Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Buffy Season Ten Still Tops!

My love for Buffy and friends is never ending. Since I was fourteen, she’s been my best friend–and I’m glad to say she’s still managing so even in comic form. Now with that little gush out of the way, let’s get into my itty-bitty thoughts on Buffy, the Vampire Slayer Season Ten Volume Two, I Wish.

Per graphic novel standards, I Wish follows immediately behind the previous entry, New Rules. We learned that at the end of Season Eight, Buffy destroyed the existence of magic on the Earthly plane. By the end of Season Nine, she restored magic to save her sister, Dawn. However, the restoration of magic comes void of rules, leaving Buffy and her friends to rewrite its laws.  But there's a large catch. Rewriting the laws of magic is privy to creating a “monkey’s paw” effect. What is that you ask? Well, it’s having a wish granted with some ugly–many times drastic–side effects. (Background: The term “monkey’s paw” is derived from a short horror story of the same name, written by W. W. Jacobs. In Jacobs’ “Monkey’s Paw," a sergeant of the British Army is given a magical monkey’s paw that grants him three wishes. Wary of the consequences, the sergeant tries to relieve himself of the paw. Unfortunately, his family obtains it and proceeds to have their wishes granted. In turn, this leads to… well… I'll let you discover the rest.)

Nevertheless, drawing back to my point, Buffy and her friends are aware of this (they've had years of experience with the repercussion of magic). So given the power to recreate the rules of magic, without careful and hyper-unambiguous wording on their part, could obliterate everything they’ve worked so hard to protect.  Seriously, Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Giles were the guardians of the Hellmouth back when Sunnydale was sunny.  Now they've graduated to guardians of Earth where the stakes are too astronomical to even think about.  Obviously no one is touching rewriting magic before all thoughts of reason are considered, assembled, and re-assembled by all parties involved (which includes every filum of monsters outside of the Slayer's nucleus).  Until then, creating the rules of magic is off limits.

Except Buffy and her friends aren’t so free of the beneficial possibilities and potentials recreating the rules could have on their personal and individual circumstances. Nor is the new trio of mega-Big Bads trying to pick Buffy's team off to rewrite their own, destructive rules. And this is where I Wish truly, and I mean truly, earns its title.  Simply stated, I Wish maintains the character-driven atmosphere loved most inside the Buffyverse.

The Only Place to Celebrate Angst is Buffy

So let’s keep it clear: EVERYBODY WANTS A PIECE OF RECREATING MAGIC VIA A WISH. The good guys do. The bad guys do. Between the two, choices are made and battles (both verbal and physical) take place.  Buffy even works as a consultant to the troubled supernatural who wants a magical leg up in this affair. On the other hand, Xander contemplates wishing his emotional connection with Dawn back–as well as playing with the thought of resurrecting our beloved Anya. Spike contemplates recreating magic to pull Buffy back into his arms. Andrew, still struggling with his ex-villain issues, goes on a secret mission to resurrect another character from the dead (no spoilers). Even Giles takes a moment to contemplate his situation (if you don’t know, Giles is back and cuter than ever).

The chapters within I Wish are split into exploring the majority of each, which calls for a less action-heavy volume (though there is plenty of action). And that’s what I love, as we get back into the character-heavy aspect of Buffy. The villains, demons, and monsters are certainly present, but I don’t see them as the highlight to Season Ten just yet. Here, Buffy and friends are still straightening out some recurring issues dating back as far as the actual show. And I loved every minute of it because it's familiar territory.  Additionally, it's equally as engaging as the show, and also tames the pacing of the comic.  Both these concerns I found missing in Season Nine.  Well, more so the messy-ass pacing.

Speaking of Pace

The extended bonus is that Season Ten still remains consistent with its story. Can I get a hallelujah!? What I mean by this is that chapters aren’t deviating down a path far removed from the core story‘s focus–or premise. It’s all closed circuits, and thankfully under-saturated with some of the creative foolery I felt was a little too much in previous seasons. (If you remember my rant on the previous season, there are no space ships and centaurs in I Wish).  And I like it like this.  The cast is slim and familiar.  And while I believe some of the allegorical purposes of monsters and villains aren't always realized in Buffy's comic form, I can happily say that as of Season Ten nobody has splashing me in the face panel after panel with a rush of potentials suitors to the cause.

Simple and Slim Stays Best

In essence, Season Ten continues to make sense. I know what’s going on chapter by chapter, panel by panel; and I couldn’t be any happier. I now spend less time trying to comprehend the writing, with its additional high-flying battles and sudden jerks into other storylines.  Instead, I spend more time in Season Ten; we're talking late into the night flipping pages. The writers have scaled back with their handle on the heart of what made Buffy great since way back when I was fourteen. Keep it that way!

As I write this, I'm back on my yearly re-watches of Buffy.  I just finished Season One's episode "Angel".  Does anyone else read the comics and watch the entire TV show yearly?

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