Season 8, Number 8
Blurb: The Slayer population of the world has gone from two to nearly two thousand. Almost five hundred are working with Buffy's European-based organization in squads or "terrorist cells," according to various military forces. Enter Faith, the pioneer of Slayer-related dirty work, whose talents as a fierce fighter continue to garner the attention of her former Sunnydale compatriots.
Script: Brian K. Vaughan, Pencils: Georges Jeanty, Inks: Andy Owens, Colors: Dave Stewart, Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft's Albert
Executive Producer: Joss Whedon
Cover by: Georges Jeanty, Dexter Vines and Dave Stewart
Page 01: Faith is remembering back to Buffy staking a vampire. Her reason is that at the end of Issue 7, Gigi revealed her stalker armoire of Buffy hatred.
Page 02: Gigi has led Faith to a room where several monitors are showing loops of grainy surveillance footage of Buffy in order to study her.
Faith is feeling let down by Giles: It's always about her. Giles sent me on this suicide mission 'cause he said it was about saving the world, but really, it was just about saving his golden girl.
In the meanwhile, Gigi is unimpressed with the "fount of their power": It cost what some might consider a fortune to buy up every second of grainy surveillance ever shot of this girl and her increasingly awful hair.
Page 03: With the plan laid out, Gigi is informed that her parents have left for Venice so that finally Roden can put his plan into action.
Commentary: And make no mistake, this is his plan and Gigi is an obvious and obviously oblious pawn.
Lady Genevieve believes that Buffy has been holding them down, using her status as 'Queen of the Slayers' to put the sisterhood into bondage of the world, rather than liberating her fellow sisters (by lording their power over the world). Gigi plans to have her new fast friend at her side as she 'claims the crown' by assassinating Buffy.
Faith is left in the middle of a mess and she now has to wonder if Giles cares whether she lives or dies, as long as Buffy stays safe.
Page 04: At that moment, Giles is in the wood outside of the estate. There is magical barrier keeping him out and he's unable to contact Faith via his secret transmitter. He has contacted a dwarf with a mystic hammer, but it is also failing to breach the barrier and Giles is worried. Trafalgar the dwarf brings up the possibility that the 'lap of luxury' has scrambled Faith's loyalties.
Page 05: Gigi and Faith are sharing a bubble bath in a tub big enough for four people (avoiding any lesbian subtext - this is more like a bestest sister's vibe to me). Gigi is dreaming of her coronation in Buffy's place and comments that she could tell immediately that Faith and her were two of a kind when they'd first met.
Page 06: As Gigi gets out of the water and wraps herself in a body towel, she gives us some insight into her insular and lonely upbringing. She also bonds with Faith over the 'horrible nightmares', that are naturally Slayer-dreams. Roden has convinced Gigi that they'll stop once Buffy has been eliminated.
Commentary: Faith has a nice panel here in response to Gigi's questioning about whether she also receives the nightmares. Faith responds, "Only every night", but you are left with a clear feeling that she's talking about different nightmares - those of her past actions.
Page 07: Faith tries to dissuade Gigi from going after Buffy by questioning Roden's true goal behind trying to get her dead. Unfortunately, Gigi is quite naive and believes whole-heartedly in her Giles-equivalent, while Faith has doubts about the real Giles.
Commentary: Again, we have some more good double-meaning, as Faith is clearly talking about Giles and not her reckless past when she says that she had older guys just using her to perform their dirty work... or at least that is the way I'm reading it. It seems like she is speaking more of Giles sending her on this mission to help Buffy rather than speaking about the Mayor.
Page 08: Gigi leaves Faith with the impression that she isn't going after Buffy, so much as making sure Buffy comes to her... in the meanwhile, in Scotland, Buffy and Willow are going over the latest high-tech defenses for the castle. And Willow is questioning what they'll do when the army guys inevitably breach the defenses. There is also some talk about how much everything is costing, but Buffy puts Willow off by simply saying they have anonymous friends with deep pockets.
Commentary: Another shout out to The Immortal from AtS: The Woman in Question and the Buffy novel: Queen of the Slayers?
Page 09: As Willow continues to bring up the possibility of the Slayers having to fight regular guys... even if they're military... and what that might mean, Buffy 'fwoops' out... vanishing. Interestingly, Willow immediately exclaims, "did I do that?"
Page 10: It wasn't Willow. Roden has managed to pluck Buffy from their not-as-mystically-shielded-as-they-had-h
Commentary: The thing that grabbed my interest here is Roden's spell, which summons "the first of the last"...! I hadn't read Fray this far back, but have since (and will review it because it ties intimately into 'Time of Your Life' arc starting in #16). It makes me wonder if Willow's scythe powered spell activated any currently born Slayers who were destined to be a SiT, but if it has also damaged the ability of future Slayers to ever be born (until Fray, at least). It think this simple line is part of the Joss habit of hinting at a much more deeper meaning in the BTVS mythos.
