PREVIEW: New ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ Writer Brad Meltzer Talks Twilight & Joss Whedon’s Brilliant Strategy

Last week, we checked in with previous “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight” writer Jane Espenson about the grand finale of her arc on the popular comic book series that has brought the adventures of Sunnydale’s finest slayer from television to comics. With Buffy left hanging (literally) upon discovering some new powers (she’s flying!), it was only right to check in with the author who will be taking up the scripting duties upon Buffy’s return to comic shop shelves: celebrated novelist and comics writer Brad Meltzer.

Meltzer kicks off his run on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight” with February’s issue #32, the penultimate arc of the series before “Buffy” creator Joss Whedon takes over and brings “Season Eight” to a close. The biggest questions on everyone’s minds, however, have yet to be answered — namely, what’s up with Buffy’s new powers and the identity of the mysterious masked villain, Twilight, who has caused so much trouble for Buffy and her allies.

I picked Meltzer’s brain to see if we could get any clues.

MTV: Okay, first question — and it’s an easy one. Who’s Twilight?

BRAD MELTZER: [Laughs]

MTV: Well, if you’re not going to answer that, then I guess I’ll have to move on to my “Plan B” questions. What can you tell us about your plans for the upcoming “Buffy” arc? There are big things going down in the Buffy-verse these days, it seems…

MELTZER: Well, the goal is always the same, it never changes — and that’s to tell a good story. With that said, the one thing I think about where the comic book very much overlaps with the TV show is that the real meat of the sandwich is spread throughout the season and then it really shows up in the end.

That’s just the nature of television. It’s not the usual nature of comic books for whatever reason, but in this case, part of it is the way Joss plots, and part of it is just trying to have lots of different people servicing the same story. [Joss] couldn’t write 40 issues of a comic — no sane man can write 40 issues of a comic while running a TV show on national television network and trying to change the internet and the way it operates while being everything he is to all of these people.

What you’re finally going to get now is the meat in that sandwich.

MTV: How far back did planning start for your run?

MELTZER: When I came on two years ago, Joss and I talked exactly about what is going to play out in this arc. We talked a lot about plot, about character, and what he wanted to do with the series as a whole. We went back and forth, and then one day a message from Joss showed up in my inbox that said, “You’re going to write the penultimate chapter and then we’re going to end it.”

It was the most rewarding and terrifying email to get in your life, but I will always try to write the best story I can put out there.

MTV: You really exploded on the comics scene with the very well-known and much-discussed “Identity Crisis” event at DC. Does all of that attention and debate and everything else involved in the experience inform your work on “Buffy”?

MELTZER: I can only hope so. I only do comics every two years or so, and the one rule I have for myself when I do them is only do them if you really have a story you need to tell.

When you’re doing a monthly comic and you know you have 12 issues, you can do experiments, you can do a story about just one character, you can try stuff. When it comes to doing “Buffy” and I knew this was the one thing I was going to fill my time with, I didn’t want to come in and just do an X character story and then be done. I really wanted to do something that would rise to the level of “Man, I waited two years for this.”

Luckily, Joss needed someone who would care that much about the plot and such.

Click on the cover image below for a preview of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight” #32. The interview continues below.

MTV: When you’re coming on for a run right before Joss takes over and closes things out, the question becomes: will anything actually happen in this arc? Are you just going to be treading water and putting things in place for Joss, or can readers expect some big reveals in your run?

MELTZER: Listen, the real meat in the sandwich is always going to be Joss. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and neither would anyone else. But it’s interesting — I think you can read this arc having read nothing of the entire run of “Buffy” and still get it, and for those who’ve been there for the full 31 issues before this one, I feel like there will be a big payoff.

MTV: Even though Buffy appears to have superpowers these days, how do you approach writing her stories differently than you would some of the superheroes you’ve written for — like The Justice League or such?

MELTZER:
When you write a character that isn’t yours, you put on their skin and get to walk around in it a little bit. To make this line of thought even more gruesome, the person who created that character usually doesn’t care what you do, because they’re long dead and you never really have to worry about what they think. There’s a very different feeling when you’re writing a character and right there on the other end of the phone is the person who created that character — and that person is going to tell you, “Yes, that’s right” and “No, that’s wrong.”

That’s something that’s inherently more fulfilling than I never expected when I started. There’s something terrific about saying, “Here’s what I think about this character,” and having Joss say, “That’s absolutely how I see it.”

It’s like getting Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster to sit down and say, “I like that,” or “I don’t like that.”

MTV: While I’m sure Buffy is going to figure prominently in the arc, what other characters will be a big part of your run?

MELTZER: This is a real Buffy/Twilight story, and that’s what it’s all going to be about.

MTV: Would you consider coming back for more if your arc is well received?

MELTZER: Listen, here’s the brilliance of Joss: By making me be the one to reveal who is Twilight, if it’s good, he’s a genius. But if it’s bad, it’s all on me. [Laughs] So, that was the greatest chess move I’ve seen of all time.

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight” #32 hits shelves in February 2010 featuring a story by Brad Meltzer, cover art by Jo Chen and Georges Jeanty, and interior art by Jeanty.

Let us know what you think in the comment section or on Twitter!

Your daily dose
of the latest news

Get the MTV News app today.