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The Great Buffy the Vampire Slayer Review

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With Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 hitting shelves a couple of weeks ago and the first issue of  Angel and Faith Season 10 hitting tomorrow, I decided to share my thoughts on the previous nine series of Buffy, compromising of nine seasons, split between seven TV and two comics. And wow. What a journey it’s been. Up until March 18 I had only watched up to Season 3 of Buffy, which meant in order to contribute this article I’d have to do literally nothing but watch and read Buffy for the next couple of weeks. And, despite all the problems, I think I may have successfully managed it. But without further ado, let’s crack on with the spoiler free review/recap – and I’ll start right at the beginning.

Seasons Covered:  Buffy the Vampire Slayer Seasons 1-9, Angel and Faith Season 9

Season 1

The Scooby Gang, in Season 1

The Scooby Gang, in Season 1

This is quite frankly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer at its worst. Compromising of only twelve episodes that are very diverse in quality, it in retrospect is a miracle that this show ever got renewed for a second season based on Season 1. However, despite that – there are several positives to take away from this season.

First of all, it introduces us to Buffy Summers (Sarah Michael Gellar) for the first time. With her mother, Joyce – she’s moved to Sunnydale from L.A. and joins the local high school. Quickly becoming friends with Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) and Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon), and new watcher Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) – Buffy welcomes us to the Hellmouth with an opening two parter that introduces us to the series to come. The series is lighter and cheesier than the others, with plenty of innocence and charm to keep it watchable – if only just.

Regardless of what situation, the smartly written dialogue, especially when written by showrunner Joss Whedon, really shines with several amusing one liners. It’s his trademark, and that should by now surprise nobody. The core concepts of the show is simple as the title suggests, it’s about Buffy slaying vampires. She’s the Slayer, a superhuman girl with the power to defeat creatures of the night. Each Slayer must have a Watcher, and that Watcher in this case, Sunnydale High’s Librarian, Giles. Giles is portrayed by Anthony Stewart Head, who going into this show was the only actor that I had previous experience with – in Doctor Who’s School Reunion, as the opponent for the tenth Doctor, and more notably in another BBC show, Merlin – where he played Arthur’s father, King Uther.

For me, Giles was really the highlight of Season 1, along with Willow and along with Giles, really presented us with some awesome characters. However, they aren’t especially developed ones in this season, with the most developed character going to of course Buffy – by the end of Season 1 her character has greatly improved and developed from the opening episode, and it clearly shows just how well developed she is compared to the rest of the cast.

The show also pulls off the human in love with a vampire concept a heck of a lot better than Twilight and any other young adult nowadays, and whilst it’s not fully explored in season one the concept is there. Angel (David Boreanaz), a vampire with a soul –  is unfortunately relegated to just Buffy’s love interest and never gets to shine as a character early on – which is at least good in certain aspects mainly because Boreanaz starts off as a pretty poor actor. However, like the show itself – he gets better.

The first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer adopts a monster of the week formula. The two-part opener Welcome to the Hellmouth and Harvest is one of the strongest of the season – setting the ground running before unfortunately following up with weaker instalments in the form of Teacher’s Pet and I Robot, You Jane – which are both among the worst episodes of the entire series. Aside from Prophecy Girl, the series finale, none of the episodes are really memorable compared to what we see in later seasons, but this season regardless is an okay start for Buffy.

The main villain for Season One of Buffy is the Master, and this character is quite frankly one of the weaker ones compared to what we’re given later on. He sometimes comes across as pretty cheesy in times and really underwhelming – and never really feels threatening. Another villain, The Anointed One, also is present, but he isn’t really worth talking about in this season and never really has a great impact on the overall series.

The positives of Buffy’s first season are few, but they’re notable. The innocence, fun and charm that some later seasons don’t have as much of is there, and the clever dialogue is always good. Buffy gets good character development, even if the rest of the cast don’t, and there are some episodes that really have some good underlying themes. But the negative aspects far outweigh the positives – there is limited character growth and deeper insight, with plenty of extremely flawed episodes and virtually no plot momentum. And a large portion of this season also boasts considerable amounts of cheese, and very poor production values. In short, if you’re new to Buffy, you’re better off watching as minimal series one episodes as possible before getting stuck into series two. Because trust me when I say this – this show turns in quality around big time, and you’ll want to stick with it. Fans who have seen the series will agree with me as well – the payoff is great.

