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17 July 2013 @ 02:18 pm
BTVS Review: Season 9, Issue 6  
b6_cover


Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Season 9, Issue 6

"On Your Own, PI"

Script: Andrew Chambliss, Pencils: Georges Jeanty, Inks: Karl Story, Colors: Michelle Madsen,
Letters: Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt (Comicraft)

Cover: Phil Noto

Blurb: The end of magic on Earth has created, among other obstacles, zompires - mindless vampires who ignore the rules laid down by Harmony that allow humans and vampires to coexist. Willow has left San Francisco, taking Buffy's broken scythe, while Xander and Dawn strive for normalcy and keep their distance from the supernatural. Buffy was recently cleared of suspicion of murder by the SFPD - but now they want her help with the zompires! The Slayer's personal life has gotten weirder than ever, and facing her own problems is more than she can handle...


Page 01: We open on a flashback to 1973, where we join Nikki Wood on a rooftop where she's fighting for her life, as one would expect considering she's the Slayer. The vampire she's taking on mentions that she seems pretty weak for a Slayer. And, in fact, he seems to be aware of the Cruciamentum ritual and wonders if her Watcher has pumped her full of drugs.


Page 02: Goatee of Vampitude tells her that he can scent the sedatives in her system. But more than that, he can also smell that she's with child. While he's busy yapping, rather than killing, Nikki is digging her non-Slayer strength fingers into the wood post she's being throttled against.

She grimaces out to Goatee that he's dead. To which, he responds that she can't kill him but he can kill both of -- ...

Well, Goatee of Vampitude isn't Spike, so you kinda knew the ending of this scenario. Nikki is able to dig out a loose splinter of wood from the post with her Bloody Fingertips of YOWTCH.

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Page 03: She shoves downward right on into Goatee's chest, which has the result we've come to expect. Nikki is joined by her Watcher, who complains that he told the Council that it was insane to carry out this test while she was pregnant.

Nikki takes her Cruciamentum better than Buffy [perhaps because Nikki seems well aware already that this was her test] and tells him that it wouldn't have been right to shirk her responsibility just because her personal life got in the way. Bernard Crowley asks her if she'll at least tell him who the father is, while she decides what she's going to do about the coming baby...

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Commentary: So, I can't quite decide if there is too many contradictions with Buffy, S3 for this to be continuity straining, or not. First, weren't Slayers supposed to not know that they were being tested... isn't that part of the test, itself?

I think we can justify this by Bernard simply ignoring the rule, as Rupert Giles would do later, but more stealthily since Bernard apparently wasn't ditched by the Council or it.

Also, how would the vampire know the details of the Cruciamentum? That doesn't seem like information the Council would pass out. I'll buy that he can scent the tranqs in her system, and the logical deduction that it is making her weak, but he still seems to know just a little too much.

I guess we can wank this as well as somebody on the Council setup team being a loose talker around the captured vampire. I suppose it's equally possible that they do tell the vampire why they're not being staked immediately... perhaps offering their life in exchange for cooperating with the test [with the added bonus of a chance to brag later that they killed a Slayer], so I can be okay with that too, I suppose.

It just seems uncharacteristic of the Council to share so much information about their inner workings.

Also, I can't resist (which shouldn't be surprising to you who have been here awhile) pointing out that there is a potential connection between Bernard Crowley and Fergus Roderick McLeod, a.k.a. Crowley over in Supernatural. We don't know when McLeod changed his name exactly to Crowley, but it could potentially have been due to a meeting with an ancestor of Bernard's. Perhaps a very clever ancestor who outwitted Fergus at some early point in his demon career? Mayhap
McLeod changed his name to inflict suffering in the Crowley's name who bested him as a petty bit of vengeance, or a reminder to himself to always think through the possible consequences of his actions before agreeing to anything... y'know, should any of you fan-writers want to pursue it....


Page 04: Now, back to my review before by Commentary-tangent: So, Bernard asked Nikki about the father, which transitions to present day, where Dawn is asking Buffy the same question.

