Coming July 4- Buffy The Vampire Slayer -Freefall, the first five issues of season 9 in soft cover. Freefall is written by series creator Joss Whedon with Andrew Chambliss of ABC’s One Upon a Time, with scripts by Andrew Chambliss, and Jane Espenson.
Season 8 ended with a bang that cut the world off from magic—culminating in another set of world-ending problems. Buffy has left her best friend, Willow, powerless, and brought an end to a millennia-long tradition of superpowered girls. By day, Buffy is a twenty-something waitress with no real direction, and even though magic is gone, she’s still a vampire Slayer by night. Bigger problem? Vampires are becoming an epidemic . . . of zompires! Collects Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #1–#5.
If you are unaware of how season 8 went down, read here. Season 8 picked up one year after the events of television’s season 7 and it was Buffy on steroids. The absence of the constraints of a television network budget led to some over the top storylines. We witnessed bank heist Buffy, a conglomerate of slayers holed up in Scotland, and the US government gunning for Buffy. Season 8 was not the relatable Buffy I know and love; it left me cold.
Enter Season 9. It looks as if Buffy is back to being a near normal girl, minus that pesky Slayer thing. Having destroyed something called “the seed,” Buffy removed all magic from the earth. She is now working at a coffee shop and living in San Francisco with roommates who are clueless about her Slayer activities. She spends half of the five- issue story arc trying to piece together the drunken events of her housewarming party, the other half trying to figure out why dead bodies (with no signs of cause of death) are piling up and a mysterious new stranger with unusual powers.
The television show did the perfect job of conveying Buffy’s eternal struggle with wanting to be like everyone else but still being an outsider and that theme is carried over into Season 9. The ups, downs and evolution of Buffy’s friendships were a large part of the show and its themes. The Scoobies can never really understand what it is to be the Slayer, which keeps Buffy from letting anyone really in all the way. I always sided with Buffy when Scooby turmoil arose, and I still do. There is a powerful page with six panels of the party events and a cut out of Buffy in the middle with a bit of white space around her. It is especially beautiful and powerful.
The old Scooby gang and other favorites are still around for Season 9, minus Giles, whose absence is felt, and there is still some friend and family turbulence. Willow is magic-less and waiting for her “I told you so moment” with Buffy about the domino affects of her ending magic, Xander and Dawn are in a relationship and shacking up and not very welcoming toward Buffy, Spike is just adorable and still in love with Buffy, and a married Riley is still around but investigating human terrorists instead of demons. Reading Freefall is like visiting old friends, and enemies-and I’m happy to report I still cannot stand Dawn. But, most importantly after Buffy’s return to a more tangible reality, is that Joss and his writers’ witticisms abound and numerous allusions to past BTVS episodes are made. Freefall is definitely a Whedon production. While the Buffy Season 9 comics are striking out into their own territory, it does feel like going home again. But, even over eight plus seasons, there are still surprises to be had in the Buffyverse. Fun surprises. And a big controversial surprise, which if you keep up on all things Buffy, you know about already.
Some characters in Season 9 look like their TV counterparts we know and love (Xander, Buffy, Spike), but others look out of place an very unlike their actors (Dawn, Riley, Willow) which is a bit jarring. The covers are incredible works of art and Buffy look stunningly like Sarah Michelle Gellar portrayed her. I hope SMG checks them out on occasion; she should be flattered and if I were her, I’d have them framed and hanging in my nerd lair.
Closing Freefall out is also a special stand alone Spike story, Magical Mystery Tour Featuring the Beetles which was originally a 10-page digital comic written by Jane Espenson and penciled by Georges Jeanty. That was a trippy little one off that I am still scratching my head over. It was a laugh though.
All in all, I am pretty eager about continuing with Season 9 and wherever else Buffy may go, as long as Joss is involved.