Buffy: SeasonEight #5 – (Dark Horse – Whedon / Lee) – Whedon wrote this stand-alone fifth issue, titled “The Chain,” and it feels much of a piece with Whedon’s old “Tales of the Slayers” series. Buffy’s not in issue five. Nor is Xander, Dawn, Willow, Jonathan, Warren, Amy, Ethan, Faith, Kennedy, Anya, Cordelia, Angel or Spike. I spotted no angry Army men and no anti-slayer tattoos.
Giles puts in a cameo. I think. (It might be Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek; guest penciller Paul Lee is no Georges Jeanty.) We don’t learn this month where Giles has been keeping himself.
Andrew turns up on one page. Slayer One on another. Nikki Wood turns up on Slayer One’s page, wearing her black duster.
Issue five focuses on a heretofore unseen slayer, a girl fleetingly referenced in issue one. She’s a Buffy decoy, but not the one who fooled Spike and Angel in Rome; it’s the decoy operating “literally” underground, where she’s been charged with putting the fear of Buffy into some hellmouthy types.
We follow pretend-Buffy from the day she got her superpowers. We learn a bit about how the neo-slayers are recruited into Team Buffy these days. We follow her through recruitment and training, and how she came to be chosen, as it were, for her Big Assignment. One comes to like the pretend-Buffy.
Faux Buffy also gets her own all-new non-human supporting cast. Not a vampire, witch or werewolf among them.
Not the best in the series, but I say pick it up. This is the last issue Whedon will write for a while. Brian K. Vaughn (“Y: The Last Man”) takes over next month with a four-issue arc focusing on Faith the Vampire Slayer. (There’s a cool preview of the Dushku-y issue-six cover on issue five’s letter page.)
Issue Grade: B+
Series Grade: A
Is Buffy the Vampire Slayer transforming the comics industry? Publisher’s Weekly has an interesting story here about how “Buffy” mastermind Joss Whedon’s new “Season Eight” series is turning first-time comic-book customers into buyers of non-Buffy comics.
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