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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 Motion Comic (Blu-ray Review)

21 Jan, 2011 By: John Latchem

$34.99 Blu-ray/DVD combo
Not rated.

When we last saw Buffy on TV in 2003, she had created an army of vampire slayers to oppose an evil force in a climactic battle that ended with the destruction of her hometown of Sunnydale. After seven seasons battling vampires and demons, our heroine was left with an uncertain future, but at least it was a future of her choosing.

And while fans may have hoped for some sort of follow-up in the form of a movie or TV miniseries, it never happened. After the final season of the spinoff series “Angel” in 2004, the Buffyverse went dark.

Then in 2007, creator Joss Whedon re-assembled some of the creative team for an official continuation in the form of a comic book, which was dubbed “Season Eight.” Jumping ahead a few years, the story begins with Buffy pursuing the fight against evil, but now commanding a much larger force of slayers, with Xander, Willow, Giles and most of the major characters still alive at the end of the show playing key roles in the new organization.

With the new setting, the comic book also introduces some interesting if sometimes bizarre story elements. A spell has turned Buffy’s sister, Dawn, into a giant; some old villains have joined forces; and a temporal portal allows Buffy to meet Fray, a slayer from the future introduced in a comic book miniseries written by Whedon in 2001. In later issues Whedon takes a dig at another popular vampire saga that came along after his by naming the main villain Twilight. Oh, and Buffy experiments with lesbianism. Can’t leave that out.

This motion-comic version adapts the first 19 issues and runs about four-and-a-half hours. This is an abridged version of the comic book, so a few scenes have been left out.

Like most motion comics, it’s essentially hyper-stylized animation with a voice cast that tries, with mixed results, to approximate the voices of the original actors. While it’s nice to have new Buffy stories from the original creative team, seeing them in this format is somewhat bittersweet. Freed of any sort of budgetary restraints, Whedon and company have opened up the Buffy canon to a sprawling, globetrotting fantasy adventure. There’s an inevitable tinge of regret to not be able to see it play out in live-action.

The two-disc set includes a Blu-ray and a DVD version of the episodes and extras. The content is the same in both, though the DVD is a two-sided flipper disc. The case also includes a miniature print version of the first issue.

The extras are inconsequential, with the most significant being a short featurette called “Under Buffy’s Spell,” in which the writers reflect on how fun it was to continue the Buffy storyline in a comic book. There’s also a five-minute pilot version of the first episode, which retains some of the dialogue cut from the final version. “The Buffy Trivia Experience” lets fans answer questions while watching episodes to unlock additional content. Also included are a gallery of the comic book covers, and a DVD-ROM application that lets fans create their own Buffy motion comics.

Since “Season Eight” ran for 40 issues, it’s reasonable to assume there will be a Vol. 2 disc at some point (though episodes beyond the first 19 aren’t yet available at iTunes), and maybe even “Season Nine” after that comic book series launches later this year.

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