A veteran of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer's" seven-year run on television, writer Jane Espenson returns to the character for the five-part story arc "Retreat" in Dark Horse's "Season Eight." The story begins in June's issue #26 following the "Tales of the Vampires" special in May, and sees at least one villain stepping up his nefarious plans and the return of a soft-spoken fan-favorite character. CBR News caught up with Espenson for a quick chat about the upcoming arc and writing Buffy's lighter and darker moments.
Espenson introduced the current plot point of trendy vampires with the Harmony story from "Buffy" #21, which found the ditzy bloodsucker the star of a reality TV show. Asked how pervasive the public's infatuation with vamps might be in the modern Buffyverse, Espenson told CBR, "It is more than a fad. I'm sure it helps the vamps get volunteers to be new vamps (and lunch), but it's even bigger than that. This is a genuine shift in how humans view vampires, and arguably more importantly, how they view Slayers. Suddenly the Slayers' white hats don't look so blinding, even to themselves."
Throughout its run on TV and in comics, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" has been known for its mix of action, drama, and humor. As the writer of season six's "Doublemeat Palace" and Dark Horse's Harmony issue, Espenson shows considerable strength on the comedy part. But she was also one of the writers on season seven's "Conversations with Dead People," which, as the title might suggest, was hardly laugh-a-minute. "I love the comedy, and was a little unsure how to handle material that didn't have a lot of humor. It took a while to realize that there are other ways to be entertaining," Espenson said. "Now I like to think that I'm comfortable with or without jokes. Sometimes I'll even come up with something funny and then remove it, because it doesn't fit the scene. That's the hardest thing to do -- throw out a laugh. But sometimes I manage to do it."
In "Buffy: Season Eight" #26, mystery "big bad" Twilight returns to the fray after a bit of time in the background. "He's working his agenda, working his allies," Espenson said. "He's got a whole army at his disposal. Seems like the kind of thing you'd want to use."
Other villains to watch may include Skinless Warren, who features prominently on the cover to issue #26. "A guy who keeps on taking sides in an epic battle even when he's left his skin behind-- you don't count him out, ever," Espenson remarked. "You gotta really care to dive in as skinless as a diet chicken plate."
Another major return appearance coming up in Espenson's arc is reintroduction of lovable werewolf Oz, played on the television series by Seth Green. Solicitation text reveals that Oz has been tucked away in "the yak-filled mountains of Tibet" since his last appearance during season 4, so how much convincing will it take to bring him back in action? "Oz has built something real in Tibet. But he is a mensch," Espenson said. "He'll be there when his friends need him."
As to the current dynamic between Oz and Willow, who had at one time been quite the adorable couple, Espenson hinted that there would be some interesting character moments. "They've both grown up since we last saw them. Time has passed; things have changed," she said. "There are things to work out, but they might not be the things you expect."