I could not compile a list of the best of 2008 without including Buffy Season #8. For the second consecutive year, I place this Dark Horse series among the top of the comic book heap and not just because I am a huge Buffy fan (Though that certainly helps its case) but also because it’s one of the most inventive and well crafted comic of its genre.
Forget the fact that this show translated to another medium hasn’t lost any of the wit, well written characterization or snappy dialogue associated with the defunct TV series, and don’t take into consideration the fact that even those who were not regular comic book readers sought out the book in order to follow the titular vampire slayer’s latest adventures. The fact remains that Dark Horse hasn’t skimped on artistic talent or overdone its marketing to promote the book. The Buffy brand still sells because it’s a quality iconic universe which has been crafted by Joss Whedon and company and which has been further added to in 2008 by the likes of Jeph Loeb, Brian K. Vaughn and Drew Goddard.
In addition to fleshing out the new “big bad” of the season Twilight, Buffy and her cohorts have battled familiar foes, deranged zombies and military goons, suffered through emotional losses and new relationships. Buffy’s relationship with Satsu was handled well, instead of being a titallating affair, it had all the subtlety and developed organically from the inherent needs of the storyline, as relationships tend to happen in real life. Then in issues 16-19 brought back Melaka Fray, the Slayer from the future which was first introduced by Whedon in 2001. The inevitable crossover mined the rich story potential of both universes, even if the payoff was ultimately less satisfying than her re-introduction.
The latest comic (issue 20) is a stand alone issue which travels back in time to the High School days at Sunnydale High. Though long gone, it was nice to see characters like Cordelia Chase and the dynamics of the scoobies once again. This story was initially penned by Jeph Leob for the Buffy animated series which never got picked up and just a glance through the pages of animation by Eric Wright, Ethen Beavers and Adam Van Wyk or the exquisite altertane cover by Georges Jeanty is enough to make any true Buffy fan sorry that this project never got off the ground. In an era where blue chip comic books by A grade creators ship later and later, Dark Horse should be commended for bringing us 12 excellent issues of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 in 2008. I only wish there had been an annual.