harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

Buffy Season 8, Number Four

BTVS: Season 8

Issue #4

“The Long Way Home” conclusion

Script: Joss Whedon, Pencils: Georges Jeanty, Inks: Andy Owens,

Colors: Dave Stewart, Letters: Richards Starkings & Comicraft’s Jimmy

Cover: Jo Chen

Where We Are:
Buffy has left Sunnydale for Scotland with Xander and a dedicated group of Slayer-followers. They’ve gotten serious funding as Spike feared when he was first captured by the Initiative in BTVS: S4. But things aren’t all rosy – Dawn has gotten herself changed into a giantess. Willow and Kennedy were off on their own, not keeping in touch with her friends. Giles and Buffy’s relationship remains very strained. And, Willow has just been mystically abducted by Amy Madison who’s turned into an uber-witch….

Page 01: Flashback – Warren – “Bored now.”

Page 02:
Warren has Willow where he wants her and he explains to Wills how he survived his skinning. And… this is where things fall apart because Joss “forgot” about the First Evil’s ability to take Warren’s form. Let me explain this using Warren’s words….

Warren tells Willow, “Do you know she had maybe a four-second window after my skin came off before I died of shock alone?” and, “That flash-paper disappearing trick was pretty hokey, we kid about that, but thinking on your feet? This is the girl.”

Okay – Let’s take a look at Warren’s explanation here: (1) He had to have died because the First Evil could only use the forms of those who’d been really dead. (2) The “flash-paper” trick is supposedly a watching Amy’s spell instead of Willow destroying his body? And Willow didn’t bother reacting at all to a spell she didn’t cast? (3) Let’s say that Willow did go to vaporize him and Amy just snuck a teleport spell in there… how would she keep Warren from dying anyway? She just happened to have a “save someone who’s been skinned alive” spell on hand?

A mess. That is what this was. All that had to be said was that Amy teleported him at the instant that Willow was trying to flash-incinerate him… stretching things, yes, but we’re dealing with magic so I could swallow disbelief. And then, Amy tried a resurrection ritual later which resulted in his current state. In order to protect his sanity, she fed him a line of B.S. about how he wasn’t quite dead so she could save him with her magic….

There. I hate it when readers have to explain away such obvious screw-ups.

I’ll also tell you that Warren helped Amy come up with the “Willow changes into Warren so she can shoot Kennedy” spell, which makes it a bit more palatable in retrospect than at the time of BTVS: The Killer in Me.

Page 03:
Warren has a scalpel over Willow’s eye – “Are you bored now?”

Elsewhere, Dawn is using her giant fist to work out some frustration by punching out an (hopefully unused) granite wall.

Buffy let’s us know that Dawn’s strength hasn’t increased proportionally to her new size, which keeps Dawnie from simply defeating everyone in 5 seconds, I guess. And allows her to still get hurt.

Okay, that scalpel hovering over Will’s eye is art panel of the month, hands down. And, ick.

Page 04:
Dawn lets Buffy know that she trusts her to get Willow back, but that doesn’t stop her from being afraid over what is happening.

And then, she sticks a dagger in Buffy’s heart, “Will is like a mom to me.”

Page 05:
Buffy and Xander are awaiting their mystics to re-open the portal Amy used for the abduction. Xan lets her know that there will only be enough energy to transport one, perhaps two people.

Elsewhere, Willow is informed by Warren during her (off screen) torture that the mystic bands holding her are reflecting her strength back into the bands. The fact that she’s so strong is only making her bonds that much more powerful.

Now, that is a cool idea. And leave it to Warren to have come up with those spells. It’s also interesting that Warren wants Willow to go dark here. He’s not happy to torture Willow as she is, he feels a need to defeat Dark Willow, for Dark Willow to be the object of his fury (and I suspect, madness).

Page 06:
Warren stabs Willow in the eye with the scalpel.

Buffy chooses Satsu to go with her (she’s the Slayer with the cinnamon lip gloss and the cat-mask).

In Else-space, five beings are standing together and one of them says aloud, “For goodness sake, yes. Grant her access.”

First, yes – We do see Willow and Warren and the scalpel and drops of blood flying up from her face where her eye has been impaled. And the General and the Suit that we’ve met before are looking shocked at the sound of Willow’s scream.

But what I want to do here is talk about these other-beings that step in to whisk Willow away from her suffering. There’s been some commentary that I’ve read where people are trying to figure out what the hell these things are supposed to be, so I’d like to take my shot at it:

The Wood/Tree Woman:
Obviously, this must be a spirit representing Wood. There hasn’t been much question about this.

The Blue Woman:
This could be either Water or Air, but I lean toward water because of the ‘bubbles’ above her head. They could be large water droplets.

The Wild Beast Woman:
I’d say this represents basic nature. It’s the primitive nature of magic, its roots. It could even be a representation of Earth – it’s lifeforce, rather than the soil which would be an interesting choice if deliberate rather than going with a rock-being.

The Irregularly Drawn Woman:
This is the woman standing in the middle of the group of five. She’s a hard one to figure out, because she doesn’t have any sort of strong features. In keeping with the ‘natural forces’ tone of the others, I’d have to conclude that she’s either Air or Fire. I lean toward Air here because I’m hypothesizing the blue woman is Water.

So, so far we have Wood, Earth, Air and Water… the four elements. There’s another, Fire, that’s usually included … Fire… which may be encompassed by the small brazier with the flame that the others are surrounding. Which leaves us with an intriguing fifth member of our group…

Mathematical Formula Woman:
It could easily be concluded that this is a representation of Math, or Logic, or Analytical Ability. I gave this some real thought and I believe it is a representation of Spirit, encompassed by Imagination. It takes leaps in logic via imagining that allows us to come up with these sorts of complex formulas.

Page 07:
The General and Suit tell Amy that she’s disabled their security cameras in the lab. Amy tells the General that he just needs to be ready for Buffy, but not worry about the Witch.

The Witch belongs to Warren, “They have a history. She’s kind of a history major.”

Amy, dear? That was the WORST pun, ever. EVER. You are lame. What isn’t lame, however, is Buffy’s getting the Slayer Scythe to go after Wills.

Page 08:
Satsu is feeling a little overwhelmed by the mission to get Willow back. She feels like one of the other Slayers, particularly Leah or the German Ballcap gal who’s name I don’t recall right now.

But she’s going to get more self conscious when Buffy asks her for some lip balm before they head out and realizes it’s cinnamon… the same flavor she tasted on her mouth after the Awakening Kiss.

This would seem to confirm that it WAS Satsu who gave Buffy the ‘true love’ kiss to counter Amy’s spell.

Page 09:
Willow tumbles into the plane (only psychically) where the five representations are gathered. They explain that they’re hiding her suffering from her, but show her a representation of what is happening on the physical plane. And, it’s gruesome, so I’m just going to quote the Blue Woman:

“What you’re seeing is possibility. Thoughts, courses of actions, pieces of what you could be. Ending. He’s lobotomizing you. Do you have a plan?”

This is some dark and scary stuff. S6 kind of stuff – but while reading it, I was really worried about how they were going to get Willow out of this. I just never believed they were going to kill her in the first arc of the new comic book – and that started to make my stomach drop a little – I’m worried about how they can use the Willow character without instant healing, which would be the deus ex machina magic I worried about in the earlier reviews.

But I also have to admit that this passage is really powerfully chilling. And I do find myself smiling at the darkly humorous, “Do you have a plan?”

Uh – a plan?! To stop being lobotomized? I don’t know, it just struck me as darkly funny.

Page 10:
In the ‘real world’ or the physical world, the military sense that the portal is opening.

Page 11:
The General orders the firing of a giant, energy projecting beam into the portal to wipe out the Slayer contingent opening the portal.

But again, Xander is way ahead of them. He’s situated a giant parabolic mirror where the beam comes through – reflecting it back into the portal.

Now, you could argue there is no way that Xander could know there was going to be a beam able to be reflected by a mirror so this doesn’t make sense. I don’t see it that way – he knows magic is involved. And, it makes sense to prepare for something to come through the portal in a pre-emptive attack on them. Further, there are a roomful of Slayers present for any sort of physical attack. This seems right to me.

