**We miss Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We really do. The kicks. The quips. And Willow. Wonderful, wonderful Willow. Sigh. Salvaged from the floppy ruin of a 1992 campy horror flick starring Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry, Joss Whedon's long-running television series starring Sarah Michelle Gellar was doing the Lost thing before Lost was even a glimmer in JJ Abrams' eye — epic, mythic, character-driven serialized storytelling, told with humor and heart. And save for that love it/hate it sixth season, the show never failed to deliver the goods. Today's serialized glamour shows now struggling to remain creatively vital could learn a thing or two from Buffy.
Joss Whedon misses his famous creation, too. Which is why he's returning to it three years after the show's final episode with a new comic book series, slated to debut in March, that continues Buffy's adventures. Whedon, 42, is running the comic as if it were a TV show; after writing the first four issues (a premise-establishing pilot), he'll oversee other scribes who will write the remaining issues (think: episodes) in what is planned to be 25-to-30-issue saga. ''We're calling it season 8,'' says Whedon, ''and we're picking up almost right after season seven left off. I don't know exactly why it or how it happened. I just thought, 'Oh, I could do that! It would be fun!' It happens to me every now and then, and causes me to commit to things I really don't have time for.''
Indeed, while Whedon may seem MIA — his last project was last year's Serenity, the feature-film spin-off of his cult TV series Firefly — he's remained extremely, geekily busy. In addition to writing the Buffy comic, the cult-pop auteur is also writing Marvel's best-selling title, The Astonishing X-Men, preparing to take over Marvel's critically acclaimed title Runaways, making revisions on his original screenplay Goners (set up at Universal), and trying to get his next movie project — an adaptation of the DC Comics' superheroine Wonder Woman — off the ground. (The Wonder Woman update: ''Everything that was hard at the beginning is still hard. I don't feel like I've nailed it yet, and I think the studio agrees. So I'm still plugging away. It's probably not as hard as I think it is, because I'm still a little fired from my TV decade. I should have taken a year off. It's now too late to realize that. But it's a big job. And besides her great origin story, there's nothing from the comics that felt right 100 percent, no iconic canon story that must be told. Batman has it made — he's got the greatest rogues gallery ever, he's got Gotham City. The Bat writes himself. With Wonder Woman, you're writing from whole cloth, but trying to make to feel like you didn't. To make to feel like it's existed for 60 years, even though you're making it up as you go along. But who she, and what the movie, is about, thematically, has never been a problem for me. But the steps along the way, it could be so easy for them to feel wrong. I won't settle. She wouldn't let me settle.'')
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