No Future For You, Last Part
Script: Brian K. Vaughan, Pencils: Georges Jeanty, Inks: Andy Owens, Colors: Dave Stewart, Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft's Jimmy
Executive Producer: Joss Whedon
Cover By: Jo Chen
Where We Are: Giles had dropped in on Faith to offer her what she wants - an anonymous escape from the rigors of Slayerhood. She will get a passport and stipend if she'll just carry out one last mission on his behalf. Locate a 'rogue Slayer' who may cause the end of the world and eliminate her.
What Giles didn't plan on is that the Lady Genevieve, despite being of a completely different social class, has a lot in common emotionally with his Slayer agent. Faith isn't keen on killing Lady Gigi and when she finds out that the rogue is targeting Buffy she believes Giles sent her in just to protect his 'golden girl'. When push came to shove however, she sided with the Slayer she's never had an easy relationship with. Now Gigi is standing over her with an axe, Roden the powerful wizard-manipulator is nearby and there isn't any Buffy or Giles to help keep Faith alive.
Page 01: Flashback to the mayor, grinning at presumably Faith. Her voice over says, "Evil scumbag".
Page 02: We see Faith in her pink dress after she threw in with him. He's giving her a pep talk about how much he appreciates her. Faith's voiceover makes clear that others thought he was the aforementioned 'scumbag', but she didn't see him that way.
Page 03: The flashback Mayor continues to bond with Faith, calling her a virtual daughter to him. Her voiceover tells us that she understands Gigi's position and how a confused young girl can get herself mixed up in the wrong stuff when an older guy acts like he has your best interests at heart.
Page 04: Which is the position that Gigi is in with Roden. Gigi berates Faith for lying about who she was, but Faith tells her to get over it.
Roden, in the meanwhile, is overseeing this from the balcony and encourages Lady Gi to take her out.
Page 05: Lady Genevieve seems more appalled that Faith isn't even British. Faith kicks her off of a balcony their on (I mentioned a decorative moat last review - it was actually a decorative pool - very shallow) and into a greenhouse on the property.
Commentary: I love this page, for some reason. It's just really fun when Faith lashes out....
Page 06: Faith follows, but Gigi still has the battle axe. Genevieve continues on berating Faith, mostly about her 'station' and the fact that she doesn't deserve to have Slayer blood in her (as she is a commoner).
Page 07: Faith's answer is a kick in the face to her. Faith tries to get through to Gigi that Roden isn't to be trusted about this killing Buffy thing, but Genevieve is too caught up in her fantasy of being a Queen to listen. She continues to trust Roden wholeheartedly.
Page 08: Meanwhile, outside of the magical field that holds Giles out, the dwarf gives us after his magical hammer explodes. Fortunately for Giles, Willow's cell call rings through right then....
Page 09: It's not Willow however, as he quickly learns when Buffy's voice yells out, "Shut up, Giles."
Buffy is pissed off that he's working with Faith and didn't tell her. She further tells him that Faith just tried to stuff her down a pool drain.
Commentary: I mentioned in the first arc review that there seemed to be problems with Buffy, Xander and Giles. This seemed to be more implied than stated, but here it's becoming clearer that they haven't been keeping in regular contact with one another. Now, I'm not sure why the gang hasn't kept him in their regular loop, but clearly Giles hasn't been keeping in contact because he's been working on 'wetworks' types of activity and we all know that he goes out of his way to shield 'the children' from some of the uglier aspects of evil-fighting. That is why he went to Faith with this particular mission in the first place.
Page 10: Buffy tells Giles she wants to know exactly what is going on, but Giles refuses. He tells her he needs Willow, but he doesn't want Buffy involved in this in any way. She's shocked and hurt... she hands the phone to Wills to do whatever he needs, but she's clearly unhappy and feeling rejected by him, just as Faith had when she found out his mission was about protecting Buffy (rather than world save-age).
Commentary: I have to say, I don't think this reads quite right. It seems to me that Buffy's response is exaggerated, based on what we're seeing.
Page 11: In the meantime, Faith is being beaten around the greenhouse by Genevieve. Gigi is still not taking any heed of Faith's attempts to get her to stop and think about Roden's game.
Page 12: Faith plucks a thrown pair of garden shears from the air and tosses them aside. She tells Gigi that a part of her knows that something isn't right, because she knows she's never been deserving of the love she thinks Roden is showing her.
Commentary: And while I thought before that Roden was playing Giles' role, as Gigi was in Faith's place, here it is much more clear. Roden is playing the mayor role to the emotionally desperate for some true affection Gigi. Just as Faith was desperate for someone to care about her that the Mayor was so able to fulfill in her life.
Page 13: Genevieve rushes Faith, but she kicks her away. Unfortunately, she kicks her into the battle axe that had gotten stuck into a marble statue during the fight. Gigi is impaled through the back on the blade and killed to Faith's regret.
Page 14: Alas, there isn't time to deal with what she's just done. Roden chooses that time to reveal he was watching the whole fight going on. Faith demands he heal her, but he isn't interested in that. He tells her that he's been looking for the Slayer to end all Slayers and obviously Genevieve proved to not be that girl. He offers Faith the opportunity next - playing on her desire to get rid of Buffy, herself.
Page 15: Roden tells Faith that he recognized immediately that Faith couldn't be happy as long as Buffy was out there. He shows her his Twilight book and mentions that a purge is coming, one to which he'll be spared by helping to kill the blonde Slayer. Faith turns down his proposal.
