Amy Madison, the fan favourite ‘little bad’ of Joss Whedon’s opening arc, is on the rampage. Apparently having read her creator’s work on Astonishing X-Men, the wicked Wicca has picked up a few tips from the Hellfire Club’s Cassandra Nova and decided to attack the Scoobies using psychology rather than brute force. Enraged, Amy puts a Sleeping Beauty-style whammy on the original Slayer and sets up a conflict within Buffy’s best friend, before invoking an army of kilted zombies to take out the n00bs. It’s an old friend – in a fucking horrible outfit – who throws a spanner in the former rat’s proverbial works.
Some giant-sized angst courtesy of Buffy’s plus-size, pantsless little sister, and two disappointingly brief glimpses at what series Watchers, Giles and Andrew, have been up to since the Hellmouth officially closed for business – including a particularly funny speech on Lando Calrissian’s outfit from the aforementioned ubergeek – are thrown in for good measure.
In all, a decent second act from The Master, with some interesting reveals and some nice touches, not least Commander Xander trying to be intimidating in a pair of yellow, duck-emblazoned pyjamas. Again, it’s the – ahem – intimate scenes between Buffy and the aforementioned Xander that sit especially well, in spite of a particularly jarring revelation which precedes Mr Harris losing his head, so to speak.
However – despite an impressive pedigree – Whedon still hasn’t quite found his rhythm as a comic book author, at least not where Buffy is concerned. The dialogue shines, but – in the context of the show, where one issue of the comic book is equal to a ten minute ‘act’, meaning fans are subjected to a month long ‘ad-break’ between each part of the story – the plot doesn’t quite zip along in the way that it should do. The Scoobies look to be slowly setting themselves up to be in the same place at the same time, but it’s taking far longer than it should do. The long way home indeed.
Georges Jeanty’s artwork is similarly hit and miss. Though his cartoonish-style is relatively unsettling in a comic book based on a story which always existed very much in the real world, Jeanty’s close up work belies the kind of mature, adult angst that fan’s have come to expect from the Slayer and her backing band of misfits; however, Jeanty’s pencilwork is disappointingly static during the frenetic fight scenes which were such a big part of the series.
And therein lies the problem with ‘season eight’: as a comic book, it’s adequate, but it never quite lives up to the show’s legend.