Season 2

This is where the real quality begins to shine in Buffy with some truly fantastic episodes throughout. Now with the major players introduced,

Buffy Summers, Vampire Slayer.

Buffy Summers, Vampire Slayer.

Buffy begins fleshing the characters out in more depth. We get better fight scenes, better plot, better characters and better everything. Whilst the first half of the season is filled with episodes that are a mixed bag, but are still at their worst mildly entertaining – pretty much everything post Surprise is top notch stuff.

On the whole season two is possibly my favourite out of all of Buffy, and it’s easy to see why when you’re watching it – especially when it contains arguably one of the greatest series finales in television history.

There are three major new characters introduced in this season, the teenage werewolf/Willow’s love interest Oz (Seth Green), badass British vampire Spike (James Masters) and unhinged female vampire Drusilla (Juliet Landau). As well as these three, Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) – the spoiled rich girl from season one, also gets fleshed out more as a character and by the end of the season is pretty much fully integrated in the Scooby Gang, the phrase that Willow coined.

Out of the above characters, Spike is probably the biggest breakout character. When he arrives in Sunnydale in School Hard, he immediately feels a lot more threatening and fun than The Master. We learn that he used to serve under Angel back when he was Angelus, and as a result a lot of tension between the two characters is there. Spike’s development never really takes off until the series finale Becoming though – which is a shame, but he’s still an enjoyable character. Drusilla doesn’t have a bigger role as him, but still has plenty of screen time on the whole.

Oz was also a good new addition to the Scooby Gang as a cast. It’s tough to introduce new characters to a core established group but Whedon and company manage it very well indeed. Jenny Calendar (Robia LaMorte), a love interest for Giles, also gets fleshed out in this season – with some decent character development. The big main talking point about this series is the Buffy/Angel development. As I’m keeping this coverage as spoiler free as possible I won’t go into detail as to what happens, but there is massive development in both of these characters over the course of the series, and a large part of this is just why Becoming is just so great.  It’s easily one of the highlights of the whole series. There are several positive talking points about this series. When She Was Bad is an excellent opening episode, with School Hard – introducing Spike and Drusilla, also being a good one. Halloween provides an amusing look at what happens when the characters turn into their Halloween costumes – but despite this, every episode in this series will be overshadowed by Becoming – both parts of it. It’s just that great.

Of course, there are negatives in Season 2 – no season can be perfect after all.  Go Fish is the season at its weakest, which is a real shame especially as it became before the two-parter. There are a few moments where production values could have been improved, but on the whole – Season 2 is still great. It’s also quite emotional as well, and packs a heavy punch.

Season 3

Faith, Badass Rebel Slayer.

Faith, Badass Rebel Slayer.

Season 3, whilst not quite as strong as Season 2, does have several key points and that is firstly that there is no bad episode among its ranks. It also marks a bigger improvement for overall story arcs, and proves that it can shift between the fun and the serious without it feeling obvious.

The most notable thing about Season 3 is its introduction of new characters like Faith (Eliza Dushku) and Anya (Emma Caulfield). Faith is the replacement Slayer for Kendra, who was a relatively minor character in season two. She brings a different take to the table from both Buffy and Kendra, representing a more unhinged, anti-authoritarian figure with a wonderful arc that is really one of the high points of the season. Anya is a different character entirely.  Whilst she was originally human, she was now a vengeance demon known as Anyanka, wreaking havoc with wishes granted by women. Her first appearance was in possibly one of the strongest episodes of the entire series, The Wish, where Cordelia wishes that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale. It introduces a nightmare reality where The Master rules – and Xander and Willow are vampires, his henchmen. Giles and Oz are the only resisting characters against the Master’s will, with Angel having been captured. It also shows just how frightening an evil Willow can be, which is of course explored in a lot more depth in later seasons.

And what makes matters better is that The Wish is not the only good element of Season 3. All the episodes are incredibly strong – Bad Candy, where all the adults are reduced to teenagers – is a very fun episode (Giles and Principal Snyder as teenagers are especially awesome) and Doppelgangland – which features the return of Vampire Willow after a spell gone wrong, was always fun. And then of course you have the Graduation Day two-part episode, which was fantastic and whilst not quite the level of Becoming, was still a great way to end the season. The characters all continue to undergrow great development over the course of the series.

