Buffy the Vampire Slayer
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) was originally a Twentieth Century-Fox movie directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui and written by Joss Whedon. The title character is Buffy Summers, played by Kirsty Swanson, a Californian high school cheerleader who is acknowledged as "The Chosen One" or "The Slayer," a once-in-a-generation person who is destined to battle evil and destroy vampires. Buffy does this under the tutelage of the mysterious Merrick (Donald Sutherland), who is later killed by Lothos, a major vampire (Rutger Hauer). Lothos is eventually exterminated by Buffy.
The movie spawned a television series, which began in 1996 with a two-part episode, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Welcome to Hellmouth. In the series, the title role is played by Sarah Michelle Gellar. At Sunnydale High School, Buffy gathers a close group of friends who learn of her role in life and assist her to the best of their abilities. Among them is Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hanningan), who is a selftaught Witch, learning from library books. The library becomes the headquarters for the group, under the aegis of Rupert Giles, the librarian, who also happens to be Buffy's "Watcher," a guidance counselor for vampire slayers. Willow is something of a computer nerd and helps Giles do research and decipher ancient texts.
With the success of the television series, a set of novels have been published, the first written by Ritchie Cusick, who wrote the novel based on the original movie.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer(pop culture)
Mix in equal parts sardonic humor, martial arts action, attractive cast members, monsters as metaphor, doomed romance, and feminism. Heat for seven years. Serve garnished with a stake through the undead heart, and you have the main course that was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Created by Joss Whedon, the title heroine was first seen in a 1992 feature film of the same name, embodied by Kristy Swanson. Buffy was a popular cheerleader who discovered she was part of a historical line chosen to fight vampires and other spawns of evil. Trained under the eye of a Watcher (Donald Sutherland), Swanson still found time to romance bad boy Pike (Luke Perry), even as she faced down the twin perils of the school dance and the vampiric overlord Lothos (Rutger Hauer). The movie was not much of a hit, but Whedon wasn’t quite willing to let his brainchild stay in the dark forever.
In March 1997, a new Buffy the Vampire Slayer debuted on the WB network as a limited-run series. This time, Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) had moved to Sunnydale with her divorced mother, Joyce (Kristine Sutherland), and tried to forget the past. That would be fine, except that Sunnydale is located on the Hellmouth, an evil portal that makes the California town a haven for vampires, demons, and other creepy things. It just so happens that the high school librarian is also a Watcher named Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), and he is as stuffy as any British librarian ever committed to celluloid. As she begins to face the terrors of school, Buffy also fights monsters ranging from demon teachers to invisible girls to the Master (Mark Metcalf), a powerful vampire. It’s a good thing that her Slayer powers give her immense strength, fighting skills, and healing factors, because Buffy’s battles are just beginning.
Luckily, Buffy has friends to help her. Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon) is a good-natured nerd who is helpful despite his unfortunate crushes on women who turn out to be evil. Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) is a brilliant computer geek with a penchant for magic and shyness. Rounding out the group of sidekicks is Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter), a bitchy fashion-plate who resents helping the geeks, but is drawn into the good fight time and again. When not in the graveyard or alleys fighting ghouls, the group mostly hangs out at the underage nightclub the Bronze, where live music—and the occasional fracas against the undead—are a staple. By the end of the first mini-season, Buffy had established itself as a ratings hit and a critical darling. Even as hundreds of websites sprang into life on the Internet, work began on a second season.
Throughout her tenure on the show, Buffy is portrayed as an archetypal heroine with a less-than-archetypal personality. Though she has no costume, she has a distinct alter ego as a student and daughter, as well as a heroic identity as a Slayer (the name most of the monsters call her). And while her Slayer’s mission is to defeat vampires specifically, and evil generally, she uses her superpowers to make sure that her mission as a teenager—shopping, dating, hanging out with friends—is protected. While her secret is unknown to her mother initially, it eventually becomes evident to most of Sunnydale High’s student body that Buffy is their protector (they eventually honor her as such at the senior prom in season three).