Buffy isn't sure, except that it had to have happened at the party on the night she'd gotten completely blotto. She doesn't even remember all of the guys that were there who could act as potential baby-daddy, but the list she does come up with off the top of her head is Riley (married, and as far as we know loyal to Sam), Andrew (who would be completely out of left field, and ergo kinda awesome just because), some dude named Root (whom I'd hope not, just because he's a non-showerer), Tumble (which would be really awkward, and ergo is a likely choice for a Buffy-thing), the shut-in downstairs neighbor whose name she doesn't remember (a possibility, because see same reason as Tumble) and Spike (which... well... that just seems like he's being thrown out there as a shiptease to the Spuffy-believers, which seems mean -- I simply don't believe they'd go there plus of which, Spike has done more than enough of following in Angel's footsteps by falling for the Slayer in the first place -- let's not give him an impossible baby next). Xander is not mentioned (thankfully).

Dawn mentions the problems of thinking Spike could be a dad, but Buffy points out the vampire rule book is being re-written.


Commentary: And of course, we all know how this turns out. We'll deal with it at the proper time.

But, what I really want to say here is that I did find it a bit weird that Buffy's blackout and the icky & horrible possibility thereof wasn't even raised. I mean, Buffy has no memory of the event or the father and she knows that she drank to excess -- it just seems logical to raise the question of the possibility of rape in this situation. I don't like that they threw Buffy's blackout in there, if they were going to ignore - what I think, at least, is it just me - the obvious elephant in the room for this situation. If they had just stopped at her being so drunk that she doesn't remember the night before, then this wouldn't be an idea in my head, just because Slayer-Strength trumps aggressive-attacker. But with them including that she blacked out at some point... oooh,*hiss*,ick.



Page 05: Buffy states that no matter who the potential dad is, she appears to be on her own. Dawn disputes this 'cause of the family-clause and is super supportive.


Page 06: Meanwhile, possibly in response to a Buffy-phone call, Spike meets up with Detective Dowling for a ride-along/zompire patrol. He arrives in the BugShip, just in case Dowling was starting to get too used to the new world of being a Buffy-ally.


Page 07: We cut back to Nikki and Bernard. Crowley wants Nikki to consider giving the child to the father, but she didn't collect his name. His next suggestion is to abort.


Page 08: Buffy's previous phone call wasn't to Spike, of course, but to Robin. Buffy's meets up with him to discuss what it was like for him to grow up with an active Slayer for a mother.

Robin doesn't sugar coat how hard it was to relate to his mother at all, telling Buffy that he was closer to her Watcher.


Page 09: Buffy believes she really has one choice to spare the kid what Robin went through. He tells her that he's glad his mother had him, and she should consider having the baby.


Commentary: The only thing I don't like about this part is it's making Buffy's choice an either or situation. That isn't accurate about the complexity of the issue she's dealing with now. It isn't really a matter of having a Slayer-raised baby or abort. Buffy could adopt him/her out, or -- and even more appropriate I think for Buffy -- she could put aside the Slayer-business at the appropriate time except for when the world is on the verge of destruction again. There are too many other Slayers that she could call on to take a more active role in San Fran to cover her. And though we've seen Buffy have a mess of a life when she isn't slaying, this could easily be a turning point in her pursuing a career path outside of that ... or even just taking on a more advisory/mentor role rather than actively fighting.

It seems like Dawn or Robin or Xan should approach these options just to give a fair hearing to them.



Back in the past, we see Nikki out fighting vampires.


Page 10: She's outnumbered, but is helped out by her Watcher staking from behind the vamps. Of course, there are two more behind him....


Page 11: They manage to stake both remaining vampires (why don't the stupid demons ever just run away when they're getting their asses kicked en masse?) and Nikki mentions how rare it is for him to be out with the pointy objects.

He offers that she's not giving him much choice, considering her condition. He also wants to know what she thinks she's doing by patrolling. She reports that it's the mission.


