Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 8 Motion Comic (2011)

Following the series’ climactic closing of the Hellmouth, and the corresponding destruction of Sunnydale, Buffy and her burgeoning slayer army have dispersed in an attempt to recruit the newly empowered women awakening around the globe. Suddenly a palpable threat, the slayer army has attracted the attention of the U.S. Ministry of Defence, headed up by General Voll. When an enigmatic new foe begins to present itself, aided by returning witch Amy Madison and an undead Warren Mears, the slayers must band together in the face of such varying threats as an army of Scottish zombies, a cabal of Japanese vampires and a British socialite coming to terms with her own superhumanity. Comprising the first nineteen issues of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8, this collection charts the first half of Buffy’s adventures post-Sunnydale.

I suppose I should address the proverbial elephant in the room, probably before it tramples someone and leaves footprints in the margarine. This is not a movie. I review movies. But, and here’s the thing, it’s Buffy. BUFFY! And that’s all that matters. Nevertheless, I have never reviewed a motion comic before. Heck, I’ve never even seen a motion comic before. So this isn’t so much a tempered appraisal aided by informed comparison as a gut reaction that verges on arbitrary fanboy waffle.

In dealing with the basics, then, I should probably make something immediately clear: I don’t get motion comics. What are they for? Having already pursued Buffy Season 8 in comic book form, I managed to extract meaning from the page quite by myself, my own imagination filling in the blanks as needed. I found the simulated motion inherently invasive, dragging me out of the story with a determination that was in the beginning quite shocking. Jarring ‘special’ effects and an abrasively unsuccessful voice-over detract from the source material, proving entirely incongruous with my aforementioned imagination and failing to recapture the spirit and rhythm of the show.

Unfortunately for season eight, I wasn’t that taken with the story to begin with – even in static comic form. Trampling the series’ M.O. in a hurry to exceed the television show’s budgetary constraints and show just what the artists are capable of, Buffy’s underdog struggle and relatably human issues are all but forgotten in favour of scale, production values and novelty. Dawn is now a giant, Scottish zombies attack in their thousands and the Scoobies globe-trot like they’ve got intercontinental ants in their pants. With series creator Joss Whedon’s iconic dialogue lost on a cast that has apparently never even seen the programme, there are one too many factors conspiring to keep you at arms length where seasons 1-7 had you locked in a wombic bear-hug of gooey proportions.

Not least problematic is the madness of the plot. Resurrecting characters with careless abandon, the comic slowly undid the good work of the series with a determination to bring as many people back as possible. Not only are some characters forced back into the narrative despite having already run their course, but others are bent out of recognition as they are made to service the unwieldy plot. Dracula is mangled as he turns convenient good-guy, but it is Buffy herself who really requires a suspension of disbelief. One quirk in particular, a baffling romantic decision, smacks solely of contrivance as the writers push disastrously for controversy.

This is still Buffy, however, and there are moments that evidence the show’s trademark greatness, most likely thanks to the involvement of so many of the show’s staff writers. The actress voicing Faith doesn’t entirely fly in the face of everything we’ve come to know about the character; she even brings a welcome air of Eliza Dushku-ness to the role, which brings Brian K. Vaughan’s ‘No Future for You’ storyline to life with a verve that is noticeably absent from the other arcs. Joss’s writing is simply too niche for most actors to wrangle without his own-brand direction, the words he has written failing to make the transition from speech-bubble to speech.

With a scattering of memorable moments and boasting approximately four hours of footage (presented in a series of ten minute segments), the Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 motion comic may yet constitute the most affordable way of experiencing the story. A must for completists, a maybe for just about everyone else.


About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

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