The first year had introduced into the mix a character named Angel (David Boreanaz), a brooding black-clad loner who was really a vampire “cursed” with a soul. As season two began, Angel was both aiding Buffy and falling in love with her. Complications arose when they slept together, and his moment of true happiness forced Angel to revert to his evil vampiric self. Angel killed Giles’ girlfriend, Jenny Calendar (Robia LaMorte), showing that even series semi-regulars were not immune from sudden death. Even as Buffy and the so-called “Scooby Gang” tried to cope with Angel’s bad side, they also faced fellow vamps Spike (James Marsters) and Drusilla (Juliet Landau), whose past intertwined with Angel’s in the 1800s. Luckily, the heroes were regularly aided by Oz (Seth Green), a sarcastic teen rock-and-roller who was also a werewolf, as well as Willow’s love interest.
Season three (1998–1999) featured the redemption of Angel, even as the town’s demonic Mayor Wilkins (Harry Groener) planned to sacrifice Buffy’s senior class of Sunnydale High in a bid to gain ultimate power. To do this, Wilkins seduced new Vampire Slayer Faith (Eliza Dushku) to the dark side. Faith was an anomaly; although usually only one Slayer was “called” per generation, a brief death (and resurrection) for Buffy in season one had resulted in another being called. Slayer vs. Slayer was soon set into motion, but as the season ended, controversy erupted. An episode about a teen bringing a gun to school— and the season finale about the mayor attacking the graduation ceremonies—were delayed in airing, following the Columbine school shootings.
The following year featured the cast relocating to college, while Angel, Cordelia, and Faith’s Watcher Wesley Wyndham-Pryce (Alexis Denisof) relocated to a spin-off series called Angel. Buffy found the balance of classes and creature-fighting difficult, especially once she began to fall for muscular stud Riley Finn (Marc Blucas). Too bad then that Riley was part of a secret government group the Initiative, which was capturing and studying monsters in laboratories underneath the university! Once Riley and Buffy found out each others’ secret identities, they helped each other in battle, especially against Frankenstein-like creation Adam (George Hertzberg). Also notable this season were the additions of the characters Anya (Emma Caulfield), a whiny ex-vengeance demon falling for Xander, and Tara (Amber Benson), a shy lesbian witch, whose interaction with the magic-wielding Willow would intensify over time. One episode written and directed by Whedon—”Hush”—was mostly shot in silence, and earned the series one of its few Emmy Award nominations. By now the public and the critics alike were aware that Emmy board was not going to reward Buffy no matter how good it was, but at least the show won in both ratings and sales of licensed merchandise, including an ongoing Dark Horse comic-book series and spin-offs, tie-in books, calendars, apparel, action figures, and Christmas ornaments.
In its fifth season (2000–2001), Buffy introduced a bizarre new wrinkle with younger sister Dawn Summers (Michelle Trachtenberg), whom everyone seemed to remember, even though viewers had never seen her before. As the season-long story arc progressed, the secret of Dawn’s existence played in heavily to the evil plans of sexy villainess Glory (Clare Kramer). Relationships progressed as well: after Riley leaves, Buffy and Spike began a dangerous romance (he now had a microchip in his head stopping him from harming humans, so he joined the fight against evil); Willow and Tara became an openly lesbian couple; and Xander and Anya planned marriage. But the show’s most shocking moment came when Buffy returned home to find her mother dead. In the season’s ender, Buffy would sacrifice herself to save the world from Glory’s machinations.
Moving from WB to UPN after contract renegotiations, Butty’s darkest and most controversial year was in 2001-2002, wherein everything good began to go bad. Willow’s dark magic resurrected Buffy, but her friend was less than grateful to be pulled from heaven back to hell on Earth. Buffy and Spike’s relationship grew ever more destructive. Three geeks—Jonathan (Danny Strong), Warren (Adam Busch), and Andrew (Tom Lenk)— planned to use their magical and scientific knowledge to become supervillains. The eventual result of their actions was the accidental death of Tara, a storyline that proved incredibly controversial in the press and on the Internet; Whedon and producer Marti Noxon spent much time defending themselves from charges of homophobia for killing one of the two lesbian characters. Another episode, written and directed by Whedon, was a musical, with the entire cast singing and dancing under the spell of a demon. The season ended with “Dark Willow” having a black-magic meltdown that threatened all of the cast, and left one villain flayed alive!
The 2002-2003 season of Buffy was announced as its final one, and with rising costs, declining ratings, and series star Gellar chafing to move on to other projects, this announcement surprised few. The producers moved to lighten the mood, establishing a newly rebuilt Sunnydale High, a soul for Spike, and the return of Rupert Giles to semi-regular duty after his time away from the series. But Buffy and the Scooby Gang’s troubles were not over, with an indestructible nasty preacher named Caleb (Nathan Fillion), a horde of superstrong über-vampires, and the First Evil threatening apocalypse. “Potential” Slayers began arriving in Sunnydale to train, so in case Buffy fell in battle, they could move into her place. The series ended with the destruction of the Hellmouth and Sunnydale, but also a gift from Buffy to the world; the potential in girls everywhere was magically heightened, implying that every girl could be tough and strong like the Slayers.
Throughout its seven years, Buffy’s strength lay partially in clever plots that used the evils and monsters as metaphors for problems faced by the characters—and implicitly, the viewers. The dialogue and direction of the series were almost always top-notch, the “girl power” message was both constant and consistent, and the actors were likable and believable in their roles. Buffy became a cottage industry for its stars, who would appear at conventions and parlay their popularity into further roles, once the series ended.
Spin-off series Angel continued on the WB, with Spike added as a series regular for its final season, from 2003 to 2004. A Buffy animated series was in development for more than a year, but despite extensive script-writing, voice work, and design, the show was not picked up by a network.
It was announced in 2009 that Fran Rubel Kuzui, the director of the original Buffy movie, and her husband Kaz Kuzui, were developing a new Buffy movie, “rebooting” the concept—without any involvement by Joss Whedon—to be distributed by Warner Bros.
However, starting in 2007, Dark Horse Comics began publishing Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Joss Whedon’s continuation of the television show’s continuity in comics form. Whedon himself wrote the first, fourth, and final story arcs for Season Eight and oversaw the work of other writers on the comic, including many veteran writers of the Buffy TV series. The Season Eight series ended with issue 40 in 2011. Whedon co-wrote a new Season Nine series that began in 2011; a Season Ten series will follow at a later date. Dark Horse also began publishing an Angel and Faith series, written by Christos Gage, in 2011. —AM & PS
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Movie)(pop culture)
The popularity of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series often obscures the modestly successful 1992 movie that began the whole phenomenon and essentially launched the career of Joss Whedon. Although Buffy the Vampire Slayer was based on his original screenplay, Whedon has complained that the end product bore but faint resemblance to his original work.
The storyline of the movie centers upon Buffy Summers (Kristy Swanson), a cheerleader at Hemery High School in Los Angeles in the early 1990s. As she went about her vapid existence in which the next trip to the mall or the school dance were her only concerns, she met a strange man named Merrick (Donald Sutherland) who informed her that she was the Chosen One. Once each generation, there is a Chosen One who will stand alone against the vampires and the forces and entities of the evil supernatural world. That person is called the Slayer. As can be imagined, this news was, to say the least, most disturbing to the young teenager.
Buffy initially rejected the idea, but the naturally athletic cheerleader also found herself drawn to Merrick, the man destined to be her trainer. She had had strange dreams in which she faced enigmatic creatures in historical settings. Merrick claimed that her dreams were, in fact, her memories of real events from previous lives. He also claimed that he was also present when they occurred.
Once he secured Buffy’s attention, Merrick elaborated on her role as one of the Order of Slayers. Each woman who was a Slayer had a birthmark on her left shoulder. Each would be reincarnated over and over again and spend each new lifetime stopping the spread of vampirism. History aside, Buffy had a more immediate crisis. Lothos (Rutger Hauer), a one thousand two hundred-year-old vampire king, had come to Los Angeles, and Merrick took Buffy to the local cemetery to observe the emergence of some of Lothos’s first victims from their graves. Her encounter with the new vampires convinced Buffy of the truth of all Merrick had told her.
