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TV in comics: Buffy, Angel and Firefly

by Keith McDuffee, posted Jun 24th 2008 11:20AM
buffy season 8In honor of our Buffy/Angel week of Retro Squad, it's only fitting that I finally give some updates on what's going on with each series with respect to their continuation in comic-book form. I'll throw in a little 'Serenity: Better Days' for good measure.

Let me warn you right now that I'll be revealing quite a bit about each series below. So, if you haven't read them yet or want to wait to read the books for any plot points, stop reading now. I'll be writing about the entire series of each, not just the most recent.

First up, Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Season Eight.

This last series of books, entitled 'Wolves at the Gate,' I enjoyed over possibly anything else in this series. However, I bet if I go back and read them all again, I'll think the whole damned run is just brilliant. This run brought Dracula back into the story, and in such a way that didn't make me cringe. I was always wary of Joss & Co. bringing Dracula to the story of Buffy, but they didn't let me down in the TV series and they certainly didn't let me down in the books.

For those who aren't up with reading the Buffy comics but loved the show and have no plans to read the comics, here are a few highlights on what's been going on so far:

  • Buffy and a huge group of slayers are headquartered in a castle in Scotland.
  • Xander is still minus an eye and is a tactical leader of sorts, as is Andrew. Up until the latest issue, Xander had a new love interest, a slayer named Renee. Let's just say Xander has crap luck with relationships.
  • Dawn is at the castle, though she's now a giant -- like a building-tall giant. It was thought this was due to her losing her virginity to a boy, Kenny, who happened to be a demon known as a "thricewise," though she recently revealed that she slept with that boy's roommate, not Kenny. So now the reason for her being a giant is still a mystery.
  • Willow's part of the group at the castle, showing off a lot more magic that we'd seen on TV. She regularly flies and teleports places, for example. She's still in a relationship with Kennedy, though Kennedy's not present at the castle with the other slayers, though.
  • Giles has made a few appearances early in the series, though mostly in working with Faith to take down a slayer-gone-bad.
  • Amy made an appearance, as has her new "boyfriend" -- a skinless Warren. The two remain at-large and are still a threat to Buffy, Willow and the others.
  • No one from the Angel series has made an appearance, and it's unlikely they will anytime soon.
  • Buffy has dabbled a few times with the same sex, though she hasn't fully switched teams yet. It's made pretty clear that she and Willow won't be getting together. It's weird -- with Willow, I had no issues with her being revealed as gay. Buffy -- it just doesn't fit as well, though I have to say it makes sense in some ways, given the crap she's had to deal with with the men in her life.
  • The "big bad" is still not quite revealed yet, though the government seems to be involved in some way.
That's clearly not everything, but it's a few highlights off the top of my head for anyone not following along.

angel after the fallNow, as for 'Angel: After the Fall', things have gotten interesting for the past few issues or so.

We've been treated to some mini-arcs that have given us some insight as to what each of the primary characters of Angel went through when "all hell broke loose" in the TV series finale. What's been interesting is seeing how different artists portray each character and, in turn, somewhat create their own story for what happened. I'm sure Joss had his own "bible" of sorts for what each character had gone through, though the artwork has a way of giving a unique voice to each story.

At first I didn't like this series at all, but after these "flashback" issues, I'm becoming sold. The backstories are ... odd, in some cases, but they helped me understand how things started out.

Like I did above for Buffy, here's some highlights for what's happened to the characters of Angel in comics. Again, a warning: Spoilers ahead!

