Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine #1
Written by Joss Whedon
Art by Georges Jeanty, Dexter Vines, and Michelle Madsen
I liked Buffy Season Eight when I got around to reading it, but it always felt like it was lacking something I couldn’t put my finger on. There was just something that felt off and it drove me nuts for the longest time, well, until I read this issue. Season Eight had the same problem as the final televised one in my book. See, while Angel After The Fall felt well within the scope of Angel, and it was really Angel being Angel in hell, Buffy with a Slayer army may have been the natural progression, but it was at the cost of Buffy feeling like Buffy. Everything was too big, too grand in scale and scope, and while the characters were still the ones we know and love, there was something lost in not letting them be in situations that suit who they are.
With the end of magic, and Buffy and Faith going back to being the only Slayers. With armies gone, and demons pushed back into the background, and the world more or less normal again, Joss is able to get back to what made Buffy so enjoyable. Yes, her life is extraordinary, but it’s the semblance of an ordinary life that makes her so intriguing. Fitting her back into it means that everyone gets reinserted, and it really just makes the cast familiar in a way that they haven’t been since the show was still on the air. Willow gets to be Willow without the all powerful and potentially evil undertones, sure, she misses her magic and it comes up quite a bit, but I’m also no longer waiting for a threat to show up that she can magic away. And most importantly, Buffy gets to be a real life person for a change and not some General that everyone is looking to, which actually leads us to the plot of the issue.
Buffy has a major, MAJOR hangover. The night before? Pretty much completely blacked out, one hell of a house warming party. The issue, for the most part, goes between showing us the party as Buffy begins to recall it, as well as showing her dealing with her hangover as she adjust to his new life. A new job, new roommates (one of whom may or may not have a thing for Willow already), and she’s in San Francisco now. Everything old is new again, and there’s even new threats finding themselves established. An odd series of murders, two mystery people hiring a demon to make Buffy pay, and a new demon being freed from a magical prison with the desire to kill all. Just because she’s living a somewhat normal life doesn’t mean that Buffy’s life is going to be boring.
Georges Jeanty does a great job here, which is to be expected after doing such a fantastic job with season eight. Not unlike what I said about Rebekah Isaacs with Angel and Faith, Jeanty adapts these characters in a way that Buffy looks like Buffy, but not necessarily Sarah Michelle Gellar. The same holds true for everyone, and it’s an all around impressive job. That isn’t to say it’s perfect, and there are times when he feels a bit rusty at it; some characters look off at times, especially Dawn. The party scenes look incredible though as Jeanty goes ahead and channels George Perez by fitting as many characters as he can into each panel of it, and people are actually doing things. He makes the background feel as alive as the foreground without skimping on the detail.
Really, my only problem with this issue is a minor one, and it’s minor because it’s not an issue I foresee many people having (it’s a personal one). See, while I have friends who come down on seasons six and seven, my least favorite parts of the series can be described with the names of two characters. Glory and Riley. I hate Riley with a fiery passion, and found his time on the show to be worse than even the incest season of Angel. Alright, fine, not that much. Fuck, that was horrible. But this book has Spike, that’s a bonus, and Xander is back to being a very familiar, and very human character complete with his doubts and insecurities, and he feels like the most human amongst them…which is how he always was. It’s a really fun issue, but it’s not something that the uninitiated is going to understand. Whedon brings these characters back to the core of what works, and makes waiting a month for the next issue far more irritating than week between episodes ever was.