitudinous references that are scattered, both obviously and subtly, throughout the film. It definitely takes a bit of knowledge regarding the horror genre to appreciate everything they attempt to convey, which may be off-putting for some, but The Cabin in the Woods is undeniably a visual treat for anyone that enjoys a well-made and detailed parody.

Trust me, go see it before any of it gets ruined for you. You’ll be happy you did.

Score: 9.5 out of 10

First Soundgarden Song in 15 Years, Hear it Here!

Man, has it really been 15 years since we’ve heard a new Soundgarden song? It sure as hell seems like it, but damn does time fly.

With The Avengers releasing in exactly one month from today, “Live to Rise” is the first single off of the soundtrack.

Sadly, it doesn’t seem all that impressive. I guess that’s how most comebacks go, though.

Let us know what you think in the comments below and stay tuned for more coverage on the upcoming Avengers release.