I have often heard from fans who would like get into the Buffy and Angel comics but don’t know where to start. Here is a quick guide to help you out, without major spoilers. My focus here is on the season arcs which followed the TV show. There are many more comics which came out before and also after then, including several short spin-offs.
It’s always sad when a TV show that you love comes to an end. Although the TV finale was amazing, if only the Buffyverse story could continue in some way, fans could be even happier. The shows ended in 2003 and 2004 and there were rumours of spin-off shows featuring Buffy’s watcher Giles, or Faith the Vampire Slayer. Sadly, neither came about.
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The news that the story would continue in comic book form was both welcome and a little daunting for me. I was excited but not sure if the comic form could do the characters justice. Though I had enjoyed some of the earlier Buffy comic books and Fray – a story of a future slayer which expanded the Buffyverse – I had not been an avid comic reader and it took me some time to get used to the style.
If the Buffyverse was only going to continue in comic book form, I was definitely going to have to commit more fully to the medium. I have not regretted that and as Seasons 8, 9, 10 and currently 11 have hit the shelves I have read them avidly. I had my doubts at first, the initial Buffy comic arc took incredibly long for the plot to unfold. Season 8 was told over 4 years between 2007 and 2011. By the time it got to the end I had forgotten how it started and had to re-read from the beginning! The story line also didn’t seem quite consistent with the Angel comics that were being published separately. Things have improved hugely since then and the comics are now more accessible and faster paced.
If you are new to the comics, or are confused about the order, here is my guide:
“Angel: After the Fall” and more from IDW
Set before the events of the Buffy Season 8 comics; Angel: After the Fall was published by IDW from 2007. A 17 part series dealt with what happened to Angel and his friends directly after the final episode of the TV series, Not Fade Away. Angel had taken on the Senior Partners at Wolfram and Hart and as a result LA was sent to hell. After the Fall was co-written by Joss Whedon and Brian Lynch.
IDW continued to publish Angel comics up to 2011, highlights included Drusilla focused episodes written by Juliet Landau. There is a detailed breakdown of the episodes and collections here. I am indebted to the Buffyverse Wiki for reminding me of the many complicated plot twists. There are many rewarding moments, but basically, good luck getting through this lot. Depending on how dedicated you are, you may want to skip these and go directly to Buffy Season 8. For those who are concerned with canon, only the 17 After the Fall episodes are definitely considered to be canon.
However, a real highlight of IDW’s Angel run was the special short book, Lorne in memory of Andy Hallett. This brought closure to the story of the much-loved green empath demon played by Hallett.
SEASON EIGHT: “Buffy”
It was soooo exciting to get the first comic in Season 8 of Buffy. The story was continuing. The story was continuing! As perfect as the final episode Chosen was, to get more Buffy in any form was something to sing about.
Published by Dark Horse Comics, the story begins with Buffy leading squadrons of slayers in the ongoing fight against evil. One of the great things about Chosen was it hinted that Buffy would get to have a break now that lots of new slayers had been activated by Willow’s spell. Unfortunately for her, she still had a lot of work to do. The season sees the slayers in tension with the military and the appearance of an ominous villain named Twilight. (Note: Nothing to do with the novels by Stephanie Meyer!) Enjoyable aspects of the comics included the return of several recurring characters from the TV show and new relationships for the lead characters. And oh, Dawn was a giant.
Despite being complex and long-winded, Season 8 was an exciting ride, with episodes written by Joss Whedon and many other established Buffy writers including Jane Epenson, Steven S. Deknight and Drew Goddard. Highlights include several Faith centred stories and episodes featuring Fray and Dracula. Eventually Twilight’s identity was revealed. The season drew to a close in 2011 after 40 issues which can be found in 8 collections or books:
- The Long Way Home
- No Future For You
- Wolves at the Gate
- Time of Your Life
- Predators and Prey
- Twilight and
- Last Gleaming
The library edition is available in four volumes.
SEASON NINE: “Buffy” & “Angel and Faith”
Following Season 8’s finish and the end of Angel’s run with IDW, Angel and Buffy’s arcs were brought back together under Dark Horse. This led to much more coherence. Both the Buffy and Angel and Faith comics now went under the heading of Season 9; their story arcs were connected and their events take place at the same time. The Angel and Faith comics worked well, building on the dynamics between the two characters at a difficult time for Angel. Angel and Faith were relocated to London. Readers in the UK may appreciate the realistic minor details relating to life here. The season saw the return of an old favourite character, Whistler who was last seen in Buffy season 2.
Buffy Season 9 began with Buffy having relocated to San Francisco, living in a world without magic. She was seemingly dealing with a series of more down to earth crises than in the previous season. However things were not as they seemed and the supernatural world soon came back into play in Buffy and her friends lives. Buffy Season 9 consisted of 25 issues which were later released as the following collections.
- On Your Own
- Welcome to the Team and
- The Core
The whole of Buffy Season 9 was also published as a 3 part library edition.
Running alongside Buffy, the Angel and Faith Season 9, also contained 25 issues. It was published in the following collections and also in a 3 part library edition.
- Live Through This
- Daddy Issues
- Family Reunion
- Death and Consequences and
- What you want, Not what you need
SEASON TEN: “Buffy” & “Angel and Faith”
Buffy Season 10 again ran alongside Angel and Faith Season 10. Buffy oversaw the return of magic to the world and shared the duty of establishing new rules for a changing supernatural world with old enemies. Angel was looking after an area and community of London which events of Season 9 had left forever changed by magic. Both series’ saw the return of familiar and much missed characters. A highlight of the series included Faith and Fred working under cover in a school.
Buffy Season 10 ran for 30 issues, and was collected into 6 books:
- New Rules
- I Wish
- Love Dares You
- Old Demons
- In Pieces on the Ground and
- Own It
Angel and Faith Season 10 ran for 25 issues, and was collected into 5 books:
- Where the River Meets the Sea
- Lost and Found
- A Little More than Kin and
- A Tale of Two Families
SEASON ELEVEN: “Buffy” & “Angel”
This brings us to the present, with Season 11 currently being released at the time of writing. We now have simply Angel as the comic title; Faith’s narrative has separated her from Angel. Buffy’s story has gained a political edge, with the internment of all magical beings including Buffy, Spike and Willow. Buffy makes a choice which is reminiscent of Season 3’s Helpless, leaving her physically vulnerable. Meanwhile Angel and Fred/Illyria are travelling through time and coming up against their former selves.
Buffy and Angel Season Eleven are each expected to contain twelve issues in total and later be released as collections.
If you are new to comics and a fan of the Buffyverse, give the comics a chance and they are sure to grow on you…
If you are not yet fully convinced; try watching the Buffy Season 8 Motion Comic DVD as an introduction to Buffy’s continuing narrative. Unfortunately it only goes as far as the first 19 episodes of Buffy Season 8 and no further Buffy Motion Comics were released.