This is a good season for Willow especially, as we witness her development and use in the magical arts. Whilst Giles and Angel’s arcs throughout the season are mainly focused upon their respective relationships with Buffy, the titular character does get of course some good development. Xander also has a strong role to play this season – and even gets a decent episode focused around his character in The Zeppo. However, there are a few problems. I won’t go into specifics but both Buffy and Angel’s returns following the finale are underwhelming and could have been pulled off better, as well as the relationship between Willow and Xander never really worked over the course of the season. But on the whole, season three remained a strong season, consistently fun and entertaining throughout. The ‘big bad’ villain this time around wa

s The Mayor. The countdown to his Ascension was pulled off very well indeed and is really the overall arc for the series. He’s a lot more fun than the Master – even if not quite threatening enough as Season 2’s big bad and comes off pretty entertaining indeed. However, this will always be Faith’s season – her arc is pulled off wonderfully well indeed, and there are several strong points as the writers develop her character.

Rupert Giles, Buffy's Watcher

Rupert Giles, Buffy’s Watcher.

Season 4

Now in its fourth season, the Scoobies are done with High School and have moved onto College. The Freshman sets up Buffy, Willow and Oz in their new life and the season arc focuses around the plot of the Initiative. There are some standout individual episodes in Season 4 with possibly one of the best of the entire series, Hush – found within. We get great character development across mostly all parties and there is some excellent elements of humour, particularly in the Whedon-written episodes, played within the series. The opening episode, The Freshman, is a prime example.

Buffy and Willow are distracted whilst waiting for a vampire to rise from the grave discussing College courses and the vampire notices that Buffy is a Slayer before attacking her and sneaks away. Whilst this isn’t the strongest episode of Season 4 in the overall scheme of things it’s a solid new beginning that does an excellent job of setting up the arc. There are really some standout individual episodes here and it’s not just Hush – where everyone in Sunnydale loses their voice and the Gentlemen monsters attack – this season has some real gems. Restless, the season finale, is the most important episode of Season 4 and really works – and as a matter of fact, along with Who Are You and Hush, these three are the biggest and most important episodes of Season 4. This season took risks throughout and the risks really did pay off – with the end result being very enjoyable. Also, out of all the seasons so far, 4 is definitely the funniest. The Freshman again was an awesomely written in terms of humour – even if it did have some flawed concepts in terms of execution overall plot. Right from the first exchange between Buffy and Willow in a Sunnydale Cemetery to Xander trying to tell Oz and Willow that Buffy was under attack by vampires without raising suspicion from a new roommate. Hush also had some good comedic moments, with an exchange between Giles and Spike about why Giles is out of Weetabix Cereal.

The most changed character over the course of the series is arguably Willow. Tara plays a big role in Season 4 following the departure of Oz in connection with Willow and we really get to see her delve into magic for the first time. She takes a massive leap over the course of the season and there are several elements of foreshadowing as to what will happen with her in Season 5. Meanwhile, this is also a big season for Buffy with lots of development that her character has to undergo. The impact that College has on her life as a Slayer affects her from the get go in The Freshman and the results really play out from there. But whilst this is underway – Season 4 doesn’t focus on Buffy’s personal issues, but instead focuses on relationships and external problems that come with them. This takes a break from what has happened in the past and allows for a return to these elements in Season 5.

However, there are a few problems in this season as a whole.There’s too much cheese throughout the series, with a lack of big emotional moments. There’s no real sense of danger that was present in say Seasons 2 or 3. We don’t get the feeling that the Initiative are a real danger to the Scoobies, which is in a way, a good thing – due to the fact that things are about to take a lot darker turn. Whilst there are excellent episodes in Season 4, there are also some poor ones, with Where the Wild Things Are being the notable standout in terms of quality (or a distinct lack of) since Go Fish, but on the whole aside from one misfit most of the episodes in this season are fairly solid.

Season 5

Spike - one of the breakout characters from Buffy's second season.

Spike – one of the breakout characters from Buffy’s second season.

Season 5 is another good season in terms of quality. Unlike Season 4 it has a good long arc, with some good character work particularly when it comes from Buffy, Willow and Spike. Like Season 4 there are some strong standalone episodes – but there are a few weak ones here and there.

