GN 9. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Long Way Home (Season Eight, Volume 1) by Joss Whedon. Illustrated by Georges Jeantry. 136 p. Published November 2007.
The Long Way Home is the 1st trade for Season 8 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, containing issues 1-4. Where the previous seasons have been on TV (and adapted into the Buffy Omnibus comic series), this is solely in graphic form.
The novel opens on Buffy leading a group of Slayers as they charge into a vampire nest. But it turns out to be inhabited by a few demons, who are quickly dispatched. The victim bears an odd symbol scarred on his chest, and Buffy has an inkling it means something.
We scoot over to what was once Sunnydale, and is now a decent size crater. Military excavation reveals two survivors, and both are willing to go on the offensive against The Slayer.
Buffy returns to her castle in Scotland, now base for coordinating all the Slayer operations. There we find that Dawn, Buffy’s little sister, has magically grown giant and Xander is acting in lieu of a Watcher. A sudden magical attack by Amy, who had been trapped in the rubble of Sunnydale, leaves Buffy in a mystic coma and a zombie army knocking on the doorstep. But the return of Willow, who’s been off playing Witch for months, levels the playing field and the Slayers begin to mount their counter-attack against Amy, her zombie hordes, and the military. But, of course, there are shadows of a larger plot against the slayers, and Buffy must work to get what information she can.
While The Long Way Home focuses more on establishing a baseline for the new series, Whedon takes time to orient the plot along the same structure as the episodes. But now there’s an added bonus, as we are able to gaze into the lives of the other Slayers. The final chapter of this trade, “The Chain,” tells my favorite story in this new Buffyverse. We learn of a slayer whose powers come suddenly while in school. We follow her through training and finally, her selection for a very special job. This is the story of another Buffy. A fake Buffy. The Slayer organization has begun to establish fakes of the leading Slayer using people of similar appearance. Because if there is one thing they’ve learned, it’s that there is power in a name. This Buffy is sent into the Underworld, where rumors of a demon army set to invade the surface have demanded special attention. As this Buffy travels and battles through the deep caverns, she makes allies and enemies. But above all, she shows us what it means to be a slayer – a part of the Chain that connects all these women.
The Long Way Home and the rest of the Buffy comics are obviously geared toward fans. Whedon has thankfully used his other works in comics to hone his storytelling via this medium. Because the consequences otherwise would have probably left him tarred and feathered. The primary problem I seem to have with The Long Way Home focuses more on the artwork. While Jeantry’s characters show obvious emotion, their expressions and movement lack emotional subtlety. There are some scene where the drawing may as well be made of plastic. So much effort has been put into detail and color, most likely to seek a connection with the Buffy show, that the emotional quirks that are unique to the comic book form are missing. Thankfully, this seems to get fixed by issue 4.
Rating: 4 out of 5