“In every generation, there is a chosen one…”
In less than 10 words, I am drawn back into a TV series that I have loved for more than a decade. Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with the opportunity to re-visit the Hellmouth with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus (Season 8 Volume 2). This Omnibus collects volumes #21-40 from Dark Horse Books.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 8 begins where the TV series ended; with our heroes continuing the fight against the undead and the Big Bad of this season, Twilight. Flash-forward to the second half of season 8, and Harmony Kendall (yes, she really is still undead) is leading a new pro-vampire/anti-Slayer world order. In response, Twilight raises up leading to the relocation of various Slayers, including Faith, as a result of its ability to track the group’s magic use. Buffy, the Scooby Gang (Xander, Willow and Giles), and other Slayers head to Tibet to meet with Oz who is waiting to teach them how to hide their magic. Nearing the end of the story, the reader learns that Twilight is actually a former boyfriend of Buffy’s who undertook the persona of Twilight in an attempt to unify the anti-Slayer movement. As a result, he believed he could limit the potential destruction that would have resulted if they worked independently. Buffy seems to understand because suddenly the two ascend to a higher plane of existence that is also called Twilight. Once back on Earth, Buffy and the group heads back to Sunnydale because it is revealed that there is a mystical ‘seed’ buried that is the source of Twilight’s power, as well as magic. The story concludes with Buffy moving to San Francisco, after saving the world and removing magic from the universe, to resume her former duties as a Slayer.
“Throughout the entire story I found myself thinking I was back in high school watching the 8th season of this show.”
Whedon, Espenson and the rest of the writing team write Buffy and the Scooby Gang as they originally did in the TV series. Throughout the entire story I found myself thinking I was back in high school watching the 8th season of this show. I enjoyed that the writing team did not reveal the real identity of Twilight until near the end of the story, in an effort to keep the reader guessing and engaged. Despite this approach, the writers’ kept using story arcs that had previously been explored by another character or themselves in previous seasons. We see Buffy and Giles worrying about Willow’s magic use and her turning into Dark Willow again. This concept was originally seen in season 6, when Willow killed Warren, and season 7, when Willow is using magic to activate the trinket in the Hellmouth. As a result, I found that I was able to predict who Twilight was before it was revealed. To me this was not a breaking point, as I truly love this universe; however, reusing material may restrict the audience to those hardcore fans or individuals new to the series as a whole. This restriction may be the intent anyways considering the series initially ended in 2003 and was brought back in 2007 at the request of fans like myself.
“The cartoonish style, with a pastel-like palate, reflects the relaxed, almost normal, lifestyle the Slayers have during the day.”
George Jeanty and his artistic team do a great job of utilising either detailed or schematic backgrounds to draw your attention to the location the characters are heading or focusing on the character of interest respectively. As seen in the image above, the intent of the background design is to draw the reader’s attention to the speaker. The cartoonish style, with a pastel-like palate, reflects the relaxed, almost normal, lifestyle the Slayers have during the day. The tone of the art becomes very tense as the colours become darker, indicating night time when all the undead and monsters come out. This style plays homage to the later seasons in the original series. As the TV series progressed, and the gang became more accustomed to the Slayers’ lifestyle, the lighting was soft during the day and tense in the evening. While this is far from my favourite type of art style, it was consistent with what I have come to expect from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Lastly, the cover art depicted the original cast with a photo-realistic style. I found that this was a nice little touch, especially for those readers that begged for the TV series to continue.
“…it did a phenomenal job of using a combination of text boxes and speech balloons, as well as specific page layouts, to convey the story to the reader.”
I believe that the best quality of this book was the text style. In this particular collection, the images needed to be supplemented with text. Overall, it did a phenomenal job of using a combination of text boxes and speech balloons, as well as specific page layouts, to convey the story to the reader. The writers use coloured boxes underneath some of the captions to indicate who is speaking from previous panel. While this is common practice, it was initially difficult to follow when multiple characters had been present on the preceding panel. As you may have noticed from the image above, some of the words in the speech balloons are different (bolded or smaller font size) to give context and tone to the speaker. Within this spread, a sense of urgency is conveyed to the audience as a result of the two speech balloons full of bolded text in the panel on the bottom left side. On the right side, we come across a smaller font that depicts a hushed conversation between Faith and Giles. A final technique was used to bring the reader’s attention to the text: page layout. I found that the page layouts were organized in a very linear and easy to follow sequence. Typically, the panels were uniform in both size and shape. This allowed myself to focus on the story rather than which panel came next.
Overall, it was enjoyable and fun to be back in this universe. Whedon and colleagues did a great job of staying true to the characters of the original series and the book felt like a natural continuation. If you were a fan, then you will definitely enjoy this book. Included in this collection was the cover gallery and an afterword by Joss Whedon that makes picking up the Omnibus an easy choice.
Our copy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was provided by Penguin Random House Canada, you can get your copy here.