Publisher: Dark Horse
Executive Producer: Joss Whedon
Writer: Andrew Chambliss
Artist: Georges Jeanty
Covers: Phil Noto, Georges Jeanty
Buffy season 9 has so far been excellent. It has taken season 8 and not only built on it, but corrected its flaws while doing so. Where season 8 became too complex, focusing only on the bigger picture, season 8 feels more like it is made up of smaller stories that also happen to fit into something bigger. This makes individual issues more satisfying, and each story arc feels both self-contained and part of a larger picture.
While this is in large part due to Joss Whedon recognising where season 8 went wrong and fixing the formula, it is also helped immensely by lead writer Andrew Chambliss. Where previously the Buffy comic had a rotating cast of writers, much like any TV series, season 9 takes the more comic book approach with just one writer (with the exception of just two issues so far). A latecomer to Joss Whedon’s TV work, Chambliss wrote some episodes for the ill-fated Dollhouse before its untimely demise. And if that wasn’t qualification enough to write a Buffy book, he’s also been sharpening his stake on The Vampire Diaries, amongst other TV work.
His work on Buffy has been standout. His grasp of characters in both actions and dialogue is flawless, making his stories seem like they fit seamlessly into continuity, and the humour is often sharp enough to make me double-check that it isn’t Whedon himself on writing duties.
Issue 17 is the second part of the ‘Welcome to the Team’ story arc. This continues on from the previous two-parter ‘Billy the Vampire Slayer’, penned by Jane Espenson, and the only arc so far this season not written by Chambliss. The story follows the oddity that is Billy, a regular non-powered teenager as he integrates into the Buffy universe and trains to be a slayer. Things are complicated when Buffy is taken away from the action by Angel alumni Illyria, a powerful and ancient demon representing a council of her kind who need Buffy’s help. That is not the only difficulty either, and by the end of the issue it feels like a few pieces have been moved into place to really kick the larger plot into gear for season 9.
Art is by series regular Georges Jeanty, who is another reason that Dark Horse’s Buffy has been such a success. Jeanty was hand-picked by Joss for the comic, but his art does not simply look like Buffy the TV series. It is not heavily photo-referenced, leaving it feeling dead on the page. Jeanty’s work is vibrant, stylised, animated and alive. It doesn’t look like Buffy, it feels like Buffy.
Another great issue in an essential series for fans, and more than worth a look for those who never were, too.