This is "season 6" of Angel, following on from the climactic last battle that ended season 5 on TV. Here we get to find out what happened next (four years later in my case, so my memory of the end-of-season cliffhanger details is a bit faded). It's not good. In fact, it's Hell.
It takes most of the first four "episodes" to figure out what has happened to all the gang, in the usual condensed elliptical comic style. Then the fifth "episode" is a giant battle against demons (not much changed there, then), ending on a massive cliffhanger. So I had a quick peek at Amazon to see what Volume 2 has to offer --but it appears to be a flashback, to explain what happened immediately after that season 5 battle, before the volume 1 events. Ho hum.
The is a reprint of the Buffy comic series that ran in parallel with the TV show. In this first volume, we get a Spike and Dru story, but it's mainly setting up the Buffy-verse: how Buffy became a Slayer, and what she did before she arrived at Sunnydale. Interestingly, it features Dawn in these stories, although she didn't exist then. But, as the editor says, Buffy later remembered her as having existed then, and many of these stories appear to be narrated by that later Buffy. The editor also says this is useful, in that it allows stories just about Dawn. But, since Buffy wasn't there, she wouldn't remember them, so how could they have happened? My head hurts!
Anyway, definitely good stuff, capturing the whole kick-ass, smart-mouth, shoe-shopping style, and I'll be getting further omnibuses.
More Slayer adventures, some with some rather curious artwork. There are a couple of Spike and Dru stories, too, which I'm not really into. The best is probably "A Stake to the Heart", a long story set during the time of Buffy's parents breakup, and her move to Sunnydale. Her reaction to the events demonstrate her strength as a Slayer isn't only physical.
[Caveat: I read this in one sitting under the influence of a heavy cold, while eating pizza. These things have probably skewed my judgement, but in which direction I can't tell!]
Further adventures of our favourite Slayer. The stories are fine, with lots of smart-mouthed action. But these ones don't have quite the same depth as, say, "A Stake to the Heart" in the previous Omnibus volume, and certainly not of the "season 8" Long Way Home episodes.
[Caveat: I was under the influence of the second day of a heavy cold, and more junk food, while reading this, and so my judgement is probably still skewed!]
More stories of the Slayer, mostly taking part around season 3 of the TV series -- so lots of brooding with Angel, leading to the final split. The first story, Bad Blood, is a long one, occupying about half the volume. The intent was to have the same kind of multiple-episode arc as happened in the TV series. Well, it's certainly long, but it's not particularly deep, and with few twists. The Hollower, the second longest story, has a better structure from this point of view. The remaining shorter stories are mostly lightweight
Yet further tales of the Slayer, filling in around the TV series. There are some long stories, and some shorter, slighter ones. The longer ones definitely work better, as they can have more depth and complexity, like a season's arc. "Haunted" tells a post-Graduation Day story of the Mayor haunting Buffy. "The Blood of Carthage" is a long complicated story of how Buffy nearly destroys the world by being a little bit too hasty -- with some interesting Xander-Willow backstory. And "Oz" fills in what happened after the werewolf left Sunnydale. The short ones work like separate stand-alone episodes -- okay now and again, but not what it's all about.
More tales filling in some backstory (and side-story) elements. I've decided why I don't like these quite as much as the "season 8" episodes: it does provide added depth, but there is less opportunity for surprise. Clearly, major characters can't undergo any arc-altering changes (like death, say). However, the added depth is certainly intriguing in places, particularly the Jonathan episode "Codename: Comrades", and the mocking self-aware revelation about Giles' new girlfriend in "Out of the Woodwork".
This seems to hit the mark more often than some of the previous volumes, possibly because it does more gap filling, with good explanations, rather than simply being all side-stories. And one of those side stories is rather clever, as three characters each tell a story, and the graphic style changes for each telling.
This is subtitled "Season 8, volume 1", because the events follow on directly from the end of the final season 7 of the TV show, when the world became full of Slayers. So, what did all those Slayers do next? Episodes #1-4 give a clue: they join together to form an army of Slayers battling evil, and not everyone is happy about that. Episode #5 is essentially stand-alone, the story of one of those Slayers.
This is fun stuff, full of the usual smart-mouth jokes, dark events, fighting, underexplained plot twists, and foreshadowing. It progresses the story off in an interesting direction, and I'm looking forward to the next few episodes of season 8.
