Warning: SPOILERS for Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Reckoning #4
The story of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is finally complete. Fifteen years after the TV show finished, Joss Whedon and Christos Gage have penned the final adventure of Buffy Summers, arriving at the ending described as "the culmination of all Buffy seasons." And yes, it's a happy one.
These are strange, bittersweet times for Buffy fans. At this year's SDCC it was revealed that Fox is rebooting Buffy for a new era, although details are yet to emerge. That fresh start also signaled an inevitable farewell; the titular heroine's adventures have been ongoing in comic book form ever since the series was canceled in 2003. With a TV relaunch of some kind in the cards, there was no way Buffy's comic adventures could continue. Fox pulled the plug, and Dark Horse Comics lost the license. Which means it falls to Whedon and Gage to wrap things up - once and for all.
As Whedon had expressed in an interview with CBR, he had considered a tragic ending to the story. After all, a Slayer is traditionally someone who fights right up until the moment of their death, and the Slayer's friends - particularly Buffy's - are likely to suffer a similar fate. But Whedon decided that rather than end in tragedy, he would bring Buffy's story to a triumphant close. The final issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Reckoning sees Buffy and her allies successfully defeat the terrifying threat of Harth, a vampire who absorbed all the powers and memories of the Slayers throughout time.
The issue ends on a beautiful, optimistic note. Buffy and Faith have both decided it's time to try to live a normal life at last, and set their sights on a more official role, signing up for the San Francisco Police Academy. The Buffyverse has changed a lot in the comics since the TV show ended, and there's now an active Supernatural Division to police the vampires and demons roaming the California scene. Naturally, both Slayers are keen to get in - if only Faith can get through basic training without injuring any of her fellow cadets...
As for Willow, she's found a place of relative peace, running a center dedicated to empowering women. Willow has always trod the boundary between light and dark, but now the witch believes she's seen enough of her future to know how to change it. The end of Xander and Dawn's story will surprise anyone who hasn't been keeping up-to-date with the comics; they've become a couple, and are now bringing up their baby daughter, Buffy's niece Joyce (named for their late mother). Giles, for his part, is reforming the Watcher's Council. and finally, the issue ends with Buffy still friends with her two would-be vampire suitors, but not actually in a relationship with either Angel or Spike. About as fitting a close as we can think of to one of the strangest supernatural love triangles of all time.
The interesting question, though, is whether or not Buffy's story is truly over. After all, the Slayer is a legacy passed down from one generation to the next, and Monica Owusu-Breen, showrunner of the upcoming Buffy series, has promised a brand new Slayer. It's entirely possible the new series is a relaunch, and not a total reboot. If that's the case, all these farewells to Buffy could set the scene for the season to come. Until then, it all worked out for the Scooby gang.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Reckoning #4 is now available from Dark Horse Comics.