BTVS, S9, Issue 5
Script: Andrew Chambliss, Pencils: Karl Moline, Inks: Andy Owens, 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 the midst of a battle between Buffy, Xander and Dawn vs. dozens upon dozens of vampires. They've been pushed back up the stairs and onto a walkway of an apartment building overlooking the pool and courtyard. Buffy quips. Xan quips back, but they're seriously outnumbered.
Page 02: As Buffy fights with her stake and Xan defends with a baseball bat, Dawn yells for Buffy's keys -- we're at her apartment complex.
Xan tackles Dawn into Buffy's place, and the Slayer soon follows slamming the door shut and telling her sister and best friend that they've made it, though with an army of vamps on the other side of the door.
Page 03: Buffy hears growling and when she turns around, she finds that Xan and Dawn didn't make it as thought. Both have now vamped out. They tackle her to the floor, and close in for the kill with Buffy being unable to rouse any resistence.
Commentary: And, no, we didn't see either Xan nor Dawn get bit. This is starting to look like a dream episode....
But, it was a really good opening, until this moment.
Page 04: As Buffy waits for the end from her family, Dawn and Xander suddenly dust, as we see a pair of black hands armed with double-stakes. Buffy screams 'no!' only to see the First Slayer standing in front of her.
The First Slayer tells Buffy that she is not the Slayer. Buffy is a bit too relieved to find out she's in a dream, and then a bit too pissed to remember her "sister" and "best friend" were just slayed to ponder that mysterious comment at her.
She launches herself at the First Slayer for some payback for that family-dusted thing she just pulled on Buffy.
Page 05: The First Slayer easily dispatches with Buffy via a hard punch to her stomach....
Buffy springs up in bed and makes a run for the toilet, where she power-spews.
Page 06: Later that morning, over a walk and coffee, Buffy has explained the very real feeling Slayer dream. Willow wonders if she's asked around to the other Called, to see if they've had the same type of dream. Buffy says no, because all of the other Slayers are basically on the anti-Buffy bus these days.
She mentions Kennedy as the closest Slayer to her right now, and she's got the grudge thing going over thinking of Buffy as the one to cause Wills to dump her.
Willow, given even the hint of a possible opening hidden in a shadow, immediately points out the obvious: it's because Kenn blames Buffy for Willow losing her magic because of the Seed business, which drove Willow into a funk and led to their breakup.
(Yeah, thank you again, Wills. We've got your viewpoint.)
Buffy mentions that the First Slayer told her that she wasn't the Slayer and complains that even dream-Slayers are grudging on her!
Commentary: So, before we find out what is going on, I like that the First Slayer is making an appearance to give some sort of response to what has happened in the Slayer line and the current circumstances.
(Future!Edit: Though, I now actually think the First Slayer wasn't giving any opinion on what's happening in the Slayer line but mums the word until we get there.)
I also really wish that they'd explore our side Slayer characters more when it comes to this "no new Slayers will be born" thing. I just find it hard to believe that every Slayer is pissed off that the world has been cut off from magic as a monoblock. Like I've pointed out, they all still have their powers, and as they whittle away the evil demonic population, newbies can't enter Earth's dimension either so they're "great work" is actually becoming easier (zompire problem aside for the moment) and many of their magically charged foes are getting weaker as time moves forward.
I get the whole Slayer-Sister thing -- but surely there are at least a few dozen Slayers who weren't crazy about the responsibilities and dangers that came from the war with Twilight, and are relieved that their burden is lessening, thanks to Buffy. And, surely there must be some of the Slayers on that final battlefield who saw all of the demons flooding in that are sympathetic to Buffy's desperate action to stop things -- especially any who knew how close Buffy was to her mentor (putting aside their strained season 8 relationship). I'm just having trouble buying that every Slayer in the world is pissed at Buffy.
Finally... Willow. I'm really tired of her not-veiled shots at Buffy over it. REALLY TIRED of it. If this were such a damaging thing to their friendship, why is she still hanging out with her former best friend? Is it just because she can't resist continuing to shove Buffy's face in her lingering pain?
