In case you haven’t been following “Buffy” comics lately and are wondering why Buffy Summers is flying on the cover of the the latest issue, don’t worry. This issue explains all the strange goings on on that score for the past few issues. Season 8 has done a good job of exploring stuff that, potentially, the shows creators always wanted to do but were hemmed in by the budget of a television show (and one that was budgeted on the “low” side.) “Season 8” has featured centaurs, Tibetan goddesses, and a Buffy Animated Series. So they’re certainly making the best of the potential of the medium.
That being said, as what would be a setup act of a regular television episode, this issue in pretty solidly on the slow side. There are some significant revelations, but the issue is pulling itself in two directions. Just enough happens to keep Meltzer from being really able to kick back and luxuriate in some classic Scoobs banter, but not enough happens to keep the reader from missing it. It’s obviously leading up to some big, widescale stuff, but it’s not there yet. Also, hopefully, as the series goes along, it will touch more on Buffy’s long term reactions to having these new powers. One of the show’s strengths was always that as powerful as Buffy was, she still had to mostly deal with things on the ground level.
Jeanty’s art is pretty disappointing throughout. He gives a fair and recognizable recreation of Buffy’s renowned cast, but overall his artwork lacks an appropriate amount of detail. There’s one panel that’s supposed to be three characters in a wide shot that looks more like three wobbly matchsticks on the shore. In an issue that’s mostly setup and explanation, this is a pretty hard slight to overlook. Nothing else is distracting you in terms of spectacle. In the series, this was the kind of act that would mostly be the Scoobs hanging out at the library or magic shop talking, and that would be fine. But here, Jeanty just doesn’t keep things visually interesting enough.
Overall, this isn’t a terrible issue, just a fairly slow one that’s pretty hampered by not-that-great art. A pretty massive shift in the mythology has been introduced now, and this is the issue where we get to see the jokey, Xandery reaction to it. Not everyone thinks it’s such a great thing, so here’s hoping future installments get a little bit more in depth, emotionally. That was always the series’ greatest strength, in either medium.
(CBR’s interview with artist George Jeanty features some previews from the interior of the issue, too.)