  • Los Angeles is now in a hell dimension. It's unclear what's happened to the rest of the world.
  • The Wolfram & Hart senior partners have turned Angel human, and until recently were still working out of the semi-demolished (now completely demolished) W&H building.
  • Wesley is now a liaison for W&H, ordered to keep an eye on Angel, though not willingly. He now looks like he did back in his Buffy days and not his "demon hunter" days. Oh, and he's a ghost.
  • Spike was living under Illyria's protection until recently. Oh, and now you know what she's been up to -- living with Spike in a mansion. Spike's helping humans to safety while making it appear as though he's up to no good. He's shuffling them off to Connor, who cares for them.
  • Gunn was near-death during the final battle of the TV series and, to safe his life (so-to-speak), was sired as a vampire. He's now trying to prove he can save L.A., even though he has no soul, though he wants Angel to take the blame for his being turned.
  • Lorne's still in the game. After L.A. went to hell, he took off an setup residence in a neighborhood sheltered off from all the hellishness of the city, where he was made a ruler of sorts. He's since come out to help Angel and the gang.
  • Groosalugg makes an appearance, though Cordy has yet to show up -- it's only a matter of time, methinks.
That only scratches the surface of what's been happening. Seriously, it's quite bizarre to imagine what's on print could ever be displayed on TV as far as this series goes. Buffy, maybe -- not Angel.

serenity better days coverLastly, we have 'Serenity: Better Days'. This was a three-issue story that we're told took place in the time between the end of the Firefly series and the Serenity movie. I loved this series, as it read just like an episode of Firefly. There are some great fantasy sequences for a few of the Serenity crew, though I'll let you go grab this short series to find out what they are.

There you have it! Hopefully I'll have time to keep you updated with the comic runs of these shows and possibly more (heck, I just picked up issue #1 of the new Chuck comic, for crying out loud). I'll probably start to keep reviews and updates to the arcs, but you never know.

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larry

there was another serenity comic called Those Left Behind that was really good

June 26 2008 at 2:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Doug Nelson

The comics are pretty horrible for anyone not already indoctrinated into the world of comics. The TV shows and the comics are written for very different (though obviously overlapping) audience. The two media are built upon entirely different, and sometimes contradictory, conventions.

The TV shows are very human, and rely on dialog more than special effects. The comics rely on incredible visuals (and some of them are incredible). But the dialog in the comics is just sad.

It's a shame Whedon vetted this particular series of comics as canon (all previous series are not). That pretty much destroys any sort of movie or TV revival.

An exeption is the Firefly comic, since it takes place in the TV/movie continuum. No riding dragons or guest appearances by everybody that ever appeared in the original series.

That last bit irks me the most. It's like they have a checklist of every character with even the tiniest fan following and figure a way to shoehorn them in. Skip, the armored demon? Check. Ethan Raine? Check. Etc.

June 25 2008 at 5:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Stigmata

excellent post keith!! pls do keep it up with regular updates.
Thanks!

June 24 2008 at 11:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Stigmata

excellent post keith!! pls do keep it up with regular updates.
Thanks!

June 24 2008 at 11:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Melissa

Wow that was a quick reply! Thanks Keith. I am a comic book virgin but I really want to read the Angel version. Currently trying to figure out which ones to buy and what a logo variant is...

June 24 2008 at 2:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Melissa

Does anyone know where these can be purchased?

June 24 2008 at 2:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Melissa's comment
Gudlyf

I like TFAW.com myself, or check your local comicbook shoppe.

June 24 2008 at 2:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dorv

Keith:

I can't wait... As it definitely feels like we're not at the same pace as the last two weeks (and this is the one I was looking forward to).

Though, for what its worth, I still think the format you guys ran two years ago was pitch perfect.

June 24 2008 at 12:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lou

David,
Remember that contracts with W&H extend beyond death. (holland Manners, Lilah, etc...)

June 24 2008 at 12:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
leah

Where are the reviews of stand-out episodes in this buffy retro week? There was one every day for arrested development.

June 24 2008 at 12:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to leah's comment
Gudlyf

It's only Tuesday. Patience, young one.

June 24 2008 at 12:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
david

Didn't wesley die in the series finale?

June 24 2008 at 12:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to david's comment
Gudlyf

Sorry, I should have added -- he's a ghost.

June 24 2008 at 12:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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