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02 November 2014 @ 03:03 pm
Buffy Reviewed: Season 10, Issue 05  
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cover


Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 10, Issue 05

New Rules” part V

Script: Christos Gage & Nicholas Brendon, Art: Rebekah Isaacs, Colors: Dan Jackson, Letters: Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt (from Comicraft)
Cover: Steve Morris

Blurb: After saving the world from Slayer-turned-super vampire Simone and restoring magic and the life of her magically created sister Dawn, Buffy is in the best place she’s ever been. There is a little weirdness going on, with the Slayer handbook’s pages suddenly being blank… But she’s back together with Willow, Xander, Spike and Giles doing what she was meant to do as the chosen one: slay vampires.


Page 01: In Dracula and Xander’s suite, the Lord of the Vampires wanted to be the greatest vampire in history… but like the Monkey’s Paw lesson, his wish has backfired on him. He isn’t Vlad the Impaler any longer - but is the first of the vampires: Maloker.

And a giant demon he is, too - smashing up through the penthouse roof and leaving the gang wondering if this is something they can win over.


Page 02: In the suite, Giles saves the gang with a shield from being mush by the falling ceiling. They race out before Maloker’s transformation brings down the whole building. Giles explains that as an Elder God, Maloker can be as large as space and his own desire allows - having broken out into the open, who knows how big he’ll choose to be.

Out on the street, Rupert takes another dig at Andrew’s lack of success with the book. He complains back that Giles’ negative reinforcement is not helping him think creatively.

Meanwhile, Ghost Anya complains to Xander that she’s been trying to get his attention and stop him from doing something stupid, like what he’s just done. His desire to please his master got in the way of his listening to her warnings.

She’s miffed.


Page 03: Xan wonders at Anya why she’s yelling at him. She replies it’s because if he doesn’t find a way to stop Maloker destroying Dracula, his master will die followed by his family and then a good chunk of the West Coast for starters.

Maloker meanwhile has grown to skyscraper proportions. He observes there are less Old Ones in the world now and more food available. This pleases him.


page03


Commentary: And here we need to bring up Anya, again. I’m really hoping that this turns out to be a Xan hallucination for whatever reason, because Anya has been nothing but a harpy and it’s boring. This is really a shame, because when she first appeared to Xander I had the exact opposite reaction -- I wanted her to be really Anya in a kind of limbo because she couldn’t get into Heaven but was redeemed enough to avoid Hell, giving her a second {third?} chance to figure out which path she was going to walk. Not anymore… just be a delusion, get resolved and go away please.


Page 04: On Maloker’s shoulder, Willow, Spike, Buffy and a magic teleconferenced Giles discuss any weaknesses of Maloker. He shares the same weaknesses as the vampires he created, but these will need to be commiserate now with his new, chosen size.

This doesn’t seem very promising, until Buffy spots a huge skyscraper with a wonderfully pointed rooftop, looking like a giant, convenient stake in the ground.


Page 05: Spike points out that the Redwood Investment Group building isn’t actually made out of wood, but Buffy thinks that Wills could make it a “sacred object” with some mojo. That still leaves the problem of convincing the giant Old One to conveniently lie down over it….

Through the connector between Giles and the gang, Dawn offers that Wills could make her into a giant again so she can help push him onto the point.

Willow isn’t wild about the idea, but does so anyway - though she does warn Dawn not to engage yet as Maloker will kill her easily if he gets his hands on her.


Commentary: So, this part I have to take issue with. It doesn’t make sense to use Dawn as the giant, without some sort of explanation that her system can handle it more effectively because of the Thrisewise magic, or because of her own magical beginnings or something.

The closest we get is Willow admitting that Dawn has some experience with fighting as a giant that will help, but that isn’t enough for me to conclude that she’s the best one for this dangerous gambit. It’d make much more sense for Buffy to be giant, or Spike even. They both have the supercharged constitution to handle the strain on their bodies and are much, much more experienced with fighting and therefore more likely to ignore the sudden weirdness of being giant sized than even Dawn in these circumstances.

I do like Dawn being more involved in being a real Scooby, I’m just not convinced by the writing here that Dawn should be the one to engage the Old One in fisticuffs… especially since obviously Willow doesn’t even think she’s up to it.



Page 06: Dawnie shouts at Maloker to come and bite her as a distraction, but Maloker takes this as a challenge from one Old One to another… and despite his ridiculous size, he can still fly.

He charges toward Dawn, while Buffy and Spike try to get into a position of doing anything to keep him from her.


Page 07: Meanwhile at street level, Anya-Ghost is telling Xander that he needs to figure out the way to bring his master back from the brink with the book, or he’ll kill everyone that he claims to love -- including Dracula and Dawn.

