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Graphic Novel Review: Buffy Season Eight Volume 3, Wolves at the Gate by Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon

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Remember how I said that I can’t really expect “Buffy Season Eight” to be anywhere as good as the TV series? Well, maybe I actually said that quietly in my own head; but after having read the first two volumes, I contentedly concluded that Buffy in its graphic reincarnation is very much enjoyable and getting better by the volume. It does get even better in the third volume, to the point of ‘excellent’ even, as the third volume is packed with loads of surprising goodies. Mild spoilers ahead.

Buffy Season Eight: Wolves at the Gate

The volume begins with a short story by Joss Whedon called “A Beautiful Sunset “. In this story, Buffy and Satsu go on a two-girl mission to exterminate a vampire nest. Short after the vampire nest is dealt with, Buffy gets to meet her mysterious adversary for the very first time, the masked Twilight guy. It seems that the whole point of this disturbing chat with Twilight is to make Buffy seriously doubt herself on the most basic level – has she done good, or terribly wrong in sharing the slayer’s power?

After this preliminary short story, we move on to the four-part story arc that constitutes the remainder of the volume, in which… Buffy has Sex with Satsu. This is obviously pretty cool in many ways, but mainly because Satsu is a beautiful Japanese slayer, and Buffy’s best fighter. Also cool is that Satsu is very much in love with Buffy. And just when the two agree to keep this whole girl-on-girl encounter confidential, all residents of the Scottish castle that serves as slayers’ headquarters, somehow end up in Buffy’s room while both girls are still naked in bed.

On the night of Buffy’s intimate (yet publicly known to all her friends) encounter with Satsu, a group of very powerful vampires attack the castle and manage to steal Buffy’s Scythe – the source of all slayers’ power. These enhanced vampires seem to possess unique powers, such as transmogrification into wolf and fog forms. There’s only one vampire previously known to possess this set of powers – Dracula. Naturally, Xander and Renee are sent to ask for Dracula’s help – the latter having formed a special bond with Xander– partially because Xander is highly susceptible to his hypnotic powers, and partially because Xander taught Dracula to ride a motorcycle (while in vacation, while in Transylvania, sometime after Sunnydale went inwards).

So yes, Dracula is back, with many awkward moments for his ‘manservant’ Xander, but the story twists even better. It turns out that the transmogrifying vampires are actually Japanese (and also Goth in appearance, mind you) so the whole fight goes to Japan!

Buffy Season Eight: Wolves at the GateAs much fun as it sounds, what is Tokyo without Godzilla? And if we can’t have Godzilla, we can still have giant-sized Dawn (she was enchanted to her humongous size by an ex-boyfriend). To quote Dawn herself when she first arrives to Tokyo: “Hi. Or, I mean…Roar? ROOAAAR!!!”

The Godzilla-Dawn is not the only giant treat in this volume, but it can only be superseded by one thing, and one thing only – a giant robot! Yep, the Japanese vampires (being Japanese and all) built a giant Mecha-Dawn, to countermeasure the huge slayer’s sister.

Sounds far-fetched? Not if you’re writer Drew Goddard, who skillfully weaved these crazy elements into the best story arc of “Buffy Season Eight” so far. The script is notably funny and also somewhat sad, because two slayers die in this volume.

The art of Georges Jeanty (penciler) and Andy Owens (inker) captures the characters of Buffy and Willow pretty well. The depiction of Xander’s character also improved substantially in this volume.The Tokyo sceneries were nicely depicted with all the neon lighted skyscrapers and sometimes wooden roofed compounds. I still feel that some of the panels could be more accurate (body proportions and placements wise), but overall they’re pretty panels.

The Multiple covers Included are very imaginative, colorful and just plain beautiful to stare at, only I haven’t figured out yet, why does the Japanese samurai version of Xander (on one of the covers) has something that resembles breasts.

So, third volume of Buffy – definitely satisfying. I’m moving on the next volume now, much reading to be done yet.

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