08 July 2008

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, Volume 2: No Future for You


BTVS 8v2 No Future for You
But till then, television’s Tina Fey, we must find a way to keep warm.

Previously on Books in the Trees:

For seven years, Buffy Summers, a vampire slayer, saved the world. A lot. Then she ran foul of the ultimate Big Bad, the network, which cancelled her show. Now she’s back in comic form. The comics are being collected in five-issue trade paperback omnibus editions. Volume 1: The Long Way Home was a mixed bag. Now Volume 2: No Future for You has been released. Does it represent a new beginning, or a stake through the heart?


I hate cliffhangers, so let’s cut to the chase. No Future for You is a big improvement on The Long Way Home. There are three main reasons for this:

  1. Unlike the first volume, the stories in this collection don’t try to fit a TV programme’s worth of material into each issue.
  2. The first four issues in this omnibus form a consistent arc — it’s one narrative, split over four issues.
  3. Faith.

I’m with George Michael on this: I gotta have Faith (in a strictly narrative sense, of course). Faith Lehane, played in the TV series by Eliza Dushku, is the working-class, bad-girl Slayer from Boston who first appears in Season 3. Her uninhibited exercise of her powers was both sexy and frightening, and frightening quickly won. After hitting some very deep depths, Faith climbed partway out of them in Season 7, but she is still the outsider, still comparing herself to Buffy, still coming off second-best. (It is one of the great strengths of Buffy that everyone is an outsider in their own estimation, even those who are seen as insiders by others.)

The end of Season 7 saw two thousand young women turned from potential to actual Slayers, and come into full possession of their powers: superhuman strength, speed, ability to heal, and endurance. Much of Buffy and her team’s effort has gone into finding, recruiting and training these young women, but some of them have preferred to go it alone. One such is Gigi, a young English aristocrat, who is most decidedly not committed to using her powers for the common good. Faith is sent on a mission to take her down, but has second thoughts when she discovers that she and Gigi, despite all their differences, may share a common foe.

To say more would be to give too much away, but this arc is rewarding on many levels — from seeing Faith trying to fit in to British high society, to exploring once again her complex rivalry with Buffy Summers.

Issue 10 doesn’t reach the same heights — which is interesting, because the Faith arc was written by Brian K. Vaughan, whereas Issue 10 is written by Joss Whedon. As Lee commented on my previous Buffy post, Joss's issues haven't been as good. My feeling is that he tries to cram too much into each issue, using them like TV storyboards rather than working in a way that's native to the medium.

(Lee's review of No Future for You is also available online.)

Just like Issue 5, Issue 10 is a stand-alone, concentrating on Willow and Buffy. We get to find out that Buffy has a thing about Daniel Craig, while Willow fantasises about Tina Fey from 30 Rock (in an alpine-cabin kind of scenario), but there’s not much more here. Still, it’s a minor flaw in a fine volume, which to cap it all off, even has a tiny cameo by the Doctor and Rose. I shall be back for more.

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