Writer Brad Meltzer did some of my favorite work with Justice League and a few other DC titles. He had a way of creating scripts that treated something supposedly childish with a mature and adult tone. He was among the few comic writers who could really do that placing him up amongst people like Frank Miller, Will Eisner, and Alan Moore. Meltzer has taken those gifts and injected them into the Dark Horse Buffy: Season Eight series, giving it more vitality and life than it’s had in a long time.
Buffy #33 opens at the end of a hellacious time for Buffy and her small army. Slayers are dying and their power is being absorbed into Buffy’s body leaving her feeling like more like a vampire than a slayer. Meanwhile the ever elusive and bizarre Twilight stands before Giles, Faith and Andrew attempting to figure out who will die first. Using her magic, Willow locates Twilight and the new superhuman Buffy (flying, super strength, etc) takes off after him. The final confrontation will leave buzzers sounding in the brains of Buffy fans everywhere.
With all of the fantasy and even melodramatic elements going on in Buffy #33, Meltzer still manages to make this read like a book for adults. Buffy’s new gift of absorbing powers and the feelings of that making her a vampire are handled with real grace, allowing the reader to see how this could emotionally wreck somebody like Buffy. The scenes between her and Xander are perfect, Meltzer nails the back and forth between the two that made the TV show such a hit. Even the big twist reveal comes across as bigger than itself. Once we see the reveal, Meltzer goes into the why and the tone and direction of the book takes a whole new twist. I know the word “gripping” seems silly but in Buffy #33 it really works.
The art in Buffy #33 is pretty standard for the series and while not a drawback to it; it’s not anything special. Artist Georges Jeanty does a nice job of not letting the art overpower the script and understanding the writing is really what’s key to issue #33. My only problem is that it seems to step too far back and almost becomes lazy. The kind of art where if the script wasn’t strong it wouldn’t be saved by the visuals. It’s hard to walk the line between laid back and overpowering and Jeanty puts in a solid effort it just falls a bit short. I guess I wanted to see more of the characters in the art, more details and emotion in the faces.
Buffy: Season Eight has been a great series so far and a welcome outlet to all of us bummed that the show was cancelled before its time. Brad Meltzer has stepped the greatness of the book up a notch with issue #33 and left an ending that drives you to read the next issue. This is a turning point in the series and what comes next is anybody’s guess. That kind of excitement and mystery is exactly what all comics should strive for.