What Is It: Here, at last, is the canon continuation of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" as written by Joss Whedon. This is the first issue of the first arc (or miniseries) of Season Eight. You can find it in comic stores or, if you're lazy or have misplaced your local comic shop, pretty much anywhere on the Internet. This is the direct sequel to the BtVS television show.
Timing: BTVS Season Eight/ After AtS Season Five
REVIEW: Joss Whedon, creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and the author of this comic, said it best--he wants readers to see this comic as, not a full episode of Buffy, but the teaser of an episode. The book--as a rule with comics--goes very fast. While this issue has two more pages than the norm (a total of 24, not counting ads), it is over before you even realize it. But there is a lot of goodness to take in; new information and characters, mingling with old loved characters and references to past episodes.
The plot is simple, but promises a lot for the future episodes. Not to mention, it's classic Joss. Buffy and Xander are leading a "24"-esque base. Buffy is the "Jack Bauer" to Xander's "Bill Buchanon." While on a field mission to kill a few baddies, Buffy and a small group of slayers find a dead body with a strange symbol carved into it. Xander and Buffy hit the books, researching like old times. Meanwhile, it is revealed that the US Government has noticed the slayers and, following the destruction of the Sunnydale Hellmouth, sees them as terrorist cells--and they enlist the help of a character from the TV series to defeat Buffy. After it is revealed who this character is, an even bigger bad is alluded to. Suspense is a-plenty!
The only plot-line that made me iffy is Dawn's problem in this book. I won't reveal it, but I'll say this; it's a bit hard to swallow. Yet, knowing Joss, he'll make me bite my tongue in the next few issues and sell me the plot... as he always tends to do. Season Eight kicks off with a bang and I, for one, can't wait for the next issue. I do have to say though, it isn't the best place to start with Buffy. If you weren't a fan of the show but want to try the comic, I suggest you read up on what has happened so far. Wikipedia has an exceptional page devoted to Buffy.
Art: Jeanty manages to successfully walk across the tightrope between drawing the characters too much like the actors who portrayed him and making the characters unrecognizable. Unlike some of the earlier ANGEL comics over at IDW, these illustrations actually imply movement, bringing real life to the issues to the point where Jeanty's rendition of Buffy is as much Buffy Summers to me as Sarah Michelle Gellar was. And Jo Chen is simply perfect for the covers of this series. It seems too much to ask, as I can't imagine how long it takes to create such a detailed cover, but I find myself wishing a future issue will be entirely illustrated by Jo Chen.
Characters We Know: Buffy, Xander, Dawn, Amy
*Rating Disclaimer: Compared to all other NON-Buffyverse products, the majority of BtVS and AtS products are rated a 10/10 classic. As the Buffyverse is in a whole different level, I am rating these products up against OTHER BtVS products.