No one loves Buffy more than me. No one. So the period of time that included Dollhouse, Doctor Horrible, and Buffy Season 8 comics involving the Big Bad Twilight, was a real rough time for me. I didn't think it was possible to tarnish that gleaming gold place in my heart reserved for Buffy and Joss, but a little soot and rust crept in. Now with Joss on the Avengers and Sarah coming back to TV in a couple weeks, I just had to grow up, against my will I might add, and gain some new perspective.
So it is with lowered expectations, room-temperature excitement (as opposed to fever pitch) and a sideways, dubious, skeptical, eyebrow-cocked position that I await the return of Buffy comics. Click for previews of the new comics and excerpts from an interview with co-writer Andrew Chambliss.
There will be two comics comprising Buffy Season 9; the flagship Buffy the Vampire Slayer, co-written and plotted by Joss Whedon and Andrew Chambliss, and Angel & Faith written by the skillful Christos Gage. The two exist in the same universe and will often overlap in some ways, but no crossovers have been directly revealed.
In the wake of the horrible events at the end of Season 8, Angel was catatonic or at least in perpetual shock, so it's safe to say that Angel & Faith is primarily concerned with Faith taking care of him and aiding in his recovery (as he once did for her) and both of them living up to their roles as rogue evil fighters.
The main comic however is the one concerned with the majority of our old friends; Xander and Dawn, Spike, Willow, and Buffy. In a world where, due to Buffy's decision, magic is gone, Buffy doesn't have all that many of her former friends on her side. Living in San Francisco, working, having roommates, it appears she's trying, once and for all, to build a normal life of some kind, or at least one resembling her peak normalcy, thus involving some vampire slaying in the late evenings.
In an interview with CBR Chambliss says 'back to basics' is the main approach for him and Whedon this season, presumably because Whedon completely over-extended himself and his imagination in the past few years with Season 8 until it got ridiculous and out of control. Now we're promised a more familiar kind of storytelling:
"Joss really wanted to think about 'Season 9' in the way that he approached the TV show -- smaller stories that focused on Buffy and the core group of characters," Chambliss said. "Instead of Buffy being focused on saving the world, this season is really going to be about how she starts to grow up, sees herself as an adult and balances all that with being a Slayer. She's going to make a lot of mistakes along the way, because A) it's fun and B) what twenty-something sails through life without messing up every once in a while? Fortunately, most of us don't have to deal with vampires and demons while we're patching up our mistakes."
It's not terribly original or groundbreaking but honestly? Any move backwards, any attempt to emulate or mimic the show, I fully support. Clearly bigger, better, global, high fantasy ideas don't always work out.
The setting of San Francisco also seems to play a big role, being one of the first times we really see Buffy in a real and recognizable place (other than in LA or dancing in the corner of an Italian nightclub, and that was her decoy Slayer anyway.) Apparently it will ground her and her attempts at normalcy, mirror the new reality of a universe without magic, and give us some new interaction with a "vigilante slayer" and a major city police force who are fully briefed on, and often sympathetic towards, the existence of vampires.
So Whedon is still pulling the strings, Jeanty is still drawing, and God willing there will still be some Jo Chen covers. No matter how I've been burned in the past, I can't just ignore these comics. However this time I will protect myself. I shall keep my standards at a "Doublemeat Palace" level as opposed to, say, an "Anne" level. That's still a higher standard than 85% of comics and television can live up to but for Buffy? It's really quite generous.
Check out some previews for Buffy #1, on sale in September, and Angel and Faith #1, out tomorrow.