The world has moved from having 2000 "potentials" to 2000 full-blown Slayers. And not all of those are good. What do you do with them? Giles discovers one who has turned bad, and calls in Faith for help. Episodes #6-9 tell the story of Faith and the rogue Slayer. Then in Episode #10 we learn why Willow is keeping Buffy and Kennedy apart.
This continues to be a great "8th season" of Buffy, with the smart mouth dialogue, dark corners of the mind, and a fair bit of action. The writers have a strange view of England, though.
Buffy season 8, episodes #11-15, continues to tell the story of what happens in a world with 2000 full-strength Slayers. Here we have a single episode where the sinister secret organisation tries to dent Buffy's moral certitude. But the main story is a four-parter where a bunch of super-powerful Japanese vamps discover a way to wipe out all the Slayers. Buffy has to send Xander off to get some very powerful help indeed.
This does the usual mix of clever use of continuity, smart-mouthed one-liners, hilariously funny scenes, and heart-wrenching tragedy, in the way we have come to expect. And it moves the plot forward in significant directions.
Buffy season 8 continues, with episodes #16-#20. In the usual way, we have a four-parter followed by a stand alone episode. The four-parter is a "crossover" tale, as Buffy finds herself 200 years in the future, with Slayer Fray (apparently Fray's story is told in another comics series, but I had never come across her before). Buffy is dismayed to learn that Fray is once again a lone Slayer, and that the bad guys are running rampant. But that's nothing compared to when she meets an old friend. Meanwhile, back in the present, Dawn has transformed into something less gigantic but much weirder, and the Slayer HQ has to fight off a devastating magical attack. The stand-alone episode, by contrast, has Buffy going back in time, if only in a dream, to when things weren't as much simpler as she remembers.
A good addition to the season, with its smart-mouthed dialogue and complex plotting, although I suspect some of the Fray elements were lost on me.
Harmony Bites is the latest reality TV show, and when a rogue Slayer tries to stake Harmony on live TV, the show becomes a ratings hit, and Slayers become the bad guys. The sinister Twilight starts attacking, and suddenly Buffy and the rest of the Slayers have to lie low, victims of a PR disaster. But that doesn't stop Satsu tackling a monster stuffed-toy demon, Faith finding a Slayer hideaway with a hideous secret, or Dawn ending up in a third weird bodyform. Just another typical day in Slayer-ville, then.
The band of Slayers are still in full retreat, desperately fighting off Twilight. Eventually they discover that twilight is tracking them through the magic they are using to hide themselves. So they all retreat to the Himalayas, and Oz's own spiritual retreat, where they are taught how to lose their magic. But then Twilight finds them when they are defenceless...
I've marked this down slightly because it's a bit of a filler, between the beginnings of the retreat and (what I hope is to be) their fight back. Fine, but few added twists (that I spotted, at least).
This is fight back against Twilight, as the Slayers discover who Twilight actually is. Buffy’s role in the battle might destroy the whole planet.
Despite the gravity of the situation, the battle was over rather too easily, I felt, and the artwork seemed a little rushed to me. There were times I couldn’t tell who some of the characters were supposed to be! Now the battle is over, I wonder what the final volume of season 8 will be about?
War. It’s messy, and Buffy knows it. As the Slaver army crumbles against an endless swarm of demons, Buffy joins forces with the US military to put an end to her greatest enemy to date—the mysterious Twilight, who will see this world end to give birth to another.
Spike and Buffy reunite and take the fight closer to home, where everything and everyone will change.
Okay, maybe the battle wasn’t as over as I had thought. There’s lots of complicated stuff going on, with alien-like tentacled and blobby demons, and lots of fighting. It all seems to get a bit out of control, and the coda from Whedon suggests he thought so too, given that Season 9 will return more to its roots.
This graphic novel fills in the gap between the end of the TV series Firefly, and the spin-off film Serenity, explaining how and why some of the characters ended up where they did by the beginning of the film. It manages to pack a lot of plot, and some backstory, into a few pages, using the usual comic book highly abbreviated style, leaving more implied than said. The artwork is also very good, blending the actual characters' features into the comic book style, with a few more detailed pictures interleaving the story.
A further episode in the lives of the crew of Serenity, before the events of the film. Here, as the result of a payoff for a heist, they discover that they are all super-rich. This is not necessarily a good thing. And, of course, it cannot last.
Again, the comic-book style manages to pack a lot into a few pages -- here, rather too much, leaving the several converging plot strands and back-stories rather under-written in places.