On the whole, Season 5 is one of the better seasons of Buffy with some stellar qualities throughout, with each season before 5 has had some problems. The cheesy elements of season 1 let it down whilst season 2’s first half had the odd weak episode. However, Season 5 has everything as I’ve already mentioned in terms of quality – it quite frankly is one of the best. Maybe not the best, but it’s certainly up there.

From Buffy vs. Dracula, the first episode, to The Gift, the very last – Season 5 is full of some good themes and excellent consistency. There are no weak episodes throughout and every single one is pretty solid indeed. There is some good character work here and Buffy, Willow and Spike as already mentioned really standout. This is a big season for Buffy in particular with The Gift,  the finale, having some life-changing moments that will impact the rest of the series. Her character development is incredibly strong and she really changes over the course of the season, growing and evolving even further.

The same can also be said for Willow – no longer the little, innocent character of the group she’s now a really developed , a lot more threatening and uses magic a lot more confidently. I’m keeping this review spoiler free so I won’t go into the specifics but as big as this season is for Buffy, it’s just as big for Willow. She’s never going to be the same character again. Both these characters are great examples of how you can change somebody over the course of the series to the point where they’re clearly different when some in weaker shows spend whole series without developing at all. Other characters also have their moments as well. Anya is consistently fun throughout the series, Giles develops over time, even getting his own sports car in Real Me as he explores new elements in teaching Buffy. He feels a lot more useful than Season 4 and has some good involvement throughout the series.

Dawn however, a newcomer – doesn’t really hit the right note in terms of development. She comes across as a plot device and is really annoying in places – right from her introduction in Real Me. And aside from one episode, Season 4 newcomer Tara just plays the role of Willow’s girlfriend for the season. However, she still manages to get some vital development that will pay off further down the line. Standout episodes from Season 5 are of course The Gift, the fantastic finale – but also early episodes like Fool for Love. This season even has the novelty of pitting Buffy against Dracula – something that fans of the series have probably been waiting for this showdown since day one.

However, there are a few weak elements of Season 5. The Knights of Byzantium feel too unrealistic even for the Buffy verse, which is a real shame because they could have been utilized better as characters. There’s also the occasional episode where the overarching season plot doesn’t really advance as much as one would like, for example we’re left with several questions when the season’s villain, Glory isn’t really doing anything when she’s been beaten by the Scoobies after Blood Ties.

Season 6

Moving onto Season 6 now, this season has one of the greatest episodes of Buffy and if I was making a list of Top 5 it would probably be Hush,

Willow Rosenberg, one of Buffy's oldest friends.

Willow Rosenberg, one of Buffy’s oldest friends.

The Gift, The Wish, Becoming (counting Parts One and Two) and of course Once More With Feeling. It’s just exceptional – sure, whilst not all of the cast can sing very well, it’s a great musical episode that’s a lot of fun and takes real risks that pay off even if most of the cast can’t sing. Buffy’s character development is also great in Season 6 with some great exploration of her character in particular, but Willow doesn’t quite hit the top marks in her arc which suffers this season after two stellar ones which is a real shame.

Dawn still doesn’t improve as a character and as a result suffers – much like the quality of the mid-season episodes – with Wrecked being one of the weakest of the season. The other characters are also mostly pulled off well throughout this season. Xander and Anya have good seasons this time around but Giles lacks a strong arc. Spike doesn’t really grow anymore than he did in Season 5 so in terms of character development the end result is a mixed bag, which is a disappointment.

However, one character who developed over the course of this season was Tara, even if this is her last. Never fully utilised in Seasons 4 and 5 her arc in Season 6 was great. Kicking off with an excellent two-part episode in the form of Bargaining, Season 6 really works with some good episodes. Normal Again is a highlight and is something that just falls short of my Top 5 episode category – and makes Buffy question her own reality when she wakes up in a mental asylum. Is Sunnydale real, or is it all in Buffy’s head? It is a great question and really works in terms of a good episode, even if the plot has been done before in a variety of shows.