Xan grabs the book from Andrew and tells him and Giles that they need to get to the Redwood building to end things there.


Page 08 & 09: As Dawn runs for her life with Maloker chasing her and crying out that he’s hungry, Willow has snatched a local priest to bless the building. He complains that there is usually some ceremony involved, but he’s able to rush when it’s pointed out that a giant vampire is coming at them fast.

In the meantime, the Old One is able to move faster flying then Dawn running. She sees that she can’t outrace him.

Thankfully for her giant neck, Buffy and Spike have maneuvered onto Maloker’s head. Using her Scythe and his raking nails, they’re able to blind the giant man-bat.


Commentary: I’m going to kudo these two pages. I liked the bit of humor, I liked the artwork with the look of panic on Dawn’s face, and I loved the Buffy-Spike Duo taking out Maloker’s eyes.

And that poor priest… he looks like he’ll need a miracle not to pee his pants.

I’m not convinced it actually needed the two page spread treatment, but I’m not going to complain a bit about that.



Page 10: With Maloker blinded, Dawn rushes him and shoves his giant chest through the blessed building’s point. The aim is true and the Old One goes back to being a giant dust cloud. Although, possibly giving Willow a minute to grab Buffy and Spike first might’ve been good. They’re left clinging to the top of the skyscraper at a pretty scary angle.

[Or that’s just my fear of heights and a little imagination of that scenario giving me a wiggins.]

Buffy is less worried about her own immediate situation though. Giant Dawn suddenly grabs her stomach and head and says that she doesn’t feel so good as she starts swaying on her feet.


page10


Commentary: Okay, I’m gonna admit to y’all that I kinda cheered a little bit when Giant Dawn played the hero and got rid of the big bad. That was awesome for her… and she didn’t get abducted first!


Page 11: Dawn goes into a faint, but Wills is able to reverse the giant-spell before she starts crushing buildings. With her correct size restored, she quickly recovers. Wills explains that the new chaos in the magic caused more strain on Dawn than before and tells her that will be her last giantess escapade. She then thanks the priest for helping them, but offers he should run for it now… things aren’t over.

Nearby, a naked Dracula comes from an alley -- but his restoration is looking to be short-lived. With his alteration to the book in place, Maloker cannot be kept away and Dracula grimaces in agony as he feels himself undergoing alteration again.


Commentary: At first I was wondering why Dracula wouldn’t have been dusted too -- but then I remembered, and they even mentioned, how he can die of staking. So, yes this does make sense that he’d reform from the ashes.

And apparently, nobody thought to grab the book from Xan and write, “With Maloker’s corruption, Dracula had lost his ability to reform after his dusting.” to see if it’d work.

Hey, I may like the Drac/Xan relationship, but I’m not blind to Dracula’s nature: Get rid of him, if you’ve got the chance!



Page 12: Dracula falls before Buffy on his knees and tells her how to get rid of himself permanently. Spike is ready to jump on it, but Dawn is more reticent [really, Dawn?]. Dracula sees a several minute discussion starting, as is the Scooby Way, and cries out for them to hurry as his body continues to mutate back into Maloker again.

Even though Willow has some doubt that following Dracula’s self-destructive instructions would work against an Old One, of which Dracula now at least partially is, Buffy decides they’ve got nothing to lose. She readies to behead him.

Xander forces himself forward and tells Buffy that he has this. Dracula tells Xan that he appreciates his loyalty, but that he is freed of his servitude. He then tells Xander that it would be a great deal to him if Xander would be the one to end this nightmare.


Page 13: And Xander does. Just not in the way that everybody else was thinking.

Pulling out the book, Xander writes that Dracula’s willpower was such that he was able to banish Maloker and give up his new powers.

Dracula suddenly realizes how obvious that was and complains that Xan didn’t think of it sooner. Xan frowns and adds, “Everyone Dracula had power over also found themselves free” and the vampire harrumphs at him.

Drac offers that he could mesmerize Xan again, but Xander offers that he won’t. He tells Dracula that you can’t force somebody to care about you and it doesn’t mean anything if it’s all fake. He pointedly, and sadly glances at Dawn as he says so.


page13


Commentary: So… I’m still really conflicted about Dracula. The dude has always been evil and I don’t like how the gang keep giving him a pass but on the other hand, he’s always good for dialog and he makes an interesting ambivalent ally so it’d be a shame to just write him out.

I really liked in this scene the way that Dracula is standing there stark naked and has not one whit of modesty about it and the commentary again showing that Xander and Dracula do have some sort of emotional bond that can’t be easily explained away.

I guess I’m getting at that I like the Dracula character and am glad he sticks around, but at the same time, I’m having trouble with the Scooby Gang justifying his staying around.



