Fox // 2010 // 224 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // January 17th, 2011
You can't keep a good slayer down for long...
Buffy the Vampire Slayer flamed out rather spectacularly, at the end of her seventh year on television. The entire town of Sunnydale was decimated, thousands of slayers were activated all over the world, and Buffy Summers was no longer alone in her role as earth's first line of defense against the supernatural. Oh yeah, and the show was canceled. The whole gang rode off into the sunset with no plans for an eighth season or even a desire to look back. But then something happened: Joss Whedon decided he would do a Dark Horse comic book run of what he thought Season Eight would have looked like. With a plot decidedly fantastical, he adapted to his writing to the form, making the storyline broader and more out there than you might expect. The concept of Buffy leading a militarized union of global slayers remained, their new headquarters a castle in Scotland, far from sunny California. Xander is a high tech one-eyed watcher, Dawn has grown three times her size thanks to a dating mistake, and Willow and Giles are still doing their mysterious mystical thing. The government wants to take Buffy down, an old enemy shows up to exact revenge on the "Scooby Gang," and a new threat out of Japan rises to threaten every young vampire killer. Seems the Slayer still has her work cut out for her.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 pulls together 16 months worth of comics, totaling 19 issues. The published pages take on a slightly animated form with motion added and Whedon's dialogue acted out by new voice talent. None of the original cast return, and that's truly the only gripe I have with this concept. The actors seem to struggle a bit with the script, and it all feels rushed. But the artwork does look good on television thanks to the incredible artists whose panels are truly stunning, so the occasional cheesy line delivery or twirly motion effect is not even irritating. Buffy fans should be pleased.
There is much rumbling among the faithful, though, as followers believe the title is misleading. There are only 19 chapters of what wound up being a 40 issue story arc. Thus, this is merely the first volume of Season Eight, and you should know that going in. If this title sells well, there will be more, but don't be misled into thinking you are getting the entire story.
The comics are better in your hand, of course, but this is an interesting way to experience them. It's also fun to compare both DVD and Blu-ray formats in one slipcase. As you might expect, the 1080p high definition version looks more vibrant and clear, but the DVD is nice in its own way. There are no issues with either transfer, and honestly both are acceptable. Most all of the bonus features are the same on both discs, save for some format exclusives. Extras include a test pilot version of the first issue which simply features a look at what they were working towards in a rough form. There is also a Trivia Track that fills in connections to the show's televised run or other nods to the Buffy universe. "Under Buffy's Spell" is a featurette that looks at the whole Buffy craze at 2010's Comic Con, and talks about the concept for the comic. There is also a cover gallery which lets you browse all the artwork from Season 8. And finally, there is a "Create Your Own Buffy Comic" DVD-ROM feature. On the Blu-Ray there are BD-Live enabled extras including bonus footage and a chance to connect with fans.
The real joy and fun of this work is that Season Eight of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is only something that could work in a comic book. Joss Whedon and his team do a bang-up job jumping into a format that relies more on visuals and fantastic elements than television. This presentation of the Dark Horse comics allows you to see it on TV, but it still feels like the original print run. Making it animated with motion and voice talent doesn't detract from anything, but you are always reminded there is a book out there you should probably read to get the full effect. And of course, this is only half the story.
Guilty of bringing Buffy back from the dead one more time.
Review content copyright © 2011 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 224 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Test Pilot
* Cover Gallery
* DVD-ROM Feature
* DVD Copy