Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Long Way Home
Writer: Joss Whedon
Artist: Georges Jeanty
Distributed By: Dark Horse Comics
Reviewed by Justine Manzano
Joss Whedon, creator of some of my favorite television series (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly), is also an extremely talented musician (Buffy the Musical) and comic book writer (Fray). Not a man lacking in talent at all. So, when Whedon announced that he would be releasing a series of comics set in Buffy the Vampire Slayers’ world, after the series ended – a comic book Season 8, if you will – I was torn. A collection of the first few comics, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Long Way Home, gave me pause. You see, though I loved Buffy more than any television show EVER, Season 7 was, by far, the worst season of the show, and I wasn’t sure I really wanted to see much more of that. Still, I did what all lovers of Joss would do, and I trusted in the Joss, for he is good – and I came out of the other side knowing exactly what that meant.
Buffy Season 7 ended with Buffy and her faithful witch friend, Willow, using magic to release the slayer powers. What does that mean? That means that, instead of the famous tag line of the movie and televisions series, there will no longer just be one girl in every generation with the strength and skill to hunt vampires and the forces of darkness, but all who had the potential to take Buffy’s place if she died, now also had the full power of the Slayer. Now, while this helped Buffy to destroy the villain of the last season, this left her with a whole new world of trouble – several women of all ages suddenly discovering they had super powers. In Long Way Home, we learn that Buffy had made it her mission to find and train these slayers, turning them into weapons that she could aim at the forces of darkness – and win. But there are is a new villain in the works as well as a couple of old familiar ones, ready to much up the works, and just itching to take Buffy and her friends out.
Immediately, we learn that the core group of the series has changed significantly. Giles, the Watcher who cared for Buffy seems to be missing from the equation, and taking over for him as the Watcher of the new army of Slayers is Buffy’s old, very normal, very goofy friend Xander. Xander has clearly matured, and suddenly dresses like Marvel’s Nick Fury, which Whedon didn’t let go by without a dorky comic book mention as we have come to expect. Dawn, Buffy’s sister is now a giant, having had her first sexual experience by someone without her best interest at heart. He turned her into a giant and now nobody can figure out how to get her back. Andrew is back, as the face and company-keeper of the Slayers, a Watcher, despite how little the rest of them want him there. And, Willow, has been gone for almost a year, traveling the world with her girlfriend Kennedy.
There were a lot of things that I liked about this comic book. Things that were very true to a Joss Whedon inspired world. Quotes like “The thing about changing the world, once you do it, the world’s all different,” are exactly the type of dry humor that made the series so great. The action of the series is there as well as the quippyness, and these were my two favorite things about the series! Another thing I loved was the fact that Buffy had found in the group of Slayers, a couple of look alikes – one to hang out in Rome and Romance the Immortal (a character that we unfortunately discovered Buffy was in love with in the last season of Angel, but apparently, we were also taken in by one of the look-alikes), and another to fight the forces of darkness underground. This served well to explain Buffy’s sudden relationship with the Immortal as well as easily create the best story in the book, the one in which we follow the underground Buffy as she fights, and learn how she was chosen as Buffy’s planted double. A very interesting and emotional tale.
There were also a few things about this comic that annoyed me. Dawn being a giant for one, was really annoying. She tended to be irresponsible sometimes and to make bad choices, but a) the fact that she was duped so easily, b) the fact that they never truly explained how that happened, and c) the fact that she was a frickin’ giant just didn’t fall into the category of Joss’ best work. Add to that inconsistencies in the resurfacing of a villain that supposedly never died, but was seen as one of the incarnations of The First Evil in the series (a being that can only present itself in the shape of people who have died), was not the kind of consistency that I expect in a Joss Whedon creation. The other complaint I have is one that is a bit more…amorphous, I guess. Something just wasn’t right. The series, based around a slayer of demons, was never exactly grounded in reality, but somehow, a series that once expressed the horrors of true life through metaphors that lead to true horror, in its comic book form seem to be based in a fantastical world where elves were expected to pop up. The tone behind this graphic novel felt far too cartoonish, and was missing some of the real grit of the actual television series – except for the final, Slayer Double storyline, which was gritty as hell, despite the fact that it’s the only story that contains a fairy.
All in all, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Long Way Home, is not a bad choice in a Graphic Novel if you are a faithful Buffy fan. But if you are one of those fans who just love to hate your favorite characters, spare all of those who listen to you by not bothering to touch this one – it ain’t for you, babe. Joss, all I can say is – I hope Volume 2 gets better.