Page 14: Dracula and Xander part with each offering that they want to keep in more regular contact with one another, like normal people do.

Dracula issues warnings about what they’ll do with the book going forward, then mists out to make his way back home.


Page 15: Sometime later, the gang is sitting at the table in Xander’s apartment. They’re all circling the book and trying to decide who can take responsibility for writing the new rules of magic before they begin manifesting in random directions.

No one feels qualified for specific character reasons. Buffy offers the obvious: Someone is going to have to take on this task.

Enter D’Hoffryn… who offers the services of his Mystic Council….


Commentary: UGH.. No way… NO WAY.


Page 16: With D’Hoffryn’s sudden arrival, Xander nervously considers what he’d do to Ghost-Anya, but she’s not concerned. She tells Xander that he hasn’t had dominion over her in ages since she renounced her powers and died. To prove it, she waves her transparent hand in D’s face to his non-reaction.

Meanwhile, D’Hoffryn generously offers to relieve Buffy of her feelings of responsibility by taking the book with him. She, unsurprisingly, chooses to say no as a Vengeance Demon Master in charge of the new rules of magic doesn’t strike her as wise… go figure.

To D’s mentioning of her own distrust in herself to handle the task, Buffy says that she doesn’t trust herself… but she does trust her family as a group to figure out what is wisest among all of them. She calls the gang the best people she knows and offers D’Hoffryn the opportunity to try to take the book by force if he thinks he can.


Page 17: D’Hoffryn passes, at least for the time being. He does request that when his Mystic Council is reconstituted from the losses it suffered, that they be able to at least have an advisement role. Buffy says they’ll listen, but no guarantees on acting on the advice.

With a truce of sorts in effect, Xander pulls D to the side to discuss Anya, annoying her at his blabbermouth. D’Hoffryn compliments Anyanka’s work, melting her heart at how sweet he is but he also says that he’ll have to investigate why Anya may not be at rest when she died heroically as a human and should’ve moved onto her destiny.

As he teleports out, he offers that maybe Xander should also consider that he’s just going mad. Anya points out that she did mention that possibility to him before. But right now, she also wants him to stop worrying so much about her and focus on talking to Dawn about the rift between them.


page17


Page 18: Xander and Dawn talk about them and he learns about her emotional reset.


Page 19: Both of them agree that they need time apart to let things settle down. Xander offers that he was lucky enough to make her fall in love with him once, he’ll just have to work on doing so again, building on that schoolgirl crush Dawn has always had for him.


Page 20: Dawn kisses him but after a moment it gets a bit intense. Dawn pulls away a bit freaked, and they separate - “time and space” is needed for them both.


Commentary: And I don’t really care. I’m sorry, but I don’t. I didn’t like the Dawn/Xan thing anyway, though I did come to accept it but I’m just not emotionally engaged by their coupledom and wouldn’t mind at all if they simply never got back together. If they do, they do… I’m not going to be throwing any parades over it, though I won’t loathe it either.


Page 21: Outside, Buffy and Spike have been keeping one eye on Xan and Dawn through the apartment windows. Spike offers sympathetically that it’ll be a long road for the two of them.

Buffy retorts it’s a long road for all of them and turns conversation to the burden of having the book under their control. Spike reminds her of her own words -- they’ll all work together to solve it. He also adds that she hasn’t done such a bad job, considering that after everything she’s already been through, one would think she’d be in a straitjacket by now.

Buffy smiles back that it hasn’t all been bad - she’s had the gang with her, including Spike.


Page 22: Spike’ pep-talks a bit more, before mentioning the hoards of demons that’ll be coming for the book….


The Good: I like generally Dawn being given a larger role in the Scooby Gang shenanigans that don't involve her being the object to be rescued.

I did like Giant Dawn being put to the best use to save the day... temporarily... by staking Maloker with a skyscraper.

Yeah, I'm continuing my fancrush on Dracula/Xander.


The Bad: Nothing bothers me so much that I'd put it here.


Other Thoughts: I think some of the writing is still a little weak: Dawn being chosen to be a giant again, Anya's role in things, letting Dracula continue to live... all of things feel a little weak in justification.

I know we need to deal with Dawn/Xander but I'm just not into the whole thing, so everytime we break to focus on them talking about their relationship, my eyes kinda glaze over. I'm also not invested in Anya-Ghost at this point, because she's been less funny than screechy.

It was a tiny bit repetitive, but I liked that Buffy and Spike are in such a good place with one another now and it was nice to have Buffy and the gang all standing together without any traces left of bitterness or resentment. Everybody is in a relatively good place, excepting the tension between Xander and Dawn and it feels good.


The Score: 3.50 out of 5 stars


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