Predators and Prey is volume five of Whedon’s “Buffy Season Eight,” otherwise known as The Buffy Story After The TV Show Wrapped. While earlier volumes like Wolves At The Gate and The Long Way Home were slam-bang action fests or great pieces of character development, this one seems a bit off its game. Whedon doesn’t pen any of these issues, maybe that’s why they’re all a bit lackluster. Still, he’s on board as Executive Producer, which I’m guessing in a comic book capacity means he looks everything over. Though I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store for Buffy and the crew, this was a volume to slog through, not one to sink into and really enjoy. Herewith, the issues of Season Eight that are included in this volume:
Gotta love Harmony, but this story doesn’t give us the airhead-oomph that makes her a vamp you hate to root for. MTV decides to do a reality show based on Harmony’s un-life, and it ends up causing a whole lot of image problems for the Slayers. This is the start of a new story arc that has the feel of spanning several new volumes, so I’ll forgive the clunky start. And the fact that the most interesting character in this issue is one we’ll never see again. Bonus points for the gorgeous “Harm” magazine cover artwork, most likely by Georges Jenty since it has his breathtaking attention to detail, but since it’s not signed I’m not perfectly sure. Either way, it’s a great skewer of teen magazines, as well as a peek at how vampires have taken over the Buffyverse.
Sigh. This was just stupid. Yes, I get that there needs to be a sign that vamps are indeed still the bad guys we’ve all come to expect. But this story just doesn’t gel. Satsu still has a giant chip on her shoulder – so Buffy isn’t gay, you were a phase, get over it – and whines through ninety percent of this chapter. It’s a hell of a day when Kennedy is the voice of reason and moderation. The killer Vampy Kats are a hoot (and a bust on the Hello Kitty all things kawaii craze) but end up looking and sounding silly. “EAT THEIR #%&@ING OVARIES”??? Really? Really. Yes, vampires are plotting. We get it. Could it be something a bit less stupid? Vampires have been around for millennia, you’d think they’d have something a bit more low-key to offer.
Predators And Prey
Simone, otherwise known as Faith Lite, has taken over an island to serve as a home base she and the other rogue Slayers can use for . . . taking over the world, bending us all to their will, whatever. Andrew’s best attempt at thwarting her backfires, and he and Buffy head over to Rogue Island to sort things out. Simone just tries too hard to be bad, though I hope she won’t have a moment of clarity like Faith did, coming to her senses and helping the cause once again. Because it’s been done – by Faith. With the vamp campaign to turn the world against Slayers, actual bad girls will be needed to further the vampire cause (and make the storyline more interesting.)
Hooray, it’s Faith! And Giles! And the best chapter of this volume! Faith, who is now seeking out Chosen Ones who aren’t thrilled about being chosen, has found a Slayer who mentions a sanctuary that Slayers who don’t want to slay head to. Of course it’s not all it’s cracked up to be; soon Faith and Giles meet up with an old acquaintance who has a different plan for the Slayers in sanctuary. This story is fun for the old-school BtVS action as well as the morality play feel and the hints of some serious slayerage at the conclusion.
Dawn always seems to get herself into trouble. She steps in it like it’s her job. She’s usually the most yawn-worthy character to my view, but she’s become a bit more interesting. Dare I say more interesting than Buffy has been lately? Mainly because Dawn is still a teen, mucking her way around college, screwing up as teens do. But since she’s Dawn her mistakes are humdingers. Case in point; she’s a centaur right now. Well, when she’s not a pretty china doll here in “Living Doll.” Don’t follow me? That’s okay, I had a hard time following that progression myself, probably because I’ve skipped a volume of Season Eight. But by the end of this issue it all becomes clear. Dawn does a bit of growing up with this story arc, and it looks good on her. If she keeps this up, I may actually develop a real soft spot for her.
Predators And Prey does have the Scoobs in it, just in case the overviews of the issues in this volume had you wondering, though not as much of them as I’d hoped. I understand that there are thousands of Slayers throughout the world, but it’s not Slayer Comix, it’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer. So more with the Buffy, please. Speaking of, Buffy has become a distant, if caring, leader, with Xander, Willow and Giles barely making face time here. Andrew has become one of the gang, and is now a Watcher with a slew of Slayers around the globe. Don’t worry though. Even with Andrew toughening up a bit and taking his Watcher status seriously, he’s still the nerdboy he’s always been. A long trip with Buffy only serves to drive that point home. (And why can’t I sit next to someone like him on an airplane, rather than the typical businessman dink? Sure would make the ride more bearable.)
This feels like a lead-up to a bigger, badder volume (or next set of issues, if you’re following the individual comics) in the works. There’s a lot of change going on, with characters shifting from old patterns of behavior, but it just ends up a volume that screams “hey look, change is afoot!” without actually making things interesting. It’s great to hang with Buffy and the crew, but I’d like a bit more to chew on. Thankfully the writers look like they’re leading up to a killer conflict, with Slayers as the new Big Bad in the eyes of the rest of humanity. How’s it gonna pan out? Time will tell, though I’m betting there’ll be plenty of guest appearances by Mr. Pointy. Let’s hope so, because as the Fantastic Four’s The Thing likes to say, I’d like to see more Clobberin’ Time.
(Dark Horse, 2009)