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June 03 2009

(SPOILER) Discuss Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales of the Vampires. Buffy goes indie with this Becky Cloonan penned one-shot set in the Season 8 universe.

The comic book store doesn't open for three hours, I can't wait!
The cover artwork by Jo Chen is masterful and very stylish.
Angel: Not Fade Away #2 is also out today.
Wow, somehow I must have missed the Becky Cloonan posts about this in the past. Is this the one-shot they were talking about way back when??? I assume so b/c there's no number listed and it still has Joss' name on the cover...i.e. not a reprint of some old non-canon first series issue, right?

Cloonan is awesome. I loved her work on DEMO. Excited to get to the comic shop.
alexreager, yep, this is the Season 8 one-shot they've been talking about. There were no non-canon "Tales of the Vampire" stories, as far as I know (although there is a "Tales of the Slayer" non-canon novel). The Tales of the Slayer graphic novel, Tales of the Vampires (the original 4 or 5-issue--can't remember--mini-series that's now collected into one volume), and possibly that other "Tales" one-shot they did (I think Jane or Doug wrote it, can't remember, and I also can't recall if it was a "Tales of the Slayer" or "Tales of the Vampires" title) are all apparently canon.

The one story that ran through the Tales of the Vampires mini-series, the one written by Joss I believe...it wasn't anything amazing, but I loved how that little girl .

They should definitely find a new sub-title for this sort of thing. When there are multiple series or one-shots titled "Tales of the Vampires", it could get confusing.
'Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales of Season 8' might work better as a title. Or just 'Tales of Season 8'.
Simon, I like it. I'm going with Tales of Season 8. Or TOS-8 for short. Not to be confused with Marvel's Tales of Suspense, as if there weren't enough confusion in the world of comic cataloging. (I'm not even going to talk about The Punisher and his 7 different incarnations (or volumes) of the same book...)
Okay, so i read it. It wasn't bad. The artwork looked weird in some spots, however, but it was good overall. The plot was kinda disappointing, would have worked better as a one-shot on the side, released at the same time as the next issue.
I really enjoyed this, I'm feeling really bad about brand new slayer Alex, and I loved the reference to Harmony's reality show!
So here enters Jacob "Jay" the misanthropic teenager who gets beat up during lunch and spends all his free time alone in an arcade. Enter metaphor for disconnection to real society through escapist technological entertainment. Jay is a loner with a capital "L" who just wants to feel something, anything. So how does he get his thrills? He offers himself up as food for the local vamps of Nowheresville, New Hampshire. How could this plan ever go wrong?

The one shining light in his life is his friend Alex, who he slowly starts to realize he likes more than a friend after a sexy dream where...she bites him. Is he sensing a darkness inside her specifically or just associating his thrills of being bitten with the sexual thrill of attraction? Sex and death becoming interchanged. He asks out Alex for a date the next day - things are finally starting to look up. Maybe he'll have a life. Maybe he'll find connection.

Maybe not. Finally starting to feel a connection to life, a connection to Alex, he turns down the vamps who expect to get a little bitey action from him. He doesn't need the thrill, not tonight. The problem with his plan - you don't say no to a bunch of hungry vamps during a blizzard where you're their only food source. They beat him to within an inch of his life and as that life is slipping away...

May, the new girl in town, appears in the nick of time and turns him into a vampire. It would have been a "waste" to let him die. And in this transformation, Jay finally feels the thrill because he is "the thrill" In his own words "Ahhh! I'm alive!" He's finally alive through being undead. His unlife is remarkably similar to his life - he hangs at the arcade, he still lives with his mom though he's moved to the basement, all with the added bonus of the thrill of bloodlust. The rush from drinking down life. Oh, and the scary nonchalance as he contemplates killing his mom so that he can have the house all to himself.

He continues his routine of unlife, going to the arcade to mindlessly pass the time only to meet up with a frantically upset Alex. He's been missing for days with no word, not to mention he forgot about their date. May comes onto the scene to amp up the threesome's tension, revealing that she and now Jay are vampires. Alex freaks and then Alex slays. May is dead and Jay is pissed, attacking Alex for being a "slayer" when May had never hurt anyone (as long as you don't count turning Jay into a soulless monster, that is, and feeding off the living like a rotten parasite). Enraged, Jay attacks Alex, drinking her down to the point of death only to realize he doesn't want her to be truly gone and turns her. He wants her to "come with [him]. Live with [him] forever."