Commentary: I love Faith quipping that she isn't much of a reader as she hits Roden in the face with his 'guidebook'. I'm also relieved. It seemed that the arc was flirting through the whole thing with Faith sliding backward from where she developed. Especially since we thought that she and Buffy had reached a reapproachment by the end of BTVS: Chosen. I was afraid they were going to ruin the character development that had occurred by trying to recapture the Buffy vs. Faith magic of BTVS: S3.
Page 16: Roden responds with the dark magic, black eyes, throbbing face veins thing. Faith is blasted across the room and quickly subdued by a rocky fist erupting from the ground to put the squeeze on her.
Commentary: There is still a small thrill to see shades of 'Dark Willow-itis', but I hope they don't overuse the 'look' everytime a spell gets cast. It should be reserved to add some extra tension to really dark magic and not as a shortcut to say "now the wizard is mad"....
Page: 17: As Faith is being crushed, she surprises and confuses Roden by grinning at him. We see why, though, as Giles has been teleported behind the wizard by Willow. He has the garden shears, which he puts to use by planting them in Roden's back and disrupting Faith's crushing.
Page 18: As we learned from Dark Willow though, pointy objects aren't necessarily lethal to strong spell casters. Roden blasts Giles, but Faith responds by grabbing up the dropped Twilight book and throwing it across the room into Giles' waiting hands.
Page 19: Giles quickly chants a containment spell at Roden who scoffs. He informs Giles he's more than powerful enough to break any mystic field. Rupert responds he knows this, which is why he cast the spell inside the wizard's body!
Commentary: Some great artwork no this page, especially Roden's skin being distorted by the mystic field in his body. Also, the chilling panel of Giles saying 'Burst'.
Page 20: Roden's head immediately explodes!
Giles stands a moment staring at the results of his action until Faith rests a hand on his shoulder.
Page 21: Later, perhaps the following day - Faith and Giles talk about resorting to killing to win. Giles offers Faith her passport and one way ticket that she earned, but she declines. He questions her as he thought she was finished with bloodshed, which she confirms.
What she wants to do now is to reach troubled Slayers like herself and Genevieve before they have a chance to be a lost cause. She decides she can help bad Slayers come back from the brink.
Commentary: I love this idea! Even though Faith will undoubtedly be called on again to fight, I really like the decision that she isn't going to be used by the comic team as the 'wetworks' expert. As you'll recall, I had problems with the intent of this mission back in Part I of the arc and I like how that issue is being resolved here. It's also nice that Giles and Faith can bond over their both being killers without it turning into an angstfest about it - they're both soldiers, and they both understand and accept what that can mean.
Page 22: Giles offers to join Faith's new self-defined mission, making it clear they'll work as equal partners - not Watcher/Slayer. Faith is worried about pissing off Buffy even more, but Giles tells her here what we've already intuited and seen evidence of - Giles and Buffy aren't really on speaking terms anymore.
Commentary: I'd really like an explanation of where this estrangement started though... is Buffy still hanging onto the issue regarding trying to eliminate Spike, or was there some other issue that occurred in the year between S7 and S8 that hasn't been shown, yet.
Page 23: We leave Faith and Giles to see a young woman Lieutenant landing near Devil's Tower, Wy (I think - it looks like the mountain formation in 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind') where she asks for an audience with Twilight. She reports the loss of Roden and Genevieve, but he is completely unconcerned.
In fact, he reports that the two weren't 'minions' or agents, but his targets!
Page 24: Twilight further explains his tactics:
It was about manipulating our enemies into waging this ugly war for us, a tactic crucial for bringing the age of magic to a close. By pitting Watcher against warlock and Slayer against Slayer, we have pushed even the 'victors' to remove themselves from the chessboard.
The army woman doesn't understand what good that did, as Buffy remains alive but Twilight isn't in a rush. He informs her that night will be falling on her soon enough.
The Good: All of the writing was really good, especially the Faith/Giles and Giles/Roden scenes.
I liked the fight-work between Faith and Lady Gigi.
The manipulations of Twilight are interesting, especially his plan to sow a war that others will be fighting. I also like that there is an ultimate goal that isn't "destroy the world" or "kill Buffy"... ultimately, his plan may even be a good, from his viewpoint. We don't know who he/she is yet, so we don't know why he wants magic removed from the world.
The Bad: Nothing jumps out as badly done.
Other Thoughts: I'm having some issues with the major plot arc itself: we know from Fray that all magic won't be banished ultimately, which leads me to wonder where this arc is supposed to go. If we didn't already know in Fray basically what happens (magic retreats for an extended period, now is back in Fray's time) then this arc would have more of a punch. I also find it very interesting that the "guy decides magic is hurting the world and should be expunged" was extensively dealt with in WATCHERS: The Virtual Series in their S4 climax, which preceeded this S8 storyline by several months!
The Scores: First, this issue was excellent and I loved the way the arc wrapped with a new mission for Faith and Giles. Also, notice that the first issue opened with Faith surrounded by the dark. Even when she was in the daylight, her life was confined to a crappy apartment. This issue and the arc ends in a nice place that is full of light. And, where in the beginning of the arc she was very much isolated and took care of business alone, now she has one of the best people she could have looking out for her as an equal partner. I still wish she had a love interest and was sorry that Robin didn't work out (but that could be a consequence of WATCHERS and the way they handled that relationship), but I am really hoping they don't go there with Giles... the issue gets a 4.25 from me, while the arc averages 3.875 out of 5.0