Commentary: And yes, I suppose this could be a way to suggest that Buffy wouldn't have a choice about being a Slayer while being a mother. That her very Slayerness wouldn't let her retire for long, no matter how much she wanted.

Except Buffy is a very different type of Slayer than Nikki -- even after the whole mission-focused, hard Slayer thing of S7.



Page 12: Bernard insists on Nikki going to a cabin until the baby is born, while he covers for her with the vampire slaying. When she suggests the Council is going to balk at that, he tells her that he hasn't told them the plan.

He also suggests that it is a foregone conclusion that the baby will be given away to a "normal" family once born, rather than her being a Slaying Mother.

Meanwhile in the present, Spike complains about wearing an SFPD bulletproof vest.


Page 13: Dowling and Spike talk about learning how to slay vampires and about Spike and Buffy's very unusual alliance.

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Page 14: Dowling asks after Spike's current relationship status with Buffy, which gives Spike the idea that maybe Robert is interested in her. Spike supports the idea of Buffy having a bloke who is not supernatural (and not Riley) in theory.


Page 15: Elsewhere, Buffy and Robin leave the diner where they were talking, but the conversation continues. She asks about Nikki's decision not to give him up for adoption, and he suggests that Nikki put up a lot of walls between her and other people. He was one of the few that she felt she could be unguarded with.

Buffy says it would have killed her to walk away from him. He tells her, "She didn't have to walk away from me."...


Page 16: "She could have walked away from Slaying."

We discover in flashback that Bernard was ready to let Nikki go and pursue a life outside of slaying, even if he had to buck the Council to do so. Nikki worries about the mission, but he tells her that she's killed countless vampires and that she's been on the mission for three years already -- which is more than most other Slayers.


Page 17: Bernard had purchased passports and tickets for Nikki to leave the country. He tells her not even to come back to say good bye to him. He offers that she should just go from the hospital to wherever she wants and be a family with Robin.


Page 18: Buffy asks after why Nikki didn't take the out, if she had one. He tells her that they did, but it lasted less than a year before they were back in New York. Nikki just wasn't strong enough to ignore the call of being Chosen. Not even for him.


Page 19: Buffy is confused about how his story helps her decide to be a mother. He points out that Buffy has done things that his mother never could, already. She's not Nikki.

He brings up the biggest difference between Buffy and his mother: Buffy allows herself a support group. He thinks she can be a great mother because she isn't afraid to let people into her life to help support her when she needs the help.

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Commentary: Yay to the continuity all the way back to "The Harvest", where Buffy very first allowed the Scooby Gang to help. Now, if Xander, Dawn and Willow would remember that a little more, we might be somewhere. Especially Willow.
Oh, and thank you Robin, for making my point about the difference between Nikki-Slayer and Buffy-Slayer.



Page 20: With Spike, he gets a text from Buffy saying they need to talk.

In the car with Spike, Dowling tells him to tell Buffy that he isn't over her. Spike tries to shoot this down, but Robert tells him he's been trained to read people. He can tell Spike is playing aloof to avoid hurting her, but that if she's a big enough girl to handle Robert's cop baggage (as Spike told him before), then she's also big enough to handle Spike's.


Commentary: And, I immediately have visions of Buffy/Spike/Robert forming a trio of parents for Buffy's baby and having a polyamorous household... and obvs that would never happen. My wayward thoughts are probably because I just watched the DVR of "The Glades".


Page 21: Back at Buffy's apartment out at the pool, Spike is about to admit to Buffy that he wants to restart their romantic relationship, but she preempts this with her bigger news about her pregnancy.

And, we find out that Buffy wants to go through with an abortion, and wants Spike to help her through it.


Commentary: I want to talk about this whole thing -- but this is one of those cases where knowing the future developments really ruins it all. I was glad that they were taking Buffy into this complicated life stuff and I thought this struggle was going to be great for some drama-points, especially if they really did have Buffy go through with not having the baby.

But, I just don't have the energy to get into a long paragraph about it all since I know where we're going. That rant will be for that time.