While trying to lead an outwardly normal life, Buffy spent her afternoons perfecting her fighting skills which she demonstrated each evening by dispatching Lothos’s minions with a stake. Her activity soon caught the attention of Lothos, who in his anger killed Merrick. He also concluded that Buffy was the new Slayer. Because she stood between him and his destiny she had to be slain. He gathered his group of new followers for an attack upon the upcoming school dance in the gym. At the dance, Buffy squared-off against Lothos, although it took all of her martial arts skills. During the fight, she made a stake from a broken chair and drove it home with a well-placed kick. Lothos died with the now immortal word, “Oops!” With Lothos out of the way, it appeared that Buffy could finish high school and resume her vampire slaying as an adult. But such was not to be the case. As would be made known in 1997 in the new Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series, she had burned down the very gym in which Lothos had died in order to destroy more of his minions. She was then transferred to a suburban high school in the community of Sunnydale.
The Buffy movie was released to mixed reviews and a largely negative reaction from vampire fans. It clicked neither as a horror movie nor as a comedy. However, it did reasonably well at the box office, emerging over the years as one of the twenty-five highest grossing vampire movies, ahead of such honored classics as The Hunger and Near Dark, and a soundtrack CD followed.
In 1999, the movie would be adapted as a comic book/graphic novel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Origin, with the storyline slightly altered to make it fit into the plot of the first season of the television series. There are several discrepancies between the movie version of the story and the television version. In the movie, Buffy comes from a well-to-do family and she is a stereotypical shallow valley girl. Buffy is a senior in the movie but will begin the television series as a sophomore. The movie vampires do not turn to dust when staked, nor do they show the facial change so notable of the series vampires. Both slayers and their watchers are repeatedly reincarnated and the former identified by a mole on their shoulder.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Television Series)(pop culture)
The original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie appeared in 1992 to mixed reviews. Its creator Joss Whedon (born Joseph Hill Whedon, 1964) considered it a significantly altered representation of his original screenplay but also a stage of development of the Buffy character he wanted. He has noted that he traces his interest in the character of Buffy as an attempt to reimagine a horror stereotype, the image of a naïve but beautiful young woman wandering into a dark alley only to be dispatched by some monster. He looked for a movie in which the girl goes into the alley and turns the tables on the monster using her own remarkable strength and powers.
During the years following the movie, Whedon expanded his knowledge of the vampire genre as it had appeared on both television and in the movies and thought more about the nature of horror. The darker world inhabited by the television Buffy manifested from the very first episode, in which Whedon now set his characters in a world reminiscent of the Chtulu mythos of H. P. Lovecraft. Whedon concentrates on the immediate battle between good and evil, between the “powers that be” and the forces of supernatural evil that once overran planet earth. These forces have been pushed back into the nether reaches, but are constantly trying to return through the Hell-mouth, which Weadon locates in Sunnydale, a small California city that bears a remarkable resemblance to Santa Barbara. (An original Hellmouth is found in the sleepy town of Caicais, Portugal, and so designated because of an unusual rock formation that an angry sea had carved out of the rocky shoreline.) Whedon’s world is inhabited by a spectrum of demonic characters, most importantly the vampires. To keep the vampires in check, the cosmos regularly spits up a slayer, a young female with some extraordinary abilities.
There is but a single slayer at any given moment, but as soon as a slayer is killed, a new one arises to take her place. There are several slayers in training at any time. At the end of Season One, Buffy dies for a few minutes only to be revived. Her death, however, calls up the next slayer, first Kendra Young (Bianca Lawson) and then Faith Lehane (Eliza Dushku), and for the remainder of the series two slayers exist simultaneously.
Whedon conceived of vampires as deceased humans reanimated by invading demonic spirits. When killed, they immediately disintegrate into dust (very much as Dracula in Hammer‘s The Horror of Dracula), a convenient revision of the vampire myth which keeps the authorities uninvolved since the Slayer does not leave a pile of corpses behind no matter how many vampires she eliminates. Vampires have the memory of the person whose body they inhabit, but no soul, hence no conscience. Most vampires in Buffy, lacking a soul, are evil and fit only for quick dispatch, and most episodes began with the Slayer doing just that. Angel, the vampire who falls in love with Buffy, is cursed with a soul/conscience that continually wars with his vampiric urges, thus creating his special hell.