Page 12:
With the power beam spitter blowing up, Buffy and Satsu jump through the portal.

The General is trying to find out how many losses he’s suffered in this first salvo and yells for his men to “stay calm, dammit!”

But, Buffy counters that, “No. Panic.” Heh-heh.

Xander gets a really great line here, too, that I loved: “Magic. It’s all done with mirrors.” Heh-heh-heh.

And, it just adds to my love of Xander Harris in this comic series.

Page 13:
Satsu is using a katana. Buffy is using gymnastics and the Scythe. It’s a beautiful thing. And of course, the throng of grunts are totally outclassed.

Page 14:
Buffy has the General knocked down and informs him that there are men dying and there’s only one person in the complex with enough power to save all of them….

And, we need to talk about Buffy here. Since S5, we’ve seen Buffy struggle with her ability to not be ‘closed off’ or to stay connected to her responsibilities to humanity. In S6, she couldn’t connect to anyone, including her closest, dearest loved ones because of the trauma of being brought back from ‘Heaven’. (And I put it in quotes because I’m uncomfortable with the thought that the true HEAVEN could be accessed by magic… I know, it’s silly. I’m not even religious – but nonetheless, it’s a fact.)

Anyway, in S7, Buffy had trouble connecting to the Slayers-in-Training as individuals, seeing them as an army that she’d use in the fight against evil because she felt she had nothing else she could do. Despite Xander’s heartfelt speech about how Buffy cared about their lives more than they’d ever know – I’m not sure that was so throughout the whole season. Again, I think Buffy withdrew from her human-ness in her desperation to win.

I think we’re beginning to see that here, as well. First, she couldn’t connect to Dawn… (S5) and then she did near the end. Then she couldn’t connect to her friends (S6) and then she did near the end. Then she could connect to her friends, but strangers was another matter entirely (S7). But, she was able to finally connect to the S.i.T’s near the end. And now, (S8) it looks like she’s connecting with her friends, with her sister, with her fellow Slayers… but, possibly, not with the general crowd of humanity beyond her circle. And that could have some real problems if this callous attitude spreads to an entire army of super-powered Slayers, following her example.

Page 15:
The page where we get a shout out to the arc title, “The Long Way Home”. Xander informs Buffy that according to GPS (another ability of the sound/camera unit wore by the Slayers) she’s a few miles south of the former Sunnydale.

“Sunnydale. Well. I’m the one who wanted to go home,”
she thinks.

And, she runs into Amy levitating and waiting for her.

Page 16:
I LOVE this whole page....

We start with Blue Woman talking to Willow, telling her that she’s almost dead and if that doesn’t scare her, at all.

’s response is fantastic – she gives her a smile, “Did I ever tell you about my best friend?”

Beyond the terrific response, it also shows that Willow’s been in contact with this spirit before. I’m not sure if that means anything in particular or not.

Here’s the interesting thing… Buffy continues Willow’s words, “I like to think, in a way, that she’s a part of me. That even when she’s gone, a part of her is with me.”

And then, Buffy throws up a mystical shield to block a blast from Amy and then punches out some sort of mystic rock beasts that Amy had on hand.

Now, this is a great idea to introduce. That after all of Willow and Buffy’s contact mystically throughout the series, that now Wills can merge with Buffy somehow and give her the magical abilities to use is such a clever idea. And, yet, Buffy is still there and in control, because after the part above where she continues Willow’s thought, she continues with what sounds like her own addition, “’Cause it is.”

Page 17:
Amy tries to act tough, but Buffy throws her off her game by summoning an illusory image of Catherine Madison – prior to her becoming a cheerleader trophy. In the meanwhile, Satsu throws a grenade.

Page 18:
Alas, Amy is still magically powerful enough to teleport away from the blast. Buffy and Satsu bust into the lab where Willow is just in time for Amy to appear behind Warren and teleport them both out.

Buffy looks panic-stricken at seeing what is left of Willow’s face….

Page 19:
And we see Willow, looking perfectly fine and grinning widely. She asks Buffy if there’s a problem. SIGH, dammit.

