At the close of Buffy’s eighth season, Dark Horse had a surly and vocal fanbase on their hands. After four years of experimenting with the Buffy formula, Joss Whedon himself made a solemn vow to get back to basics. Well, we’ve read our review copy and we’re ready to spill the beans. Do we think Joss made good on his promise?
Kidding! I’m kidding! Jeez, put the stake down, lady!
Okay, without spoiling the issue more than it already has been elsewhere, here’s the skinny. The majority of the first issue takes place during a party at Buffy’s new digs and the hung-over day that follows. Other things happen, too, but why spoil the surprise?
While Christos Gage takes more of a third-person omniscient approach with Angel and Faith, Buffy’s first issue, while not a straight up first-person narrative, is very much filtered through Buffy’s perspective. As a result, the issue either lives or dies by how well the reader relates to Buffy and by how well she relates to everyone else.
But who is Buffy now? Gone are the days of stoic, general Buffy and, while she continues to work through her own guilt over the consequences of Season 8, primarily this Buffy is all about putting her best foot forward. She’s reconnecting with old friends, she’s making new friends, and she’s taking furtive steps to rekindle things with all her serious ex-boyfriends who aren’t named Angel. Also, she’s very, very drunk. Shucks howdy, is she drunk.
If anything, Buffy seems most like her season four premiere self here – mostly upbeat, but easily dragged down by her own confusion about where she’s supposed to go next. Drawing that comparison segues us nicely into a big question this issue raises.
Is Buffy ever going to grow up? The issue shows us that the rest of the ensemble has matured. Not Buffy, though. After everything she’s been through, she’s still repeating her classic behavior of retreating back into her child-like self where it’s all jokes and deflection. It’s not time to pass judgment yet since this is only issue one but, at the moment, we’re hoping we see some real growth and maturity from Buffy in the months to come.
On the whole, the comic raises more questions than it answers. Instead of questions like “Who is Twilight”, however, we’re dealing more with stuff like “Can Buffy and Willow still be friends” and “Who’s the mystery guy that lives next door”. Indeed, there are hints and mysteries revolving around many of our character’s interrelationships. There are larger things happening, too, but those take a backseat to the personal fare.
The Twilight arc, boiled down, involved Buffy letting herself get out of control and then having to backtrack to figure out what she did and how to fix it. The story in this issue is very similar, just on a much smaller scale. That’s what Joss promised at the end of Season 8 and, with issue one, he’s kept to that promise. We’ve traded macrocosm for microcosm and it feels good.
All in all, not too shabby. You’ve got our interest, Dark Horse. What’s next?