Oh, and of course Spike can't tell Buffy his intentions for them again because shiptease and all that. I've already been through that rant in other posts. My bottom line is Buffy/Angel and/or Buffy/Spike are both acceptable to me [and I would be totally fine with a semi-permanent threesome at this point, though I'd prefer none of the above], but whatever -- the Jossverse just needs to shit or get off the pot on the whole relationship deal. I'm tired of the runaround with it.



Page 22: Buffy tells Spike that she was almost ready to ask him to run away with her and to have this baby, but she looked at her life outside of slaying and realizes she can't handle it. Even with her friends' support, having a baby just isn't the right thing for her at the moment.

She asks Spike to come with her when she has the procedure done. Spike, of course, says he will. They both have tears and it is a beautiful moment [but I'm still not a Spuffy-fan].


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The Good: Whatever your or my feelings are about the abortion issue, I was so pleased when the comic took this turn into some real, human, scary life-stuff for Buffy.

I was especially pleased with how adult Buffy was written throughout her struggle with trying to make a decision. And how not once was Buffy treated as 'a slut' for making a mistake and getting pregnant unintentionally in the first place.

I've complained in past reviews about the lack of intense hand-to-hand training for Buffy's support team, so I'm glad that we're actually seeing Robert Dowling getting such training. And who better than Spike to be providing it.

I also really liked that Spike approached the possibility of Robert's attraction to Buffy and Robert's acknowledgment of Spike's continued attraction to Buffy without either of them turning petulant or jealous/hater about their mutual situation.


The Bad: I really, really am over the "will they or won't they" with Buffy and her vampire suitors [although for the moment anyway, at least Angel is actually out of the picture -- but we've been there before only for their relationship-drama to resurface again]. Just stop with the shiptease and pick one, both, all, neither -- I don't care.


Other Thoughts: That sidestepping that Buffy could've been knocked up while she was actually unconscious during her blackout sits really wrong with me. Really wrong.

I liked seeing Robin again, and enjoyed the flashbacks of Nikki. My only slight issue, is that the writing seemed a bit confused over the difference between Omniscient-POV looking back, and first person flashback from Robin, and second person perspective told to Robin [by Watcher or Nikki herself presumably -- but I think Bernard would work better] which he's now passing onto Buffy.


The Score: I will have severe problems with more WTF-ery when it comes to this arc, but this particular issue is well written and really respects the characters and the very big issue that Buffy is facing.

4.0 out of 5 stars


Next Up: BTVS, S9 I7


--end--
 
 
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Lisashipperx on July 18th, 2013 03:01 am (UTC)
Sadly, it never seems to have crossed the writers minds that the situation they set up was a classic date rape scenario. (Especially considering that she actually was roofied!)
harsens_robharsens_rob on July 18th, 2013 06:09 am (UTC)
I know, right??
I'm glad I'm not the only one to notice, because it seemed pretty obvious that she should be freaking out about this possibility.
Lisa: Hunger Games - Katnissshipperx on July 18th, 2013 10:13 pm (UTC)
Re: I know, right??
No, you weren't the only one. It was quite the stink on Buffyforums and when it was brought up in some Q&A, Allie seemed utterly gobsmacked when asked about it. And the thing is, it's right there! She's blackout drunk (she thinks). Seriously, dudes involved in writing this comic, what in the hell were you thinking?! (Worse is the fact that she actually was roofied!. Seriously, dudes. SERIOUSLY!)
skipp_of_arkskipp_of_ark on July 19th, 2013 07:26 am (UTC)
Re: I know, right??
I'm one of the folks on Buffyforums (under a slightly different name), and it's just been painfully obvious that Season Nine has been, except for a couple of instances, an exercise in Plot Dictating Characters instead of Characters Dictating Plot. The writing has been so myopically focused on the next plot point the writers want to get to that everybody at Dark Horse has seemingly been incapable of taking a step or two back and seeing if maybe the story might look different from how they intend for it to look.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )