Buffy the Vampire Slayer
"Freefall, Part Four"
Script: Andrew Chambliss, Pencils: Georges Jeanty, Inks: Dexter Vines, Colors: Michelle Madsen, Letters: Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Steve Morris
Blurb: With the destruction of the seed, the fight against Twilight was brought to an end, and magic's connection to our earth was severed. No more Slayers will be chosen. No more Slayer army. No more gang: Buffy's a waitress in San Francisco; Dawn and Xander are attempting normal domesticity; Willow is struggling with the loss of her powers. It's a new(ish) world, but there are still demons and vampires to slay -- even as their popularity with the masses continues to grow -- and Buffy is on point to do what she has always done...
She is the Slayer.
Page 01: We open in a flashback revolving around Severin. It is three months before Buffy and he standing in the warehouse in San Fran.
There is an old vampire starting to feed on Sev - but he grabs the vampires head and yanks him off. He screams at the vampire for the location of someone.
Page 02: Severin, aka The Siphon, is looking for Alessandra - the vampire that turned his girlfriend Clare into a zompire. He drains the vampire enough to force his human features back into place and promises him that he won't ever fang again if he doesn't spill the information.
A girl in heavy shadow tells him to stop looking at the vampires for answers as to what went wrong with his girlfriend, and start looking at questioning a Slayer.
Meanwhile, the vampire is getting that empty, dead body look.
Sev grins at the girl, whoever she is.
Page 03: We move to the here and now in panel, but our voiceover is in flashback land yet.
Here, Sev rushes Buffy and starts to drain her Slayer-energy before she's thrown or pushes herself loose (the action panels here are a bit unclear).
In the meantime, we get flashback-voiceover (obvs from the girl -- and we'll find out who this is later) telling past-Severin that she wants him to use his powers to drain Buffy of her power and her freedom and especially her "nauseating idea that she's doing good".
Severin is currently working on this. Buffy asks him when he became a big bad, but Severin doesn't believe himself to be the bad guy here.
Page 04: Severin goes on to tell Buffy that if she hadn't destroyed the Seed, he wouldn't have to drain the "vamp freaks" ... and it isn't hard to figure he's speaking of Clare. He tells her that she doesn't deserve her Slayer power, so he's going to take it away from her.
Buffy wonders if he can really do that, and I don't think I like the look on her face -- as if it's passing through her mind that she could be free of future Slayer responsibilities starting right now.
Commentary: I do like the interaction between Sev and Buffy, though. And I like the coloring job over Georges. Jeanty, Vines and Madsen are working very solidly as a team on this book.
Page 05: Meanwhile, Sev's voiceover follows us to the precinct house where Dowling is getting in a tip from patrol. Severin tells Buffy that when she's left cowering in the pile of dead bodies, the police will blame everything on her.
The tip is that they received an anonymous call telling them that Buffy was spotted at the wharf. The "anonymous caller" also reports that Buffy has just killed hundreds of vampires, which y'know is a no-no since they've become America's darlings -- for whatever the hell reason (probably mostly Harmony, who proved that vampire life can be boring and get your reality show cancelled; they must've come out seeming pretty much like everyone else).
Cheung orders all available units to head to the wharf.
Meanwhile, Koh and Spike are headed across San Francisco Bay in a tiny powerboat that has Spike wondering why they couldn't just take the Ferry back.
Page 06: Koh dismisses this with "we don't mix with humans". Spike complains about the sea spray, especially since he's trying to text a "beware of Sev" to Buffy. Koh asks him, in rude terms, why he'd be helping the Slayer anyway. Spike offers his undying loyalty to her.
Page 07: Koh continues trying to understand the undercurrents of Spike as he speaks about the Slayer. He can see Spike's wanting Buffy as a mate and comments that it would be forbidden in his culture for a human and a demon to be together. Spike doesn't want to talk about it, but does share that Buffy deserves some normal in her life after everything she's been through and he isn't that.
Commentary: I don't know. This feels really forced and unnecessary. Unless they're going to introduce that Koh is suddenly (And it would be Awfully Sudden) attracted to Buffy, this convo feels really pointless and aimed at the Spuffy-fans as to why Spike and Buffy aren't boffing. It feels really out of place between these two characters who barely know one another and with Koh barely knowing Buffy to boot.
