So Buffy Season 8 was awful. It really was. The first arc was fine, Brian K. Vaughan's second arc was great, and things steadily fell apart after that. The main characters were used in increasingly bizarre ways, doing things which they'd never have done on the TV show. We'd applaud the decision to have Buffy test her sexuality (which happened in the comics), if she hadn't been portrayed as anything apart from a buttoned-up matron in the final few seasons of the TV show. We'd have stood behind the decision to get rid of Kennedy now the actress wasn't under contract - but she stuck around. And then there were some misconceived returns for characters like Angel and Spike which didn't do anyone any favours. Anybody fancy a load of sub-plots with potential new characters who are doomed to death one issue later? Happens practically every other issue. And that issue focusing on Harmony? Good gracious.
The saving graces were the art by Georges Jeanty - which approximated the likenesses of the cast but developed subtly as time went on. The characters still seemed to be the ones we knew from the show, even though Jeanty made them his own. In particular, he simply 'got' Willow. The covers by Divine Jo Chen were, of course, fantastic. And there were fun moments at the beginning.
But overall? Awful stuff.
With Season 9 about to begin, can the franchise begin to pull itself back together? There are some indications that it just might - not least of which is the hiring of Christos Gage as writer of an "Angel & Faith" series. The first thing Gage did upon getting the gig was to make sure beloved character Clem would make his debut in the canonical comics, so already his story is better than the entirety of Season 8.
The other indication is that Joss Whedon is handing over a lot of the writing duties to Andrew Chayliss, a gifted television writer who has worked previously for Whedon on the Dollhouse TV series. Chayliss has decided that the series should stop with the globe-trotting nonsense which weighed down the previous forty issues, and instead stick the characters in a single location (San Francisco) and focus on cast dynamics. The best episodes of the TV show were the ones which didn't try anything too ambitious, so that seems to be a good idea. While Giles is... absent... there will be appearances from characters like Spike, which is a strike against the series if we're talking Buffy Season 7 Spike. If we're talking Angel Season 5 Spike, then we're in luck.
The worry is that it seems a little weighted down in the events of Season 8. Which, as previously mentioned, was AWFUL. Sub-plots like the loss of magic from the World; Harmony making vampires famous; and other nonsense are all going to continue to resonate. If the series gets too obsessed with adhering to established awful continuity, then we're all going to be in trouble.
Who will advise you on the quality of the new series? Comics Vanguard shall do this for you! Expect a review of issue #1 when it comes out in August.
Angry with our flippant evaluation of season 8? Why not complain in our comments section!