Seasons 8 and Other Continuations

Category: Buffy
Last article published: 30 March 2018
This is the 6th post under this label
So I was perusing the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 comics series, kicked off by Joss Whedon himself, and positing what happened after the cult series ran its course. It's got the Scoobies running an international group of 500 slayers, Giles working with Faith, the military investigating the hole in the ground that used to be Sunnyvale, villains both old and new, and Dawn turning into a giant and a centaur due to... unprotected sex with a demon? Let's just say it throws you into the deep end from issue one and goes from there.

Continuing celebrated franchises in comics form isn't unique to Buffy, plenty of movies and television series have spun off into comics to tell interstitial stories and to continue the sagas. Star Wars is an early example, as are Star Trek and Doctor Who, but early examples don't have the same function Buffy Season 8 does. First, those are franchises that have kept going, putting in doubt the canonicity of any comics (or other media) material, but more importantly, they were crafted at a time when there was no way to easily revisit your beloved franchise. No VCRs or DVDs, no streaming services, no Internet, even movie theaters were simpler and had fewer screens (NOTHING ever stayed more than a week in my local cinema in the 80s)... Even straight adaptations of the material become worthwhile because that's the only way you can re-experience the material ON DEMAND. Yes, television shows might be syndicated and run an episode (not of your choosing) every week night, but you're really at the mercy of local stations, and your favorite show might drop off the schedule completely. Movies are even harder to come by.

In this day and age, the world is very different, so the comics continuation really isn't the only game in town. While older series might have been content with stories that didn't rock the boat, could be ignored wholesale, and never permanently changed anything about the setting or characters (and regretted it when they did, just look at the convolutions of Movie-era Trek comics), "Series Eights" today want you to think they ARE canon, appointment reading for true fans, and with no further televised material in our future, the actual continuation of the saga you followed for what might be 7 years. There are still interstitial series (Doctor Who, Trek, etc. have comics that fill in holes, but the continuations are still expected to hit our screens), but comics companies now go out of their way to develop material for series that are over (or were cancelled before their time) with the series creators themselves. The name alone tells you this is OFFICIAL and part of the auteur's VISION.

Sure, a series creator could decide to push for a movie continuation or a sequel series, but those are BIG projects that don't often pan out. They cost money, and take a lot of time. Comics, on the other hand, are a more affordable affair. There's no effects budget in a comic, and no limits on what actors you can use. Consequently, Buffy S8 stars potentially hundreds of slayers, can make demons look like something other than people with latex stuck on their faces, feature international locations from across the globe, and pull off weird transformations like giant/centaur Dawn. Whedon definitely understood this going in, at the risk of making Season 8 feel like a very different animal than the previous seven.

Others that have gone this route include Smallville, Dollhouse, (original) Battlestar Galactica, Firefly (as Serenity), The X-Files (though undercut by the show's return), and Charmed. Makes me think, what series do I miss that I'd love to see more adventures for in comics form? That's an important distinction because after all, while I might be intrigued by the post-Jimmy Smits West Wing, I don't think comics are necessarily the best medium for it. And while I'd be game for Time Tunnel adventures, it just wasn't the kind of show that told a "continuing story", so even stories that took place after the last episode would still feel like interstitials.

Maybe you would look to unresolved cliffhangers and demand closure: Who was that baby from the future left on Lois and Clark's doorstep? What happens to the Heroes now that they've been outed to the world? Does TV's Sarah Connor unwind the timeline that seems to have erased John Connor from history? Where do Rembrandt and Sam Becket go at the end of Sliders and Quantum Leap respectively? Does Agent Carter recuperate from her gunshot wound? What are the answers to the mysteries posited in Clone High? Harsh Realm, though based on a comic, deserves some closure too.

Or you might just want to see what a showrunner's cocktail napkins look like, as interpreted in an unlimited budget medium. Maybe there's another chapter, waiting to be told, in the worlds of Eureka, Being Human, 2007's Bionic Woman, Primeval, Warehouse 13, TV's Birds of Prey, Caprica, The Human Target, Misfits, Sarah Jane Adventures, Space: Above and Beyond, and who knows how many film sequels we might think of!

In this age of nostalgia where almost anything could warrant a film or television comeback - Jean-Luc Picard is about to headline a Star Trek series! - IP holders might be waiting for their big break. Why settle for comic book pennies when you can have tv/movie dollars? But some properties are just not going to come back, at least not in their original forms, so rather than suffer through a recast reboot, fans might still look forward to comics that continue the stories you fell in love with. Do you have favorites you've seen translated to the comic page, or wish they could be?


tomg said...

Misfits of Science--an old TV series from 1985 starring Courtney Cox. I think it only lasted one season. I remember liking the idea of the show, but not the show itself. The writers didn't seem to know how to use the characters or their powers. A comic book version could continue their stories, but with better special effects and with better plotting/characterization.

Siskoid said...

I loved that show as a kid, and yes, I think a Season 2 comic would be keen!

Mike W. said...

I really liked Dead Like Me and I heard they had the next season basically finished (or thoroughly mapped out at least), so it'd be cool to see that. I was also disappointed by the abrupt ending of Freaks and Geeks; at the very least, I wanted to see the fallout from Lindsay lying to her parents about her summer plans. I don't know if a comic would work for that, but a novel might.

Siskoid said...

I also had Freaks & Geeks in mind writing this, but it didn't seem like a comic book property.

CalvinPitt said...

Avatar: The Last Airbender has had three, maybe four distinct stories done in comics that take place after the end of the series, but before Legend of Korra. They seem to have a dual goal of following up on some things from the TV show that never got filled in (like where Zuko and Azula's mother ended up), but also in showing how the world is changing towards what it is by the time Korra's story kicks in.

The two of them I've looked through in Barnes & Noble looked good.


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