It's been 20 years since Buffy the Vampire Slayer first aired on TV, and 14 years since we last saw the Scooby Gang in the Season 7 finale, standing tall and defiant at the remains of the Hellmouth.
Sunnydale may be no more, but that didn't stop #Buffy creator Joss Whedon from returning to the Buffyverse in the form of a comic book series that picked up where the show left off. Established immediately as canon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight proved to be a huge success for publisher Dark Horse, raising the stakes with some frankly insane plot lines that irrevocably changed the world of Buffy and the gang forever.
Set in a world where 1,800 Slayers battle against the new Zompire threat — yes, zombie vampires — the Scoobies have continued to fight the good fight through Seasons 8-11 and beyond. Join us as we catch up with each main character from the show, four seasons after Buffy The Vampire Slayer was first put to rest.
Those who assumed Buffy could finally retire after the Slayer Army was established should think again. The girl who saves the world (a lot) has been kept busy throughout the four subsequent comic book seasons of Buffy.
Leading command central for her Scooby followers, Buffy has continued to fight against the frankly quite persistent apocalypse. Season 8 pitted the Slayer against a new big bad called Twilight, who sought to rid the world of magic for good. During their final battle, Buffy gained new (albeit temporary) abilities, transforming her into a bonafide superhero, complete with the power to fly and move faster than a speeding bullet.
That's not all Buffy's been through. Subsequent seasons saw the Slayer fall in love with one of her female trainees, Satsu, and even fall pregnant after her consciousness was transferred into one of Warren Mears's android Buffybots. Dying twice doesn't seem like such a big deal now, eh?
Following the world's loss of magic, Willow was left adrift in Season 9. During a spin-off limited series titled Willow: Wonderland, the former witch and lover of yellow crayons set off for an inter-dimensional adventure, armed just with Buffy's broken scythe.
Magic eventually returned to the Buffyverse, but seemingly at a huge cost to Willow in the future. After travelling forward 200 years in time, Buffy was forced to fight a dark version of her best friend Willow, whose use of magic had corrupted her entirely, body and soul.
Thanks to his battlefield expertise and soldier training, Season 8 opens with Xander leading command central at a citadel in Scotland, alongside Buffy herself. As the seasons progress, Xander continues to play the everyman who's unlucky in love, just with one less eye.
While a romance between Xander and Dawn might have seemed rather creepy on the show, the two are actually only a few years apart age-wise in the Buffyverse. Still, we couldn't help but feel somewhat weirded out when the pair began to develop feelings for one another in the comics, although it wasn't as gross as TV fans would expect.
However, love did come to bite Xander in the ass eventually when the demon D’Hoffryn resurrected a new version of his former wife, Anya. Living up to her former job title of 'vengeance demon', Anyanka killed Harris, burning him into a pile of ash. Xander could have just hid "behind his Buffy," but instead, he faced his death with the kind of heroism fans would come to expect from a core member of the Scooby gang.
In Season 8, Giles and Buffy became somewhat estranged, leading the Slayer's former Watcher to work alongside Faith instead, in an attempt to stop her turning rogue again.
However, in the Season 8 finale, hearts were broken when a demonically influenced Angel snapped Giles's neck, just like he did to the Watcher's former love, Jenny Calendar.
For the bulk of Season 9, Angel then fought to restore Giles to life, collecting pieces of his soul. Eventually, the ritual turned out to be a success, except the resurrected Giles was now an adolescent boy, about to undergo the throngs of puberty. Cue much hilarity and a significant change of lifestyle for the former Ripper of London.
Spike and Buffy have had it tougher than most, falling in and out of love more times than Angel's lost his soul. But in Season 10, the pair finally kissed once again and tried to work as an official couple.
That's all well and good, but does no one else remember that moment towards the end of Season 8 when Spike led a spaceship of alien cockroaches into battle? Where's Drusilla when you need her?
Oh Dawn. When she's not fawning over Xander or throwing out some ballet shapes during a musical episode, Buffy's younger sister is cheating on her boyfriend Kenny, losing her virginity to his roommate.
As is often the way, Dawn is magically cursed, transforming first into a giant, then a centaur and finally into a doll-sized version of herself. The less said about the moment when Xander 'rides' centaur Dawn, the better.
After turning evil (again) and killing some of Buffy's closest friends (again), the ex-boyfriend who's clearly more trouble than he's worth decided to redeem himself (again) by helping the helpless, working as the "sheriff of Magic Town".
This borough of London gained its name after a magical plague transformed many of the citizens who lived there into supernatural creatures. The ghetto-like area has only improved since Angel took it upon himself to protect the residents of the town. Let's just hope everyone gets the hell out of dodge by the time that Angel turns evil again. Now that's he had sex with Buffy again, anything's possible.
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Season 11 has veered into unusually political territory, dividing the Scoobies as the Government begins to catalog and relocate magical people to a 'safer' place. It's a sad state of affairs when real-world politics seem just as crazy as Buffy's more out-there storylines, but either way, we can't wait to see what's next in store for the Slayer and her Slayerettes.
For a show that's all about putting the dead to rest, we're fortunate that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one story that continues to live on forever, both in the comics and in the hearts of those it touched during it's initial seven year run. Here's to 11 more seasons.
Which comic book season of Buffy is your favorite?
(Poll Image Credit: Dark Horse Comics)