Also, Buffy sees a cell door with “30” on it and remembers the images she saw in her dreamscape. Remember, Ethan was standing behind three X’s? And he made the comment that he was a Roman Numerals kind of guy (instead of a Vin Diesel or Porn sort)?

Right. It was a clue that he was being held behind Room 30’s door.

Okay, first – I KNEW IT! I knew that this magic throwing around was going to turn into a “you can do anything with magic/insta-heal/teleporting everywhere in contravention of what we were told at the end of S6”.

It’s convenience without rules except what the story calls for.

But, I do really like we get a follow up on Ethan’s visit.

Page 20:
Alas, when Buffy breaks in, she finds ETHAN IS DEAD!

He’s got a bullet hole through his forehead. The General who just murdered him is still there and almost shoots Buffy.

She throws him against a wall, and his uniform coat and shirt are torn open revealing the ‘Twilight’ scar we’ve seen before.

I’m sad to see the end of Ethan here. He was a funny and exasperating character and I really wanted to see more of his and Giles’ interactions in this series. Hopefully, we’ll get him in flashbacks though in future stories.

Page 21:
The General gets to mouth off to Buffy about how Twilight is coming and she’s against the U.S. Army now and she’s a terrorist and blah-blah-blah.

What’s interesting here is that the General knows that Buffy’s (and by extension all of the Slayers’) powers come from a demon spirit. Now, how does he know this? It points to someone who knows what Buffy found out, or possibly someone who used to be in the Council but has survived feeding information to Twilight.

I should also mention that this page has been used to hypothesize that Riley Finn is Twilight. I REALLY hope that doesn’t happen. Evil!Riley is a fan-fic staple for everyone that’s ever hated his character. I didn’t. I don’t want to see him as the villain turning on Buffy.

Page 22:
The news that Buffy is now fighting the entire human race (I think a bit of overstatement by General Voll) results in a great page:

Panel One: Buffy looks shocked, “Oh.”

Panel Two: Buffy looks to the side in thought.

Panel Three: Buffy looks down, eyes closed, a frown on her face.

Panel Four: Buffy looks at General Voll. She appears determined, “Kay.”

Perfect end.

The Good:
The Warren/Amy team up against Willow and her torture was intense and awful.

Buffy’s realizing that Satsu must have kissed her due to lip gloss of all things.

Xander Harris kicks ass and I adore him.

The awesome fight panels with Satsu and Buffy against the Army guys.

Buffy and Willow being able to merge and allowing Buffy to tap her magicks. I really can’t believe I’ve never seen this one in a fanfic story (doesn’t mean someone hasn’t done it), but I love this whole plot point!

Buffy’s reaction to General Voll.

The Bad:
There’s only two, but they're both whoppers: 1) The explanation for Warren’s survival was all sorts of continuity-destroying retconning, which I don’t at all like.

The Magic. Amy is teleporting all over the place like it’s no big deal (remember Anya telling Buffy that a witch of Willow’s level could only go airborne, not teleport – now it appears no harder than catching the bus). Willow is instantly healing from nearly fatal brain injuries and mutilation in literally a heartbeat’s time with no signs of ANY aftermath trauma. It’s ridiculous and sets a very poor precedent for how magic will now work in the Buffyverse. I really, really do not like the way magic has been used.

Ethan’s death was shocking, which is a good, but I think it’s a waste of a great character. I can only hope we’ll get some Giles/Ethan flashback stories – or maybe he’ll show up again to haunt Giles as a pest of a ghost… that could be funny.

The Score:
What to do, what to do? I mean, I loved the character writing and the Twilight plot. I loved the hideous punishment that Warren visits on Willow and her being plane-shifted… it’s obvious she’s made friends in the past year with other-dimensional powers. But Warren’s explanation for his being alive (sort of) is just screwed up… and the abuse of magic as a plot device is awful.

I give it Buffy Number Four:
3.75 out of 5.0 stars.

This is where I would usually insert some pictures from the comic, but this review has run long (pages wise). I'll post another entry with the artwork.
Tags: buffy season 8 reviews

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