Page 11: From a balcony, Faith is upset that Buffy was brought there, but Gigi, still trusting her good friend Hope, just tells her to stay in the shadows. She grabs a sword from a decorative suit of armor and assures 'Hope' that things will be over shortly.
Page 12: As Buffy is reading Roden the riot act and letting him know if he doesn't have a great reason for nabbing her, she'll kick his can, Gigi makes her appearance:
"When in the presence of royalty, YOU BELONG ON YOUR KNEES," is followed up with a foot to the side of Buffy's face.
Page 13: Buffy banters that if Gigi were called into the fold then the admissions standards for being a Slayer must have been lowered. Lady Gigi starts more of her 'throne' babble and swings her sword for Buffy's head, kind of stupidly giving her full name as well.
Buffy at the realization her foe is a British Slayer: For the people who invented girl power, YOUR SENSE OF SORORITY SUCKS.
Buffy delivers this with a vicious head butt, breaking Gigi's nose.
Commentary: It's the most emotionally satisfying pane in the comic.
Page 14: Genevieve is able to knock Buffy to the floor with the pommel of the sword, but a sweep kick knock Gigi off her feet.
Page 15: And, allows Buffy to grab up the sword. Buffy at this point is pissed off at the idea of this girl using her Slayer powers to hurt fellow Slayers and she really looks to be about to do much more than hurt her, but Faith intervenes with a shout of 'BUFFY!'
Page 16: As Buffy, shocked, questions Faith's presence, her identity is well blown to Genevieve as well. There's no time to sort out what this means to either girl though, because Faith tackles Buffy out of a window....
Page 17: Buffy immediately jumps to the conclusion that Faith has started up her 'own evil Slayer club' and gives her a vicious gut punch once they've landed in the decorative moat.
Page 18: The Slayers do some more combat, mostly driven by Buffy, who doesn't want to listen as Faith tries to tell her that she was there on a mission from Giles. Buffy calls her a liar, further driving a dagger into Faith's already questionable emotional commitment to her mission by informing Faith that Giles never trusted her any more than she did.
Faith glares back at 'The One'....
Commentary: The thing I like most in issue 8 is the always-under-the-surface tension between these two erupting like this. And I like that Faith is able to reclaim a bit of Slayer pride over Buffy here....
Page 19: Faith grabs Buffy by the throat and pushes her under, and really seriously thinks about drowning her so she can stop being the villain whenever they're in the same place. Her face expressions make her rage very clear.
Page 20: Instead, she yanks Buffy up out of the water and yells in her face to "SHUT UP!"
Commentary: I like this scene, especially, because both Buffy and the reader are left wondering if Faith was yelling at her own thoughts or at Buffy. Faith continues with 'I wish you'd just go away', but again... is it Buffy she wants gone, or that murderous voice in her thoughts.
We don't find out, 'cause the cosmos assumes she's talking about Buffy and the other Slayer teleports out again.
Page 21: I kid about the cosmos thing. It's really Willow who has managed to locate her astral signature and break through Roden's barriers, though she doesn't have any idea where Buffy was located when she yanked her back.
She mentions it was some 'scary bad voodoo' that pulled her away and asks who had her. Buffy, following throwing up again, the Slayer just says, and she's looking a bit pissed, 'Get me Giles.'
Page 22: Faith is left standing in the moat, bemoaning that she's 'all alone again, same as always'. But that isn't quite true, at least in the physical sense, because Genevieve has made it downstairs. She's behind Faith looking betrayed and hurt... and holding a huge battleaxe meant for Faith's head in a few seconds....
The Good: First, I like the peek into Faith's head and her continued struggles with her own demons.
I also liked the fight between Buffy and Gigi a lot, both action and Buffy's dialog.
I also like the things that are implied, again, about Giles and Buffy and the things he's doing that he wants so desperately to shield her from.
The Bad: I didn't think anything was done badly.
Other Thoughts: I will admit that Gigi continues to skirt the line of stereotype with her Queenhood and Throne talk, but I also think we get enough flashes of her wanting desperately to be special that keeps her on the right side of that line. Much like Faith, Gigi is depending on her Slayerhood to add some sort of pride and dignity to her existence.
I'm also having some trouble with Buffy's attitude as she faces off against Gigi... it seemed to me that she had little reservation about using that sword on Gigi. This adds to her troubling opinion when she was speaking to Willow regarding using deadly force on the soldiers if they attack... it's a far cry from the Buffy of the past and is adding to what I mentioned in other reviews of her seemingly putting herself and her Slayers above the people they're supposed to be working to protect, even if they don't realize they need the protection in the first place.
The Score: This is a good issue, but it also suffers more from an 'in between issue in an arc' problem than issues in, say, "The Long Way Home" arc. I really liked the moments involving Faith's thoughts and the action scenes were very good. I'd score Issue 8
as 3.50 out of 5 Stars.