In creating Angel, Whedon adapted his unique idea of the vampire to the new conflicted vampire explored by Dan Curtis in Dark Shadows and Anne Rice in her novels, and the good-guy vampire developed in the comic book Vampirella and the novels of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Fred Saberhagen. Just as the original Buffy movie was released, a good-guy vampire appeared on television in the person of Nick Knight, the vampire detective in Forever Night. When emotionally upset or about to feed, the vampires of Forever Knight put on what became known as a “game face,” a horrific appearance not unlike that of a klingon on Star Trek. Finally, from the Hong Kong vampire movies, Whedon introduced the martial arts as a major weapon in the Slayer’s arsenal.
In spite of Whedon’s maturing vision, the television series attempted to provide some continuity with the movie. After the events at her Los Angeles high school, Buffy Summers and her mother hoped to finally resume a normal life, but through the show’s early episodes Buffy comes to understand that normality and peace were not central to her existence.
She was bothered by dreams and, more importantly, has the burden of understanding the significance of the wave of deaths and disappearances among her new classmates. One body had even dropped out of a locker in the gym. The librarian, Rupert Giles, offered her a book on vampires.
Very early in her career at Sunnydale, Buffy found a support group among a small group of students who come to believe in the existence of vampires and appreciate Buffy’s distinctive position in life. Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) is a shy computer nerd, pretty, but rather inept socially. Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon) is a young teen who is too unhip to be popular. Cornelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter), one of the most popular (and shallow) girls in school, was rewarded for her attempts to introduce Buffy into the circle of the school’s elite by being drawn into the Slayer’s supernatural world. The group was held together by the wise Giles, Buffy’s Watcher, whose library also became their headquarters. Giles relied on Willow to extend his knowledge through her knowledgable use of the Internet.
Only reluctantly did Buffy reconcile herself to her Chosenness. Her immediate task was to handle the Master, a powerful ancient vampire king who had planned to renter the world of humans from which he had been banished. Each century there is an evening, called the Harvest, when he can select another vampire, a vessel, and send him out into the world. On the evening in question, his vessel Luke took over The Bronze, a teen club, and began to feed. The Master felt the strength received from each feeding, as if he had been feeding himself. Unfortunately for the Master, before he could gain the strength to break free, Buffy arrived and killed Luke.
The key person in her last-minute rescue of her classmates was a young man who warned her about the Harvest. Although he appeared to be a young man only a few years older than Buffy, he turned out to be a two hundred and forty-year-old vampire named Angel (David Boreanaz). Once a vicious killer, he encountered some Gypsies who punished him by restoring his soul, or conscience, with a magical curse. With his soul restored, Angel found that he could no longer kill.
Although Buffy stopped the Master, it was only temporary. He would be back and it would be Angel who again intervened and told of a prophecy indicating that on the following evening Buffy would have to fight the Master and she would lose. The next evening, at the school dance, Buffy and the Master did fight, and Buffy did lose. However, she was rescued and revived by her friends and ended the initial season by destroying the Master permanently.
Seasons Two and Three saw Buffy and her colleagues through the last two years of high school, during which time they slew countless vampires and a few supernatural baddies of a non-vampiric nature, mostly demons of one sort or the other. Buffy’s love life with her vampire boyfriend Angle blossomed, but had a disastrous ending when during their intimate time together, Angel had a moment of joy and reverted to his vampire nature. Buffy had to impale him with a sword.
She also had her first encounters with Spike (James Marsters) and his slightly crazy girlfriend Drusilla, in what would become a rocky relationship. Willow’s heart would be broken when Xander became involved with someone, but she would recover with the help of Oz, the loveable werewolf. Buffy’s rivalry with the other slayer Faith would lead Faith into an alliance with Sunnydale’s mayor, who turned out to be a demon, and would culminate at their high school graduation. When the vampire was able to come out in the daytime momentarily, Buffy and her friends had to organize the student body to fight for their future. The mayor would be killed when he chased Buffy into the school which had been loaded with explosives. Recalling the fire at her first outing, Buffy ended her high school career by destroying Sunnydale High.