In the distance, we can see patrol car flashing blue and red into the night around the warehouses at the wharf Spike and Koh are trying to get to.
Page 08: Pulling up to the wharf, Spike suddenly realizes (or thinks he does) why Buffy isn't texting back: The cops are surrounding the warehouse with Cheung putting in a dispatch for SWAT to join them. Dowling thinks she's going for overkill, but with their briefings on Slayer abilities, she isn't taking any chances on Buffy making an escape.
Robert decides to go into the warehouse and try to talk Buffy down before SWAT storms in.
Page 09: In the warehouse, Buffy tries to distract Dowling by pointing out they've got company. He's not concerned. After all, the police don't even know he exists and she's about to be too brain-smacked to talk much as soon as he drains her.
They hand-to-hand, and he's also gained physical strength from his energy siphoning. He mocks Buffy about how much stronger he'll be after she's been tapped out.
Page 10: Sev, as is bad-guy habit (whatever he thinks his role is), feels the need to monologue about the power he'll gain from her. Which is why she's able to surprise him off of her the good old fashion way -- with a stake.
Buffy: How do you like that Slayer mojo?
Commentary: Awwwwesommmme! :-)
Page 11: While shocking to him, the staking doesn't take since he's all super powered. But Buffy points out she's willing to bet he can't insta-heal without a charge up and she's going on the offensive now to keep that from happening.
This takes the form of a tackle, which seems very unwise since physical contact is a bad thing here. What are you thinking, Buffy?!
Page 12: Alas for the Slayer, things rarely work out so neatly. Her and Sev crash through the floor to a sublevel (On the wharf?! In a warehouse? Does this sound right? Do they have subbasements in this situation to maybe help load boats? Anyone know if this is sensible?).
And in that sublevel, Severin has left another army of zompires alone so that he'd have an emergency battery charge ready if it was needed.
Meantime, we skip over to Dawn and Xan's place. They're watching a breaking news interruption about Buffy's being surrounded by police. Dawn tries to call Willow, while Xander worries about the amount of bail money they'll need since she didn't take their advice and work it out with the police without the dramatic standoff. Not exactly shocking to either one of 'em.
Page 13: Also elsewhere-that-isn't-the-wharf, Tumble is watching as the television spills that Buffy is a Slayer.
Anaheed is in Buffy's room, surveying her weapons collection. Tumble seems more shocked that Ana.
Meanwhile, back at the wharf - Dowling has drawn his gun and is calling out to Buffy that he only wants to talk.
Page 14: But, as we saw, Buffy and Sev are beneath him at the moment. They're fighting the reserve zompires. Buffy points out that Sev isn't going to be able to drain her if she's dead. He concedes that and helps her out by zapping a vampire he's grabbed...
Page 15: ... and performing a group zap which takes Buffy by surprise, as the attackers are remote drained now that the Siphon has powered up on her and these groups of zompires. Buffy isn't taking the bump in his powers as good news. His gloating isn't helping.
Page 16: Meanwhile upstairs, Dowling is confronted by a snuck-in Koh and Spike. They tell him to stand down and let them handle it.
Commentary: Very much liking these pages.
Page 17: Below them, Severin has used some of that drained-power physical strength to shove Buffy into a pylon, sending a boom through the building. This causes Spike to rush into action, with Koh exclaiming, "The Siphon..."
While below, Sev has his hand on Buffy's forhead and is giving her another drain.
Spike and Koh drop down through the hole in the floor.
Page 18: Our boys rush Sev, but he's powered up enough on Buffy again to distance-bolt them. Koh goes unconscious and Spike isn't much better. Sev is able to grab Spike and start a double-drain of he and Buffy.
Page 19: Buffy tries telling Spike to not... but it is way too late for that. She's looking absolutely ghastly and Spike is looking near real-death.
Sev gloats. Which is suddenly interrupted not by a revived Koh, but by the lowly human with a gun. Dowling shoots Severin
Commentary: I'm loving this sequence. The action has been exciting, the artwork has been terrific and the effects of Sev's powers really is gross looking. The whole sequence was great (maybe a bit less of Sev's monologuing -- but then I suppose that is a comic book trope -- everyone gets to talk a lot no matter what physical action they're taking or how much they're powering up-down/getting beaten-thrown...).
