Saturday, November 10, 2007

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight #8

Brian K. Vaughan, Georges Jeanty, Andy Owens, Dave Stewart

You know, I hadn’t intended to review every issue of Brian K. Vaughan’s “No Future For You” story arc, but, having come this far, I’ll go ahead and guarantee a review of the fourth and final chapter next month. It’s a curious thing, reviewing each installment of a story that will probably read better as a collected book. Sort of like reviewing a novel one chapter at a time. I’m rereading John Byrne’s run on Fantastic Four from the ‘80s right now, and it’s interesting in that the earliest issues of that run are designed as entirely self-contained short stories. This is interesting because it is such a rarity in today’s comic books, almost all of which are, at least to some degree, “written for the trade.”

If this sounds like the beginning of a screed against multi-part storylines, I apologize, because I certainly do not prefer one approach to the other. The move into collected editions and the type of storytelling more appropriate to such a format was an inevitable one. It allows more room for…well, everything, really. Longer sequences of dialogue, issue long action sequences, etc. Still, It’s pretty impressive how effortless Byrne makes everything seem in those old Fantastic Four comic books. Something to ponder, but I want to emphasize again that I do not prefer one approach to the other, and indeed regard comics’ ability to encompass a wide array of storytelling choices and publication formats one of the medium’s great strengths.

Certainly Vaughan is using his four issues to great effect, as the terrific story of Faith’s final(?) mission moves confidently forward in this installment, with everything that made the first two issues so great (spot on dialogue, great characters, attractive artwork from Jeanty, Owens and Stewart) still present. Depending on your tastes, the highlight of this issue will either be the battle between Faith and Buffy, or the pseudo-lesbian bathtub sequence with Faith and Genevieve. Personally, I liked the ass kicking. For one thing, it happens in a shallow pool, and Faith is wearing a white top, so it’s still pretty damned sexy, but more importantly, Vaughan never forgets the history of the characters which trembles just below the surface, ready to burst forth at the slightest provocation. This quality was put to great use in the “Graduation Day, Part 1” episode of the T.V. series, during Faith’s and Buffy’s famous rooftop fight sequence, referenced several times during this story arc. “Never forget how deep she cut you.” As in the best of Buffy, character development and theme come together in a terrific display of violence, although I thought the climax of the battle was somewhat anti-climactic, with Willow teleporting Buffy away before things could really resolve themselves. Still, we’ve one more issue to go, don’t we?

The conclusion looks as though it will feature the inevitable throw down between Faith and Genevieve, so there’s more fighting to look forward to. And sexiness. And Buffy will probably be there as well. I know I will be, and you should be too. At least get the trade paperback.

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