If you aren’t aware that the lives of the Scooby gang continued (albeit, unhappily) after the events at Sunnydale (via the television show) then you might want to pick up the entire season 8 comic series and start reading them before heading into this review.
I don’t want to have to field a bunch of emails from pissed off people who are angry that I let slip plot points that they should have read years ago (and you call yourself a fan…)
Now, having said that let’s begin with why Season 9 feels like a return to the Buffy we all know and love.
After the madness that was Season 8 when everything in the Buffyverse when bat-shit insane (we’re talking about super magical dimensional sex, a possessed Angel (who went by the name “Twilight”..har har Whedon) who ends up killing Giles, Xander and Dawn getting all romantic even though it feels icky to the reader, a seed buried under Sunnydale that contains the entire essence of magic that is destroyed, leaving the world magicless…holy shit) it ended, naturally with Buffy turning into a pariah of sorts, and retreating into a life of waitressing and living on the couch at Xander and Dawn’s house.
Yeah, it was kind of a downer to say the least.
As the 9th season opens her life has gotten marginally better. Buffy is living with roommates, working at a coffeehouse and continuing her Slayer duties in order to glean some meaning from her life.
And to prove that she can be a fun-time gal she hosts a party for all her friends (who aren’t really all that happy with her) to show off her new life…but of course, this is just a set up for a season filled with yet even more emotional bitch-slaps to a slayer who has had more than her fair share.
Under this better tightly constructed season of stories (25 verses the 40 that made up season 8) Whedon has managed to take us back to the best of the Buffyverse that we know and love, focusing on character and situations that call back to earlier episodes that made the series such a hit with fans.
Buffy has always been a great character, but I felt that season eight played her too wildly, it was only during the 5-part Last Gleaming issues that I felt that Buffy went back to the Slayer I knew. And here, in season 9 she is finally able to get back on track, to be THE SLAYER instead of a general in an army that she wasn’t really all that comfortable with.
Of course, that means she’s going to get hit with a lot of shit that will make your heart hurt (and quite possibly piss you off) but that’s what I have come to expect from Joss and his girl Buffy.
But I’m not going to lie, there was one instance when I thought that the writers might have screwed the season out of poignancy, which involved the revelation that Buffy was pregnant and had to make a life-altering decision which, would have been an amazing storyline if it didn’t turn out that it was a false positive because Buffy’s consciousness was inside a Buffybot and that her real body had been kidnapped…what?
When the storyline started I was emotionally invested in it, I felt for her and seeing her run through the emotions of figuring out the best course of action for her was amazing (especially her scene with Spike):
And have it turn out that it wasn’t real, just a crazy plot twist, made the moment feel contrived.
To say I was a bit tentative to read the rest of the series would be an understatement, but again, there always has to be one episode that you aren’t thrilled with right?
Granted, it was stupid thing to do but over-all the season tended to stick with the formula that we know well from the series: there’s a big bad, Dawn is in trouble, vampires are on the loose (although, since there is no magic, they are more Zompires (to coin Xander’s phrase) than bumpy-headed assholes), the Scooby Gang is separated by hurt and anger, Willow wants the magic back and might go bad again, former cast members return (including crossovers from the Angleverse…FRED!), a rogue slayer becomes a vampire, and there’s the always present apocalypse which may or may not destroy everything (then again, aren’t all apocalypses like that?).
All of which leads us to a cliffhanger to rev us up for season 10 (starring a bad ass vamp and the Vampyre book that made an appearance in the very first episode of Buffy):
Yes, season 9 brought the series back home for fans and while there were a few problems here and there, over-all it was a fantastic read and, more importantly, made you look forward to spending a god-awful amount of cash on single issues (although, you should probably just order the compilations, it’ll be much, much cheaper.
Read it now.