Welcome Back, Buffy

They say you don’t know what you have until to you lose it. But in this case, I don’t think I knew what I had until I had it again.

Buffy 1I didn’t have a lot of friends in high school. Not that I was ever unhappy in high school (well, not any unhappier than every other high school student), I just didn’t spend my time “hanging out.” I had acquaintances from a few classes that I was in, but really only one real friend, and there’s only so much you can take of any one person. There were two things that kept me sane in high school: comic books and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And without a full-time job to feed habit, the comics weren’t quite pulling their weight.

I was absolutely obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The only record of me having attending Lincoln
High School other than my diploma and a yearbook picture was a quote in the school newspaper declaring the night I discovered Buffy as my happiest high school memory. My senior year, a new episode of Buffy was the sole highlight of the worst birthday I ever had (and I even blew off a major assignment to watch it, which I never did). I even went so far as to carry a wooden stake around in my backpack (which was probably a foolish idea since Columbine had just happened) and tell people I was a vampire slayer.

I was engrossed in the world of Buffy Summers. Every Tuesday night, come hell or high water, I’d watch the show. I bought the DVDs. I bought the action figures. I bought the comics, even though they weren’t very good back then. But even more than that, I wanted to be part of the Scooby Gang. I wanted to be Xander’s best friend. I wanted to date Willow (even after she became gay). I was more upset when Tara and Joyce died than I was when my actual grandfather died (which I realize makes me sound like an asshole). I felt closer to these fictional characters than pretty much anyone in my non-fictional life.

me & amberThe last episode of Buffy aired May 20, 2003, marking the end of a huge era in my life. Of course, by this time my comic habit had grown exponentially (prompting my first trip to a comic convention because Joss Whedon and Amber “Tara” Benson were guests, naturally), and I had more and better friends than I did seven years before, so there was plenty to fill the void left by the show. I even had other places to get my fill of Joss Whedon-y goodness, from Angel to Serenity to Astonishing X-Men.

This week, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 #1 was released by Dark Horse Comics. Written by Joss Whedon and a host of writers from comics and the TV show, the series is the first time in nearly four years the characters have been used by competent creators in good stories. And I didn’t realize until I read the issue how much I’ve missed that.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer ran for seven seasons, spanning my entire high school and college career. Buffy was the one constant in my life throughout those years. To a great extent, it was my life. After reading Buffy Season 8 # I, it felt like I had my best friend from high school back. Except this one hadn’t turned into a gay-bashing, bible-thumping Republican like the other one did.

So welcome back, Buffy. Here’s to season eight and hopefully many, many more after that.