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Re-buffed ‘Buffy’ continues in comic book series

Marcela Berrios | Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Buffy the vampire slayer is slaying vampires again.

The television series may have ended in 2003, but the blonde heroine with the arsenal of stakes and sharp punch lines returned in 2007 with more adventures – but this time, on comic book stands.

Series creator Joss Whedon launched the anticipated eighth season of the series in print last March, enlisting the help of Dark Horse Comics to pick up the storyline where the television finale had left it.

“When you create a universe, you don’t stop living in that universe. I know a lot of the fans didn’t,” Whedon told the Chicago Tribune. “But I was surprised to find myself back in it so firmly as well.”

He certainly made a firm comeback.

For people who memorized Buffy dialogue and dissected the characters’ psyches throughout the series’ seven-year run, the first two installments of the paperback eighth season are absolutely delightful.

Comic book Buffy sounds like Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Buffy, talking about hairstyles as she teaches her apprentice slayers about martial arts.

“One slayer fighting alone is formidable. Two is formidabler,” she tells them. “Three? Mega-formidable. And after mega, it goes to mondo, then super, hyper, beaucoup d’, crazy, stupid. … It gets exponentially prefixy.”

Fans of the series will cry after reading those lines because that tone and diction epitomize Buffy dialogue, and after a four-year hiatus, it’s back in full force.

Buffy’s steadfast sidekick, Xander Harris, is also back, sporting commando gear by day, duckling pajamas by night and the eye patch he began wearing in the TV series.

The eye patch and his role as the commander of Buffy’s legion of clandestine slayers have Xander asking his subordinates to call him Sergeant Fury, alluding to Marvel Comics super spy Nick Fury.

“Buffy” buffs’ happiness could only be completed now by the appearance of Buffy’s former vampire flames, Angel and Spike, in the near future, which Whedon has promised. In fact, as Buffy falls into a spell that can only be broken by the kiss of true love toward the end of the second issue, Whedon may get the opportunity to keep his promise in next month’s book.

But there are other storylines that can keep readers busy before Buffy’s romantics take center stage again. For example, the federal government has branded the slayer and her followers terrorists operating in cells scattered across the globe, blaming them for the destruction of Buffy’s hometown, Sunnydale, Calif., in the last television episode.

Up until this point fans might have settled for the comic books as a satisfactory form of continuation for the Buffy universe but the majority of them is probably convinced the television series would always be Buffy’s optimal avenue.

After re-reading the first two issues, however, fans might find themselves warming up to the comic books more than they expected.

Budget and technology restraints would’ve made a giant-sized teenager impossible for the television series – but the comic book illustrators drew one with ease, blowing up the youngest of the Summers sisters, Dawn, to a Gulliver-in-Lilliput size as part of her subplot.

Moreover, the monsters Buffy has battled in the comic books already surpass the ones Gellar’s stunt double fought. In print, Buffy can jump out of helicopters and battle dragon-like creatures at no extra cost and without resorting to digital effects that would have been obsolete when the show aired.

In the third issue, readers can expect to see a witch-against-witch duel and the slayers battle against a legion of zombies. Again, the pencils alone will determine the scale of these melees.

The script is well written, the graphics are eye candy and the wit and characters that made the television series No. 41 in TV Guide’s “50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time” are all present.

The eighth season is, without any doubt, a five by five.