Thursday, November 24, 2011

Last Gleaming Finishes Off Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eight Well . . .And Poorly.

The Good: Story comes together, Moments of character
The Bad: The artwork, Fragmented panel placement, A lot of exposition that seems very contrived.
The Basics: Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eight – Volume 8: Last Gleaming ends the Twilight chapter in an unpleasant mix of interesting story and terrible artwork.

For those who regularly follow my reviews of Buffy The Vampire Slayer graphic novels, it is a time to rejoice! I have returned to finally finish the Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eight graphic novel reviews. Unfortunately, my analysis of the final chapter, Last Gleaming is decidedly split, but the best I can promise you is that this review will be a “no spoilers” review.

Last Gleaming is a terrible mix of engaging plot points and unbearable plot exposition that sounds very shaky. It is a mix of wonderful character moments and artwork that robs those moments of almost all of their punch. But, ultimately, it is the end of Season Eight, so Buffy readers are going to want to read it just to see how their investment in the prior seven volumes pays off. Unfortunately, the more I consider Last Gleaming, if I had to tell someone who had not yet read any of Season Eight whether or not to, the more I am forced to admit that this was probably not worth it. Last Gleaming is the end of a long trip to a place that was ultimately unsatisfying and, frankly, the journey there was not exactly indispensable.

Last Gleaming finds Buffy and Angel returning to Earth after giving birth to another universe in the prior volume. That act has allowed demons and monsters to explode into our plane uninhibited and now the world looks like it will be overrun with evil. But the appearance of Spike in a bug-driven space ship seems to change all of that. Spike comes with the knowledge of how to save the world, which involves digging up the Seed Of Wonder. Spike even knows where the Seed Of Wonder is: in the ruins of Sunnydale.

Flying over to Sunnydale, Spike, Angel and Buffy have to confront the Master again. But to keep the universe safe, Angel is isolated and while Buffy and Spike are together, they uncover the Seed Of Wonder. What happens next changes everything for Buffy and her friends!

Last Gleaming is a big, bold ending to Season Eight. At the same time, it is a lot of exposition and Spike's explanations of the surreal events that preceded this volume make most everything make sense. Angel, who had been exposed as Twilight, is finally explained in a reasonable way. Even so, Last Gleaming does not make clear just what exactly Twilight is, as far as a possessing entity.

The real problem with Last Gleaming is the artwork. At a critical moment near the end of Last Gleaming, one of the characters is so poorly drawn - especially in scale to Xander. That poor representation of a critical character robs what should have been one of the biggest Buffy moments of the franchise of its emotional resonance. More often than not, the characters have an animated look to them, looking more like thumbnail sketches than the characters from the television series.

What character moments there are tend to be minimized by the plot events, but there are a few decent character moments that resonate even after one finishes the book. Last Gleaming includes a variant cover gallery and a one-shot that illustrates how Riley became involved with Twilight. They are fine "bonus features."

Last Gleaming ends at a point where it seems like the franchise could continue, but it is hard to get excited about the prospect given how much of the spark is extinguished through this volume.

For the other volumes in Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eight, please check out my reviews of:
The Long Way Home
No Future For You
Wolves At The Gate
Time Of Your Life
Predators And Prey


For other book reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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