She's just coming across to me as petty when she throws out asides meant to pick at any sore spot of guilt Buffy may still harbor for Willow's struggles. And, to my mind, Buffy doesn't have one thing to feel guilty about at this point. Wills needs to find a way to get over it, or at least to attempt to restrain herself from the guilt-tripping attempts, and Buffy really needs to put her foot down and confront Willow about her constant picking at her.
It'd be nice if it was Dawnie who threw Willow's continuing whining back in the witch's face on her sister's behalf, but I won't hold my breath on that.
Page 07: Buffy wonders if the Slayer was telling her that she was losing her powers because of the Seed, but Willow discounts this due to Buffy's powers coming from within, rather than from without.
She tells Buffy she needs to get back to work, in such a way as to leave the impression that she's bored by the world of computers. Before she goes, she suggests that Buffy look in the Vampyr book Giles left her.
Page 08: Buffy does this back at home, but she can't get her mind off of how much she misses Giles. She goes into meditation (signaled by how her shirt suddenly changes color -- also, the robot imprint on its front has changed to a pair of wings on the back of it -- surely symbolizing something).
A voice off panel repeats that she isn't the Slayer.
Page 09: No surprises that meditation-Buffy is visited by First Slayer vision. She asks her what the vision is trying to tell her, and First Slayer leads her on a chase across the city.
Page 10: Buffy is led to a small hill of rocks and junk -- like the collapsed remains of a building. Atop this, the remains of the Slayer Scythe are embedded in a rock, waiting. The First Slayer points at it, but Buffy points out that it's broken.
The First Slayer tells her that only a Slayer can remove the Scythe blade from the stone (a la King Arthur), but that Buffy isn't the Slayer.
Buffy is confused about whether the First Slayer wants her to go for the blade, or not and tells her she's being confusing, even for a dream. Further, Buffy -- with hands on hips -- also suddenly asks her skeptically when she turned so chatty....
Page 11: She again launches herself at the First Slayer, accusing her of not being her at all. Which appears to be true, as we see that Buffy has tackled one of the faerie-folk -- possibly the very same one that Anonymous Buffy Impersonator died saving in BTVS #8, I#5.
With the ruse uncovered, Buffy wakes up in bed lying on Giles' book.
Later, she's dropped in on Willow at work to tell her about somebody sneaking into her Slayer dream on the sly.
Page 12: Buffy tells Willow that she believes she's getting two dreams. The first one is from the Slayer line trying to tell her something, while the second one is coming from whomever is hacked into her brain (Future!Me: And, note this phrasing....) and that "Tinkerbell" is the one accusing her of not being the Slayer.
Willow suggests the only way to find out for sure is to get her sleep on....
Commentary: This would seem to add evidence that our faerie is meant to be the winged girl from that previous issue. She'd certainly have cause to tell Buffy that she wasn't the Slayer -- as an accusatory -- considering how close she had gotten to "her Buffy" who died in before her eyes. Especially, with "this Buffy" having screwed over her people with the Seed-business.
She has far more reason to resent Buffy, and therefore it's far less irritating, than Willow and Team Slayer.
Page 13: That night, Willow sits at the foot of Buffy's bed with coffee and snacks, while the Slayer turns in. Buffy tells her how much she misses hanging out with her best friend, but Willow passive-aggressives that she wasn't sure if they were still using the qualifier [I can't tell if Willow was honestly questioning if they were still best buds, or if she was just throwing another barb out].
Page 14: When Buffy nods off, she finds herself visiting with faerie-Girl. The faerie explains that she had to ride in on somebody else's dream channel to speak with the Slayer, and that she should now follow the First Slayer, who is busy speaking to another dream-Buffy -- a S8 image of her, judging by the outfit.
Page 15: Buffy and the faire-folk representative chase after First Slayer. Buffy asks about the faerie hijacking her dreams, and she explains that she was there to punish Buffy -- but not for the Seed business -- but for impersonating the Buffy who was her friend. When she got into Buffy's dream and was about to give her nightmares as punishment, she realized that 'her' Buffy was actually the pretender.