His life has finally begun through being undead. The thrill of vampirism has filled the vacuum of his empty existence. He felt nothing while he was alive whilst having a soul, now he feels nothing without a soul, nothing but the thrill of power, of thirst and the (sexual) satiation from feeding. It's a disturbing look at the consequences of a detached life in this modern era, where you can become so numb, so disconnected that you'd actively desire to become a monster just to feel anything. Harkens back to Buffy in Season 6, who just wanted to get "the fire back" and sought it destructively with Spike, and Angel in AtS Season 2 who just "wan[ted] to feel something besides the cold". The villain of the piece isn't May, Sebastien or even Jay. Though I want to hate him for taking Alex's life.

The villain is disconnection. And it's the same villain that's been chomping at Buffy's heels all season.

"Connection. Why can't I feel it?" - Buffy 'A Beautiful Sunset'


******



So this issue won't be going down as my favorite. It didn't have the exciting thrill (heh, imagine that? theme!) of pacing that normally comes with a BUFFY comic and of course we're reading about original characters so it lacks the familiarity of the other issues. That feeling of sliding into your comfort zone when you see Buffy quipping with Xander just isn't here. I suspect another reason this issue is going to be found lackluster is directly related to the tone and POV of the piece (both of which are thematically vital to the story) - Jacob is disconnected, emo, out of touch and depressing. And there is no clear person to root for here because we're looking at the world through his eyes, his warped and disconnected POV. And we don't like the way he sees the world. It's supposed to disturb you, make you uncomfortable and unclean. It makes you feel run down and a bit lost.

Artwise, I really enjoyed the dream panels. If you're going to do nudity in a comic, do it like that please (looks at Dez in Aftermath judgingly). Here it's evocative, sexy and shows insight into the character. It's as much a part of the character as it is a part of the greater metaphor of the story.

This issue finally (about time!) depicted the world's reaction to vampires going public in Season 8 in more specific detail and illustrated the struggle between vampires and slayers over humanity. What's the deciding factor in this battle? Connection.

I enjoyed Living Doll more (how could I not with my beloved characters to latch onto and the snappy dialogue by Petrie?) but thematically? Tales > Living Doll. Frankly, I haven't enjoyed the message of an issue so much since Harmonic Divergence.

As I reread the issue a second time, I connected more to Jacob and his predicament. I do wonder if it might be difficult for some readers who've never experienced this debilitating ennui. I imagine many won't have sympathy for him. But all I can say is read BtVS' Tales of the Vampires like you're capable of being that disconnected, emo teenager who gets lost to the world. And see how tragically wrong it can all go.
Are there people who have never experienced this debilitating ennui? As Chloe in 'Big Chill' (forgive the out of date reference) said: "I haven't met that many happy people, how do they act?"
Are there people who have never experienced this debilitating ennui?


I don't know, and I just can't bring myself to care... ;-)

On topic (yeesh, now there's a concept), I have to say that the artwork left me cold. Not so much the framing, but the execution. Just don't like that style at all; IMO, it suits off-beat, disjointed stories like some of those you find in Heavy Metal better than this one. *shrug* Different strokes.

Storywise, though, Jacob is exactly the sort of self-absorbed, bored-with-life, useless twit who would embrace being turned. And we get a glimpse at what's going on with the "Vampires, yay!" movement: vampires being careful not to kill their blood-banks while dispensing their "favors" like a drug, catering to a brain-dead crowd that's obsessed with the kewlest and the hottest, and the newest biggest rush. Vamps are our friends, why would anyone want to harm them? Psychotic humanist bigots...
I haven't gotten the issue yet, but it sounds as though this, too, doesn't quite deliver a bona fide sense of urgency and peril to the entire vampires-in-public aspect of Season 8?

