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Buffy, Season 8 (episodes 1 and 2)

This is the official Season 8 of Buffy, as officially sanctioned - indeed, written - by Joss Whedon, and published in comic form. Two of a projected twenty "episodes" have been published so far; I went and got them from the local comic shop this morning.

Hmm. Frankly I am disappointed.

First off, the art itself: Perhaps I was spoiled by reading the likes of the Alan Moore strips in the Doctor Who magazine, where he caught Tom Baker's Doctor almost better than Baker himself did, but I like my comics characters to look like the people they are meant to represent. Most crucially, I don't think Georges Jeanty as chief penciller has captured Buffy particularly well, nor does the first of Jo Chen's two covers particularly resemble Buffy as played by SMG. (The second is better.) Andrew and Giles are too young (Andrew practically prepubescent); Xander is caught reasonably well though, as is Willow in the one glimpse we get of her. Dawn is not bad either, though has been physically transmogrified for plot purposes.

Ah, the plot. We seem to have i) Xander, Buffy and the wannabe slayerettes of Season 7 based in a high-tech castle in Scotland, overseeing the world struggle against vampires; and ii) the US military allying with the forces of evil (well, one character from established continuity anyway) out of a combination of ignorance and (it is strongly hinted) malice. I don't mind the latter, which of course is the latest version of a recurrent theme in Whedon's work, but the former seems to me out of whack; the whole charm of Buffy is that these people are saving the world with meagre resources from somewhere that looks like your front room, not from a control centre out of a James Bond film.

But what I really miss is the snappy dialogue which made Buffy, Angel and Frirely such a joy to watch. Maybe it's just more difficult ot carry through to the page; maybe Whedon will find his swing in later issues; but I had no laugh-out-loud moments in the first two episodes and not a lot of smiles either. (The one thing that did make me laugh out loud this morning was Peter Weston's explanation of why he sent me his latest issue of Prolapse.) I think that I will buy the rest of the series anyway, in hope that it improves, but if it doesn't I'll just flog the lot on eBay once I've finished with them.

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