Page 20: With Sev now sporting a few gunshots, he's a bit busy to be able to continue power draining.
Sometime later, everyone is sitting around the pier. Dowling informs Buffy that she's off their most wanted list as a suspect. She thanks him for showing up with guns a-blazing, but tells him that's probably the only time she'll ever thank somebody for gunplay.
We don't see what exactly happened to Severin after his gunshooting.
Page 21: Koh tells Spike that Buffy will want to see him, but he reminds him that he wants Buffy to be with the normal folk (Ah... okay. I'm gonna have to assume this is more about the UST he's still sporting for Buffy and their emotional knots than his stated reason for this to make sense to me).
As Dowling is telling Buffy that they'll have a lot of questions for her once she's rested, Willow shows up. Buffy asks why, and she tells her that Spike was group texting her fireworks and The Siphon. She thought Buffy may need a non-mystic shoulder to cry on if she ended up non-Slayer-y.
Buffy tells her she's still super-ed... unless that means Wills won't give her a ride home.
Commentary: And, I'm not buying Willow's smile or jokey attitude either. At this point, I'm pretty sure she'd like to see Buffy de-powered just so she can say "Now, you understand how I feel and why we need to reverse what you did... 'cause blah-blah-the-Seed-blah-blah-awful-you".
I know Willow is trying... but she's trying badly... consistently.
Page 22: Wills and Buffy are standing at the former's car and Willow tells Buffy that she was never mad because Buffy had power that she didn't. Buffy understands it was because Buffy took such drastic measures with the Seed without thinking through the possible fallout. She points out that being made a duracell seems like punishment enough.
Willow tells her that she's glad that Buffy wasn't drained. She doesn't want Buffy to know what it's like to lose the thing that makes her tick. Buffy promises to help Willow find a way to get her mojo back.
Commentary: Wow. It's like the writers knew my mind about Willow at this point and are trying to win me back over to her side. Not quite working... yet.
Meanwhile, Severin is lying in a hospital bed. Simone drops by to berate him for blowing it. He wants a taste of her energy to help him heal from his gunshots (we have a continuity error, I think -- see next commentary), but she won't share. She tells him since he failed, she'll need all of her energy to kill Buffy herself.
Commentary: So, first about Sev's gunshots. We heard Dowling's gun go off three times. And here, Severin says he was shot three times. But take a look on page 19, panel 4. Doesn't it look like he's taken 4 gunshots? One to upper chest, two to mid chest and one down above his hip?
We'll have to put the above-hip blood as rundown and soakthrough from his other wounds, I guess. But, uh... not really. Seems like art-fail to me.
And to Simone: I'm not buying why she'd go to Severin to trick Buffy in the first place. Why hasn't she even tried a high powered, marksman rifle shot at her yet? Simone is the gun-loving Slayer -- you'd think she'd be the one to go for more conventional means to take out Buffy several times before she would deign to get involved with evil magic-siphoning people.
Plus I want a storyline where Andrew builds a knock-off Iron Man suit and gets into fisticuffs with Simone. I want it bad.
The Good: I'm loving the cover and the internal artwork on this issue, especially page 19 (no impact on scoring, but it is a kudos).
I really like the Severin character.
I loved the entire fight sequence between Severin and our heroes, and it was nice that the normal cop was the one to stop Sev.
The Bad: Nuthin'.
Other Thoughts: That discussion between Koh and Spike about his relationship with Buffy felt really shoehorned in. And since we as readers know how Spike feels for Buffy and their tangled relationship, it felt entirely superfluous to boot. Why is this conversation here?
The Score: I really liked this issue. It was excitingly done and I like that the super-people didn't save the day for a change of pace. I also really liked that we're left with Sev still in play. And, it's cool that Simone was the mysterious girl in the alley pointing Sev's vengeance at Buffy. I really want to see the smackdown between Buffy (but with mucho Andrew support) and Simone Doffler.
3.75 out of 5
Next Review: Angel & Faith, (wait -- why is A & F being labeled as S9 when Angel's seasons are behind Buffy's because he's not been "on air" as long... that is just adding to the continuity nightmare... look, I'm still going with this being Angel Season 7 --- call it my personal continuity and you're all free to take it however you want it) Issue 3.