There are a few weak individual episodes of Season 6 and you get the feel that it never quite reaches the height in terms of overall quality of the earlier seasons. Dead Things is the only thing that saves Season 6’s middle section from being a waste of space, with some bland and forgettable episodes that are fortunately not quite as weak as early episodes in the season. As well as Dead Things, Normal Again and Once More With Feeling, After Life is also a great addition to the best of season 6. It concludes Bargaining’s opening two-part arc from the person behind Earshot and allows for a great performance from Sarah Michelle Gellar in particular. Whilst you could argue that The Gift makes a great ending to the series Season 6 still has some great episodes that we would not have got otherwise.

Season 7

Angel, A Vampire so popular he would later star in his own show.

Angel, A Vampire so popular he would later star in his own show.

The final season of the TV series is Season 7 and it’s not the strongest. With a stalled plot momentum despite a stronger emphasis on plot as opposed to character development and loads of breaks in writing quality, this season suffers and really doesn’t deliver a good conclusion to what has been an excellent show.

However, there are still some great moments in Season 7, even if none of its episodes will reach my Top 5 episode list for the series. Season 7 gives us the worst episode since Where the Wild Things Are, The Killer in Me. Empty Places and End of Days are also not as solid as they should have been – especially with End of Days being the series penultimate episode, but the opening episodes from Lessons to Bring on the Night are all impressive. It’s got some divisive episodes but no great ones to balance it out unlike Season 6, which is a real shame. However, that doesn’t stop there from being any good episodes – Conversations with Dead People and Lies My Parents Told Me are highlights.

The closure to Buffy and Spike’s character arc is exceptional. The relationship has really grown and developed over the course of the series and is one of the highlights of Season 7. Whilst there are some poor episodes Season 7 does handle character arcs reasonably well – Faith, Giles, Spike, Xander and Willow all get good character developments. However they’re not as strong as they could have been, and that’s mainly thanks to the weak plot that suffered due to the main attention cast upon it. Season 7 certainly comes near the bottom in terms of quality – above Season 1 and maybe level or just below Season 6. I

t does have some good moments such as a good thematic link and Buffy’s development in particular – but for every good aspect there’s a flaw, with underdeveloped new characters not really working as well as they should. It’s safe to say that Season 7 is not a satisfactory conclusion to Buffy’s long run. The pointless lead that makes us think that Giles is the main series’ villain – The First, doesn’t really work – and there is a distinct lack of character focus towards the end of the series where it really should have become at the forefront.

The biggest problem with Season 7 is that it had the potential to be superb – but instead, we were given a letdown that doesn’t end the Season as well as it should. Whilst no way is Season 7 a bad season with still some enjoyable episodes, you just get the feeling of wasted potential. It’s decent, but can’t match the quality of seasons 2-6. Chosen however is a decent send-off – it’s not quite the best series finale of a show ever, but neither is it the worst. Could it have been better? Yes, I think is the answer to that. But regardless, it still had some fun moments and provided a nice end to the season.

Season 8

Just because the TV series may be over, doesn’t mean that the adventure of Buffy and company can keep on going. We’re now going to switch

Come Season 8, It was time for a change in format.

Come Season 8, It was time for a change in format.

to coverage of the comics – from season 8 onwards, which I was able to cover thanks to digital review copies from the awesome Dark Horse Comics. Season 8 picks up where 7 left off and continues the adventures of Buffy Summers and company, in an entirely new medium of canon. We can no longer base reviews on episodes, but on issues, which are much shorter and best read as a collective whole. A lot more depends on the writer and artists, with the creative team being utterly essential to tell a good story. And it certainly helps when handling the adaption to have Joss Whedon (among other writers like Brian K. Vaughan) handling the script for Season 8.

The first Library Edition of  S8 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer collects #1-10. It’s a pretty good collection, and with the benefit of having the head writer comes the benefit of having the same person who has created these characters originally, meaning that you get a good understanding of what makes the likes of Buffy, Xander, Giles, Willow, Dawn and more tick. On top of that we get more over-the-top action sequences that would never be possible with a TV Budget, and Dawn who has become a giant to add to the proceedings. The world has certainly changed for the Scoobies by now and that’s become more apparent in the comics than the TV show now that we’ve made that transition, and following the apocalyptic finale, we now have a destroyed crater where Sunnydale used to be and an army of slayers under the command of Buffy.