Angel who has returned from the hell Buffy had sent him to, recovered to join the graduation battle, but immediately afterwards, left for Los Angeles and his new series built around his quest for redemption. Cornelia would soon also find her way to Angel’s door, leaving Giles, Willow, and Xander to carry on in Sunnydale. Willow and Buffy would attend college, at the University of California at Sunnydale, while Xander tried his hand at a construction job. With the school library destroyed, their new headquarters would become a local magic shop now run by Giles. Buffy got a new love life in the person of Riley Finn, a soldier with a unit called the “Initiative,” which specializes in fighting the supernatural invaders with the latest technology. Among their victims is Spike, who has a chip placed in him preventing him from doing any harm to humans. Eventually Oz would leave to try to find a cure for his lycanthropy, and Willow would discover that she is a lesbian. Unlike Riley, whom the fans generally disliked, they fell in love with Willow’s girlfriend, Tara Maclay. Xander would eventually fall for Anya, a demon who gave up her powers to be with him.
Buffy’s family would be enlarged at the beginning of Season Five with the addition of a sister, Dawn, who arrives out of nowhere, complete with a set of memories involving the main characters, who weave her into the action as if she had always been present. Buffy eventually discovers that Dawn is a mystical object known as the Key, transformed into human form and sent to the Slayer for protection. When the villainous Glory (Clare Kramer) uses Dawn to break down the barriers separating the dimensions, Buffy sacrifices her own life to save the world as we know it.
Buffy’s death sets the scene for Willow to emerge as a witch whose magic is real and powerful. It is powerful enough to bring Buffy back from the grave, and send her on a quest for power that becomes addictive and almost costs her the relationship with Tara. In her attempt to readjust from being pulled back from her brief visit to a heaven-like realm, Buffy begins an intense relationship with the vampire Spike, who falls for Buffy only to find her still in love with Angel.
Willow is recovering from her addiction to magic only to have Tara taken from her by a stray bullet intended for Buffy. In her grief, she tracks down Warren Mears, who fired the bullets and she uses her magic powers to skin him alive. She then transforms into her opposite, popularly called Dark Willow, but recovers to engage in the final battle that pits Buffy against the First Evil, a being that has manifested from all the evil in existence. The First makes itself known through its agent-sidekick Caleb, a serial killer who appears as a priest. The First is an incorporeal entity who able to come to earth because of the instability introduced into the cosmos when Buffy is raised from the dead. He sets about to destroy the slayers-in-waiting and the Watchers Council that oversees them. The surviving slayers come to Sunnydale, where a final battle is in the making at the Hellmouth.
In the final episode, Buffy, Spike, the rehabilitated Faith, and all the would-be slayers fight against the horde of vampires who are storming into the human realm. In the battle Anya dies and Spike shows his love for Buffy by sacrificing himself. The amulet he wears, which channels the sun’s light, turns the tide of the battle. Sunnydale is destroyed, but humanity is saved.
Whedon uses the last episode to punctuate the feminist message he has been projecting through the series: Every woman is a potential slayer, they just have to step forward and claim their status. In the final episode, Willow uses her magic powers to turn all of the potential slayers into actual slayers. Henceforth, there will be more than one slayer.
On Television: The first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired on March 10, 1997, on the WB network, and is credited with saving the young network and setting it on a firm footing with its youthful audience. The first five seasons remained on the WB, but the last two were run on the UPN Network. The show then ran in syndication on the FX cable network. In England the show ran on Sky1 and BBC2. On both networks, it was run in two versions. In the afternoon, presumably when a younger audience was watching, it was run in a sanitized version, with violence and sex deleted. The original version was run in the evenings during prime time. The series was also translated for viewing in France, Germany, Italy and Russia, and other countries.
