Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8
Script: Joss Whedon, Pencils: Paul Lee, Inks: Andy Owens, Colors: Dave Stewart
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Jimmy
Where We Are: Following the end of Season 7’s ‘Chosen’, Buffy has gathered together five hundred of the approximately two thousand newly activated Slayers. They have bases all over the world and continue to fight the forces of darkness. Unfortunately, some forces, such as the
Page 01: A horned demon with lots of teeth is staring out from the page. He is calling Buffy’s name.
Commentary: Excellent artwork, too. Notice the detail: the shading coloring of the face and around the mouth, the four nostrils, the bulging veins on the forehead… and the evil glare in the eyes.
Page 02: Demon guy is holding a blonde girl above his head and cries out “… IS DEAD!” to an assembly of other demons… his army presumably. He has a name, “Yamanh of Hoht” and so does the Slayer and it isn’t actually Buffy. We will never find out who she was – but we are going to dive into how she came to be here, getting killed.
Commentary: You should know that this story is a giant flashback and it’s going to be told from her viewpoint. In addition, it isn’t clear here whether she’s alive (barely) or if this is being told by her spirit… I prefer to think she’s in the last moments of her life and Yamanh jumped the gun a bit in his rush to gloat. You can take it either way, but in the bottom panel of this page her eyes are opened. On the last page, her eyes are finally closed…. You should also know there’s a bit of playing around with time… sort of like her moments of her life are flashing before her eyes. On the first read through it was confusing, but on a second read, I was amazed by it.
Anyway, ‘Buffy’ is being held above Yamanh’s head and thinks to herself, or us, actually: “The funny part about all this? I never even met her.”
Which tells us up front not to pay attention to Yamanh’s boasting… he’s got the wrong gal.
Page 03: There’s a football jock staring down into our faces and saying, “Who the hell are you?” in the first panel.
But the second panel jumps us back to the cavern where ‘Buffy’ is dying… though this is obviously in the past because she isn’t all beat up.
She’s talking to a, ugh, fairy. I mean a real one – a member of the fairy-folk, you know?
Commentary: Okay, I have to admit up front that when I saw the fairy fluttering around underground, I was really vomiting a little. I mean, why are all these fantastical creatures around and no one noticed? And, plus… fairies… wee-folk… it’s like something out of one of the not-so-good Charmed episodes for criminy sakes!
But I have to admit to you now, that the story carried me right over that rough patch. And, the humor… I actually like this fairy character.
Page 04:; She sends the fairie off to the surface world to inform the other Slayers that Yamanh and his army are coming for the surface. She gets a peck on the eyebrow and the faerie tells her “I love you, Buffy.”
Then it’s a flashback to our Slayer as a pre-called teen… she’s got black hair and attends school where a uniform is required. She tells us that something isn’t fair and that its fascism…, turns out her clique is getting detention because one of their number left her panties in a utility closet.
Page 05: Our faux-Buffy gets her calling at the moment of Willow’s spell, of course. And we get a panel of Giles about to tell the girls about ‘The Chain’ between them.
Commentary: I’m not sure if we’re meant to take a deeper meaning here, what with all of this talk about how because of one girl, they’re all getting punished being fascism and how ‘Buffy’ says just previously to this that ‘You don’t get a choice’. Is this meant to be a question on if the actual Buffy did the right thing when she activated all of these girls against their will? Is there some sort of subtle judgment here that I’m just not quite connecting the dots on? There seems to be a larger question being asked regarding the effects on these individual girls because of something that Buffy did without asking them. On the other hand, would it have been better for the Turok-Han to have overrun the Earth and delivered everyone into the First’s immaterial hands? (From Future Issues Me): I just don’t understand the question being asked regarding the larger issues because the bottom line is this: It doesn’t matter if it was the right or wrong thing to do (or if Buffy could be compared to the Shadowmen for not giving the ‘Called’ a choice) because there wasn’t anything else to do unless you want to honestly argue that allowing the world to be destroyed was the more ‘moral’ decision?!
Page 06: We see our protagonist getting flashes of vampires, demons, other Slayers and they Slayer-Scythe tumbling backward infinitely. There’s something else of interest here which, again, seems to imply a deeper meaning we’re meant to think about.
‘Buffy’ narrates (in part) the following, “… becoming a Slayer was like Mike Tyson in your face – and not punching-you-Mike Tyson, ripping-your-ear-off-with-his-teeth Mike Tyson. The power, the shared memories, the… truth. The unbelievable truth.”
But this last observance is immediately undercut by a black woman stating, ‘There is no truth.’
Page 07: We cut away again… this time to a local access channel (KCUU38!) which is showing a commercial starring Andrew and Vi. She’s a housewife (dressed in full 1950’s dress, pearls and apron) and is complaining that she can’t seem to stop breaking vases around the house in her bare hands! Oh, what to do!
Well, thankfully her sweater-vested husband just that day received a pamphlet explaining that if any girls are suffering from “memories of being another girl in another time” and many modern women are afflicted by this ‘unnamed condition’, but thankfully they can just dial 1-800-Chosen-1 for help!
Commentary: It’s just as cheesy as it sounds… and MUST have been thought up by Andy. I’m just wondering how he roped Vi into going along with the whole 50’s housewife motif…. (By the way, I looked for KCUU… and believe it or not there are 49,700 possibilities. I refuse to believe I’m the only one who rushed to Google just to check it out. There are references to a public radio station, but not TV).
Page 08 & 09: Our protagonist learns here what the heck is going on. “And the truth is, it’s not cheesy like the commercial. It’s actually amazing.”
Page 10: We’re back to the underground (which, incidentally, is VERY well lit for being who knows how far under the earth). ‘Buffy’ is confronting a small imp, who she relieves of one hand, and tells him to take a message to Yamanh.
“Buffy Summers is coming for him.”
Commentary: Note here as well, that our Slayer narrates, “The name. What power.”
It seems to be reinforcing the fact that Buffy has become world, if not multi-dimensionally, famous since her defeat of the First Evil (while I bet poor Faith is still barely getting a mention).
Page 11: We have a brief flashback again, to when she’s lying on the ground being activated… and there’s another brief glimpse with Giles giving them the ‘you were Chosen’ spiel.
And then we’re with a group of new Slayers in an alley with their first real encounter against a group of vampires. Our main girl quickly adapts, gets focused and does a good job of keeping herself uninjured.
Page 12 & 13: She helps a red head who seems to freeze up when confronted by an actual vampire. Although she saves the red head, she gets bit for the trouble on the neck. With a quick flip though, she sends the vamp right into red head who gets her stake up and dusts him in mid air and upside down. One of the girls here is obviously Simone – the punk haired girl who really wants to carry around a gun.
The main point here is that Buffy has a scar on her neck (from Angel and Dracula), which red-head mentions (as well as mentioning that Simone probably wouldn’t have taken a bite for her like our heroine).
Later the black woman (it’s possible this could be Rona, but she isn’t named and could just as easily be anyone), says simply, “The hair” with a thoughtful look. It is obvious that this is where she’ll get recruited to play decoy for Buffy.