The core cast gets plenty to do during this first volume. Xander manages the slayers a command HQ in an abandoned Scotland Castle, making Nick Fury references (he prefers the Howling Commandos days of the character) and Dawn is dealing with the problems of being cursed and turned into a Giant by an ex-boyfriend. The main enemy in this volume is Amy, an evil-crazed witch and her boyfriend – who launch an attack against the gang. And on top of that we also have to deal with an Initiative-esque Army, who are not all on Buffy’s side. The plot of Volume 1 shifts to several viewpoints over the course of the narrative and really works, keeping up the high quality set by the TV show and making up for the below-par ending of Season 7.

The artwork by Georges Jeanty is a lot better, oddly than his work in the recent mini-series Serenity: Leaves on the Wind and I ended up enjoying his take on the Buffy characters a lot more than the crew of Serenity, and some of his panels are good indeed. Whilst they are not equal to having the characters in live action on the screen, we could have done with a lot worse in terms of art.

The second Library Edition continues on from where the first ended, with work from the same creative team, collecting #11-20 as well as a Willow-centric one-shot. It still feels like it could easily be in the spirit of the TV series and continues the groundwork laid in the first volume, with huge and expansive plotlines to boot. It feels and looks good, never being out of place in terms of overall quality or content, which helps because of the good consistency laid down by the creative team.

The army of slayers is heavily organized and they’re fighting obstacles that continue to increase over time, whilst Twilight – the main villain, is building up in strength. Long gone are the Sunnydale-centric plotlines as this book moves fully into the global setting – first the team go to Tokyo, and then to New York, before Buffy finds herself right in the middle of a dystopian future. For such a larger scale plotline you’d think it would lose track on the original quality of the series, but Whedon manages to maintain the high level of expectation created, supported by the good artwork by Jeanty throughout.

Volume Three continues the plot of season 8 even further, and we’re firmly away from Monster of the Week serialized episodes now into an ongoing, overarching plot threads. This issue collects #21-30 of Season 8 but this volume is on the whole, probably weaker than the previous two as the series starts to lose its momentum. Jeanty’s artwork sometimes makes it harder to tell which character is which in places – and the creativity that’s restricted with the small screen continues to be utilised here in a great way. However, the plot feels like one action movie after another, and we’re starting to get to the point where Whedon has gone too big in scale, falling back on clichés such as the Slayers being a danger to society.

Whilst Volume Three still maintained the humour that the series is known for, and the characterizations are still there, the book on a whole felt like a weak entry which was a shame given what Whedon is capable of. This Volume also makes it more obvious that it’s no longer all about Buffy anymore, with so many characters to keep track of it often feels like the storylines are harder to follow with characters not getting as much attention as they need – which is a real shame, because one of the series’ main strengths was its attention to character development.

Volume Four is the final entry in Season 8 and reveals the Big Bad during the second major encounter between Buffy and Twilight. Bringing Angel and Spike back into the fold, this last entry collects #31-40 and the Riley one-shot, which rounds off the series as a whole. There’s a high body count which will not please everyone who are fans of certain characters but on the whole it’s a fairly decent wrap up to series 8, completing the first full comics series. It’s difficult to compare the comics to the small screen due to the fact that they’ve had so many differences, but for the large part, Season 8 has been a successful continuation of Buffy canon, even it suffers from the problem of escalation in the latter halves of the volumes.

Season 9

When

Whedon stuck with Buffy for its ninth season.

Season 9 is the last completed season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer before it enters its tenth season. The second comics-exclusive series, the season opens with the Freefall arc finding Buffy and company in a San Francisco in a world without magic – with a lot more focus on the lead star this time, as she attempts to find a place in the world while still being a slayer.

Wow. A lot has happened since we first started with Welcome to the Hellmouth over the course of these nine seasons and (not including Angel & Faith Season 9), we’ve almost reached the end with just one season to go. Joss Whedon is handling writing duties like Season 8 as it gets off to a strong start, looking at the fallout from the previous season as it really helps the reader do what Whedon does best, make the readers connect and root for the title character. Trouble is brewing in the background – but the main focus of Season 9 is its characters, which makes a good change from Season 8.