I'm concerned about the momentum going into "Retreat" -- really, to call a story "Retreat", I assumed that it would be what follows an obvious defeat. Like "The Empire Strikes Back" -- they are striking back from the hit they took in "Star Wars". Here, I don't feel like this arc (or apparently this issue) truly captures a sense of what they are retreating *from*. No part of this has communicated peril as effectively as the BHC being blown up or Buffy being horsewhipped effortlessly by Twilight.
Emmie; If you just gave away the story, thanks for the warning and sparing me a let-down. I'll buy this out of obligation but IMHO and speaking just for me that's worthy of a "yeeesh" almost as big as the one I used to describe "Condelia."

Rowan Hawthorn: That's a rpoblem. Trying to deconstruct this on the basis of Joss's over-all politics I can't see exactlyw aht he's satirizing here. Proving that I cna't analyze things that way effectively, i guess.
The art was kind of difficult for me to interpret at times, but I thought the story was ok. It's a good indication of how much society as a whole has changed since Season 7.
King of Cretins, it is true that this story line "doesn't quite deliver a bona fide sense of urgency and peril to the entire vampires-in-public", because I think the point being made here is about how much the public is condemning the Slayers as being the trouble makers. So at this point in the story they are still showing us how the public has embraced the vampire presence and are upset with those trouble making slayers.
I'm beginning to very much suspect that the vampires in public urgency is meant to slowly build to a head. So prejudging it...not the point yet. And really, why is a side-story meant to amp up the energy of Season 8's main story when that's supposed to happen in the actual Season 8 title?
I don't know whether the Big Purple's politics come into play that much in S8, DaddyCatAlso. They certainly didn't in Serenity, and only very obliquely in Dr Horrible. Which may be why you're having trouble deconstructing this on that basis.

[ edited by shambleau on 2009-06-04 05:56 ]
I agree with Emmie. I wouldn't want this side story to amp up the urgency of the main story. It's just a nice side story that delves deeper into what this new world order means for everyday citizens. It fleshes out the plot a little bit and makes it more well rounded but it really shouldn’t be anything as dramatic as greatly effecting the main plot.

I always just assumed that we’ll see why they have to retreat.. In ‘Retreat.’ I’m guessing it has something to do with Warren as well.
I don't mean danger or urgency to the public, to the people -- just to the Slayers. That just hasn't come across yet. The biggest threat to the Slayers through all this has been Hanselstadt, which had nothing to do with vampires-in-public. Everything else, from 8.21 to this, has been isolated incidents. I figured that by now the public would be so set against Slayers, they wouldn't dare act in public (contrary to 8.22, for instance), because both demons as well as civil authority would be against them. Think "Heroes" Volume 4.

Emmie, the only reason I thought it might be found here is because it was absent in the "Predators and Prey" arc.
I *still* don't buy the "vampires are cool" thing.

This is a world where sexual minorities and people of different ethnic backgrounds are still discriminated against. I don't buy that people would not only be tolerant of vampires, but ACCEPTING of them to the point where they are totally hip. Doesn't work for me.

Vampires would be hunted down and killed, not put on reality tv and consumed through pop culture. Hell no.
King, I think it's a case of us taking 'vampires in public' too far, too literally. Our expectations from news outside of the story making us inform the story prematurely.

When have they dared act in public since Swell? Predators and Prey was the real tipping point for when the Slayer would presumably be hated, but recall that in the actual story, we haven't seen much of this hate. We've seen it vaguely referenced in Harmonic Divergence and issues leading up to it. And I think you're misunderstanding the context of the "by now" for this issue. Alex acting was very immediate, unplanned and happened in an fairly isolated location. Think empty parking lot late at night in Nowheresville, New England. It's barely a blip on any radar of exposure here. Also factor in that Alex seems pretty uncoordinated in her attack and shaken to the core. She's a noobie Slayer at best, maybe not even closely affiliated with Buffy's organizaiton.

I think you're fast-forwarding the uniting of action against Slayers too. That's something that's still building - there's no sign that it would be a necessary front at this point. The anti-Slayer sentiment hasn't reached Code Red yet. It's simmering but has yet to boil over.
Cant wait 'till I get this on. Unfortunately it will probably be an other week... or two :(
I wish I had some very thoughtful criticism to add, but really... I just thought it was boring.
I liked it a lot. First off, I loved the setting and also seeing vampires and well, people that were not super-wealthy and high class far away in an out of the way location.)

