I have been determinedly trudging my way through Buffy Season 8, largely because season 9 sounds interesting and I'm not one to skip large chunks of storyline. However, it hasn't exactly been easy going. Much as I am loathe to criticise anything from the Whedonverse, the whole of season 8 that I've read so far seems to be playing fast and loose with the cheap thrills and the staid clichés. Everything's just that little bit too ridiculous, and everyone is that little bit too attractive. *cough* Xander *cough*. Thankfully I only have 3 volumes to go before I can get to season 9 where, I'm reliably informed by CBR, the plan is to "dial back the widescreen action from “Season Eight,” returning to the character’s roots as well as the level of interaction fans can expect between the various Buffyverse titles".
Without giving too much away in terms of spoilers, Predators and Prey had yet more of what I tended to dislike in the earlier volumes: Dawn's character arc serving as little more than an excuse to try out surreal story lines, somewhat unconvincing monsters that are just there to be hacked to bits, and the whole "slayer army" arc that I find a bit irritating...unfortunately, the series thus far feels as though it's lost the character-centric feel and dry wit that made Whedon's Buffy so appealing to me in the first place.
The art itself is nice enough, though I must admit it all feels a bit too familiar. I think it's a shame when artists are hampered by trying to recreate a real-life actor on the page: far better, in my humble opinion, to use your own style to capture the feel of a character, than to painstakingly try to recreate every physical curve and line. Take, for example, the art of Fábio Moon for Dark Horse's own FCBD Serenity comic. The style is freer and more dynamic than that found in the Buffy books, and I think the comic benefits greatly from it.
(Left: Fábio Moon's art from the Dark Horse FCBD Serenity comic; Right: Georges Jeanty's art from Predators and Prey)
Ultimately, thanks to Whedon's original work I am dedicated enough to these characters to stay with them (for now), but I can't help but feel somewhat disappointed at the direction Season 8 has taken. I will, however, be looking to read more comics featuring the work of Mr Fábio Moon - now there's a style I really do like.