Aftermath: Buffy the Vampire Slayer remained on the air for seven seasons (1997–2003) while the spin-off Angel ran for five (1999–2004). Angel became the first story line developed from the original series. Besides Cornelia, several Buffy characters found their way to Los Angeles to become regulars on the show, including Faith and the vampires Harmony Kendall (Mercedes McNab), Darla (Julie Benz) and after the last battle in Sunnydale, Spike.
In 2007, Season Eight of Buffy would appear in a most unusual format, the comic book. An original “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” comic series had appeared from Dark Horse comics with sixty-three issues between 1990 and 2003. A variety of miniseries were subsequently published. But in 2007, Dark Horse began a second series that was partially written by Joss Whedon and sanctioned as an official continuation of the story after the end of the television series. It is popularly termed “the eighth season”. As of the summer of 2009, twenty-six issues of a projected forty issues have appeared.
As the eighth season has unfolded, Buffy has robbed a Swiss bank to obtain the funds to set up a technologically sophisticated central command for those slayers aligned to her (about 500 of the 1,800 in existence). Also at Buffy’s command is a large number of psychics and witches. To help protect the famous slayer, two decoy slayers have been deployed. From headquarters in a Scottish castle, Buffy and Xander have organized the slayers into ten squads. Giles heads one in England, while Robing the principal of Sunnydale High School at the time when the town was destroyed, leads one in Cleveland, Ohio. Two other slayers, Vi and Rona, who appeared in the seventh season, are operating in New York and Chicago.
The United States government, already aware of the existence of a variety of demonic beings, did not ignore the destruction of Sunnydale. They now look upon Buffy and her allies as a dangerous “terrorist” group that must be handled in the same manner as vampires and demons. They have recruited Amy Madison (a witch from the original series) and the still skinless Warren Mears. And, in case the government’s coming after her is not enough, Buffy must stave off the ambitions of a British socialite-turned-slayer named Lady Genevieve Savidge, who wishes to take Buffy’s place at the head of the slayer organization. And among the vampires, a savvy group from Japan are working on a way to reverse Willow’s global activation of the Potential Slayers. Behind all these forces targeting Buffy is an enigmatic character named Twilight. He heads a secret organization not unlike the original Initiative that views Buffy and the slayers as the enemy of humanity, as harmful as the vampires and demons. He aims to end the age of magic, both good and evil.
Buffy culture: Buffy the Vampire Slayer became a “cult” phenomenon that spun off numerous items beginning with a series of books, some novelized versions of the different episodes and others as entirely new stories. The comic books, action figures, and some twenty sets of trading cards soon followed. Pictures of the primary cast members and the show’s logo could be found on items from watches to lunch boxes, with T-shirts being among the most popular.
The show grew with an expansion of the Internet, and fan activity made full use of it. Internet networks led to organization of the first fan gatherings, and many of the cast members showed up for an annual gathering in Los Angeles. Fan fiction also became quite popular until suppressed for a host of copyright and trademark considerations.
A most fascinating phenomenon was found within the scholarly community, where an appreciation of Buffy, then Angel, and then the work of Joss Whedon evolved. Interest developed initially among professors of cinema and television, but soon spread to scholars of literature, sociology, philosophy, and religious studies. An initial conference was held at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England in October 2002 under the title “Blood, Text and Fears: Reading around Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” The conference brought together a hundred scholars from across Europe and North America and as far away as Australia. Recognizing the emerging field of “Buffyology,” two American scholars, Rhonda Wilcox and David Laverty, put together Slayage—an online scholarly journal, a network of scholars, and beginning in 2004, biennial conferences. Almost four hundred scholars showed up for the 2004 conference in Nashville, Tennessee. The next conference is projected for St. Augustine Florida in the summer of 2010.
The scholarly attention to Buffy and what is now termed the “Whedonverses,” has had a dramatic effect on the production of academic work on vampires. More than half of all the published scholarly articles on vampires have had Buffy the Vampire Slayer and/or Angel as their subject. Slayage also gives the Mt. Pointy awards for the best writing on the Whedonverses, the award being named for the stake that the slayer Kendra gave to Buffy.