I also liked the fact that it was slow paced and this was the first time (at least as I recall) we saw a parent's reaction to a person becoming a vampire. Those particular frames were the most powerful for me. Likewise, the fact that the new vampire's life doesn't lead to fun and riches or even much of a new social life (only the headrush of deciding who lives or who dies--more feral and animalistic)is a take that I don't think we have seen explicitly stated before.

As for vampires being cool--I can see where teens would as it were would eat it up (much like heavy metal in my day). My guess is we will also see moral panic about it later in the series.

Anyhow, this was an unusual take and I think raised some interesting food for thought.
(Plus I still think some of it was homage to or inspired by Near Dark, which also deals with vampires in rural areas, disconnection, loneliness etc...or that could just be me.)
Emmie, hence my confusion -- if it's not at "code red" yet, why "Retreat"? That's not exactly the Slayer way -- they're rather like sharks, with feet and much less fins.
I thought it was a nice little break, and took it in the same way the vox pops in Dollhouse: Man On The Street were intended - a way of showing us how "the public" are coping with vampires coming out of the coffin.

Although I am starting to wonder if we'll see a nod to the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood universe.
I really enjoyed this issue.
I loved the colorists choices,
and the whole look of he issue.
Was the paper different in this one?
The paper does feel slightly shinier compared to the last issue. And regarding the story, I liked it a lot. It was a lovely interlude piece.
I did not like it much, but I shall read it again, I'm never sure the difference between a vampire (with no soul) and a human when it comes to emotions and actions, maybe that's the point...

BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY some will ask, is this canon or not? To which I will reply by telling them of a new and exciting position; uncanon. Is Tales of the Vampire canon they shall say? Why, it's uncanon of course! Uncanon say you? But what is uncanon? Why it's the schrodingers cat of canoncity! It's wave-particle duality and quantum all rolled into one. It's uncanon! That did not explain what uncanon meant though they shall reply. To which I shall say, grief no, of course it didn't, but that's the whole point of uncanon! Lots of things are uncanon in the Buffyverse, Seasons 1-8 of Friends is uncanon, Illyiad is uncanon, Brad Pitt is uncanon, Barack Obama is uncanon, most things are uncanon in Sunnydale! This is very stupid you shall then say. And I shall concede.

A vote for uncanon is a vote for unchange!
Canon?
Le sigh.
I really loved it.
This is very stupid you shall then say. And I shall concede.

Buh! You made me laugh. Best post about canon ever.
Good for Alex, taking one of them out. Hopefully, if there are any Slayers still left on the job who haven't taken either Buffy's order or the public's threat to sit on their hands, someone will take a stake to Jacob and to Alex if she does in fact drink, which she probably will. And something that thinks its Alex and which for convenience we choose to call Alex will show up and either kill capriciously or carry out its evil less conspicuously.
I loved it! I thought it had a great atmosphere, and it was paced very well. Very enjoyable read.
If Alex sticks around, and if SLayer powers remain in the body and vampire powers add on to it, she could be quite the meance further along. Or, if vampire powwers multiply Slayer abilites, she'll be practically invincible; they'll need that sub.
Did anyone see this at a European store yet? I can't find the ISBN anywhere, so when I search for it I usually find the 2004 Tales of the Vampires…
I'm late, but I really enjoyed this. I think it nicely picks up the question of choice, e.g., that Slayers don't have a choice in getting the powers and the memories, but they do have a choice of whether they want to slay or not. Then, that gets turned on its head by Jacob, who doesn't care if his best friend has a choice or not -- it's all about what makes him feel alive and powerful. (This is with the understanding that this is Jacob-as-vampire.)
Did anyone see this at a European store yet? I can't find the ISBN anywhere, so when I search for it I usually find the 2004 Tales of the Vampires…

I bought my copy just like all of Season 8 at a regular comic store in Vienna, Austria. Where can I look up the ISBN? (Would that help?)
Once/if someone, somehow, blows the lid off of the mystique of vamp-turning for the public (if such a thing is even able to be proven), then the sentiment should turn against them. It's as simple as letting them know that getting vamped means you die, you don't get to stick around and enjoy superpowers/supersenses/immortality. A demon inhabits your body and makes a mockery of your life.

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