Past demons and giant problems: a review of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Vol. 1: The Long Way Home

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, Vol. 1: The Long Way Home

I recently picked up the first volume of the Dark Horse Comics series Buffy the Vampire Slayer at Half-Price Books. :)

Warning: SPOILERS!

The Long Way Home tradeBuffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, Vol. 1: The Long Way Home by Joss Whedon (writer), Georges Jeanty (penciller), Andy Owens (inker), and Dave Stewart (colorist)

I’m a big Buffy fan, as you can probably guess by my recent spotlight of the current comic book series and my review of Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion. But I need to step back to Buffy’s first outing in what’s considered “season eight,” an extension of the popular television show, only in print. The Long Way Home kicks it off.

Whedon begins the series by giving the main characters a moment to reflect on how leaving Sunnydale and breaking the chain of chosen ones has affected their lives.

“The thing about changing the world…. Once you do it, the world’s all different,” the opening line reads.

We start with Buffy, who’s now called “ma’am” more often than “Buf,” her usual nickname, and who’s leading an army of Slayers these days — not just potentials, but real Slayers. They might possess as much physical power as she does, but they need to learn how to fight together, not separately. Buffy’s experience in battle and knowledge of the demon world sets her ahead of the girls who are now her peers.

A lot has changed with the Scooby gang, too. Xander is a sort of sergeant of the troops, organizing their efforts against vampires and other baddies. His new role is a far cry from the old Xander, who worked construction and lived the most “normal” life of his friends, residing for a long while in his parents’ musty basement. He’s eased comfortably into his new position, and the girls respect him — especially a recruit named Renee.

And Dawn…well, she’s grown. By a large margin. We’re talking giant here, and she’s tight-lipped as to why she’s gone up fifty pant sizes. Of course, knowing Dawn, it probably has to do with her very small need for attention. ;P

A new threat is rising. Not only is there the whisper of something called Twilight, but the government isn’t happy with the “superior race” that’s running around the world. They’ve gone back to Buffy’s hometown (no longer a dot on the map) and enlisted the help of two old enemies to stop the Slayers. It’s a weird tag-team, but it’s a start — one that presents a believable danger to Buffy’s team, particularly her closest friends.

Everyone has a suitable place in the comic, which I like. Except Ethan Rayne. I don’t get his involvement at all.

The story isn’t the best — how did Willow not die, exactly? — but even having a story at all was and is a big deal to Buffy fans. Georges Jeanty is still feeling his way around the artwork, perfecting the characters’ likenesses (his work is highly regarded because of how well he manages to represent the show’s actors). The final issue in this volume doesn’t quite mesh with the rest of the book, but I like it anyway — it’s a look at one of the “decoy” Buffy Summers that the Scoobies planted to confuse their enemies.

Recommendation: A rocky beginning, but a definite read for anyone who loves the TV series. Find it for about $10.

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