The trade paperback collecting these issues hit shelves this week.
Title: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #12-15: Wolves at the Gate
Author: Drew Goddard
Illustrator(s): Georges Jeanty (pencils), Andy Owens (inks) and Michelle Madsen (colours)
Cover Date: March – June 2008
Cover Price: $2.99 US
Japanese goth vampires who are equipped with Dracula’s complete list of abilities have invaded the castle and stolen Buffy’s scythe at the worst possible time. Given the relationship between the scythe and the slayer population, the Scoobies are extra-concerned.
Dracula: “My boy… I was never an ordinary vampire. Or did you forget who I used to be? I’ve killed more men than God’s plagues combined. And that was before I started eating people for fun. The fields of Europe used to steam with the blood of my enemies. Trust me… the vampire’s the least of your concerns. It’s the old man you need to worry about.” It’s nice to see someone remember the whole “Vlad Dracule” aspect of the Dracula lore.
The slapstick handling of the Satsu revelation. Buffy’s always been funny, but generally not in the Three’s Company manner.
This is original in the sense that it reveals some of the reasons Dracula is different from the other vampires, and establishes character relationships in new ways. It’s not clear at this time how, if at all, the villains tie in to the current Big Bad; at this point, it seems it only ties into the season via the heroes and their connections to each other, rather than the villains. I give it 4 out of 6.
The artwork is the solid Jeanty stuff we’ve been seeing thus far, with better likenesses than we had back in issue #1. I give it 5 out of 6.
The story works well in almost all cases. The low point just doesn’t work due to the style of humour involved, which is just out of place in the Buffyverse, but the rest is very nicely done, particularly in the handling of Dracula. I was a bit upset when he first appeared here, as I didn’t enjoy “Buffy vs. Dracula” in season five, but I’m primed and ready to see him come back now. This is the way to handle Dracula. I give it 5 out of 6.
The characterization is solid. Buffy’s long history of choosing romances that are doomed to fail continues unabated, as does the Whedonverse track record for happily ever afters, especially for Xander. The plot is clear and easy to follow, but still manages a scope that a television series could never afford to film. I give it 5 out of 6.
The emotional response was strong. This was an eventful story arc, and it plays out nicely here, working with characters that have and have not appeared in the live action series. (Andrew has a couple of excellent moments, too. His character is much more effective when he’s used this sparingly, lightening the mood for a maximum of two pages per issue.) I give it 6 out of 6.
The flow was smooth throughout. Again, rapidly unfolding events are an asset to a compelling read. I give it 5 out of 6.
Overall, it’s another quality entry in the series. Fans of the show should definitely take note of the comics; the writing we’re used to is all there. I give it 5 out of 6.
In total, the Wolves at the Gate story arc receives 35 out of 42.
Additional Notes and Comments
Issue 19 is due out on November 26, concluding the current arc that involves Fray from that miniseries. After that, issues 20 (written by Jeph Loeb) and 21 (written by Jane Espenson) are both one-shots that will get individual reviews. Issue 22, due in January, is written by Steven S. DeKnight, but I’m not yet sure if it’s a one shot or not.