Friday, August 22, 2008

After The Fall(s)

I knew this would happen, when my experience watching Buffy and Angel for the first time would come to a bittersweet end. Fortunately, it only makes me want to go back and watch it all again.

Even though I came to Buffy late in the game, I was excited not only because I had finally become witness to one of our generations greatest television shows or because I had found a thrilling new venue for exploring my academic pursuits, but because I still had 143 more episodes left after “Welcome to the Hellmouth” over seven entire seasons to watch. “The Chosen Collection” was there next to my television or its individual folios were strewn about my desk by my computer just waiting to be watched and re-watched. When Buffy came to an end for me in early 2008, I was on a high and there was little time between the time I finished Buffy and when I began watching Angel.

Slayage Conference 3 came as I was nearing the end of Angel’s third season. Despite the numerous exclamations directed at me of “What?! You haven’t seen all of Angel?” and Nikki Stafford’s oft-voiced exuberance over the glorious manner in which Angel bowed out to television audiences at the end of its fifth and final season, I was still happy to hold on to the fact that I had not finished it, always looking forward to the fact that I knew I could still return to a world that was familiar and unfamiliar all at once-where anything could happen and it would still manage to surprise me, even four or five years after the show originally aired.

A few weeks ago, I finally finished Angel.

What next? I had already begun collecting the fantastic Season 8 of Buffy-how ‘bout that reveal at the end of Issue 16?-and however pleased I was at the way the television series of Angel ended, I knew I would inevitably check out Angel: After The Fall which is essentially Angel: Season Six. In fact, I figured I would be in need of an Angel-fix that I actually purchased the bound edition of After The Fall’s first story arc in a hardcover which collects the first five issues before I even finished the last few episodes so I would have it at my fingertips when the screen went dark. Does anyone else think that Angel looks a hell-of-a-lot like Nathan Fillion in this illustration? The association is interesting taking into account Nathan Fillion auditioned for the role of Angel on Buffy, but was told he was too old.

It happens with vacations, it happens with movies, it happens with television shows-sooner or later, these things come to an end and we are forced not to forget what we have experienced but reminisce fondly about them and reestablish them within a new context in our lives. Instead of watching a show faithfully week to week, we have marathons and in the case of Buffy, sing-a-longs, we have our friends watch these works of art, we write about them, we instruct by them. We use these cultural products in new ways and we re-experience them which can be just as enjoyable. I may have finished watching Buffy and Angel as an initial pass-through, but now I can experience them upon again in a different way.

Thankfully, Whedon and Co.—IDW Publishing, Dark Horse, the writers, illustrators and inkers of the comics-are a benevolent people who will allow me the pleasure of continuing my foray into the Buffyverse and I don’t quite have to go through a painful lamenting process since I finished the shows.

Yesterday's purchases at Zanadu, the comic book store downtown, are evidence that the world I cherish is still in motion. A well-spent $20 bill garnered me Angel: After The Fall, issues 7 through 11. And a sidenote: while I understand the monetary motivation to have variant covers with comic books, it is still immensely frustrating, but I think I picked the pretty ones.

On a shelf in my humble apartment, looked over by a mean statuette of Darth Vader, “The Chosen Collection” stands beside the collector's set of Angel and Firefly: The Complete Series in a kind of holy trio, a Joss Whedon shrine of sorts. Above that the first sixteen and counting issues Buffy Season 8 and the first eleven of Angel: After The Fall.

If my shelf or the sales numbers serve any amount of proof, I don’t think there will ever come a time when we live in a Buffyless world.

Buffy lives...again.

Thank Whedon (and yourselves) for that.

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