But once she was in Buffy's head, she discovered something that she needs the actual Buffy to know. First though, she needs actual-Buffy to stop slaying the distracting dream-vampires and focus on catching and speaking to the First Slayer who is real and has something to tell her. She then promises to fill in what she knows so Buffy can find out what is going on.
Commentary: Our faerie's dialog does confirm that she is the woman we met in the underworld in S8, I5 during the battle with Yamanh. This is a nice callback, as that issue was really effective for being a one-shot and remains one of those that haunts the back of my brain. I also like reintroducing the beings outside of the bad demons, the evil wizards, Willow and the Slayers that have been impacted by the Seed. They're doing a bit more of this in Angel & Faith through the refugees in Alasdair's home, and I'm glad we'll get a bit of that in BTVS as well.
It'd be even better if we received the occassional supporter of Buffy among this group of "expats", or more exposure to those who are a bit more ambiguous to give us a whole range of reactions to the change in the world.
Page 16: Buffy and "Tink" arrive at that pile of rocks with the Scythe again and the Faerie interprets that the First Slayer wants Buffy to "unlock the key".
But, when Buffy grabs the Scythe, she isn't able to yank it from the stone.
Page 17: The faerie explains that the Scythe isn't meant for Buffy any longer, but is actually for Willow, who is suddenly there in her dreaming.
Willow explains that she needs to take the Scythe with her on a long trip, and that she believes she'll be able to eventually restore magic by using it.
Buffy doesn't want her to go, but Willow is adamant that she has to do this.
Commentary: And, of course, this is setting up Willow's visit to Faith and Angel, where her dimension hopping will start using Connor. This in turn leads Willow to revisit her magical mentor/guide/lover, Saga Vasuki. And, even though Buffy is upset at her going, I'm relieved.
Page 18: With dream-Willow leaving with the dream image of the Scythe, the First Slayer is satisified and departs. Buffy asks Faerie what she needed to tell her, and she responds mysteriously by telling Buffy that though the Slayer is part of her, she isn't a girl anymore....
Page 19: Buffy complains about the cryptic. She also wants to get back to Willow and fill her in, but the 'Tink' brings up the connection that had been built between Buffy and Willow and informs her that Wills saw everything through it (seen in S8, I4).
Page 20: Buffy awakens to find Willow gone, along with the Scythe blade. She left Buffy a note about how much the world requires magic.
Buffy runs out in her PJ's, but Willow is long gone and Buffy seems oddly winded.
Page 21: When she returns to the apartment, she finds Tumble and Anaheed waiting to talk to her about their living with a Slayer and the danger that may be putting them in.
Buffy has no time to talk though, as she's got a case of the vomits and rushes into the bathroom.
Page 22: When she's pulled herself together, Buffy -- and one must think that she's been having suspicions -- pulls out a pregnancy test and finds out that the results are positive...!
Commentary: And, I'd love to go through the possibilities of the father ... but I know how this ends and I'm so disheartened by the plot arc that I just can't pretend. I'll not spoil, even though surely nobody doesn't know already that it's dumb.
The Good: I really liked the opening, before we find out its just a dream. And I like how the dreaming was incorporated into the mystery of the Scythe's role in restoring magic.
I like seeing the underworld representatives again, and the tie-back to the Buffy imposter issue in S8 and the tie-forward to the denizens we'll see in Angel & Faith.
The Bad: Nothing really badly done.
Other Thoughts: Oh, thank you for sending Willow on her quest. Finally.
The ending of the issue is nicely shocking. Again, I just can't go through the possibilities since I know where it runs into the brick wall on the arc, but during the first read with no future!knowledge, it was quite the ending.
I also liked bringing Giles and the Vampyr book into things.
The Score: It's a decent to good issue, with some mysteries set up and it gives Willow an arc that won't involve whining to Buffy about destroying the Seed, so I'm happy with it. Not a lot really happens, it's more of a set up issue to Buffy's sudden discovery but it's solid.
3.50 out of 5
Next Up: After some hemming and hawing, I've settled on The Walking Dead's "Tell It To The Frogs" for the next review.