One of the best issues in Season 9 was issue six, which was pulled off incredibly well when Buffy got a pregnancy test come through as positive. It’s handled very well and in the end the character is forced to make a controversional decision. However, this is undermined by what happened in the very next issue – and proves that even the best plot can be ruined by a stupid follow up – which won’t be spoiled here. Following this, the stories start to take a dip in quality – with several weak storylines coming into play here and there that make the counterpart Angel & Faith Season 9 a heck of a lot superior than the main Buffy series. If not for its strong start, Season 9 would probably be weaker than 8 – but on the whole, this volume, despite its flaws – manages to be a very interesting addition to the Buffyverse in terms of canon. It has its moments, there’s no denying that, but you can’t help but get the feeling that it could have been pulled off a lot better.

The series also introduces the concept of Zompires – which is exactly as awesome as it sounds, crossing the mix of Zombies and Vampire very nicely indeed. The season itself is relatively back to basics after the over-the-top extravaganza of Season 8, and it pays off. Whilst Georges Jeanty is again on artistic duties he does put out a decent showing in this book – much like Season 8, and the end result is pretty much a mixed bag in terms of content. But as the most recent fully completed Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season, 9 is ultimately a great example of showing just how far things have come since the pilot episode and arguably there hasn’t been another series that’s achieved the same sort of success in terms of character development (you could make a valid case for George RR Martin’s  A Song of Ice and Fire, however – and I’m sure there are a few more) – making this a good experience if you’re a Buffy fan who wants to see the storyline continue following the end of the show. Whilst Season 8 and 9 may have not quite lived up to the majority of the show (possibly Seasons 1 and 7 aside) they are still entertaining to read and it’s great to see the continuing adventures of Buffy, whatever the medium.

Angel & Faith Season 9

Angel and Faith got their own comic for Season 9.

Angel and Faith got their own comic for Season 9.

Angel and Faith Season 9 focuses on the titular characters – taking a break from the main Buffy cast, who were whilst present in Season 8, didn’t get as much attention as the rest of the Scooby Gang and it ultimately made sense that these two characters got their own ongoing series as we enter Season 9, meaning that Buffy fans can either pick which adventure to follow depending on their favourite characters, or just follow them both.

Compromising of #1-25, Angel & Faith Season 9 is written by Christos Gage, who is the current writer of Buffy Season 10, so it was the first in-canon Buffy comic series not to be written by Joss Whedon. This Volume contains a major spoiler for the end of Season 8 that is going to be avoided here, but allows for some good fun continuation of the series as Angel and Faith both divert from the main path of the central group, taking both Vampire and Slayer to London. This series itself is canonically a part of Season 9, and as the books go on, we really get the characters fleshed out further and further – Gage captures them wonderfully well and it really was a no brainer why he was given writing duties for Season 10 – he’s one of those writers that deserves a lot more attention yet constantly seems to fly under the radar compared to A-List creators like Brian Michael Bendis and Scott Snyder, (and while that is obvious because the former is working on the main X-Men titles while the former is working on the main Batman title and Gage has no solo ongoing at either of the big two so far) he should be on that level – I’m yet to be disappointed by what Gage has given us so far and Angel & Faith manages to yet again be another wonderful read.

The dynamics between the main characters, Angel and Faith – are pulled off very well indeed. Faith has quickly risen to become one of my favourite characters in the Buffyverse over the course of this series and it’s great to see her and Angel working together very well. Whilst the plot of Angel seeking redemption is somewhat typical and nothing really original, falling into the trap of being a bit too generic at times – it still manages to be mildly entertaining especially when you considered that the artistic team was  also exceptional on this book. Like Gage has moved onto Buffy Season 10, so has Rebekah Isaacs, and it’s clear to see why – her artwork is very awesome and she does a much better job than Georges Jeanty as she, along with Dan Jackson and Steve Morris, really help capture the look and feel of the characters, and it’s easily identifiable who’s who – with the dark palette really conveying the theme of the book perfectly.

Conclusion

That’s a wrap then, on the Great Buffy the Vampire Slayer review/catch-up. Phew. That’s a lot of typing, and almost 6.6k words. My favourite episodes of the series have been The Wish, The Gift, Becoming (both parts), Once More With Feeling and Hush, as I’ve already stated before. It’s been an excellent ride through the series and I could have included many more in that list – but I’ve decided to restrict it to these five – with each of these episodes I believe are among the finest that Buffy has to offer.

Disagree with my top 5 episodes and views on the series? Feel free to let me know in the comments below. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to be moving on to watch Angel. 

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