Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Trade Waiting - Buffy The Vampire Slayer-Season 8: No Future For You

Brian K Vaughan was given the reins to the Buffy comic for four issues a while back in an arc titled, No Future For You. I have watched the better part of five seasons of Buffy, and did enjoy them, but I was never the target audience for the comic and have been happy to have it play out in my peripherals. But, I am a massive BKV fan and had to know how he handled himself in that sandbox. In stepped my library with a copy of the trade and I was set.

No Future For You is a Faith-centric story, she being the old evil then good slayer as portrayed by Eliza Dushku, that plays out as a mission story and a character set piece at the same time. It’s got the requisite blood, laughs, fights, and awkwardness to have been a Buffy episode if it had been in time. I offer this review as a fan of BKV who wanted to sample even though I don’t know much of the current Buffy history. I wanted to know if the arc would stand alone enough for anyone to enjoy it.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Season 8: No Future For You
Written by Brain K Vaughan
Pencils by Georges Jaunty
Inks by Andy Owens
Colours by Dave Stewart
Collects Issues 6-10

The first issue opens with Faith sitting and pondering atop a very large structure in the middle of Cleveland. She’s thinking about when her mother would read her ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go’, the classic nonsensical rhyme from Dr Seuss. It’s a great way for BKV to instantly build layers into this already intriguing character. Faith has a dark history of being the Slayer from the other side of the tracks and so here she is imbued with all of the uncertainty and inner demons that someone who kills and still desperately wants to be liked should have.

This difference from everygirl, sunshine-blonde Buffy is made crystal clear instantly when Faith is called in to deal with the remnants of a vampire nest, and more specifically the single mother’s children. Faith finds nasty looking vamp-kids and yet still quickly dispatches them. It’s a good insight and reintroduction to the character, or simple setting up for anyone who doesn’t know who she is. Any reader should have a handle on Faith after just these first few pages.

She is then approached by Giles who needs her help for a mission with the possibility for more bloody than dusty wetworks. It’s nice to see that even in the four colour world Giles still plays with his glasses while talking. It’s little mannerisms like these that artist Georges Jeanty slips into the page that make the comic such a solid adaptation from the screen to the page.

Faith takes on the mission and finds herself going undercover as royal Brit brat blood to find a new Slayer who doesn’t seem to be doing the right thing with her powers. It’s a simple premise for an undercover mission and yet it’s the little pieces that make this come together as a whole. The British Slayer, Gigi, is young, and ignorant, and easily led by a redheaded Irish warlock who obviously has bigger ideas in mind.

The action scenes are as fast and long as I remember from the television series, girls constantly battering girls and bouncing back for more. It might sound simple but it’s effective and the headbutts are sure to let the blood flow. The fights flow across the pages well and usually set up the next scene effectively, so they’re not just chicks punching chicks for no reason.

BKV has to tie the issues into the larger tapestry that Joss Whedon created with the whole Season Eight premise, but these scenes don’t bog down the proceedings at all. I have no idea what went down and I don’t think it really matters all that much. This arc stands alone and the few scenes that intersect spell themselves out, and it is a pleasure to see Xander hasn’t changed at all. If you don't know who Xander is then you'll at least appreciate him riffing on Snake Plissken and the Danger Room in one scene anyway.

The mannerisms and dialogue of Buffy were always very specific to the show and yet BKV is able to put their style straight onto the page. He knows how to put words into the characters’ mouths instead of shaping the characters to fit his words. They all still sound so young and slangy, it’s pretty well done, if it’s your thing. If you didn’t like the sound of the show then I doubt you’d appreciate it here.

Georges Jeanty draws the entire cast of characters well, sometimes you know which character it is from their look, sometimes you know through context who the blonde girl is, but in the end it works. He paces a page well and works with the dialogue effortlessly to still make the characters have motion. He also gets to draw some stone gargoyles and a weird little dwarf dude that’s pretty funny.

In the end, this story is about Faith, and Giles. It’s not a Buffy tale, she is more of a plot point, a MacGuffin of sorts, than a real protagonist. Faith is interesting and pairing her with Giles works extremely well. They’re very different, and yet when we dig deeper we see they really aren’t. It’s a good tale to watch two opposites slowly attract.

I was also interested to discover that BKV had initially pitched this as a direct-to-dvd flick but that fell through. He then resurrected the idea to comic script successfully and got the story out anyway. It can be quite amusing to see the path that any story can take, from notes, to pitches, to eventual creation.

I should also mention that this trade ends with a one-shot by Joss Whedon. It's a good story, though it isn't exactly part of this arc. It follows through with some threads of story, particularly with Dawn, but it's also a little more continuity heavy and so I preferred to focus on the BKV work here instead.

Verdict - Check It. This story is definitely enjoyable. It’s got Faith being very moody, with well written moody captions from the master of them, BKV. It’s got great art, and it’s got a fantastic partnership between Faith and Giles. It’s certainly not perfect, I can think of many other BKV titles that smash this to pieces, but this is worth a check for sure. Don’t let the fact that it’s Buffy hold you back, if that’s what was, just dive in and enjoy a simple four issue tale of a girl who has to kill another girl because she wants to kill some other girl. It’s fun.

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Two-Bit Specialist said...

Thank you Ryan. It's nice to see a Buffy story on this site. Unfortunately, anything outside of Marvel or DC usually gets lost among the shuffle.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

Hey, Two-Bit Specialist, glad you enjoyed the review, thanks for commenting. Marvel and DC certainly do have a monopoly on the market and it's always nice to share the love with the others publishers, Image and Dark Horse really do put out some excellent stuff, not to mention the other publishers, so we'll try and give them a fair go around here.

Nico said...

As with his Big Two work, there seems to be some vital ingredient missing when BKV isn't writing characters he created himself. It's not bad, just not as great as usual. Just out of curiousity Ryan, if you had to pick a character, would it be:
a) Yorick Brown
b) Molly Hayes
c) Mitchell Hundred

Luxembourg said...

This Faith arc is the second major story to be told in BUFFY Season 8 and is a wonderful spin on Faith's own story.

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